Oh hey there, hive! Mr. Wallaby and I went and got hitched a month ago, and now we are waiting with very very baited breath for our pro pics from the Big Day. But in the meantime…let’s talk about the Wallaby honeymoon down undah!
Mr. W and I got married on a Saturday night, so we had some free time to pack our bags on Sunday before my parents dropped us off at the airport. We boarded our flight to Dallas…and then our flight to Auckland…and then our flight to Nelson…and finally, after 24 hours of traveling, we arrived in beautiful Nelson, New Zealand (Mrs. Earrings‘s hometown!). We hailed a cab to our hotel, the Grand Mercure Monaco (conveniently close to the airport!) and crashed harddddd. I think we slept for about eight hours before regaining consciousness and finding ourselves famished. It was nine at night, and our dining options were limited. We peeked into the sleek hotel restaurant and knew that our greasy hair and travelwear (particularly my worn-out yoga pants and bed hair) weren’t appropriate dress. So we walked 30 minutes down the quiet streets of Nelson to the nearest restaurant that was open, a small Indian joint. We took back some curry to our hotel, ate a little, and resumed our post-wedding sleep-a-thon.
Two exhausted Wallabies en route to Nelson / Personal photo
Check out that view from the plane. Is this real life? / Personal photo
The next morning, when we were in better shape to operate a motor vehicle, we picked up our rental, Sunny, at Pegasus Rentals. We got a special upgrade for being lovesick honeymooners, and Sunny did us well over the next few days. Mr. W navigated our way out of the city while behind the wheel, I tried my hardest to stay in the left-hand lane (it definitely takes some time to adjust to driving on the wrong side of the road!), and we began our journey to Golden Bay.
I’m not even sure if I’m qualified to drive a car in a foreign country on the wrong side of the road. At any rate, here’s Sunny! / Personal photo
We drove up, down, and around, traversed some steep hills, and finally pulled up to our honeymoon cottage, Adrift at Golden Bay. Adrift is several beautiful modern yet earthy cottages on a beachfront property run by a sweet Canadian/British couple, Gordon and Bess, who love to say that they traveled the world, ended up at New Zealand, and never left. Their hospitality was topnotch, and I know our time at Adrift will be hard to top. Here’s our beautiful honeymoon cottage, fully pimped out with a kitchenette, a Jacuzzi, two warm robes, a deck overlooking the beach, and, of course, the beach itself:
Our cozy little cottage for two at Adrift at Golden Bay / Personal photo
I loved our earthy digs in Golden Bay, complete with two warm fuzzy bathrobes. / Personal photo
Breakfast in paradise / Personal photo
Lounge chairs to enjoy the view of Golden Bay—I miss it already. / Personal photo
After unwinding for a while, Mr. W and I were ready to venture out and see some of the area. So we hopped back in Sunny and drove 15 minutes to Pupu Springs. (We are both 13-year-old boys and giggled at the name for a century. Plenty of Pupu jokes followed.) The hike to the springs was a disappointment—a quick 15-minute walk on a boardwalk—but the springs were incredible: crystal-clear water that actually glowed a bright emerald color.
The ever-entertaining Pupu Springs / Personal photo
At Fresh Choice, the nearest grocery store, we picked up supplies for the next few days. And Mr. W couldn’t resist a Texas muffin (!!! didn’t know there was such a thing?), which we basically wolfed down while driving Sunny back to the cottage.
Delectable Texas muffins, on display at Fresh Choice in Takaka / Personal photo
On Thursday we were fully rested and down to explore. We made the trip through beautiful farmland, and past marshes and small beach towns, to the northernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island. We stopped first at Cape Tribulation:
Cape Tribulation / Personal photo
Sheer joy / Personal photo
Farther down the road, we parked Sunny at the car park at Whahairiki Beach and set off on the longer “scenic walking track” to the beach. The path wound around two lakes, through pastures (hi sheep!), and abruptly ended in a meadow at the top of a steep hill. We wandered around for a while searching for the path, and ended up turning around, walking back to the car park, and taking the short route down to the beach. Our path was blocked by a family of not-too-shy cows:
Get off my path! / Personal photo
But they eventually shuffled aside, and we finally made it to the beach. The beach at the end of the world. It was dream-like—sand blowing across picturesque dunes, an endless stretch of sandy beach, and some large rock formations worn away by wind and water. We frolicked on the beach for a long time and admired the incredible nature.
Sweeping New Zealand landscape, and behind it Whahairiki Beach / Personal photo
Ugh. So pretty. / Personal photo
Mr. W wouldn’t stop talking about that monolith, which he goofily referred to as Plymouth Rock. / Personal photo
Oh heyy / Personal photo
Unfortunately, for all its beauty, Whahairiki Beach was freakin’ COLD. The wind chilled me down to my bones. So eventually Mr. W and I hiked back to the car, and back at our cozy abode at Adrift, I cooked up some mouthwatering spaghetti. (We were honeymooning…I wasn’t about to get that fancy in the kitchen.) We happily fell asleep watching Chocolat on the couch. (Guess who picked the movie that night?)
Friday morning, we woke up to an ugly reminder of the freezing afternoon at the beach. Both Mr. W and I were snotty, feverish, and coughing up a lung. We managed to make it through the wedding week without getting sick, but now we were definitely under the weather. Since it was our last full day at Golden Bay, though, we sucked it up and bought some cold medications at Fresh Choice, and we headed out to Abel Tasman National Park. The park is a gem—it’s made up of forested hills, pristine valleys, rocky shorelines, and iconic beaches. Add the drama of twisty, windy roads up steep inclines and around tight corners, with sweeping views at every turn, and it is a place in a league of its own.
Extreme photography, Wallaby style / Personal photo
Our first stop was The Grove Scenic Reserve. We left Sunny in a small car park and wandered into the woods on a small, rustic trail. I felt like we walked onto a set of Jurassic Park—the jungle-y northern rÄtÄ trees and Nikau palms created a dense canopy; insects chirped loudly; and vines dangled here and there, offering Mr. Wallaby a George of the Jungle moment. (I didn’t get his vine-swinging on camera, but I did get an amazing photo later on the trip, in Port Douglas—stay tuned!) The 20-minute walk led to a lookout over a beautiful valley of grazing sheep, and beyond that, a stunning coastline.
Oh hi! / Personal photo
Doing some amateurish parkeur at The Grove / Personal photo
After The Grove, we drove further into Abel Tasman, stopping several times to park the car and take in the lush forests and the emerald green sea. So cheesy, I know—but this place is seriously gorgeous.
Penguin x-ing!! / Personal photo
I die: The rugged New Zealand coastline / Personal photo
We were puttering along the coast on Abel Tasman Drive when the pavement ended and the road ahead was unpaved. I tentatively drove a few hundred feet along the bumpy unpaved road when Mr. W made me stop and turn the car around—he was really worried about Sunny popping a tire. Very close to the point where we turned around was a turnoff for Wainui Falls. There weren’t any other cars parked at the trail head, but we were intrigued by the idea of hiking to a big waterfall. Our cold medicine hadn’t worn off yet, so we parked the car and set off down the trail. Unlike the boring shmoring 20-minute walking track at Pupu Springs (ha!), this hike was one for adventurers—the path crossed a river and several creeks and wound around some steep drop-offs, and we even encountered a one-person swing bridge.
I’m not gonna lie, we were a little nervous to cross the bridge—we were the only hikers on the trail, and 100 feet below the bridge was a rocky riverbed—but we crossed our fingers and went for it. I’m so glad we did, because the bridge definitely added to the adventure factor of the hike.
Mr. W traversing the bridge, that daredevil / Personal photo
Twenty minutes farther up the trail, we walked around a bend and caught a glimpse of mist rising up from below. (Cue the dramatic music!) A few steps farther and we saw the whole roaring waterfall tumbling over a pile of rocks. It was a very serene place, and experiencing it alone with the two of us was really special.
Mr. W hamming it up in front of the falls—notice a pattern of us taking pictures of each other? / Personal photo
After the waterfall encounter and the long hike back to Sunny, we were both starting to feel under the weather again. We popped into a cute little cafe on Pohara Beach, the Penguin Cafe (I was sucked in by the name), and we warmed up with a hot chocolate before making the drive back to Adrift.
The next morning, we packed our bags, enjoyed one more scenic breakfast on the deck of our honeymoon cottage, and returned to Nelson for our next flight. As usual, we were running pretty late, and I was getting a little anxious crazy. Mr. W was ready to sedate me by the time we arrived at the airport in Nelson. There was a silver lining, though—Nelson Airport was tiny! There are several rows of seats for you to wait for your flight, a cafe, a ticket desk, and several car rental counters…and that’s it. We walked in, sat down, sipped on lattes, and walked out onto the tarmac and boarded our plane when it was time. No security line! I marveled at the luxury of traveling on a small domestic flight—we didn’t have to take off our shoes, put all our bags of mini-liquids in a tray, or get groped by a security agent. I could definitely get used to living in New Zealand.
Next up: Queenstown!