NZ South Island Trip Report (Long)

Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:22 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 603
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
NZ South Island Trip Report (Long)

We spent two full days sightseeing in Christchurch. Its a lovely city, not as rushed as most American cities, with lots of gardens.

Our first stop was the gondola (Recommended) for a view of the city and the harbor. We then visited the Art Museum (Quality varied but this is a small city without the resources of larger cities) and walked around the center of town. Lunch was at Dux de Lux. (Highly recommended)

On our second day we visited a local toy library, public library and supermarket and then spent time at the Canterbury Museum which showed the history of the area and had a nice Antarctic exhibit. The Maori exhibit had been removed and we think that it might have been done as part of the giving back of artifacts to the Maori.

Overall impression of Christchurch is that it would be a lovely city to live in. It has enough sites to involve you for several days, depending upon your interests and time of year.

On Wednesday we took an intercity bus (stops in Timaru and Oamaru) to Dunedin. Dunedin is the gaelic word for Edinburgh and there are lots of Scottish influences. We went to Nature's Wonder which is a tour out at the end of the Otago peninsula. We rode 8 wheeled ATV's through mud and water to look at seals (almost nose to nose) and see some of the rare yellow-eyed penguins. This was interesting and great fun but not suitable for young children. (Recommended)

We had a lovely meal that night at Hotel Cargill. (Recommended). Our motel was the Alcala Motor Lodge on George Street. We are budget travelers and the accommodations were clean, roomy and safe. We picked up rolls for breakfast at a small grocery across the street.

The next morning we were picked up at our hotel and taken on a city tour. We particularly enjoyed our stop at the Olveston House. This was an Edwardian home of an early city merchant and importer. They had all kinds of interesting souvenirs from around the world. Dunedin also has the world's steepest street which we photographed but didn't climb. Lombard Street in San Francisco isn't eligible because the
street doesn't go straight up. The city tour is recommended especially for the bus drivers who are interesting, informative and accommodating.

Dunedin is another lovely small city in a beautiful location with friendly, helpful people. I don't see how they could provide such personalized service in 'high season'. We were there in June.

After a quick lunch at a cafeteria-style place, we headed to the railroad station for a train ride through the Talieri Gorge (Highly Recommended). The ride is somewhat reminiscent of the Durango-Silverton ride.
Most of the passengers returned to Dunedin on the train. We were met by a van and driven to Queenstown. I imagine much of what we rode through was like the high plains of the US. There were always some kind of beautiful snow covered peaks in the distance.

This morning we took off for the Milford Sound but only got an hour away (took one hour and twenty minutes) and had to turn back because of snow. There was a Malaysian family on the trip with four children who had never seen snow before. We egged them on in a snow fight and took pictures.

We rebooked our Milford Sound trip for the next day and rebooked our Maori dinner for tonight. We headed up the gondola for an overview of the area.

For our Maori Experience, we were picked up from our hotel and driven to their re-created village. We were greeted by their tribal chief and then escorted in for a demonstration of Maori dance and chant. We were both called up for the audience participation part of the show.

We were then called in for a buffet dinner. The Maori joined us at the table and we were able to ask questions. During dinner they also taught us some additional chants including the one used by the New Zealand rugby team. When the evening was over, they drove us back to our hotels and the Maori children joined us in the bus. They turned the tables and asked us lots of questions about the USA. They were quite knowledgeable. They asked us our ages and when we told them, they said they thought we were only about 40. We're both in our 60's Gotta love those kids. There were only ten people the night we attended so I imagine that larger groups can't get as much personal attention. (Highly Recommended)

The next day we actually made the Milford Sound trip with beautiful weather. The last 1 1/2 hours into the Sound was past the most beautiful scenery I can ever remember. This was even better than the Canadian Rockies. I didn't think that was possible. The sound was lovely but somewhat anti-climatic after the drive. Both the Bus Trip and the Boat Trip are highly recommended.

Our accommodations in Queensland were at the Blue Peaks Lodge. Once again, the accommodations were clean, safe and a generous size. As for meals, I have no recommendations. We ate at the buffet on the boat on Milford Sound. While not haute cuisine, it was tasty and filling. We found no need for dinner that night. The food at the Maori Experience was typical Maori food although perhaps "blanded down" for picky eaters.

Queenstown is definitely a tourist town but not oppresively so in June.

The next day we bused from Queenstown to Franz Josef . This is another day of scenic pleasure. There were numerous stops at scenic attractions. The food stops were adequate. Our accommodation in Franz Josef was at the Bella Vista Motel. This room was clean, safe and somewhat smaller than the others. We were met at our accommodation by Glacier Valley Eco Tours and driven as close to Franz Josef glacier as they could. We walked a distance before getting a glimpse. It was getting dark so we didn't walk all the way to the glacier. Back in town, we did some grocery shopping for breakfast and then went to Alice May's for dinner (Highly recommended by us and our bus driver). We had soup and a large platter of appetizers. Both were delicious. All the meals being delivered to tables near us were attractive and of good size.

The last day of our tour was from Franz Josef back to Christchurch. There was a lunchbreak at Hokitika so that we could buy greenstone. (Imagine that!) It was Queens Day so many of the restaurants were closed. We did find one that had a good looking ham and egg pie on display. It hit the spot.

We left the bus at Greymouth at the train station and took the TranzAlpine Express to Christchurch. The train was late leaving. While the views were nice, they weren't as spectacular as the ones into Milford Sound or from Makarora into Haast Township. I imagine that they are better, later in the winter and in the early spring when the peaks have more snow cover.

We had a final relaxing and laundry day in New Zealand. The next day we flew to Sydney but not before spending several hours at the Antarctic Center at the Christchurch Airport. (Recommended)

This trip has definitely whetted our appetite for more New Zealand.

Barbara in CT
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:30 AM
  #2  
Jed
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report which brought back good memories. Thanks
Jed is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 02:18 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Barbara,

I really enjoyed reading your report. Thank you. It was VERY interesting with some good recommendations. We are leaving for 25 days on the South Island in 9 weeks time (and counting) and can't wait.

Out trip will be in a campervan and coming from Australia, we are also keen to see the snow.

I was particularly interested in the 8 wheeled ATV tour in Dunedin. I want to see the seals and penguins. You said it was recommended, but can you enlarge upon it for me? How much did it cost? How long where you there and how many did you see?

Thank you in advance.

Jenny
Brushtail is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 05:00 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 603
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jenny, we bought two extras from Pacific Travel. I believe that the Nature's Wonders was US$63.30. They have a website: www.natureswondersnaturally.com
Dress warmly and be prepared for a wild ride. We saw about a dozen penguins and even more seals. No cormorants were to be seen. It is way out on the Otago Peninsula and the road is none too wide although obviously wide enough for a small bus.

I would recommend taking the bus to Milford Sound from Te Anau. The views are marvelous but the road will require the driver's full attention thereby missing much of the view. The buses make lots of stops at viewpoints.

Barbara

Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:02 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Barbara,
Thank you for posting a detailed trip report! We will be in NZ in January and love hearing about others' experiences.
Liz
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2005, 01:14 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dear Barbara,

Thank you very much for your swift reply. I have had a look at the website and we are quite keen to go on the Natures Tour. My husband is particularly keen on the 8 Wheeled vehicle, especially if he can drive for a bit. What is it with men???

Thank you again for your advice, we are getting very excited.

Jenny
Brushtail is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2005, 06:59 AM
  #7  
Jed
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
'What is it with men???'

TESTOSTERONE
Jed is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:17 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 14
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report, Barbara. Would you please tell me how you arranged the train through the Talieri Gorge and how to arrange the van to Queenstown? We were going to take the Intercity bus to Queenstown, but this sounds more interesting. Thank you!
badsneakers is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2005, 06:46 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 470
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Barbara, was the Dunedin Gorge train better than the Christchurch Tranzalpine train, scenerywise? I've been trying to fit in that Taieri because with the shuttle it actually gets you from a useful A to B.

Sneakers, the gorge train has a fabulous web site http://www.taieri.co.nz/ with schedules, booking, slideshows, and links that show most Dunedin attractions in intimate detail (room by room slideshows of Olveston for example). The shuttle seems always synchronized with at least the afternoon train for late arrival into queensy.

BTW the Tranzalpine web site seems much harder to get an idea about how worthwhile it is...
viking is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2005, 03:38 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 603
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We booked everything in New Zealand with

[email protected]

The Talieri Gorge and TranzAlpine are entirely different experiences. The Gorge is a 'gorge' and the engineering difficulties alone make it interesting. The TranzAlpine, in my opinion, isn't as dramatic as the road from Te Anu to Milford Sound. However, we were there in June so the previous winter's snow had pretty much melted and it got dark early. If you are going from Greymouth to Christchurch, it would allow both driver and passenger to enjoy the scenery.

Barbara
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:00 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,450
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sounds like a great trip, Barbara!

I would agree that the Taireri (sp?) Gorge is a quite different experience and would chose it over the Arthur's pass (which is similar to the other alpine scenery that you will see elsewher in NZ). Have driven through the connecting country between the end of train and Queenstown and also recommend it (very open and remote).
mlgb is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
RalphR
Australia & the Pacific
33
Nov 29th, 2013 04:42 AM
ElendilPickle
Australia & the Pacific
15
Apr 13th, 2013 11:14 AM
styrx
Australia & the Pacific
9
Mar 30th, 2013 03:56 AM
jeep61
Australia & the Pacific
7
Jun 1st, 2008 02:01 AM
Melnq8
Australia & the Pacific
6
May 15th, 2003 07:42 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information