Rangitata to Christchurch

The amount of wind overnight was enough to knockout power to our lodge. A little scary when you feel like the roof is going to blow off the building or a tree might come flying through the window.

Today we express from Rangitata to Christchurch where you have the day to explore Christchurch further.

Arrived into Christhirch airport at 8:20a and went to the info desk to see if I could catch an earlier flight back home but to no avail. However, I did find out that I could lock up my luggage (at luggage solutions: close at 18:30p and reopen at 4:30A). There are showers in the airport and there is a lounge where people can checkin for $5 and stay overnight. Now that I had a plan, I decided to tour the city. I took the 29 bus (you can also take the 3 bus to the city center. They leave roughly every 30 min from airport) to the city center. I got dropped off close to cathedral square and took the tram ($15 adult, ride and hop on/off as much as you’d like that day). First, I took the entire tram ride. Then on the second loop, I took the stop for the botanical garden. Wow, this place is huge. I ESP loved the rose garden (I have a soft spot in my heart for roses – my dad used to leave a rose on my dash everytime I would drive back to college after a home visit. I thought it was the sweetest thing). Def check out the New Zealand section as well as you’ll come across the native wildlife as well as the fern! After the bot tour, I checked out the Canterbury museum that is right next door to the gardens. There’s two floors and it starts from the Maori history and finishes in present day with earthquake history too. One of the most interesting exhibits was the Antarctica display. Definitely worth checking out! After that, I took a walk around Regents St famous for its mirror image shopping architecture. Lastly, stop by a cheese monger shop and tried various New Zealand cheeses. Went looking for wine (they were not licensed) and stumbled upon the container mall. It’s called that bc all the shops/stores are in these freight container looking setups. Neat place to walk around and browse. Finally, having a glass of wine at Fiddlesticks, cute restaurant and bar close to my bus stop. Christchurch is definitely a cute lil city that was unfortunately challenged with its most recent earthquake. But it’s rebuilding and if you have a layover for 4-6h, leave the airport and check it out. I’m glad I made the trek into the city!! Tonight I will stay in the airport and catch my Sunday morning flight home. What are the chances that the Waitakere United soccer team is in the same line for food?? They almost missed their flight home!
It’s been a fantastic trip. I give high praises to my tour group and company Stray Journeys. Although I didn’t get a chance to see the North Island, the mere stunning beauty of the South Island as well as the hospitality of the people truly make New Zealand one of my favorite places in the world. Stay quaint. Stay natural.


Otago to Rangitata

It’s an active start to the day as we grab mountain bikes and ride parts of the Otago Gold Mining Trail. The trail is a lot of fun and a mountain bike is an ideal way to explore it. The trail is fine for all levels of riding abilities. Biking 32km from Ranfurly to Hyde. Moeraki boulders on the beach. Herbert was the town where our beloved Seagull first kissed a girl at the ripe age of 12…. Braces, tongue, and all. Oamaru – home of steam punk. Old Victorian town. Union jacks everywhere. Saw the wizard of nz. Timaru – used to be a huge fishing community. Good sized town. McDonald’s for dinner – they have a Kiwi burger; burger with angus beef and egg and beetroot. We then head to Rangitata, one of the oldest sheep stations within the region. (B). A lot of red deer farms as well (brought over from the Scottish). Stayed the night at Rangitata Rafts lodge.









Doubtful Sound to Otago

We leave the boat and then head through the stunning Otago Region. Lunch stop in Arrowtown. Drove by Cromwell, fruit capital of nz. Passed by lake dunston – not a glacial lake. It was a river turned lake. Clyde dam – produces half of South Island electricity. Alexandra – hottest and coldest place in nz. Long plains (similar to the road to Napa). Naseby – the royal hotel. Established 1836. No cell signal. No wifi.

There are interesting relics of the gold rush to be enjoyed. Optional ice curling (additional cost) is our evening’s entertainment and we stay in unique accommodation in Otago Gold Country. (BD)





Queenstown to Doubtful Sound

Started breakfast with the breakfast Fergburger. That sucker was as big as my face!

Kingston – steam railroad

Garston most inland place in nz.

Mossburn – Scottish inhabitants. In the south lands. Red deer released into wild.

Manapouri to doubtful sound. 2nd highest rainfall in NZ. Wilmot pass gorgeous view of doubtful sound. Deep cove. Nasty sandflies. Beautiful scenery. Saw penguins and dolphins. Cold sea kayaking. Really rough tasmin sea. Took the overnight cruise with Real Journeys. Fantastic accommodations and food. Great crew.

Fiordland National Park, with its stunning scenery, is our first port of call today. Within the National Park there’s Doubtful Sound, a true treasure of NZ. We board a purpose built boat and with the help of a nature guide we’ll see fur seals, penguins and dolphins. There are also sea kayaks to enjoy. The night is spent on the boat, anchored within a secluded bay. (D)












Central Otago Wine Region

Wine tour that I signed up with thru Peter Pan.
Millhouse golf resort
Most sauv blanc in Marlborough region.
Central otago wine region – Chardonnay, Pinot noir (45th parallel like burgundy), Sauvignon blanc. Arrowtown very cute. 2 golf courses. One for New Zealand open.
Amisfield – sauv blanc, rose. Kate and Charles visited this winery.
Gibbston wine region
Cromwell basin (low lying) /bannockburn – 80% wine. Large cherry growers. Very dry desert.
Carrick – lunch. Certified organic – takes extra time. Dry Riesling. Good.
Mt Difficulty- largest winery in region. Pinot Gris. Medium sweet Riesling.
Remarkable wines – gibbston valley.
Riesling as ages has a kerosene/terpentine smell on nose. Gibbston Pinot noir.






Free day in Queenstown. Woke up late this morning and had some toast. Took a walk around the lake in queenstown. There’s a beautiful walking trail as well as a rose garden, frisbee golf course, tennis courts, ice skating, and lawn bowling throughout the park. Stunning views of the mountains surrounding queenstown. Stopped for lunch at Fergburger (a must in queenstown). Followed up with dessert at Patagonia chocolates along the lake. Tonight, I’ll catch the gondola that has a great overlook of the city and hopefully catch a sunset as well as the night view of queenstown. Then I’ll have dinner at the top of the gondola restaurant and around 9:30p do some stargazing atop the mountain. My nerdy inquisitive self couldn’t be happier.














Makarora to Queenstown

Today’s a day for the real thrill seeker as we head to the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. Before we get there, we visit Wanaka, a picturesque town, great for a spot of lunch.

Lake wanaka. 4th largest in NZ.

Lake Hawea.

Wanaka – resort town.

Crown range summit – 1000m

We then head to Bungy Bridge to see where the adventure all started. There’s no pressure, you can jump or watch and it’s up to you.

Kawarau bridge bungy jump 43 m

The remarkables mtn range – goes north and south.

In the evening we’ll visit Queenstown’s nightspots, often as lively as the bungy jump. (B)





















Franz Josef to Makarora

We head down the coast towards Mount Aspiring National Park and along the way see some breathtaking scenery including Lake Matheson, NZ’s most photographed lake. We also visit a waterfall and travel over a spectacular alpine pass. Once we arrive at the National Park there’s plenty of time to enjoy some of its activities including walking, scenic flights or jet boating (own expense). We spend the night in Chalets. (BD)

Haast River, haast pass hwy. mt aspiring national park.
25% of NZ is national park.
Pleasant flat – rest stop
Must see Thunder Creek Falls. Neat trick: stare at the waterfall for 30 sec, then look at the trees to the right. Then look at the falls for 45sec and then look at your palm.
Gates of haast bridge.
Central otigo region. Beach forest.
Blue pools.
Staying at the base of mt shrimpton in makarora. Nature walk.
No cell signal. Minimal wifi.












Christchurch, NZ to Franz Josef

Minimal wifi here. So everything will be in fragments. Got shuttled to the Christchurch airport by the hotel (again, super nice!). Got picked up by the Stray bus. 4 gals on the trip: 2 from Ireland, 1 from Poland.
Christchurch – 6.3 earthquake in central city 2011. Killed 200 people. 4.5 million people in NZ.
Canterbury plains – 300km. Dairy farms.
Springfield – donut. Joke with Homer Simpson.
Castle hill – lord of the rings, Narnia. Rock formations made of limestone.
Arthur’s pass village – lunch stop. Got a sausage pie and tried the NZ lemonade. Saw a kea – the alpine parrot.
Entering Westland
Kumara – small town.
Farm land abuts ocean.
West coast – coal mining.
Hokitika – jade.
Ross – small gold mining town. 90oz gold nugget.
West coast gets a lot of rain. Many one lane bridges for flooding. Rain forests.
Lake Ianthe – glacial lake
Hari hari – landing of first ever flight from Australia (Sydney). Crash landing.
Mt Hercules – hill. 8km.
Franz Josef – named after the emperor of Austria
HH in Franz Josef – beer tasting of Spring and Fern from Nelson: Pilsner, raspberry cidre, porter, lager, and ipa. Cider and tesmin lager were best. Followed closely by non-hoppy ipa. Dinner at 7p. Doing the heli glacier hike tomorrow! 😊

Cairns to Sydney to Christchurch, NZ

True travel day. Flew today from Cairns to Sydney. WCS: surrounded (diagonal, in front, and same row) by 3 rug rats. One of them slept the whole way. The one in front screamed and cried consistently. The one in my row slept halfway but them just needed some entertainment. These poor parents… Trying so hard. Just landed in Sydney. Pretty nasty storm here. Bad turbulence! 😳 Small layover in Sydney and then connected to Christchurch, NZ.

Landed around 12:00a NZ time (they’re 21 hours ahead of Cali). Went thru customs and had no idea that prepackaged chicken sandwich that was not opened could not go thru. Wasted $9. I was going to eat that for breakfast. Nevermind that I am already tired… And then to be hungry in a couple of hours. Fail. Taxi cab ride to my hotel about a mile away was $25! Yes, I’m realizing I’m getting ripped off left and right (New Zealand, Ya better step up your game because right now you’re in the red!). Checked into my hotel, Airport Palms. I highly highly highly recommend this cute hotel. My key was left in the little lockbox with a key code that was emailed to me. It was perfect. Clean and professional establishment. In fact, the hotel made my evening. I went to bed with a huge smile on my face. Will meet up with my Stray Journeys group in the morning at the airport.