The Folliard family trip was a 3 week one covering both main islands from Christmas 2022 to mid January 2023 and although the four of them arrived as scheduled their luggage did not and they were not to see their bags until arriving back in the US in mid January. They took this in their stride as living proof that attitude is everything in such circumstances. Obviously some retail therapy was required though and they became familiar with NZ’s acclaimed Katmandu outlets and the NZ wide group of Farmers departmental stores.
Their itinerary took them first to the wonderful Bay Of Islands area north of Auckland with highlights in this segment being the Whangarei Falls, a boat trip through the Hole in the Rock, and a siting of the magnificent 2,000 year old Tane Mahuta kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest.
Then being fans of Lord of the Rings a visit to the wonderful Hobbiton and a view of Mt Doom ( real name Mt Ngauruhoe) were compulsory as their trip moved south to the middle of the North Island. The New Year was celebrated with a white water raft trip down the Rangaitikei River whilst staying at the remote River Valley Lodge followed by some time in Wellington, NZs capital city.
The South Island then beckoned with a beautiful day for the 3.5 hour crossing of the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry – this is highly recommended. Arrival in the South Island was celebrated with an exceptional lunch at The Wine Kitchen in the famed Marlborough vineyard area – the HQ of NZ’s best Sauvignon Blancs.
Some unwelcome rain tried to put a spoiler on the visit to Kaiteriteri in the Able Tasman area but the next days visit underground at the glow worm caves at Underworld Adventures in Charleston over ruled that. Then a drive down the picturesque West Coast via Hokitika to glacier country at Franz Josef & Fox where the opportunity to actually go up onto the glacier via helicopter was irresistible and the later walk around Lake Matheson, the Mirror Lake, showed NZ at its best.
This was followed by a drive over the Haast Pass and via Wanaka to the world renown Queenstown. The two girls (Erin & Amanda) could not resist their first ever sky dive from 12,000’ when discovering they would be in the hands of a company who have done in excess of 350,000 tandem jumps. Simultaneously Kathleen and son Matt provided some balance by visiting the old Chinese gold village in Arrowtown.
Very hard to top that but a visit to Mt Cook, which included hiking the Hooker Valley Track on a day which started overcast but became clear on arrival at Hooker Lake with its blocks of ice floating about, gave it a good go.
The trip finished with a visit to Christchurch and some especially good time spent in the really wonderful botanical gardens there. And an appreciation of the rebuilding that has taken place in Christchurch post the 2011 earthquake.
Kathleen and her family made a point of saying on departure that despite having had high expectations that their time with The Road Trip had well exceeded those expectations.