Family Fun: Monarch Cruise

If you ever visit Dunedin, you should book a cruise on the Monarch.

We were lucky enough to win a one-hour family voucher at a quiz night, and we had an amazing afternoon cruising the Otago Harbour, looking out for seals and albatross.

As you can see, those big, beautiful sea birds are great flirts.

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Tales of Travel: Fiji

Back in May, Pickle and I had the honour and pleasure of being at a dear friend’s wedding in Fiji. As Tiny had only just started school, we made the difficult decision that he and Tall would stay behind; travelling with just one of my boys was strange and sad, but we were lucky to be travelling with some very good friends who didn’t mind two tag-alongs.

The wedding was held on Plantation Island, which made for a stunning backdrop to our friends’ beautiful, moving ceremony. The bride was carried down the beach by Fijian warriors, and they sealed their 18-year relationship with the sun setting on their heartfelt vows. We sat at tables on the beach and sent lanterns floating off into the sky, and we danced in the sand until the DJ left us in silence. It was so much fun, and such a gorgeous day from start to finish, even though I missed my two biggest boys immensely.

Plantation Island, FijiPlantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, Fiji Plantation Island, FijiWe only spent two days on Plantation Island, which was enough for Pickle and I; even though our friends were awesome and would have looked after him if I’d asked, I didn’t feel I could go out paddle boarding or exploring by myself. It was also quite expensive to eat and drink, and as there are only a couple of options, the resort had a tendency to charge for everything, knowing we had no choice but to pay for that extra plastic cup to divide up a smoothie. Our accommodation was fine, but the whole resort looked like it needed new paint and a number of repairs (the builders amongst us were horrified at various points!), and their administrative systems were very archaic.

After Plantation Island, we spent four days on Denarau, back on the mainland. This is a man-made island about 20 minutes drive from Nadi Airport, full of resorts and shops aimed at tourists.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu, which was fantastic and well-equipped for children; their swimming pools were well-suited to our group of youngsters, and there were various activities they could get involved in if desired. The rooms were spacious and modern, and the various restaurants were great. Most days we walked to Port Denarau (you can get a bus or a taxi, but we preferred to walk) for breakfast (always at Lulu Bar, Restuarant & CafĂ©, who made us things that weren’t on the menu, and did the best smoothies), then spent our afternoons beside the pool. We ordered a few cocktails and enjoyed them poolside, and we had lunch delivered to us while lounging too – we were on holiday, it was cheap, and we were in Fiji! On my last evening, we all booked babysitters and went to Nuku Restaurant & Bar at The Hilton for dinner, which was delicious and a lot of fun.

Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, Fiji Denarau, FijiDenarau, Fiji While I was sad to leave the heat and our friends, I was excited to get home and see Tall and Tiny; the holiday was amazing, but it wasn’t the same with half our family missing. Hopefully we’ll get an opportunity to go to Fiji together in the future, as there is so much more of that beautiful country to explore and experiences to be had.