What It's Like to Travel Around New Zealand With an Infant
New Zealand, the archipelago halfway around the world, seems out of reach; the kind of place people have on their list, but always bump down for somewhere more achievable. Let’s see, should we go to New Zealand, or ... anywhere else that will be less travel time, less expensive, require less time off? The latter usually wins out.
That’s under normal circumstances. The odds multiply by a factor of 10 (100?) if you throw in the obstacle of traveling with a 4-month-old.
Still, in late January, we decided to embrace those who told us we were brave and ignore those who told us we were foolish, and boarded the 20-hour plane ride from Chicago for a 16-day, three island trip around the land of the kiwi. Never staying in one place for more than two days, we bounced around by plane, boat, car, and foot exploring the empty beaches, the pristine sounds, the immaculate vineyards, and the misty roads.
Before asking how we enjoyed our trip, many have asked how was Bernard. Mostly the question is about the daunting plane ride. It either comes from parents who’ve been on a plane with infants and can’t imagine such a long trip, or those without kids who hear screaming babies interrupting their sleep. The plane rides were much easier than anticipated as our strategy of timing sleep with the time zone of our destination paid off. Bernard slept 10 of the 12 hours of the longest leg in both directions.
The rest was a bit more touch and go. We’re first-time parents and, when we booked the trip, he was just weeks old and spent his time sleeping or eating. By the time we traveled, though, he was a busy body, craving new experiences every few minutes. Toys that are all the rage one moment get discarded the next. While this period can be fascinating to witness as he learns about the world around him, it’s trying during three-hour hikes, boat rides into remote parts of the world, long car rides, and any attempt to eat at a restaurant.
He sadly won’t remember it when he gets older, but we’ll never forget the adventures that took us to incredible places. And despite the challenges, we can’t wait for the next trip with him and are glad to have set the tone for future explorations.
Pizza at The Cow, Queenstown
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
Glendhu Trail, Wanaka
Hooker Valley Trail, Mt. Cook
After a night in Twizel, we headed to the foot of Mt. Cook, that tallest mountain in New Zealand. The crowded parking lot at the beginning of the 3-hour Hooker Valley Trail (where Bernard finished a nap and had a snack in Julie’s arm in the back of the car) worried us, but the crowds were much less noticeable once we got going and the stunning views were worth it.