Seeking Serenity on the South Island

Jul 31st, 2018, 05:54 AM
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No, we didn't make it to the Saturday market in Nelson, we were just passing through. We did like Nelson more this time than in past visits for whatever reason though - maybe because it was so quiet the day we were there!

We visited Rabbit Island on a previous trip, but I think we just drove around and never saw the beach, so finding it this time was a real treat - particularly as it was completely spontaneous - one of those 'let's take this road and see where it goes' kind of things.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 08:03 AM
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Where we ate, imbibed and caffeinated:

Rimu Wine Bar (Mapua) – lovely place on the Mapua wharf - it’s here we discovered our favorite Pinot Noir of the trip – Spencer Hill - The Wild One 2015 (a limited release that we later cleaned the place out of and will probably never see again). Nice pours in proper wine glasses – nice stemware always makes wine taste better! We had pre-dinner drinks one night (NZ $26) and then returned another night for an encore with live music and disappointing pizza (NZ $66, a glass of wine each and two small pizzas).

Our second visit was on a Friday night; as we drove into Mapua, we saw police setting up cones – on the only road into/out of Mapua – we knew that this meant RBT (Random Breath Testing) and that’d we’d be pulled over on the way out. Sure enough - Bill was given a passive breath test which detected mouth alcohol, he was asked how much he’d consumed (one glass of wine, which while true, I’m sure the cops hear all the time). We were then told to pull aside for a secondary test. As expected, he passed and we were on our way. It pays to know your limit.

Jellyfish (Mapua Wharf) – A Roger recommendation, and as luck would have it, in the same building as the former Flax, a favorite of ours from years ago (we knew Mapua back in the day and have watched it transform over the years. It’s become quite the little hot spot.)

We had a nice dinner here, Bill said his lamb rump was excellent, my gnocchi and veg was good, albeit not particularly memorable (NZ $88 with one glass of wine each).

Jester House Café (Tasman) - we had a nice breakfast here - Eggs Bennie for Bill (but of course), savory muffin for me, flat whites for both - good, quirky and fun, excellent service, interesting composting toilets (NZ $33)

Jester House Café and Tame Eels | Award Winning Restaurant and Café in Tasman, New Zealand.

Moutere Hills Winery (Fox n Grapes wine bar which operates out of the hops barn - only open on Friday evenings) - although we’d booked online well in advance, they had no record of us, but it was a non-issue. Dinner was pretty good – pan fried fish of the day for Bill, Parmesan coated chicken breast on risotto for me (NZ $89 with a bottle of wine, most of which went home with us). The drive back was a bit challenging – dark winding country roads, pitiful Tiida headlights.

Moutere Hills - Moutere Hills Vineyard

Kai Restaurant – (Kaiteriteri, beachside) – good flat whites, friendly service

Toad Hall (Mouteka) – cute place right on the main drag. We ate breakfast here one morning - Eggs Bennie for Bill (good, although not his favorite), grilled halloumi and the world’s biggest savory muffin for me, nice flat whites (NZ $41). We returned later the same day for fruit ice cream (NZ $5 a cup).

Mapua Village Bakery (Mapua Wharf - formerly The Naked Bun) – we called in once for flat whites and chocolate croissants - not nearly as good as when it was The Naked Bun, lackadaisical service (NZ $27 including a loaf of ciabatta bread to take away).

Little India (Nelson) – yes, more stalking of our favorite family from the Punjab region of North India! We had two excellent lunches here (Kadai chicken, Shahi Paneer, garlic naan, NZ $44 and delicious!). And I bought their cookbook – wish me luck.

Tasman Village General Store (Tasman) – I regret not coming here earlier in our stay as this place is a little gem. Excellent flat whites and ice cream blended with local blackcurrants.

The Smokehouse (Mapua) – known for having the best fish and chips in the area – we popped in twice for tubs of their smoked salmon pate which I’m told was delicious (NZ $9)

Photos here:

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 12:15 PM
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Travel Day/Tasman to Rarangi:

With only a two hour drive ahead, we had a leisurely morning; we walked to/from Tasman Village General Store for flat whites and had a nice long visit with Roger and Stephanie. We then said our goodbyes and drove to Nelson for one last meal at Little India. We had a bit of trouble locating SH 6 after our lunch diversion, but eventually found ourselves creeping up the very squiggly Rai Saddle Summit. The going was slow due to a major road realignment project – presumably designed to eliminate some of those whiplash inducing curves.

As we drove through the Rai Valley, I wondered, not for the first time, why New Zealand seems so intent on logging itself to bits. We passed Mount Richmond Estate, where we spent a lovely (albeit wet) two nights back in 2012, now for sale.

By now the beautiful weather we’d had in Tasman was a distant memory. Torrential rain and fierce squalls awaited us in Renwick, where we popped into the I-Site-cum-yarn shop for a map and directions to Rarangi.

Why Rarangi? (And where is it exactly?)

Quiet, off-the-tourist-trail. Equidistant between Blenheim (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc!) and Picton (Marlborough Sounds!).

Rarangi is a small coastal settlement at the far north east of Cloudy Bay. It has no shops or restaurants. Just peace, quiet and views.

Our Accommodation:

This was the best accommodation of our four weeks on the South Island (USD $128 per night). Sparkling clean, spacious and exceptionally well equipped with an incredibly comfortable bed. Lovingly decorated with lots of little extras and finished to a very high standard. We felt quite spoiled here. And as testament to our off-the-beaten path mindset, owner Melanie had never heard of our next destination (Coalgate). Bingo.

What we did during our stay in Rarangi:

We explored our backyard, walking from our accommodation down to Rarangi Beach, logging 2.6 miles while soaking up the views (unfortunately, we missed the pod of whales frolicking off the coast the next morning – aargh).

We sought out “the tower with views” mentioned by the woman in the Renwick I-Site-cum-yarn shop, finding ourselves at the Italian inspired Highfield TerraVin, a pretty vineyard/cellar door/restaurant situated in the southern Wither Hills. We climbed the tower, took in the beautiful views, tasted the drops, (bought a bottle of 2011 Pinot Noir – YES, in Sauvignon Blanc country!) and had a nice chat with the young Canadian woman manning the cellar door.

Restaurant » Highfield TerraVin

No self-respecting chocoholic could pass up Makana Chocolate Factory near Blenheim, which didn’t exist the last time we were in the area (or our memories are worse than we think). We watched the goings-on behind the glass and gobbled a sample…but left empty-handed. My socks weren’t knocked off and I just couldn’t justify a purchase at those prices.

We wandered, soaking up the Marlborough scenery; the ochre-yellow of endless vineyards, sheep grazing amongst the vines, the rolling Wither Hills, and distant snow-capped mountains, a reminder that winter was upon us (we later learned that Queenstown had snow and the Crown Ridge Road had been closed).

We watched the black swans, got caught in a sheep traffic jam or two, and reacquainted ourselves with the area by aimless meandering.

A gentleman overheard us as we combed the shelves at New World* looking for that fabulous Spencer Hill Pinot Noir we’d fallen in love with in Mapua – he complimented the vast selection at this particular location, asked what we were looking for, and mentioned that he knew the founder of Spencer Hill (Phil Jones, who came to NZ from California). Small world.

*It’s here that we also found a much coveted item on our NZ shopping list – Nando’s Extra Bloody Hot Peri-Peri Sauce (fire-eater Bill’s all-time favorite, and near impossible to find in Colorado).

We followed Queen Charlotte Drive between Picton and Havelock, yet another slice of the South Island I never seem to tire of (despite the nausea inducing squiggles). Native forest on one side, the sounds and various bays on the other (including the not-so-pretty Waimahara Wharf at Shakespeare Bay, a deep water port facility designed for timber export).

We walked the rocky, root riddled and steeply stepped track to Cullen Point, which leads to a lookout with spectacular views of Mahau Sound and Kaituna and Pelorus estuaries.

We considered taking a water taxi from Picton to Ship Cove and then walking the Queen Charlotte Track to Furneaux Lodge. But, having walked this section a few times on previous trips, I wasn’t sure if my knee was, 1) up for the first hour, which is steep and rocky and 2) up for the entire 14 kilometer trek.

Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge - Beachcomber Cruises

So after a bit of hemming and hawing at various I-Sites and checking the weather forecast, we scrapped the QCT entirely and opted to do something we’d never done before – The Pelorus Sound Mail Boat (NZ $115 each).

What a spectacular idea this was. The six hour trip left from Havelock, a 40 minute drive from Rarangi. The day was cold, but beautifully clear; the boat near empty (nine of us on a boat that could seat 50). We took a packed lunch (complete with bottle of Pinot Noir, having obtained permission from the captain); we were good to go.

It was a great day all around – excellent commentary (we learned that the bays within the sound get very little sunlight for six weeks over winter), beautiful scenery, a quasi-tour of a mussel farm, stops at a boat builder’s shop/residence, and at a small family run lodge/coffee shop. We saw seals and dolphins and met some hardy Pelorus Sound residents and their pets (including sheep, goats and pigs) all while delivering the mail (and groceries and…wallpaper).

Another cold sunny morning we set out to explore the winding (partly gravel) Port Underwood Road, which follows the coast between Rarangi and Picton (~50 km). We’d driven a portion of it on a previous winter trip, beginning near Waikawa, but turned around due to poor road conditions.

The road was in decent shape this time, despite several small land slips. Melanie told us later that the road had been closed the week prior due to major slip damage.

*NZine* Port Underwood Road

We stopped at Monkey Bay, walked to the overlook for views over Rarangi and Cloudy Bay, explored Whites Bay, watched the surfers at Robinhood Bay and generally admired the scenery, although many areas were logged into oblivion.

Near Picton, we walked the short track down to the beach at Karaka Point Reserve. We had a picnic at a table near the car park, basking in the glorious sunshine overlooking Queen Charlotte Sound. We then continued driving to Waikawa to poke around the jetty before heading to Victoria Domain, where we walked an hour of the Snout Track.

Picton seemed unchanged since our last visit - still sleepy. We wandered through town and walked across the Coat Hanger Bridge, just because it was there and so were we.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 02:34 PM
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:::whispering::: I fell asleep during Ata Whenua.

In my defense, it was the end of a long day, and I'd taken a Dramamine that morning before our Milford Sound cruise. Even the non-drowsy kind makes me sleepy.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 04:02 PM
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Lee Ann! It's only 32 minutes long!
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 08:17 PM
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Thank-you for taking the time to include your details and your wonderful photos. We just experienced large groups of Asian tourists in the Canadian Rockies. I heard people continually make comments wondering if they get great rates or have huge promotions.
deladeb is offline  
Jul 31st, 2018, 11:02 PM
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Great report Mel...feeling a bit nostalgic about Rabbit Island. It's a great beach and picnic area.
Agnes Seifried was the Home Economics teacher when I was at high school in Nelson. New Zealand feels like a big village sometimes!
The Nelson market is very good - high quality goods and yummy food.
tasmangirl is offline  
Aug 1st, 2018, 08:21 AM
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deladeb - Glad you're following along. The population of China is 1.37 billion. That's a scary figure. You might find this article interesting (or frightening as I did):

tasmangirl - That's a good way of putting it - a big village. The owner of a vineyard we visited in Brightwater used to be neighbors with our accommodation owners in Tasman. Almost seems like everyone knows everyone or at least knows of them.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2018, 08:26 AM
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Where we ate, imbibed and caffeinated:

Figaro’s (Blenheim) – we popped in one morning for flat whites and a pineapple muffin – good choice, despite the dismal parking situation.

Blenheim has a weird congested layout. The convoluted Main Street roundabout - a junction of five roads with a railway track running through the middle - defies logic. And while we’re on the topic, Blenheim is the largest town in NZ without a single traffic light; it currently boasts 17 roundabouts, with more on the way.

Rock Ferry Cellar Door and Café (Rapaura) – we had two of the best meals of our trip here. I’d made a lunch booking online weeks in advance. So good was the food, so tasty the wine and so relaxed the atmosphere that we booked in for the following day and did it all again. As a bonus, wine sold in the restaurant was only $5 more than at the cellar door (unlike, ahem, Amisfield).

Both times Bill opted for the “Fish of the Day (Tarakihi) with puffed quinoa parmesan and herb crust served on a creamy harissa mash topped with caper and preserved lemon salsa”. Likewise, I chose the same dish on both days, the “Herb marinated Waitoa free range chicken with leek, bacon and parmesan risotto topped with roasted red pepper almond salsa”. I’m getting hungry just typing this. (NZ $108 with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc Fume and two glasses of late harvest Riesling). The second day we opted for a bottle of their Pinot Noir and skipped the late harvest Riesling, NZ $85). Divine.

New Zealand Wine / Rock Ferry Wines

Cortado (Picton) – cozy café on the waterfront - good flat whites

The Vines Village (Rapaura) – an interesting spot with boutique shops, bike hire and a playground. For us, it was all about Sweet Treats, where we got our Kapati ice cream fix (and a generous serve at that!)

Slip Inn (Havelock) - we had good flat whites here the morning of our Pelorus Sound Mailboat cruise, and a disappointing early dinner upon our return. I convinced Bill that it would be sacrilege for a seafood eater to visit the “Green Lipped Mussel Capital of the World” without trying them, so he humored me by ordering Thai Green Chili mussels, which he proclaimed “not bad, but chewy”. My corn and leek fritters were a near disaster (NZ $45).

Seumus’ Irish Bar (Picton) – we popped in one afternoon for a pint of Guinness and cider (NZ $14). We had the place to ourselves.

Kentucky Eataway (Picton) – the name says it all. We stopped here in a moment of hunger desperation, when little else was open on a Saturday afternoon. Bill bravely tried the fish and chips, which he said weren’t that bad. I settled for fruit ice cream. Food was as expected, surly service was not (NZ $21.50).

And last but not least, a shout out to Pak’n Save, which arrived in Blenheim (Springlands) in 2013, but was new to us (the location, not the chain). Leave it to us to find the best grocery prices on the South Island during our last few days…it’s here that we loaded up on Whittakers chocolate bars and Natural Confectionary Snakes and Squirms to take home - as well as self-catering items for our Rarangi digs.

Photos here:

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2018, 10:05 AM
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Travel Day/Rarangi to Coalgate (Coal where?)

The rain was back. Knowing we had a long drive day ahead, and suspecting there would be significant road delays, we were out the door by 7:45 am. We passed through Blenheim one last time, the whole town seemingly asleep on this early Sunday morning.

We wound through the hills and expansive vineyards of Seddon, detoured to Marfells Beach near Lake Grassmere, and called in at The Store in Kekerengu for caffeine, the flat whites absolutely dire.

Continuing south on SH 1, we approached Waipapa Bay, noticing large patches of white on the hillsides - the result of massive landslides - our first glimpse of what lay ahead on the earthquake ravaged Kaikoura Coast.

And then came the shock; the enormity of the damage. We barely recognized our surroundings; the black rocks were now white (the sea bed lifted), the Okiwi Bay/Half Moon Bay area rubble, Ohau Point Seal Colony gone, the coastline changed forever.

Two hours and forty-five minutes after leaving Rarangi, we were pulling into Kaikoura, where we popped into the I-Site. I chatted up an employee; she’d just recently driven north of Kaikoura for the first time since the 2016 earthquake, and she too was shocked. She assured me that the seals were still there, they’d just moved north and south of Ohau Point (and I’ve since read that the Ohau pool and waterfall, where the seal pups gather in the winter months, was relatively undamaged, although the walkway is closed indefinitely – we couldn’t even tell where it had been).

Back on the bitumen, traffic increased as we inched our way south through the massive construction zone that is SH 1. The extent of the damage was sobering; the enormous repair effort a testament to Kiwi resilience.

The fierce wind blew our little Tiida all over the road; the Maui campervan in front of us looked precariously tippy.

Lunch was at the Nor’Wester Café in Amberley, a favorite from past visits. The car park was full, necessitating a cold, blowy walk; both happy we’d worn our fleece lined pants. Bill thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips, my bread and dips platter was bread and dips. Nice flat whites, NZ $54.

Afterwards we backtracked a few kilometers and turned onto the Inland Scenic Highway (72), the road now straight. We worked our way through Rangiora (surprised at its size), passed a Wellie fence (our first), and there it was; snow-covered Mount Hutt right in front of us. It’d taken us over eight hours, but we’d arrived.

Why Coalgate? (And where is it exactly?)

Easy access to the Christchurch Airport for departure (45 minute drive), but well away from the fray. A promising point from which to explore some green bits on our NZ atlas that we’d not seen before, and a chance to re-walk a nice track.

Coalgate is basically a wide spot in the road in the Selwyn District of Canterbury. The nearest towns of any size are Darfield (population 1,500) and Methven (population 1,870).

Our Accommodation:

River Retreat ? Welcome to Paradise

While there was nothing overtly wrong with this accommodation (other than a few cleaning issues) it was somewhat disappointing (USD $112 per night). This free-standing studio is situated behind the owner’s home; and while comfortable, warm and well equipped (Bill’s favorite shower of the trip), it overlooked a muddy work site, the only separation a privacy fence (temporary; they’re building a barn, for which the owner was apologetic, but I felt like I needed some Wellies). The advertised hot tub is on the owner’s back porch, lacking privacy. Its rural location also meant barking dogs, etc. Let’s just say it was a little too country for me.

Hang in there, I'm almost done...
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2018, 10:38 AM
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What we did during our stay in Coalgate:

We explored the remote Lake Coleridge area (35 km NE of Methven, 24 km from the turnoff on 77, 18 km unsealed, a shortage of loos, and of course I needed one). We poked around the power station near Lake Coleridge Village, drove the squiggly gravel road to the Lake Coleridge Intake, and drove many, many kilometers along a very rough gravel road in search of the Lake Ida Track, which once found, I’d completely lost interest in (too cold, too exposed, too cranky – that would be me).

Lake Coleridge has a surface area of 47 square kilometers and is the site of one of New Zealand’s earliest hydroelectric schemes.

We settled for walking the Lake Hill Track, which led across private land through a sheep paddock and down alongside the lake (overgrown with brambles, 2.64 miles, 90 minutes, nice views) and the Arboretum Tree Trail. We only saw one other person (woo-hoo!).

Lake Coleridge High Country? - Lake Coleridge High Country

On the second frosty morning we walked most of the Rakaia Gorge Walkway, which begins about a ten minute drive from Methven. We’ve walked the entire track previously, but this time the trail was a boggy mess. As we stood eyeballing the final steep mudslide (me wondering if I’d be able to get back down alive, Bill cursing the ankle deep muck he’d walked into) I stepped on an icy rock, toppled over and slid down the embankment. Ouch. That was my answer, we called it a day (entire track is 10.4 km, 3-4 hours return, took us three hours).

The day was cold, but clear, the views of the gorge beautiful. Tip: the views from the lower gorge are just as pretty as those from the higher gorge, so there’s no need to walk the entire track, unless so inclined.

We meandered, driving to the tiny country town of White Cliffs, driving up to the Mount Hutt ski area (or trying to, the road was closed) poking around sleepy Methven, etc.

We walked from our cottage to the spot-in-the-road that is Glentunnel (population 129) and then back to the spot-in-the-road that is Coalgate (population 276), just because (4.5 miles).

Where we ate, imbibed and caffeinated:

Red Chilles (Darfield) – this unassuming takeaway joint saved us from starvation and provided sufficient leftovers for a second meal. Bill rather liked his Chicken Tikka Masala, but my Kadai Paneer got drive-by spiced (i.e. he ordered very spicy, I ordered medium spicy, both were blazing NZ $29).

The Café at Terrace Downs – we stumbled upon this golf resort completely by accident on our drive to Lake Coleridge, and thank goodness! We desperately needed a flat white. It’s pretty back here, fantastic views of snow covered Mount Hutt.

Arabica Café (Methven) – I’d read that this place had good Sri Lankan food, but alas only on Friday nights. So, it was cheese toasties, shoestring fries, wine, beer and flat whites, surprisingly good (NZ $47.50)

Nandos (Christchurch, Riccarton) – we discovered Nando’s when we lived in Perth, Australia (and not just for their Extra Bloody Hot Peri Peri Sauce). We made a point of having lunch here on our day of departure – extra hot grilled chicken tenderloins for both, NZ $36, and worth the detour. Note: Their outlets sell larger bottles of sauces than can be found in NZ grocery stores and for about the same price.

Photos here:

Winding down...
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:31 AM
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Wow Mel, that is a startling article. Beautiful Moraine lake (in the Canadian Rockies) has to close the 14km road everyday at 7:30am because the parking is at capacity. It usually reopens to tourists between 6 and 7 pm at night.
My Uncle spent 6 months in New Zealand in the mid 1970's, as a blacksmith/farrier, and raved about it, so I have always known I will visit but my vacation as a teacher is mid-June to mid August,which is probably not ideal weather wise, right? So I will have to wait until retirement (which will be sooner not later)
For a first time visitor, would your recent itinerary be the one you would suggest?
deladeb is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2018, 12:15 PM
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Mel, I still am very envious of how much of the South Island you have seen compared to me who lives here. Have explored around Seddon, as I lived there for a few years as a child. Spent a few summers at Marfells beach. Also lived in Darfiled as a teenager, and used to have picnics at the river in Coalgate, but have not explored the area like you have. My mother and grandparents lived at a place called Bushside when they were young, closet village Mt Somers, and not too far from Methven.

We couldn't get over when we were in New York recently, how it cost $ 10 to park at a beach, and the car parks were huge!! Here you just rock up to the beach, here in Nelson we have two great beaches, about 10 minutes away from us, you can go for a swim, or a walk along the beach and home again in an hour or so. NZ still does have it's advantages that way.

Loved your trip report, and will be following it when we do start travelling around the South Island in our little caravan.
nelsonian is online now  
Aug 2nd, 2018, 01:44 PM
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deladeb -

We've visited the SI in the winter months many times - we like the cold, as well as the peace and quiet (outside of ski areas like Queenstown and Wanaka of course) - but we have experienced some ferocious winter weather. Short days, damaged tracks and the occasional closed road can make things a bit more challenging, but if one has reasonable expectations, a flexible schedule and a good attitude...

No, I wouldn't recommend my itinerary for a first time visitor. It's a Bill and Mel itinerary; designed for our specific interests - a first timer might be sorely disappointed following it. We've seen the major highlights of NZ numerous times and we know what we like and what we don't.

I have several trip reports posted here on Fodor's going back many years that would probably make more sense for first time visitors.

Nelsonian - I'm envious of you living in NZ - we've been very fortunate to spend so much time in your beautiful country over the years. I'm so glad we knew it back when. It's immensely gratifying that a local might glean some tips from my reports!

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 2nd, 2018 at 01:50 PM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2018, 02:23 PM
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Departure day

Although our flight from Christchurch to Auckland wasn’t until 7 pm, I was too restless to cool my heels in Coalgate until late afternoon. So, after an early morning walk and getting organized for the long journey back to the northern hemisphere, we drove to Christchurch for lunch at the aforementioned Nando’s.

Christchurch felt downright hectic, especially after being in the sticks. The city was busy and congested; the sheer volume of new construction and residential sprawl discombobulating.

We still had hours before our flight, but little interest in immersing ourselves in the traffic and parking chaos of Christchurch, so we went to the airport early. So early that the check-in agent was amused and generously offered to put us on an earlier flight, which we gladly accepted.

Note: A new fly-over (Memorial Gateway, opened November 2017) has been built near the Christchurch Airport replacing the chaotic traffic circle at Memorial Avenue and Russley Road, one of the busiest intersections in the city. We barely recognized the airport area.

Our one hour flight to Auckland was smooth and on time – upon arrival we walked from the domestic terminal to the international terminal where we spent several hours in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge. The Auckland Airport - as so many airports seem to be these days - was a construction zone - it took us 23 minutes to walk from the lounge to our gate.

Our Air New Zealand flight to LAX was on time, mercifully smooth, comfortable and well-serviced. We made it through LAX Immigration and Customs lickety-split with our Global Entry. After re-checking our bags, we located our connecting flight on the departure board; just in time to see the information column switch from ‘on time’ to ‘delayed’ (by an hour). We're baaack....United strikes again.

We walked from the Thomas Bradley International Terminal to Terminal 8 (for which there was absolutely no signage - a $573 million renovation is in progress) to await our flight to Colorado in the United Red Carpet Club – nice lounge, decent food.

Another 2.5 hour flight, another airport, an 18 hour time difference and a 45 minute drive later, we were home. All was tickety-boo (had to work that in there somewhere). Time for jet lag.

Final thoughts:

So, has “our” New Zealand, been ruined?

It’s on the cusp.

Make no mistake, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but The South Island of New Zealand is no longer the peaceful hideaway we’ve known and loved for years. It’s been discovered in a very big way. And for us, that’s not a good thing.

While it’s still possible to get away from the tourist throngs (and yes, throngs in NZ are relative), it’s not as easy as it once was. One must go further afield, look harder, dig deeper.

Will we go back? We shall see.

Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:58 PM
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Thanks Mel. I very much enjoyed following along with you. Sounds like I should get to the South Island before it's too late. Right now, it's on my agenda for late next year.

I'm curious on your impressions of Christchurch's recovery from the quakes earlier this decade. Sounds like life is coming back from your descriptions.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2018, 05:24 AM
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tripplanner - DH and I went to NZ for just over 2 weeks about 4 years ago and to judge from Mel's and other people's reports it was already changing and still is. But I'm sure that there are still quiet places to be found if you are wiling not to follow the common herd. We certainly had a wonderful time.

Of course we saw C/Church only a couple of years or so after the earthquake when it was still very much a bomb site. We were very struck by what we were told by the owner of the motel where we spent our last evening - she spoke of hundreds of after shocks every week for a year after the main shock and how she hated living there. I'm no expert but she seemed to me to be suffering from PTSD or similar, and I'd be surprised if she was the only one. I hope that she and others have now recovered as they see their city being rebuilt.
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2018, 06:01 AM
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Mel-A few years back when I called the New Zealand tourism based in the States they said their winters were like the Pacific NW, overcast and rainy. We don't mind cooler weather. I'll look at your past trip reports, thanks again.
deladeb is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2018, 07:33 AM
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tripplanner - life is definitely back, and in a big way. To give you an idea, we visited Christchurch 16 months after the February 2011 earthquake - this is what we saw:

<<We’d normally avoid accommodation on Papanui Road; it’s a noisy location, we’re light sleepers. But, I’d done my homework, discovering that the units at the back of the complex are quiet. I’d requested one of these when we booked, and we had no noise issues. The motel’s location was ideal for us as it’s only a 30 minute walk to the Red Zone (the earthquake shattered CBD), and a stone’s throw from Little India, our favorite NZ eatery.

We head out on foot to explore. Long before we reach the Red Zone, the cordon area around the crippled city center, we begin to see the damage; the sad toppled spire of a church, the empty husks of buildings, chain link fences enclosing piles of rubble, missing and broken windows, structures that lean at odd angles. The back-up alarms of heavy equipment pierce the air. We’re soon in the midst of the hollow shell of a once lively and vibrant city, instantly reminded of the 185 people who were lost, and of the lives forever fractured by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch on February 22, 2011. It’s sobering and heartbreaking.

We’d watched the catastrophe unfold from our living room, tuning in to the round-the- clock coverage from Australia, but that did little to prepare us for what we witnessed 16 months later.

We encounter an old guy who joins us on our walk and gives us an impromptu tour; he’s a resident who has been documenting the recovery through his photography. We eventually break away and wander through the Restart Cashel Mall, a busy and vibrant shopping district that has risen from the remains. The shops are housed in brightly painted shipping containers. My mood lifts immediately. The Kiwi spirit is alive and well.>>

In 2013 my brother and I toured Christchurch city via Segway - the changes the city had undergone since we'd been there the previous year were remarkable.

You might find this interesting:

Seven years on: Seven challenges for post-quake Christchurch |

deladeb - that description isn't completely accurate IME - rain yes, cold, yes, but winter in NZ can also mean frosty mornings and brilliant blue skies, very unlike what we experienced in our two weeks in OR (October) a few years back - we barely saw the sun!

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 3rd, 2018 at 07:35 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2018, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Ann, there are thousands of people in Christchurch still suffering from PTSD, the mental heath services cannot cope with the demand. A lot of them are children, who were very young when the earthquakes happened. The after-shocks went on for at least two years. When my brother came to visit us, not too long after, any large noise he heard here, he thought was going to be an aftershock. Their house was damaged, it still hadn't been repaired 5 years after the February quake, eventually they sold the house as is, they did get an insurance payout, and bought another house about 20 minutes out of Christchurch.
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