|Subject: Re: New Zealand South Island Suggestions|
Dear Greg, We've been lucky - very lucky - and have visited
the South Island of New Zealand twice! - Both times we spend
the bulk of our time hiking. You didn't mention whether you
plan to hike, just sight see for go in for the adventure
...just a few suggestions - highlights - and please let me know if you want more specific information.
The museum in the Christchurch Airport on the Antarctic is 1st class and shouldn't be missed. It's a hands-on museum and, in my opinion, is a must.
If you like flowers, the gardens in Christchurch are magnificent!
When in Dunedin, do get tickets (and you will need these ahead of time) to view both the yellow-eyed penguins and the albatross. Both attractions are fabulous and the spokespeople will be able to brief you on everything! - Also, driving south you will find elephant seal and many, many sea lions for viewing.
We loved the northwest and Abel Tasman Park and the hiking along the dunes and beaches is wonderful, but if you've been to Pt Reyes in California and you don't have the time, there are other parks that are not to be missed.
Driving south along the west coast, you can see the water spouts from the Punakaiki (sp... sorry) rocks. Be sure to check with the information people as they only spout water when the tide is in and "rough." Otherwise, it's pretty and the rocks are neat, but it's more fun when they are "blowing."
Don't forget to go visit the Franz Joseph or the Fox glacier. They both have tours and you can "walk" on the glaciers if you would like.
There are helicopter rides onto the glaciers if you'd like.
We went into Arthur's Pass -- and up to Nelson Lakes. Both of these areas are wonderfully beautiful with lots of hiking, etc, but I don't have any idea what it is you like to do. Nelson Lakes has hot springs.
We loved TeAnu -- It's the starting point for the famous Milford Sound hike. We bought a ticket that took in 3 things: 2 boat trips - one to Doubtful Sound (really just the most fabulous, spiritual boat ride I've ever taken - and I am not a religious person in any way.), Milford Sound (this is on a big schooner where the masts are set in full sail when they reach the Tasman Sea) and a tour of the Glow Worm caves - interesting but a one-time thing - if you've ever seen fireflies. The second year, we chose to ride a small boat at dusk out to the Tasman Sea from Milford Sound and got a totally different feeling. Both were exceptional and do try to see at least one of these Sounds!!!
Queenstown is very built up and it is the place where the Shotover river rides start and the bungee jumps take place. We found it too touristy and built up but wonderful out-of- the way restaurants abound.
Our favorite "town" is Wanaka. It's very beautiful - on a lake and very near Mt Aspiring Park. It also has fabulous "eats!"
I have quite a few restaurants and hotel info, but it's from a few years ago.
One important thing: There are very few hotels and fewer gas stations (if you're renting a car) Please fill up at all times when you pass a gas station. You won't be disappointed. We once drove from Tetanus on our way to Christchurch and had to stop 8 hrs later to go to sleep and we didn't pass a gas station once!!!)
Also, the government puts out a B&B book every year as there is limited accommodation. You can purchase this along with a phone card (another MUST) at the airport information booth before you start your trip.
Good luck, have fun and let me know if you want more info. Regards, Susie in Newton, MA