Queenstown is reminiscent of some of my favorite holiday towns… Whistler, Chelan and Tahoe with an adventurous spin; it is after all, the adventure capital of the world. I managed to last 2 days in town without jumping off a bridge, jumping out of an airplane or doing the shot over jet around the lake – not out of lack of desire, but when you’re traveling on a budget you really have to weigh out your pricey activities. After the disappointment of being grounded on my first attempt to skydive due to the cyclone in Harvey Bay the morning of my birthday, the idea lost a bit of its lackluster (I think I’ll wait for Skydive Chelan this summer …or maybe on my layover in Dubai J). Lucky for us, there was PLENTY to do in Queenstown that didn’t involve risking your life or dropping a week’s budget on activities. We rode bikes around the lake, yogi’d up at 7am for a rise and shine class, dined about at some incredible restaurants (the Find, Pig & Whistle, Vudu and Fergburger – currently 2nd ranked burger in my book. The Pharmacy in Nashville has it beat!), and bar hopped with some fellow travelers. The town seems to always be alive, always ready for the next round of out-of-towners to pop in and always has a line up at Fergburger.

About an hour north of Queenstown is Lake Wanaka, a peaceful town with breathtaking views. We were both wiped from lack of sleep, so we ended up sleeping most the evening away, which sometimes you just have to do! Early to rise, I ventured out for a run around the lake. The morning sun was breathing life into me as I struggled to keep a decent pace – all the wine and grub is seriously starting to catch up with me. Passing by families playing on the beach and couples putting together breakfast out of their camper vans had me thinking how charming of a vacation spot it is for families. I will certainly be back someday with mine.

With one day left in NZ, we started to make the trek north to Christchurch, about 6hours drive. Our first stop along the road was Wanaka Lavender Farms – possibly my favorite find on our whole road trip. I had been craving some lavender ice cream and their lavender honey blend did not disappoint. Strolling throughout the gardens while drinking in the smell of lavender and roses I couldn’t help but think, this is the spot where I’d love to celebrate life with special people something someday – whether it be a big birthday, wedding, anniversary or who knows…just celebrating being alive would work! The simplicity of the farm, striking landscape, surrounding wineries, flawless weather and kindhearted young men who own the place brought the biggest smile to my heart. (ß kinda sounds like Woodinville?! J)

One last stop in Lake Tekapo topped it off, a super small town situated on a dazzling green lake. We stayed long enough for a drink but then had to hit the road to get back to Christchurch for our flight. That’s when the giggle fest began… we had to be at the airport at 4am, so we decided it was a good idea to sleep in our car instead of dealing with accommodations. Strolling into the airport, we couldn’t better fit the label “hot mess”… or so we thought. At the ticket counter, we were told our bags were too heavy for carryon and it would be $160 each to check them. There was NO WAY we were paying that. Thankfully Anne and I are both huge Joey Tribiani fans and saw the episode of “could I be wearing anymore clothes?”… off to the bathroom we went to toss out anything we didn’t need and layer up as many clothes as possible. I will forever keep the photo reel of Anne in 2 pairs of pants, a dress, 5 pull-overs, a coat stuffed with her purse, laptop and who knows what else. I’m sure we turned many heads on our walk of shame back to the counter — all in all, mission successful. Kara + Anne : 1, Jetstar : 0.

What a week, New Zealand. Can’t wait to come back!