I had no expectations when planning my trip to New Zealand. I went with an open mind and wanted to experience New Zealand for myself. Just like Fiji, I researched New Zealand heavily and realized there were many popular cities and with so many things to do and see.
What I wanted to really focus on and see in New Zealand, was the greenery. Whenever I think about New Zealand I think about green hills with sheep and beautiful mountains. I was totally right… BUT… I also wanted experience the city life with great food and drinks.
How to Get to New Zealand
I flew into New Zealand after Fiji. It was my second stop on my South Pacific journey. I stayed in New Zealand for a week. New Zealand has a North Island ( colder) and a South Island (warmer). MUST KNOW. Like Fiji, you have to know where you are going and staying in New Zealand to really maximize your trip and make your travel plans close to perfect.
I stayed in Auckland ( North Island), Christchurch and Kaikoura Hills ( both on the South Island). What an adventure! I intitally flew into Auckland from Fiji, stayed there for 4 days and then took a flight to Christchurch. I then drove 3 hours to Kaikoura Hills (EKK), all because I wanted to experience both islands and the different terrains in New Zealand.
After visiting both islands, over 7 days here is my list of the Top 5 Things To Do in New Zealand.
Top 5 Things to Do in New Zealand
1. Enjoy a Fine Dining Experience
I love to eat. Food is always a major part of my travel plans. I like trying local cuisines and checking out the restaurant scene in each city I visit. In Auckland I wanted to enjoy the fine dining offerings. Fine dining in Auckland was relatively inexpensive with raving reviews.
We went to The Grove for a fine dining experience. I wanted to go here but there were no reservations. Then I got the call that there was a spot open. I threw on a kimono, hopped in an Uber and I was there. We enjoyed a 7 course dejustation of small plates and a true food performance. The servers were so diligent with each course of the meal. They presented each with a full explanation and a history of the ingredients. It was a food theatrical experience.
2. Stay in a Glass House Overnight
Kaikoura Hills is literally like the Sound of Music. Rolling green hills, chirping birds and endless sheep. Driving to Kaikoura Hills was nerve racking. With the winding streets, sheep everywhere, I felt like my SUV was a rickety racing car on the hills. The cliffs were scary but swerving around them was worth it to get to our destination.
Once we got to our location, we had to hike 20 minutes to get our Purepod, also known as a glass house.
Purepods are small, one bedroom suites entirely made of glass. Even the floors are glass. Check it out on my VLOG to see the bathrooms Ekk!. A Purepod is literally in the middle of nowhere. Situated in the hills of Kaikoura, Purepods are powered by solar panels, have no wifi or traditional electricity. Don't worry you will not starve. Ha! We ordered the food package which included one snack plate, a steak dinner and a breakfast meal. So we didn’t have to hike with our food, only our bags and extra water. We cooked our dinner on the BBQ provided.
In the morning we could see the sheep and heard the birds. I thought I was dreaming with the hills and snow capped mountains. You will love Kaikoura Hills and the Purepods.The scenery was very romantic and I got my Sound Music fix. I think the greenery inspired me to live a healthier and more environmentally friendly life.
3. Enjoy the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ever
I am not a grill cheese fan. So when my husband suggested we try this out, I was not overjoyed. He said it was the best Grilled Cheese sandwich in Auckland. HE WAS RIGHT. This was the best grilled cheese sandwich EVA! I posted a photo on my Instagram and everyone asked where it was from. For the best grilled cheese ever in life, head to The Kapiti Store in Auckland. They offer a wide variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and you have to get the caramelized onions they add so much flavor and contrast nicely with the sharp cheddar.
4. Take the Tram in Christchurch
Christchurch is located in the south island of New Zealand. They are rebuilding the city as they experienced earthquakes recently. The people of Christchurch are so strong and even despite the disaster in their city, they were so welcoming, positive and kind.
Christchurch is a small dainty city. It is pretty walkable and has cafes on every corner. While walking around I kept seeing tracks. The tracks were for the local tram. I was so excited to hop on and enjoy the ride around the city. You can take the tram to go shopping, head to your local café and see all the city has to offer. To see more of the tram, head to my YouTube and watch my NZ VLOG.
5. Visit the Toi o Tāmaki Art Gallery in Auckland
Art is a major part of my life. In the last couple of years I have gotten my husband onto the art train. The Toi o Tāmaki Art Gallery in Auckland was a must stop. When I visited, there were exhibit about women’s independence and the struggle for women’s rights. Totally me. See live footage on YouTube. Oh and the Toi o Tāmaki Art Z Gallery is the perfect Instagrammable spot. Check this photo I took of my husband below.
Best part of the Toi o Tāmaki, it’s free. Well, the majority of it. There are other special paid exhibits. But there are many gorgeous free exhibits to enjoy. Take them all in… for free.
Would I go back to New Zealand again. Oh YEAH! I wish I had a Kapiti grilled cheese sandwich right now. *drools* If you do these 5 things, your trip to New Zealand will be totally enjoyable. If you go to any of these spots, let me know.
Questions? Hit me up via email.
Who wants to come to New Zealand with me again this year?
I still can’t believe I went to Fiji. I am happy to say it WAS on my bucket list and now it is crossed off. Yay! Fiji was a fantastic country with beautiful people. The food was excellent ( I will get into that more), the weather was dreamy and the experience of visiting the South Pacific was so meaningful.
Before I went to Fiji I spent hours reading and researching to prepare for this trip. I wanted to know more about the culture, what to expect and see what others have experienced in Fiji. None of the hundreds of videos I watched and blog posts I read gave me any of the information I am about to share with you.
Here are 5 things you need to know before you go to Fiji
Get a Rental Car
I can’t stress this enough. You. Need. A. Rental. The island has so many great things to do and to see but taxis are rare. Initially, I was going to rely on taxis and UBERS but neither were as available as I thought. Having my own car let me hop in and go. It was not a fancy rental which was totally okay but it got me where I needed to go. If you check out my Fiji VLOG, all of the excursions I did required me to drive there. Good thing I had my rental car.
Places to Visit in Fiji:
There So Many Resorts in Fiji
The property was so large you needed to travel in a golf cart to get around. There was so much to do on the resort. With over 5 restaurants, a shopping area and a variety store, we pretty much did not need to leave. There was also an adult only pool area. I loved going to the adult pool because of the lovely cabanas, poolside bar and restaurant nearby.
Marriott in Fiji property has many different types of rooms to fit any budget. Because the resort is so large, there are traditional hotels rooms as well as over water villas and beach side villas. With the variety of rooms there are different price points. You could have a family style room or a private honeymoon experience like I did.
The room we stayed in was one of a kind. It was a completely detached private villa with a private beach. This room was one of the most stunning rooms I have stayed in my traveling career. There is a complete tour of the room in my video on my Youtube Channel. I loved the wet room with athe rain shower. The soaker tub was my absolutely fav as well as the King-size bed.
I love suites because they have sitting areas I can relax in after a long day at the beach. The private patio doubled as a breakfast spot and as place to get quick workout in. the gym on the property was very far away from our room but that is only because we had a the best room on the property so it was quite a bit of way from the lobby and common areas of the resort. Every morning we ran to the gym just so we could burn those extra calories.
The resort was pretty much a world of its own. Along with excellent service from the staff, there were many actitivies, performances and places to lounge during the day. You pretty much did not have to leave the property for any entertainment but we did.
Go to Fiji During Mango Season
TIP: Leave the resort and hotel if it is safe and experience the local food and culture.
We went to Fiji in November because it was the best time with our busy schedules. What we did not know was it was the best time to go because it was mango season. If you didn’t know my husband and I are both in love with mangos. So this was major treat.
Everyday after breakfast we would hop in our rental car ( See item 1) and drive out to the main road and buy mangos from the fruit stands on the side of the road. We enjoyed getting mangos and pineapples everyday. They were super fresh, organic and a complete relief from the traditional breakfast at the hotel.
Watch my VLOG for clips of the mango stand and great ladies who helped me select the sweetest mangos.
One of my biggest fears is showing up in a country and not having WIFI. Well I lived through this nightmare in Fiji. Before I left the US, I called my service provider ( they will remain nameless) and let them know I was going to Fiji, New Zealand and Sydney. They put the note on my account, made some changes and told me I was all set. When I arrived to Fiji, I turned on my phone and to my surprise I had no data. Talk about an instant panic because I was planning on using Google Maps to direct us to the resort. I had to get the directions to the resort the old-fashioned way. I asked for directions at the information booth, one of the airport staff wrote down the directions and we used her hand written map to get us to the resort. So 1991.
I was not happy and called my service provider to find out they did not provide service to Fiji. I would need to get a SIM card or local data plan. By this time I was over it and decided to soley use the resort WIFI. Ladies and Gents, that was a big mistake. The resort WIFI was not consistent at all because once again we were in a secluded area as well as it being a pretty new hotel with a wonky WIFI situation. HMPH! Lesson Learned.
Know Your Islands
FIJI is made up over 300 islands. Pause. Yes I know. Soo many islands right. I would suggest you confirm what island you are staying on and how to get there. This will help with planning your flight, transportation and the excursions. We stayed in Nadi and some of the excursions we wanted to enjoy were on other islands. We weren’t too happy about the cost of getting there. Whomp. Whomp. Nadi had a lot to do so we were okay with this mini mistake.
FIJI is a gorgeous country. It is extremebly beautiful, full of culture and the people are so kind. The whole experience of traveling to Fiji, being in the South Pacific region and enjoying the glorious beaches made my trip amazing.
Fiji needs to be next on your travel list.
Go. Explore. Enjoy.
2017 was filled with so many highlights. I celebrated one year of blogging and one year of living in San Francisco. Most of all I celebrated 5 years of marriage. I know I know… all I do is talk about marriage but getting married changed my life completely. My husband is a gem and having a team mate in life makes the hurdles super easy to overcome.
Five years is a long time. Do not underestimate the time. But before we were married 5 years, we dated for 7 years. 12 years of being together. Every year we spend together, means something to us and taking the time to celebrate was important.
As I write this blog post, I am reliving the memory and want to share with you info about… the place… the dress and allllll the feels.
Fiji was the destination. Renewing our vows was the mission. We decided we would renew our vows during our tour of the South Pacific which included Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Fiji was a dream destination for both of us and how perfect it would be to renew our vows on the sands of a beautiful island.
We stayed in our own private villa at the resort with our own private beach. Every morning we marveled at the beauty around us and it truly inspired us to dive deeper in love. We decided to do our vows right outside our villa and it was the perfect spot. The sun was out but not too bright and the water was a scenic backdrop.
Take a look for yourself. Watch the video below.
Fiji is hot, hot, hot. I knew I wanted to wear something super special but cooling and elegant. When 11 Honoré sent me this dress, immediately I knew it was the one.
11 Honoré is one of my fav companies because they look beyond the size chart and bring luxury to women sizes 10 to 22. They offer a wide variety of your luxury brand favorites… in your size. Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung and Marchesa are a few of the brands they carry and each season they extend their collection to include in designers and customer favorites.
This Badgley Mischka dress was a dream. I’m talking Champagne sequins with a royal neckline and plunging cowl back detail. The A-line hemmed included a train and the sun made the dress glisten. When I put it on, all I heard was “WOW”, from my husband. He was in love with the dress but not as much as I was.
I made this dress the center of the occasion and built the bohemian theme around each detail. I custom made my headpiece with a birdcage-esque veil. My husband’s look complimented mine with a simple white linen shirt and linen pants. Instant style. Thank you 11 Honoré.
Shop the full 11 Honoré Collection here. Guess what, this exact dress is on sale.
It was truly a magical moment. Fiji. A designer dress from 11 Honoré. Sunshine. The water. Celebrating our love. It was a moment I will never forget. Thank you 11 Honoré for being a part of this remarkable occasion and for making it possible for me to wear a beautiful Badgley Mischka dress.
Shop 11 Honoré and have your own moment.
We’ve all been there…
You’ve purchased your day planner and carefully crafted your fitness goals. You’ve even created action steps to keep you accountable.
You’ve renewed your gym membership, replaced the calorie-dense snacks in your cupboard with protein shakes and tuna. You’re ready.
But week one into your fitness journey, you haven’t made it to the gym as often as you had hoped, unexpected assignments keep popping up at work and you’re meal prepping, ya...that didn’t quite work out. You’re disappointed and you’re feeling a little discouraged.
Keeping up with your fitness plan shouldn’t feel like a huge challenge sis. Let me share a few simple tips I’ve used to keep my own fitness goals on track.
1. Schedule Workouts
I understand you’re super busy. Your Outlook calendar is packed with more meetings, activities and social events than you can handle. But if you really want to see changes you MUST also include your workout on your weekly agenda. Research shows that people who wrote down their weekly fitness plans were actually more likely to follow through with their workouts. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. For years my workout plans were just that… plans. I had the unrealistic belief that I would have the Beyonce bounce back and the weight I gained during my pregnancy would just “melt away.” Guess what? I didn’t and it’s taken me damn near 4 years; Yes 4 years to lose my “baby weight.” Granted, I was keeping a tiny human alive, working fulltime and going to school part-time but it wasn’t until I made my workouts a priority and committed them to paper that I began to see results. I reserve one-hour a day for uninterrupted “me” time. I’ve given clear instructions to my loved ones not to call or text me during this hour because you will be ignored. If the baby is on fire; put her out and tend to her wounds when I’m done. Yup. It’s that serious.
2. Pick an Activity You Enjoy
So I’m a runner. I enjoy the challenge of beating my PR (personal record), climbing hills, and road races but if the thought of an early morning run makes you want to puke, don’t do it! Why make yourself miserable? Instead, take part in an activity that you’re more likely to stick with. If you prefer to socialize while getting snatched, check out group fitness offerings at your local gyms or recreation centers. Oftentimes studios will offer complimentary or discounted classes to first-time clients. Ultimately, your fitness program should fit your lifestyle and interests. Keep trying new activities until you find something you luv!
3. Eat Healthy
Let’s face it, once you decide to embark on a fitness journey you’re going to find food temptations everywhere.
Don’t judge me but:
My diet is still my biggest struggle. I’m always down to eat. Most of the time my meals are fairly balanced but the occasional piece of cake can easily turn into my every day “reward.” As I approach the big 4-0, I’ve come to the realization that I had to modify what I ate and how I ate in order to achieve a healthy weight and as a result, I’ve lost 15 stubborn pounds. Healthy eating is achievable. More days than not fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and, lean proteins. Cut back on foods high in fat, salt and, sugar or try eating a lower-calorie version of your favorite comfort meal. Don’t you give up on your goals sis! #werk
4. Drink Up
Confession time. I. hate. drinking. water. It’s boring and bland but I recognize all of its benefits so I keep chugging. Increasing your water intake can keep your skin healthy, control your calorie intake and, keep you regular. Generally, women require about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids each day. I know, that’s a lot of water and if you’re like me, drinking can feel like a chore, especially in the winter. So here’s what you can do to up your water intake: buy a dope water bottle and throw it into your Prada tote. You’re more likely to sip from it throughout the day if it’s with you at all times. You can also try infusing your water with fruit, cucumbers or mint to change things up. Keep experimenting. Bottoms up!
5. Sleep More
So I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of the “superwoman syndrome.” I take on too many tasks, sign up for too many activities, all while trying to juggle my family, career and, my meager social life. Rarely do I get the recommended 7-8 hour of sleep each night. Can you relate? Not getting enough sleep can affect your judgment, mood and may even increase your risk for other health conditions including obesity. It may be tempting to skimp on them z’s to get ahead but adopting good sleep habits and enforcing a consistent sleep schedule will help you get you closer to your fitness goals.
Striving for Fitness
With consistent effort, your fitness will improve throughout the year. This personal journey does not happen overnight or even in a week so be patient and treat yourself kindly. Most importantly, cheer yourself on and celebrate your success along the way. You got this!
What are your fitness goals for 2018? What are your plans to ensure you achieve them?
Follow me on own fitness and health journey on Instagram @ janelletking
Janelle King MPH, BSN, RN