Bloomin’ Fantastic!

Since we got back from New Zealand a few people have been asking me when’s the best time to head over for skiing. To which I helpfully answer I dunno. Although the South Island has pretty good snow throughout the season, generally it gets the best dumps of snow either at the start of the season (July) or towards the end (September). This year we waited until the end and there was some good snow shortly before we arrived, but because of the beautiful warm weather a fair bit of it melted. Which was still fine.  It was fabulous, in fact!

I’m glad we went when we did, because after we finished on the snow we got to see Aotearoa cloaked in her gorgeous spring finery. I’d never experienced Spring like it and it blew my tiny mind. Everywhere we looked nature bloomed in brilliant hues of pink, red, orange, violet, white and yellow on trees, hedges, bushes and lawns. I took over 1,000 photos IN SIX DAYS.

In Wanaka, strolling into town for morning tea.
In Wanaka, strolling into town for morning tea. Cousins, Lake Wanaka, and Mt Aspiring NP in the background.

I might even go so far as to say it might be worth living in such a cold climate if you get to see all of this stunningness every year! And to appreciate the passing of each phase of the year more thoroughly.

In Wanaka, walking over to the cafe for morning tea.

The top bit of a massive magnolia tree.
Magnolia magnificence.
This little bush is practically ALL flowers!
In our Wanaka bach’s garden. This little bush was almost entirely flowers!
Just down the street.
Cherry blossoms on nearly every corner.

I finally get why springtime is big for new beginnings, and romance, and everyone just being generally happier. It’s warmer, brighter, colourful and vibrant. Everything is humming with life. Though that could also be the bumblebees.

Maybe it’s something in the air, something our Cro-Magnon brains respond to subconsciously… it’s time to get out of the cave house and get outdoors!

red robin bird in tree Wanaka
A silvereye, I think. Taken from our balcony.
Precious petals...
Cherry blossoms beside Lake Wanaka.


I’ve always said autumn was my favourite season, but I might have to qualify that: my favourite season in Australia. And Japan too. Even though we don’t have proper seasons on the Gold Coast – from winter to summer the temperature jumps about 10C, the humidity shoots up to 75%, and it’s wetter with more storms.

The Cardrona had cherry blossoms all over the place. We *just* missed the Blossom Festival.
The backyard of the Cardrona was chockers with cherry trees!

But we have no “dead of winter”. Everything stays warm and lush and green except for a scattering of imported trees. Oh, and our native Illawarra Flame Tree of course! It drops its leaves then in spring does this…

This photo was taken at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and I then took it from
They pop up everywhere! This particular one’s at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Borrowed from

But springtime in Enzed is something special. A road trip is stunning at any time but when the countryside is bursting with colour from flowering gorse,  grasses, kowhai and various fruit trees there’s even more to look at.

A tui (bird) in a kowhai (tree). The kowhai is almost an unofficial national symbol, and has strong spiritual meaning for the Maori people. Funnily enough, Tui is a popular brand of New Zealand beer, while the kowhai tree's flowers tuis And bellbirds, kakas and other nectar-loving New Zealand birds.
A tui (bird) in a kowhai (tree). The kowhai (pronounced “koff-eye”) is a Kiwi national symbol, and has strong spiritual meaning for the Maori people. Useful fact #5647: Tui is also a popular brand of New Zealand beer.

(Please note if you ever ask for ‘some Tuis’, especially in Sydney, make sure the bartender gets you these


and not this



Our overnight trip to Invercargill to visit the in-laws was short but sweet (the boys loved Bill Richardson’s Transport World, might tell you about it later) and we enjoyed the Devil’s Staircase with its stunning views of Lake Wakatipu twice! No photos though; J doesn’t stop at any of the lookouts because we’ve driven it so many times.

Actually, hang on…


Borrowed from a nice lady's Twitter feed. Thanks Monica!
Borrowed from a nice lady’s Twitter feed. Thanks Monica! The “Devil’s Staircase”, aka the Queenstown-Invercargill Road.
Have you any wool? Minor lambage on the drive back to Arrowtown. Aw so cute! As an aside, I’ll never forget something J told me when we first visited during lambing season. I was delightedly watching them gambolling about in the sunshine and said something along the lines of “It’s a good day to be a lamb.” And J, a lamb-chop-loving Kiwi farm boy from way back answered “Yeah. Not in a few months though.”



Around Arrowtown was particularly gorgeous. I walked into town, the shadow of the hills chasing me the whole way, everything backlit by the afternoon sun. Blossoms glowed like hundreds of tiny lanterns; light pink, dark pink, white, yellow, orange and red.

spring backlit flowers Arrowtown
Pussy willow. A pest species and total pain in the arse according to the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries, but it’s so pretty.
brilliant-red-berries Japanese Rowan tree berries
My best guess from image search is this is a Japanese Rowan tree. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!
'Golden Hour' indeed!
Another kowhai. It’s not called ‘the golden hour‘ for nothing!
I love these! Saw them all over the place! They looked so dang familiar though...
I love these! Saw them all over the place! They looked so dang familiar…
... wasn't until we got home that I realised I've had 2 big branches of fake ones in a vase in our bathroom for, I dunno, the past four years.
It wasn’t until we got home that I realised I’ve had 2 big branches of fake ones in a vase in our bathroom for, I dunno, the past four years. Camellias. Duh.
Looks like another
Another of those American Sweetgums? With some of The Remarkables mountain range in the background.

My favourite bit was a gorgeous little old graveyard bounded by a schist wall, the wrought iron gate flanked by cherry trees.

cherry blossoms graveyard wall Arrowtown

It was so peaceful with the sunlight streaming through, the occasional petal fluttering down, dislodged by foraging bumblebees.

I was having rather a lot of trouble with the

I shattered that peace a few times with my sacrilegious swearing though; frustrated with my camera and myself I was having rather a hard time balancing the extremes of light and dark. Note for next time: study up on ‘High Dynamic Range’.


cherry blossoms Arrowtown New Zealand


Gorgeous cottages around here. I love the stained glass.
Gorgeous wee cottages around here! I love the local stone.
Whitewash is charming too. Isn’t it precious?
Found my way onto the Queenstown Trail... remember that?
Found my way onto the Queenstown Trail down by the river… remember that?
Walking beside the Arrow River.
Walking beside the Arrow River.


Eventually made it to town – normally a 10 minute stroll my compulsive photo taking blew it out to about an hour. SO FUN!

On the tiny main street. Such unique and creative little shops… no chain stores to be seen!

Nearly there…

... where we had a delicious dinner in the beer garden surrounded by plum trees.
Made it! Our usual sundowner haunt; the beer garden at The Fork and Tap.

Had just missed exciting talk of SIL Becky’s big birthday for next year – it’s in Fiji (!!!) – but was just in time for a local brew and a delicious tea; half my crumbed blue cod and half of J’s pork belly sliders… OMG. Sliding pig tummies are definitely added to the list of “must nom” holiday fare.

The boys love this cubby!
The boys love this cubbyhouse! They had a bucket brigade going with saucepans from the sandpit and dumped about 20kg of dirt into a huge pile on the floor.


Back home…

Quote of the Day c/- me and the boys:

Me (singing nicely): Oh what a beautiful mooorning, oh what a beautiful…

Boys (yelling): DAY!!!!!

Back to the Gold Coast today. The boys were up at a sparrow’s fart this morning, thumping around upstairs for 10 minutes laughing like loons. Then they made even more noise banging down the stairs, before sneaking to our bedroom door. We could hear them stage whispering sssshhhh be quiet, let’s wake them up (*giggles*). So we called out GOOD MORNING BOYS and they charged in to jump on the bed and yell how did you know we were there?! Gee I don’t know – we must be psychic. Had a laugh when J said suddenly, “Hey guys, listen! Listen!” …and when they did, he farted. Very loudly, for quite a long time. “DA-AD!!” Cue more laughing, wrestling and yelling. Rory also got Teddy to execute a “SPIRAL ATTACK!” Pokemon move on him which was a new one.

Looks like someone else is up up and away this morning...
Looks like someone else is up up and away this morning…

Quick cup of tea in between packing the boys’ and my suitcases and checking out of our apartment; the manager gave us his personal number and said next time to call him direct and he’ll give us a discount! Nice.

After brekkie at the Bonjour creperie by the river we split up – to go and skim stones (J and Finn) and to shake cherry trees and get snowed on by petals (me and Roars). A trio of English backpackers even teamed up to shake a big one for him – he loved it! Hopefully next snow trip the boys will get to see actual snow falling.

And then off to the airport and a straight shot home. Til next time!

Thank you and goodnight.

P.S. Oh by the way we thought big snows were over for the season. Then this happened last week –

Ye gods!! We were sitting at that table having dinner in the sunshine a few weeks ago. And this is at low altitude! D'OH.
Ye gods!! We were sitting at that table having dinner in the sunshine just a few weeks ago. And this is at low altitude! Cool as photo by my snowed-in in-laws.


– Michelle

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Bryanna says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes thousands of photos while travelling 😉 umm how have I never seen this amazing Flame Tree?! Looks like I need to get out and about in my own backyard a bit more. Speaking of which, our good old neighbour New Zealand, has welcomed me 4 times so far (I’m a little obsessed!), but i have never been over when the flowers are blooming like this. WOW! I was there once during some part of spring, because there were baby lambs everywhere…maybe I was too focused on them to see the beautiful flowers. Oh well, looks like I’ll have to book some more flights! #iblameyou 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle says:

      New Zealand is worth multiple trips – so much to see, and every season has something new to offer. The permutations are endless! We’ve been over many times in spring, during the lambing season, but I’d never seen it like this either. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could live a full YEAR in every place we visited, just so we didnt miss anything? #happytotaketheblame


  2. Christopher says:

    I’ve been in love with New Zealand ever since I saw the TV adaptation of Maurice Gee’s Under The Mountain as a wee one. It’s set in Auckland which is nice but doesn’t do nearly enough to show the spectacular diversity of the place.
    Having great subjects helps but you really have an artist’s eye for capturing the beauty of places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle says:

      Thanks Christopher, I feel all gooey! I thought there were notable differences between North and South, although it’s all stunning, and the diversity even happens from town to town as well as island to island. They say you can’t take a bad photo in New Zealand and I reckon they’re right. If there could be anywhere to lure me away from living on the Gold Coast the South Island would be it. Not that I would, but it’s already my second home 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been so long since I’ve gone and read my favorite blogs!! I started work again, this school year, and I’ve somehow found it so difficult to make time to read/write as much as I want. Anyway, I’m off all week so I’m going to make up for lost time. First of all, I absolutely love your new blog theme. I know you did it a while ago, but I have to comment on that again. It looks fantastic! It seriously makes me want to rethink MY blog theme and start the whole thing over. So, so nice. Also, I’m jealous of your New Zealand travels. My husband and I have put that place at the very top of our list of places we want to see, and your pictures have reminded me why. It looks incredible there! That flame tree is simply awesome!! Great pictures and writing. 🙂


    1. Michelle says:

      *screams quietly* Thank you so much Schnitty! I love your comments. And I totally agree with you, I love my new blog theme too. I just suddenly went looking one day and found it, then wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. That’s what I love about WordPress, you can just try on new themes like you’re Pretty Woman trying on dresses, and it’s easy peasy.
      And New Zealand is somewhere that I hope everyone gets the chance to visit, you guys especially, because it’s seriously so beautiful and awesome and lovely and my home away from home. In some ways I like it even better than Australia, but I would NEVER admit that, especially to my Kiwi hubby. 😉
      Hope you enjoy your week off – I was very soon going to drop you a line at your blog, wondering where you’d disappeared to. 🙂 Hope the job doesn’t interfere *too* much with your blogging, I’ve just caught up with everyone again and hope to catch up with you soon too. No pressure!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’m going to spend some time looking at new themes today…:-) My problem is that I actually PAID for the one I have, so I feel sort of guilty trading it in for something else. Argh. But, anyway, your blog looks really, really great! You have such a great style between the photos you take and your narration behind them. 🙂 I’m super excited for a week off!!! It will give me some time to get the house clean and to catch up on reading blogs/writing mine/and just having time to do things other than school work. I hope you had a great weekend!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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