New NZ Trip Report

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Apr 17th, 2018, 05:20 AM
  #41
 
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You know me Diamantina - I swim upstream. You've got me curious now, maybe I've photographed the tree not knowing the backstory? I'm put off by the whole sheep mentality of travel - how one Instagram can lead to a stampede. I sure hope I haven't contributed to that stampede over the years (although I wouldn't know Instagram if it bit me on the bum).
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Apr 17th, 2018, 12:51 PM
  #42
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Insta -Who? Not big on social media myself. Yeah the Wanaka tree was interesting because as stated I'd never read about it. But it reminded me of my morning walks in Paris, at 6:30AM, you get off the Metro at Trocadero, turn the corner toward the Eiffel Tower and there are dozens of brides and bridegrooms getting there wedding pictures. OK, maybe not dozens but at least eight that I counted! I'm sure it makes for a good picture, but it was kind of cold on those mornings! The Wanaka tree was completely unexpected! Then to run into Stewart, it is what traveling is to me, that constant reminder that the planet really is a lot smaller than we think and we are responsible for all of it.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 12:56 PM
  #43
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Just read the article, thanks for the post!
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Apr 17th, 2018, 01:15 PM
  #44
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Day 22 - Beautiful day. We live off the land and today's breakfast was eggs and leftover "chips" from Haast! We head out for Arrowtown. Took the Cardrona Pass. What a road, talk about being on top of the world. How about those zig zags at the bottom. Parked a little outside of Arrowtown. Not sure what to make of Arrowtown, liked the history of the Chinese Settlement and it was nice to walk through town, but it was a little too Old Pasadena for me, but it was a nice day to walk through. Took a wrong road out of Arrowtown and ended up going pass Coronet Peak instead of Lake Hughes. We picked up a guy hitchhiking who had just sky glided off the peak. His words," if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up to much space!" LOL, typical Kiwi. Came in on the top side of Queenstown. It's Sunday so the place was jammed. Walked around for about an hour then headed toward Gibbston. Stopped at the Kawarau Gorge bungy jump. Crazy. Some poor girl tried to jump twice and just couldn't do it. Last stop Gibbston Cheesery. 3 nice cheeses and a glass of wine. Our beloved Aussie died May 31 last year and there was a dog that looked just like her. My wife and I ate cheese with the tears rollling down our cheeks.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 02:05 PM
  #45
 
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Tdiddy -

Your Wanaka tree story reminded me of a boat house in Perth - the locals didn't give much thought to it, but Singaporeans would flock to it for their wedding photo shoots. I kid you not.
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Apr 19th, 2018, 01:25 AM
  #46
 
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Tdiddy, Aussie sounds like she was wonderful. Sorry for your loss.
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Apr 19th, 2018, 04:05 PM
  #47
 
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
How was the Snake Bite Brewery? Currently working on my restaurant list for our upcoming trip.
We ate there a couple of years ago and thought it was very good. If I remember correctly, I had something Indonesian with tofu that I enjoyed. They have a decent beer selection, too.

Lee Ann
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Apr 19th, 2018, 06:32 PM
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Thanks Lee Ann. We're staying in Fox, so may be a moot point, but never hurts to have a few recommendations in my pocket.

Interesting name for a country without snakes - better suited for Australia!
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Apr 19th, 2018, 07:20 PM
  #49
 
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"Interesting name for a country without snakes - better suited for Australia!"

I thought that too, but it seems their signature drink is the "snakebite" a mix of beer and cider.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 05:20 AM
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Oh ick, that sounds pretty venomous.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 08:30 AM
  #51
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Day 23 - Chill day. I walked into Wanaka for my morning walk about and when I got back my wife said "I am exhausted and I'm not doing anything today!" And I secretly thought...Yahoo, I'm tired too but I wouldn't let on. LOL. Read, took a hot tub and sauna, and generally relaxed. Later went into town for lunch at Speight's Ale House, something of a chain here and in Queenstown. In the afternoon we drove out to Dublin Bay. Road becomes gravel after a ways and dead ends in a beach area. There is a trek back to Wanaka, but we didn't go that far. Tomorrow is our last day in Wanaka. I see why everyone loves it. It's a great little town.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 09:04 AM
  #52
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Day 24 - Last day in Wanaka and it is raining, coming down pretty heavy. We started up Mt. Aspiring Rd, but you can't see anything. Did see people trekking up Roys Peak Lookout, in the rain. Dedicated Followers of Fashion (sly Kinks reference for the old folks). The sun came out in the afternoon and we proceeded to drive up Mt. Aspiring Rd again with much more success. Didn't do the whole road, only past Glendhu Bay and to Diamond Lake. Took the hike out to the Lake. We've been very lucky with rain this trip, in 24 days we've had maybe 3 days of rain and the fact that it cleared up today we are attributing to the Wanaka gods. Went to Alivate for dinner, right on the Ardmore St. Good food, great view. Tomorrow off to Te Anau
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Apr 20th, 2018, 01:48 PM
  #53
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Day 25 - Drive to Te Anau
I hadn't planned on driving over the Cardrona Pass again, but we did. I've driven both ways to Queenstown from Wanaka and this is the way to go if the road is clear. Those views up at the top are amazing. This time I saw the Gibbston Cheesery from up on high. Nice drive along Lake Waktipu pass Queenstown. Stopped at Mossburn and discovered why there are so many pastures with deer. The idea of raising deer apparently started in Mossburn. Funny that growing up in "deer hunting" country it seems weird to me to see deer being raised but it's not weird to see cows! This is odd, and again, I may get pushback, but IMO, the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau on SH 6 is some of the least interesting country we've encountered in NZ. It's like God said, I'm going to give you a visual break, because once you get to Milford Sound, you will be amazed. Pull into Te Anau about 2:00PM. Only to discover that we were supposed to be there the day before!! My fault. Learned lesson, check your accomodation reservations a few days out to make sure you haven't screwed something up. Cost me two nights, because Booking.Com charged me for the night I missed.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 01:54 PM
  #54
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Luckily, Shakespeare B&B had an opening and we settled in. After booking about 17 different nights for our stay, I guess I lost track of the dates. Walked around Te Anau, small but clean and obviously geared for trips to Milford Sound or Glow worms! We took the Real Journey's tour across the lake to go to the Glow Worm cave. I would recommend it. This is our first experience with Real Journeys and they are a class act all the way. Everything runs like clockwork. It almost reminds me of Disneyland, not in what they provide but in how well it runs. Boat trip was great and the engineering inside the caves, the walkways, the "ride" through the caves, the guide, to me that was as amazing as the Glow Worms. Great Indian dinner at Radha's in Te Anau.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 02:24 PM
  #55
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Day 26 - Milford Sound
Up at 7AM, packed, breakfast is early here 7-8:30AM. I went for a walk and Te Anau was dead quiet except for the buses rolling through on the way to the Sound. Sun is shining, talked to people yesterday that said it had been raining the whole day. Nice now, fingers crossed. Gassed up and hit SH94. For the many Fodorites who've been to Milford, I'm not going to try a describe it, if you haven't been, GO! I will say where we stopped. Lake Mistletoe, easy walk to lake and then hot chocolate at Fiordland Lodge across the street. We are taking it slow, there is no one in front of us and no behind! Mirror Lakes, as advertised! Knob Flats, good bathrooms, Falls Creek to see, what else, the Falls finally the Chasm before we hit Milford. Got to the Milford Terminal. We are taking the overnite on the Wanderer. At the desk the young woman tells me that there are only 6 passengers on the boat tonite! It normally holds 36 passengers. This sounds like a punch line, but there were 6 crew members, literally a crew member for every passenger. The Wanderer will be heading out for week long tours out of Doubtful Sound next week so maybe that's why? Don't know, but we lucked out. Got situated in our cabin, then Richard took us for a hike on the Milford Track. I can say I did the Milford track! Ok...about 2 miles of the Milford Track.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 02:35 PM
  #56
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Had a great dinner, they crew ate with in the cabin and they don't get to do that. It was great listening them talk about the winter schedule and where each might be headed in the Real Journeys family. Dinner was prime rib and it was the best prepared beef I have had in NZ. Turned in about 10PM and read.

Day 27 - On the Sound
We were woken up at 6:30AM by Bob Marley, not Bob personally but one of his songs on the PA, because, why not? Cooked breakfast at 7:00AM, packed our luggage so the crew could clean our cabins. All 3 of them! Can't imagine what they do with 36 people. Having our coffee in the Galley and the Capt. said, there are two dolphins on the Port side. That's left, right? The dolphins actually ended up on the starboard side. So it's still pretty dark, but we can see these dolphins racing us. Incredible. Starting to lighten up by the time we get to the mouth of the Sound. Turn around and hit at least three different pods of dolphins, they are jumping out of the water all over. I'm almost crying I'm so excited. It's mostly cloudy, some blue skies and toward the end of the trip we drive into a waterfall. Alright not in it, but close enough to feel the spray on your face. Damn I love New Zealand. Back to the dock at 9AM and our trip to Milford Sound is over. It was everything we had hoped with the bonus of having the whole ship almost to ourselves. We had met David, Christine and Grace from Arlington, VA the night before at the Glow Worms and they were on the bigger boat and loved their trip. Now on to Queenstown.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 02:46 PM
  #57
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Stopped in Athol in a little park with a picnic table and a New Zealand flag flapping in the wind. Queenstown by 2:30PM. Staying at the Mantra Marina Apts out by the airport. Rested, showered and went into Queenstown and walked the Wharf and had dinner and ran into, David, Christine and Grace, because that's what happens in NZ. Dinner at the Wharf and back at the room the Peter Jackson version of King Kong was on TV. Of course it was.

Day 28 - Queenstown
Went into town and walked around the Art Fair at the Wharf. I'm guessing this happens every Saturday. We took the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. This is a great trip but it's really all about the buffet. Whenever you mention this to anyone, they don't say anything about the really cool dogs you will see or the sheep shearing, it's all about the buffet. Great trip, kind of expensive, but we did 3 trips with Real Journeys and you get a 20% on the two cheaper trips, Glow Worms and the Earnslaw

Day 29 - Flying to Tahiti
Easter Morning, of which we will have two, one here and one in Tahiti. Jet Star to Auckland. Actually it was no way as bad as we have read about Jet Star. Then Auckland to Tahiti arriving at midnight, but it's the day before!

OMG - is this the longest Trip Report in History. For anyone following this, I hope you gleaned some useful information, but let's not BS each other, this was for me! Re-living what is most definitely the best trip of our lives. Thanks for everyone, Dia, Mel and Tasmangirl, who gave me such wonderful tips over the last year.
New Zealand is Sweet As! Start planning your trip today
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Apr 20th, 2018, 03:38 PM
  #58
 
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Another awesome report from Milford Sound. I have to get there.

Enjoyed your report very much. The length is fine - not bad at all.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 03:51 PM
  #59
 
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<<but IMO, the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau on SH 6 is some of the least interesting country we've encountered in NZ.>>

I'm guessing you didn't make it up the east coast between Christchurch and Oamaru - it always gets my vote for least scenic stretch on the entire SI. But I hear you, after awhile your eyes get jaded

Enjoyed every bit of your report Tdiddy - glad you had such a great time and pretty good weather from the sounds of it. Good on you!
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Apr 20th, 2018, 10:49 PM
  #60
 
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Thanks for your dedication, Tdiddy! I enjoyed the read(s).

Speight's is a southern institution. James Speight's opened his brewery in Dunedin in 1876, when the city was a boomtown, then NZ's largest and richest. By 1887, Speight's was NZ's biggest brewery. The brewery is still one of the city's main attractions, with tours often selling out on cruise ship days. A spring flows under the brewery and every day, throughout the day, people refill large bottles from the free spring water tap on its facade. More recently, Speight's was acquired by the Lion Company, which owns dozens of breweries and wineries in Australia and NZ. Lion was taken over by the Japanese company Kirin in 2009. But, it's likely if you asked a Dunedin beer drinker what their favorite beer is, they'd say, "Emerson's" (also of Dunedin).

Glad to hear you enjoyed the MS overnight cruise. 6 crew members to 6 passengers--what lucky exclusivity! Lucky to see dolphins, too. One of my closest friends, on her first trip to NZ just a few years ago, saw two whales and a penguin on her Milford Sound cruise. I have a few guesses on why it was underbooked. The Wanderer cruise is a little more expensive than the Mariner. It's smaller than the Mariner, so maybe there's a misconception that it's claustrophobic. The Mariner offers a popular kayaking option (probably because there's more room for storage). And perhaps some folks were waiting to see how the weather turned out. I've done the Real Journey's Milford Sound Mariner overnight cruise twice and their Doubtful Sound overnight cruise once. The boats have never been full, but there were certainly more than 6 passengers. When I took the Doubtful Sound overnight, I had a room for 4 to myself. Great trips with good food, welcoming staff, and best yet, you can spend the night and wake up in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I also enjoyed their Te Anau Glow Worm tour.

Part of that drive on SH6 between Queenstown and Kingston, known as the Devils' Staircase, is scenic, but it's also curvy so you were probably too busy to both admire the view and focus on the road. Also, I agree with Melnq8, "after awhile your eyes get jaded."
https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/stories/road-tripping/

Have fun in Tahiti!
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