“Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread
through shadows to the edge of night,
until the stars are all alight.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien

It's been a few weeks since we were in New Zealand and I'm still finding it hard to find the words to describe it. We fly there for Mike's brother's wedding (own blog post for this!) and then spent a few days driving from Queenstown to Auckland with Mike's mom. We were running on zero slept, drove 2600 kilometers in 5 days, and spent 40 hours in planes/airports. It honestly felt like a crazy dream, so I'm glad I have the images to look back on and remember what happened! I've never felt so small, yet so alive than when I was standing on top of a mountain overlooking more mountains! Breathing the fresh air, eating the delicious food (the pancakes!!!!), and taking in all the amazing sites will live on in my memories forever and taunt at me to go back! There are certain places you visit that you instantly feel like you belong there and this was one of those places for me, along with Italy and California. There was a relaxed feeling to the South island that just spoke to my heart and soul.

The first few days we spent in Queenstown with the grooms and then we headed on our road trip to Auckland. The first few photos are of our time in Queenstown at the top of the Skyline Gondola overlooking Lake Wakatipu. We were so lucky to stay with the grooms at their wedding venue Queenstown Country Lodge, which was run by two of the sweetest people! Fiona & Barry!! Fiona makes a killer breakfast and Barry makes wicked coffee! Barry also let me feed the sheep, so he's a winner in my book right there! We took some sunset photos at Lake Hayes. A highlight of the trip was taking a scenic flight over Fiordland National Park and then a cruise in Milford Sounds. I've never seen such a clear sky in my life, so we did some of our first star gazing photos! We attended the wedding and the next day we took a fun drive out to Glenorchy.

After the wedding we headed on our road trip driving to these resting spots, but stopping at a million places in between: Queenstown - Hokitika - Picton - Palmerston North - Waitomo - Auckland. Queenstown - Hokitika was my favorite drive ever! In the course of 8 hours we drove through a cloud on top of a mountain, walked to the blue pools, walked through a rain forest, ate along the beach, and then hiked a glacier mountain at sunset! Our last view that night before the sunset was mountains, the next morning we woke up to the beach! In Hokitika we were able to see some artists creating jade jewelry while we ate our puffy pastry breakfast. We then headed to Picton to catch the ferry to Wellington. The ferry was awesome as we sailed from one island to the next during sunset.

The next two days we went to the glow worm caves in Waitomo, which was an incredible site! They're like little stars in a cave! We also had to go to Hobbiton! The books mean so much to Mike and we of course prepared by watching all the movies before we went. Hey, hey, Legolas! The hobbit houses were the cutest things ever and I never wanted to leave! I could just live there .. but I'd settle for Mike building me one in our backyard ;) On our final night, we hit up Sky City for some beautiful views of Auckland and bought some gifts from Craftworld (local artists!!!).

It was an adventure of a lifetime and even better that we were able to spend it with family!