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What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

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What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

I have been thinking of how and what to say regarding my vacation to NZ.

First of all, THANKS, THANKS, THANKS to everyone at TA who gave info and advice.

I did indeed go to NZ for 22 days (Visited both islands).

I had a great vacation.

SO had a great vacation.

We both loved NZ.

I am not good at giving a blow by blow of every day's events.

So, here's where we went - thanks to SO who gave this list of events


CHC - Trans Alpine - Greymouth RT

Kaikoura - boat/whale & dolphin viewing

Akaroa - boat

Drive to Dunedin - Moeraki boulders

Dunedin - Otago pennisula- boat ride

Royal Albatross Colony

train station

Te Anau - Milford - boat ride

Doubtful - boat ride and power plant

Wanaka - by way of Glenorchy

day to Queenstown for Ernsclaw boat

ride/sheep farm w/dinner

- day to Mt. Cook

Fox - drove to Fox glacier

- drove to Frans Joseph glacier

- Lake Matheson

Nelson - by way of Punakaiki pancake rocks &

blow hole

- day to Abel Tasman/boat ride

Ferry to Wellington

Wellington - cable tram to garden and walked

to downtown

- drive to southern beaches

Lake Taupo - Tongariro National park

- Chateau Tongariro historic hotel

- drove to Rotorua & thermal parks

- Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

- Huka Falls & Craters of the Moon

AKL - train to downtown & Sky Tower

- relaxing pre flight/sort/pack day

So, I will try to give a review of things instead.

I think sorting things into the following areas works best for my dyslexic mind.

Things we loved, things we liked and things we didn't love.

We loved -

What we saw as the English/British flavor of NZ (the money, fish and chips, driving on the left side of the road, the green loveliness of the farms and fields, homes with charming flower gardens).

The feeling of going back in time to a kinder, gentler way of interacting with others and the world.

Sheep, lots of sheep and adorable lambs. I have endless sheep photos. I never got tired of them. And I never ate lamb - I knew I was not going to before I left home. No offence to sheep farmers or those who enjoy a lamb dinner.

Boat rides, train rides, ferry rides.

Ocean views, lake views, river views.

Snow covered peaks.

A decided lack of crowds and heavy traffic in so many places.

Keas that climbed all over the roof of the Xterra we rented.

Thermal parks, boiling mud pots (my favorite), steaming geysers.

Food that didn't give SO hives - not soaked in additives?.

Bakery goods that were lovely, sweet. fresh and tasty.

Lambingtons, all lamingtons. Will someone, anyone, share a recipe?

Fish and chips, well, really the chips. I loved them, lots of them and really reasonable (cost wise).

Potato crisps (chips) in all kinds of cool flavors. I ate loads of them.

Kingston (sp?) cookies. Made several meals of them while driving (as in SO and I ate an entire bag at a time).

Men wearing shorts (all lengths) everywhere when it was rather cool to me. I took some home to a brother who wears them a lot and is never really bothered to wear a jacket if it's above freezing. Got lots of photos of them, too.

Women who look very fit and healthy (on tv, in adds, on billboards, strolling down the street) rather than the extreme annorexic thin size 0 ones that adorn everything at home. I don't know the PC way to say this. However, it was so refreshing to see women who don't seem to be starving to be thin or layered with rolls of fat over the waistline. At home it seems to be one extreme or the other. And only the extreme thin is desired.

Driving on the left side on narrow roads with sheer cliffs and few railings (loved it after a few days of getting the hang of driving in CHC before heading away from the city).

Clean motel/hotel rooms, with very nice folks running/cleaning them (well all except one, weird one).

Hotel/motels with rooms with their own washers and dryers. It made washing clothes in the evening so convenient. By the way, no problem finding clothes detergent for sensitive skin/allergies that SO needed.

Stores with the beloved self check registers. And anti-bac hand soap, shampoo, etc. I didn't have room (or weight allowance) to take.

Lovely insulated, box style, zip lid grocery totes for 1-2 NZ dollars each. They were great for toting all the things we got along the way. I folded several of them and brought them home. Strange the things we fall in love with while travelling.

Air NZ, lovely food, lovely people.

Freedom to walk anywhere (almost) and not feel restrained like a toddler. At home, every cliff has a fence, a railing and a warning - at least it seems that way. NZ seems to start with the idea that everyone has common sense and is not afraid to use it.

A calm, relaxing serenity to life that is not only from being on vacation.

Things We liked -

Fewer chain eateries.

Children that seemed to behave while at the same time not be hovered over every moment by indulgent yet overprotective parents. Well, most of them.

Things We didn't love -

The high cost of cosmetics - THANKS TO WHOEVER WARNED ME TO BRING THEM. Wow, some things that cost $5 at home were $15 in NZ (allowing for exchange rate). Not everything, shampoo and conditioner, bar and hand soap were reasonable.

The Glow Worm Caves - Well I did go in for the ordinary visit (I'm claustrophobic, by the way). I didn't last long since the closing door of the airlock near the entrance and the very narrow walkway where we had to stop for a brief talk were not in my comfort level. I went back with some other visitors who were headed to the exit - so no one was inconvenienced. I knew ahead of time that I might not be able to do this. I really wanted to see the glow worms. I gave it my best try. A lot of years ago, I did an all day cave visit (long before I was claustrophobic) and loved it. I did get something great from this - I was so thrilled to be back in the day light and fresh air, I don't think I have ever enjoyed it more. I was more than glad to wait for SO at the visitor center (didn't think to get the vehicle keys from SO before I left the cave).

Well, there are lots of things I have forgotten.

All in all - We LOVED NZ.


NZ is not for the mindless or the wreckless driver. Be alert, stay off the mobile phone while driving (and walking, for that matter), read and adhere to the speed limit signs and all will most likely go well. And visitors, don't even think of drinking and driving. I never do, however the very idea of anyone doing it on NZ's narrow, winding and/or dark roads gives me the shakes.

It really does take the reccommended time to drive from a to b given by the wise ones on this board. Allow for breaks and don't drive far after dark when tired or jet lagged. Not worth it at all on any level.

THANKS AGAIN, for all the great advice and info.

New Zealand
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1. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Excellent report and comments Britkette, thanks for taking the time to write. You obviously had a great time and have some wonderful memories of NZ.

And in answer to your question-

"Lambingtons, all lamingtons. Will someone, anyone, share a recipe?"


1 slab sponge cake, 4 cups icing sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk, 2 - 3 cups desiccated coconut

To make the icing-Cool the cake for at least half an hour in the fridge or freezer, then cut into squares. Combine the sugar and cocoa in a large bowl.

Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted. Add to the sugar/cocoa mixture and mix to a fluid yet not runny consistency.

To put it all together- Make a production line of sponge squares, chocolate icing mixture in a bowl, coconut in a shallow container or plate, and a cooling rack with paper underneath. Using a fork dip the sponge fingers into the icing, roll it in the coconut covering it well, and then place on to the rack to dry. Once they have dried, place in an airtight container and leave to "mature" for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, before eating.

It was how our mothers and grandmothers used up stale sponge(which doesn't keep very long) Waste not, want not!

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2. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Zappers, Thanks for reading my review.

And thanks for the lammington recipe. I have to make some soon.

Do you have an idea of how to make the raspberry (I think) ones, too? Raspberry preserves, maybe?

Thanks, again.

Christchurch, New...
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for South Island
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3. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Just be aware that the Ozzies claim the lambingtons as theirs! Probably, unlike the Pav, quite rightly! I think they have a rule that you can only have them with a cup of black tea!

It's great to see a report like yours. i guess it shows us how we like to be seen. If you ever make it again and are south of the Waitaki river try the cheese roll.

Wellington, NZ
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4. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Here's another recipe:


Makes 12

1 packet raspberry jelly

1¼ cups boiling water

300g store-bought sponge cake

2 cups desiccated coconut

½ cup cream, lightly whipped

¹/³ cup raspberry jam

1. In a bowl, combine jelly crystals with boiling water and stir until crystals dissolve. Place jelly mixture in the fridge to cool and slightly set.

2. Trim any dark edges from sponge cake and slice into 12 equal rectangles or squares, as desired. Spread coconut on a tray.

3. Dip all sides of each sponge square in cold jelly mixture, then roll in coconut to coat to make lamingtons. Cut a slit in the top of each lamington.

4. Place a tablespoonful of whipped cream in the slit of each lamington, then decorate each one with a teaspoonful of raspberry jam.


New Zealand
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5. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Thanks Weta, that is the exact recipe I used to use for jelly (pink)lamingtons. Watch for expanding waist lines though hence the reason I don't make them any longer! :(

Feilding, New...
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6. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

You can use other jelly flavours and colours....lime, lemon & orange are also nice for lamingtons but a variation on the original so perhaps should not be called lamingtons.

Next time? you are in New Zealand you will be able to visit areas other than caves to see glow worms although not the millions at one time that are seen in the caves.( Rotorua Redwood Forest, Mitai Maori village)

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Surrey England
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7. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Thanks for your interesting report Britkette-----and I picked up some yummy sounding recipes as well!

New Zealand
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8. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

Hi BK :)

so pleased you enjoyed your visit. All your meticulous planning certainly paid off :)

Keighley, United...
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9. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

After reading this lot, im going to HAVE to go back again - if only to experience a/the/some lamingtons! I can honestly say i never saw this - whatever it is, and certainly never tried any!

My favorite line from all Brittkettes post (and it was something i was searching to use myself - but just couldnt think of it), was....'' NZ seems to start with the idea that everyone has common sense and is not afraid to use it.''

Never a truer lne spoken! Here in the UK, all notion of common sense has gone out of the window, you are warned, cosseted, and protected from yourself at every turn. It is truly nauseating.

Christchurch, New...
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10. Re: What I Did On My New Zealand Vacation

One reason for this attitude is our rather strange law relating to no-fault accidents. Nobody can sue for an accident in NZ so we haven't developed the litigious nature that Australians (and I'm told, Americans) have. "I fell over a cliff after climbing the safety rail so I'l sue you because the rail wasn't high enough and there wasn't a warning sign!"