Piece Together a Picture of Paradise


Every December I have the same problem. Christmas Cards. I really want to send them, and I really, really want to include a letter as well.  After all, for some of my friends, this is the only time of year we’re in touch.

But, here’s the thing. The end of the school year is taken up with one thing, and one thing only. The School Production.  It consumes every waking moment (and sometimes sleeping moments too) as we work to get the big show ready. So, no time for letter writing there.  

And of course when it’s all done and dusted, so are my energy levels. Now I have the time, but my brain has shut down. Inevitably what happens is, the packet of cards sits on the shelf and stares accusingly at me, never to be sent.

So this year I did something a little different. Instead of cards I sent some postcard puzzles. Intrigued? I hope so. Here’s the article I wrote on my daughter Jenny, and her clever idea.

Piece together a slice of New Zealand

Young and carefree, Jenny McNamee loved to travel, working where she could and exploring the wonders of the world.  And even when she touched base back home in New Zealand, as a tourism expert she helped  travellers from all over the globe to experience the beauties of her own, lovely country.

But whether overseas or in New Zealand, the same problem always presented itself: Where to find that unique, small, lightweight, easy to pack or post, perfect souvenir?

Fast forward to 2017, and the arrival of baby Harvey presented Jenny with the perfect time to focus on solving the problem.

A search through her diverse collection of stunning photographs… the giant jigsaw on the dining room table… an exploratory click on the internet and “Postcard Puzzles” was born.

A jigsaw and a postcard in one, Postcard Puzzles solve the souvenir dilemma in a unique and playful manner.

You can break it up and do the puzzle yourself, or write on the back and mail it to family and friends.

All the photos are from Jenny’s own South Island collection. With four iconic images to choose from and more in the pipeline, postcard puzzles are available at selected outlets in Oamaru, Garston and Te Anau, or contact Jenny online through her Facebook page


Travelling With Toddlers

Lizette O. has never been a boy scout, but when it comes to travelling with toddlers she swears by their motto: Be Prepared.


South African born Lizette and her Kiwi husband, James  were London-based globetrotters for 10 years before settling in New Zealand to raise their boys. But work and family commitments have meant that Owen (4) and baby James (18 months) have already flown to South Africa, Australia and around New Zealand many times in their short lives. Lizette says with careful planning and by putting their needs first, her children are generally happy and settled wherever they go in the world.

Lizette’s Top Tips for Travel:

  • Start preparing two weeks in advance ― pack away some favourite books and toys. That way when you bring them out on the trip they will be something familiar, but at the same time new and exciting.
  • Talk with your children about where you are going, who you will see, how you will travel and what it will be like there.
  • Pack a “24-hour kit”. Lizette’s travel bag includes nutritious snacks, 3 outfits of clothing per child, 10 nappies, milk powder for 6 bottles, baby wipes, plastic bags for rubbish and her trusty medicine bag (teething gel, nappy cream, Pamol and a syringe.)
  • Join Koru Club. The lounge away from the general bustle is a welcome stress-saver, but the real boon is in the food. “There is always food at Koru Club; even if you are in a hurry you can grab fresh food and feed the whole family without having to think. It’s a life saver!”
  • Time your flights with the children in mind. If possible, base your flights around the children’s routines, so you are not getting them up too early, nor disrupting sleep patterns with late-night arrivals.
  • Take something to suck when the plane is going down. Time the baby’s bottle so that he is hungry and wants to suck at that time.

Have a plan for when you arrive…

When travelling with small children, the journey is only half the picture. Lizette and James always have a plan for arrival at a new destination too. Experience has shown them that the children will settle quickly if they feel their new place is home. “When we get to the hotel, James will take the children and walk them around. [He says] This is our kitchen; this is your room – and our room – see how close we are? We will be here when you wake up…”


Another helpful strategy – ensure they have pyjamas or a cuddly washed in your usual washing powder. “That way it smells like home,” explains Lizette.

If you bottle feed, and will be travelling a lot, start your babies on S26 milk powder, available everywhere in the world. “Also our babies always drink it cold” says Lizette, “so we never have to worry about heating milk.”

Happy child – Happy travel

So there it is; a settled child is a happy child. Be prepared. Build your travel around routines wherever possible and try not to stress. That way you’ll all have a pleasant trip. Bon voyage!

Do you have travel tips to share?  I’d love you to leave a comment.

6 Queenstown Adventure Thrills

“Wiped out big time yesterday,” the boy next to me remarked, displaying an impressive graze. “Yeah – took a corner too fast.” he grinned. “Won’t happen today.”

I’m not into extreme bike trails so I left him and his mates hitching a gondola ride to the top of the Ben Lomond track and cycled off to tackle the lake path instead.

I’m lucky to live in Queenstown.

Nestled beside Lake Wakatipu in the heart of the southern mountains, Queenstown is aptly styled ‘Adventure Capital of New Zealand’. Whether you’re a first-time jelly-legs or serious adrenaline addict, there’s an adventure to challenge you here. And over the years, my family’s tackled quite a few.

Here are six of our favourites…


NZSki.com gets you to the top of two of NZ’s premier downhill ski areas (Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) within half an hour, not to mention the slightly further away Nordic Skiing option of The Snow Park. Also within easy reach are two other premier ski fields at nearby Wanaka: Cardrona and Treble Cone. 

Skipper’s Canyon:

Just beyond the shopping, restaurants, bars and hotels of downtown Queenstown, the rugged outback awaits. This is four-wheel-drive country and if you don’t have your own there are plenty of companies to take you there in whatever degree of comfort (or not) you desire. We went in an SUV, but you can try motorbike and quad bike options, or there are plenty of tracks only accessible by foot.

Bungy Jump:

Jenny did the four-jump combo in ONE day. The historic Kawerau Bridge bungy: “Awesome!” The Nevis Bungy and Swing: “Lost my stomach!” The Ledge: “Did a somersault off that one. Wicked!”

Jet Boats:  

So many to choose from:

The Shotover Jet is half an hour of thrills; spins and speed through the white-water canyons of the Shotover River.

The Kawarau River jet gives you a long journey over the lake before zooming up the Kawarau.

The Dart River Wilderness Jet – This jet adventure out of Glenorchy takes you into the wilderness of the Mt Aspiring National Park. I’ve done all three of these over the years but this one’s my favourite.


A 16th birthday present for Chris and Renato, flying high behind the roaring jet boat as it zoomed around the lake – lucky parents got to watch.

If you hanker for heights, Queenstown’s got plenty. Tandem paragliding and hang-gliding companies regularly leap off the mountain tops, or you can go all the way up and try ballooning or, skydiving. Or why not head out from the airport in an L29 fighter jet for a spot of aerobatics?

Zip Line:

Ziptrek Ecotours offers six zip-lines to whizz you through the forest canopy, giving spectacular views on an exhilarating ride. The eco-information offered at each stop is short and sweet – just right to take in while waiting for your turn to “fly”.

Wherever you go in New Zealand, you can find an adventure. The rugged mountains, myriad lakes and rivers and spectacular coastline offer endless possibilities for tramping, climbing, fishing, cycling and more. But if you want it all on your doorstep, then come to Queenstown. You won’t be disappointed.

(Visit The Official Queenstown Website to discover more.)

Queenstown Posts On The Blog

Bridging the Kawarau Falls

Altitude Brewing: The Great Adventure

Buzzstop Honey Centre: Loving Our Bees