In December, the family packed up and headed over to New Zealand for a 3 month trip. We had a great time, celebrating the New Year in Auckland, long before any of the festivities would occur back home. We enjoyed walking around the city, trying all sorts of food from Asia and India and the Middle East. We loved the parks with their swings and Zip lines, as well as our morning waffles with gelato. We took a boat ride to Waiheke Island where we escaped the crowds and tourists and relaxed beach side after a nice hike. We then rented a car (which we would have for the remainder of the trip) and headed over to Muriwai beach, where we had a nice little house with a fabulous deck and ocean views. We would enjoy the beach as well as the local bird life that consisted of brightly colored parakeets and a large colony of Gannets. We then were off to traveling to Waitomo, where we were blown away with the magical sight of twinkling little lights in the glow worm caves. We made it to Wellington and stayed in a 100 year old house right on the beautiful Karaka bay, where we collected fresh mussels, kayaked, visited the windy city for its awesome Te Papa museum, the botanical gardens, the zoo, and plenty of microbreweries. We also did a whitewater rafting trip down the Tongariro that was 2 ½ hours of class 3 and class 4 rapids, and Natalie didn’t even get nervous. We visited the geothermal city of Roturua and enjoyed a Maori cultural experience, with poi balls and all. Finally, we visited the Coromandel, where we were able to surf and explore the beaches that looked like they came directly out of a How To Train Your Dragon movie. Aside from Natalie battling with her allergies from the beautiful flowering pohutukawa, or New Zealand Christmas Tree, we all had an amazing time on the North Island. Now it was time to head out to the South Island.