5 January 2021

My (New Zealand) Year in Travel 2020

I always look forward to writing these posts at the end of each year, reflecting on my year in travel, the highlights, positive experiences, favourite moments and memories.

Well, 2020 has been the first year I didn't leave the country I was living in since... 2011! That's pretty crazy! 

To wind back, at the beginning of the year, I had landed an amazing opportunity working for a start-up travel booking website and app that was due to launch in March. I was also working as a social media consultant for three incredible resorts in Fiji, so I was busy working my butt off and saving all my money for a dream trip to Japan in May.

Then, you know, the pandemic happened. 

I also had plans later in the year to travel to South America for the first time (Peru and Bolivia) and spend Christmas in Latvia (and also visit Estonia and Sweden). 

I also had the most incredible work opportunities lined up in 2020, collaborating with a huge airline (aaah!) and working with tourism boards. 

I'm not complaining here, I am just sharing how the year has affected me personally. I lost jobs and my steady income and had opportunities I'll never get again whisked away from me. 

I try to be a positive and upbeat person, and this year has certainly made feel so grateful for the experiences and travels around the world that I have had, no doubt about that. But I'm not gonna lie and say 2020 hasn't got me pretty down sometimes. 

BUT, I am so thankful to be living in New Zealand and so thankful that here we can continue on with our daily lives pretty much normally while our borders have been strictly shut. I have family in the UK and I know how much harder they have had it and still have it over there.

So for most of this year, I have been very fortunate to be able to travel freely in New Zealand. I didn't actually go anywhere I haven't been to before (then again, I've been pretty much everywhere except for the Gisborne region), but I spent a lot of time visiting family and doing little road trips and long weekend getaways with my husband to support local tourism as much as possible.

So, here is my annual 'Year in Travel' post, just focusing on New Zealand this year! I didn't get to the South Island unfortunately, (I'm booked to go early 2021) but I did visit seven out of the nine regions in the North Island. Here's a short summary by region and a favourite photo from each.  

Bay of Plenty
At the top of Mount Maunganui

I grew up in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty and that's where my family still live, so in 2020 I visited six times! I rang in the New Year there and then returned at the beginning of March, in May (after our lockdown ended), at the beginning of July, at the end of August, and then finished there for Christmas. 

Apart from spending time with family and friends, my favourite thing to do there is hiking to the top of the Mount (or around it) and walking along the beautiful beach.

I also spent a fun-filled day in Rotorua doing some touristy things. I went to Wai-O-Tapu for the first time - a large geothermal park with a geyser, and spent the afternoon Luging (racing down different tracks on go-karts). 

Te Apiti Windfarm, Manawatu
Until September 2020, I had been living in the Manawatu region since the beginning of 2018 (due to my husband's job). I certainly saw much of the region this year, doing lots of local hikes (loved the Manawatu Gorge Track), visiting the nearby Himatangi Beach, and my favourite spot was the Te Apiti Wind Farm in Woodville.

The Weta Cave, Wellywood

Having lived in Wellington for four years before moving away in 2015, and still having many friends there, my husband and I are regular visitors to the capital city. We visited a few times earlier in the year before (gladly) moving back permanently to our old house in September (husband's job again).

Throughout the year I visited the Weta Cave, Mount Victoria, did a stunning road trip to Cape Palliser, saw the cherry blossoms in Kaitoke and so much more. We are really happy to be living back here again. 

At the top of the Sky Tower, the tallest building in NZ

I flew to Auckland twice in 2020, once at the end of February to see my favourite band Tool play live, and then again in August for my sister's milestone birthday. Both times were super fun and memorable. 

Hawkes Bay
Sheep grazing the vineyards, Hawkes Bay

I also went to the Hawkes Bay twice, the first time was a long weekend winter road trip with my husband at the end of July. We did a wine tour and explored some of the best wineries in the region. The second time I flew there in November to do videography for a wedding, a new branch of work I really enjoyed and will continue pursuing.

The iconic Martinborough Hotel

The Wairarapa is another frequently visited region as my husband's father lives in Greytown. We also had two nice winery weekend getaways in Martinborough, the latest being right before Christmas working with Tourism New Zealand! 

Checking Uncle B's mail ;)

In August, I returned to probably my favourite place in the North Island - Hobbiton in Matamata! This was my third visit and highly unique as there were no international crowds. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, it was magical.

Te Rewa Rewa bridge framing Mt Taranaki

Late November, my man and I did another long weekend getaway in New Plymouth for our anniversary. Highlights were the Pouakai Tarn day hike on Mount Taranaki, the Te Rewa Rewa bridge and eating fish and chips in the car and watching the sunset (see header photo).

And that's a basic summary of my NZ travels in 2020. Here's hoping for a bit more exploration in 2021, and maybe even a cheeky island escape once our borders open up to them. 

For fun, here are my posts from the last two years if you would like to read them:

As usual, it was hard for me to pick one photo, so here are a few more favourites and top memories from throughout the year:

Cherry blossoms in Kaitoke, Upper Hutt

Hiking in the Waiohine Gorge, Wairarapa

Cape Palliser coastline, Wellington

Loved the street art in New Plymouth!

Running through the vines, Martinborough

An obscured Mt Taranaki at Pouakai Tarn

Putangirua Pinnacles hike, Cape Palliser

Wellington Cable Car

Enjoying a summer escape in Martinborough

Sunset at the Luge in Rotorua

New Years Eve with my besties in Wellington

Just for fun, my fave ice cream shop Giapo in Auckland - look closer! ;)

Feel free to follow my latest adventures on Instagram.

Happy New Year, 

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