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Trip Report - central South Island

Ballarat, Australia
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Trip Report - central South Island

We're a couple of days into our South Island trip, thought I'd post as we go as much as possible. Some of the time we'll be doing family stuff of no interest to anybody else, but I'll try to post with anything interesting. :)

Ballarat, Australia
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21. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

I've been home for a few days now so thought I should finish my report. After getting back to Mum's place from Wanaka, we had only a few days left. One night DH and I went up to Mt Cook again, just the two of us. It was clagged in on the way up, so we went and had a good look around the DoC centre. What a wonderful resource it is, so much interesting info and well set up and it's free! I was interested to find one of my old teachers featured in the info about earlier mountaineers, and I was very interested in the botanical displays. We ended up spending nearly two hours there. The weather cleared while we were eating dinner at the Old Mountaineer. It was great watching the clouds gradually lift and the mountains appear. Mt Cook was lit up from the west by the setting sun, glowing pink, while the hills in front were in shadow. In the morning we woke to a stunning view - the whole of the Sefton Range and not a wisp of cloud anywhere! We walked up to Kea Point that morning, and discovered a patch of wild raspberries and redcurrants, all ripe. It must have been a remnant of somebody's cottage garden from times gone by. We stuffed ourselves silly. :)

We stayed at Aoraki Court Motel, in a lovely room with a great view over the Sefton Range. We ate at the Old Mountaineer, which had quite tasty food and not hideously overpriced. We arrived there in the morning for breakfast at 9:30am, but they didn't open until 10am, so we grabbed a snack from our picnic supplies in the car, thinking we'd stop for breakfast after our walk. We got back at 11.57 to find they wouldn't serve us breakfast because breakfast finishes at noon! Nothing on the lunch menu appealed so we drove to Twizel for breakfast. Luckily I was full of berries so not too ravenous.

Driving back to Christchurch was uneventful, and we caught up with more relatives for dinner - they visited us at our motel. We ordered delivery from the Thai place recommended by the motel - unfortunately I can't remember the name. The food was delicious and the service excellent. Anyway it was Airport Palms Motel, and their delivery menu was in the motel info folder. Airport Palms was very nice but the living area was not nearly as spacious as Airport Christchurch where we stayed on the way in. For one night that wouldn't have mattered except that we had two extra people for dinner, which made it a bit of a squish.

Overall highlights of the trip: for me, just being home and seeing people was important of course. We really enjoyed Oamaru, and we're very impressed with how they've developed the historic precinct. When I lived there as a kid it was just an abandoned wasteland. And the day we were there, Katiki Point was fantastic for wildlife viewing. Mt Cook was stunning - the mountain air is so invigorating, you can really feel why doctors used to recommend a summer in the mountains to wealthy people to convalesce. Also, I spent a few holidays at Mt Cook as a child, so I always feel "at home" when I'm there. I'd love to stay there for a whole month in summer, just going for walks and relaxing in the mountain air.

Downsides: Queenstown, so crowded and busy and I don't think I'll stay there again unless we're flying in or out from there or there's something specific I want to do there. Yes, I'd still tell first-time visitors it's a must-see, but to me Wanaka is a much nicer place to have a holiday in an alpine village. I hope Wanaka never becomes another Queenstown. At the moment it feels to me like it has a good balance of enough services and things to do but still a relaxing atmosphere. I guess if Wanaka gets as busy as Queenstown, by then there'll be somewhere else about as developed as Wanaka is now. The other downer was the cost of activities. We tend to do mostly free stuff like hiking and picnics anyway, because we enjoy hiking, picnics, lake swimming etc, but it seemed most paid activities we were interested in doing cost about $200 per adult. For four of us, that would be $800. I would look at that and say, "if we do something like that three times, we could have a nice mid-winter break in Thailand for the same cost, so, NO!" That wasn't for expensive things like heli trips, etc, just the zipline, horseriding, jetboat sort of thing. I don't like being a tightwad on holiday but I can't ignore the fact that there are other things we could be spending 1000's of dollars on. I guess this coloured my impression of Queenstown, too - there were just sooooo many pricey activities in front of your nose, it felt like everybody was trying to get their noose around my wallet. Of course there is free stuff to do there too, but there is free stuff to do all over NZ, and in quieter, more relaxed surroundings. I'm sure Queenstown would feel like quite a different place to somebody with a very fat wallet! Probably more like a kid in a candy store.

In any case, we had a wonderful trip overall and I'm already planning our next NZ holiday - 5 weeks for Marlborough, Nelson, Golden Bay and the West Coast. :)

New Zealand
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22. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

A great read, thanks Jean :)

And it is always interesting to hear other people's views on your own backyard - and yes, I agree totally about Wanaka and Queenstown.

Surrey England
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23. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

I've enjoyed reading your report Jean. Like you,we loved Mt.Cook and our stay at Aoraki Court Motel and would love to go back and stay for longer.Also,much prefer Wanaka to Queenstown.

Have you been to Stewart Island.

Ballarat, Australia
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24. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

Actually one thing I loved in Queenstown was Tim Wilson's gallery. The way the light glowed from the paintings was incredible! There was a particular painting of Fiordland in the mist that I loved at a mere $124,000 - if I was loaded that would have been my shopping done, lol. http://www.timwilsonart.com/

Ballarat, Australia
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25. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

No I've never been to Stewart Island yet. We do have plans for a future deep south trip, flying in and out of Queenstown and going Dunedin - Catlins - Invercargill (to catch up with relatives, and I'd like to see the "Roaring 40s" exhibit at the museum) - Stewart Island - Gore (art gallery and fly fishing) - Fiordland (four-night Dusky cruise + hiking). But Nelson comes first ... :)

Surrey England
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26. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

There are too many wonderful places to visit and too little time.

27. Re: Trip Report - central South Island

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