Friday, January 23, 2009

THOUGHTS ON NEW ZEALAND

THOUGHTS ON NEW ZEALAND



Our visit was 10 nights and 10 ½ days. we spent two nights in Wellington, two nights in Nelson, one at Fox Glacier, one in Dunedin, and two in Christchurch. We drove 3,300Km or 2,115 miles in a Ford Focus stopping for gas twice in Nelson, once on the West Coast, Te Anau, Queenstown, Gore, Dunedin and finally in Christchurch. We were getting about 30 miles to the gallon.



Our accommodations ranged from a nice hotel - Wellington, Holiday Inn; upscale B&B - Fox Glacier, Misty Peaks; and Budget New Zealand chain, Bella Vista Motel - Nelson and Dunedin in king studio and Christchurch in a two bedroom apt. All the places were nice and we would stay there again.



We had breakfast at the accommodations every day. We ate our main meal either at lunch or dinner depending on what was happening, trying various venues: winery restaurant, alehouse, seafood and steak house, Italian Restaurant, local cafes and take out sandwiches, pizza and KFC for picnics! The food was good to very good. We also really enjoyed the local produce and cheeses.



I read lots of things about not trying to cover too much in one day, but we really wanted to do a sampling. We are in our sixties with bad knees that keep us from doing long walks on uneven ground, plus we enjoy driving and site seeing from the car. So with that in mind, we took the ferry from the North Island to the South Island; beautiful trip. On three days we drove between 500 and 600Km each day. It was doable with stops for the over looks and the shorter walks of 30mins, or less, round trip, gas and food. These days started around 9 and ended around 6. We would also do this again if it meant getting from one great area to the next and saving a one night stand somewhere of lesser interest. However if long walks are your thing, you will need to slow down...there are many longer walks that looked like they would be really nice.



What can I say, we loved New Zealand! The Wellington area and the South Island scenery and wines are world class! If I were planning this trip again, we would spend our time in three areas, staying in a cottage or nice B&B centrally located in each area: the greater Nelson/Picton area for the wines, crafts and scenery, greater Queenstown area for the wines, food and scenery and the Catlins (Dunedin area) for the scenery. We would stay at least three days or maybe longer in each area and do the long one day drives to get from place to place.



I must say though, that there were several places that we would not make the effort to go back too. First the West Coast, the sand flies are awful and we found the Southern Scenic Route much more interesting with the plus of not being bitten to death when we got out to see something. More importantly none of the cafes and places to stay seem to have A/C and they don’t have screens on the windows either! In fact we slept under a net our night there in Fox Glacier. The second place is Milford Sound. I know most everyone thinks this is a wonderful place. It is very pretty and worth protecting, but just not worth the effort, time and fighting with the sand flies to get there... IF... you have seen the Norway fjords or have been to Alaska or if you are planning to go to either place. Now if you are into trekking and camping that is a different deal and you are looking for a different type of experience then we are. But if you are like us, there are so many other great places on the South Island to visit.



Finally:

The Spectacular!

Ocean views along the south coast of the North Island and the north and south coast of the South Island, the lakes, rivers and mountain passes.



The Interesting.

One lane, two way traffic on bridges and some roads with or without a train track down the middle! Poo Wars; farmers underselling each other’s bags of cow or horse sh...!



The Good.

Good well maintained two lane roads with well placed passing lanes. Very well maintained gravel roads. Speed limits set at least as high if not higher than we could comfortably drive. Well equipped kitchens in the studios/apartments.



The Complaints!

Very early check-outs...10am. Poorly marked/located directional signs on roads. Need more overlooks along the spectacular rivers, lakes, gorges and mountain passes. I took many, many pictures out the front window!

1 comment:

thursdaysd aka Kathy said...

Really enjoying your blog - I think I got the link from fodors. Sorry you didn't enjoy the west coast. I spent two nights at Franz Joseph, and the small plane flight over the glaciers was arguably the high point of my round the world trip. No sand flies either - I was there mid Feb of '05. Looking forward to reading more.