Touring Hobbiton in New Zealand

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!

The Hobbiton set tour was a must-do day trip for us from Raglan while we were staying on the North Island in New Zealand. I am huge Lord of the Rings fan, and this was something I’d been wanting to do for years!

We decided to arrive plenty early for our tour to avoid any last minute time stress. Hobbiton New Zealand is somewhat remote so there aren’t lots of choices for lunch, but luckily there’s a cafe right by the parking area. Perfect for early comers like us or for a quick bite after the tour!

We had a couple pastries and some coffee as we waited for our tour time….

Here is a picture from one of the gardens in the Shire. All the food in the gardens is real! All the trees on set are real, too, with one exception – the famous one at the top of the hill over Bag End.

Here is a picture of me in the middle of the open field used for Bilbo’s birthday party scene in the first movie. That’s the famous Party Tree in the background! Is this making anyone else want to rewatch the films? 🙂

Hobbiton Party Tree

So cool to see all the hobbit hole doors nestled into the hillside…

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The hobbit doors come in all different sizes as part of the practical effects used while filming. Standing next to a small Hobbit door makes you seem as big as a wizard….

Hobbit Door

…. while standing next to a normal size door makes you seem perfectly Hobbit-sized! So cool to see that in person.

Hobbit Hole

And last but not least… party decorations, Hobbiton style:

Hobbiton Party Decorations

You can check out more about the different Hobbiton Tours on their site here.

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A Home Away from Home in Raglan, New Zealand

Raglan New Zealand Floor

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!

Our AirBnb in Raglan, New Zealand was too cute not to get its own post. I was enamored with every bit of it – the interior design, the views, the record player. This place had it all!

We decided to stay in Raglan almost by accident. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland with a plan to book a place in the city, but we changed our minds at the last second. Instead, we booked a place in Raglan – a small town by the ocean with great spots for surfing, kayaking, and enjoying the water.

We spent most of our time in this sun-filled room with a view of the bay….

Bay View Windows in Raglan New Zealand

The perfect spot for me to keep re-reading The Hobbit 🙂

I loved all the midcentury style furniture and the overall color scheme of this room. Plus, the light fixtures! Love the look of these and the wide light they cast at night.

Here, see the fireplace in the background with the mantle styling? Love how the colors there pick up on the colors of the seating in the foreground.

And then, this nook just off the kitchen was perfect for a morning coffee…

Let’s see a beauty shot of that floor. The color story, the intricate tile-inspired designs – I love all this, too!

Raglan New Zealand Floor

And speaking of the kitchen, here is a peak at it. I love the juxtaposition of that yellow light with the aqua cabinet doors. Gives it some real pop, y’know?

Ragland Kitchen

And last but not least, the bedroom with this amazing dresser + mirror.

Raglan, New Zealand was a great place to stay as our central hub on the North Island. From here we were able to head out on day trips like Waitomo and Hobbiton. But my favorite part might have been this cozy home away from home!

xx Kate

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Swimming with Dolphins in Akaroa

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!

I have been waiting for this post! I couldn’t wait to share the photos from our experience swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand. Everything about this was a once-in-a-lifetime amazing experience for me. Let’s dig in!

We did Akaroa as a day trip from Christchurch on the South Island. In November, it was a very doable and scenic 1.5 hour drive.

There are a few choices of tour guides for Akaroa experiences like this one, and we went with EcoSeaker. We chose them because we liked their longer tours, commitment to education, and history of conservation/habitat protection.

Only 12 people go out once a day to minimize any potential impacts on the environment or wildlife. Here we are on the boat…

On the boat

Everyone is provided with wetsuits to help you float in the ocean. They are fully buoyant and keep you warm!

At the time, I was not the strongest swimmer (I could tread water and swim around slowly) – but once I was accustomed to the sensation of the wetsuit keeping me afloat, I had no trouble at all!

On the boat in the harbor in Akaroa
Swimming with Dolphins Akaroa

My husband, who is a very strong swimmer (he grew up with lots of #lakelife in the Midwest!) thought the wetsuits were good quality and moved well with him through the water.

Swimming with Dolphins in Akaroa

Everything about Akaroa harbour and the ocean water is beautiful and vividly colorful, like stepping into a painting. I just love that turquoise water.

Akaroa

And we saw some dolphins! These Hectors Dolphins are a small, inland type of dolphin and very rare in the world. We felt so lucky to see not just a group of 5 or 6, but many more!

Dolphins Akaroa

See the dolphins in Akaroa swimming with some of our footage in our New Zealand highlight reel here.

Akaroa Harbor

Part of your tour cost goes towards Hectors/New Zealand Dolphin research and education – and that means more opportunities for conservation.

EcoSeaker Review

You can learn more about EcoSeaker, the Hectors dolphins, and Akaroa on EcoSeaker’s site here.

Definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

xx Kate

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Horseback Riding in Glenorchy

glenorchy horseback riding

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!

A couple of days after our wedding, we drove out to Glenorchy for a horseback riding tour. It was an easy, beautiful 1 hour drive from Queenstown out to the meet up point. We did our tour with High Country Horses and loved our experience.

First things first, the views in Glenorchy are unreal! That definitely makes it a unique and perfect place for something like a horseback riding trek where you can cover a lot of ground, take in a lot of the terrain and scenery, and get a feel for the land in the area.

New Zealand Glenorchy Horseback Riding

The tour we chose was “Isengard” – a half-day trek that was suitable for all experience levels. It included just a bit of trotting and a few river crossings! Here I made friends with my tour buddy….

About halfway through our ride we stopped for photos. You might recognize the backdrop here as the setting for Isengard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Here are some shots from the actual trek. First up, a river crossing:

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The horses were totally pro and accustomed to these trails….

glenorchy horseback riding

See more about horseback riding in Glenorchy with some of our footage in our New Zealand highlight reel here.

All in all, we had a great experience with our horseback riding trek. If you are visiting Queenstown or exploring the South Island, I’d definitely recommend checking out High Country Horses and their different treks to find one that suits you! Some others we thought sounded cool were the multi-day trek around the mountain for more experienced riders and the Rees River Trail, another half day trek good for all experience levels. No matter your background with horses, there’s a chance for everyone to make great memories here.

See ya mate and take it easy,

Kate

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Queenstown, New Zealand

So, I decided to undertake a mini “Photo Rescue” project with my New Zealand pictures. I have so many good photos from our wedding trip there in 2017 that I never shared, and I really want them to have a home here on the blog. In the spirit of bringing these photos and stories back out to enjoy again – here we go, starting with Queenstown!

lake wakatipu queenstown travel

My husband and I were married in November 2017 next to Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. This was maybe the most scenic place I’ve ever been! Love it so much. And so happy to have made great memories there.

The day before our wedding, we had lunch at the Stratosphere Restaurant up high over Queenstown with amazing views of the area. To get up there, you take the Skyline Gondola to the the peak. The bottom terminal is within walking distance of the city center of Queenstown, so it’s an easy walk to make over.

views from the Gondola to Bob’s Peak

Having lunch by a window overlooking this? Totally amazing.

queenstown new zealand travel

The Stratosphere Restaurant was one of our favorite experiences in Queenstown. But there was plenty of other great food! I loved getting ice cream….

And Fergbaker/Fergburger is a New Zealand staple that is definitely worth the wait….

Queenstown Food Fergburger

Side note: I love this joking pizza sign…

queenstown new zealand travel

And here are some more shots of Lake Wakatipu…

Just look at the crystal clear water! So serene.

queenstown lake wakatipu travel

Around the harbor is a great place to relax, walk around, and explore the shops and restaurants in the heart of Queenstown. I especially loved going there in the evening as the sun set and finding a spot right by the water….

That’s all for the first post of my New Zealand Photo Rescue (ha!). Can’t wait to share some more from our wedding/honeymoon trip there!

Kate

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Beirut, Lebanon // The Corniche

Mediterranean

Hi from Beirut, Lebanon! I am here for a few weeks exploring this city on the Mediterranean. I have lots of photos, and wanted to start by sharing some from the Corniche – Beirut’s wide walkway along the coast.

The blues are beautiful…

Mediterranean

… and you can walk right alongside the water and rocky shores….

Corniche Beirut
Corniche Beirut

dress (under $25 and so comfy! I’m in the grey) // boots // shirt // sunglasses

The Corniche is such an interesting walk with the cityscape and tall buildings on one side, while the Mediterranean waters stretch seemingly endless and flat into the distance on the other side. I just love visual juxtapositions like that.

Corniche Beirut

Corniche Beirut

Read more about the Mediterranean in Hiking Along the Italian Coast or Capri, Italy

I also love all the palm trees lined up by the walkway. They are a refreshing sight of greenery in the city and bonus: they remind me of California.

There’s not much shade along the walkway, but there are lots of people out for a walk to enjoy the uninterrupted sunshine! You can also see people jogging, biking, skating, and just taking in the sights.

Corniche Beirut

But the Corniche is also lively at nighttime! It wraps around to the Raouché Rocks – a great place to watch the sunset over the rock formations in the water and grab some dinner with a view.

Raouche Rocks

Corniche Dinner

If you are visiting Beirut, I definitely recommend this seaside walk! It’s a great place to people-watch, enjoy the sun, and take in the views of the Mediterreanean with the Lebanese landscape and cities hugging the coast.

Have you been to Lebanon? Let me know in the comments!

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Morro Bay Waterfront

I loved staying in Morro Bay, California for a couple of months. Wanted to share a few more photos from our time there this spring!

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Love the view of Morro Rock – you can see it from everywhere along the waterfront…

morro bay waterfront

morro bay waterfront

And I just love that evening light over the ocean. 🙂

Hope you are having a good week,

 

kate

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Hawaii Outfits and Photo Spots

Hi there! I put together all of our favorite vacation clothes we wore on our first trip to Hawaii and some of our favorite photo spots. You’ll find links to our Hawaii outfits with the photos below!

My favorite spot was Kawela Bay on the north shore of O’ahu. There we saw a massive banyan tree (you might recognize it from ‘Lost’ !) that was awe-inspiring to walk under. Plus, the beach on Kawela Bay is great if you want to relax somewhere less busy than Waikiki. We spent a day away from crowds in the waves there and took breaks to read under an umbrella. Not bad at all.

Hawaii Outfit

From the top! Hats are always a major part of my travel outfits to places with a high sun factor to help keep sun off my face…

Hawaii outfits

hat // swimsuit from athleta 2016 // pants

Location: massive banyan tree at kawela bay on the north shore, o’ahu, hawaii

And I was so excited to wear a long, flowy floral dress to a luau….

Hawaii outfits

floral dress // shoes

I tried to keep all my clothes pretty flowing and loose to keep cool in that humid heat….

Hawaii outfits

white top // pants // sandals // hat

Location: alawai canal, waikiki, hawaii

Hawaii outfits

swimsuit cover // hat

Location: kawela bay, o‘ahu, hawaii

Flower headbands are something I could really get used to…

Hawaii outfits

Love.

pink dress // blue flower headband from h&m, here is a pink one I love

Hiking Laie Falls was an adventure with beautiful views of the north shore in O’ahu!

Hawaii hikingfitbit // sneakers // crop top

Location: laie falls trail, laie, o’ahu, hawaii

Mens Hawaii outfit

mens tank top // swim trunks

Location: kawela bay, o’ahu, hawaii

Mens swim trunks | hawaii outfit

swim trunks

Location: kawela bay, o’ahu, hawaii

My favorite thing no matter what I was wearing? The fresh orchid flower leis! They totally completed my Hawaii outfits.  I saw them for sale everywhere, and I got mine for $7 at Target. Best $7 I ever spent.

Mahalo~

kate

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Aloha from Waikiki, Hawaii

Aloha! I am in Hawaii this week and wanted to share a few photos from our first couple of days in Honolulu + Waikiki.

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First things first, here are a couple of pictures of the famous Waikiki Beach…

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I love that view.

I also love the view of this infinity pool along the beach…

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Awesome.

We went to a luau on our first night here, and it was so much fun. We went to the Paradise Cove luau and I’d recommend it if you are interested in learning a bit about Pacific Island culture while seeing a good show by talented locals and getting dinner.

We saw hula dancers and a man climb a tree to toss down orchid flowers (He made it look so easy!)

 

Here’s everyone lined up to learn about fishing traditions…

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We tried our hand at spear throwing…

…admired the plant life…

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…and enjoyed the sunset!

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The food has been great so far, too. I have been eating all the fish tacos. Haven’t met any here that I didn’t like!

We also tried this frozen treat, banán a dairy-free soft serve made from local bananas and fruit that tastes a bit like frozen yogurt. Yum.

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Now we are up on the north side of Oahu and excited to explore the area up here! I’ll share more photos from here later and in the mean time I’ll be posting over on instagram.

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Have you been to Hawaii? What was your favorite thing to do? 🙂

 

kate

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How to Spend a Day in Cambria, California

Cambria, California is a small, lovely seaside town about 20 minutes north of Morro Bay. It makes a great stop if you are driving between LA and San Francisco, and is close to some cool sites in the central coast area like Hearst Castle, the elephant seals at San Simeon, and the Paso Robles winery region.

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We started our day with a visit to Moonstone Beach – a great place for a walk, a picnic, or to just enjoy the ocean. We’re visiting in April, so it was pretty windy + still a little chilly… but warm enough for a great walk. There’s a long boardwalk that makes the beach views accessible for everyone.

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There are also lots of hidden coastal access points off of Highway 1. We stopped at one rocky beach outcrop to explore a bit of the seaside by ourselves…

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In town, there are so many great restaurants, coffee shops, and boutique shops…

Cambria California

Plus plenty of art galleries to stop in, some antique shops, and a little playhouse connected to the Harmony cafe. We ate at the cafe, and if you are in town check the adjoining J. Buckley Theatre’s schedule for frequent events like live music, local plays, and retro movies…

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Our favorite dish was the sea bass – really fresh!

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We also ate at the Indigo Moon on the other side of Main Street.

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We more or less ordered one of everything and it was all delicious!

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I love hidden gem places like Cambria! Do you love little seaside towns, too?

 

Kate

 

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