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Girl Around Town Visits New Zealand

The Girl Around Town website is all about sharing amazing things worldwide - not just happenings in the primary cities of New York, Houston and Los Angeles. I was happy to create a trio of posts about what GAT readers should know when considering a trip to the South Island of New Zealand.

            

Readers of my blog know all about the amazing honeymoon Jeremy and I went on in February, but I’ve boiled it all down to highlights. If you care to take another look (at what makes you jealous that we’ve been to NZ and you haven’t…yet) click the post links below. But don’t take my word for it - go check it out yourself! The country is truly incredible and not to be missed.

                  

Post #1 - What to do in New Zealand, besides bungy jumping

Post #2 - Where to lay your head in New Zealand

Post #3 - New Zealand: Fine Dining on the South Island

  

Filed under new zealand girl around town travel Adventure food

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The Honeymoon - Part 1: Australia

Our honeymoon adventure to New Zealand, by way of Australia, was phenomenal. For thirteen days (give or take, depending on how you’re counting travel in and out of time zones and across the international date line) we traveled around parts of the globe where everyone spoke English but lived very differently from what we’re used to here in Los Angeles. But before we get to the no-CGI-necessary, Lord of the Rings scenery of New Zealand’s South Island let’s talk about the trip there which included a memorable stop-over in Brisbane, Australia. Grab your passport and boarding pass! 

    

The Virgin Australia flight from Los Angeles left late on Monday, February 6th. We rode in steerage (aka economy), which worked out just fine because the humongous plane was largely empty and we had a seat between us to spread out. There’s something wonderful about free food, wine and movies on a flight, even if it is 13 hours. We slept for a few, worked through part of our Netflix Queue (available selections were heavy on the work of Ryan Gosling and Olivia Wilde) and I barely held on for deal life at all during rare patches of turbulence. Before we knew it we were landing in Brisbane on Wednesday, February 8th. “Time travel” caused us to missed all of February 7th. (Belated happy birthday Amy!)

      

Upon arrival we were detained by security to be sniffed up and down by a wonderful drug seeking dog. In addition, twice on this trip Jeremy and I were individually tested for explosives. Apparently we look like trouble. In reality we’re harmless and were permitted to enter Australia where we found one of those silly cars that drives on the ‘wrong’ side of the road waiting for us at the rental company. Thankfully Jeremy was doing all the driving in Brisbane and despite some jetlag he expertly maneuvered around this new city and driving on the left side of the road. 

As we saw it, the main reason to travel through Australia was to hug a koala, which you can do at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary about 45 minutes from the airport. Jeremy drove through Monday morning activity in the city center, out to the sanctuary area (which it seems most locals aren’t aware of). We arrived before doors opened at 9am and took stock of everything we’d get to see on like the Sheep Dog Herding and Birds of Prey Shows. 

        

Once in the doors our first stop was the 9:45am Lorikeet Feeding. The birds all know exactly when to gather at the appointed location where wooden rods with “plates” of feed are set out for visitors to hold. The energetic birds hop onto a plate and grab breakfast. We were advised to avoid having more than four lorikeets on our dish at a time, and with good reason. They’re very active and flitting about. While nobody was more than brushed by a bird’s wing the whole scene made me giggly and was a bit freaky, like you were in the midst of a Hitchcock film with rainbow hued birds. 

     

     

     

The highlight of the sanctuary was of course the koalas. There are about 130 living on site in various habitats which look a lot like the one below. Not only are you supposed to grip really tightly to the tree if you’re a koala, you’re also supposed to jam your body right up against your buddy next to you. Snuggling seems to be really important to koalas. Apparently I have more in common with them than I originally thought.

     

The ‘advanced’ koalas hang out at the Guinness of World Records acknowledged retirement community. Here they can chill out in peace and quiet undisturbed. Appropriately when we were at this part of the sanctuary a tour group of octogenarians were checking out their koala equivalents.

        

Young koalas literally hang out in the kindergarten area. Can you spot little guys nestled into the trees? At the sanctuary it never felt like you were surrounded by koalas until you really looked into these habitats and realized there might be four or five hanging on one tree. They had plenty of space to spread out and none of them are over-worked in the human-hugging department due to their strict 30-minute work day (every 3rd day).

      

And here we are with Bagel, the best koala of them all! Pronounce Bagel however you’d like, just hold on tight because he’s heavy. Overall he was very friendly, but did get a little clingy when I had to return him to the koala wrangler. Clearly Bagel wanted to go on vacation with us to New Zealand and then back home with us to Los Angeles. I’m sure he and Syd the Fish would have made great friends!

     

And then there were the kangaroos! I had been so focused on the koala hugging I didn’t even realize there would be kangaroos we could feed. A huge portion of the sanctuary is fenced off for the kangaroos to live and visitors are allowed to let themselves in and roam around. We caught one guy out for a morning hop.

    

Most of the ‘roos were chillin’ out in their designated Rest Area, which made sense since it was a hot, sunny day and this was THE area with lots of shady spots to rest beneath. Guests were respectful and kept their distance from the animals …

    

… except for Jeremy “No Entry” Diller whose hand full of food somehow crossed the line between man and animal. This kangaroo seemed all for the breach and did not report the intruder, but rather made friends with him.

   

The kangaroos who weren’t in the Rest Area largely hung around the edge of the ‘roo park which also provided shade. I found one little guy who was interested in some treats from this city girl. I’ll admit it - I was nervous to be so close to these animals. There was absolutely no reason to think they’d bite or attack - and they didn’t behave in a way which would make me think they might - but I was still a bit on edge. Maybe jetlag makes me paranoid? They were very sweet.

   

One of the coolest things we saw all day was this kangaroo with a little Joey folded up in her pouch. It was a bizarre sight and the momma was understandably hesitant to get close to us so we tossed them some food for later and kept a safe distance. You just don’t see this at a typical zoo, do you?

    

We ended our brief time in Brisbane having lunch with a view of the city from Mount Coot-tha Lookout. This was the first moment I realized the terrain “down under” may have water and mountains next to each other but it wouldn’t look or feel anything like a ride down PCH going from Santa Monica to Malibu. This was something else entirely. Going forward we made a point of always getting a table with a view for meals so we could take in the brilliant scenery as much as possible.

    

Onward to Christchurch, New Zealand!

Filed under Adventure Australia Brisbane Kangaroo honeymoon koalas travel Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary lorikeets Mount Coot-tha

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Tonight we leave for our honeymoon in New Zealand! I’m nervous about the long flight - 13 hours from LA to Australia, then after a day of koala hugging in Brisbane another 3 hour flight to Christchurch - and jet lag, but overall just crazy excited to actually travel across the globe to explore a new country with my wonderful husband. It is really happening!
(Did I mention said fabulous husband planned our entire trip? Further confirmation that he’s amazing!)
Our first stops in New Zealand are all wine-related which makes sense we love vino and got married at a winery. In fact, our trip was largely scheduled around the annual Marlborough Wine & Food Festival outside of Wellington. As you can see from the above photo it is held at a vineyard with killer views - which all of NZ is expected to offer. Jeremy booked us into cute accommodations nearby which offer bikes to guests so hopefully we’ll be biking over to the festival. Doesn’t that just sound absolutely perfect? I certainly does to me.
I expect to be out of touch for a couple of weeks - we’re attempting to unplug during this trip. See you when we return to Los Angeles, if we don’t fall in love with the region and decide to stay forever.

Tonight we leave for our honeymoon in New Zealand! I’m nervous about the long flight - 13 hours from LA to Australia, then after a day of koala hugging in Brisbane another 3 hour flight to Christchurch - and jet lag, but overall just crazy excited to actually travel across the globe to explore a new country with my wonderful husband. It is really happening!

(Did I mention said fabulous husband planned our entire trip? Further confirmation that he’s amazing!)

Our first stops in New Zealand are all wine-related which makes sense we love vino and got married at a winery. In fact, our trip was largely scheduled around the annual Marlborough Wine & Food Festival outside of Wellington. As you can see from the above photo it is held at a vineyard with killer views - which all of NZ is expected to offer. Jeremy booked us into cute accommodations nearby which offer bikes to guests so hopefully we’ll be biking over to the festival. Doesn’t that just sound absolutely perfect? I certainly does to me.

I expect to be out of touch for a couple of weeks - we’re attempting to unplug during this trip. See you when we return to Los Angeles, if we don’t fall in love with the region and decide to stay forever.

Filed under new zealand Marlborough Wine Festival Adventure Honeymoon

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Lately I feel kind of like the Energizer Bunny from the classic battery commercials. I had a blast in New York seeing friends, eating great food (lamb pho anyone?), getting some culture and executing a very successful event for work. But it was exhausting. I want to nap for a week. Instead I am full steam ahead working towards our big adventure which begins on Monday night. Until then life is a constant checklist of things to accomplish and I’m going to need all the energy I can muster to make it all happen. Come on adrenaline!

Lately I feel kind of like the Energizer Bunny from the classic battery commercials. I had a blast in New York seeing friends, eating great food (lamb pho anyone?), getting some culture and executing a very successful event for work. But it was exhausting. I want to nap for a week. Instead I am full steam ahead working towards our big adventure which begins on Monday night. Until then life is a constant checklist of things to accomplish and I’m going to need all the energy I can muster to make it all happen. Come on adrenaline!

Filed under Energizer Bunny Adventure new york

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We have a whole trip to the South Island of New Zealand, by way of Australia, scheduled. We’re leaving on February 6; the tickets are booked. Good thing I just got my new passport! Now the trip can actually happen as planned and it won’t just be Jeremy on his own hugging koalas, kayaking with seals, drinking Sauvignon Blanc and hiking a glacier. There’s no doubt he would have had fun, but there’s not much romance in a honeymoon which excludes half of the newlywed couple.
Not only does the arrival of my new, improved passport mean I can actually participate in this amazing trip Jeremy has carefully planned, but it is also a sign that I’m officially Mrs. Diller! After months of diligently implementing the name change from establishing new email addresses, cutting up old credit cards, waiting in line at the DMV, and changing over my contact details on ever darn email list I’ve signed up for, the passport should mark the end of this transitional period. I’ve already enjoyed being Mrs. Diller since September 24th, but there’s nothing like being done with the limbo between names and moving forward as a married woman, with all the government sanctioned paperwork to prove it. Wooohoooo!

We have a whole trip to the South Island of New Zealand, by way of Australia, scheduled. We’re leaving on February 6; the tickets are booked. Good thing I just got my new passport! Now the trip can actually happen as planned and it won’t just be Jeremy on his own hugging koalas, kayaking with seals, drinking Sauvignon Blanc and hiking a glacier. There’s no doubt he would have had fun, but there’s not much romance in a honeymoon which excludes half of the newlywed couple.

Not only does the arrival of my new, improved passport mean I can actually participate in this amazing trip Jeremy has carefully planned, but it is also a sign that I’m officially Mrs. Diller! After months of diligently implementing the name change from establishing new email addresses, cutting up old credit cards, waiting in line at the DMV, and changing over my contact details on ever darn email list I’ve signed up for, the passport should mark the end of this transitional period. I’ve already enjoyed being Mrs. Diller since September 24th, but there’s nothing like being done with the limbo between names and moving forward as a married woman, with all the government sanctioned paperwork to prove it. Wooohoooo!

Filed under Adventure New Zealand Passport Sauvignon Blanc Travel koalas DMV culver city South Island hiking glacier wine

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Rose Bowl 2012

Always up for an adventure, we were lucky enough to have an opportunity to attend the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 2, 2012. I’ve never been to a football game (except one arena football experience which doesn’t really count) let alone such a high profile event so I was pretty excited. It was an amazing way to end our holiday break and start a new year.

First stop: The VIP Tailgating Party! We grabbed some beers, tri-tip and See’s candies before heading into the stadium. 

    

The Wisconsin Badgers faced the Oregon Ducks - both teams I had never heard of with records I knew nothing about. Not wanting to be mistaken for alumni or fans of either school we opted to wear neutral football colors: black, white and gray. And yet, I randomly chose to wear my green and yellow Pumas, which are the Ducks team colors. AND, by chance at the tailgate we ended up at a table with the friendly wife and family of #79 on the Oregon team. These two things led to an agreement to root for Oregon. 

     

It was the best football game I’ve ever been to. Not just because it was an action-packed, high scoring match-up. Not just because the Oregon cheerleaders were both beautiful and skilled, or because the Wisconsin band’s medley of Jersey Boys tunes was impressive. Not just because the people all around us were friendly and crazy enthusiastic - more so than any fans at any game I’d ever been to. No, it was the best because it as the only football game I’d ever been to. Automatic WIN. Everything else was icing on the cake of a wonderful experience. In fact, that 80 degree day in Pasadena changed the way I think about football. Thank you Rose Bowl!

     

Filed under Adventure Football New Experiences Pasadena Rose Bowl Game Sports Oregon Ducks Wisconsin Badgers