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New Zealand

Blog of trip below
Pictures are done and in the albums

Our New Zealand Trip

Part 1

 We have wanted to go to Austrailia for a long time, so we finally decided to just do it and included New Zealand in our plans.  we went through AAA to make all the arrangements as we have done before.
 The day to leave finally arrived and as with before we had a later flight.  We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, got our luggage checked in and made it through security, it only took me three times to make it through.  We then wandered around the airport a bit, then found our gate and sat down and people watched.  It was a fairly short flight to Vancouver B.C., only about an hour.  As we followed everyone out we came to a junction and the girl there said we had to go downstairs.  If we had taken the other route we could have gone straight to the gate, as it was we had to go through immigration.  We were then told we had better check and make sure we didn't have to get our luggage and check it again.  The guy at the counter said that no, it was checked all the way through and that we shouldn't listen to the janitor.  We then had to go through security again.  Find the gate and then went and got something to eat.  Waited at the gate and then boarded for the long flight .  Took off, had something to eat, watched a movie, slept, had something to eat and then it was time to land. 
We Didn't have a Thursday.
    After landing it was through immigration.  An automated process where you stick your passport in a machine and then step forward and have your picture taken.  Guess who's photo wouldn't match his passport and got sent to another line where I had to talk to a regular officer.  The only upside to it was that my passport got stamped for New Zealand and Kathy's didn't.  Collect our luggage, talk to another officer and then another luggage scan and out the door, find our driver and on to the hotel.
         It is 0615 and the hotel was full and too early to check in, but they said they would hold our luggage for us.  While we talking they found they had a cancelation the day before and there was a room open so they gave it to us and let us up.  That was nice.  We were able to rest a bit and figure out what we were going to do.  
            It was too early for anything to be open so we just walked around the harbor looking at the boats and the sailing vessels involved in the America's Cup.  Everyone around us was rushing to get to work as we strolled along.  We made it back to the hotel and rested a little bit then headed up the hill to the Sky Tower.  Up to the 52nd floor and looked around, stood on the glass floor and saw the sights.  Then it was up to the 60th floor to see some more.  Back down to the 52nd and then switch elevators and go down 50th floor for a snack.  We then head back down and walk back down the hill to the hotel.  After a little longer rest we head out again and walk the other way along the waterfront.  Pass the ferry building, and on the the grocery store to get something for breakfast.  Wander back to the hotel and have dinner in the restaurant by the lobby, then it was up to the room and relax. It wasn't long before we were both ready for bed.
        Since we were in bed early, we woke up early.  It was about the same time we usually do, but being in a different time zone it was early.  Got up and got things together and it was time to head down and meet our ride to the bus station.  A big bus to pick up us and 6 others at another hotel and drop us at the station to catch the bus we will be taking to Hobbiton.
        We get checked in and board our bus, then it's a 2 hour ride through the countryside to Hobbiton. This is the movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.  After a great tour we stopped at the Green Dragon tavern for a ale and a cider then hit the buffet for lunch.  Back on the bus and on to the next stop.
        We rode another hour or so and made it Waitomo for the gloworm caves.  There we took a walk through tht caves while a tour guide told us about the caves and the glowworms.  We then boarded a boat and floated through the cave while the boatperson guided us by pulling on ropes overhead.  Then it was a long stair climb back out. 
        From there we transfered to another bus that was taking us to Rotorua.  Again we had a full size bus for just 6 people.  Another 2 hour ride and we make it to Rotorua, get dropped at our hotel and checked in.  We walk along the shore of the lake which is geo-thermal and has several spots that are steaming.  We visit the Government Gardens and walk past the lawn bowling greens.  At the hotel we stop in the lobby and get something to drink..  Now it's back to the room and while we are getting things in and out of the suitcases the fire alarm goes off.  We head out to the staing area to wait with everyone else in our building.  There are three buildings but only ours had the fire alarm go off.  A couple of fire engines came and the firemen went inside.  A few minutes later they came out and said it was safe to go back inside.  Head in and finish up and get ready for bed.
Wake up early again, but not as early.  Make some coffee and watch the other tourists load their buses outside our room.  Comes time and we head down and check out and wait out front for our ride to the airport.  Within a few minutes he shows up and off we go for the long ride to the airport.  A grueling 12 minutes later we arrive.  As we enter we see that the only other people there is the lady vacuuming the rug and one scrubbing the tile floor in the restaurant.  We go to a kiosk and get checked in and the tags for our luggage.  We go up to the counter, which has a sign that says to ring the bell for service.  We did but no one showed up.  We settled in to a couple of seats and wait.  After just a little bit a bus drops off a whole mess of people who storm the place.  All the seats in the airport are empty and where do they sit first?  Yep, right next to us.  I saw a couple of passports that said Brasil on them and believe they were all together.  Then a bunch of guys in black tops and shorts showed up and were checking in.  Somebody finally showed up to start taking bags and all those people jumped into line.  They opened a second line just for the sports team and got them taken care of and they all left.We just waited and after the main rush was over we strolled up to the counter and got our bags checked in.  Wandered over to the restaurant and got something to eat, again after the main rush of the other group.  At that time another bus came and dropped off another bunch of people.  Just as we are finishing up eating we hear an announcment that our plane is delayed coming in from Christchurch.  So we, of course, are delayed in leaving.  Over an hour late!
        We finally board our plane to leave Rotorua.  Just flash your boarding pass.  No Security.  Then we walked to the plane and got on.  It was a 2 hour flight to Christchurch.  When we got off the plane a lady was there to meet us.  She said that everybody that had come in today was late and they were still getting them all.  We loaded up her van and she took us to our hotel and told us when to meet our tour guide.  We walked around a little then went back for the meeting.  Met the tour guide and driver and they filled us in on the next few days.  Told us when to have our luggage ready and when to board the bus.  After the meeting we head across the street to Wendy's for dinner, stop for a drink then head to our room to settle in for the night.


Our New Zealand Trip

Part 2

Got up, packed and got the bags ready then went for a walk around the area. Saw some of the damage from the earthquakes and the rebuilding. Back at the hotel we put our bags out to be collected and then went to breakfast. At breakfast we talked to a couple from New Hampshire. They weren't on our tour, but leaving on one the next day. They were taking the tour the other way around. They had already been to Austrailia, and were heading to Hawaii next. It would be a three month trip for them.
  After finishing breakfast and checking out we got on our bus. We knew there would be plenty of room because there was only 20 of us on this tour and it's a 49 person bus, but for some reason they gave us the deluxe bus with the cushy seats. No body seemed to complain about it. So off we go for a short tour of the city and some of the damage and rebuilding after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Heading south on hwy 1, we stop at Gertrude for lunch, and then stop at a couple of lakes for pictures. then it's to Omarama and our hotel. Get checked in and a walk around town, a very short walk. Come back to the room and work on the blog, then it's time for dinner. We go over to the restaurant and sit with a couple from Langshire, England. They used to live up by Royston and knew of Steeple Morton. Back at the room and more work on the blog and off to bed.
After a good nights sleep, we wake up and get ready to go.  Pack everything up and set the suitcases outside to be picked up, then head to breakfast.  At breakfast we sit at a table that has a guy from Ireland sitting at it.  He keeps talking to us but we have a very hard time understanding everything he says, but we muddle along.  We gather our things and board the bus.  
        We go a ways south and stop at the Benmore Dam.  some pictures and off again to Oamaru (Oh-Ah-Ma-Ru) where we were able to walk around and get something to eat if we wanted.  Back on the bus and southbound again to a little place south of Hampden on the east coast of New Zealand where we saw the Moeraki Boulders.  Strange round rocks on the beach.  If it hadn't had been for the rocks, we could have been on the Oregon Coast.  Board the bus again and head further south to Dunedin (Du-Need-In) which was supposed to be new Edinburgh, but long story short, is now Dunedin.
        We take a small tour of the town and then drop some people off for separate tours, and then make our way to our hotel.  Get our room and relax for a minute, then take off and walk around to take pictures.  Came back and worked on pictures, then off to dinner.  After dinner I worked on this and went to bed.
It's a late start this morning so we go out walking around after breakfast.  Head back to the hotel and get our luggage ready to go and sit in the lobby and wait for the bus.  Board the bus and head south to Balclutha.  This is as far south as we go.  We are 46 degrees south latitude.  About the same as Castle Rock is in north latitude.  We then head inland.  We go through a little town called Clinton, where we catch the Presidental Hiway to Gore.  At Gore we stopped for lunch and walked around a bit. Then it's on to Te Anau.  We get there in time to throw our bags in the room, walk past the bakery and order sandwichs for the next day and over to the place where we board the van that takes down to the Lake for the jet boat ride.  Had a great ride past some the places they filmed LOTR and walked along a beach that is part of the trail through the park.  Back on the boat and more thrills as we ride back to the ramp, board the van and back to town.  Another buffet dinner and back to the room.
Early breakfast and bus time so we can get going and make some stops along the way for pictures.  Stopped at Mirror Lakes and got a couple of shots even with the pesky ducks.  Stopped at Knobs Flat for a quick bathroom break (a wee and flee).  Then we went up and through the Horner tunnel, that is 3/4 of a mile long with one way traffic.  You may have to wait a bit to get the green light to go through.  We sailed right through on the way up.  Make it to Milford Sound (which is really a fjord) and boarded our boat.  The boat wasn't completly full so we had plenty of room to move around and take pictures.  It was a real nice boat ride out the sound and into the Tasman Sea.  We only went out and turned around and went back in, just a couple of swells and it was flat again.  Went back in to a waterfall and stuck our bow in.  The spray from the waterfall is supposed to make you look 10 years younger, so don't be surprised if you don't recognize me the next time you see me, because I took in a lot of spray.  There is only one road in and out of Milford Sound, so we go back the way we came through the tunnel again.  This time we had to wait 3.5 minutes before going through.  Then back down to Te Anau where we stopped for lunch.  We just had ice cream and stretched our legs a bit.  Now comes the long trip to Queenstown, but the guide was tricky and put a movie in the system to keep us busy for a couple of hours.  By the time it was over (by the way it was "Hunt for the Wilder People") we were close enough to Queenstown that she could talk us the rest of the way in.  A quick tour of town to show us the hot spots and to our hotel.  It was all down hill to town, which means it was back up hill home.  We decided we would just eat here at the hotel and found a couple of comfy chairs in the bar that overlooked Lake Wakatipu, and shared an order of fish and chips.  Enjoyed the view awhile then back to our room.
It's a free day, so we try to sleep in (yeah, right).  Wander up to breakfast a little later, but surprise, we aren't the only ones from our group that decided on a later breakfast.  Since this town is built on a several hills we decide to take a taxi over to the Kiwi enclosure.  We spend a couple of hours walking around and looking at the different species of birds and animals and get to see some kiwis in their natural habitat.  When we left there the Gondola ride was right next door.  We weren't going to go but looked at it and said what the heck.  Rode the car up and it was a beautiful day on top.  We watched the luges come down, saw the sights and had something to eat.  As we got in a car to head down, we were just going by the bungee jump platform when someone jumped.  Those people are crazy.  Made it to the bittom and then we walked down into town.  Walked around and then back up to the hotel.  When it was time we met up with the others from the tour in the lobby and had our picture taken.  Then we boarded our bus and headed down to the waterfront and got on a boat that took us across the lake toWalter's Peak Colonial Homestead.  There we had a really good buffet dinner  and a sheep shearing show.  Then it's back on the boat and across the lake to our hotel.
Back to routine.  Get up, get ready, put your bags out, go to breakfast.  We gather in the lobby and board the bus and start our experience today.  Our first stop is Arrowtown.  A quaint little town with shops along main street.  After that we head for Cromwell where the orchards are and stop at a fruit stand.  Then it's lunch in Makarora, through the mountains and the across the Gates of Haast bridge and through the Haast tunnel, down to the west coast on the Tasman Sea.  We made a stop to look at the ocean and then it was north to the town of Fraz Joseph.  We were supposed to take a helicopter ride but it was canceled due to weather.  We went to the helicopter place and checked in for a possible flight in the morning, then wandered around town for awhile.  It was a short while because it is a very small town, 350 people.  Went back to the hotel and relaxed a minute and then went to the 3 course dinner, after which is was back to the room and bed.
Got up early in case we were going for the helicopter ride, got dressed and went to the lobby to wait.  We got word that the flights were canceled again because of weather.  It was overcast and the mountains were shrouded in clouds, we wouldn't have been able to see anything.  So we headed to breakfast.  We can take our time now because we have a little later bus time.  After we eat we take a stroll around town, then head back and get ready to go, board the bus and it's north again.  We pass through Whataroa (Fat-a-ra-oa) and Harihari as we head towards Hokitaki and lunch.  Walk around town and eat lunch, then it's back on the bus and on our way.  Through Kumara and on to Arthur's Pass to catch the train.  Onto the train and a nice ride back to Christchurch.  Hop back on our bus and go to the hotel, get our room and settle in then it's time for the farewell dinner.  Another 3 course dinner and then we head back to the room to relax.
Up a little later and wondered down to breakfast.  Ran into several of the others from our tour.  Had someting to eat and said our goodbyes.  We checked out and left our bags and walked around town.  We saw where the tram runs through a building, walked over to the cardboard church and from there to the 185 chairs.  The church was rebuilt with cardboard after the quake of 2011 and the chairs signify the 185 people that were killed,  115 of which were in one building.  Stopped by the hotel to rest a bit and then it was over to the Quake Museum.  That was really interesting.  From there we walked to the library and looked around.  Think they will let me check out a book?
Stop for a quick bite and it's back to get our luggage and grab our ride to the airport, and off to Sydney.