Subject: Fw: My trip to New Zealand
Hi Elaine,

>My agent also mentioned that I should bring a raincoat, as it does
>rain a lot in New Zealand. Is that true? Yes and no. In parts of the South Island there is very heavy rainfall and in other parts there is so little that is bordering on desert conditions. For example in Fiordland they get very heavy rainfall, this accounts for the lush scenery and heavy forested areas. The West Coast also receives a great deal rain but not as much. The other extreme is Central Otago where the annual rainfall can be as low as 12inches per year. The climate in this area, as you can imagine, is very hot and dry in the summer and cold with snow and frosts in the winter. Christchurch also has a comparatively low annual rainfall figure, about 28 inches per year. So you agent is correct, you will probably need to bring a rain coat.

>You mention Doubtful Sound in your message. I believe it is on a catamaran
>cruise. Is it out of Christchurch?

No unfortunately not, you leave from either from Lake Te Anau or Lake Manapouri. You could possibly make this trip from Queenstown, I am not too sure on this. Even if you can't tour direct from Queenstown, there are plenty of buses that make the trip to the Lakes and from there you could hook with one of the organised bus tours to Doubtful Sound. Make this trip to Doubtful sound, if it as at all possible, because as you previously stated you love mountains and lush scenery, this boat trip could be possibly the highlight of your entire trip to New Zealand. Another little side trip that you can be make while staying in Queenstown would be to travel 40kms, skirting the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to arrive at the small town of Kingston. While Kingston is a nice enough little town the main attraction is a nostalgic ride on the Kingston Flyer, a fully operational steam train with all the old rolling stock. I really enjoyed doing this, but then I am a real steam buff.

Elaine if you travel the Tranzalpine train, over the Southern Alps, while you are in Christchurch, not only will you see some great mountain scenery, but when you arrive in Greymouth you could visit Shantytown. This model town was built as a replica of many gold mining towns that were typical in many areas of the South Island in the 1860's. This a real working town, with a working sawmill, steam train that does a loop of the town, working giant sluices,(one of the ways of extracting the gold from the hillside), and the locals are dressed in period costume. You can even pan for some gold yourself, and I believe that you can get a few specs. Although it was built for the tourist trade it is still well worth the effort and a lot of fun. Elaine if this interests you here is the web site

Regards, Richard Bloomfield.(New Zealand)