29th June 2018
Honeymooning in ‘Mother Earth’ – Anthea & Christopher
From zip-lining to glow-worms, Lord of the Ring fans Anthea and Christopher Pisani enjoyed a truly unparalleled honeymoon in New Zealand.
Sometimes there is a destination that’s absolutely perfect for you – and when Anthea and Christopher Pisani tied the knot last year, they knew New Zealand would be the perfect place for them to start their new life together.
After all, they had long been enthralled by the stories they heard and photos they saw of the country. To them, it was a destination that offered a good mix of everything they wanted – adventure, moments of relaxation, new experiences and a good dose of Lord of the Rings scenery.
“We both wanted our honeymoon to be memorable – a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Anthea smiles. “From the outset, New Zealand presented a vast selection of activities, so we could personalise our itinerary to our liking and take things at our own pace. We were also lucky to have an excellent travel agent at Royal Travel, who quickly picked up on what we wanted and really exceeded our expectations.”
The couple began their journey in Auckland, where they hired a car. “We then drove down from the North to the South Island, stopping at various towns and villages along the way,” Christopher explains. “We spent some time in Rotorua, with its thermal springs and fascinating Maori culture, before carrying on to the Hobbiton Movie Set to see The Shire and having ginger at the Dragon’s Inn. They were all fabulous highlights, as were the Waitomo glow-worm caves, where we abseiled into the cave, went in deeper via a zipline, floated in the underwater river while gazing at the glow-worms, and climbed back up from a waterfall.”
Anthea and Christopher then drove to Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island. They stopped at Blenheim in the Marlborough region, which is famous for its seemingly-endless vineyards, before making their way to Franz Josef. “That was quite a thrilling experience,” Christopher grins, “as we explored the glacier and then relaxed in the hot pools.”
Next up was Queenstown, with its remarkable nightlife, and before a wine tour, a trip to stunning Doubtful Sound in the Fiordland and, obviously for this Lord of the Rings-loving duo, a tour that took them to magical Glenorchy. “Finally, on our way back up to the South Island, we stopped at Lake Tekapo where we went star-gazing at an observatory before heading to Christchurch. One of our last adventures was whale-watching in Kaikoura,” Anthea says.
Looking back, they both agree it was an astonishing journey – although they say travelling around the island was actually very easy, especially when driving. “The roads are long and well-kept, and the scenery is breath-taking – ranging from fields with sheep grazing in them to lakes, rivers, mountains topped with snow, hills, flatlands and the ocean. We were fascinated by the various shades of green along the way. The ever-changing weather adds to its beauty. For example, the sunshine defines the mountains better, but cloudy weather gives them an aura of mystery.”
However there was one slightly challenging moment that stands out for them both. “We got stranded on the Franz Josef Glacier – shortly after telling our group that it was our first time on ice. During our hike on the glacier, our guides were informed that the weather had started to take a turn for the worse. While waiting for our helicopter to pick us up to take us down the glacier, we were astonished to see it turn around and head back to base. As their helicopters needed direct vision to land, it was deemed unsafe because of the clouds. So we were stuck there… on a glacier! As it started to snow and get colder, we sat under a makeshift tent as our guides made plans to pitch tents for the night. To this day we are still unsure whether we would have preferred heading back to our warm beds, or be the first group to sleep on the glacier. After some time, the weather cleared for long enough for us to be evacuated off the glacier, and we made an emergency landing in the valley. It’s a funny – and lovely – memory in retrospect!”
Asked about their favourite moments, both Christopher and Anthea wonder where to start. “The dramatic scenery, the tasty food, the friendly and welcoming people, the unique Maori culture and the adventure activities all contributed,” they say. “We shared a lot of laughs; from Chris performing the Haka (traditional Maori dance), to falling over each other in the underwater caves, trying out new food and wines, and meeting new people and getting to know their traditions.”