Double Digit Celebration
What can you give an animal lover for her milestone double-digit birthday? A full packed day in the New Zealand countryside of course!
I chose the South Island of New Zealand, primarily because, out of all the research we did, it sounded more appealing for those who love the outdoors. There were numerous outdoor activities available that would make both parents, and child, happy.
Coming from the Philippines, where driving on the right side of the road is the norm, it was difficult for my husband to agree to drive in New Zealand. Our option was to book with a private tour company for the day. Choosing the right one is difficult, but after numerous review readings, I made the decision to book with Altitude Tours, and I was extremely happy I did!
From the beginning they helped us plan out the perfect day for myself, my husband, and the birthday girl. All the back and forths via email, we finally agreed on an itinerary.
The Day Itself
Our guide, Tania, picked us up at 9AM for a full day out in the countryside. We had our own private Mercedes van, it was spacious, comfortable, new, and was complete with water for all of us, and reference books to check on – mostly on Lord of the Rings filming locations.
We started with a trip to Glenorchy town, which we loved. This quaint little town is bordered by mountains and a lake. The views were breathtaking! What we loved the most about Glenorchy was that is wasn’t bustling with tourists. Either that, or we were just early. My one request was a stop at Mrs. Wooly’s General Store! Here, we found lots of horse books for my daughter, as well as matching cowboy hats for both of us! Not to mention all the yummy New Zealand food products!
Then we took a quick walk through the Glenorchy Walkway. The views were breathtaking! You see black swans, paradise ducks, and you can hear many different bird calls! I don’t recall them all, but for a bird watcher, this is a great walk to do. Quick fact, did you know that New Zealand was inhabited only by birds before mankind set foot on this country? Imagine that, a bird country! No wonder I fell in love with it!
We then made our way to the Glenorchy Animal Experience. It’s a family run farm where all the animals are so happy, healthy, and obviously loved! Every single animal was friendly, from the beautiful Clydesdale, to the miniature horses, the alpaca, lambs, pigs, and even the resident doe! We went back for four bags of feed we all had so much fun!
From here, Tania took us to our lunch spot. We had lunch along the Rees River. Now, I love sandwiches, but New Zealand sandwiches? THAT is special!! I’ve had sandwiches all over the world, but nothing like what we were having here! They pack their sandwiches with a heaping, generous pile of crisp, sweet, fresh, tasty vegetables drizzled with the most delicious dressings, and topped with New Zealand cheese! It was TO DIE FOR! Plus, the bread is absolutely excellent! And I do LOVE my bread!
High Country Horses
Then the highlight of our day, our 2.5 hour horse trek with High Country Horses! We opted for the Rees River Trail because we wanted to see what the river crossings were like. When you arrive you’re asked to sign a waiver, and they get your gear together. They provide you with rubber boots, so your shoes don’t get wet during the river crossings. You’re given a helmet, and a bag that you clip onto the D-ring of your saddle, where you can put your mobile phones, water, or whatever else you need to bring with you. The one thing we were not prepared for was the heat! On this trek, we got quite burnt by the scorching sun.
The trek is pretty simple, but the views are amazing! You walk through the river bed, and pass through a few forested areas along the river. It’s the same route coming and going, but, as I said, you cannot get enough of the amazing views. With Isengard in the foreground, and mountains left and right, it’s a gorgeous trek! Our guide, Sean, was well informed on local history, plants, and birds, so it was a lovely educational afternoon for our daughter.
Since safety was Sean’s priority, we didn’t canter on the trail, just to be sure the little girl was comfortable. We did a few legs at the trot, and that was good enough for us.
We were back at the hotel before 6PM. I chose the Hotel St. Moritz for two reasons, location, and being a member of LeClub Accor Hotels. I was extremely happy I chose it! The rooms were spacious, well equipped. Room service was excellent! And, what I loved the most was the amazing concierge service they provide!
We were so exhausted from our day, dining in was our only option. The room service menu provides a “Movie Night” menu, which includes a new release movie, popcorn, chocolate fondue, and a pizza! How can a birthday go wrong with that, especially with Aquaman as the movie of choice!
I definitely have to say New Zealand made a tenth birthday the most memorable one! We are in love with the South Island, and would return in a heartbeat!