Long before I met a Kiwi girl whom I count among my favorite friends, I visited her homeland. Land of Enchantment. New Zealand! The only place I thought I could happily live forever aside from the US. When I think of these two tiny islands floating in the south Pacific, I can’t help but wonder. Why did God decide to put all of the best ecological diversity into such a small place? Maybe so you can see it all in a few weeks!
I had the pleasure of working with Ena at MoaTrek to plan a fabulous driving itinerary. It was my first wedding anniversary in February 2002 and I could think of no better place to celebrate with my husband. I am a big fan of intimate B&B style accommodation and Ena hooked us up with some unforgettable hosts and hostesses. I’d have to say, hands down, Kiwis are the most approachable, welcoming people you’ll ever meet. And if you are on their home turf, you are bound to feel like an extension of the family. Our adventure began in Auckland and we immediately drove south, spending most of our time on the South Island and then flying out of Christchurch. I could fill books writing about all the wonderful people we met and places we visited. Instead, I’ll leave you with my recommendations for what you will NOT want to miss.
- Go Black Water Rafting in Waitomo to see the glow-worm caves.
- Tour the wineries of Martinborough and stay at Beatson’s B&B. Karin and John are fabulous hosts and cooks and their place is downright comforting.
- Enjoy the gorgeous scenery on Queen Charlotte Sound and stay at The Lazy Fish, only accessible via water taxi.
- Drive along the stunningly beautiful Kaikoura coast. Stop for lunch at The Store Cafe.
- Visit, or even stay for a few days, on a dairy farm or sheep station.
- The milky turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the nearby stone church are the perfect photo-op.
- Visit Queenstown and stay at Browns Boutique Hotel. Extreme sports lovers will want to bungee jump. Take the gondola ride too.
- While in Te Anau, make Murrell’s Grand View House home base and explore Milford Sound. Take a cruise onto the fjord, acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination and called the eighth Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling.
- Take a guided or unguided walk onto Franz Joseph Glacier.
- Visit Hokitika, if only to see artisan carvers working in the local medium, Pounamu, New Zealand jade. You can even try carving it yourself.
- Enjoy magnificent alpine scenery of Arthur’s Pass, crossing the Canterbury plains to Christchurch.
- Finally, if you are a carnivore, no trip to New Zealand is complete with a meal of both lamb and venison. Deer are farm raised here, and the meat is tender and the taste is anything but gamey.
These are a few of my favorite photos taken before the digital age with a good old-fashioned 35mm SLR loaded with film. Photoshop didn’t make these photos so good. New Zealand did.