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Wedding Name Cards

So one of my BFF’s SIL is getting married at the end of this month. In Hawaii. Can you say jealous??

It’s finally the time when all the little details are starting to get checked off the list. She asked me for the template for my own wedding name cards, which you can find here, but thought it would be fun to see what other awesome ideas are out there.

This is a way you can get super creative and really utilize your theme throughout – Here are a few of my favorites!

Courtesy: GreenWeddingShoes.com

Courtesy: IntimateWeddings.com

Love these vintage name cards from rummage sale vintage childrens books!

Courtesy: ArdentPhotography.com

Having a vineyard, rustic, vintage wedding? Or just love wine? How adorable are these??

Courtesy: Martha Stewart Weddings

Classic. Beautiful. Simple. Elegant. Love.

Courtesy: Weddingdish.thinklikeabride.com

Love the crystal drop. Adds sparkle to beautiful, simple vintage.

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Love the Skin You’re In!

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Planning a wedding, as mentioned in the last post, causes a lot of extra stress. Stress often times leads to breakouts, which is one of the biggest nightmares on your special day!! The last thing you want is to wake up the morning-of to a big, unfriendly red zit on your face! Stop them before they start!

I recently came across this beautiful gem known as Rodan + Fields!! Have you guys heard of it?? If you’re a bride-to-be, a member of the wedding party, friends or family celebrating the big day, or just someone looking to change the skin they’re in, this is definitely something to check out and look more in to! Plus, their 60-day, empty-bottle, money-back guarantee makes it almost irresistible to say “no” to – at least to try it out!


In case you have not heard of Rodan + Fields, here’s some info for you. R+F was created in 2001 by the same doctors who created Proactiv- Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields. It was sold in high end department stores like Nordstrom’s (#1 clinical skincare there) until 2007, when they decided to remove it out from under the counter and give the opp to independent business owners to sell it direct.

All of the products are clinically tested and proven to work. The doctors are so confident in their products they offer a 60-day empty-bottle money-back guarantee. All regimens are designed to last 60 days. http://karenwujek.myrandf.com

We have four main regimens:
1. Our Anti Age Regimen combats the signs of aging and has been touted as better than botox.
2. Our Reverse Regimen treats sun damage/melasma/age spots. It’s amazing!
3. Soothe Regimen treats sensitive/red/irritated skin to create calmer less reactive skin.
4. Unblemish Regimen treats acne prone/blemished skin to create a clear healthy complexion.

      
       

You can make a purchase as a “Preferred Client” which adds extra perks, including receiving 10% off the retail price and free shipping with a one time $19.95 enrollment fee. This puts you on a 60-day autoship as well which is great because each regimen is designed to last 60 days so you won’t run out when you need it most. And it’s cancelable anytime as well as delayable one or two times per year on top of the 60-day, empty-bottle, money-back guarantee!  https://karenwujek.myrandf.com/Pages/OurProducts/PCProgram

And be sure to take a minute to watch these great results – https://karenwujek.myrandf.com/Pages/OurProducts/RealResults

It’s at least worth looking into for anyone that has any concerns. Plus, there’s nothing to lose with their amazing money-back guarantee!!

Wedding Budget Checklist

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Congratulations!!!!!! You’re ENGAGED and GETTING MARRIED!!! What a crazy ride you’re about to embark on! With all the thoughts flying through your head, you’re realize how much there really is that you have to do!

Your first wedding planning to-do? Setting your (realistic) wedding budget. This will also help you with your overall planning checklist. From the dress to the reception, here’s how to plan your wedding budget and stick to it.

Figuring out your wedding budget can be stressful, but don’t worry — we’re here to help! You have options. Whether you’re dreams are of a lavish hotel affair or an intimate outdoor gathering, this will hopefully help you figure out what you have to spend to make it happen.
 
1. Get organized. Create a budget spreadsheet with a set dollar limit for each part of your budget (attire, reception, flowers, etc.). See the budget checklist I used for my own wedding – feel free to use it for yours too! It’s fully changeable!
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmWJdlXCteWsdGpyRmVCb0p2R094alFLS2tHNW9aaFE 

Scroll down to the bottom to see and save the picture of the spreadsheet.

2. Figure out Who’s Paying & How Much. Depending on your family situation, this conversation can be a little awkward unless you’ve always known who’s footing the bill. Traditionally the bride’s family is the one to pay for the extravaganza, but anymore, the groom’s parents pitch in some too. This is completely up to you on how to go about it, but this is an important piece of the puzzle to truly know how much you’re working with. Some families choose to have each set of parents give a lump sum or finance a particular aspect of the wedding (such as the ceremony, honeymoon, or catering) instead of just committing to a dollar amount. From there, decide how much you two can contribute between now and the wedding. (37 % of the couples we polled say they’re planning to contribute financially to their wedding.)

3. NEED vs. WANT. Figuring out what you actually NEED for your special day is crucial. It’s all the little details that add up really fast. Think of it as buying a new car – you should figure out how much you need to spend to get what you want and set your expectations accordingly.  The average cost for a 150-person wedding is about $25,000 (higher in urban areas). Here is a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay:

  • Reception: 48%-50%
  • Ceremony: 2%-3%
  • Attire: 8%-10%
  • Flowers: 8%-10%
  • Entertainment/Music: 8%-10%
  • Photography/Videography: 10%-12%
  • Stationery: 2%-3%
  • Wedding Rings: 2%-3%
  • Parking/Transportation: 2%-3%
  • Gifts: 2%-3%
  • Miscellaneous: 8%
  • To avoid stress, allot about 5% of your budget for a “just-in-case” fund.
  • If you’re paying for your honeymoon yourselves, remember to budget for that as well.
4. Saving. As soon as you know you’re going to tie the knot with your honey, start putting aside as much of your income as you can for the wedding. Saving 20% of your monthly income is a good (yet painful) goal. The longer your engagement, the more you’ll be able to sock away. How can you Save? Limit your spending on small stuff – Here are some ideas:
  • Rent a movie instead of going out.
  • Buy/make your own cup of joe instead of going to Starbucks.
  • Make dinner with your love instead of going out to eat.
  • Head to the thrift store to get some goods instead of large department stores.

These changes will hardly affect your quality of life, but after a year, the extra cash will add up and can cover some wedding essentials.

All in all, there are several ways to cut, or go all out in your spending on your wedding. The bottom line: This is YOUR day. And hopefully your only wedding. Make it what you want it to be and DON’T do things just because you care what everyone else thinks! Hope this helps! Happy Planning!! 

Wedding Budget Checklist

The Ring: Band or No Band, that is the question?

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I have a wonderful friend that just got married. Her engagement ring is incredibly beautiful and elaborate on the sides. While she likes the idea of having a wedding band, he doesn’t want one. So, what is the meaning behind the engagement ring WITH a wedding band, do you need one, and what is the going trend?

History of the Ring:

An engagement ring is a symbol, typically worn by a woman on her left hand, that means she is engaged to be married. Conventionally, the woman’s ring is presented as a “betrothal” gift by her man during or right after he proposes. It represents a formal agreement to future marriage. They date back to Ancient Egypt and Roman times, but weren’t picked up in Western culture until the 13th century. Rings are placed on the fourth finger – what we know as the “ring finger” – because Ancient Egyptians believed that it contained a vein that lead to the heart. Romans believed the ring to be a symbol for ownership rather than love. It meant that the husband would claim his wife. In second century B.C., the Roman bride was given two rings, a gold one which she wore in public, and one made of iron, which she can wear at home while doing house chores. In the 21st century, however, especially within Western civilization, it has become a common expectation for the bride-to-be to permanently wear their ring as a means to maintain their commitment.

Why the Engagement Ring AND the Wedding Band?

It is most common to get both an engagement ring and a separate wedding band. The engagement ring is typically a “gift” to the woman while the wedding band is a “symbol” of love between the man and woman. The engagement ring is the one with the bling, while the wedding band is typically smaller and simpler. A lot of times you can get a “set” that will come with the engagement ring and a matching band.

It’s all about symbolism and speaking the unspoken of your marriage status to people that see you. The engagement (bling) ring says “I’m getting married!” The 2 rings together says “I’m married!”

The Bottom Line:
It’s 100% up to you and your preference. You’re the one wearing it. Get none. Get one. Or both. Or a tattoo. And wear them how you like. With confidence and pride. It’s your relationship. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter what other people think.

2012 Top Honeymoon Destinations – #1

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Romance, scenery, history, museums, sight-seeing, cozy towns nestled on rugged cliffs above crystal-blue water.   

#1 Honeymoon Destination – Italy

Rome. Sicily. Venice. Naples. Florence. Amalfi Coast. Tuscany. There are so, so many places to go and see. But where in Italy should you spend your honeymoon? That might be the most challenging question to answer. Because there are so many places in Italy that seem tailor-made for a romantic vacation of any kind, you almost can’t go wrong. Almost.

Here are our top Honeymoon Picks!

  1. Tuscany – Sure, the whole “Tuscan Sun” thing has been played out, and you’re bound to run into more tourists in Tuscany’s famed hilltowns than Italians during some parts of the year, but there’s a reason people keep coming back to this region of central Italy year after year. It’s bloody gorgeous.
    With mist-covered green hills punctuated by spire-like cypress trees winding along on either side of the driveway to someone’s ancient and beautiful farmhouse – those places exist, and with remarkable frequency, throughout Tuscany. The food can be amazing (and inexpensive), the wine is legendary, and there’s nothing quite like sharing a moment in a cobbled piazza with your sweetheart – preferably over gelato.
    You can base yourselves in a quieter hill town for the bulk of your honeymoon, just to make the most of the relaxed atmosphere, but unless you hate art you really can’t spend time in Tuscany without visiting Florence for a couple of days. Otherwise, towns like San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino, and Pienza are worth considering (make sure you know which ones have train stations, as that can be an issue if you’re not planning to rent a car).
  2. Amalfi Coast – Images of the Amalfi Coast are enough to make any traveler drool, and especially anyone planning a honeymoon. Who doesn’t love the thought of sun-drenched beaches and pastel-colored buildings cascading down hillsides? And when you add the fact that this part of Italy is a playground for the rich and famous, it makes it even more alluring.
    There are several towns which make up the Amalfi Coast (including one actually called Amalfi), and several more on the coast nearby which aren’t technically part of the Amalfi Coast but are close enough to make getting back and forth for day-trips easy. There are also a few islands just off the coast itself which take the whole sense of honeymoon luxury up another few notches.
    The town of Positano is one of the best-known in this area, and a favorite destination for a romantic Italy vacation. Other towns worth considering for your home-base are Amalfi, Ravello, and Sorrento. And if the islands sparked your interest, look for a place on Capri, Ischia, or Procida.
  3. Sicily – This may seem like an unusual suggestion on a honeymoon destination list, but it may be the ideal honeymoon spot for people who want to experience more of the “real” Italy – the more intense Italy – and, perhaps even more important, those who want to escape the crowds.
    This is where tour guides in Italy go on vacation. Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and enjoys warm weather all year long – in fact, it’s downright stifling in summer, so it’s a great spot for a fall or winter honeymoon.
    If you want more than just beautiful beaches on your honeymoon, however, Sicily doesn’t disappoint. The island is home to both Roman and Greek ruins, and some very high-end resorts from which to experience it all. Resort towns like Taormina and Cefalù have been welcoming sun-seekers for ages, but don’t expect traveling through these places (or anywhere else in Sicily for that matter) to be as straightforward as travel is in other parts of Italy. Knowing some Italian is a good idea, and having a spirit of adventure is almost a prerequisite. If you go, you’ll be rewarded with warm weather and warm people.
  4. Italian Lakes – The lakes region in Italy is a popular honeymoon destination & overall a popular vacation spot, and it’s easy to see why. There are several lakes in the northern part of the country, any of which would make a great base for a honeymoon (which one would depend in part on whether you wanted to stay put and lounge about or make day-trips elsewhere, as some are more well-connected than others).
    The most famous lake is probably Lake Como (home to George Clooney) among others in the rich and famous set, but Lake Maggiore would be a close second. The good news is that you can visit many of the towns on one lake, or a couple towns on each lake, if you’ve got the time and the right transportation. How decadent does a lake-hopping honeymoon in Italy sound?
  5. Liguria – Also called the Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terre are to budget travel what the Amalfi Coast is to luxury travel. With both places, you get the same kind of coast-town atmosphere and multi-colored cliffside houses, but with the Cinque Terre you’re brushing by backpackers carrying books – whereas on the Amalfi Coast you could be rubbing shoulders with the vacationing elite. But all the focus of the backpacker/budget travel set on the Cinque Terre has somewhat overshadowed the other beautiful towns on the Ligurian coast.
    Many of the towns along Liguria’s coastline have the same kind of scenery you’ve come to expect from places like the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre, but most of the non-Cinque Terre towns aren’t nearly as visited as those on the Amalfi (at least by non-Italians). And although the water you’d be lazily staring at isn’t technically the Mediterranean (it’s the Ligurian Sea), you’re not likely to notice.
    Iif you’ve ever looked into taking a Mediterranean cruise, you may recognize the name Portofino – it’s a popular port of call, and (like some of the Amalfi Coast towns) more of a high-end vacation spot. But nearby towns like Santa Margherita Ligure, Portovenere, and Rapallo are other towns you might want to consider as a seaside base for your Italian honeymoon.
  6. Sardinia – The other big island off Italy’s coast besides Sicily is Sardinia – and it’s even more remote and less populated. Sardinia might be a better choice for a honeymoon in Italy if you’re more of an intrepid traveler, are planning to rent a car, are hoping to do some active outdoorsy stuff on your honeymoon, and still want to have a gorgeous sandy beach nearby to recover after a strenuous hike.
    Sardinia may be most famous with travelers for its beaches (yes, including some of Italy’s nude beaches), and one beach town on Sardinia was even named the #1 “emerging destination” for 2009 by Trip Advisor. Sardinia’s beaches (especially on the Costa Smerelda) are some of the most popular August holiday destinations for Italians, who make it so you almost can’t see the beaches themselves for all the bodies on them. So if you’re looking for a beach town in which to escape the crowds, you might need to look elsewhere (but at least you’d be surrounded by Italians!).
    Beyond the beaches, Sardinia is also a great spot for those who love hiking, sailing, mountain biking, kayaking, and other outdoors activities. In fact, many of the guided tours on the island are just about outdoors activities and have nothing to do with the beaches at all. Still, it might be nice to know the beaches are there if you want them.
  7. Venice – While there are valid reasons why you might want to avoid Venice on your honeymoon, there are also few places that can match the canal city for overall romantic impact and “wow” factor. And if you do it right, you can avoid (or at least avoid getting hung up on) the things that people will warn you about when it comes to Venice, leaving you with nothing but happy honeymoon memories.
    Venice isn’t the kind of place suggested for an entire honeymoon, unless you’ve got bottomless pockets, because it really is an expensive place to stay. But the city does warrant a couple of days, if only to experience the bliss that is early-morning Venice before the day-trippers arrive or late-night Venice after they’ve left. There’s nothing more perfect for a honeymoon “to-do” list than to simply wander through beautiful alley-like streets, getting utterly lost and having only your newly-minted spouse for company. Bonus points if it’s a little chilly out, requiring extra-close proximity while strolling.
    In order to truly love Venice, you’ll need to make a little bit of effort. So, if you’re in the market for an Italy honeymoon that basically runs on auto-pilot once you arrive, then look elsewhere. If you don’t mind meeting Venice halfway, however, then it comes highly recommended.

Fun Italian Facts:

  1. Italians drink 600 cups per head a year, according to one study!
  2. Italy’s birth rate is one of the lowest in the Western world, and with one-fifth of the 59.1 million population over 65, there are more grandparents than grandchildren!
  3. Population: 59.1 million
  4. Capital: Rome
  5. Giuseppe Garibaldi Italian military hero, fought (and won) enough wars for 10 men. Helped unify Italy.
  6. Prime Minister: Silvio Berlusconi
  7. Currency: Euro
  8. Terms of endearment: amore mio – my love ; delizia – delicious one ; dolcezza – honey/sugar ; pollastrello/a mio/a – my little chicken

    Rome Colosseum

When to Go
April to June, September, and October; July and August are hottest months, and also may be the most crowded

Thank you so much for following our 2012 Top Honeymoon Destinations Countdown! There have been some amazing and incredible places to travel for that special time! Have you already gone on your honeymoon? Where did you go? Are you just booking your vacay? Where are you going? What’s most important to you? We love to hear feedback and stories!

2012 Honeymoon Destination Countdown – #2

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Adventurous, beautiful, nature, tropical, mountains, beaches, rural. The perfect honeymoon destination for active couples.

#2 Top Honeymoon Destination of 2012: Costa Rica

Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is well known for its adventures – from zip line tours, hiking, white water rafting, jungle walks, beautiful beaches, and it’s great surfing. Travel experts are claiming now that Costa Rica is one of the most “up and coming” honeymoon destinations.  For the adventurous couples, Costa Rica is heaven.

Things to Do:

  1. Zip Line Tours – Also known as Canopy Tours, Costa Rica is famous for these. With some lines up to a half a mile long and 600 feet up in the air, it’s no wonder why it takes adventure-seekers to new limits! Couples are sent swinging through the canopy of a forest by cables and harness and will absolutely love every minute of the adrenaline rush. This is a once-in-a-lifetime must-do for a honeymoon.
  2. Swim under Waterfalls – The mountaineous terrain in the jungle have incredible benefits – waterfalls! Take a jungle hike to some of the most breathtaking views in the world.
  3. Hot Springs – with some of the most active volcanos in the world, so come incredible hot springs!
  4. Snorkling – with oceans on both sides of the country, there is plenty of things to see under the clear waters!
  5. Surfing lessons – Costa Rica has many surfing hotspots. The best time of year to surf is from November – August.
  6. Fishing – Costa Rica has some of the best Sport Fishing in the world and is the first country to practice catch and release fishing. The Pacific side has incredible fishing for Sailfish, Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, Wahoo, Roosterfish, Snapper, and more. The Caribbean side and Northern regions of Costa Rica are famous for big Tarpon and big Snook. Over sixty-four world records have been caught in Costa Rica. Half day, Full day and Multi-Day Trips are available. They love to eat turtles.
  7. Golfing – Costa Rica is also know as a haven for some of the most lush, tropical golfing environments in the world. At any course, you can expect to an ensemble of exotic, indigenous animals; jungle; mountainous terrain; and a surreal, blue ocean painting a brilliant, seclusive experience.
  8. Relax on the Beach – Once the adventure wears off, you can always relax on one of the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. They come in all shapes, sizes, and amount of people. The lion’s share of beach tourism is concentrated on the Pacific side, in the Central Pacific region near San Jose, the Nicoya Peninsula, and in the dry tropical forests of Guanacaste. Less touristed, but no less beautiful are the beaches in the tropical rainforest of the souther Pacific coast near Corcovado National Park, or on the exotic, rastafarian, eco-tourism paradise of the Caribbean side.

When to Go:

Because Costa Rica is located between eight and 12 degrees north of the Equator, the climate is Tropical year round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region. In general, the best time of year to visit weather-wise is in December and January, when everything is still green from the rains, but the sky is clear.

  1. High Season – The high season in Costa Rica is also known as “summer” or “dry season.” It runs from December – April with the main attraction being the weather. You will have less of a chance that it will rain on you &  in some areas (notably Guanacaste) the wildlife is concentrated near shrinking water sources and easier to spot.
    Be forewarned: because it is the high season, it is harder to get reservations, everything is relatively crowded and the prices are higher. From Christmas until the end of the first week in January, and Easter week are double jeopardy periods with lots of international travelers, and many Ticos traveling (the beaches are especially crowded).
  2. Green Season – Also known as “winter” or “the rainy season.” This season streteches from May-November and has been dubbed the ‘green season’ by the tourism industry.  The best part about travelling during this season is a reduction in prices and crowds! And, even in the rainy season, days often start sunny, with rain falling in the afternoon and evening.  If you are thinking about a trip to Costa Rica during the green season, don’t let the weather stop you.

2012 Top Honeymoon Destinations – #4

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Beautiful beaches, stunning displays of nature, adventures & thrills of all kinds.

New Zealand has often been overlooked as a honeymoon destination in favor of Australia, but this beautiful island nation’s natural beauty (including both beaches and mountains), excellent wine region, and a plethora of sports, recreation, and sightseeing options are helping New Zealand to come into its own as a paradise for the newly married. The country is made up of two main islands – the North and the South – and is roughly the size of Great Britain, but with far fewer residents. Thus, New Zealand has a particularly uncrowded feeling, which is very popular with honeymooners.

What To Do:

New Zealand is often called the adventure capital of the world (after all, the Kiwis invented bungee jumping), and there’s no better way to get into the spirit than with a death-defying plunge from the top of Shotover Canyon, just outside of Queenstown. If that sounds too terrifying, you can soak in Shotover’s vistas a host of other ways. Hop a jet boat along Shotover River to zip between jutting rock walls in a passage barely wider than the boat itself. More serene is the skyline gondola, which slowly travels to the top of Bob’s Peak for expansive vistas of South Island’s sublime surroundings. Here are a couple of ideas for you & your love to do while honeymooning in New Zealand.

  1. Auckland – As the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland is famous for its busy harbor, where you can take a harbor cruise or scuba dive at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World to see sharks, stingrays, and other marine life. While here, visit the Auckland Museum, the historic volcanoes and Parnell Village, which is a shopping area made up of historical buildings converted into boutiques and specialty shops.
  2. Queenstown – Take in the Queenstown Winter Festival in late June, a 10-day extravaganza that includes snow sports, concerts, fireworks, and a Mardi Gras-style parade. Queensland also has a rich assortment of museums, galleries, and gardens.
  3. Rent an RV – It may not seem overly romantic, but it will give you access to most parts of the country while providing basic accommodations. Keep your eyes open for the various i-SITE visitor information centers, which dispense brochures and advice, and will handle local bookings for you.
  4. North Island’s Bay of Islands – This stunning area has beautiful resorts with access to fishing, diving, whale watching, mountain biking, hiking, picnicking on a private island, and gourmet food and wine. Be sure to ask about honeymoon packages.
  5. Rail travel – Very popular in New Zealand, with scenic trips throughout much of the country. The route between Christchurch and Greymouth is said to be one of the top train journeys in the world. Of special interest are the historic boutique steam trains, which can be booked for up to two weeks. One popular route takes you from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, with frequent stops along the way for you to explore and sightsee.
  6. Lord of the Rings” –  If you’re a fan, be sure to make time for a guided tour of the movie set, and explore Middle Earth on foot, by car, by helicopter, or by mountain bike. (Some of the sights used for the movie are accessible to everyone; others require that you sign up for a tour to gain access.)
  7. Wine Tours & Tastings – Wine connoisseurs will find much to love in New Zealand, and both islands offer many choices for wine tours and tasting. Plan to visit the Marlborough Region, Queenstown or the Central Otago Region for an opportunity to enjoy both food and wine. You can set out on a tour on your own or take a guided tour, but don’t miss a chance to taste the country’s Pacific Rim cuisine and pair it with local vintages.
  8. Attention Daredevils -You will love the Shotover Canyon Swing above the Shotover Gorge near Queenstown. Sit in a swing and freefall nearly 200 feet off the cliff, then blast across the river. The Southern Alps are perfect for rock-climbing and mountaineering, and you can also heli-hike, ski, horseback ride or go caving on various parts of the islands. Water sports abound: jet boating, diving, kayaking, rafting, fishing, and seaplane safaris. Golf is also extremely popular, and some of the most dramatic courses include Carrington on the North Island, Kauri Cliffs and Gulf Harbour near Auckland, and the beautiful Jack’s Point course on Lake Wakatipu.
  9. National Parks– New Zealand has 14 national parks and preserves, including the marine reserves such as Poor Knights, which is a dive site of world renown. Also take time to investigate the heritage of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The Maori weaving is especially beautiful, and can be seen at local galleries and shops. In February, visit the Matatini Maori Performing Arts Festival in Auckland, where there is a tribal marketplace.

    Anaura Bay, Gisborne, New Zealand

 

When to Go:

New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere; therefore, all seasons are the opposite of those in North America, Europe, and other Northern Hemisphere locations. There really isn’t a bad time to travel to New Zealand.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Annual holidays – most Kiwi families take their main annual holidays between mid-December and the end of January, which puts enormous pressure on accommodations in major summer beach destinations. During the Easter break and school holidays in April, June to July, and September to October, it also pays to reserve well in advance.
  2. Ski Destinations – Ohakune, National Park, Methven near Mount Hutt, Wanaka, and Queenstown fill up quickly — reserve early and be prepared to pay higher winter rates. In most other areas, though, you’ll be paying lower rates during the winter months (Apr-Aug). In some summer-peak areas, the winter also means that tour, lodge, and adventure operators may take advantage of lower tourist numbers and take their own holiday breaks, closing their businesses for 1- to 3-month periods.

Weather

New Zealand’s climate, especially by Northern Hemisphere standards, is pretty mellow for much of the year. You’ll find a far greater seasonal difference in the South Island than in the subtropical North, and don’t believe anyone who says it never gets cold here or that there are no extremes. In Central Otago, winter temperatures are often 14°F (-10°C) and sometimes as low as -4°F (-20°C), with summers up to 100°F to 104°F (38°C-40°C). By comparison, the northern part of the North Island is subtropical. That means lots of winter/spring rain, and often daily light showers.

The west coast of the South Island can get up to 100 inches or more of rain a year on its side of the Southern Alps, while just over the mountains to the east, rainfall is a moderate 20 to 30 inches annually. Rain is also heavier on the west coast of the North Island, averaging 40 to 70 inches annually. Milford Sound, though, beats the lot; it’s the wettest place in the country, with a phenomenal 365 inches of rain a year.

Seasons

  1. Spring (Sept, Oct, Nov) — This is a beautiful time to visit — the countryside is flush with new green grass, baby lambs, and blooming trees. Christchurch in the spring means blossoms, bluebells, and daffodils in abundance; Dunedin is a splurge of rhododendron color. The weather can still be very changeable right up to mid-October, so come prepared with light rain gear. In the South Island, it’s still perfectly normal to get late snowfalls in September.
  2. Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) — This is peak tourist season, so you’ll pay top dollar for accommodations and airfares. Book early to avoid disappointment — this also applies to the major walking tracks, such as Milford, for which you should make bookings 6 months ahead. Beaches all over the country come alive, and boaties flock to the water. Fresh fruit are falling off the trees. (You must try Central Otago cherries and apricots; the apple district is Hawke’s Bay.) And everyone should see Central Otago when the lupines are flowering, with brilliant colors etched against blue skies and golden tussock.
  3. Autumn (Mar, Apr, May) — Personally, I think the best time to visit is February through April. The temperatures are pleasant (still hot in Feb in most parts), and even in April you’ll be wearing summer clothes in the upper North Island. The most spectacular autumn colors are found in Queenstown, Central Otago, and Christchurch. Keep Easter and April school holidays in mind, though, when accommodations may be tight in some areas.
  4. Winter (June, July, Aug) — If you’re a skier, you’ll be heading to Queenstown, Mount Hutt, Canterbury, or the Central Plateau in the North Island — and paying top dollar for the privilege. Otherwise, if you travel elsewhere during this period, you won’t need to prebook much at all (except during the July school holidays). You’ll find some excellent rates — just don’t expect great things from the weather.

Holidays

  1. National public holidays include New Year’s Day (Jan 1), New Year’s Holiday (Jan 2), Waitangi Day (Feb 6), Good Friday (varies), Easter and Easter Monday (varies), ANZAC Day (Apr 25), Queen’s Birthday (first Mon in June), Labour Day (last Mon in Oct), Christmas Day (Dec 25), and Boxing Day (Dec 26).
  2. Regional holidays include Wellington (Jan 22), Auckland (Jan 29), Northland (Jan 29), Nelson Region (Feb 1), Otago (Mar 23), Southland (Mar 23), Taranaki (Mar 31), Hawke’s Bay (Nov 1), Marlborough (Nov 1), Westland (Dec 1), and Canterbury (Dec 16). Regional holidays are always observed on a Monday. If the date lands on a Friday or weekend, the holiday is observed on the following Monday. If it falls earlier in the week, it is observed on the preceding Monday.
  3. School holidaysconsist of three midterm breaks — in April, June to July, and September to October — that last for 2 weeks each, plus 6 weeks for the December holidays. Kiwi families do much of their traveling during these periods, so be sure to reserve early.

    Sunset – Lake Wanaka, New Zealand