Touring New Zealand

Date of Journey November 2015
Ray & Barbara Cavill Exmouth

At the end of last year we took a two week trip to New Zealand to celebrate our ruby wedding anniversary. We saw a contrast not only between the two islands, but also the two coasts of South Island. What an amazing diverse country! Such stunning scenery!

North Island

The highlight of Auckland was the 'Hop on Hop off' bus, with a guided tour of the cathedral, as well as a chaperoned visit around the Museum.The delights even extended to a blackberry and cream cheese muffin!

On to Paihia and a cruise of the Bay of Islands; playful dolphins aplenty. Returned for an overnight stop back in Auckland after seeing giant Kauri trees in the Waipoua forest. We now started our journey south with the next stop at Whittianga, via the wonderfully individual Driving Creek Railway at Coromandel.

Our next target was the Lord of the Rings site of Hobbiton. Even if you are not a fan, you would enjoy it, especially a deserved pint at the end of the tour in the Green Dragon. The lakes of Rotorua, and Taupo (and boat trip) awaited, with visits to a (volcanic) buried village, and the Wai O Tapu thermal area; complete with the Lady Knox Geyser.

Wellington proved to be a markedly different city to Auckland, with a ride on the cable car, and a walk through the Botanical Gardens being the standout experiences.

South Island

The Inter Island ferry saw us collect our next car and head to Kaikoura in search of whales. Our cruise soon allowed us site of countless dolphins and seals, and then an appearance of a sperm whale; a truly magnificent site when they dive back down. This part of New Zealand was particularly dry, brought home when we began the final part of our journey.

An overnight stay in Christchurch saw us rise early for the Trans Alpine Express across the mountains to collect our next car in Greymouth to start our tour down the west coast. We were about to see the amazing sites of the glacial areas.

The overriding memory of the whole trip was the 'Grand Traverse' scenic flight over Mount Cook, and the glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox.

Awesome, jaw dropping, amazing - words cannot do it justice.

Many and varied walks around lakes at Wanaka, Queenstown and Tekapo followed, as well as trips to Milford Sound, and a visit to the old Chinese gold mining town of Arrowtown. The heritage site at Cromwell was well worth a small diversion.

A tram tour and gondola trip awaited back in a still earthquake affected Christchurch, before flying out for Christmas with the grandchildren in Melbourne.

Literally a trip of a lifetime, which we undertook to celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary. We should have remembered our binoculars, which remained in the car at home, but could not have done without our rain and wind proof jackets - invaluable in the very windy lake and glacial areas. Franz Josef has over 5 metres of rain a year!

No real downside to report, apart from living out of a suitcase for 4 weeks, but a small price to pay for such memories!