Arriving in New Zealand always feels so nice after a long flight. The air is so clean and the people are so friendly. So despite being exhausted, we were also all quite buzzed about being back and getting to see all our family, and especially, the cousins.
The day after we arrived, we left the boys with Grandma and flew to Wellington, where I would be receiving my New Zealand Citizenship.
It was great being back in Wellington and getting to walk the streets and reminisce. We even stopped in for a beer and fries at our favorite old Belgium Bar, Leuven.
That evening at Te Papa, I officially became a citizen.
And after we celebrated with burritos and margaritas with Pearl, Nick, Faith and Axel.
The next day we were back at the airport lounge toasting a successful trip but also excited and anxious to see the boys again. Grandma gave us a glowing report when we returned. Toby has no problem taking cows milk before going to sleep and Jude was apparently very helpful.
The next few days we spent relaxing and enjoying all the things we missed about New Zealand.
We popped in for a visit at Luke’s Oma’s house and Toby and Jude had an awesome time playing with their second cousin, Travis.
We also hung out at Abby and Brad’s one sunny afternoon and lucky Jude got to ride a 4-wheeler and help herd the cows for milking.
On the weekend, we visited Grandma and Dean’s house on the coast. They have several cows grazing and the boys went nutty trying to pet them.
They also loved picking the delicious strawberries from her organic veggie garden and helping to water the plants.
At the time, there was a lot of tough days for us with the boys being sick. Toby was so clingy and difficult when he had his cough. It was really exhausting for me.
And on Christmas Day we had such a tough morning at the ER with Jude that it took us awhile to get into the Christmas spirit. But once we were at Abby and Brads, with everyone, it didn’t take long.
Here are the gorgeous hosts and the incredible table Abby made all by herself!
Another happy Auntie.
We had so much fun and a lot of laughs (especially during the water fight).
It was so cool to have all the cousins together in one room, and then on one couch. It’s going to be awesome to see them as they grow over the years. Little Harriet and Eli, the youngest, will surely be walking and talking next time we see them. So hard to imagine.
On Boxing Day, the family got together again for a belated celebration of Faith’s 21st Birthday. Jude and I stayed behind at Grandma’s house as he needed to rest up before our trip to the South Island. I was sad to have missed it as it looked like a great day at the beach.
And the next day we flew down to Christchurch, rented a car, and after a 2 hour drive arrived in Hanmer Springs.
We rented a house with our dear friends. The last time we were all together was 3 years ago in Singapore.
Excitingly, these two lovely ladies are both pregnant so we had a lot to chat about.
Hanmer Springs is a great little holiday destination. It has a cute little town, gorgeous moutain views, and hot spring…there’s not much else. So we didn’t do much besides eat, swim and sleep.
The exception to this being a trip to a small animal park that we caught word of.
It was awesome and turned out to be a big highlight for us.
It was such a nice, relaxing time and thankfully Jude was able to recover from his croup while we were there.
It was certainly sad to say goodbye to our friends as we don’t know when the next time we will all be together will be.
After Hanmer, we flew back up to Auckland and spent a night in the airport hotel before flying back. (Well, before Jude, Toby and I flew back. Luke had to take a different flight because of a last minute issue he had to deal with.)
Our dear New Zealand family and friends, we miss you so! Thank you for all the great memories! And for those we didn’t get to see on this trip, hopefully next time!