It’s been a whirlwind trip.
We only left a week and a half ago, and we have a week and a half left until we are supposed to arrive home.
This has been a trip that has taught me so much; it’s taught me about just how much farther I have to go on the food freedom journey. It’s humbled me and revealed to me just how small my perspective can be, being a homebody and all that, and it’s reminded me that there are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus around the world who are missing deep Christian fellowship, and how I’ve taken that for granted.
It’s also taught me that the beauty of a vacation is not merely in the sites you get to see, the experiences you get to have, if you don’t have:
a grateful spirit.
a wonder at God’s kindness in enabling me to do something like this.
Too often, I’ve found myself being the ‘entitled American millennial’ that thinks I ‘deserve’ a good time, but I really don’t.
And when the Lord opened my eyes to see that I don’t ‘deserve a good time’, but He delights to give His children good gifts like:
stormy gorgeous beaches that look like they could’ve come straight out of a movie (Robin Hood)
rolling green hillsides dotted with ewes and lambs and cows and their calves
stunning mountain landscapes
Can you just imagine a hobbit peeking out from behind that tree?
Now what have we done in one week of being in New Zealand?
Day #1: We stayed with a Christian family north of Auckland, and we had such a wonderful time in their little 100+ year old farmhouse, that was on 600 acres of gorgeous land with cattle. It also looked over the ocean. They took us out to the ocean that day and also fed us delicious Mexican enchiladas, made plenty of hilarious jokes, and they also helped me get used to driving on the left hand side of the road.
Day #2: It was Sunday, so we went to church with the family! We had a lovely afternoon after the service with a farm walk, yummy ‘kumara’ (sweet potato) soup, and scones. Then we went back in the evening for a girls evening of encouragement.
Day #3: That was when more New Zealand adventures began. We went to an adorable little town and had fish n’ chips (the chips were SO thick cut and delish) and also enjoyed some pretty scrumptious chocolate. We said our goodbyes around 3:00 PM and drove down to Hamilton, NZ. What a drive! The traffic was not bad at all, and we enjoyed the windy roads, the constant green, and the breathtaking beauty all the way to our little Air B&B accommodations.
And the rest of the week was filled with a trip to the mountain where Mt. ‘Doom’ from Lord of the Rings was filmed. I also later learned that much of the area around the mountain had various scenes from Lord of the Rings filmed there.
We also went to some gardens in the Hamilton area called the ‘Hamilton Gardens’, and they were filled with so many different gorgeous cultural gardens from Italian to Japanese to Chinese. It was a delight seeing God’s creation, His majesty showcased in so many different ways.
What is New Zealand like?
Well we’re here in the ‘spring’, which is so weird, and I would say it’s:
sunny at times
a bit chilly if you’re coming from summer in the states
incredibly yummy yogurt and icecream
stunning varied scenery from mountains to waterfalls to green fields to the most incredible green hills that kind of pop up out of the scenery instead of being so much ‘rolling hills’, volcanic activity areas (lots of thermal pools), and yummy pastries
If you’re a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan, you can also drive down the road and just imagine hobbits tramping through the forest, the dwarves and Bilbo and Gandalf riding out on their adventure, and you can see Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in your mind running across the plains chasing the Urukhai.
Would I recommend visiting New Zealand?
My sister was able to find us tickets for under $700, and it’s not that hard to drive on the left side of the road after a few days. Just be slower, think about the turns, follow the other cars, PRAY A LOT (I have seen God’s care and compassion over us so much this whole time), stop on the side of the road if you need to do some extra navigation with your phone or GPS, and definitely go with Apex Car Rentals (not sponsored), but it was such an easy rental and comes with ferry tickets for transfer to the South Island. (I’m a bit nervous about that because I’ve never taken a car on a ferry before, but I’m praying it all goes well.
To say that New Zealand is beautiful is an understatement. I can totally see why Peter Jackson picked it for the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I have never been to another country like it, and I’m so thankful to share just tidbits with you (so hopefully you might go someday).
1 Chronicles 16:8, ‘Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.’
Right now my heart is just full of thankfulness for everything we’ve seen, and if I had to go home tomorrow, I would be so content with it, knowing that each part has been such a gift, and I don’t want to take it for granted.
Have you ever been to New Zealand?
Would you want to go to New Zealand? Are you an LOTR fan?