Monday, September 9, 2013

New Zealand - The Happiest Dream Holiday Ever

For the past six months, I have been working on a rather enchanting little project. I write regularly for The Great New Zealand blog. Each week, I pick one destination in gorgeous New Zealand and explore it from (alas!) my armchair. I trundle through the thicket, swim with the dolphins and indulge in some virtual zig-zagging on pristine snow-capped mountains. And I d-r-e-a-m. I dream of the day when I will finally set foot on kiwi soil.
When I first read about Yatra's Creating Happy Travellers contest on Indiblogger, I realised it may be one the best chances I'll ever have to day-dream shamelessly about NZ! Perhaps the very act of writing about my dream holiday will encourage the Universe to set into motion mysterious forces that will make the trip actually happen. I believe in miracles, you see.
There are three things that will make this trip the happiest one ever – the place, the people and the experiences.
Okay, so dream destination - bewitching New Zealand - check. Next up, travel buddies.

Yellow Eyed Penguin, New Zealand
My wanderlust has taught me that no holiday can be truly complete without the perfect companions. I have often travelled to far off lands and sighed wishfully, for I wasn't with the people who I knew would have loved to be there too. Through trial and error I have realised my most compatible co-adventurers are my husband N, my sister Miss P, my Mum and my Dad.

Amongst this motley crew I can find a mate to try anything that chance will bring us on our holiday. Mum and Miss P are of course super awesome for shopping. Dad can pick out the most unique spots and vantage points. N can ferret out humour and a live music gig almost anywhere. I can hatch insanely detailed plans and Miss P brings her characteristic dash of eccentricity to make these plans fun. Mum, well she has enough enthusiasm and prudence to propel everyone into making the most of every moment. So all in all a good crew. Very enthusiactic prospects for ‘Creating Happy Travellers’ indeed!

Since I'm the maniac who draws up the travel plans, I can promise this will be an overly ambitious list of experiences. Almost always, I do bite off more than I can chew. However, I fancy myself to have matured a bit over the past couple of trips; wizened up to the fact that we may have to leave something off the list. Still, I think being over-prepared with a dream list never hurt anyone.

On a real holiday, we may be forced to focus on either the North or the South Island of New Zealand, since it may not be possible to cover all that ground in one trip. But since am freewheeling, I can go the whole hog. We could embark on the famous New Zealand bike trail, gaze at the amazing wildlife, camp on the brilliant camping sites along the ocean, cruise the scenic fjords and sounds or explore deep forests with ancient Kauri trees that are multi-centenarians. Go horse-riding on icy glaciers, sample scrumptious sea-food, watch as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a great swirl of currents at Cape Reinga and stop at the Arctic Centre to get a feel for life on the Antarctic continent. Whether we can actually do and see everything or not, here are a few adventures that we definitely wouldn't want to miss:

Kaikoura Retreat

Kaikoura by SidPix
We’ll begin by spending a few days along a stunning coast backed by snow-dusted mountains in Kaikoura. Situated on the Eastern flank on the South Island, Kaikoura is a paradise for whale watching, scuba diving, dolphin spotting, seal meeting and lots of exploring. The natural diversity is as breathtaking as the views from atop the cliffs. And the scrumptious crayfish here gives the sea-side town a well-deserved spot on NZ's culinary map.

Queenstown Thrill-dom

Sky Diving, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is called the adventure capital of the world for a reason. It offers you a host of adrenaline pumping activities to enjoy all year round. Take your pick from skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, bungy jumping, ziplining, swinging, paragliding or skydiving. Phew! Add to that the charm of the Skyline Gondola, a bustling city, immersive Maori cultural experiences and it’s easy to see why Queentown is a hit even with the locals. While the youngsters (ahem! that includes me) may enjoy swinging like monkeys, I’m sure my mum and dad will also be able to enjoy more relaxing activities like cruising on peerless Lake Wakitapu and visiting an authentic high country farm.

Central Otago Wine & Food Nirvana

Wine & Food - Otago, New Zealand
Otago has many exciting wine experiences in store for the four wine lovers in our troupe. We shall happily explore the boutique wineries and gladly sample some of the best wines in the world. It will be a great way to learn about wine and the local culture, followed by delectable tasting sessions in the cozy comfort of wineries. And mom will be rewarded for her patience with a pampering at a luxurious spa followed by a sumptuous lunch. Yay!

Thermal Pool & Hot Spring Rejuvenation

Hot Springs, Rotorua New Zealand
Soaking in natural thermal pools till the toes are all wrinkly is like a rite of passage for Kiwi littlies. We won’t be far behind, I say! After all the exploring, binging and adrenaline rush we’ll really look forward to the soothing waters of hot pools that can be found in many parts of New Zealand. NZ is a hot-bed for geothermal activities and you can find some natural, mineral-rich pools dotting the country. The ones in Rotorua, Hanmer and Miranda are most preferred, so we’ll take our pick.
I could go on about the many things I’d really like for my dream holiday. New Zealand is so diverse and rich in natural as well as cultural heritage, that the entire trip will be an unmatchable experience. It is a small wonder that the beautiful, bountiful ‘Shire’ of The Lord of the Rings movie is real and in New Zealand. NZ’s adorable ratio of 10 sheep per person, the love for outdoorsy adventure and a penchant for celebrating diversity, culture as well as history makes it such an exciting country to visit.
If we do make it to kiwi-land, I'm absolutely sure we will create happy memories and come away more enriched for life. Isn’t that really the best part of travelling?

All images used here are from Flickr and are available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Yellow Eyed Penguin by Sarah M Stewart, Kaikoura by SidPix, Queenstown Sky Diving by mnapoleon, Central Otago by robertpaulyoung, Hot Springs by Erik Streufert

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Welcome Free Facebook Cover

Spring is definitely in the air. Skip along the pretty lanes bursting with blossoms, sing your favourite tunes and grin like mad. If you like the image above, head to my Facebook page and download to make it your cover image too!

Lots of pretty stuff inspired by the season is also available at my Society6 shop.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Season of Love: Free Printable Valentine Card

I know it's quite cheesy to say this, but am going to risk it - Love is in the Air! It is February after all.

While I believe that we don't need a special day to tell people that we love them, I still like to indulge mildly in this month of pink and crimson. Yes, St. Valentine's Day is a one of those hyper-commercialized days even in India. But, if we don't give in to the hoopla, isn't any excuse great to have special time together? To simply expresses how grateful you are that you found this person. To tell them you are the luckiest person alive to be with them. To just put all your feelings down on paper. And to do it in a fun and special way.

Each day of the year, we express our love through actions - by showing care, by tuning in to the other person's needs and even by just lending a helping hand. On hallmark days, a simple gesture to express your love tells your partner that you have taken the time to think about them. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be surprised with a love note yourself?

Ever since I can remember, I have never really obsessed about Valentine's Day. That specific date. Back in college, we used to have a 'Rose Day' sometime in February. A day celebrating secret crushes and love (because you could send anonymous rose cards). When I started working, my agency used the same idea, but we didn't make a day of it. A half hour after lunch was spent listening to poetic messages (most were anonymous, again) and swapping chocolates. All through my teen years, it was mandatory for girlfriends and boyfriends to give each other cards. So the point am trying to make, is that for me, the celebration of love is closely linked to messages on paper. An email will just not cut it.

All of this was running through my mind last week, and I wanted to create something that would let us say 'I Love You' without being predictable. I saw the abundance of flowers, cute animals, hearts and chocolates swirling around as tokens of love,  but my mind kept searching for more. Like most ideas that pop into my head, the one for this card popped in when I was engrossed in a totally unrelated activity. I was pickling! So bizarre. Red chilies being pickled led to me the image you see above. I refined my initial thoughts to craft a couple of messages that I think will work.

The picture above and a message variant is now available as an art print and on other merchandise like iPhone covers, totes and throw pillows in my Society6 Shop. And just for you, I have created a FREE printable card to tell your loved one that they are indeed the spice of your life!

To download your free printable click on this link: Only You Valentine Card

Can you think of a message that will go with this image? If there is something else that you'd like to say to your sweetheart, drop me a line in the comments section below and I'd be happy to work on a custom card for you!

Hope you have a lovely season of LoVe!

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