This place is made for honeymoons.
Like many honeymooners, we started off in Bora Bora. I think that 95% of the people we saw were also newlyweds. We might have seen two or three families at our resort but it was pretty much all starry-eyed couples like us J
When flying into Bora Bora, you first land at Papeete, the major airport of Tahiti. By the way, Tahiti = French Polynesia. French Polynesia is the official country name for customs forms, hotel address, etc. Lots of cute touches on our Air Tahiti flight – the salt and pepper shakers were made to look like black and white Tahitian pearls, we were given little gardenias when we sat in our seats, etc. After we landed at Papeete (about a ten hour flight from San Francisco), we were greeted by a very cute Tahitian four-piece band, and it made the wait in line for customs a little more cheerful.
Due to our arrival time, we needed to overnight in Papeete (as most arrivals do) before flying to the island of Bora Bora. We were at the InterContinental which, while considered somewhat of an airport hotel, is waterfront with spectacular views. We got to our room, collapsed, and got up early the next day for our short flight. Oh, and we also fretted about my husband’s lost suitcase which was nowhere to be found at the airport but more on that later. The InterCon is a perfectly nice place for a stopover but the funniest thing was the vehicle they used to take us to our room:
Does this not look like a paddywagon???
The good stuff is coming. Quick preview – check out the airport in Bora Bora. I repeat – this is the airport. What a welcome.
Milford Sound Helicopter Ride
Our second stop on the honeymoon was to the south island of New Zealand, which is renowned for its natural beauty. It did not disappoint. The south island gets a lot of film crews (most famously The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed here) – partially because of the strong tax incentives but even more so because this scenery is truly absolutely magnificent.
We visited in August, which is their winter but the weather was actually quite pleasant (mid 40s Fahrenheit during the day, high 20s/30s at night). We started off in Queenstown, which is noted for being an adventure destination. While we didn’t partake in bungee jumping or paragliding, we did take advantage of a lot that Queenstown had to offer, including skiing! In August. We felt exotic.
But let me back up. Our first activity was a helicopter ride that landed in various spots, including in beautiful Milford Sound, on the shores of the Tasman Sea, and finally, on an actual glacier. The company we used, Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, was the company used by Peter Jackson for all of their principal photography for the Lord of the Rings movies. For a LOTR nerd like me, this was a really fun factoid. Enjoy the below photos. Lots more to come from New Zealand!
- Milford Sound – seriously – this looks like a movie, right?
- The climate there is similar to the Pacific Northwest – this particular area around Milford Sound is considered subtropical. The only less than wonderful thing about walking around is the surprising number of sand gnats – they are plentiful, and they are tenacious. However, these gnats are really the only “animal” that will bother you in New Zealand. Fun fact – there are no predators on the island. No snakes, spiders, bears, wolves – nothing.
- On a rocky beach on the Tasman Sea. This is the fancy $5M helicopter, the newest in their fleet.
- My new husband capturing the views from atop this glacier. Contrary to what my family said when I sent them this picture, no, he is not taking a picture of the rock. How breathtaking is the view from up there? It was just as dramatic as when we flew into the Queenstown airport. Flying over these mountain ranges was really impressive and memorable. So was landing in a helicopter ON the snow-covered mountain.
- Finally, after a truly amazing day, we made it back to the Glacier Lakes office, and I couldn’t help myself. This book now sits on our bookshelf at home. Did I mention I am a LOTR nerd?
Lots more to come in New Zealand, including several more spectacular experiences in Queenstown, and a truly luxurious and special few days in Glenorchy. Stay tuned.