New Zealand

Maori welcome to New Zealand in the Auckland Airport.

 

Christchurch – The city is working extremely hard to rebuild after the earth quake of 2011.  They are still taking down ruined buildings and making temporary buildings out of shipping containers.  There are more hotels and restaurants being opened all the time.  They have a five year reconstruction project going on.  With that being said, it is a beautiful city and a must see on a trip to the South Island.

 

Lake Tekapo – Being part of the Southern Alps, this is a stunning area for viewing and hiking, biking, etc.  The scenery is breathtaking.

 

Mount Cook – Sunrise is spectacular.  This is a view from the Hermitage Hotel.  Sitting in amongst the mountains, it gives you the opportunity to hike, bike or just sit back and absorb the beauty

 

Wanaka – This is a fantastic location especially if you would like to be close to Queenstown, but not stay in the hustle and bustle.  The Edgewater Hotel, with all rooms facing the lake is quiet with fantastic views, but close enough to town if you would like to walk around the lake and into town.

 

Queenstown – Sunrise brings many colors over Queenstown, though all times of the day are beautiful.  This is the adventure capital for almost anything you can think of – bungy jumping, zip lining, hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, jetboating, whitewater rafting, and the list goes on.  A high adrenaline location, but it can also be as calm as you would like.

 

Skippers Canyon – Today I went on the Skipper Canyon Tour with Nomad Safaris from 8-12 noon.  It was great!  We were in 4WD vehicles and followed the gravel road that the government had built over a seven year period, which was completed in 1890.  It is very rough and runs right along the canyon walls.  You can see the trail where the gold miner’s walked and took their pack mules (which only lasted about three months) until the road was completed.  The area is beautiful, but they explain where the miner’s worked and flattened the different areas.  The miner’s also brought in trees to plant and these trees have taken over the area.  They are now trying to destroy the trees and bring the countryside back to the original type of landscape.  After going over the suspension bridge, you end up at Skippers Point.  The canyon and Skippers Point were named after ‘Skipper’ Malcolm Duncan, who discovered gold in the canyon in 1862.  The town had about 1000 people initially.  The pictures you can look at in the restored schoolhouse and farmhouse, the girls wore white pinafores, the ladies wore Victorian dresses and the men wore suits on Sunday.  There was a hotel, stores, homes, church, a telegraph and a school.  They played cricket and rugby.  They did have electricity here for the telegraph and eventually to have power driven mining

 

Gibbston Valley Winery, Queenstown – If you enjoy wine, the Wine Trail Tasting Tour is wonderful.  You will visit a number of wineries on a tour or on your own, and be able to do tastings at each winery.  The Gibbston Valley Winery also offered a restaurant where you could sample some of the wines with your meal.  They have many different wines from Pinot Noir to Sauvignon Blanc.   We had a great time tasting the wines and New Zealand has some wonderful choices.
Mirror Lakes on the way to Milford Sound – The drive to Milford Sound is stunning and the Mirror Lakes were so beautiful.  Mirror Lakes offers a good place to stretch your legs during the drive to Milford Sound.  Small lakes provide stunning reflections of the Earl Mountains. Water fowl and wetland plants can be seen against a backdrop of beech forest.  This is an easy walk suited to all ages and accessible to wheelchairs.

 

Mirror Lakes on the way to Milford Sound – The drive to Milford Sound is stunning and the Mirror Lakes were so beautiful.  Mirror Lakes offers a good place to stretch your legs during the drive to Milford Sound.  Small lakes provide stunning reflections of the Earl Mountains. Water fowl and wetland plants can be seen against a backdrop of beech forest.  This is an easy walk suited to all ages and accessible to wheelchairs.

 

The Chasm on the way to Milford Sound – Wow!  There was a fantastic waterfall and 20 minute walk around the area.  The Chasm is an impressive hole where a series of waterfalls have sculpted and scoured the granite over thousands of years.

 

Milford Sound – It takes about three hours travel time from Te Anau to Milford Sound with stops along the way at Mirror Lakes and The Chasm.  Milford Sound is by far the best known of all of the fiords and the only one that can be accessed by road.  It is approximately 10 miles from the head of the fiord to the open sea, which means you can comfortably travel the length of the fiord in 1½ to 2 hours cruising time with Real Journey’s.  We had a buffet lunch on board during the cruise.  The captain is very familiar with the area where the fur seals and waterfalls are, so he can direct the boat close enough for everyone to have a chance to see.  It was spectacular.  We then returned to The Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas.

 

Hobbiton Movie Set – Discover the real Middle-earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand, where you can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogy in a fascinating two-hour guided tour.  The set has been completely rebuilt and can be seen as it appeared in the films. During the tour, they explain how the location was chosen for the filming, how they prepared the location and then the set itself.  The Green Dragon Inn is now open and is a special feature of the tour.  All tour groups visit the inn as part of their tour and receive a complimentary refreshment.  There are spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and beef farm.  Even if you have never seen the movie or read the books, you will enjoy taking a tour of the movie set.

 

Kiwi Haka, a live Maori Cultural show – We had the opportunity to see a few different Haka shows which provides you a little insight into the Maori Culture.  The Maori’s are the native peoples of New Zealand with the majority living on the North Island.  Journey through the mythical legends and step into the world of the Maori.  Feel the spirit of their proud history celebrated in traditional song & dance.  Experience the fearsome haka and the stunning poi display.  A unique live show performed by Queenstown’s leading Kapa Haka group.

 

Shotover Jetboat –From the mment the accelerator hits the floor, your adrenaline hits the roof as you speed within mere centimetres of water along the famous Shotover River and deep into the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It’s an amazing white water ride, as the Shotover Canyon walls tower over you, your expert driver puts your ‘Big Red’ Jet Boat through its paces and skillfully whips it past rocky outcrops, skims around crags and boulders, and speeds through the dramatic and narrow canyons. Rock faces blur in your peripheral vision and the water sprays into myriads of white water crystals with every turn as you speed in your state of the art ‘Big Red’ Jet Boat at up to 85kph (53 mph) over crystal clear water as shallow as 10cm (3.9 inches) deep.  This is a real adrenaline rush – and I did it!

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LaVonne

LaVonne

Leisure Travel Specialist at Travel Leaders (Stillwater Office)
I specialize in travel to: Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tahiti, etc) and River Cruising. Learn more about me and view my contact information►
LaVonne

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