Kiwimoon: Final Days in Queenstown (Day 6-7)

3rd March 2014, Monday

We checked-out of Wanaka hotel at 10 am and made our way to Queenstown by car which was 117 km away from Wanaka. Along the way we stopped by Cromwell originally in search of some coffee, but all were lost when we stumbled into a playground. A very old skool one nonetheless! You can rarely find playgrounds like this in Singapore nowadays (especially the tunnel and metal see-saw). Lucky thing I married a fellow young at heart guy haha so off we scurried to the slides, swings and flying foxes…

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And this is why you should marry the right person… Lol

Less than 2 hours later, we reached the familiar town where we spent our first 3 days. Since we had some time before checking-in, we decided to drop by Queenstown Gardens.

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Queenstown Gardens is similar to Singapore Botanic Gardens except that it’s more spacious, surrounded by mountains and lakes. And ducks can be found roaming around happily.

Compared to our first accommodation which was an 8-10 minutes drive from the town, this time our shelter for the last night was in central Queenstown.

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We checked-in to Reavers Lodge, which was situated uphill near the Ben Lomond Mountain. As a result of this, we were greeted with spectacular views and gushes of cold air when we arrived. The only downside was the very steep slope right in front of the lodge which we had to navigate to get to the reception area. If you don’t have a car, you save the scary driving but you do have to walk a lot and use up a lot of your energy walking uphill.

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The awesome thing about our accommodation in Reavers Lodge was getting the loft-style apartment! I love loft-style apartments so it was such a nice surprise to get this room for our final stay. The room was equipped with more than enough cutleries and utensils, a decent shower, a spacious “living room” space, a telly, a sofa, chairs and small table, a queen-sized bed and the basic kettle and microwave (which we did not use though) amenities.

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The only downside was that while our room in Shotover Lodge was on the ground floor, this time our room was on the 3rd floor – the highest – and there were no lifts either so we had to lug our luggage climbing atop 3 storeys. Oh well tit for tat, you win some you lose some. Either ways it’s good for us Alhamdulillah.

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In the evening we went out for our final dinner at Turkish Kebabs and then to get some souvenirs for our families and friends. It was raining that night, and it felt like even Queenstown was sad that we were leaving. πŸ˜₯ At dinner we reflected on the past seven days and what a great trip it has been. We also laughed at ourselves for making some foolish traveling mistakes during the whole trip. We talked about the future and the kind of marriage we want to have, a beautiful one like Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) and Khadijah πŸ™‚ It may seem like a really huge goal but we can dream and work on it right? InsyaAllah…

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NZ is full of sheep and this translates in the souvenir shops.

We managed to get a couple of stuff for our people back home. Especially New Zealand specialties such as manuka honey, body products from local brand Wild Fern, sheep stuff toy and pillows (requested by some!), “I love NZ” t-shirts and key chains. Unfortunately, there weren’t many Lord of The Rings products (only t-shirts) which a couple of my family members had requested. Perhaps next time if we go to Hobbiton in North Island πŸ˜‰

4th March, Tuesday

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Queenstown at slightly after dawn.

And so the day has come for us to depart from beautiful New Zealand. While we felt a little gloomy that morning, we also felt so thankful to God for allowing us to explore another of His lands and giving us the opportunity to experience a part of New Zealand with our sights, sounds and senses. Alhamdulillah, we also felt grateful that God guided and protected us throughout the entire trip for He is Al-Muhaimin, The Protector. As we had a morning flight from Queenstown Airport, we checked-out of Reavers Lodge by 7.30 am in time to return our rental car and make it for our flight to Melbourne at 9.40 am.

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Gloomy morning drive to the airport. Soon after, the sun started to rise and we managed to catch snippets of it.

We arrived in Melbourne Airport at 11.05 am and “parked” ourselves at cozy Hudsons Coffee while looking at the gorgeous blue skies. We had a 7-hour transit in Melbourne Airport before departing back to Singapore so we had plenty of time to do our own thing, including performing our final prayers as musafir (traveler). Come 7.00 pm, we boarded our plane ride for the trip… back to home sweet home Singapore, arriving at almost midnight SG time.

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It’s been an amazing trip and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to explore New Zealand with. Thank You Allah, for letting us start off our marriage beautifully at a beautiful country, with an equally beautiful person whom you have presented to be my companion in this life and InsyaAllah in Paradise. Alhamdulillah. Thank You Allah for your protection, guidance, infinite mercy and supreme love. If He wills, we will definitely come back to New Zealand again InsyaAllah. πŸ™‚

Previous on Kiwimoon: Wonderful Wanaka (Day 5-6)

Next on Kiwimoon: Food and Solat – For the Muslim Traveller (Final entry for Kiwimoon series)

On Top At Lindis Pass, NZ (Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top)

This week’s topic is perfect for me since I’m in the midst of blogging about my honeymoon in Queenstown, New Zealand. So I will share three perspectives of this week’s theme based on the trip, of pictures that I have not shared in my previous posts.

1. On our way from Tekapo to Wanaka, my husband and me passed by scenic Lindis Pass, which was one of the filming spots for Lord of The Rings.

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2. The view from our accommodation in Queenstown for the last day, Reavers Lodge which is located at the top of the hill. Challenging drive up due to the steep slope, but breathtaking view from up here.

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3. And lastly, me enjoying myself climbing on top of a tree in Queenstown Gardens.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

If you’d like to read about my trip to Queenstown, head on here or click these links below (I still have 3 more stories to go though):

  1. Kiwimoon: Exploring Queenstown (Day 1-2)
  2. Kiwimoon: Mesmerizing Milford Sound (Day 3)
  3. Kiwimoon: Starry, Starry Lake Tekapo (Day 4)

Kiwimoon: Mesmerizing Milford Sound (Day 3)

27th February 2014, Thursday

At 7.30 am, we waited by the carpark of our lodge for the bus to Milford Sound. We were picked up by a small yellow minibus, Connectabus, which brought us to the Clock Tower in Queenstown central. Then we transferred to another bus – the bus with a glass ceiling, which we booked via Milford Sound Select – and met other travelers heading to the fjord.

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Good Morning Queenstown central!

It takes approximately 4 hours to and fro the harbour of Milford Sound, in which the boat will take us along the fjord for about 2 hours. We decided not to drive as we were unfamiliar with the roads and wanted to avoid the long drive. The Singaporean uncle we met the day before shared with us that if you stayed at Te Anau, it would be nearer to Milford Sound, and that they would be driving there. Anyway, the journey itself were breathtaking, filled with spectacular sceneries and many quirks like these.

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Flocks of sheep crossing the road.. The bus had to stop and let them pass by. It was such a cute sight!
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Yes, those are real. Those clouds. Hubs and me were so mesmerized with the clouds, SubhanAllah.

About 2.5 hours into the drive, our bus driver James stopped us at Te Anau for a short break where we had our cuppa coffee and some breakfast.

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Cafe was our shelter from the strong winds at Te Anau, which we quickly discovered upon alighting from our bus.
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The selection of coffee available. One flat white and one hot chocolate please!
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We didn’t order any food since we actually brought along cheese sandwich which we pre-packed before we left.

We soon continued our journey afterwards, and James stopped us along The Milford Road.

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The Milford Road, 119km long, is the most accessible way to experience the scenic grandeur to Milford Sound.
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Here the steep mountain faces are covered with thick vegetation.
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So we took the opportunity to strike a pose with these majestic mountains..

Then another stop at the Mirror Lakes!

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Mirror Lakes is known as one of the world’s heritage site, is a set of lakes that reflects the scenery around it.
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Creative signboard, I must say.
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Stunning mirror effect!
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Back to our bus after a good 15 minutes..

We made another stop along another river, where we can also refill our waterbottles from the glacial waters.

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Even though it’s Summer in NZ, the areas at Fiordland are always cold and windy. I can’t imagine coming here in Winter, brrr…
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How to fill your waterbottles at a river stream? Position your bottle with the current, and not against/opposite the current, so your water does not take in any debris or dirt meant to flow away.
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Beautiful snowcap mountains surrounding us.
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The other side of the river, the rocky road leading us to the fiord…

Undeniably, there’s a lot of waterfalls in the fiord area. James made a final stop before the fiord and we went in to explore the area. It was Heaven for waterfall lovers like us!

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Rapid currents of the river creating a spectacular mini waterfall…
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See the color of the water – in magnificent turquoise SubhanAllah!
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The view of the Mitre Peak from here, so near yet so far…
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Back in our bus, where we could see the view of Mitre Peak from our glass-window bus, which means that we’re nearly reaching Milford Sound! Excited!

And finally, we have reached the harbour where we will embark aboard the boat on Milford Sound…

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At Milford Wharf Visitor Centre.
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And that is our boat that will take us aboard the fiord.

Off we go!

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The ticket issued to everyone; already paid for in the tour payment, indicating the date of tour (27 Feb 2014 for us).
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Free flow of coffee and tea available. There is also a small bistro where you can get some pastries and snacks.
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The upper deck of the boat, which is the best place to experience Milford Sound fully with your sights, sounds and senses.
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IMG_8446 It was extremely windy and wet on the upper deck, which is normal as Milford Sound is known as one of the wettest places in the world. It did not rain the day we went, but the weather was really cold and the wind stung my eyes a little. Do be prepared and pack your jackets/windbreakers and gloves along.
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Look at the misty mountains, SubhanAllah… That shows how cold it was out there!
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A fiord is a is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.
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The New Zealand flag~
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It’s amazing how a glacial erosion can result in something so beautiful like this.
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The famous Stirling Falls, a type of “plunge” waterfall which is 151 metres high.
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A close-up of Stirling Falls, which we got to see as our boat went nearer to it. Looking at this, no wonder it is known as the most magnificent waterfall in NZ.
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This is the Palisade Falls, a “ribbon” waterfall with a height of 55 metres. The waterfall is more spectacular after rain, and in dry days it will appear as a thin stream of water.
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Seals frolicking on a rock. Our first time seeing seals up close and personal!
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Go straight and you will reach Australia via the Tasman Sea, which is the marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean between Australia and NZ. Here, our boat made a u-turn back to the start point of the sound.
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Last but not least, this is the Bowen Falls which is the nearest to the starting point of the sound. Described as the highest and most powerful waterfall in Milford Sound, this “horsetail” waterfall spans a height of 162 metres.
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And we’re back to the harbour, which symbols the end of our 2-hour boat tour along the fiord.

Another 4 hours journey by bus back to Queenstown, we managed to reach back to our lodge by 7pm. As opposed to the start of the day where we were picked up by a Connectabus, this time around James actually drove us back to our lodge personally (which meant that we were the last to get off). We took the time to chat with James, and discovered that before he became a bus driver for Milford Sound Select, he used to be a captain for the Milford Sound boat for 30 years! Wow, an amazing feat I must say. Imagine spending every day on this spectacular fiord…

Alhamdulillah for the wonderful Milford Sound experience!

(Milford Sound… check! *ticks off infinite ever-growing travel list*)

Next on Kiwimoon: Starry, Starry Lake Tekapo (Day 4)

Previous on Kiwimoon: Exploring Queenstown (Day 1 – 2)

Kiwimoon: Exploring Queenstown (Day 1-2)

25th February 2014, Tuesday

After an overnight flight from Singapore Changi Airport, we arrived at Queenstown International Airport at 3.55 pm.

Outside Queenstown International Airport.
Amazing view greeted us outside Queenstown International Airport.

We flew from Singapore straight to Queenstown via Qantas Airlines, transiting in Melbourne Airport for 3 hours. The flight from Singapore to Melbourne took 7 hours while from Melbourne to Queenstown was about 3 hours. Initially we thought of flying to Christchurch as most flights offer this, but when we discovered that we could fly straight to Queenstown, we immediately took it as it meant we didn’t have to drive 6-7 hours from Christchurch. As this was our first time traveling together, we wanted to minimize long drives and make this trip more relaxed and leisurely.

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Inside the airport, where you can pick up pamphlets and brochures on the many things to do in Queenstown.

Then we proceeded to pick-up our rental car at Ace Rentals, which was just opposite from the airport.

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We still needed a car to get around and for our drive to the surrounding towns.

First stop was the electronic shop to get our mobile prepaid cards (with 4G!) and then to the supermarket along the way (Fresh Choice) to get our food and other supplies before checking into our accomodation, the Shotover Lodge. This would be our shelter for the first 3 days of our trip.

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Our lodge with a spectacular mountain view.

As it was nearing dusk by the time we arrived, we took the time to settle in and have a good rest. The next day, we would be off to explore central Queenstown!

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Imagine waking up to this every morning… The pine trees remind me of Frodo running in LOTR!

* * *

26th February 2014, Wednesday

We started our day by having a home-made breakfast by the balcony of our lodge.

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A simple breakfast of egg mayo sandwich whipped up by the husband, half-boiled eggs and lemon ginger tea.

Drove to Queenstown central in search of something to do…

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Hotels and apartments all around the centre of Queenstown.

And decided to go up the Skyline Gondola!

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We only rode the gondola and didn’t take the luge. Maybe next time.

This is a must-do if it’s your first time visiting Queenstown. Up on the gondola you get to see the whole of Queenstown central from a bird’s eye view.

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The gondola can fit a maximum of 4 people, but you’re allowed to have your own space if you’re traveling solo or as a couple (instead of sharing with other travelers) which is a good thing because you can have your own privacy.

The gondola will stop at the top where you get off and proceed to the Skyline Gondola Viewing Tower. Breathtaking view from at the top!

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An obligatory couple shot is a must… Hehe. A fellow tourist was nice enough to take this photo for us.

There’s a viewing deck, cafe, restaurant, souvenir shop, plenty of things to do here. We bought a few things at the souvenir shop, and were glad to discover that we were entitled to a discount off the official photos of us in the gondola. But actually, if you want to get souvenirs, go to the souvenir shops along Queenstown Mall as they are much, much cheaper.

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Now this is what I call a restaurant with a view!

Take your time and roam around, take photos while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Another piece of God’s magnificent art, SubhanAllah…

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The gorgeous Lake Wakatipu. #nofilter

We also had a chance to see people enjoying their luge ride down below.

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Would love to ride the luge next time (chey next time seh). It looked so much fun!

We were fortunate to see some paragliding action going on!

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Imagine paragliding overlooking the lake and mountains…

And if you dare, do some bungee…

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Bungee if you dare…

Headed back down after an hour plus and had our lunch at Turkish Kebabs, which is the only halal restaurant in Queenstown central. The mixed beef and lamb kebabs that we ordered were delicious… and HUGE! Even the rice set that my husband bought was generously filled. Worth the price, and needless to say we were extremely full Alhamdulillah after we were done with our meals.

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Nom nom nom. Alhamdulillah for Halal restaurants like these. May God bless the owner’s efforts, InsyaAllah.

After lunch, we took a stroll along the town…

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[For the Singaporeans – Spot something familiar?]
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Leaves turning red for the upcoming Autumn season… So beautiful!

…before deciding to go up hiking Queenstown Hill. (What a way to burn those lunch calories huh? Haha). We drove to the start of the track at Belfast Street, and from there began our climb.

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According to the map, the climb up and down takes about 1.5 – 2.5 hours. We aimed to hike up till the mid-point, which would bring us to an artist’s sculpture called the “Basket of Dreams”.

We passed by different kinds of terrains during the climb…

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The starting trail of our hike up; slightly open, bright and airy.
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As we hike deeper, the scene changes; enclosed, dark and moody.

Some steep slopes as well…

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Here the trails start to be very open and you start to see the surroundings again.

And finally reached the mid-point!

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Tired but satisfied smiles of victory.
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The husband striking a pose on the Basket of Dreams.

We were greeted by breathtaking views of the lake and its’ surroundings… which made it worth the climb up!

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Pine trees galore…
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And the mountains of Lake Wakatipu in all its glory.
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The differing view at the other side: Mountainous and grassy.

And guess what, we actually met some fellow Singaporeans during our hike! This sporting couple has been married for 30 years and we first saw them on our way up (they actually overtook us while we were resting, haha). They told us that we were the second fellow Singaporean honeymoon couple they met during the climb. It’s always nice to meet people from home when you’re overseas.

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I hope that hubs and me can be as sporting and as adventurous as them when we reach our golden years, InsyaAllah…

We didn’t continue to the summit but if you would like to, this is the pathway you’d have to follow.

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See that peak point ahead there? That’s the summit, which is about another 500m away.

The terrain was fun as it was made up of a variety of different trails, which were well-maintained. There are illustration boards which act as route markers hence making it easy to navigate. Do drink lots of water, hydrate yourself as you go up. If you have never hiked in a colder country before, do be prepared for your body to get acclimatized to the cold.

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Finally back at the start point, where we parked our car.

As it was nearing dusk when we ended, we decided to call it a day. The next day, we would be headed to Milford Sound, which is said to be one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Next on Kiwimoon: Mesmerizing Milford Sound (Day 3)

The Happy Wanderer goes to New Zealand!

Inspired by Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

Salam and Hello all, I’m back! πŸ™‚

(Did anyone miss me? Haha…)

Let’s see what’s happened during these past couple of months?

Firstly, I got married Alhamdulillah. πŸ™‚

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Yup, that’s my dashingly smart-looking husband in a formal suit during our outdoor photoshoot. πŸ˜€

And then flew to Queenstown, New Zealand for my honeymoon.

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Super LOVE the breathtaking sceneries in Queenstown, New Zealand. I would love to go there again!

My husband and me went on a self-drive trip for our honeymoon (kiwimoon, which I will refer to) so when I saw this daily prompt, it got me inspired to write. It’s such an amazing feeling when inspiration strikes!

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

I would say that my travel style is a mixture of both itinerary driven as well as being flexible enough to adapt to changes in travel plans.

As it was our first time traveling together, we spent a lot of time planning and researching for the trip. Our travel plans included an itinerary since we would be moving from one place to another (around Queenstown, Tekapo and Wanaka), so we needed to follow a schedule as we would be checking in and out of hotels etc.

However when we were in the towns itself, we let ourselves wander happily and didn’t stick to specific timings or needing to follow every step. We had some places in mind that we wanted to go, so we just went with the flow. Like, on our second day in Queenstown we decided to go up on the Skyline Gondola, explored Queenstown central and then decided on a whim to go on a hike up on Queenstown Hill.

Reading bloggers’ travel posts on NZ really helped me a lot for the planning of the trip, so InsyaAllah, I will blog more about our kiwimoon soon. πŸ™‚