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mistybleu Queenstown - A travel report by Amanda
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Queenstown,  New Zealand - flag New Zealand
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mistybleu's travel reports

Around New Zealand

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Queenstown has reinvented itself as the adventure capital of New Zealand; situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the ‘Remarkables’ mountain ranges as its backdrop, it was the most picturesque place I had ever visited.


Milford Sound
Milford Sound
I read there are 10 things that I should do on my trip to New Zealand:

1. complete a bush (forest) walk,
2. visit a museum,
3. stroll along a beach,
4. climb a mountain,
5. explore thermal area,
6. watch a Maori concert,
7. ride a jet-boat,
8. watch a rugby or cricket match,
9. go horse riding and finally
10. eat and drink New Zealand’s delicacies.

A lot of these things weren’t on my personal list; but it was a good starting point.

Although the South Island is larger than the North Island, the North Island has ¾ the population and boasts of having the capital – Wellington and the largest city Auckland. Christchurch is the largest town in the South Island followed by Queenstown and it is often said that there are more sheep than people on the Islands.

The scenic beauty of NZ is well documented and in many places the landscape is very dramatic, isolated and a true wonder of nature. There is a lovely mixture of mountains, glaciers, fiords and saffire coloured rivers, and also green plains, evergreen forest and quiet lakes.

The seasonal weather changes in New Zealand are opposite to Europe and American, whereby summer is winter and spring is autumn; and has a 12-hour time difference from GMT.

Personally, I think the best way to see NZ is to hire a camper van, so that you can control your own destiny. I remember travailing through the South Island and found people sitting roadside gazing at the mountains, lakes or rivers just drinking coffee. I wished I could have been them, because life couldn’t be any better than that moment in time.

Tip: For great sights and sounds try renting the DVD of ‘Whale Rider’, this is a lovely story about the Maori people set in NZ.

Favourite spots:
Mitre Peak, Milford Sound
Mitre Peak, Milford Sound
The day started before dawn, as I left the warmth of my bed, to board a bus for Milford Sound. The drive was incredibly long, (6 hours drive each way), but the scenery made up for it.

Once emerging from the Homer Tunnel, the sights before me were wonderful. I stood and watched the road zigzag below towards Milford Sound. (My advice would be to take a small tour company, because there is much less awaiting time on the return journey.)

Arriving in Fiordland National Park was very impress; I was told that it should be called Milford Fiord, (because the valley was excavated by an ice sheet), whilst a sound is a river valley flooded by the sea after the glacier had melted. The sound is not very deep, it appears that way as the salt water from the sea is dense allows the fresh water from the glaciers to lie on top.

I took a boat ride out to the Tasman Sea, I saw seals along the way, just basking in the sun; with perfect sunny weather, the day was great.

What's really great:
Lady Knoxx Geyser
Lady Knoxx Geyser
Entering the town of Rotorua (North Island), the smell of sulphur lingers, as the area is completely volcanic. In most back gardens they have bubbling mud pools or blow holes where the steam is released.

I went to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve; this was a wonderful experience. I saw the Primrose Terraces, which was destroyed in 1913 by a major earthquake and the volcanic pools with different mineral deposits create a myriad colour. I also visited Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland where I saw Lady Knox Geyser where at 10.15 everyday it explodes sending water 20ft up into the air.

The Maoris only make up 15% of the population but the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute was established in the 60s celebrating Maori cultural. But the best thing to see is the Maori concert either for dinner, or within the complex.

Finally a Polynesian spa treatment is a nice way to end the day, just relaxing in the hot pools, or maybe a massage.

Sights:
Franz Josef
Franz Josef
A gondola ride above QUEENSTOWN, it takes 4 minutes and provides great views of Lake Wakatipu and the 'Remarkables' snow-capped range.

The Tranz Alpine Express runs on a single track and crosses from Greymouth to Christchurch through the SOUTHERN ALPS and across the CANTERBURY PLAINS.

MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK – to see the highest peak in New Zealand.

The WAITOMO CAVES contains glow-worms which twinkle like stars on the roof of the caves.

LAKE TEKAPO is a midway stop between Christchurch and Wellington; and has a lovely stone church on its banks.

Leaving Picton on the public ferries you exit through the Cook Straits of Marlborough Sound.

Te Papa Tongarewa is a bicultural museum that has a variety of exhibitions including the 'Lord of the Rings', which was filmed around Queenstown.

Pancake Rocks outside Greymouth to see the layered rock face and blow holes.

Accommodations:
Maori Food House
Maori Food House
I stayed in various types of accommodation, from hotels, to apartments, Bed & Breakfast, hostels, to hotels again; and found them to be quite good. Even the hostels have to pass minimum standards to be certified with the tourist board and they were usually fine, with a great atmosphere.

Most of my travel was arranged by the Christchurch tourist office, (it’s opposite the cathedral), even calling ahead and telling the youth hostel what time I was arriving. The offices are a little busy, but its worth the wait.

Christchurch and Canterbury Marketing
Old Chief Post Office, Cathedral Square, PO Box 2600
Phone: +64 3 379 9629
Fax: +64 3 365 0787
www.christchurchnz.net

Another interesting site was: www.christchurch.org.nz.

Nightlife:
White water rafting
White water rafting
There are lots of pubs and bars around Queenstown. But they are quite strict about drinking in New Zealand. My friend was there over New Years’ and they weren’t allow to take any alcohol with them to a party, its fine to drink at home, they are not allow to have any alcohol on the streets. This is because they have a problem with teenage drinking especially in Queenstown.

Restaurants:
Views from the Skyline Restaurant
Views from the Skyline Restaurant
Part of being in NZ was to try some of the local foods/delicacies, so I bought some kiwifruit; to my surprise I was told kiwis (aka Chinese gooseberry) originally came from China, oh well.

I remember trying three restaurants; firstly the Skyline Restaurant. This restaurant is situated on top a mountain and provides great views of the Queenstown. It was a little formal but had a good atmosphere. They also had a bar where you can sit and just gaze out or watch as the gondola ascends to the top. I also tried the Eichardts Tavern downtown; it was cool and very busy, I had a seafood dish with scallops and mussels, with chips but really nice.

Finally, for a light lunch or snack while on top of Mount Nogongotaha which rises from the shores of Lake Rotorua. This place was also quite busy, as coach loads of people end up here to enjoy views of the surrounding areas. Maybe it is great to grab an ice cream, just before taking the Luge down!

Other recommendations:
Walewatching in Kauikoura
Walewatching in Kauikoura
1. WHALEWATCHING in Kauikoura – this small village was a whaling station, but now be a part a fantastic tours.

2. BUNGY JUMP from either the Ledge or the Bridge, is an exhilarating experience, but scary.

3. SHOT-OVER, jet down a river with your life in your hands; twisting and turning at full speed is awesome.

4. WHITEWATER RAFTING is an experience which worth its weight in gold, the trick is to stay inside the boat.

5. Try HAND GLIDING or ABSEILING, both quite fun.

6. LUGE, great for children and the young at heart.

7. SKIING, a major resort of Coronet Peak, which is just outside Queenstown.

8. Caving, navigate through caves in total darkness into plunge pools, and seeing glow-worms illuminate the caves.

9. Climbing FRANZ JOSEF or FOX GLACIER - located in the Westland National Park. Even better take a helicopter to the top.

10. Parachute jump - usually a tandem jump but its perfect.

Published on Wednesday April 27th, 2005


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Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 09:17 AM rating by krisek

Yey! Another great report on a destination that remains still on my list. I will make sure I will take your writing with me, when I go to NZ!

Sat, Sep 02 2006 - 06:00 AM rating by dorischua

Hi Amanda, Your NZ report is great! I can recall many wonderful memories as I read yours... great pictures too! I love the Milford Sound one... awesome!

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 10:59 AM rating by sajjanka

nice report

Thu, Oct 27 2005 - 01:15 PM rating by isaacmolina

all your reports deserve 5 points

Wed, May 04 2005 - 03:22 PM rating by carolr

Hello Amanda,
What a super report. I loved the commentary - sort of professional touristy guide with personal bits mixed in. The photos brought it ot lofe.
Thank you!
Carolr

Sat, Apr 30 2005 - 06:09 AM rating by polytrad

I loved reading your comments as I have already spent a total of 22 weeks in this fantastic South Hemisphere country with so many primaeval forests and other beauties. I guess that you are well aware that if hot sulphur water gushes out of Lady Knox geyser everyday at a set time, it is because the phenomenon is boosted up by pouring liquid soap inside it.

Fri, Apr 29 2005 - 04:22 PM rating by magsalex

Great report - one of the most beautiful places i have visited!

Fri, Apr 29 2005 - 09:41 AM rating by gloriajames

well written, brings back good memories for me!

Thu, Apr 28 2005 - 12:08 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent written report

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 03:46 PM rating by rangutan

Members, where ever Amanda goes there is so much to do and see :-) another first class report.

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 10:13 AM rating by britman

Lovely report - well written and illustrated.

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 10:06 AM rating by davidx

Terrific trip, terrific report, terrific photos. You make me long to go.

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 09:41 AM rating by bear495

Amanda,

This is a wonderful report. Also, there are some beautiful photos attached. Nice job.

Russ

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