Two and a half weeks into our time in New Zealand, I'm happy to report that the country is as stunning as everyone says it is and that we are generally having a lot of fun. I was a bit worried coming here because everyone we spoke to about NZ just gushed about how it is the most beautiful country in the world, we would want to move here, etc. This happened before we went to Austin, Texas for the first time and while I liked it there, my expectations were so high that I was a little disappointed. New Zealand lives up to my expectations and may even exceed them as we've had incredible weather, the opportunity to get away by ourselves for some adventures, and are in the midst of our first WWOOFing experience (I'll cover that in a separate post) and it's a blast.
If Rob and I traveled to New Zealand pre-Blythe, we would have been trail running or mountain biking every day, living out of a camper van, and camping in spectacular, remote spots. We still have that same adventurous spirit, but we have to tone down our plans considerably. Our days are often spent at a beach, park, or playground, or some combination thereof. And you know what? It is awesome. We won't see half of what we would see on a trip without Blythe, but it has been eye-opening to see the playgrounds in other countries, move at a slower pace, witness the joy that Blythe gets out of every day activities, and to spend so much time with her.
We knew going into this portion of the trip that it would be a challenge because you can't really see New Zealand without moving around. We stayed in five different places in our first eleven nights here. We learned quickly that Blythe struggles with moving around a lot and the remainder of our time in New Zealand will be spent with long stays and less movement. We were thankful for the fact that we hadn't booked lodging for all of our time here as we were able to plan a number of week-long stays in different places and decide to fly from Wellington to Auckland to skip another long day of driving. Her routines have been disrupted a bit which doesn't help, partially because she has stopped drinking milk in the morning and at night, and partially because we haven't settled in anywhere.
And I shouldn't just say that Blythe is struggling with our nomadic existence - it is hard on me and Rob, too, to be packing up every other day, figuring out food on the go, living out of suitcases, navigating each transition with Blythe, etc. When Blythe is out of sync, we all are!
New Zealand has also wreaked havoc on our potty training, which was going so well in Hawaii. I do not fault Blythe at all - we are driving or out on adventures often, so we are using strange toilets and we didn't have a small potty for awhile (we have since procured one). We even used a toilet in Wanaka that plays music while you are using it, presumably so the person in the adjacent bathroom cannot hear you? We all got a kick out of that one. She is obsessed with what color the potty will be (mostly referring to the toilet seat). They are typically white, but we've seen black and wooden so she gets pretty jazzed leading up to using a public restroom to see what we'll find. And she is borderline obsessed with washing her hands, particularly if the sink is low to the ground ("that's BLYTHE'S sink").
All of this is to say that while we are having a blast in New Zealand, we are learning as we go about what works for our family, managing our expectations about the ground we can cover, and figuring out how to keep everyone as happy as possible.