#NewZealand for #Christmas with a 9 month old child – #RoadTrips #Travel #MondayBlogs

Here at Amber Halls, we’re gearing up for a summer road trip to Canada, meanwhile  I’m sharing some of our other Road-Trip experiences with you.

When my friend left to live in New Zealand we had an open invite to visit. In the first few weeks of an easy pregnancy we even considered it for when I was seven months pregnant, luckily we talked ourselves out of it. So instead we booked to go for a month the following year.



As our departure date approached, we realised travelling with a 9 month old had its own trials. (nappies, baby food, formula milk etc)

We were taking our sturdy pram to double up as a high-chair for feeding time, however it had to go in the aeroplane hold, and so we hade to carry our child around the airport for 3 hours as she was only crawling. A wilful child, she insisted on crawling around much of Heathrow in her pink baby-grow.

We booked an on-board cot and were lucky that the traveller in seat three of our line, took one look at the babe and insisted he was moved, so we had 3 seats for her to climb all over and a cot, which she refused to sleep in. Stage one – off to Kuala Lumpur and a few hours stop-over. I never found the baby changing area and looked longingly at other travellers who knew about having a stroller which they could take on-board and push their kids around in airside in the airport.

Flight two to Auckland – a bit more tricky with a child who only catnapped. Our pram arrived from the hold, damaged and spent the rest of the trip tied up with string. Spent our first few days with my friend at the house they were still building and her Pyrenean mountain dog (child-friendly it was NOT) We spent just under a week with them, acclimatising (babe slept during the day and was wakeful during the night) I recommend The Botanical Gardens in Auckland post flight as they were very peaceful after all that flying, we borrowed the car they’d shipped over from England, which after just a few days badly and embarrassingly broke down on us.

Time to leave our friends, we hired a car and set off, south, first to some glow worm caves at Waitomo  (Had to take turns as our babe was too young to go on the boats) We stayed on the shores of Lake Taupo, then, we drove up Mt Ruapehu. In Wellington we left the hire car and took the Seacat to the south island (balancing an enormous number of bags on the pram with the baby) That night we stayed near Picton, next we headed to Kaikoura for some whale watching, but found they didn’t take babies on board. So we headed south towards Christchurch then crossed the Southern Alps hoping to see Mount Cook, it was covered in cloud the day we were there)

Great scenery (yes there are sheep which you can meet on the road)  and interesting roads, single track bridges sometimes shared with train tracks, wild rivers, sun browned fields, and other times green ferns and mosses dripping with moisture, miles of traffic free roads, except for the one police speed trap which we got snapped in! Many of the motels had hot tubs, so after a day in the car we put our babe in her swim ring and let her bob about the tub with us as we relaxed. I fell in love with some of the personal mail boxes we saw. (see pictures below)

We stopped at Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier and carried our babe to the glacier foot. Then up the west coast to Westport and the Pancake Rocks, then Nelson and back to Picton and the Seacat. Time to go to Rotarua and the thermal mud areas, plus a Maori village experience. Here the babe decided she’d start walking whilst on the paths of the hot springs and only in tiny canvas slippers, “ooh ough hot”.  Christmas was spent back in Auckland with our friends, now we had a toddler, they were trying to finish outside decking and our girl was keen to show off her walking skills,  we went to the beach on Christmas Day!

The days before New Year we travelled around the Coromandel peninsula, it was lovely seeing flowers in full bloom, hay making and sunshine in what would normally be our mid-winter back home. To us the farming was of interest and I would describe it as Britain back in the 1970’s, about thirty years behind Britain.

Flights home were the same route, our baby wanted to toddle up and down the aeroplane gangway, but we coped and were even complimented by other passengers when we landed in London at how well behaved she’d been.

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Next The Fall in New England with a toddler.

Mauritius: An Indian Ocean Jewel #Travel #MondayBlogs

Welcome to the next instalment of my “Road-Trip” experiences.

View from our beach hut

View from our beach hut

Hubster and I were lucky to be able to honeymoon in Mauritius and it was the only time I could tie him down to a beach based holiday, where he didn’t hire a car. With a June wedding we then headed to the summer hemisphere in their autumn, a twelve hour flight had us arriving at the airport which is found in the south east of the island. We were greeted in arrivals by a swarm of eager baggage handlers, grabbing our bags and taking them only a short distance to a waiting mini-bus, welcome to Africa.

We’d booked a hotel at Trou-aux-Biches (sounds great in French, the English translation is mouth of bitches!)  It’s on the north of the island and settled down to a long ride, passing sugar plantations and the capital Port Louis as we dropped other passengers off at different hotels. The wait was worth it, we had a straw thatched hut on the beach- front. We shared this with geckos and one night a cockroach.

For a week the hubster prowled the beach, pool and gardens, we took a pedalo out to the reef where we got it stuck for a while and another time we booked a glass bottomed boat tour around the bay. We hired bicycles and rode to Grand Baie and walked along the beach to the local supermarket for affordable drinks and snacks, our package included breakfast and evening meals but no lunch.  One of my favourite foods was delicious vanilla tea and one of the best meals was a honeymoon special candlelit dinner with lovely fresh seafood.

After a week we had a phone call from a friend of a friend, who lived on the island. They offered to show us some of the sights, which was great as we had little money left for excursions after paying for the wedding. The wife of the doctor came with her driver/ body-guard, they explained that people of many faiths live easily side-by-side in Mauritius, however there were obvious restrictions to how the Doctor’s wife spent her days, the body-guard paid for everything and negotiated all our entrance fees to places. There were many unfinished homes with scaffolding left up for years, because only when a house was finished did the occupants have to pay tax on it. They took us to Grande Bassin a natural volcanic lake and place of religious pilgrimage, where cheeky monkeys competed for attention. Next we went to the National Botanical gardens at Pamplemousse home to giant lily’s and wide variety of palm trees. Another day they took us to Ile aux Cerfs with its beautiful beaches and our final trip was to a Giant tortoise and Crocodile nature reserve without them we would have missed much of the local flora and fauna and it was great to see a place from the POV of those who lived on the island, rather than just from the tourist perspective.

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Next week, New Zealand with a nine month old child.