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Trip Report New Zealand favorites--January 2011 trip report

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Just throwing out a colossal thank you to everyone who helped me here. Our trip was fabulous thanks to all you Fodorites. We were in NZ, on both NI and SI from December 31, 2010 to January 15, 2011. We rented a car and drove from Auckland to Te Anau, and back to Christchurch.

Some of our favorites:

Omori Lake House on Lake Taupo, with Raewyn's cooking and Neil going out of his way to arrange activities for us.
www.omorilakehouse.co.nz

Lake Taupo Fishing Charters, with Donald and Pamela (mmmm, fresh scones with berries and cream on board). We landed 7 trout, which Raewyn cooked us up for dinner and breakfast. http://www.taupotroutfishing.co.nz/

Tongariro Alpine Crossing (11 hours, including the kids' summiting Mt. Ngauruhoe, thanks to Neil's transport). Absolutely amazing from beginning to end. (Albeit taxing on these old legs!)

The Milestone Cottage outside of Queenstown. Beautiful gardens! Hearty, never-ending breakfasts. http://www.themilestone.co.nz/

In Arrowtown, The Stables restaurant. What a charming place! Wished we'd had more time to spend in town there.

Dart River Funyaks were excellent. (Except for the cold rain in our faces on the jet boat ride in--take a hat and sunglasses, even if they tell you not too.) And if you find my yellow "Milwaukee River Challenge" hat while you're there, send me a photo. I left it in the shop. :( Thanks to mlgb for steering us here. It was beautiful!

Blue Thistle Cottages in Te Anua. Have a drink with Peter there, he's a fountain of local information! The cottages are wonderful, and the view is serene. http://www.bluethistlecottages.com/

For day hikes, Melnq8, you were spot on recommending the Key Summit. Perfect climb to an amazing view!

Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight on the Fiordlands' Navigator
was absolutely worth every penny. We skipped the evening slide show and had the upper deck all to ourselves for a romantic hour. (My apologies to their most-knowledgeable park ranger).

Amazingly breath-taking views of Mt. Cook from Lake Pukaki. The glacial lakes and rivers are a stunning opaque brilliant turquoise.

In Christchurch, the botanical gardens were unbelievable. I wished I'd given myself more time there. We also really enjoyed our meal at Cook'n with Gas, which I will shamelessly admit I chose because of it's intriguing name (and great reviews).

I'm just throwing this in from my college-aged sons--after having a pint in every local brewhouse from north to south, they unanamously agreed they liked the Monteith's best. As for me, I enjoyed more than my share of Marlborough Sav Blancs!

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