Crystal Blue Water at Abel Tasman

When planning my trip to New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park immediately caught my attention. Pictures of this coastal nature reserve showed hiking trails over the ocean, dense forests, and that crystal blue water!

(*Heads up: the photos below have NOT been edited. The water really does look like this!)

There are several ways to access the reserve, but the easiest for us was booking a “self-guided” tour through  Wilson’s Abel Tasman.  We chose option 6, which lasts about 6 hours. It included a boat ride to an isolated drop off point and a boat pick up from another point hours later.

If the temperature had been warmer, we would have loved to do one of the kayaking or beach options, but given the season, this worked out great.

Chilly morning boat ride to Abel Tasman
Remote and gorgeous drop off point along Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

This tour let us walk along the track at our own pace. Believe me, you will want to stop and take so many pictures along the way. I should warn you though, there are only basic facilities in the way of water and restrooms, and  you’ll need to bring in your own lunch.

We spent the day leisurely stopping at the many lookouts and even getting up close to the water. Can you believe how clear that water is?

Every once in a while, the trail veers into the vegetation and you can walk along giant fern trees and babbling streams.

There was a forest suspension bridge to walk across.

After several hours, the end of our track led us to this beautiful beach, where we happily sat and waited for our boat pick up.

It seemed when researching this trip ahead of time that Nelson, where Abel Tasman is located near, is not as popular as other New Zealand cities like Queenstown or Christchurch.

However, this day during our trip was really a highlight for us, so I encourage you not to miss it if you make to New Zealand!

Queenstown. NZ

I’m excited to share with you our time in Queenstown, New Zealand.

In recent months whenever I mentioned this trip to friends and colleagues, they always said, “You have to go to Queenstown!”

Mountains. Fresh air. Beautiful views. Outdoor adventures.

And I’m so glad we followed their advice. This mountain village has it all.

We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside with views facing Lake Wakatipu. All this beauty was literally steps away.

The first afternoon we spent leisurely walking around the lake and soaking up the beautiful winter sun. Queenstown is on the southwestern side of the South Island, so it was quite a bit cooler here than Auckland. It was bright and sunny, but a down coat was definitely needed!queenstown-5

The next morning, we took the gondola up to the peak overlooking the city. We were lucky that the clouds lifted and we were able to get these panoramic views looking down on Queenstown.

It was still early in the season, so no skiing was available yet. But year-round, you can all do all sorts of other activities from there including hiking, paragliding, and the luge!

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Zip down the side of the mountain and take in the views as you go. Not bad, right?

After spending a few hours at the peak, we decided to hike down instead of taking the gondola again.

It only took us about one hour and we appreciated getting the fresh air to stave off the jet lag. 
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We spent 4 days in Queenstown, so it became our home base for lots of other outings and adventures including day trips to the famous Milford Sound, Lake Wakana, and Otagu region wineries.

We thought the natural scenery couldn’t get much better than here, but we were wrong. I’ll be sharing so much more soon!

Hiking at Tent Rocks, NM

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Last weekend in Santa Fe, we took advantage of perfect blue skies and crisp fall air to explore the great outdoors.

And look how great it was!

Tent Rocks Monument features gorgeous rock formations and sweeping mountain views. The 3 mile roundtrip hike is amazing through desert landscape and a winding narrow slot canyon.

On one mountain surface, we even found a rock carving of a snake!

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Over the summer, I bought these Lysse denim leggings from Nordstrom which had awesome reviews, but because it was so hot in DC until just recently, I never had a chance to wear them until now.

I wasn’t sure how they’d hold up the first time with hiking, but they ended up being so comfortable. I have a feeling they will become part of my fall casual uniform with tunics and tall boots and I’m already planning to buy them in the other colors.

I’m also a huge fan of these hiking boots from a brand I’ve been wearing for years. Mine are the waterproof Vasque Talus Trek boots. My last pair I wore for over 10 years, ya’ll!hiking-outfit

Admiring all the subtle colors, formations, and rock etchings inside the canyon…

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Made it to the top at last… and was rewarded with this beautiful view.

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Denim leggings/Calvin Klein vest

Michael Kors top (similar here)/Vasque Boots

Ray Ban Wayfarers

 

Tweed Newsboy Cap and Stripes

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For Day 2 in Shenandoah (see day 1 Enjoying a mountain cabin getaway), I wore this tweed newsboy hat with a stripe sweater and layering vest.

Mountain mornings are the best, aren’t they? Fresh cool air. Bright blue sky. This unbelievable view. And a whole day of hiking and waterfalls before of us. It was a cool morning, but sunny enough that I didn’t need that many layers as we prepared hot coffee and breakfast over the open fire and then went for our hike.

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We hiked along a trail that followed a stream and led us by some beautiful waterfalls. I wasn’t expecting there to be much run off given the time of year, but there was enough for these spots to be really pretty.

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Of course, our dog Quinn completely love the rocks and splashing water. It was way too cold to go for a dip in any of the waterfall pools, but we’re already planning to  do this hike again during the summer and bring swimsuits along.

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Outfit details: Sweater: Ann Taylor, Vest: Calvin Klein, Jeans: Express, Boots: Vasque, Hat: Unknown (vendor in the mall), Scarf: Amazon

I love sharing my experiences here on the blog, but I’m curious about you. Do you enjoy hiking in the mountains? What would be your outfit of choice during the fall for comfort and style?

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