Last January 2019, I attended Bro. Bo’s Truly Rich Club Quarterly Gathering and there was a part in our session where he showed us a website where you can get your word for the year. (search for yours: wordoftheyear.me) He led us into prayer, invoked the power of the Holy Spirit, and then we all clicked on the button where our random word for the year appeared.
You know what came out for me?! FLY. FLY!!! Later that day, I got the chance to chat with Bro. Bo. When I told him what my word was, he said: “Wow. We can already see fruits in your life but you ain’t seen nothing yet!” My heart brimmed with excitement for the year that will be.
Looking back now at the year that was, FLY truly has become my word last year. I couldn’t believe it was in 2019 that I got to experience one of my ultimate dream destinations: New Zealand. I am a CERTIFIED NATURE LOVER.
I really want to honor my parents for their gigantic generous hearts for giving me a plane ticket to NZ as their birthday surprise!
I know it is a huge privilege to be there, but at the same time, I feel a sense of responsibility to share the beauty and grandeur that I’ve experienced there, not just as a gift from my parents, but straight from the heart of God because you might pick up a thing or two from it, more so, if you plan to go to Queenstown, NZ (or maybe this post will convince you to, *wink wink*)
The flight my mom booked for me was for Auckland. However, when I did my research, even people from Auckland say QT is way nicer. Thus, we booked a flight from Auckland to QT, which was just an hour and a half.
On the day of my trip, mom woke up early to bring me to the airport. See my excited face? Thank you, Mom, for the prettiest luggages!
I knew my trip would be amazing because of how it started: the beautiful girl in the PAL check-in counter made sure I’ve a window seat and made my bag a priority!
I am grateful to my friend from way back and first Kiwi friend, who accommodated me in Auckland and took me around for a tour before my early flight to QT!
And so the QT ADVENTURE BEGINS…
As the plane descended, my jaw dropped because of the surrounding scenery. See for yourself.
Being the matanong girl (the girl who always asks questions), upon getting my luggage, I went to the information center and asked how to best get to my hotel: Jucy Snooze. They told me to ride the bus because it was just a few minutes walk away from the bus stop.
After about ten minutes, the bus arrived, and up I go with my two blush colored luggages, which I danced and swayed with during the 15-minute bus ride. I didn’t mind at all because of the view: lakes, mountains, flowers. Ahhhhhhh. Have I been transported to heaven?
The bus stop was about 5 minutes walk to Jucy Snooze and I was so delighted upon arriving at my hotel. It was so adorable!!! It was mostly purple but with a whole lot of different colors.
I felt that I couldn’t have chosen a much BETTER PLACE to stay in! It was right smack at the center and my ideal kind of café was on its top floor (4th floor). And the energy was so vibrant!
So, here’s the backstory of how I found Jucy Snooze or how it actually found me. I’ve been looking for a place to stay but Jucy Snooze never came up. THANK GOD for my friend Hani, who asked another friend for recommendations about where to stay.
You see, Hani is a good friend of mine from Sydney who always has the best EVUUUURR recommendations!!! It’s like God gave me a dear friend who just knew my heart’s desires in terms of places to see and things to try. I got this revelation when she recommended places for me when I went to Sydney, and all of it became my top favorites! IMAGINE, just IMAGINE my utmost delight when I found out accidentally that she was in Queenstown exactly a month before my scheduled trip! She wasn’t even posting about it, we were just planning to talk over Viber and one time, I felt led to call her, only to find out she was currently in Queenstown. She had no idea I was going. Talk about God’s perfect orchestration!
Back to my trip, after checking in my luggages, I decided to step out and find a good place to have lunch in. I decided to try one of those on my list that Hani recommended: Be Spoke Kitchen. It was about a 5 minute walk away from Jucy Snooze and boy was it packed! I ordered what Hani ordered hahaha and wasn’t disappointed: raspberry cheesecake and chia pudding. It was good! But the ones beside me ate Eggs Benedict with bacon. Next time, next time!!!
(clueless with what’s about to happen)
I sat beside the communal tables outside, overlooking the beautiful view, in one of those elevated tables and chairs. And then the unthinkable happened. I nonchalantly opened my water bottle and was shocked with my seatmates that it was actually sparkling water! It did a major splash all around me! Wow! Not bad for my welcome experience in Queenstown! I guess, God must’ve been saying “IT WILL REALLY WILL BE A CELEBRATION HERE, CHILD!” It’s a good thing the guys beside me just laughed their hearts out. WHEW.
After my first eventful meal, I went back to Jucy Snooze to check-in. For my first two nights, I booked myself in the capsule beds in a mixed room, well, first for the experience, and of course the affordability (about P1k+ per night)! And I tell you, it was really QUITE an experience.
I was booked on the yellow floor (because they’ve assigned colors per floor and you’ll follow this colored line on the wall which leads to your room) The moment I entered our room, I was flabbergasted because it was like a jungle! There were about 4 guys, a girl, and there were clothes all around. I checked the sheets on my bed and noticed it wasn’t that clean. The guy (Hello Pedro!) in the counter was super nice so he just didn’t just give me a clean sheet, he assigned me to a totally new room with fewer capsule beds.
Once settled, I took a quick nap because I hardly slept the night before at Auckland. After about 2 hours of sleep, I headed to St. Joseph where I planned to hear anticipated mass (this was a Saturday!) because I won’t be able to go the following day. It was an uphill climb going to church (which actually seemed endless), pretty much how it feels sometimes being still single hahaha! There were times I felt “am I going the right direction? Will all this hard work be worth it?” But when I finally saw the church, my heart rested with glee!
The mass is not until 6:30 PM but I got there 6:15 PM. There were two women talking about mass readers. It was just the 3 of us inside the church. Again, I felt led to volunteer if they needed an extra reader (since I really am a lector!) Guess what, I did get assigned to be the reader in the mass! When I saw the Responsorial Psalm, my heart just wanted to burst, the verse was something God spoke so strongly to me two years prior:
This was during a time I was dating someone who I didn’t have complete peace and joy with. God knew what was going on in my heart and reassured me with this verse. Who would have thought, 2 days before my birthday, I will be reading during mass in my dream destination, thousands of miles away from home, with God speaking so clearly to my heart- at St. Joseph church! Huhuhu! But it didn’t end there. Before our procession, I saw a super cute little girl at the back of the church with her parents and I couldn’t help but approach her. The very moment I held her in my arms, she immediately planted a kiss on my cheek.
As the mass was about to end, the priest (who happened to be Filipino!) asked who’s celebrating their birthday the following week. Guess what? It was only me. And so the whole church (about a hundred of them) prayed over me and sang happy birthday for me. Then a cute little boy approached me with a basket of chocolates. Oh God. How much you love me.
One of the little girls, who served with me during mass, was with her brother and dad and they asked if I have plans for the night. They volunteered to take me around if I didn’t. And so, off we went to one of the places on my list: Arrowtown! The little girl became my tour guide, her name is Elai and she’s very smart! We ended the night with churros and pizza, all their treat just because it’s my birthday daw! I feel like God sends me family everywhere.
The next day was Sunday which I scheduled specifically for adventures around Queenstown. Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate so my hang gliding was canceled. But something legendary happened instead. Because I suddenly have free time, I went to Lucys Café (4th floor of our hotel) for some hot chocolate but was pleasantly surprised with the buffet of cereals ready for the taking. I thought to myself: “Wow, this hotel is generous! They even have this!” So I helped myself with a bowl of 2 kinds of cereals and found the perfect place to sit. A few minutes later, the waiter approached me with my hot chocolate and I found myself dumbfounded with her question: “Are you a part of the Contiki Tours?” Now, all the signs around me made more sense. I saw it but it didn’t really sink in. The buffet of cereals and where I was sitting was all reserved for those who are joining the tour! Bravo, Marianne, Bravo!!! I chose another spot, and yes, still finished my cereal. They can’t do anything with it anymore so might as well finish it, right? I still have some pride left because at least I ordered the hot chocolate. After a little while, I video chatted with my mom and we died laughing as I retold the story of cereals. (while still in the café)
(hilarious call with mom)
Anyway, I got a call that my hang gliding is finally pushing through at 1 pm! Whoop dee doo! Off I went and met our tour guide who brought us to where we’ll pick up the Hang gliders and our instructors! I was nervous and excited at the same time. On our way to the top of the mountain, the song that was playing on the radio was “Nervous”. Hahaha, isn’t God the cutest?!
They started setting up, then my instructor Andrea (he’s the best! Yes HE is!) began giving me instructions. Then it was finally time to fly. It was like being attached to a big kite and you’re flying like superman. Well, in my case, superwoman. Andrea did some tricks on air. It was phenomenal! Oh, I’m so grateful that out of all the adventures I could have chosen, I picked this. (I hope I can say the same for my future hubby!)
After THE BEST RIDE EVER, I went to try the FAMOUS FERBERGER, and boy was it HUGE and SO DELICIOUS. It was also a delightful surprise to see people from my church community in Queenstown. I felt even safer!
You want to know another surprise?!?! After Fergberger, I went back to my hotel. I thought nobody will be there since it’s the middle of the day, but the guy staying across my capsule bed was there, fixing his stuff. We began talking and he suddenly asked: “Weren’t you the reader in the church last night? Happy Birthday!” Whoa, whoa, whoa! He was there? At the church, too? It could have been the most beautiful love story ever, but I had zero attraction. That same night, all our other 6 companions left, I was left with him in our room. I did feel a bit of discomfort, but what helped me get through is knowing he was there, at the church. How God constantly reassures right?
Anyway, that same day was my schedule for GONDOLA and 5 LUGE rides. I went up and down slopes while I played music on my phone and enjoyed the spectacular views of lakes and mountains. By the way, when you do the luge, make sure you try both tracks. I liked track 2 more because it’s more challenging haha!
By the way, there was this guy who followed me through the slopes and kept asking questions. He rode the gondola with me together with this other guy who’s much older than him. He took pics of me at the luge and we exchanged numbers so he can send them. Shortly after, I found out he was married and the guy with him was his father in law!!! He sent me pics later that day and said I was gorgeous, he also asked what my plans are for the night. Seriously, guys!???! I said thank you for the picture and compliment and didn’t reply anymore. See how the devil tries to come in and ruin every beautiful thing God is doing?
After all the rides, I decided it was time to try the famous PATAGONIA Chocolate Shop. I got myself one scoop of ice cream, I got one that wasn’t the usual flavor, and it was so dang good. It was too cold outside but I wanted to enjoy the views, I wondered what was on the 2nd floor of Patagonia because they were almost closing. I’m happy that I, Dora the Explorer, found the perfect spot to sit on the 2nd floor – a couch in front of a big window overlooking the lake.
A young Indian couple was right beside me and they both have a book with them. What an ideal date right?! Huhu, jealous. LOL Anyway, we started conversing and sharing about our trip so far and they mentioned they’re going to Wanaka next. My friend Hani mentioned Wanaka to me as well and I felt honestly led to go there. They mentioned a yummy crepe place and that got me even more excited.
The following day was my birthday!!! I went to mass and confession first and met with 2 Pinay new friends. We didn’t have actual plans, we just wanted to meet up before they leave for their 4-day hike, and so we just did a nice photo op by the lake.
(ikaw na ba si mister right?! Hahaha just noticed now there’s a guy in the pic)
We had to separate ways immediately after because they have limited time. I deemed it was the perfect time to have my quiet walk in Queenstown Gardens. To me, it was a sacred walk where I just kept recounting all the beautiful things God has done and is doing in my life. Thanks for teaching me the gratitude walk, Sha Nacino!! There were literally times I teared up. 🙂
After my walk, I went back to the hotel because I will be transferring rooms! I really gave myself the birthday gift of moving to a solo room and, lo and behold, the guy in the counter (his name is Josh and he just celebrated his birthday, too) gave me the very best room in the house!!! It was overlooking the lake. Cry cry. Thank You, Lord!!!
And then, I prepared for my half-day afternoon tour which was Glenorchy + Paradise. I brought my small pillow with me, which was a great decision because I got to take so many naps along the way. We enjoyed all the beautiful scenery, took a lot of photos, and I also met a new girlfriend there.
I got back to the hotel and enjoyed all the calls and birthday greetings of people way back home.
That evening, met up with my new friend Ali and had a nice dinner at Flame Grill, where we were given the best spot where we could see the lake at night and all the lights. In terms of food, I highly recommend their seafood chowder! We ordered half ribs, though it was too big for us, we should have just ordered the quarter-sized one.
The day after my birthday was free day and so I thought that it was the best time to go to Wanaka! I woke up early and went to ride the bus going to the airport, hoping to catch the first bus going to Wanaka from there, only to find out I got the times mixed up. But instead of endless complaining, I went to the grocery store instead, bought pasalubong chocolates and got myself kiwi fruits (please get the brand with the gold, it’s much sweeter and tastier!) I enjoyed my room view while eating kiwi.
I got to the next shuttle going to Wanaka, without knowing God has a surprise for me waiting. Last to board was a Filipino couple who sat right in front of me. We started talking and they offered to take me around beautiful Wanaka because they had a car with them plus free time!!! Huhuhu!
I got to try the Charlie Brown Crepe the Indian couple recommended. The Filipino couple then showed me this other beautiful lake where Oprah’s “Wrinkle in Time” film was shot. They also brought me to Lavander Farm and gave me time to walk around Wanaka Lake to see the Insta-famous Wanaka tree and even took pictures of me at Puzzling World. It was so perfect. It was more than what I’ve planned to see. Main takeaway: when our plans don’t go our way, trust that a much better plan is on its way.
Back in Main Queenstown at around 5 PM, I got to try Erik’s Fish and Chips while sitting on the bench fronting the lake. I turned in early because the next day was set for MILFORD SOUND, which was 3 hours away from Queenstown and our call time was at 7 AM. When you book tours, make sure you know beforehand the meeting place and meeting time. I’m lucky because my hotel is just a few steps away from the meetup venues.
Milford Sound was beautiful!!! It wasn’t the perfect weather though. I’m so happy I also purchased the buffet on the cruise because the food was very good!!! There was rice!!! See my plate. I finished all that.
I also loved that I was with a big, big Filipino group and I had so much fun with them plus felt even more protected having them around with me. I met Ate Lorlyn, too, who immediately felt like a big sister to me.
At night, I met with my friend again who I met at Glenorchy tour + her other friend. We went to Below Zero Ice Bar for free. My friend had free tickets! You know what’s even mind blowing? The song they were playing when we entered was “God Blessed the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts! We only got to stay for 15 minutes, actually, I still kept going out because I can’t stand the cold.
On my last day (WAHHHHH), I set the alarm at 7AM but woke up at 5AM. When I realized it was indeed my last day, I cried for a good 30minutes. SEPANX FOR REALS. I went to the café, ate pancake and bacon while enjoying the view, then I headed to the famous ONSEN HOT POOLS. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap my trip than this. I will let the picture speak for itself.
My heart was just worshipping the Lord. You know, before leaving Manila, I went to the chapel in Trinoma Mall (which was so beautiful, see pic) and consecrated my trip to God, and little did I know, it was the most perfect trip I could ever have.
After the ONSEN relaxation time (where I overextended because I thought there was a shuttle every 15 minutes, yikes), I went back to the hotel, checked out, did last-minute shopping, and ate lunch at TACO MEDIC. This was just recommended to me in passing, by I don’t know who anymore, and I just happened to see it because it was right beside Zero Ice Bar. And can I just tell you? The soft taco is the best I’ve ever tasted. I wanted to go back and order the fish (I ordered chicken) but due to lack of time, I just put it on my “next time” list.
I got to the airport early and still had time to try Patagonia’s hot chocolate which was also a winner.
I effortlessly had a window seat flying back to Auckland which was the cry of my heart. And again, I found my eyes filled with tears as we took off leaving Paradise.
God did make me feel a Queen in Queenstown.
I was picked up my mom and dad (so sweet) at the airport and we had tuyo and tomatoes for breakfast. No other best way to comfort me. Hahaha.
If I’ll do it all over again, I would stay longer. I think 2 weeks is best. I would go see the Southern Lights, walk around Arrowtown try the restaurant there, see the glowworm and just enjoy the scenery more without having to rush at all.
People kept asking was it a DIY trip and I wanted to say them it’s a DIG (Do it with God) trip!
You know, this verse became even more real to me because of my New Zealand trip: “God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect.”
The weather was perfect: cold but sunny still. Layers of clothes are highly recommended (this was November).
Airfare will be around 45K (maybe even cheaper)
Accommodations around 25K (2 nights capsule, 3 nights solo room)
Tours around 20k
Pocket money of 30k
GO-TO LINK FOR TOUR PROMOS, etc:
MUST TRY FOOD PLACES:
Be Spoke Kitchen
Some wisdom for your pocket:
Always ask to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading
Pray to be mindful (I prayed this at the start of my trip because I kept leaving stuff)
Have fun with God, wake up every day with an expectant heart knowing He has a surprise waiting for you.
One last thing, I tried declaring once in the luge: this will be my last trip just you and me God, next time I’ll be with someone special already! But I just couldn’t say it, hahaha. That’s how I knew how much I’m enjoying dates with God, I just can’t find myself letting it go just yet. Not until He says, It’s time!!! <3 <3 <3