This past weekend we celebrated a new holiday for us Americans: The Queen’s Birthday. While we still prefer to elect our head of state, we’ll take the free day off work!

We decided to make a 5 hour drive to spend some time in a little place I like to call…Wanaka. We loved it! Such a relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful location, nestled up against a massive lake in the mountains. We arrived pretty late on Friday night, but awoke to be surprised by a marvelous view outside of our hotel window:

Morning View Wanaka

Morning View Wanaka

After some breakfast, we set out for our first big adventure – skydiving! This is another item on Morgan’s bucket list, and so I figured now was as good a time as any. We rode in a tiny orange plane up to 12,000 feet, soaked in the incredible view, and then got chucked out of the plane.

It doesn’t feel much like falling, more like a bullet would feel hurdling through the air. We dropped 7,000 feet in 45 seconds, moving at 120 mph. Pretty insane! And pretty awesome. It took a solid hour before our heart rates got back to normal.

My favorite line of the day was right after Morgan landed. She said, “I can’t believe it! We made it back to the ground!” Her instructor replied, “Don’t worry, we were going to make it back down to the ground no matter what.”

Morgan’s jump was video recorded, which you can see below along with some of the photos (click any thumbnail to enlarge) from the event:

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the ground. We walked the diamond lake track, which brought us to the top of Rocky Mountain. It was not quite as large as the American version, but still offered an amazing view of Lake Wanaka. The weather was supposed to be very rainy, but it cleared up for most of the time we were outside.

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Skydiving didn’t offer enough airtime for Morgan

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Our second day brought the rain. It poured from sun up to sun down. At least we think so, because we never actually saw the sun. That being said, we still enjoyed our day. It was great to relax and spend some time thinking about new goals and adventures for the coming year.

We did manage to get out of the house for a couple hours to visit Puzzling World, a fascinating place with lots of illusions. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Everything in this room was tilted, I'm actually standing straight up!

Everything in this room was tilted, I’m actually standing straight up!

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I always knew I was taller than Morgan, but this is ridiculous

The drive home brought on quite a surprise. Apparently all that rain in Wanaka meant snow for much of the journey home. As we traveled through the mountains we saw quite a bit of it. Fortunately they had cleared the roads well, as my Atlanta driving experience only prepares me for fast speeds on crowded highways and not snow covered mountains.

Snow covered mountains

It's Snow!!!

It’s Snow!!!

We made it home safely, feeling well rested from one of our new favorite places to visit.