Our MIQ Stay

Date of Adventure: 18 Feb – 4 March 2021


During the COVID pandemic, the New Zealand government requires all people arriving into the country to spend two weeks under strict quarantine to ensure they don’t have the virus, or aren’t bringing it to the islands inadvertently. Since symptoms generally show up within two weeks, this is the most sure-fire way for the government to keep everyone as safe as possible.

At the time we were making our plans to move to NZ, we had to reserve our place in the Managed Isolation Quarantine, or MIQ. Originally, the process was to email a completed MIQ request form with your travel information and your date of arrival. This process changed after we had originally booked our first set of flights. The new system is all online, but you have to book your MIQ date first, then book your flights. So we had to cancel our initial bookings (for airline credit, of course) and book a second set of flights after reserving our MIQ slot. Once we booked our new flights, we had to report back to the NZ government MIQ system and enter our flight number and exact arrival time. After we had done all that, the second airline eventually cancelled that flight, so we were lucky enough to go through the whole process again! Fortunately, the third set of flights and new MIQ date had no problems!

The government has partnered with hotels across the country to place travelers in. We were never given a choice of where to go, nor did we know where we were going to end up until we were on the tarmac in Auckland (as stated in our previous post). After everything, we ended up at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch, near the Christchurch airport.

The Room

It was quite nice! Way better than either of us expected! We were both thinking the hotels may be the lowest bidders on the government contract. I was picturing a very small room with a double bed and maybe a TV. Nope. Our room had a king size bed, a bathroom with a separate toilet room, a shower AND a bath! There was a large wardrobe, a “kitchenette” with glasses, instant hot water kettle, mini fridge, tea, and coffee. The room also had a desk/table, couch, and a balcony! It did have a TV, but we only turned it on to get the most up to date outdoor schedule. These were luxuries we were very honored and excited to have and take advantage of!

Bathroom (from bathtub)
The rest of the bathroom

We overheard that some other guests were less than thrilled to be stuck in a hotel, but we were rather excited because we knew it could be the nicest and biggest living space we’d have for a while. We were spoiled! The meals were cooked for us and delivered to our door 3x a day! Because we weren’t working we had all day to hang out, work out, do some outdoor cardio, and work on photos and research a bunch of stuff (more on that later!). We heard that some MIQ hotels didn’t have a balcony or even a window that opened, and some locations only let their occupants outside for 40 minutes every other day. We certainly count ourselves fortunate that we landed at the Commodore for our Quarantine stay. The hotel staff, nurses and security guards were all incredibly welcoming and nice!

On the second day, we got a knock at the door. Expecting it to be another health check or a food bag, we were surprised with a delivery! My parents had sent us a balloon for Cameron’s birthday, a bottle of wine and a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a nice note for our anniversary! That was such an amazing surprise!

After a few days’ use

The Food

It was amazing!!! Compliments to the chef of the Commodore! The hotel had us download their menu app when we arrived. Each evening we would scan our room’s specific QR code, and it would pull up the menu for the next day. There were generally two choices for any given meal: a vegetarian option, and a ‘regular’ option, along with choices for desert and simple drinks. If we hadn’t picked our meals by 8pm they would call us to make sure we were going to get our food the next day. The meals were delivered within a certain time slot each day: breakfast between 8:00-9:30am, lunch 12-1:30 pm, and dinner 5:30-7pm.

They had our stomachs and ears trained. We found ourselves hungry when each time slot came around. Any shuffling in the hallway outside our door might indicate that our generic brown paper bag with our meals in it might be delivered soon! Most of the time we listen for the knock. If the kitchen was running a little slow one day, we (mostly Cameron) would pace back and forth to the door, looking through the peephole periodically. When the food did arrive, we would have to wear a mask when opening the door to the hallway.

After each meal, we were to put our trash back in the paper bag it came in and set it back outside of the door, to be collected later.

Here are some examples of food options we had:

Waffles with syrup, berry compote, banana, yogurt crema. Kadi’s Favorite!
Sandwiches for breakfast?
Classic Kiwi breakfast (half eaten): Eggs, bacon, sausage, roasted tomatoes, beans on the side
Yogurt and muesli (granola)
Indian food
More delicious Indian food
Laksa soup
Vegetarian lasagna–Kadi’s least favorite
Teriyaki chicken
Crispy tofu–definite winner!
Seared pork belly. Cameron’s Favorite!
Greek salad w/ falafel bites and tzatziki sauce
Tiny cupcakes!
Chocolate brownie (left), fruit thing (right)
Chocolate deliciousness
More chocolatey goodness

Health Checks

Anytime we answered the door we each had to have a fresh face mask on. (A full box of masks was supplied for us in our room upon arrival).

Every morning we would get our daily temperature checks, where they would also ask if we were feeling well and if each of us had any of the known COVID symptoms.

Almost every afternoon we would get a phone call for our regular mental health check-in. They would ask how we’re doing, let us know that if we need someone to speak to, they can provide that, and ask if there’s anything we need.

There was scheduled COVID testing. We were nose swabbed on Day 1, Day 3, and Day 12. After the day 12 test we couldn’t go outside again, but we would be released on day 14 if the test results came back negative.

Outdoor Time

Each Group (those you came on the plane with) all had the same schedule based on the date we arrived into MIQ. Ours was 18 Feb. Each Group was allowed outside 2 times a day, a morning session and an afternoon/evening session, for a total of 3.5 hours per day. On days 11 and 12 we got 3 sessions each day, because for the next 2 days (prior to us leaving) we would not be able to leave our room.

Anytime we left the room we had to wear a mask, even while walking/running outside.

Before you could go outside, you had to check-out with the security guard at the front desk. We would tell them which room we were staying in, and how many of us are going out. When we came back inside, we would check back in.

For our outside time, we were only allowed to go out to the car park. There were two parking lots, one parallel to the hotel, the other perpendicular, connected by a small section. The first person out there gets to decide and set the direction for which everyone else would walk. So around and around each car park we would go.

Sample GPS track of a morning walk

Our group’s time slot varied from day to day. Each day we got a sheet of paper under our door, a newsletter which had any updates from the hotel; things to know, people leaving MIQ the next day, how to make a laundry request, etc. But most importantly it had the next day’s outdoor schedule!

We would wait for this schedule to come in and plan our next day based on these times. Family or friend zoom calls would have to be planned around our outside yard time. We wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to go outside! On the back of each Newsletter was an activity; a word game, a logic puzzle, maze, crosswords, sudoku, etc. Those were fun! We kept putting them aside, then one day sat down and worked through all the puzzles!

There was a white vinyl sheet covering the chain link fence all the around the carparks. The hotel had markers available to draw or write on the vinyl wall. As we were walking around, it was so fun to see what others before us had written and drawn! As the days passed there would be more art around, so on each walk we would look to see what was new! Most art had names and where they were from, some also included how many hours they traveled to get there. One afternoon, we finally decided to add some of our own art. I drew the Colorado flag and wrote our names and where we were from!


The check-in/check-out desk also had chalk available for anyone to use to draw on the asphalt, in the middle of the circle walkers. Someone had drawn a hopscotch, so every time we got to that as we were walking I would hop and skip down it! The chalk was a great way for families to give their kids something fun to do while being outside. It also added to the many art pieces we got to look at as we passed by.

Because we were allowed outside with only our plane mates, we would start to see familiar faces each time. We got to chat with several folks as we walked around and around.

Things we did to fill the time

As you can imagine, there are heaps of details that need to get figured out when moving across the world to a new country. Our time in the hotel was the perfect time to figure out some of these things: subsidized healthcare, supplemental health insurance, travel insurance, car insurance, contents insurance, banks, third party money transfer companies, mobile phone plans, just to name a few!

Since our plan was to buy a campervan to live in after we got out of the hotel, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find one before we were to be released from quarantine. We spent a lot of time van searching, budgeting, and then more van searching. Any spare time (or when we didn’t feel like doing other more important research), we would spend hours looking at all the vans available to buy.

The more time we spent looking, we quickly realized it was a blessing that we were placed on the South Island in Christchurch. There seemed to be better, more custom (non mass “produced”) built out vans on the South Island rather than in and around Auckland. Plus, our plan was to start adventuring on the South Island before winter sets in. However, by choosing not to be flown back to Auckland after our MIQ stay, it did mean that we weren’t going to be able to see the America’s Cup Sailing Races in person. This was offset by the fact that we could start adventuring right away!

Speaking of adventuring, we had lots to plan on that, too! Hut passes, NZMCA, booking track huts, looking at where we might want to start adventuring and where we might go from there. Decide which great walk tracks we wanted to do (all of them), and which ones we could actually get into. We booked the Kepler Track for March and The Routeburn Track for April. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into the Milford track at that time.

We looked into backcountry huts: did you know there are over 900 public huts throughout NZ?! There is an annual backcountry hut pass you can get which means you pay an upfront flat rate, then you have access to use any of the backcountry huts (with some exceptions) for no additional cost. Each hut has a nightly per person rate of $5-$15 or more, so if you stay at 8 of the $15 ones you’d get your moneys worth for having this pass. We plan to go to as many huts as we can, way more than 8!

Before we moved, we had built a body weight workout routine that we could do with little equipment in our one-bedroom apartment or the basement of our parents’ houses. This worked perfectly for our hotel room workout too! We would do about a 1.5 hour workout every other day (we had to keep off the delicious food they were feeding us)!

Hotel room workouts. Camera gear is heavy!

As we mentioned above we would walk or jog almost every chance we got to go outside. I think we averaged 2-4 hours and 5 miles per day. The days we did our body weight workouts, we would walk both outdoor sessions. On the other days, we would run the morning session and walk the afternoon/evening session. We recorded all of our runs and walks on Strava mostly out of curiosity to see how much we were actually walking each time and how many laps we did. The Strava recorded map looks funny with our two oval shaped laps (as seen above)! when you’re just going in circles, it can get monotonous, but it was surprising how quickly the outdoor time passed and how much we actually walked. Having the wall art to admire, read, or add to sure helped!

During one of the outdoor sessions, we got talking to another young couple (staying our required 2 meters away from each other while walking), and she mentioned that there was a Strava workout group where you could compete with other MIQ joggers across the country. That was a fun way to keep ourselves motivated, to attempt to keep up with the other cities! However, we were not able to keep up with her!

I tried to take advantage of having a nice big bathtub available to soak every other day. I would also treat myself to a charcoal mask and some Lily’s chocolate! It was a lovely way to spend the evening and one of the ways we found that we could create some separation and have our own space in the hotel room.

Throughout our stay, we took a few timelapses of the sunsets. One of our last nights in the hotel was such a beautiful and colorful sunset! What a wonderful way to wrap up the 2 week stint. Knowing that we would be taking so many photos going forward, we tried to get ourselves better organized while had the space and time. We were looking to create a good system to make sure all camera batteries were charged and all cards were imported and formatted, ready for adventure.

They had an option to set your laundry out, but so many of our performance workout/hiking wear is usually line dried and we didn’t want it sent through an industrial dryer. However, we did still send out things like jeans, socks, t shirts, etc. The rest we put in the bathtub and washed them ourselves. We found strawberry scented dish soap in the room, and decided to use that. It was a fun way to get our clothes washed!

On February 27th and 28th we celebrated Cameron’s birthday here and back home, just to cover all the bases. The birthday morning started with our outdoor session where we went for a run. Every circle we usually walked hand in hand or jogged with each other, but this time, as a little birthday gift, I told him to go on and run at his own pace instead of my slower speed. In the afternoon outdoor session we grabbed some markers and I drew Cameron a cupcake with a candle in it and wrote happy 28th birthday.

Later on I had surprised Cameron with a video call which had his friends on to wish him a happy birthday! One of the birthday nights, we watched an anime movie (Howl’s Moving Castle). My parents had sent the birthday balloon to our room at the beginning of the week, so that was fun to have floating about.

It’s hard to believe that one year prior we were celebrating our marriage with our family and friends! Fast forward 1 year, we got to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary in the MIQ hotel! It was a lovely day: we slept in, played some video games, worked a bunch of those word games and puzzles, went for a walk and added more drawings to the wall art. I drew Meeker, Longs Peak and the twin peaks outline from our Save the dates/Invitations! Our new Strava friends offered to take a picture of us with their phone and emailed it to us, so grateful they thought of that!

Mom and dad had sent us a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine at the start of our stay so we could enjoy the flowers as long as possible! After dinner and dessert, we opened the bottle of wine, said a toast and cheers to one heck of a first year!


With consistent internet readily available, we took advantage and had several family video calls. We even had virtual game nights with friends and family back home and played 7 Wonders online, Dominion online, and played Quixx dice game over a video call since we each had our own set.

Believe it or not we didn’t even play Animal Crossing. However, we did play Stardew Valley almost every night.

Our Release

On day 14, at 4 am we had our final temperature check! An hour later they picked up our suitcases. By 7 am we were masked up and escorted down the stairs, past the actual front desk in the main lobby and out the front door! The sunrise was beautiful! A pre-arranged van met us there and took us to the airport where we would rent a car and head straight for Queenstown to buy and pick up our van and new home!

Release day sunrise!

When we got to the Christchurch Airport we could take our masks off in public for the first time since March 2020, a year earlier! What a weird feeling!

A little bleary-eyed, but excited and ready to adventure!

Stay tuned for our next post: The Van. Thanks for reading!


Our International Travel during a Pandemic

Date of Adventure: 16 Feb 2021


Cameron and I have both lived in Colorado for the majority of our lives. Though we have each  moved several times, we’ve always ended up somewhere in the state.  Since we’ve been together we have moved a few times up and down the Front Range. Packing for this new journey was a whole different experience though; I saw it as a challenge! I have always been a packing procrastinator. I wait until the night before a flight or a couple days before moving to really start. This time, procrastinating wasn’t an option, because we were moving out of our apartment and packing for New Zealand all at once!

We had decided to store some of our favorite things that we would not need in NZ into a trailer. Some stuff we lent to friends and family to use while we are away, like our sewing machine. And because I am my mother’s daughter, I of course had a spreadsheet to keep track of where everything was to go on moving day. To make it more fun, I found colorful sticky dots to label items, boxes and piles: Yellow = trailer, Green = NZ, Blue = parent’s house, etc.

Colorful sticky dots!

We had to make sure we didn’t pack anything we wanted in NZ into the trailer. Several months before our move-out date, I started putting all of the must-go items in one pile, which kept growing. All of the ‘maybes’ got put into another pile, which eventually got eliminated. We had all of the outdoor adventure gear in another, very large pile. Each month I would take a look at the piles and move some items from the ‘must-go’ pile into the ‘maybe’ pile, and eliminate some ‘maybe’ items all together.

Initial suitcase packing and our little helper

Moving out of the apartment was much different than moving in. Due to COVID, we were keeping strictly to our immediate family circles. A HUGE thanks to the Feddes for helping us that day, we could not have done it without you! After we moved out, we parked the trailer for safe keeping and moved in with Cameron’s parents with just our NZ suitcases.

All moved out!

After spending some time with Cameron’s family, we moved up to Breckenridge with my family for the holidays, where we then stayed for about five weeks. While in the mountains we did a lot of snow walks, and some backcountry skiing!

Sadly, because of COVID, we were unable to have a going away party to see you all one last time. I suppose, without knowing it, our wedding was just that: a big hoorah, a grand send off! We were able to spend a lot of quality time with our immediate families throughout our last several months. It helped spread out the goodbyes. One good thing about COVID, it helped prepare us to stay in touch long distance with video calls! Thanks, Zoom!

At the beginning of February, we moved back to Colorado Springs for our last two weeks, the final countdown. Crunchtime!

Vegetarian plant based ‘sausage’ Biscuits & Gravy

Our last night in the states, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law asked us what we would want as our “last meal” in America. We chose breakfast for dinner, always one of my favorites! The two of them then proceeded to make a breakfast feast! Each of us had our own Belgian Waffle, complete with syrup, berries and whipped cream! There were delicious biscuits and vegetarian plant based ‘sausage’ gravy! They made scrambled eggs with peppers and onions. There were plates (plural!) of hash browns, and a pile of bacon. It was incredible! A very bittersweet way to leave.

Delicious Belgian Waffle, scrambled eggs, and hash browns

Remember what I said earlier about me being a packing procrastinator? Apparently I hadn’t learned my lesson, because we found ourselves T-minus 15 hours from NZ-day needing to unpack and repack all the suitcases again! After we were all fueled up from the amazing Brekkie, it was time to start re-packing!


Step one: Empty all the previously packed suitcases.

Step two: Add all the additional things we thought of.

Step three: Make a giant mess all over the floor!

Step four: Sort everything into organized piles.

Organized Pile 1
Organized Pile 2

Step five: Figure out the heaviest items and make sure they will get dispersed evenly throughout the suitcases.

Step six: Set up the tripod and camera to make a packing time-lapse

Step seven: Lay out all suitcases in the middle of the floor, amongst the piles.

Step eight: Start the time-lapse.

Step nine: Start packing; finish packing!

Step ten: Stop the time-lapse

Step eleven: High five! Cheers & take a sip of whiskey.

Finishing off the last of our Stranahan’s

Then do the hard work.

Step twelve: Ensure they are each less than 50 lbs. Suitcase 1: 46 lbs, 2: 47 lbs, 3: 45 lbs…4: 65 lbs.

Step thirteen: Unpack suitcase 4, unzip 3 and 2, redistribute and repack everything.

All done!

After a few hours of shuffling things around, each of our suitcases ended up being between 47 and 48 pounds! At DIA, they weighed in at 49; WHEW! Cameron and I each had two carry-ons. Mine weighed 20 and 25lbs, Cameron’s weighed 35 and 15lbs. We joked that we would need to pretend like they weren’t heavy as we walked through the airport.

All packed!


We left the house in Colorado Springs at 11:15am on Tuesday Feb 16. We were required to wear our masks from the moment we were dropped us off at DIA.

Dropped off and ready to go!
Got our boarding passes, checked our bags, so far so good!
Made it through DIA security!
Leaving Colorado!

The flight from Denver to LA was short but scenic, with views of the Colorado mountains, Utah, and the southwest desert. In LA we had a long layover, so Cameron and I decided to take the “scenic” route from the domestic to international parts of the airport, which took us into the long tunnels underneath the LAX terminals. We were basically the only ones in there, which was a bit eerie. The International terminal was very desolate, all shops and almost all restaurants were closed.

Our final views of Colorado, the Rocky Mountains from above
LAX tunnel
Taking a quick break in one of the empty LAX hallways
Quiet LAX
Boarding LAX to Auckland flight

Once aboard our Los Angeles to Auckland flight, we were quickly relieved to find out that we wouldn’t have a third seat mate, giving us the whole row to ourselves! It was the airline’s way of distancing us. Each bubble (the people you are traveling with) would be the only ones in that row when possible.

I found this to be a bit silly because we would all be very contained in one relatively small space for 13.5 hours. Nonetheless, Cameron and I were incredibly grateful to have the row! Since we were up late the night before doing last minute packing, we were tired, and both slept for most of this flight!

Tired but excited and ready to go!

After touching down in Auckland, a man in a military uniform came aboard the plane and announced where we would be quarantining: “and the lottery winner is…Christchurch!” The way the declaration was said sounded almost like a joke, so Cameron and I looked at each other uncertainly, both confused. Sure enough, we would be sent off to Christchurch, almost 500 miles away. We deplaned and the government took us through COVID checks, confirmed our COVID-19 negative test results, and made sure we weren’t currently exhibiting any symptoms. At this point we went through customs, where we claimed all our outdoor equipment. I also claimed the 6 Lily’s chocolate bars that I brought (which would be eaten in the following 2 weeks during quarantine).

Landing in Christchurch

The only thing they were concerned about was the one thing we forgot to clean thoroughly: our tent. The customs clerk asked us 3 different times if it was a new tent, if we just bought it. We said no each time and looked at each other smiling. It was our giant homemade pyramid tent! Cameron and I keep wondering what they must have been thinking as they pulled it out to wash it and inspect it, wondering, “what the heck is this?” And unsurprisingly they were not able to get it packed down as it was, so it was just a big pile of shiny, loud DCF. (Which then continued to sit unpacked in a pile on the counter of our hotel room, so again we wondered what the nurses who came by each day for our wellness checks must have thought of this large trash bag looking pile behind us).

Once through customs, we all waited for our next plane, a quick 1-hour flight from Auckland to Christchurch. Grateful to be on it during daylight so we could see the islands below!

Upon landing, the military let 10 people off at a time. Once deplaned, we were led to a large hallway lined with suitcases on each side. This was to avoid people touching items that were not theirs. We were to find each of our suitcases in the rows and roll them outside. This is where we waited in yet another line to be assigned a bus. They had 3 large busses queued up, and they would direct you to a bus based on the number in your travel party. Each bus went to a different MIQ (Managed Isolation Quarantine) hotel. We were shuttled off to ours, The Commodore Hotel.

The Suitcase Hallway

Arriving at the hotel, I was immediately impressed with the process. The Commodore staff really have a good system figured out. Disclaimer: Every MIQ hotel is different. This is our experience at the hotel we were assigned to. Once we got to the Commodore hotel, we stayed on the bus while the hotel staff unloaded all our suitcases and rolled them across the car park (parking lot) where they spaced each suitcase out, sanitizing their hands between handling each one. It was fun to watch! Social distanced luggage. Again, it was to prevent people getting too close to others.

Waiting to get checked in to the MIQ hotel

The military guard let each travel party off the bus one at a time. We were given labels with our surname and how many suitcases we had. One person per party would be allowed to go find and label each suitcase, which would then be whisked away by hotel staff and later delivered to our room. While waiting to be checked in, we queued (lined up) outside 2 meters apart in the glorious warm sun. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we were so grateful to have made it into the country and to be outside! Once checked in, we were ushered to our room, where we would live for the next 2 weeks. After 32 hours of traveling, we were finally in New Zealand!

We (and all our luggage) finally made it to our room!

Cameron and I kept saying to each other, “We did it! We are here! We’re actually doing it!!”

I’m sure you want to hear all about our MIQ hotel experience, so we will be working on that for our next post! Thanks for reading, and we’re excited to share all our New Zealand experiences!

We are moving to New Zealand!!!



  hours  minutes  seconds


Move to NZed!

This has been a dream of ours. We both grew up in Colorado, and love it here! I’ve always wanted to live somewhere else for awhile, why not another beautiful mountainous country.

This has been several years in the making. Cameron was fortunate to get a resident Visa at the time his folks applied for theirs as he was still young enough to be considered their dependent. A couple months into us dating, he mentioned that he would need to return to New Zealand in order to apply for his permanent residency. So 3 months in, we booked our tickets to New Zealand, which would be our first flight together! I fell in love with the country immediately, and knew I had to go back.

In doing some research, we found out I would be able to apply for a Partnership Residency Visa through Cameron’s. So the process began! One year after starting the application process, 7 months after submitting it, and 1 month before our wedding, we received the approval letter! It was official, we would be moving to New Zealand!

Fast forward 1 year, 1 Global Pandemic, and 2 sets of canceled flights later, we will be heading across the world on February 16th! Cameron and I have been very fortunate to be able to live with various family members over the last few months since our lease on our apartment ended. We are very grateful to have all the extra family time.

We will be bringing 3 suitcases full of adventure gear, and 1 shared suitcase shared for clothes and shoes. We leave in less than a week and so far nothing is in our suitcases, it’s in a giant organized mess in the middle of the basement! I still have much to do: fix the packrafts, clean all gear and shoes (to be sure we’re not going to be bringing over any plant diseases), finish final touches on my backpack, finish Cameron’s fastpack v2, start and finish my fastpack and get as many kitten cuddles in as we can!

Upon arriving in NZ, we will be required to quarantine for 2 weeks in a hotel. As soon as we are released, we plan on sticking around in Auckland for a bit to watch the Finals of the America’s cup sailing races! Then we will be eager to buy a self-contained camper van and start driving! We have places we want to see, and places we will want to see but don’t know about yet, but we have no plan. Being a planner and a control freak, I am both equally terrified and excited about not having a plan.

Our “plan” is to travel all around the country, both north and south islands. We will sleep in our van, occasional hostels, holiday parks, but mainly take advantage of the awesome Hut system they have and backpack, fastpack, and packraft our way across the more remote areas.

We will be updating this blog periodically as we go with adventures, photos, trip reports, gear updates and everything in between. Please keep in touch, we will be on our own for quite a while and would love any and all sorts of communication and connection back home.

Bon Voyage!