My daughter, Freya, had her fourth birthday in New Zealand. She can't remember it, like much of the journey we took her on. It has been my dream to take her back and show her some of the places we visited. Until now, this has not been possible. But at last we are planning a trip for next year. Unlike the last one which was impulsive and life-changing, this will be considered, planned and a lot calmer. BUT, I have a secret, which I cannot reveal yet but am bursting to tell, as it's my natural instinct to talk/write about what is happening to me. Watch this space.
We only have about three weeks this time, instead of five months. What a challenge to me, as the itinerary planner. Not just to try to organize the route to re-visit places we loved and want to show Freya, but to include others parts of our favourite country on the other side of the world. And a bigger challenge will be for me to CUT OUT areas I want to see. I like to cram things in, something Freya dislikes. I'm a 'Let's go there, let's do that' sort of person. Some of our recent holidays in Europe have been madcap, with a lot of driving. My daughter likes a calmer holiday, a chance to unwind and take everything in. It is going to take some skill to give the impression of a leisurely pace while effortlessly covering large distances.
Fourteen years is a long time and a lot could have changed. It is tempting to go back to a much-loved holiday destination and when you get there, a part of you always niggles with the the disappointment that it is 'not the same'. Of course it won't be but the problem is if it has not changed for the better. Talking to people who visited New Zealand in the 1980s, we found out that they could happily cycle through central Auckland, not something I would have wanted to do in 2003, much less today. Personally, I am not looking forward to landscapes being more urbanized, more tourist attractions being added.
I also have mixed feelings about some of the gravel roads since being sealed. Yes, it's great to get there faster, less damage to your vehicle, to be able to use rental cars and motorhomes (I'm not sure if most of them now allow use on unsealed roads) but what if you have gone to New Zealand to get in touch with the wilderness? And you don't necessarily want to go off tramping to do that. If the journey is a little difficult it gives you a sense of adventure.
I found this website useful for information on driving in New Zealand: