In case you are interested, here are some pictures from my recent trip to New Zealand.
I would like to recognize a few places that I would recommend to others traveling to New Zealand. These are just a few of the places we stopped and they are, in my mind, the best of the best (this does not mean fancy, by the way).
Bethell’s Beach Cottages – Near Auckland and right on the Tasman Sea. Trude and John are great. Trude’s family has been in this area for generations (she is a Bethell). Spend a bit more to get the large cottage that faces right out onto the sea – it’s amazing.
Okarito Kiwi Tours – Ian takes people out into the woods at night to search for kiwi birds in their natural habitat. Seeing a kiwi in the wild is very rare. They are endangered and the Okarito Brown Kiwi is the most endangered subspecies (only 250). But Ian knows their territory and is the only one with a concession from the government to take people into kiwi territory. It’s a great experience (nice night skies, too). We saw one male kiwi named CC – 15 years old. Did you know kiwi can live or 50 years?
Sea Kayaking Marlborough Sounds – We did a three day kayak trip that included a stay at Lochmara lodge (see below). It was a highlight of our trip and this company had real nice kayaks.
Lochmara Lodge – This place is really cool. You can only get these by boat (kayak) or by foot. We stayed there two night in conjunction with our three day kayaking. The lodge is on Queen Charlotte Sound, which is one of the Marlborough Sounds. There are several nice hikes and it’s a real nature lover’s experience (but the rooms are very nice and modern).
The Springs Bed & Breakfast – This is the place we stayed in Rotorua. The couple that own The Springs does a great job at thinking of everything. The rooms are very well equipped. The full hot breakfast is wonderful and we loved sipping sherry in the evenings in the large sitting room. Each room includes a book with restaurant and tour recommendations.
Franz Josef Helihike – We took a helicopter up to the Franz Josef Glacier then hiked around with a guide. It’s was a bit challenging, but very fun.
Holiday Inn Crown Plaza – Queenstown – I don’t generally like staying in US chain hotels when abroad, but the HICR has simply the best view and is right in the heart of Queenstown. You can walk to everything. Ask for a room overlooking the lake. While in Queenstown, we ate at the Wai, which was very good (get the spaghetti and meatballs appetizer – trust me, it is very unique and tasty, as are their oysters).
Bill enjoyed trying the Possum Pie at Pete’s. This place was very amusing. Kiwis are quick to point out that their possums are nothing like those found in the US. They are soft and furry and good eatin’.