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Trip Report 16 Days on the South Island

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My wife and I are 57 & 59 and just got back from 16 days in the South Island, February 22 – March 12. We were blessed with warm and sunny conditions for most of our trip. The locals told us they hadn’t had a summer, January was cloudy and cool for the whole month so we were counting our lucky stars, we brought summer with us.

We started planning this trip by getting advice here, thanks to Diamantina and Melnq8 for all their itinerary suggestions,and ms_go for the html lesson! After selecting our dates and itinerary we then booked accommodations followed by restaurants, just so you know our priorities. The only tours booked prior to leaving were Mt. Cook glacier heli/hike, Milford Sound cruise and kayak, Canyoning in Wanaka and kayaking at Franz Josef.

So here goes. Departed RDU at 7pm on Wednesday 2/22 arrived LAX around 11pm and then off to Auckland at midnight. Arrived Auckland at 9:15 am on Friday 2/24. I have to confess we splurged and flew Business class so we were able to sleep on the long haul. We travel light, one roll aboard and backpack each. We exited the International terminal and was waiting for the bus to take us to the domestic terminal but it was beautiful out we so walked to the domestic terminal, follow the green line on the sidewalk, 10 minutes. We checked our bags with Air New Zealand for our quick trip to Blenheim. In Blenheim we got our rental car (Tiida, we upgraded on second leg) from Apex rental and asked the woman at the counter where we should go for lunch and she sent us to St. Clair Winery, Wow! We sat outside it was 75 and sunny and the food was fabulous. What a way to start! http://www.saintclair.co.nz/default.aspx

First Stop: Grove, Picton

We made our way to our B&B at the Grove, Picton via Picton, we found that the road via Havelock was much easier thanks to Linda and Steve our hosts at the Tanglewood B&B. http://www.tanglewood.net.nz/ Steve and Linda have been running this B&B for 21 years. Our room was nicely appointed and overlooked the Charlotte sound. We had a big comfy bed with a modern bathroom and there was a tiered garden to a hot tub. It was like being in a tree house. Our first night we had dinner with our hosts. They made us a turkey dinner with all the fixins. We met three other people there who were going kayaking the next day on the Charlotte sound and since the forecast was looking good we joined them.

2/25 We woke at 5am feeling rested, had a big breakfast that Linda prepared and then went kayaking for four hours. http://nzseakayaking.com/ We saw puple jelly fish, birds, fish and gorgeous mountains. The water is so clear. Our guide Lance, told us stories about the history of the area and the folk lore. It couldn’t haven more perfect. We said goodbye to our new friends and headed off to Havelock for lunch at the Slip Inn Café, right on the water. https://www.slipinn.co.nz/ The mussels were delicious. We overlooked the marina and got a kick out of the locals pulling their boats out of the water with tractors.

After lunch we headed back to the B&B and jumped in the hot tub. The B&B sign said no vacancy but we were the only ones there. Our hosts were giving themselves a break as it was Steve’s birthday. We then set off to Blenheim for dinner at the Hanz Herzog winery. The restaurant was amazing, gorgeous European style gardens overlooking the mountains. Very fancy, we had the 5 course with wine pairings, unbelievably delicious. http://www.herzog.co.nz/

2/26 This morning started off cloudy and drizzly, we went searching for a sunrise but it didn’t happen. We had breakfast and then drove to the Pelorus bridge and hiked the circle trak. The suspension bridge was so cool and was part of the filming of the Hobit. The weather cleared and it was a beautiful day for a hike. There is a café near the bridge but it was too early for lunch. We were headed to Mistletoe point but the weather looked better to the west so we headed to Nelson. It took about a hour and it was a beautiful ride. Nelson is on the Tasman Sea, we found the Morri St. Café and had a delicious lunch outside in the sun. We headed back to the B&B to do some laundry and get ready for our 5am departure the next day. We had dinner at the Mussel Pot in Havelock, the green lipped Mussels were Huge!

Next Stop, Mt. Cook

pix.sfly.com/gUM2Qrwd

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