Gabrielė and Antanas is a family of architects, who have a daughter Paulė. When Paulė was born, work projects continued and therefore little freetime was left. They felt tired and wanted to get away from daily life. Grandmother of Antanas lives in Australia and it was a good opportunity to show her Paule, visit other relatives and explore Australia. Because the journey is long, we have been considering what else we can visit on the other side of the world, - said Gabrielė. They were afraid to travel Australia with a child because of long distances. Then they started considering New Zealand, which is very close to Australia and was an old dream of Antanas and Gabrielė.
Family divided their holidays into several stages: first they spent 3 weeks in Perth, Western Australia visiting Antanas grandmother. Then they visited Sydney and from there flew to New Zealand. They spent 3 weeks in New Zealand and from there they flew to Lithuania.
The journey did not go without adventures. The flight to Perth was from Vilnius, but family had a connecting flight through Copenhagen. In the evening before the flight, they were informed that their flight to Copenhagen is cancelled and they were offered an alternative - fly to Copenhagen through Amsterdam. Family agreed, because they had no other choice. And that is where adventures started - Gabriele had a baby stroller, which is can be folded into a hand luggage, but when they were entering the plane to Amsterdam, stewardess asked to leave it near the plane door. When they got to Amsterdam, it was only 15min left before the connecting flight to Copenhagen. Right after the family left the plane, they looked for the stroller and got to know that it was sent with all the luggage. And that is how they got stuck in Amsterdam - from the moment they entered the luggage pick-up area, they could not come back to departure gates and had to go through Security again.
It was midday in Amsterdam and we knew that in the evening we have to be in Copenhagen, - sighed Gabriele. We started searching for flights, but unfortunately all the planes were full. Qatar airline ticket office (we had flights with them from Copenhagen to Australia) could not help as well.
But the family did not give up - they made a direct call to Qatar and asked the ticket office to change their tickets to later ones and they agreed, but for a price. Finally the family had a solution - they bought new tickets and after 10 hours of chaos landed in Copenhagen, where they had to wait another 6 hours till their next flight. We were so tired even the main trip has not even started, - remembered Gabriele. In front of us was yet another 6 hours flight to Doha (capital of Qatar) and there we had to wait for 19hours because of the change in the tickets. While on the phone, the representative of Qatar airlines said we will get a hotel, but when we landed, no hotel was offered to us. This was one of the hardest moments from the whole trip - we were so tired that we slept through the 12 hours flight to Perth, Australia.
Through the whole trip Gabriele and her family tried quite a few different airlines - they favourite ones were Qatar, Emirates and Australia's Qantas. The latter ones devote a lot of attention to families traveling with small children - they give priority by letting enter the plane first, give baby food, toys, diapers and even play with them during the flight.
So their full travel route was as follows:
Vilnius - Amsterdam - Copenhagen - Doha - Pert - Sydney - Christchurch - Melbourne - Doha - Copenhagen - Vilnius
While in Australia, most of the time they stayed in Perth, which is a city in the West, with well developed infrastructure and a lot of things to do for kids. Museums are free, there are plenty of wild animal parks, aquariums and wonderful beaches. Around the city there are also a lot of places to visit - Rottness island, Pinnackle dessert, Lancelin sand dunes, the Wave Rock. And the best transport to travel the city and around is a car. Sydney and Melbourne are the biggest Australian cities, with a breathtaking atmosphere that of American biggest cities as well European cultural spirit. There are many things you can do there, but for Gabriele and Antanas - few days was enough there.
How did you travel between cities?
While in New Zealand, the family visited only the south of the island, which is known for its marvellous nature. They rented a car and traveled the island with it. During the day, they would spend from 2 to 4 hours so their daughter does not get tired. Family started from Christchurch and through the mountains (Arthurs pass) reached Punakaiki beaches. Later on they travelled down the west coast and stopped by the Franch Jozef glacier, Queenstown and Fjord zone (Milford Sound). Later they came back through the east coast near the Pacific Ocean and visited the highest mountain of New Zealand - Mt. Cook. From there the family came back to Christchurch from where they left off.
It is important to mention that while traveling, for 90% of the time the family did not have neither internet nor any other connection.
The main advantages or disadvantages of this trip
In New Zealand, life is pretty much dictated by nature, - just when we landed there was a snow storm even though it was already summer time (its good we had coats from Lithuania!). Earthquakes, lightning storms all make locals or tourists change their daily plans. But the nature there is really outstanding - from tropical beaches with seals and penguins colonies to glaciers, fjords and snowy mountains.
Overall, the country is well prepared for nature tourism - for a night's stay the family would rent small houses with private or common amenities. During this trip, Gabrielė and her family tried hiking the mountains for 4 times. Mountain air, sheep and other wild animals were especially liked by Paulė. And actually in each of the 4 hikes, the family met other couples also hiking the mountains with babies. The funniest thing was when the family was going down the 2000 stairs and Paulė decided that she wants to climb herself - it took us really long to reach the finish, - said Gabrielė. Additionally, in New Zealand, different than in Australia there are no predators, snakes, spiders therefore it is more safe when traveling with the kids. The people we met in New Zealand, both tourists and locals are well-mannered, willing to communicate and help.
Is it hard to travel with a child?
Traveling with a child is different from traveling as a couple - everything is slower, activities are usually chosen to fit the needs of a child. It was not difficult to travel with Paulė, even the opposite - when we see her happy and interested in exploring the world, it gives the whole new touch to the trip itself,- said Gabrielė.
When choosing a place to stay - Gabrielė and her family took into account location, price and amenities, because there is not much choice there.
The family is happy that they had a really interesting journey, with comfort in the city and very dynamic in the nature. Nature, which surprises you, nature which is stunning, engaging and open to everyone with its diversity.
Would you recommend this trip to anyone else?
Definitely yes! Especially because of the nature in New Zealand. You can see your kids go free, there is no more disturbances from the city, noise and with that all the whims and anger attacks go away.
Thank you very much to Gabrielė for sharing their travel story!