TravelBeet Monthly Recap: December 2016

These monthly recaps have been making me painfully aware of how fast time is flying! We had quite a busy December, so this post is pretty lengthy. We’re grateful for the amount of highlights we have to share this month!

Destinations Visited

New Zealand

  • South Island: Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Arrowtown, Queenstown, Fiordland & Milford Sound

Australia

  • Sydney (2 nights)
  • Cairns (4 nights)
  • Gold Coast (6 nights)
  • Brisbane (7 nights)

Favorite Places

Wanaka and Queenstown were so much fun for different reasons. Wanaka is so gorgeous it’s almost magical. Set next to the gorgeous lake by the same name, it provides access to the gorgeous Mount Aspiring National Park and many day hikes. Queenstown is a much more lively town, although it’s still very small, consisting of only a few main blocks.

In Australia, we really enjoyed Cairns and Brisbane. Our Airbnb in Cairns was a private room in a lofty beach house; our hosts were very laid-back and nice, and that made a big difference. Plus, Cairns was our jumping off point to the Great Barrier Reef. We spent 7 nights in the Brisbane Marriott, which was in a great location, and we really enjoyed exploring the city – where I studied abroad!

Highlights

Getting a free night at our AirBnb in Albert Town. Our extremely generous AirBnb host in Albert Town, right next to Wanaka, heard our story about traveling the world and gifted us a free night in her gorgeous cottage. We wanted to stay in her cottage forever with its kitchen, free & fast wifi, and access to fresh veggies from her garden!

Roy’s Peak hike. This was probably the most strenuous hike we did during our month in New Zealand. The effort combined with the views made this hike so rewarding and unforgettable.

Getting deals in Queenstown. Thanks to my awesome friend Lindy, she hooked us up with her friends in Queenstown, who got us some great deals on activities!

Bungee jumping. Pete decided to do the Nevis Bungee, while I was perfectly content (and still terrified) to be a spectator.

Hanging out with our friends Christina & Teddy. This was the second time we met up with them, and we had a ton of fun with them in Queenstown!

Boat trip & scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. If you follow our Instagram/Facebook, you know we took a trip to the Great Barrier Reef on a gorgeous ship called the Falla. We made some friends and memories (sorry for the cheese) during this day-long trip.

Memorable Moments

Walking around the tilted house in Puzzling World, Wanaka. We couldn’t stop laughing as we walked around this kid’s attraction; it was such a crazy phenomenon. Post to come!

A stuck jukebox. We were eating Chinese food in a small suburb in the Gold Coast (Tugun), Australia. The Chinese restaurant happened to be inside a “club” where many older Australians were getting drunk having some beers.  A man put some money into the juke box and “We are the Champions” began to play…until it got stuck. Pete and I tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle our laughter as we watched multiple old men kick and hit the jukebox until eventually, one of their wives quietly unplugged it. I don’t think we’ll ever hear that song the same way again.

Being pulled out of bed at 11pm to “make a party.” Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast is not exactly a low-key place. Therefore, we shouldn’t have been surprised when our German Airbnb host convinced us to come out and “make a party” with him and his friends. We surprised ourselves when we stopped watching our Netflix, changed out of our pajamas and followed his orders.

Challenges

Camping with sand flies. Yes, we wrote about this in our last monthly recap. But the sand flies we experienced at the beginning of December in NZ were unbelievable. At first we thought it was lightly raining…until we realized the sound was from the sand flies landing on our tent. Since words won’t do it justice, here’s a picture of our tent:

sand flies

The cold weather of NZ. We never quite got used to the cold temperatures in the “summer” of New Zealand, especially because we tent camped.

Lost luggage. Even though it was a super simple, direct flight from Queenstown to Sydney, they somehow managed to lose Pete’s luggage. The good news? They delivered it the next night, right to our Airbnb!

A brush with coral. Pete’s not afraid of many things, but one of those things is touching coral. He was so fixated during our dive in the great barrier reef by some baby clown fish that he didn’t notice the coral on his other side and bumped into it pretty hard. He got marks on his arm and stomach.

Spending Christmas without our families. This was a tough one – our first Christmas away from our families, on the other side of the world. While we’re really grateful for video chat technology, we missed our Christmas traditions and our loved ones. Post to come!

The Best Things We Ate

Fergburger. We literally could not get enough of this famous burger joint in Queenstown. We ate there 3 times during the 3 days we had in Queenstown.

Pizzas from Pak n save. Food in New Zealand isn’t exactly cheap…unless you shop at Pak’nSave, a gloriously inexpensive grocery store. They sell fresh pizzas, baked in house daily, for $3-4. These provided a great break from our steady diet of sandwiches.

The Best Place We Stayed

Our favorite accommodation during December was, of course, the Brisbane Marriott. We stayed here for a week for free with my Marriott points. It was great to stay at a nice hotel for a week; we posted up, got free breakfast every morning and free dinner canapes & drinks every evening. This allowed us to save a ton of money!

Most Popular Blog Post

Singapore Airlines First Class Review

Posts Published

Pete:

Brittany:

Most Popular Instagram Photo

Lake Marian, in Fiordland National Park.

Coming Up in January 2016

Here are our plans for January:

  • Cook Islands
  • French Polynesia: Moorea & Tahiti
  • Easter Island
  • Australia: Perth and Melbourne
  • Egypt

Blog Posts: Expect more posts about the south island of New Zealand and Australia

Thanks for tuning in for our monthly recap! We are so grateful that you’re following along. Is there anything else you’d like us to include (or remove)? We’d love your feedback!

2 Comment

  1. Janice THOMPSON says: Reply

    I look sooo forward to these monthly recaps! Please don’t remove any of it; the categories are great and the summary of articles is wonderful for making sure I saw everything. LOL on the jukebox story- love when you share the small everyday events. Kudos to the Albert Town Airbnb host, I bet you have met many “gems” along your path 🙂

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying them as much as we are! Yes, we certainly have 🙂 More stories to share about the friendly folks of Rarotonga & Tahiti from the past few days!

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