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:
• 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.
• 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.