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ROMANTIC 25th anniversary trip to NEW ZEALAND...help me plan!

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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:22 AM
  #1
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ROMANTIC 25th anniversary trip to NEW ZEALAND...help me plan!

Waa-hooo! I get to plan our 2-week 25th anniversary trip to New Zealand for early February 2007! I am so excited...after considering many countries my husband voted for my 1st choice. ><

We will fly either Air New Zealand or Quantas, probably out of LAX. (We live in San Diego but usually have to drive up to LAX for international flights.)

We have 2 weeks including flying days...That means 12 or 13 nights in New Zealand plus flying time.

Our interests are:
Romance
Nature (native flora and fauna)
Romance
Stunning Scenery
Romance
Beautiful Walks (2-3 hours max.)
Food (Non-touristy; love seafood & spices)
Romance
Culture, history, art, poetry, dance...

Ummm...did I mention we are interested in romance?!

Our travel style is that we prefer to spend 2 or 3 nights in one great b&b/hotel and do day-trips from there...thoroughly enjoying each area. We like to see the "Must-See" sites and then get off the tourist track a bit.

I balance the budget by including some "splurge" accomodations and then choosing others which are nice but more moderately priced. Enjoy a quiet room with a view where possible. Love b&bs if they are romantic. I don't want to cook...

20 years ago we saw New Zealand for the first time when we were young and had no idea how to plan trips. We zipped all around, spending only 1 night in each place, and we had our 2-year-old with us. WOW! New Zealand was awesome!

This is all I remember:

MT. COOK:
Wow! By the time we drove up there I had a couple hours to see Mt. Cook and then it was dark...we left the next morning! I never forgot the soul-searing silence up there... Is it still silent?

MILFORD SOUND:
Astonishing! I had never seen anything like it. We took the boat ride.

GLACIER:
We walked to a glacier, I have no idea which one. We could hear it rumbling. Nature is humbling... Can you still do this?

CREAM PUFFS:
I was most impressed with the great cream puffs we had for breakfast every morning, very cheap back then (and totally nutritous!)

Okay seriously that is all I remember, except for lots of baby lambs, it was New Zealand spring!

Oh yeah and all the food came with French Fries.

Anybody have some recommendations for a TOTALLY ROMANTIC 25th anniversary trip to New Zealand?

We don't need expensive accomodations every night... But I would like a few that stand out...

I am thinking to concentrate the whole trip on the south island but I'm open to suggestions.

BEST TRAVEL BOOK?
What is the best travel guide for New Zealand? I'll be heading for the bookstore. Will probably want 2 or 3 books.

BEST TRAVEL WEBS?
Besides fodors, any recommended travel web-sites for New Zealand info?

Anybody want to share their favorite memories? Why you like a particular place in New Zealand?

My Trip-Planning Style:
I research and plan a day-by-day itinerary based on our interests and with my husband's input. I usually include 1 planned activity for each day plus lots of "free time" for spontaneous experiences. For example 1 day we might have a planned morning activity but the afternoon will be free. (This works best for us and that is how I planned Italy, Ireland, and Costa Rica.)

Thanks! I would love to hear from you.












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Aug 24th, 2006, 02:03 AM
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Well, you've made an excellent choice -you just can't go wrong with NZ. I'd suggest spending ALL that time on the South Island. Two weeks may sound like alot, but distances in NZ are deceiving. Sure, it looks small, but it takes longer to get from point A to point B than you might think.

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Aug 24th, 2006, 02:13 AM
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Melnq8, I think we probably will spend the whole 2 weeks on the south island, but at this point I am still open to suggestions.

I love this phase of planning when you feel like you can go ANYWHERE because nothing is set yet. I get to dream about all the wonderful sites in New Zealand, and then I will need to narrow it down to about 4 final destination areas. (We like 3-night stays generally.)

So what are the 4 most scenic/romantic/amazing areas of New Zealand?

Anybody want to recommend their favorite guidebooks?
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Aug 24th, 2006, 02:27 AM
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Well, you've made an excellent choice -you just can't go wrong with NZ. I'd suggest spending ALL that time on the South Island. Two weeks may sound like alot, but distances in NZ are deceiving. Sure, it looks small, but it takes longer to get from point A to point B than you might think due to the squiggly narrow roads and constant stops for photos.

To answer some of your questions:

Yes, Mt Cook is still silent - AFTER all the tour buses have left.

Yes, you can still walk to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. You can also walk on the glacier with a guide and you can take a helihike, which includes a helicopter ride to high up on the glacier, and then a hike while you're up there. I'd suggest the helihike - great fun, small groups and it gives you a view of the glacier and surrounding area that you can't get from down below.

I've visited the glaciers many times over the past 13 years - they look different to me each time, so they'll definitely look different to you after 20 years.

Milford Sound - pretty busy with all the tour buses and cruise boats. You might want to consider the overnight Doubtful Sound cruise - it gets great reviews on this board and we've vowed to take it next time we're there.

Cream puffs - I have no idea what that's about, but yep, french fries are still really popular, especially with pub meals.

Since you like spice, I'll mention my favorite NZ restaurant - Little India -with locations in Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson and Queenstown. And it's BYO - remember that? You can take your own bottle of wine into BYO restaurants in NZ (and OZ for that matter). What a concept - sure wish that would catch on in the US.

As far as travel books, my personal favorite is Lonely Planet. There's also a LP called Tramping in NZ if you're interested in walks.

Web sites:

http://www.newzealand.com/travel

http://www.purenz.co.nz/ (currently in redevelopment though, so not up and running at the moment)

The NZ Department of Conservation site is also very helpful:

www.doc.govt.nz/
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Aug 24th, 2006, 02:29 AM
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Sorry for the double post - hit the post button a bit prematurely.
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Aug 24th, 2006, 04:56 AM
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Most romantic (and best food) restaurant in NZ: C'est la Vie in Akaroa. We ate there the first night we were there and loved it so much we went back the next two nights! We shared the most delicious ice cream dessert I've ever had anywhere. If it gets crowded you might be asked to share a table, which we did with a lord and lady from England!
Akaroa was also our favorite town on the South Island, where we spent a total of 3 weeks. You can swim with dolphins, go for beautiful short hikes above the town, or just gaze at the stunning scenery.
At Kaiteritiri Beach we stayed at a lovely romantic B&B overlooking the sea and the moon, with a patio outside where they brought us our private breakfast (unfortunately I don't remember the name). The next day we swam with seals and then got dropped off for a hike on the Abel Tasman trail; our B&B lady picked us up at the end.
The Cathedral Inn in Nelson is another beautiful romantic B&B, with fabulous breakfasts and bellbirds calling in the night.
New Zealand is my favorite place in all the world, and I would love to be going back there for a romantic anniversary!
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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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Melnq8:
Thanks for the great details! MT. COOK has tourist buses?! Oh, no! I didn't see any tourist buses 20 years ago...but then, we probably arrived after they left! Do the tourist buses normally do day-trips only? Or do those tourist buses spend the night up there? It was the peaceful silence that was really amazing up at Mt. Cook...

HELIHIKE on a glacier?! Wow, my husband will be thrilled with that one. Of course I am terrified of flying. But hey I'm flying to New Zealand aren't I? Never been on a helicopter. I am seriously considering this experience as it sounds like it would be memorable. (Hey, I am afraid of heights but I went on the Tower of Terror at Disney's California adventure just to please my daughters!)

HELIHIKE question: Is there any toilet facility up on that glacier hike? I'm supposing the answer is no? I could do a 2-hour helihike...Somehow I'm not picturing a toilet would be on a gorgeous wild glacier...(You can laugh if you want but I'm 50 and although I'm still 25 in my head, some of my body parts think they are 150...)

Somebody please talk me into this Helihike on a glacier...surely a 25th anniversary experience?

That's what I love about you fodorites. I know you will talk me into great experiences.

Melnq8, I am interested in the fact that you've visited the glaciers many times over the past 13 years. What are your favorite experiences on the glacier? The helihike? Is a certain time of day better for a regular walk to the glacier? Do you have a favorite glacier? A less touristy spot on the glacier? (Yikes you wouldn't want to give away your secrets on-line maybe?!)

DOUBTFUL SOUND:
Have you done both Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound? I remember Milford Sound 20 years ago as being one of the incredible highlights of any trip ever...Does the Doubtful sound overnight trip live up to that? (We like to try to avoid being somewhere at the same time as a lotta tour buses as you can imagine...) Thanks for the suggestions!

No cream puffs?! Maybe I am not calling them by the right name. 20 years ago New Zealand had lots of bakeries and dairies. At the bakery you could get fresh home-made cream puffs full of real New Zealand cream for about 15 cents (USA dollar). Of course prices will be different now...

SPICES! Yes! I will make note of the Little India restaurants and try to find one.

I'm off to the bookstore today...I will probably make several bookstore trips. I'll check out LOnely Planet and Fodors too. You know here in San Diego I notice the bookshelves on New Zealand are fairly empty...must be a huge crowd of San Diegans planning to head for New Zealand...

Thanks for the web-sites and thanks for listening to me gab on and on, I'm so excited! I'll be back with a zillion questions hoping somebody will answer.



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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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Ahhhh, Melissa5, New Zealand for your 25th, you lucky girl! Congratulations!!

I've been enjoying your lively and fun posts since you went to Costa Rica, (we went a few months after you), then your trip to Ireland, (we were supposed to go around the same time as you, but illness forced us to postpone) and now I'll follow your NZ trip while I plan our Italy trip for June 2007!

I've only been to the Auckland airport on a stop from Australia in 2004, so can't offer suggestions, but I do remember all the airport souvenirs were "kiwis"!!! Very cute!!!!

We flew Quantas and enjoyed the ride! Flight attendants were pleasant and I remember being fascinated while watching the little screens on the back of the chairs track our flight from LAX to AU!!! The little pouches containing socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, and eyemasks were a nice touch too, but Air New Zealand probably offers those also!

Best of luck to you and your husband! Happy planning!!!!
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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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bobbieharv:
Thanks for sharing your memories. Gotta get out a restaurant file and add "C'est la Vie" in Akaroa. Was that your favorite town because it is beautiful?

You're not gonna make me post a question about..."Lovely romantic b&b at Kaiteritiri beach overlooking the sea & moon...NEED the name!" Maybe somebody will answer!

Could you sleep with bellbirds calling in the night at the Cathedral Inn in Nelson? Were they like an atmospheric lullaby? I confess I don't know what bellbirds sound like but I know the kokee frogs call sure added atmosphere in various tropical jungly places I have been...

Bobbieharv, I am thinking since New Zealand is your favorite place in the world, if you ever want to see someplace else for something different, Ireland has some similarities to New Zealand, only in the sense of having wild scenic beauty and wide-open spaces. We just enjoyed Ireland for our family trip in July. I am still feeling very Irish.

I love talking to everybody about New Zealand, thanks!
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Aug 24th, 2006, 05:58 PM
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Found bobbieharv's mention of Kaiteriteri interesting, as we found Kaiteriteri one year quite by accident and plan to stay there sometime in the future. It's a great base for Abel Tasman, yet incredibly peaceful and the beach is just gorgeous. I did some preliminary research on places to stay in Kaiteriteri some time back and came up with some unique lodging options - Melissa, I suggest you just google "B&Bs in Kaiteriteri" or "cottages in Kaiteriteri" and you'll pull up some winners.

You might also take a look at this site: www.bnb.co.nz/

NZ has some great places to stay. We've found some unique self catering cottages over the years. You might want to take a look at The Old Schoolhouse - I'd consider this place private and romantic. It overlooks a small vineyard and is located close to Motueka and Nelson. Great owners and a very nice hideaway.

http://www.cottagestays.co.nz/oldsch...se/cottage.htm

Don't forget about Bay of Many Coves in the Marlborough Sounds. Another gem. We were there in May and it was practically deserted - not sure what it would be like in February. The resort is only accessible by boat. You can catch a water taxi from the resort to different points of the Queen Charlotte Track, walk for a few hours, then catch a water taxi back. We've walked alot of tracks in NZ and Queen Charlotte is a favorite (who am I kidding, they're all good!). If you want details, feel free to write me at [email protected].

Fortunately, the tour buses to Mt. Cook operate during the day and it's still peaceful at night. It's a popular tour bus stop for lunch. Lake Tekapo is similar - buses stop there for a short time and move on, but in the evenings it's incredibly peaceful.

The helicopter ride to the glaciers is a short one. I don't care much for flying either, but I loved the entire helihike experience. No loos on the glacier, but it's a relatively short easy hike. The guide points out areas of interest, tourists take photos and poke around a bit, that's about it. I expected more of a hike, but the views and overall experience made up for the lack of exercise. It was the highlight of that particular trip for us as it was our fourth visit to the the glaciers and the first time the weather cooperated enough to take the hike.

My favorite glacier experience other than the helihike was the Chalet Lookout Walk, which turned out to be our favorite walk of our 2005 trip - this walks originates from Fox Glacier.

I agree with bobbieharv that Akaroa is a great place - we spent three nights there a few years back and loved it. We stayed in a waterfront cottage in
Duvauchelle, a short drive from Akaroa. You might consider the Pohatu Marine Reserve tour - an informative tour where you'll learn about the plight of the little blue penguins and get to see them come ashore.

Unfortunately, I have yet to take the Doubtful Sound cruise. Next time for sure.

Rest assured, NZ is still full of bakeries and dairies. We have a bad habit of stopping at milk stores at every opportunity to buy big scoops of ice cream when touring NZ. We'll have to look for those cream puffs next time.

No shortage of things to see and do in NZ. Those 12 days are going to fly by.

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Aug 25th, 2006, 01:09 AM
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Melnq8, thanks for all your advice. Wow, everyplace sounds great in New Zealand. How to choose? I just browsed in 2 bookstores today and bought Fodors New Zealand 2006. I always like Fodors format and the info is reliably accurate (has been for other trips.)

I would like 1 or 2 other guidebooks but couldn't decide which ones so I just have the one for now...

Not as much time to read as usual...I usually spend a year planning each trip but this trip is coming up in February 2007. Gotta Read fast!

So many places to love in New Zealand...

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Aug 25th, 2006, 03:13 PM
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Melissa5:

Congratulations on your choice. New Zealand is one of my very favorites. There plus the Cook islands and Argentina.

For New Zealand, I used The Lonely Planet.

When we travel, I go to the public library and take out all the travel books I can find on my chosen location. I look through them all and choose the one I like best and then go out and buy it.

With my book at home, I glue in a ribbon marker, read through finding places of interest and marking them with a yellow felt. I flag the page with a stickie.

I do not look for accommodations but rather on what to do and what to see.

On your first stop in NZ your accommodation should have a help yourself book from AA and one from Jasons that will give you current accommodation information.

Loney Planet have some very good web site notations.

With my selections, I then go to a map and lay out my desired route.

AA in NZ [like AAA in America] have a web site that will give you driving distance and time between places. I figure on about 70 km/hr. The AA web site is;

www.aatravel.co.nz/main/td-calculator.php

If you are an AAA member, AA will honour that membership. They have very good local maps and information. Also DOT or Department of Transport.

You might also want to have a look at;

www.tourtism.net.nz/

Our second daughter went a couple of years ago and found that the Top 10 were good and reasonable accommodation. We have not stopped there but might on this trip. They have a variety of accommodations and offer a small discount. See their site at;

www.top10.co.nz/

Places to visit will really depend on your personal preferences but be sure to have a look at The Catlins which is a park area on the south east coast.

www.catlins-nz.com/index.html

The Catlins are en route between Dunedin and Invercargill. There are two drives, one is a main highway and the other takes you through the park area. I believe that the drive is somewhere around 130 km but we will be taking three days and two nights to get from Dunedin to Invercargill with two nights in the centre of the Catlins. I booked some time ago so I do not know what is available now but check out the following site. It is the place that we have chosen.

http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/˜Scatlinw//home.htm

I believe that Air New Zealand also have some information on their site.

The Nelson area is very close to three national parks and should also be a good spot. We have reserved a cottage there for 5 weeks.

I would say that we enjoyed Christchurch [but were there for a very short time], Kaikoura [a bit north of Christchurch] where we saw whales. Actually we had an excellent guide on our part of the boat. Good lobster at the White Morph in Kaikoura. They were fully booked the first time we went to NZ so could not get in but their restaurant is excellent for sea food.

Dunedin was interesting, especially the Otago Peninsula. We stopped there for a few days to see the penguin and albatross.

Queenstown is pleasant but pricey. As we live about 200 miles from both Jasper and Banff, the mountains and glaciers do not attract us although we certainly enjoy our own national parks. Queenstown is much like Banff. Lots of tours out of this town. We went a bit further and stopped at Te Anau. Very enjoyable and quieter, also less costly when we went.

Haast Pass and Buller gorge are said to be very beautiful. We have not been there but will see them this time.

I have no doubt at all that where ever you go you will have fun and enjoy the visit.

Remember to take deet with you [check it's expiry date - you may have to phone for it] if you go to Milford Sound.

Good luck and enjoy,

Woodie
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Aug 25th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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Melissa5: Thank you for the feedback on my trip report and pictures. Hope you are able to glean something from my reports. I have benefited so much from these boards, it is my hope to return the favor to someone.
You must also have read the recent post from luv2globetrot. You might note that both of us rave about the overnight on Doubtful Sound. I enthusiastically recommend, no urge, you to do that. I see you are looking for a romantic 25th. Well, not much more romantic than that if you are into nature. When our boat stopped all engines for a sound of silence in the early morning, and we could hear the dolphins talking, and the waterfalls, well, one of the most memorable moments that either of us has experienced.
I see others have many other ideas for you, and it's tough to sort it all out. But for us, after 40 some years together, that was a special day.
Now, you should get right with RealJourneys, cause that trip fills up fast. It ain't cheap, as has been said, but well worth it, IMHO. Call them on the phone. They are about the most helpful tour people I have ever come across. Like luv2globetrot, we kind of juggled our schedule to get on a boat. Like the Nike ad, Just Do It!
Yes, be glad to answer any questions you may have.
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Aug 27th, 2006, 01:26 AM
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Jayneann: We love the same places...our family trip to Italy was in June 2004! Amazing country! And Costa Rican rainforests and cloud forests just leave you hungry for "green" forever (since June 2005). Are you on the Italy board planning your trip? I'll have to peak at your posts. Have a wonderful time. I am still sorting through piles of papers I don't need any more from our Ireland trip (June 2006), and now I have my new files for New Zealand that I am just starting. I seriously think my husband loves to have me planning trips because it keeps me out of trouble!

Woodie:
Thanks for so many wonderful details and web-sites to explore. You sound like me...I have a whole rainbow of highlighters now...yellow and green and orange are great colors for highlighting. I keep hearing the Lonely Planet book mentioned, I've got to take another look at that one. It's not like I have enough reading...I only gotta read the fat Fodors guide and the skinny AAA spiral guide by October so I can start booking...Wish I had a year to plan but our 25th anniversary kinda crept up on us while we weren't looking...Too busy trying to figure out how to not control 19- and 20-year old daughters now home for the summer! You are really a wealth of information and I hope you'll let me pester you with questions once I get some more reading done!
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Aug 27th, 2006, 01:33 AM
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BillJ: Being out on Doubtful Sound in the early morning with the dolphins chattering and the sound of the waterfall...What more romantic morning can I imagine than that? I need to get busy reading up on those trip reports (and my guidebooks)...my husband needs a bit of persuasion on the Doubtful Sound overnite but he'll go for it if I want to...He likes to hike so he's worried he'll feel "stuck" on a boat all night...But I think I just need to fill him in on the details of the boat trip on doubtful sound and he'll be excited too. What do you all do on an overnite boat trip? Float around and take amazing photos? (We're not boat people so I'm very interested but need some details for my husband.)

Anyway got to get back to my file of trip reports! Many thanks! I'll be back with questions and thanks so much for your help.
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Aug 27th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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I managed to find the name of the B&B in Kaiteriteri - here's the link:

http://www.kaiteriteribandb.co.nz/

Aileen was wonderfully helpful. It was an idyllic place.

My other favorite memory is kayaking up Milford Sound, then turning around and putting up sails and speeding back down in our little flotilla of six kayaks. Our guide was named Stu and was wonderfully helpful and knowledgable (based in Te Anau). We also did the Kepler Track from Te Anau which was another wonderful experience.
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Aug 27th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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Hello Melissa5:

Glad to offer any information I have.

Actually, I find this forum to be a good source for restarants and places to see, things to do for our own upcomming winter vacation.

Our style of travel [now that we are retired] is to do some touring, a day or more in various places but with longer stops along the way. For January 2007 we will spend a week in Christchurch on our arrival. We will walk for the first few days then get a vehicle and look further afield. We will make a few "day" stops on our way to the Catlins and I believe that this location deserves three days so we will make a deinite stop here. Our next schedule [and reserved] stop will be in Nelson. We will be there for 5 weeks and then on to Wellington for two nights to see the Te Papa museum. After that we will take our time getting to Auckland for about a 4 night stop then return home.

As our travel time begins at the end of their school vacation period, we do not anticipate any difficulties, now that we have reserved our defenite stops.

As you can see, any interesting items I read on this forum for locations along our route is of special interest to me.

I would love to offer anything I can to contribute to this forum.

On our previous travels, I have found the Kiwi to be mostly honest and honourable people [I never dealt with any local politicians ;-)]. The country is clean, easy going and very friendly. Combine that with south seas paradise and how can anyone go wrong?

Have fun.

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Aug 31st, 2006, 08:47 PM
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My husband and I celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary in New Zealand and have just got back this week. We did just a quick trip but flew into Christchurch and caught the Tranzalpine to Greymouth picked up a hire car and drove down to Franz Josef. We did the half day hike whilst there.

We stayed at the Punga Grove - Rainforest Studio room - and I was very impressed with the accommodation. Very romantic with a gas log fire, heated floors, beautiful rainforest off your rear deck etc.

We dined at Beeches both nights - the food is very good and the service even better.

You might want to include this neck of the woods in your trip - we were very impressed with the scenery, the train, etc really there was nothing that disappointed us.
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Sep 2nd, 2006, 03:19 AM
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Thank you! I enjoyed excellent trip reports by BillJ and luv2globetrot. I appreciate great advice from Woodie and others. Have also been reading guidebooks.

I tried putting together a 1st draft itinerary...doesn't fit at all! Gotta take out something.

I need to turn this MAD DASH list into a nicely paced romantic anniversary trip:

Fly into Christchurch.
Wish list for 14 nights on south island:

Christchurch (to get over jet-lag)

Kaikoura & Whale-watching cruise.

Fijordland w/ Doubtful Sound overnite cruise & walks on Milford Road. (my choice)><

Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier with Helihike (husband's choice)

Mt. Cook (my choice)

Dunedin

Invercargill (husband's choice)

Queenstown (a necessary evil as a stopover, it seems)

Marlborough Sounds

AND in another lifetime, with a new, younger body, I would add: 4 nights on the Milford track...WOW!


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Sep 2nd, 2006, 03:40 AM
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Oh, forgot to explain...I included Dunedin and Invercargill in the list above as bases for interesting areas nearby...

We usually prefer to spend 3 nights at each b&b or hotel and take day-trips in our car from there. This is proving to be a difficult trip to plan in New Zealand, where all the terrific places seem to be about 7 hours apart!

Woodie, BillJ, and luv2globetrot and Melnq8, I have more questions for you all, if you don't mind. You have all been so great...I am so tired right now, a late-night on the computer...talk to you later I hope... I enjoy talking to everyone.
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