Writing wins trip to New Zealand
United Kingdom freelance travel writer and photographer Rosie Casburn has always enjoyed writing and absolutely loved New Zealand when she visited for the first time 18 months ago.
But it was thanks to her daughter's persuasion and encouragement that she entered a competition which brought her back to this part of the world again so soon.
Rosie wrote about her visit to the Coromandel's Hot Water Beach as part of her month's New Zealand holiday and sent it off to the competition organisers, UK travel company Travelmood Ltd.
She was announced as the overall winner on April 1 this year and says she took some convincing that it was not just an elaborate April Fools' joke.
And when she finally realised she had actually won the prize of two return tickets with Air New Zealand she still could scarcely believe it.
"I was literally jumping up and down!" she says.
"I don't know why but I kept looking at myself in the bathroom mirror, jumping about and telling myself `you've won'!"
Rosie and her husband, Steve, decided to really make the most of the fantastic prize by turning the adventure into a trip of a lifetime – going around the world in 50 days.
Leaving their home town near Abergaveny, in South Wales, the couple set off on an Air New Zealand flight, first stop LA.
"The flight crew were fantastic," says Rosie.
"When I told them the flight was a prize I had won they treated us like royalty, giving us champagne and the works."
Once in LA the pair hired a car and drove along the Pacific Highway 1 to Malibu, before visiting San Francisco for a few days and Yosemite for a couple more. This was also a first for Rosie and Steve, who were determined to see all the sights.
After leaving the States they flew into Auckland and were last week making their way south as far as Queenstown in a campervan.
Of course they have been back to Hot Water Beach, the scene of their holiday win, where they had fantastic weather which added to the memories as they were able to dig their own jacuzzi with hot water coming in one side and cold the other – where they sat for an afternoon supping wine.
As they spent just two weeks in the South Island on their last trip, they plan to make the most of it this time by spending 25 days touring it and say the scenery is breathtaking.
On the way to Queenstown they stopped in Kaikoura for a couple of days.
On her last visit here Rosie says she had a wonderful experience with a truly successful whale-watching tour on which she saw two sperm whales, four orca and a blue shark.
This time around she and Steve stayed on dry land, having a wander around the shops and thoroughly enjoying the evening's entertainment in the form of the Strawberry Tree quiz night which she says was really funny.
"We have found the people so friendly," she says, describing how small town Kiwi locals go out of their way to help find things like accommodation and offer all kinds of assistance.
"It's just typical of how the whole of New Zealand has been."
Although nearing the end of their New Zealand leg, Rosie and Steve still have a little of their holiday left, and will be stopping off in Hong Kong for a week or so before heading home in time for Christmas.