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BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Lewes, United...
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BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

We’re now home after our amazing 6 week trip, over 5 of which were spent in NZ; 3 weeks in South Island, the balance on North Island. It really was a special trip of a lifetime, for so many reasons.

So a very heartfelt thank you to all the various NZ destination experts, plus the myriad other contributors, both locals or past visitors, whose valuable input on this forum contributed in a major way to this wonderful trip.

I’m not offering a full trip report – you’d be bored rigid very quickly, but here’s my very personal and perhaps quirky take on the mostly major highs plus a few, minor lows of our trip:

The Good

• Absolutely number one memory of NZ will be the people. The Kiwis were so friendly, hospitable, honest and genuine in their welcome everywhere. We made so many new friends. Everybody we encountered had time to be polite and chat. Their can-do, straightforward, hard working attitude will hopefully carry them through the trauma of the recent earthquake (which we missed – we were 250 kms away).

• Scenery – the big, open spaces. Of course we knew this would be spectacular, and it truly was awesome. NZ really is all about water. Whether it’s the vast amount of varied but spectacular coastal scenery (from rugged headlands and cliffs to golden sand beaches and turquoise coves), the many large lakes, all sparkly on a sunny day or the type that falls out the sky (which, as expected, we got plenty of, but it didn’t mar the trip) and the water-based activities and boat trips that enhance the enjoyment of all the water. The high, rugged mountains. volcanoes and serious hills – they’re everywhere, too – as there are few flat or dull parts of the country – on either island.

• Easy, straightforward driving – despite low speed limits, narrow roads with few passing opportunities, log trucks and campervans and surprisingly frequent road works we had few problems and no real navigation concerns.

• Excellent and varied local wines and tasty beers, plus L&P and Mac’s ginger beer.

• Generally high quality of food – both in eateries (from simple pubs to recipients of awards) or bought to prepare ourselves

• Cleanliness of the country in general – no fly tipping or litter on the whole.

• High standards of accommodation, with plumbing that works.

• DOC park maintenance and signage.

• Loos – plentiful, almost everywhere free, clean and with paper.

The Bad

• It’s expensive! Both other tourists and locals commented on the high prices and recent increases.

• Disappointing lack of available seafood for a country with so much unpolluted coastline and seas – apart from the ubiquitous mussels, most shellfish and fish seems to be exported

And the Ugly

• Just one thing really – 1080. It has decimated so much of the wildlife in the south of SI and especially on the west coast that, despite all the open spaces and lack of population, we were woken to more birdsong in the centre of Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. So sad!

A quick synopsis of where we got to: Christchurch-Oamaru-Dunedin-Te Anau-Doubtful Sound overnight-Queenstown-Wanaka-Franz Josef-Punakaiki-Abel Tasman 3 day trip-Nelson-Picton-Wellington-Napier-Taupo-Rotorua-Hamilton –Coromandel Peninsula-Auckland-Waiheke Island.

If anybody wishes to ask any specific questions, please feel free.

New Zealand
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1. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Welcome home SWT, so pleased your trip was a success :)

I totally agree 1080 is horrible. However I fear there is no easy solution to the possum plague.

Wellington, New...
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2. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Your comment about NZ being expensive is an interesting one. I wonder if the "expensive" tag has more to do with the rate which the pound has depreciated against the NZ dollar than the cost of living here in NZ. If one is to compare UK costs with those here in NZ the same comment about UK being expensive to travel around could also be true. I guess such comments are very subjective.

Regarding 1080 if one could propose a suitable alternative I am sure it would be looked at favourably but too date one has yet to be found to eradicate possums. We would love to export them back to Australia where they are a protected species.

Glad you found more positives about your holiday

Kia Ora

Edited: 24 March 2011, 02:23
Christchurch, New...
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3. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Do remember that 1080 is actually PROTECTING the bird life - no evidence that it harms birds (or it would not be allowed). NZ birds were doomed from the time the British arrived with domestic cats & , stoats & rats and the most dangerous weapon of all - the axe.

New Zealand
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4. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Glad you had a great trip, and you found L&P(one more Brit for my export list ;)

I wonder if the birdsong you heard in the city was from introduced birds- blackbirds, thrushes, silvereyes etc. and possibly a lot of tui, they have acclimatised to the cities much more than any other native bird.

Lewes, United...
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5. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

To respond:

Bean - I say expensive, based not just on our experience but it was a shared comment whenever (which was pretty frequently) we met other visitors, whether from Oz, USA, Europe, SE Asia, etc. Furthermore, locals were complaining, despite no increase in wages, of high food costs and of course petrol is climbing all the time - not that that last issue is unique to NZ owing to the goings on in Libya, etc. Most food is certainly noticeably cheaper in the UK than NZ at current exchange rates.

Zappers - I can't say whether the birdsong I heard in the cities was from introduced species, as I never saw which bird was singing and, except for the distinctive call of the bellbird, wouldn't recognise the sounds for certain. But, sad to say, we saw almost no birds nor other creatures in certain parts of SI.

SWT

Melbourne Australia
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6. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Regarding NZ as an expensive destination, it is true to say that in a number of respects it is.

As an executive chef, I'm absolutely bewildered at the cost of restaurants in NZ. I've checked out their wages and they are in most instances 33% less than Australia.

Their invoices for vegatables is higher than Oz, but only by 7% or thereabouts.

Their costs for fish, beef, lamb, pork and venison is, once again more than Oz, around 12.5% by my reckoning.

However, their wine mark ups are truly excessive.

On our recent trip to NZ (mainly Wellington, Napier, and Auckland), it came as no surprise to find the restaurants we dined in (with a few exceptions) to be about 25% full.

I would love to charge the prices that some of the restaurants in NZ do, but there is no way I know of that we could sustain custom if we chose to do so.

Public transport charges in NZ is another item that needs examination, as generally it appears that the cost is 60% greater than similar modes in Australia.

My wife informs me that on surveying supermarket prices it appears that NZ is more expensive than Oz by a general rule of thumb of around 22%.

As one of our friends remarked "New Zealand is a country that charges world parity prices for everything, but doesn't pay world parity wages".

To conclude, from our many crossings of the "ditch" it seems to us that NZ has become an expensive country for visitors (and probably its citizens as well) and with the recent increase in the GST it will only exacerbate the upward trend in prices.

New Zealand
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7. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

It's the price we pay to live in "Paradise" :) Yes it's fairly expensive, we export most of our meat, fish & dairy products to the rest of the world who are happy to pay a premium for top quality, "green" food. Unfortunately that means we pay for it too. And with regards to our restaurants, we have top knotch restaurants that we are happy to support, we just don't have the customer base to support lower prices. But we're happy and we're beating off people who want to emigrate so there must be something appealing about us :)

Edited: 25 March 2011, 06:55
Uden, The...
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8. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

Welcome back SWT and also welcome to the RT forum again.

9. Re: BIG, big thank you for a wonderful trip

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