Our Honeymoon {Bora Bora, New Zealand & Australia}

honeymoon bora bora new zealand

It took a while, but I’ve finally pulled my sh*t together and am ready to wrap-up our honeymoon overview! It was good. It was really good. Maybe so good that I felt {for a year, approximately} that I couldn’t do it justice in summary. But, here goes. I’ll give it my best.

Let me start with a bit of background. While I was busy planning the nitty-gritty details of our Big Day, Trevor took on the work – and I do mean the entire responsibility – of planning our honeymoon. That was excellent because I didn’t really have the energy to get into all of the necessary travel research, and also, because we completely trust each other when it comes to vacation planning. The only requirement that I had, which I stressed, was that it had to incorporate some element of relaxation for at least part of the trip. {You-know-who sometimes defaults to adventure mode, and I knew that I’d appreciate winding down after the wedding craziness ended.}

On top of planning the full vacation, my lovely husband also thought it would be fun to keep it a surprise. So, a surprise it was! An amazing surprise. Our trip was a perfect mix of luxurious relaxation and wild adventure. We slept in stunning accommodations – from a waterfront thatch-roof villa to a lakeside yurt. Lord knows how I was able to fit both wardrobes in one suitcase, but I did it.

Our Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – 5 // Bora Bora, The St. Regis
  • Day 6 – 7 // Flight + New Zealand, Aukland
  • Day 8 – 10 // New Zealand, Queenstown
  • Day 9 // New Zealand, Wanaka
  • Day 10 // New Zealand, Kaikoura
  • Day 11 – 12 // New Zealand, Marlborough Region
  • Day 13 // Australia, Sydney
  • Day 14 // Flight home

Bora Bora

We arrived at the tiny Bora Bora airport {via DTW – LAX – PPT} with several other couples and were greeted with fragrant purple and white leis before we climbed aboard the St. Regis yacht to head toward our resort. It was raining, but even in the drizzle, the endless blue of those French Polynesian waters are something spectacular. It was early morning, so we arrived just in time for breakfast while we waited to check into our room. The process was seamless, with a golf cart tour of the property and a few hours to lounge while our villa was prepared.

You might be thinking, isn’t Bora Bora known for its over-the-water bungalows? Indeed, it is! In fact, if you’ve seen the movie Couples Retreat, you’ve seen this resort up close … they filmed the whole movie on site and in honor, the movie is looped continuously on one channel at the resort ๐Ÿ˜‰

We, however, didn’t stay in an over-the-water bungalow. Based on the photos, Trevor angled for something a bit more private, with some swimmable space that wouldn’t be shared with other travelers. Instead, we booked one of five Beachside Villas with Pools, which turned out to be more ideal than we could have imagined.

You see, we hit a bit of a rainy patch during our stay, so while bungalow guests were holed up inside and asked to stay out of the deeper, stormy waters underneath their rooms, we spent the entire day hopping in and out of our private pool and lounging beachside under the leaves of palm trees. It was magic. A bottle of wine and some cocktails delivered to the room? Yes, please!

When we weren’t outside, we were enjoying the Miri Miri Spa by Clarins. Not once, but twice. We indulged in 90-minute couples massages and when it rained the following day, we trotted back over for another, without a twinge of guilt. It was our honeymoon, after all!

During our stay, we met several other honeymooning couples because let’s be real for a second. Bora Bora is ALL honeymooners. Honeymooners, or anniversary celebrators, or romantic vacationers. It’s luxurious and exquisite, but a party island it is not. Not even a little bit. If you’re visiting, expect to be back in your room no later than 10 p.m., because there’s not much to do elsewhere, with restaurants and bars all closing unusually early. {Of course, the time difference is impactful here, so most folks are ready to head back to their rooms earlier than later anyway.}

Because the property was so amazing, we only ventured out – via the shuttle boat – for a couple of dinners.

Our best meal, hands down, was at Villa Mahana, on the main island, which offers two prix fixe menus – one French, and one Tahitian inspired – at each of its seven tables. Trevor claims that it’s the best meal he’s had … and I don’t disagree. The service is phenomenal, the courses are masterpieces and the setting is intimate and special. Book your reservations early, definitely before you arrive on the island.

Our second dinner out was to the legendary Bloody Mary’s. After I made myself comfortable on the wooden stool seating, our server told me that only a week ago, Jennifer Aniston had sat in the same place {if he was lying to impress me, it worked!}. The food was good – not extraordinary – and the drinks were delicious. Most importantly, the vibe was fun and entertaining, with a sand floor and live music.

New Zealand

Aukland

From our “pit stop” in Bora Bora, we flew to New Zealand’s north island, into Aukland, where it was necessary to spend the night before catching our connection to the south island the next morning. Not a lot to report on Aukland … it was a big-feeling city but unusually empty due to a government holiday. Somehow, we landed in a chaotic pub and had a few brews before calling it a night.

Side note: Traveling from Bora Bora to New Zealand, you’ll lose an entire day due to the International Date Line.

Queenstown

Ah, Queenstown. What a breath of fresh air! As soon as we stepped off the plane, it felt like we were where we needed to be. While it was spring at home, the fall season was just cresting in April in New Zealand, and as a fall-sorta girl myself, I was in heaven.

Queenstown is beautiful. The foliage was brilliant against the deep blue of Lake Wakatipu, which the entire city looks out over. Downtown was a bustle of people and tourists, with casual bars and high-end shopping and a little bit of everything else squeezed between.

We stayed at the charming Cherry Tree House, a part of the Trelawn Place B&B. Positioned above and overlooking the fjords, this tiny slice of countryside felt like it was far from 2016. Low ceilings and a pot-belly stove warmed the cushy interior, and a bedroom upstairs offered a Juliet balcony that opened up to amazing views. Each morning, our hosts either delivered breakfast fixings to us or offered it hot in their own dining room, where we made friends with fellow travelers.

There’s SO much to do in Queenstown that it was tough to leave. We hiked during the day, visited the nearby Arrowtown – an old timey village tucked among the hills for window shopping and wine, and got our adventure on zipping down the world’s steepest zip line with Ziptrek Ecotours.

One afternoon, we headed out toward Glenorchy, west of the city, to walk the long mountainside beach. The town held little interest, but the drive … the drive was awe-inducing. I’d recommend splitting your time behind the wheel so that you can truly soak up the scenery, but also experience the smooth and winding blacktop. Lots of fun, whether you’re in the driver’s seat OR the passenger seat.

I should mention here, too, that when we arrived in Queenstown, we rented an SUV. All of our travel through New Zealand after landing in Queenstown was on wheels.

Wanaka

Just when I thought that New Zealand couldn’t feel more special, we drove to Wanaka. For some reason, Wanaka felt like home to me. Maybe it was that we arrived at dusk, as the sun was setting over Lake Wanaka, all slanty and orange, with people settled along the beach just watching it slowly set. But it could have also been the uniqueness of our lodging – a “glamping” style yurt – that was positioned approximately in the middle of nowhere, overlooking a lake, and underneath a blanket of the brightest stars I’ve seen in a long time.

Our New Zealand yurtย was dubbed Mt. Gold by Explore Life and offered a comfy bed with plenty of layers for keeping warm, seating outdoors, a flushable toilet, shower and working sink. It was a cool night, which made a good excuse to drink an extra glass or two of wine and cuddle up, but when morning came, we were rewarded with expansive views of the lake; I’m not lying when I say that it was difficult to leave.

Kaikoura

We then drove up the coast – a long and windy and slightly scary-in-the-dark coast – to the little beach and fishing town, Kaikoura. I’m hesitant to say that I had a favorite accommodation on this trip because they were all so wildly different, but if I had to choose, it might just be our night at The Factory.

We arrived late, but our hosts were incredibly gracious, with fresh bread, local honey and jam, yogurts and more awaiting us for the next morning’s breakfast. For that night, however, a bottle of bubbly – sparkling sauvignon blanc, my favorite! – was chilled and ready for popping.

With a champagne flute in hand, I walked the unit, marveling at the spirited decor {including an adorable black Smeg fridge} and choosing between two bedrooms before we headed out to dip into the hot tub.

The next day, we lazily enjoyed our morning in our spacious suite before chatting up our hosts on must-sees in the area. We walked the small downtown, swung by “The Original” Kaikoura Seafood BBQ for fresh-grilled crayfish {pricy little suckers, but scrumptious} and then made the short hike up Oahu Stream, where you’re guaranteed to find dozens of baby seal pups splashing underneath a waterfall. An instant antidepressant, those seal pups and absolutely worth seeing.

Marlborough

Marlborough was our last stop in New Zealand, so we stayed for two days, allowing ourselves plenty of time to sample the several sauvignon blanc wines that the region is known for. We booked a day with Wine Tours by Bike, where we were picked up from our lodging and taken to be fitted with a helmet and bicycle for some wine tasting on two wheels. Because the vineyards are so close to one another, biking is the perfect way to roam around, and this vendor allowed us to explore separately and at our own leisurely pace, which I appreciated. Thankfully, they also provided wine bags that attached to our cycles, and also offered to pick up boxes for those folks who wanted to ship home a crate or two.

While in town, we stayed in Adelaide’s Barn, a separate garden suite to the Marlborough Bed and Breakfast. With a cozy bedroom, lounge area and full kitchen, we made ourselves comfortable for two nights, and at this point in the trip, even enjoyed hitting the grocery store to make an easy meal of pasta in one evening.

From Marlborough, we also explored the tiny port town of Picton, picturesque and perfect for spending the morning stationed on a cafe patio.

Australia

Sydney

Between you and me, our trip was not supposed to include a night in Sydney. Yet, the travel gods declared that it be so, and we – not at all begrudgingly – found ourselves with 24 hours in the harbour. Because of our travel dilemma, we simply got a room at the hotel airport in order to make our early flight easily, dropped our bags, and headed into town immediately.

It doesn’t get any more cliche, but our first stop was to the Opera Bar at Sydney’s famed Opera House. With seagulls diving all around us, we ate overpriced but decent sandwiches and sipped on beers, soaking up the beauty of the area. Afterward, we walked the Royal Botanic Gardens next door, and then boarded a ferry toward Manly Beach, where we bought cheap beach towels, changed into our suits and found some sand. The beach was different than I’d expected, rather shallow and long, with tall, tall pine trees and fallen logs. It was crowded, too, so after an hour or two, we headed up for a snack and to catch a ferry back to the harbor.

From there, we explored the options in Darling Harbour, which were aplenty. We ended up at a casual Italian chain – Criniti’s – that’s tucked behind the lit-up ferris wheel and simply relaxed. The food was fine, but the conversation, recapping our two weeks away, was most memorable.

Our honeymoon was a little bit of everything. A bit of relaxation, a bit of adventure. Lots of planes {those flights are a doozy} and quite a bit of time behind the wheel, too. But we saw and did SO much in our two weeks, simply enjoying the company of one another, rehashing our favorite wedding moments along the way, and indulging in some amazing food and wine along the way.

It was a perfect balance, I think. And it was also a once-in-a-lifetime excursion.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.ย 

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Cocktail at the beach? If I must …

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The rain had just ended, but here’s a partial view of our villa’s beachfront and pool

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Bicycling the overwater bungalows

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The view from Cherry Tree House in Queenstown, New Zealand

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A moment to pause in Glenorchy, after our amazing drive

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Another view from our drive to Glenorchy

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Hiking in Queenstown; don’t worry, there was wine and cheese in the backpack

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That slanty Wanaka sun! Gets me every time.

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Glamping in a yurt near Lake Wanaka

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Walking a beach near Kaikoura, New Zealand

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Pardon the helmet hair; a stop on our bicycling wine tour in Marlborough, New Zealand

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Manly Beach area in Sydney, Australia

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