If it has wheels, wings or will send you broke the National Toy and Transport Museum probably has it. The museum sits just outside Wanaka and is housed across several large buildings and hangars and is easily the biggest collection of collections we’ve seen in our many travels. On cars alone it dwarfs LA’s Peterson’s Automotive museum in quantity and variety but it doesn’t stop there, there are all manner of toys, vintage and modern, quirky hand built machines and planes… and a tank. Some sections are grouped into type (eg. Trucks) and sub type (eg. Fire trucks) while other items seemed to have been added where ever there was space at the time, which ends up being like a little easter egg hunt, for example, finding a random slot machine wedged between two trucks.

Even if you’re not overly interested in toys or vehicles, there’s just so much there, its hard to look away and just when you think you can, something else catches your eye, so the easiest way to narrate the day would be a photo dump. Enjoy!

Travel tip: we were there on a week day, early afternoon, numbers were very low and it was a breeze to move between sections and spend a few extra minutes getting an unobstructed photo. However, with some of the spaces being a little cramped eg. Between toy displays and aisles of cars it could get a bit squishy during school holidays or if you bumped into a couple school excursions.

Next up, we wind down this NZ trip with a day at Willowbank Zoo and New Brighton Beach.

Queenstown

We chose to stay at the Queenstown Holiday Park – Creeksyde, it was the closest and best value/rated of the inner town spots suitable for motorhomes. At a bit over 1km from the town center it was an easy stroll in to the shops, restaurants and markets. There’s also a supermarket just around the corner to save carrying groceries all the way back from town but if you want better choice and prices head to Pak n Save or Countdown (NZ version of Woolies) just outside of town.

Queenstown had certainly changed a lot since we were last there 11 years ago. Gentrification and the hipster artisan movement is alive and well, though the benefit of that is there’s plenty of burger and beer options. Retail options in general were more in line with a large town than a blip on the map. Sadly the Pizza Hut restaurant was no more, though it seems this may have disappeared not long after we left the last time! )-,:

Travel tip: the Queenstown arts and crafts markets are on every Saturday at Earnslaw Park (walk towards the lake, once you hit the Bay beach follow it along to your right)

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Wanaka

At the half way point of our trip we splurged on a cabin to stretch out a bit, its amazing how even a small cabin can feel spacious after about a week in a camper!

We chose to stay at the Wanaka Lakeview holiday park a short walk to the lake, slightly longer to the famous Wanaka Tree and into the town center. The tree being the attraction it is, was of course a bit of a jostle to get a good shot at sunset regardless if you got there early. Even on a day with a lackluster sunset it was a battle of tripods and people walking into your shot.

Photo tip: try a longer lens so you can sit further down the line and wear waterproof boots or go shoeless (probably not a good idea in winter!) to set your tripod up further in the water. You may also have better odds with a sunrise especially during the cooler months

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Cardrona Snow Farm

Wanaka is a good jump off point for the Cardrona Snow Farm especially if you’re using the shuttle service. With the bad luck and pain we had last time with putting snow chains onto a motorhome and questionable weather looming, we opted to be chauffeured for the day. Only draw back was not being about to stop at some of the look out spots on the way up the mountain. The winding road was mostly slow going so its still possible to get some phone photos through the windows.

I don’t know about other ski locations but the Snow Farm covers a big variety with everything from a snow fun zone for the kids, to snow shoeing, cross country skiing and even dog sledding. With the kidlets in tow, the fun zone was our speed, though even then it was a tough sell with only one kid seeing snow once before and neither being fond of the cold or snow! They did however warm up to the tubing after a few clenched runs.

Travel tip: if you’re planning on bringing little ones, it would be most wise to invest in some snow pants and boots or at the very least rain pants and gum boots.

If you need a break or are simply over falling over for the millionth time, remember you are in the southern alps! The view is amazing which ever way you look but the weather is very unpredictable and can change at the drop of a mitten, so keep your camera and or clothing layers handy.

Next up we make a stop at the National Toy and Transport museum! 😀

It had been about 11 years since our first amazing adventure to New Zealand where we threw caution to the wind, jumped into a camper and toured the better part of the south island. Needless to say, expectations and eagerness were high to do it all again but you know that thing about best laid plans and ol mate Darwin? Yes, well, they had other ideas.

Losing the first day to camper hire company woes then the whole second week of activities on the west coast to cyclonic winds were a definite set back, battling 100kph winds in a big ol mobile home was not something we wanted to experience, the 60kph ones heading towards Queenstown were bad enough! That aside, with 24/7 access to a kettle and a toilet, the open road was still our oyster.

The country itself certainly never disappoints so rambling text in these entries will be slim but there will, of course, be plenty of photos!

Geraldine
First night we stayed at The Farmyard holiday park in Geraldine. Unbeknownst to us on our previous trip, these working farm holiday parks are easy to come by and are great when travelling with little ones. (Oh, I forget to mention, the biggest difference from the last trip is this time we have two extra little humans in tow!). These farms of course have a bunch of tame animals you can hand feed. We grabbed a couple bags of feed from reception (couple bucks each) and quickly made friends with the locals. Llamas, donkeys and rabbits were a big hit, there were also some rather pushy little pigs and chickens all too eager to nab stray pellets.

Lake Tekapo
We chose to stay at the Lake Tekapo Motel and Holiday park purely for its location, which was pretty much right on the lake (and just down the road from Tekapo Springs ice skating rink). A mere ~100m to have water lapping at my feet was perfect for the pre-dawn struggle to get some sunrise photos.

Thankfully the early rise was worth the effort with the sky turning it on with some beautiful colours and cloud formations.

Lake Tekapo is also home to the NZ dark sky project making it an ideal spot for some astro photography…on clear nights. Added to the “next time” list.

Tekapo Springs is a water, ice and snow park depending on the season, being winter we were keen to check out the snow tubing and the large outdoor ice skating rink. The line for the tubing was long and slow, so ice skating it was! While also quite busy, the wait was minimal.

Travel tip: they do package deals for their attractions

Travel tip: on the way out of Tekapo Springs, stop at the little grocery store for one of the most scenic little flying foxes/ziplines next to the lake.