It all started one morning in April 2019 when I opened an email from my sister Judie.
“Let’s do something crazy…come to New Zealand with me!” it said.
My initial reaction was “I can’t possibly do that. It’s too far, too expensive, and I’ve got too much going on in the rest of my life.” But suddenly, a wave of rebelliousness and an inescapable urge to throw caution to the wind and do something I really wanted to, instead of trying to be practical and sensible, washed over me. Giving in to its siren song, I typed,
“So funny-I was just thinking about taking a trip with you in 2020! And this one was on both of our bucket lists.”
As I took a deep breath and hit “Send” I suddenly felt like I’d taken a step in the right direction, toward a world filled with endless possibilities.
Thus began our odyssey to the legendary and captivating island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
The first decision we had to make was whether we wanted to travel with a group or by ourselves. We went back and forth but finally decided that, given that we only had a week, a group led by someone local and familiar with New Zealand and all it had to offer would probably give us a more comprehensive introduction to the country. After looking around, we chose Classic Journeys, a company with excellent reviews from both the travel industry (Travel + Leisure’s Best Tour Operator-2019) and their many repeat clients that prides itself on providing the “trip of a lifetime” for excellent value. A few of the things that appealed to us about Classic Journeys was that the tour groups are small (averaging 10-12 guests), the price was inclusive (no surprise add-ons), and the itinerary included a wide range of daily activities and plenty of walking so we wouldn’t be spending most of our time sitting in a bus or van.
Once we’d signed up with them, we obtained travel insurance, applied for the NZeTA, and booked our flights. Since the trip is such a long one-about 18 hours-we decided to spend the night visiting a childhood friend in San Francisco on the way out and power directly through on the way home. Now all that was left to do was find our passports, pack our bags, and prepare for the journey of a lifetime!