Mike and Debbie Disch from Minnesota had been to many parts of the world throughout their respective careers but neither had ever been to NZ so it was very much on their bucket list. The bucket delivered in full.
They commenced their visit in Christchurch where they had the first day to explore on their own before The Road Trip adventure started the following day with a visit over the challenging Banks Peninsular to the quaint village of Akaroa. This became a great day outing with a Dolphin Cruise booked and sighting of not just dolphins but also penguins became a highlight of their cruise. This was followed by a visit to the Giants House – a mosaic garden of international significance with wonderful garden sculptures supplementing the abundant plant life.
From Christchurch we headed west via Arthurs Pass across the South Island and over the Southern Alps to the isolated West Coast region of NZ which is bordered by the Tasman Sea. The night was booked in Franz Josef at the acclaimed Te Waonui Forest Retreat reached after driving down the coast and taking time to visit the Hokitika gorge which is a must do on a nice day and this was one. Another beautiful day followed which made visiting the famed reflection lake ( Lake Matheson) very worthwhile and the walk around there justified having lunch at the Hard Antler pub in remote Haast and to get a feel for outback NZ life
After lunch we headed over the Haast Pass and into Central Otago for a couple of nights at picturesque Wanaka highlighted by a visit to the adjacent Cardrona pub – one of NZ’s oldest. The next destination was Te Anau in Fiordland with a special lunch stop over on the way at the very highly regarded Amisfield Winery near Arrowtown.
Mike and Debbie’s accommodation for the next two nights was the Fiordland Lodge just outside Te Anau and it was a lodge they fell in love with and no surprises there as it is a magnificent location with exceptional dining onsite. Milford Sound was at its best for their day visit with the actual drive there being the highlight for many visitors to NZ. This day was no exception with Lake Gunn producing wonderful reflections and time for a little walk on the Routeburn Track giving a taste of one of NZs Great Walks
The plan was to then head further south for a two night stopover on Stewart Island – the ultimate bird lovers paradise. This became the number one highlight of their trip for Mike & Debbie and they really enjoyed their stop over at the Church Hill Boutique Lodge
A leisurely ferry trip back to Bluff in the South Island left plenty of time for the relatively short drive to Queenstown one of the worlds glamour places to visit. There are always many highlights in Queenstown and the number one on this trip it was probably one of the most exhilarating rides ever on the Shotover River Jetboat – this is a very highly recommended activity.
That just left a drive through the old goldfield areas of Central Otago en-route to Dunedin the final destination of Mike and Debbie’s bucket list trip. And St Clair beach in Dunedin looking out over the Pacific Ocean provided a fitting bookend to what had been a great two weeks.
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