Cruise Diary | Day 2 on the Pacific Pearl

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

OK.  So I forgot to mention a few things in my prior post here.

Like the fact that the second my feet hit the wharf yesterday I turned into the most scatterbrained, airy-fairy chick EVER.

My bag with all of my shoes and toiletries never made it to our room.  There’s no baggage claim on a cruise, your lovely room porters ensure your bags are simply dropped off inside your cabin like super-efficient magical elves.  It’s lovely!  This can only happen of course if your luggage is suitably labelled.

I had clipped my Country Road duffel onto my carry-on suitcase back on the wharf.  It must have promptly disengaged itself and sat there on its lonesome, although not quite, as apparently is was soon surrounded by sniffer dogs who thought it was an unaccompanied, dodgy piece of baggage.  It was discovered and was stored at reception, waiting for its crack-pot owner to retrieve it.

Me.

I also lost my Ship card within 30 minutes of embarking.  This doubles as your room key and is also your currency aboard the ship.  The kind gentleman at reception helped me out with a replacement after he found my missing bag.

After our lunch yesterday, I realised I had also become unencumbered of my beauteous hat.  If you follow on Instagram I’m sure you’ll remember my pride and joy, the grey Brixton Felt hat that I purchased in Sydney.  My baby was lost!!

My mate at reception went through every lost and found option available to him but there was no sign of my poor hat – reception friend also jokingly chided me, “Ma’am, Day One is not even over and so many problems!  I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon”.

Touche.

We awoke early, but rested after a solid nights sleep and headed up to Waterfront for breakfast.  As this was the restaurant in which we enjoyed our lunch yesterday, I thought I’d have a peek under the table and see if my precious was there – it was!!

With ALL of our possessions accounted for it was time to eat and begin our day.

The menu at Waterfront is fab.  We ordered fruit plates, a smoked salmon bagel and eggs benedict but grabbed pastries, toast and coffee from the servers who visited our table…..often lol.

So.  Full.  Ethan and I have a no-elevator policy so are making use of the stairs as we move around the 12 decks on board.  Gotta get those steps in guys!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

Aqua is the ships Day Spa and I headed there at 10.30am for a Hydratherapie De Nutritive Facial ($218AUD) with gorgeous Kasia.

This therapy uses the Parisian brand La Thérapie, and is luxe, luxe, luxe!  Think deep cleansing, Orbital Microdermabrasion, massage, mask and O2 infusion.  My skin looks and feels amazing.  There are so many options available at Aqua I genuinely struggled to choose a treatment – the Ionithermie Algae Detox came in a close second, but who can say no to a beautiful facial combined with a foot massage?  I’m in desperate need of a hair cut so have made an appointment for Sunday morning, fingers crossed all goes well.

E and I skipped the formal lunch and headed up to Plantation on Deck 12 to get stuck into the buffet.  The Chicken Tikka wraps, nachos and greek salads were exactly what we needed to prep for an afternoon of activities with P&O Edge.

TIP > Great coffee can be found at Charlie’s on deck 5, this is right next to an amazing sweet shop so consider yourself warned!

TIP > Like in any hotel, wifi is expensive so use accordingly.  As we were waiting in reception this morning a lady was freaking out ahead of us as she had used up all of her room credit on wifi at .75c per minute!  Watch that Instagram stalking whilst at sea lol.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

At 2pm we met on top deck and began our adventures with the Edge Team.  It was drizzly and gusty but none of us were deterred from harnessing up to whip across deck on the flying fox.  This is a perfect activity if you’re not too sure about the more adventurous options available onboard the Pearl.  Pretty much everyone knows what to expect from a Flying Fox so no surprises here.  The climb up the tower was the highlight for me, that birds eye view is so worth it!  We harnessed up and zipped across deck.  It was fast and marvellous!

Next up was Walk the Plank.  This was a whole different kettle of fish.  Higher, windier, on a narrow plank over the ocean.  Not for everyone.  Ethan killed it!  My mad child just strode right to the end and hung over the edge completely suspended by his harness.  I was not as surefooted.  This was such a buzz but SO freaking scary!  After two exhilarating walks I was feeling pretty proud of myself for getting up there and charging it.  Weather be damned our group agreed, the Edge events are not to be missed.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

The main event was still ahead of us – dinner at the Chef’s Table.  When I first saw our itinerary this was the standout for me and it far exceeded my expectations.

Canapés and champagne to start, then we headed below deck for a tour of the immense galley.  This was mind-blowing, the staff prepare 9000 meals per day!  Catering for a multitude of nationalities and dietary requirements, this mammoth galley has to run like the well-oiled machine that it is.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

Chef’s table is a private dining room in the centre of Waterfront restaurant.  A stunning setting for the seven courses to follow accompanied by perfect wine pairings.

This is a must-do whilst onboard.  At $95 AUD a head, I can’t recommend this dining experience enough.  It’s an adults-only event, Ethan at 11 was very fortunate to attend and rated it one of the best nights of his life!  I die.  So lucky.  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific PearlOne of the highlights of the trip has been watching how expert the ship’s crew are at interacting with kids.  Ethan has been treated with much respect and hashad a great time with all of the crew he’s encountered.  This is such a relief as I had a preconception that perhaps cruising wasn’t such a good option for families but this is totally NOT the case! 

TNew Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog Travel Cruise Pacific Pearlhe night was not over.
The Gatsby theme party was absolutely cranking in the atrium so I dropped my tired boy off to our cabin and steeled myself for some dancing and cocktails.  Turns out I could only hang for one of the band’s amazing sets and a single daiquiri – I tried my best but you know, too old!  The cruisers costumes were outstanding, I couldn’t believe the hundreds of people that put their glad-rags on and turned up in full ’20’s and ’30’s garb to dance the night away.  It was totally fab.

And then?

Sleep

Cruise Diary | Day 1 On the Pacific Pearl

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog  Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

Despite feeling a little overwhelmed whilst I was packing Wednesday night due to the sheer number of outfits required – our comprehensive inventory for the media famil includes 3 cocktail parties, 4 pre-dinner drinks,  4 dinners, 1 show, 1 champagne breakfast + more lol, I couldn’t be more impressed with our initial experience.

The thing that makes cruising different from other vacations is that there is no transit time (if you live in the port city).  To make life easier for Dave and Nixon, E and I drove into the city, parked the truck for the 4 days and walked the short distance to Queen’s Wharf.

The size of these behemoth ships never fails to take my breath away, it must be a throwback from the Love Boat glory days of the eighties, but gosh I’m counting my blessings to be able to cross a cruise off my bucket lis right now!

So the whole check in process was a breeze.  So chilled and relaxed compared to air travel.  Everyone is happy and smiling, the whole process moved smoothly and very quickly.

And then we were aboard!

We found our cabin right away (you may have seen it on Snapchat already (follow @thebestnestnz) and met our super helpful cabin porters Andrew and Ganje.  They greeted us by name the instant we turned the corner to our corridor!  Brilliant, personal service.

First stop was the Waterfront Restaurant for lunch with our new friends.  We enjoyed a beautiful three-course meal with wine pairings from our host Candace from P&O and got to know each other a little better.

I tried the cannelloni, snapper and fresh fruit while Ethan ordered a salmon omelette and the Cookies and Cream Cheesecake – amazing!

Our itinerary is jam-packed with a variety of events over the next 4 days so it was hustle hustle back to our cabin to get dressed for the Nero party on the top deck – all black outfits required.  Only slightly hindered by the light rain we enjoyed Pina Coladas, a DJ set and E snuck off to the Plantation restaurant to sample his first buffet afternoon tea of the cruise – first of many I’m sure!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog  Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

Following the Nero event, it was pre-dinner drinks at The Orient bar.  I love the decor in here!  Dark, moody and classically elegant – such a great space to relax and chat. Discovered a beautiful Chardonnay here which I will up date you on later.

Dinner was a bit trickier tbh.  We were out in open ocean by this point and the swells were picking up.  One of our gorgeous hosts had sorted Ethan out with some Sea Legs tablets – which I totally recommend bringing – but it was possibly a little late.  He wasn’t ill, just feeling unsettled from the movement of the ship.  There’s some seriously good steak in the Waterfront Restaurant guys!  I rushed through dinner so I could get E back to our cabin and tucked up in bed for the night.

He was shattered!

It was an early night for both of us and we slept super well.  Our cabin is on Deck 6 and right in the middle of the ship both horizontally and vertically.  A pretty good place in terms of minimising the effects of sea sickness apparently.  We have an ocean view room which is lovely!  The porthole (window?) is huge and gives a stunning view of the sea.

First impressions – loving it!  I could totally get used to the cruising life!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Mommy Blogger Blog  Travel Cruise Pacific Pearl

Our Holiday in Rarotonga | Whale Watching with Rongohiva Watersports

mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotongaOur last ‘organised’ excursion in Rarotonga was also the one that I had been looking forward to the most.

We had the amazingly good fortune of booking our trip during prime whale watching season – I cannot impress upon you how excited I was when I realised this!  Humpback whales migrate through the Cook Islands from July through October to mate, give birth and to rest.  The whole of the territorial waters of the Cook Islands are a whale sanctuary and we visited at the end of August through to September 8th.  

And did we see whales?

Two days after we arrived we were on a bus back to our accommodation after spending the morning at the Saturday Markets.  As we were heading out of Avarua, the main town, I saw a mama and baby humpback spouting a couple of times before the view was obscured by those damn coconut palms lol.  A couple of days later we ate dinner on the beach at Black Rock and watched the sunset whilst a pod of whales swam past, all spouting and doing some tail slapping.  Dave and E saw a whale breach quite close to them while they were on their fishing charter and I was insanely jealous, not going to lie!

So when it was finally time to head out with Jackie and the team from Rongohiva Watersports I was SO excited!  Aside from the knowledge that I was 100% without a doubt going to cry tears of joy if I saw a humpback lol.
The Eturere, Rongohiva’s 8.5m rigid V-hull inflatable, is the most insane boat I’ve ever been on – and I know my boats believe me.  Boasting twin 250 horsepower engines, I’m fairly certain this is the fastest boat in the Cook Islands! – with the best sound system and playlist.  And the most comfortable seats.  And the most smiley happy crew who were all so passionate about their jobs, the feeling on-board was amazing.

We decided to leave Nixon on the beach with Dave and I’m so glad we did as he has problems sitting in one spot, and the stress of wrangling him would’ve totally killed my peaceful-whale-vibes.  Tara, Ethan and I sat up front and soaked in the view as we headed out of the harbour.  Fate was smiling on us as I swear as we had just cleared the breakwater, not 5 minutes into our trip and we saw a humpback ahead.  On cue, I cried.  I’ve loved whales my whole life and finally getting to see a humpback was one off the bucket-list for me.  I was so overwhelmed I barely managed to snap any pics (SO, so unlike me I know!), but I’ll never forget seeing that big, beautiful tail playfully slapping the water.

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Our whale friend eventually moved on and we were treated to a little high speed fun on Eturere.  It was almost incomprehensible to be going SO fast, and be so comfortable and almost gliding across the water with no bump-jolt, up-down, crash-bash.  None.  At.  All.  This was the first time I had been out in the open water surrounding Rarotonga, and though it doesn’t translate in the pictures, the clear, cobalt colour of the water is equally as breathtaking (in a different way) to the bright turquoise water in the lagoons that are normally associated with Rarotonga.  Also no sea-sickness.  This boat is the business people!mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga

Let’s talk about gorgeous Jackie for a moment.  She was our amazing hostess and is half of the husband and wife team who manage Rongohiva Watersports.  Both Jackie (B.A.) and husband Teina (Ph.D.) are Marine Scientists and are very obviously passionate about what they do.  I have never actually seen anyone smile as much as Jackie does and her warmth and joy at being out on the water is totally contagious.  The crew were equally lovely, so safety conscious, funny and immensely knowledgable.  These are operators that show huge respect towards the humpbacks.  As soon as we spotted the whale, the Captain cut the engine and we didn’t move any closer toward the animal.  It was lovely being able to take this time to cry watch and appreciate what we were witnessing and swoon over our beautiful surroundings.

So, we saved the best for last.  I’m so, so grateful to Jackie and her wonderful crew for hosting us on an adventure I’ll never forget xx

  • For kids under 5, I would say whale watching is  a case by case basis.  My 2 year old is simply not chilled out enough to sit and enjoy the boat ride, he WILL not sit still, ever.  So this was not for him unfortunately.  Jackie is super helpful and kid-friendly – she’s a mum too – so chat with her about your family’s requirements if you have any questions.  
  • Rongohiva Watersports is not just all about whale watching, they also offer speed boat + swim, banana boat and snorkel + cruise packages or contact them for charter info and package bookings.mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotongamummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga

Our Holiday in Rarotonga | Raro Reef Sub

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Mummy Blog new Zealand Travel Blogger rarotonga Family
Family friendly? YES. Here’s Captain Steph giving me a break from holding 16kg Nixie as he was dozing off on the sub, she’s so lovely!

When I was planning our trip to Rarotonga I couldn’t believe my eyes when I stumbled across this little gem of an adventure on the interwebs!  When trying to find suitable excursions the whole family could enjoy, there was always the Nixon factor to consider.  A very hyper busy two year old and boats don’t often bode well, but the idea of a partial sub, well, what could possibly go wrong lol.

The Raro Reef Sub is moored in Avatiu Harbour on the north-east side of Rarotonga – very easy to find and access via the buses.  It’s also totally easy to spot in the marina as it’s a YELLOW SUBMARINE!  We met Captain Steph, the owner/operator (read her very cool story of how she came to be in Rarotonga here) and her tour guide Luke on the wharf and after a quick orientation we headed off.

Seriously, within two minutes of motoring, the Giant Trevally were alongside the boat and putting on quite a show!  These fish are insanely huge and so fast, both of the boys were spellbound.  The view on deck and from the sub is equally as good in totally different ways.  Seeing massive fish like this in their natural environment – from an underwater vantage point is something we’ll never forget.  But up on deck Luke had a bucket of scraps that were whipping those big fish into quite a frenzy, we totally didn’t know where to look first!

Mummy Blog new Zealand Travel Blogger rarotonga FamilyMummy Blog new Zealand Travel Blogger rarotonga FamilyWe headed for the site of the 99 year old shipwreck – RMS Maitai.  None of our party scuba dive so getting up close and personal with a piece of Rarotongan maritime history like this was pretty awe inspiring.  The views below deck were like something from a David Attenborough doco, something I’d never ever expected to see in my lifetime, plus the commentary from both Steph and Luke was amazing.  These two really know their stuff, local knowledge is definitely not lacking on this tour.  

I really believe the best way to gain some perspective of the island is from the water.  You spend so much time looking out at the lagoon when you’re in Raro that it’s easy to forget there is a stunning tropical landscape waiting right behind your back!  In the picture below you can see the engine block from RMS Maitai as well as the surprising elevation of the island beyond.
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So, Raro Reef Sub is pretty much a near perfect experience for those with young families like us or for those who want a leisurely, relaxed cruise on the water.  I wouldn’t worry too much about sea sickness as she’s a pretty stable boat (trust me, I get horrendously sick and I was fine!), plus you’re really close to shore the whole time so you’re not getting buffeted around in the open water.  At 1 hour 15 minutes, we found this tour the perfect amount of time for the kids to maintain their attention span.  Nixon was mental, up and down the ladder constantly but that was no big deal – Luke was always there to lend a hand!  Safety-wise for the kids, no worries, though Steph’s totally got an eagle eye on her passengers the entire time which I really appreciated.

Raro Reef Sub is a lovely relaxed outing in a smaller group than some other operations which makes the whole experience more personal, peaceful and informative.  Loved it, a very special way to see Rarotonga that shouldn’t be missed!
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On Holiday in Rarotonga | Rumours Waterfall Spa

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When we first began planning our trip well over a year ago, there was one thing Dave was desperate to do in Rarotonga – go on a fishing charter, so we made this happen.  The one thing I wanted to do was to go to a spa and enjoy a blissful massage – read: an hour of peace and quiet, desperately needed when taking the kids on a 12 day vacation don’t you think?  Rumours Waterfall Spa made my wish happen for me and it was every inch the luxe experience I had hoped for.

Having never visited Rarotonga before I had no idea that Rumours was located a mere 150m walk from our rented accommodation, just south of popular Muri Beach.  After a quick stroll and Tara and I arrived a little early and sat outside because the lush, perfectly manicured garden was too pretty not to enjoy.

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Upon entering I noticed two things; the first was the number of awards that were tastefully decorating the walls.  Most recently Rumours was awarded Best Luxury Beauty Spa in Rarotonga, actually they’ve won the award every year since 2011!  There is no shortage of spas to choose from on the island so this is quite an achievement. Secondly, one can’t ignore the beautiful rock waterfall featuring in the reception area which instantly set the tone I was looking for, peace and tranquility.

We were booked in for 60min relaxation massages described as a smooth flowing massage that induces deep relaxation, improves circulation and ultimately relieves muscular tension. The ultimate stress reliever!

The treatment room was as you’d expect from a spa with such glowing accolades, spotlessly clean but also effortlessly comfortable.  I positively sank into the massage table and tuned out for the next hour.

I’ve had what I thought were full body massages before, but this was indeed a full body massage including my buttocks and face – both of which were amazing!  It makes so much sense that to relieve lower back tension you need to fully work on the big muscles in your butt!

The use of locally sourced coconut oil for the massage was the pièce de résistance.  I’ve always wanted to try this natural super-oil as a body moisturiser and let me tell you the proof is irrefutable!  My skin was transformed instantly and the super-hydration lasted for 2 days after the massage!

If you have saved and planned like we had, I absolutely recommend taking some time (and allocating some holiday budget) for yourself.  Rumours Waterfall Spa is without a doubt deserving of their many awards and their beautiful therapists are extremely skilled at what they do.  The whole experience was more than I had wished for and left me uber relaxed and in the right state of mind to enjoy the rest of my vacation.  

 

On Holiday in Rarotonga | Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours

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I was so excited to make contact with Dave and Natavia from Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours.  So much of Rarotonga’s tourism is focused on ocean activities (justifiably so) but there is also a huge cultural story to be told on the land.
Dave picked us up on the morning of our tour and we rode island style – in the back of the ute! – to our starting point.  Because we had Nixon in tow, the three hour Discovery for Families Tour was perfect for our group.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyMummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyAfter a comprehensive safety briefing and a prayer for the road, we set off with local guide Jimmy in the lead.  Prior to setting off, Natavia asked all of us if there was anything we were interested in focusing on during the tour ie farming, plants as medicine, history, birds, wildlife etc. Our Avanti bikes were amazing, super comfortable and with great suspension for navigating the Rarotongan roads and heading into the bush.  Nix was riding behind Dave in a sweet trailer, complete with a perfectly sized toddler helmet….. that he wouldn’t wear lol.
Jimmy was a fountain of local knowledge, at our first stop he introduced us to a small pineapple plot, the two variations of farming taro, manioto, banana, cinnamon, edible flowers, we sampled coconut of various ages, fed piglets and learnt about basic bush medicine.
Natavia took the lead soon after as we pedaled on to a Noni plantation. We ate fresh noni and smelt the revolting pungent, fermented noni that is eventually processed into the super popular noni juice.
Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyStorytellers has permission to take visitors onto the eerie site of the derelict Sheraton Hotel.  Hearing the tale of this historical icon from a local perspective, amidst the ruins was very cool, but also provided lots of food for thought about the actions and accountability of big business in tiny island nations such as Rarotonga.
We concluded our tour at a beautiful clearing on a private beach, ready to enjoy a traditional lunch of fish, rice, maniota fries (aka the BEST food ever!), salsa fresca, coleslaw and fruit prepared by a local mama.Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyI loved this excursion so much.  Owners Dave and Natavia were such a joy to talk with, as was our guide Jimmy.  I was a little surprised at how much Ethan (aged 10.5) enjoyed the tour.  He loved being off the beaten track, in the bush and learning about the native flora and fauna – plus there was always something yummy to eat, Jimmy kept the boys supplied with fresh oranges, bananas and coconut found along the way.
Storytellers is definitely a point of difference in the Rarotongan tourism industry and a wonderful one at that. Suitable for most ages and levels of fitness, getting off the beach and onto a bike is worth every penny.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

** We were generously hosted by Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours, however, all opinions expressed are my own. 

On Holiday in Rarotonga | Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes

We visited some amazing spots in Rarotonga on our family vacation and I’m going to share my favourite Kid Friendly activities right here.  Follow along for the entire series and hopefully you’ll get inspired to start planning your own Cook Islands adventure.


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As soon as I mentioned that our family was traveling to Rarotonga, the first place people recommended if they had visited The Cook Islands before was Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes.
Not going to lie, when I checked the website I was SO freaking excited!  After emailing an inquiry through and receiving a super quick response from Lynne, we scheduled our cruise for the day after we arrived in Raro.
Of all the excursions we had planned, I was the most worried about how Nixie would survive such a long day – on a boat!
We arrived to overcast, average day on Thursday which unfortunately deteriorated into a bit of a cold rain on Friday morning.  We were instantly cheered however, by the beautiful singing and drumming that greeted us upon our arrival at Captain Tama’s Muri Beach location.
After a quick (hilarious) intro we boarded our glass bottom boat and headed out into Muri Lagoon to go snorkeling.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThe lagoon is quite sheltered so don’t worry about a bumpy ride, plus the pontoon style boats are super stable so no need to worry about feeling seasick.
After a short spell of motoring, 15 minutes or so, we arrived at our snorkeling spot, stripped off and stepped overboard into the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.  People took their time, hopped in and out of the water, always assisted by one of the guides who stayed onboard, keeping a very watchful eye on all of their charges.
We had packed a flotation ring for Nixon so Dave and I took turns exploring the reef below and hanging out with our little guy who had a great time bobbing around, chatting to everyone and pointing out all of the ‘whales’ he kept spotting!Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyEthan was in the water before anyone else and was the last to get back on the boat.  He loved every second of it.  One of the guides was in the water showing people where to spot two huge moray eels so that was the icing on the cake for our big boy.  The fish were everywhere.  We saw Giant Clams, Butterfly Fish, Trigger Fish, Damsel Fish, Blue Fin Trevally, Parrot Fish, Needle Fish and so many more.  The incredible range and varied scale of marine life was so abundant that often you didn’t know where to look. We were all a little overwhelmed and so, so grateful for such a memorable snorkeling experience.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThere was another two year old on our boat and both he and Nix were totally happy throughout the lagoon trip.  I couldn’t believe our luck that Nixon was relaxed and loving his time on the boat.  This can definitely be attributed to the friendly, fun atmosphere that our guides made sure to maintain, even in the less-than-perfect weather.
After another short spell of motoring we pulled up to a gorgeous island in the lagoon and hopped off for lunch just as the sun came out.  The boats are flat bottomed so you literally disembark into ankle deep water.  There was an elderly gentlemen on board that the guys took such great care of, carrying him gently to and from the boat so don’t worry about accessibility!Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family
We had about 20 minutes before lunch was to be served so Ethan grabbed a snorkel and headed back to the water whilst we explored the beach with Nixon and tried to ignore the incredible smells wafting from the BBQ.
Women and children were served first, of course, and we were not disappointed.  We feasted on fresh tuna, grilled bananas, onions, potato salad, coleslaw, bread, oranges and papaya with coconut.  Ah.  Maze.  Zing.
We all had seconds…….and maybe thirds.
Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyMummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyEthan headed straight back to the lagoon and snorkeled his heart out for the next hour or so whilst we enjoyed a cultural performance including Rarotongan song, drumming, the complete coconut how-to guide from climbing the palm to making coconut cream, sarong lessons for both men and women and finishing with a hilarious haka.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThe day’s schedule was so well planned, there was value added at every transition.  All five of us thoroughly enjoyed our day with the boys from Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes.
This is such a professionally run operation but one that retains it’s cultural authenticity.  We are in full agreement that we would all pay to visit Captain Tama’s again on future holidays in Rarotonga, the total package (plus the amazing food!) was totally worth the ticket price.  All you have to bring on board is a towel and a water bottle if you need one – all snorkeling equipment is provided.  

This is an excursion suited to all ages and after 12 days on the island I’m rating it a must-do (be prepared for tired kids – it’s too much fun!).Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

* We were generously hosted by Captain Tama’s, however, all opinions expressed are my own. 

The Best Nest goes to Rarotonga!

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Kia orana!
I’m sitting on a plane, heading off to our family holiday in Rarotonga right now, approx 3 hrs into our flight and my second glass of bubbly is finally starting to take the edge off.
In typical Jack fashion, I feel like all prep for this vacation has been totally last minute and fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants.
That is not to say it was a spur of the moment trip. 

All week people have been saying, ‘omg, you’re SO lucky!’, as if we won a prize or something.  The truth is, we have been saving for this holiday for well over a year.  Last winter we decided that 2015 would be different.  We would be among those who escape winter for some tropical sun.  I determined what we could afford to save weekly and we put it away in a separate bank account.  Dave needed a new car a couple of months ago and instead of going over budget (which would have affected our savings plan) we only purchased what we could pay cash for.  Hence he’s driving a small nana-style hatchback lol.  Goals baby.
I have no idea if I have packed everything we need, taking 2 kids to the islands for 12 days is daunting and Dave and I’ve been running on 5 hours sleep each night for a couple of weeks so lord knows what made it into our many bags lol.
I do know that both boys have been amazing so far and this holiday is all about making memories with them.  I’m so grateful to Dave for working so hard to make this happen and letting me squirrel away the money as it comes in – I’m the master of compartmental budgeting lol.
I’ve got some super cool partnerships lined up with tourism operators in Rarotonga so I’ll be blogging about the very best family-friendly experiences the Cook Islands have to offer, so please follow along here or on Instagram to see what we’re getting up to xx

Dave Jack Does Paris

Another update from Dave, love this one!

Hello my beautiful wife,

Well after I got done talking to you this morning I packed my bag and made a plan. The plan was to go to see Jim Morrison’s grave and then make my way back to the hotel on foot and I should see a lot more this way. I found the nearest train station and started to buy my ticket across town, I must have looked like a pro because a lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for help on buying the right ticket! I pretended to not speak English and helped her buy the right ticket, I got a real big kick out of this ha ha! So after I pretended to be French I jumped on the train and headed to see good old Jim. Got there and made it to the grave site in minutes, standing there at his grave I had this funny feeling something is not right, then it hit me, here’s a dead rock star and I don’t have a beer in my hand. So always paying attention to my surroundings I remembered there was a grocery store about a block down the street. I ran down down the street and grabbed a beer and a sandwich, if you notice in the picture I grabbed the one that had the NZ name export 33 just had to represent. So back at Jimbo’s grave drinking my beer and taking it all in, not very peaceful as there are tons and tons of people walking by every minute, but still really cool. As the beer kicks in and I think to my self “Dave you are going to jump this fence and get a picture standing next to the grave”. So now I have a mission, like clock work this guy stand beside me and asks me to take a picture of him and his girl, I do then I hand him my camera and say your turn. As soon as he grabs the camera I turn around and jump the fence the crowd of people go ahh, I run up to the grave turn around and give him the thumbs up! The picture does not look the greatest but hey I touched Jimbo’s grave!! So I got that out of my system looked at some other famous dead people then I was out. Heading to see Notre Dame and what ever else I run into. I see a lot of cool things along the way and I try to eat as much as I can too. So get to Notre Dame and it’s pretty amazing. From the direction I walked I saw the back first, I crossed the bridge and headed around to the front. There was this cool place to take a picture of it from the side, so I walked up and proceeded to take a picture. It could of been my beer buzz but I did not see the top model crew setting up to take pictures of some chick. I was standing with a lot of other people taking pictures then these girls asked us if we could move. I started laughing and told the chick that they would have to wait to shoot there new postcard as this was a public place. The photographer heard me and man did he go wild ha ha ha I guess he was not making a postcard, yes I am a dick. So I moved on, bought a lot of gifts for the team along the way. Crossing the bridge to the Louvre I bought a lock and locked on the bridge, it says Dave +Melissa and like us it is not going anywhere, so when we make it back to France I will show you. So the outside of the Louvre is crazy, it’s getting late so I find the entrance and charge it. I go down the the stairs and right when I get to the ticket booth the lady puts the close sign up…fuck. So as I walk away I see one of the ticket girls and say I just missed out bummer and then for some reason I say “Go the All Blacks!” She looks at me and says “just you!” I nod, she grabs my hand pulls me through the crowd and gives me this ticket and says “we will get you next time” and winks. So sweet I am in! I look at the map and walk as fast as I can to the Mona Lisa as I figure I don’t have much time and I better see that. I make it Yus!! I take some pictures of it then a nice couple ask me if I will take picture of them, so then they took a picture of me perfect!! So now I am done legs burning as I sit at the hotel….. We are coming here next year I want to show you that lock! Xxx Ooo20120927-205704.jpg20120927-205731.jpg

Good Thing Bad Thing | Dave Jack, International man of Mystery

Dave Jack has been away for a month today. Obviously this is not ideal when you have a family but you have to look on the bright side.

  • Good thing: Dave has been to Frankfurt, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Lyon, Grenoble, Paris and Zurich has just been added to his itinery.
  •  Bad thing: I am so happy for him and proud of him but if I’m going to be honest I am also insanely envious.
  • Good thing: we are coping fine
  •  Bad thing: I know Dave has had some bad spells of homesickness
  • Good thing: I have kept myself busy while he has been gone
  •  Bad thing: mostly this has been with shopping $$$$
  • Good thing: Dave has bought us lots of lovely presents
  • Bad thing: these presents include a commemorative ABBA plate
  • Good thing: Dave is eating lots of amazing food
  • Bad thing: he’s not cooking for us anymore
  • Good thing: we’ve been able to FaceTime in every country
  • Bad thing: I miss the IPad {I’m a brat I know}
  • Good thing: Louie the Shi Tzu has been keeping me company in bed
  • Bad thing: Three’s a crowd, where will Dave sleep when he gets home?
  • Good thing: When you add in our America trip, Dave Jack pretty much missed all of shitty winter
  • Bad thing: Who am I kidding, there is nothing bad about that!
  • Good thing: only two more weeks to g0
  • Bad thing: Still two more weeks to go!

We miss you so much Dave xx

Dave Jack