Dear Po Tan,
Our trip was nearly perfect! New Zealand is spectacular. Am in the process of transcribing my notes today. As soon as they are done, I will forward a copy to you. Thank you in helping us plan our wonderful New Zealand experience!!!
Cheers, Patricia & Frank
USA - Wednesday, March 02, 2005 3:40 PM
New Zealand Trip Diary
February 16 to 25, 2005

We actually boarded our flight in Singapore at 8:30 pm on Wednesday the 16th. It’s a 10-hour flight to Auckland (on the north island of NZ), and a 5-hour time difference. We arrived at Auckland airport at 11:30. Here we went through Customs, checked onto our connecting ANZ flight to Christchurch (on the south island of NZ).

2.20pm On arrival, met by driver from Super Shuttle NZ - transfer to hotel.
The hotel was in easy walking distance of Cathedral Square, several museums, the Botanic Gardens, the Avon River, etc. (We did not get a non-smoking room as requested. The clerk (Christine) checked the computer and found one but had to ask the Manager before moving us to it. The manager’s answer was NO – so they put an air purifier in our room for an hour while we….)

We had time before our evening tours so we walked to Cathedral Square. It’s so lovely, with the old buildings, the stately Anglican Cathedral (so the name “Cathedral Square”) and the sculpture called the “Chalice”. There was an arts and crafts market going on in the square and a flower festival with many flowers arranged in front of the Cathedral. Also in the square is a giant chessboard that was constantly engaged. We then wandered over the Avon River, which flows through the city. There are “punters” there available to take you for a romantic float up and down the river. We continued down Worcester Boulevard past some museums to the Botanic Gardens. The Gardens are quite large and require a few hours to wander through.

6.00pm Pickup by Canterbury Leisure Tours for Maori Cultural Performance
and Gondola Ride/Dinner.
Our evening entertainment/tours started with a Maori cultural experience. These are the original inhabitants of New Zealand, before Europeans began to arrive. A Maori Chief welcomed us and Frank was chosen to be our “Chief” to represent our “tribe”. Frank did his part in meeting the powerful Maori challenge and we were led in to be entertained by joy-filled cultural singing and dancing. After the performance, we were led into a Maori village by the Chief and given a tour. This village is in the Willowbank wildlife preserve. We saw black swans, white swans, NZ eels – which grow quite large, Kea birds – large parrots with long curved beaks. These birds are very intelligent and also very destructive. They live in NZ’s mountains. They use the beaks to tear into things… like sheep, tires, cars, logs, or furniture (if they have the opportunity). We also got to see the elusive Kiwi birds. These are the famous flightless birds of NZ. They are nocturnal, and so are rarely seen by man. Their feathers are more like dog’s hair, with two layers – one fine and one coarse. They have very long thin beaks.

From the cultural experience, we were driven to the Christchurch Gondola (skylift). When we pulled up at the base of the mountain and I looked up to the height that the Gondola took passengers to, I almost chickened out. But, I was determined to view the stunning scenery from the top of the mountain. We arrived at 8:30 and the sun was still up – it doesn’t set until nearly 9:30 in summer in NZ. We rode to the top and our breath was taken away at the beautiful views of Christchurch, Lyttleton Harbor, and the golden mountain range of the Canterbury Plains as we slowly rose above them – it’s 1500 feet above sea level at the top!!! Our evening “tour” included a reservation at the romantic Gondola Restaurant and we enjoyed a delicious gourmet dinner and wonderful bottle of New Zealand wine, as we watched the sun set, with the panoramic view changing from minute to minute. We rode the Gondola back down at 10:30 under the stars and above the twinkling lights of Christchurch. Our driver was waiting and took us on a short city tour before dropping us off for a much needed night’s rest. What an excellent start to our first day in New Zealand!
18th February CHRISTCHURCH
Breakfast at hotel.

7.45am Pickup by Canterbury Leisure Tours for Tranz Alpine Railway to
Arthurs Pass (day trip)
We were picked up by van and driven through the southern foothills to Springfield to board the Tranz Alpine railway for our trip to Arthurs Pass. The spectacular landscape views of the NZ mountains makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a photo layout in National Geographic magazine. Many of the mountains are treeless, and some are covered in a dry grass (Tussocks) that gives them a gold hue. (We met a very nice young man, Paul Gambling, a travel agent from Brisbane, Australia.) The views along the train ride were breathtaking, with many photo opportunities. There was even an open viewing platform car for photography, but the breeze there was quite brisk. We traveled through the Southern Alps, crossed over the Waimakariri River, passed the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfalls. We were rejoined by the tour van and continued into the Alps, through the beautiful Otira Gorge and stopped to take photos at the viaduct lookout at the gorge. There was a waterfalls, which had been ingeniously re-directed OVER a road that went from Christchurch to the west coast gold fields.

We continued on into the village of Arthurs Pass and had a delicious home cooked lunch at the Chalet Restaurant. Afterwards, we walked into the National Forest and got some close up views and photos of the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfalls. Later we stopped at a picturesque spot called “Cave Stream – Flock Hill” which looked like a painted movie backdrop.

Our next experience was to be a jet boat ride on the Waimakariri River – a 30-minute ride through a gorge with some fun 360-degree turns thrown in to keep us alert. ? After the boat ride we climbed a short rise above the river and were treated to a sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration.

7:00 pm Pickup by the Christchurch Casino shuttle.
The Christchurch Casino has an excellent buffet restaurant, so we thought it would be a good place to have dinner. Before dinner Frank joined the casino’s player’s club. He played a Valentine 2-cent slot machine, and on his first $5 he won $103. After collecting his winnings, he again won another $103. So, the $36pp buffet dinner no longer seemed expensive at all!!

Breakfast at Christchurch hotel.

7.20 am Depart for Dunedin by Intercity Coach.
We were picked up by a Super Shuttle and taken to the Intercity bus station to board our bus to Dunedin. This was a double-decker bus and the service was similar to the Greyhound service in the US. We stopped at bus stops along the route and every seat in the bus was filled. Our first rest stop was a 6-minute toilet break in Timaru. We passed through the main street of Amaru, which was mostly one-story residential homes with lovely gardens bursting with various colorful flowers and many rose bushes. We had a 30-minute break at a “tearoom”, and were finally delivered to the Dunedin Intercity bus station.

1.05 pm Arrive in Dunedin (we actually arrived closer to 2:30 pm at the Intercity
bus station – where they arranged a taxi to transfer us to our hotel)

2.45pm Pickup by Otago Explorer Tours for Larnach Castle trip.
We were picked up by a large van and then transferred to a full size coach (bus) with dirty windows (too dirty to take photos through). The tour took us through a residential area with a few brief glimpses of the ocean and the harbor. We stopped once above the harbor to take photos where a few sheep were grazing. Larnach Castle was actually a unique and interesting restored old home, and our tour guide/bus driver was very informative. The views from the parapet were terrific.

Dunedin is named after a town in Scotland of the same name – meaning “ember”. We wandered down Princes Street toward the Octagon and had dinner at Brimstone, a pizza bar. Dunedin’s streets are reminiscent of San Francisco as some are quite steep

Breakfast at hotel - morning free at leisure.
We spent the morning wandering through the streets of Dunedin. We walked to First Church, the train station, Cadbury factory (we didn’t stay for the $15 tour and didn’t visit the gift show which was only for those visitors who paid for the tour), then wandered through Countdown – the local discount bulk grocery store.

1.30 pm Picked up at hotel and depart for Queenstown by Track & Trail (Taieri Gorge Railway & coach tour) operated by Newton Tours
We were picked up by van and delivered to the lovely Dunedin Taieri Gorge Railway station for our 2:30 departure on the Taieri Gorge Railway adventure. The rail meanders through the gorge and passes through 12 tunnels and crosses over 16 stone and wrought iron viaducts, all the while the conductor is describing the various sights over the speaker system. At the Deep Steam viaduct the train stopped and we all de-boarded and walked across the terrifyingly high viaduct over a river. The train crossed the viaduct after us and we all re-boarded and continued on to Pukerangi (which in Maori means “hill of the heavens”).

Next we, a few other passengers, and our luggage, were picked up by a Newman’s tour van (with dirty windows) at Pukerangi “station”. We stopped in Middlemarch for a rest stop. Along the 2 hour ride the driver played 2 New Zealand tour videos rather than narrating where and what we were passing. We stopped again shortly in Clyde to drop off two cyclists. Here we passed the dam and hydroelectric plant on Lake Dunstan.

We continued on to Cromwell where we had a rest stop at the edge of Lake Dunstan at a lovely Freeway Orchard fruit stand. The hills around Cromwell are filled with Thyme, and they have a thyme festival in November when all the thyme is in purple bloom. We also passed through the Gibson Valley which is a new wine region, only 12 years old.

8.45 pm Arrive in Queenstown.

After settling into our room we caught the 9:00 shuttle into the center of Queenstown. We found the Skycity Casino and, once again, Frank found a 2-cent Heart slot machine and walked away a winner again. We had a late dinner at the Pig & Whistle, which was quite good, then walked up the hill to our hotel and much need rest.

21st February MILFORD SOUND Scenic Cruise
Breakfast at hotel

7.10 am Depart for day trip to Milford Sound by Realjourney Coach.
A very comfortable glass-roofed, glass window wall, Realjourney Excursion Coach, picked us up from our hotel. These buses are really unique; built like a wedge, it allows you to see over the people sitting in front of you and the seats are also slightly angled so that you are afforded the best view out the windows. The windows are crystal clear so that you can take photos from your seat. We droved through The Remarkables mountain range, Kingston, Garston, Athol, 5 Rivers, and Mossburn. We had a 30-minute stop at Lake Te Anau, where they have a great café (the Pop Inn Café) and some very nice souvenir shops. Quite a few people were picking up some warmer clothing. (I bought a sweatshirt – just in case it was too chilly on Milford Sound.)

This part of the south island that we were driving through was much more tree covered. We even traveled through a good portion of the Fiordland National Park. Because of its unique characteristics, this Park has been given world heritage status! I believe we were in the area called Te Wahipounamu “the place of the greenstone”. We stopped at Mirror Lakes for some photos; these are well known for their mountain reflections. You have to walk in from the road and pass such beautiful greenery (ferns and trees covered in moss – various varieties of moss) and small waterfalls.

As we continued on our way we passed a sign that said “Latitude 45º South” – which meant that we were at the mid-point between the equator and the South Pole. We stopped outside Homer Tunnel to admire not only the tunnel, but the view and also a huge length of ice that was a leftover piece of glacier from an avalanche last winter. Though this is the end of NZ’s summer, quite a large amount of ice remained unmelted. We stopped at The Chasm where there is a beautiful waterfalls. Here the Cleddau River plunges through a narrow chasm 22m deep at the Upper Fall.

We boarded the Milford Sovereign (also owned and operated by Realjourneys). We cruised from 1:00 to 2:45. In one word – this was an awesome experience. Words just cannot describe the beauty of the snow capped and foliage covered peaks that surrounded us. What was really surprising was the color of the water, which looked black! Why? Well, several factors contribute to this. Two of which are the depth, and because the mountains not only rise high above Milford Sound, but also plummet far below the surface. On the return trip we caught four NZ fur seals basking in the sun on a large rock – totally oblivious to their large audience. We were able to cruise close by to photograph them. Although we didn’t pre-arrange lunch for this cruise, we did have a delicious Japanese lunch (NZ $28pp). There was a large group of Japanese tourists on board who had arranged a special “box lunch” and we were able to purchase two of the extras! The big comfortable coach was waiting to take us all back to Queenstown. We stopped again at Lake Te Anau for a rest stop and visit to the Pop Inn Café for ice cream snacks and then were delivered back to our hotel.

7.30 pm Estimated return arrival time at Queenstown.
Although Queenstown only has a population of 20,000, with 12,000 “in town”, it has the feel of a city much more than Dunedin did with it’s 120,000 population.

We walked down the hill and into town and visited the other casino in Queenstown, the Wharf Casino that is located at the TSS Earnslaw berth. After leaving some money behind, we had dinner at the Captains Restaurant, wandered through the various shops (there are lots of shops in Queenstown), and then visited the Skycity Casino before returning to our hotel and sleep.

22nd February QUEENSTOWN
Breakfast at hotel

10.00 am Depart for BBQ lunch at Walter Peak via TSS Earnslaw Cruise.
Queenstown is located on beautiful aquamarine blue waters of Lake Wakatipu. The water temperature is 10-11 C – not water you really want to swim in. ? The color of the water is such a lovely contrast to the mountains that surround it which are shades of grays, browns and greens. We set sail the vintage steamship, the TSS Earnslaw (also owned and operated by Realjourneys) and cruised to Walter Peak. It’s a real coal-fired steamship. They have a central area where you can look down and even walk over the men at work in the engine room.

When we arrived at Walter Peak, we were led a short distance to a high country farm where we all got a chance to feed a group of different varieties of sheep. Next we watched a talented sheep dog, a black and white Border Collie named “Maggie”, manage a flock of sheep. With a series of whistles the guide had Maggie lie down and wait for his whistle to round up the sheep and bring them into a pen and keep them in a corner of it. He had Maggie perform this feat three times. It’s amazing how one man and one dog can control a flock of sheep so easily. Next we witnessed a sheep-shearing demo. It’s amazing to see how docile the sheep are as they are bent into seemingly impossible positions while their wool is shaved off.

We wandered through the beautiful English-style gardens of the Colonel’s Homestead. A beautiful and elegant country home. Our barbecue lunch was served outdoors and we couldn’t have had a lovelier day for it. We had a reserved table on the front corner of the patio overlooking Lake Wakatipu. A lone woman was seated at a table behind us, so we asked her to join us at our roomy table. Her name was Jan Arnold and she was a native Kiwi from Auckland visiting her daughter in Queenstown. While her daughter is off at work she finds her own activities. After lunch we wandered again through the gardens, visited a pen of deer, and watched a wool spinning demonstration in the farm’s large gift shop. On the return cruise Jan joined in a sing-along at the piano. We watched the beautiful scenery and hummed along with the old and familiar songs.

Jan invited us to join her and her daughter, Kim, for a drink at 4:30. Kim is a Human Resource Manager for the company that owns one of the Queenstown casinos and the Skyline Gondola – restaurant - luge. Since she was connected, Kim booked us a table at the buffet restaurant at the top of the gondola ride for 6:30 that night. Jan and Kim picked us up at our hotel and drove us to Eichardt’s, a private hotel that faces Lake Wakatipu. We found a table in their bar right by the window looking out at the lake where we watched two speedboats taking off with “happy face” parasails unfurling behind them. We all shared a delicious bottle of New Zealand wine, a Pinot Gris. After a pleasant visit, they took us up to the gondola station. Yes, here I was getting on yet another gondola for an even higher assent – but, I still am afraid of heights. ?

The Queenstown gondola moves much faster than the one in Christchurch; only 7 minutes to the top. The Gondola Restaurant seats 300 and has a extensive 6-course dinner buffet. The entire dining area was window walls with breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain range. We watched the gondolas passing by the lower window and periodically watched parachutes floating by the window and out over the scenery. The food was excellent and so much to choose from. After dinner we went out to the observation deck. Here was another group of Japanese tourists taking photos of their group. We volunteered to take their group photo and then they insisted that we be in the photos with them, too. In limited English they told us that they were a group of tennis enthusiasts touring through New Zealand.

We took the return gondola back down, since the luge was already closed for the day. An option to return to the base is a luge ride… a 3-wheeled cart that you can take on a slow track or quick track. We walked down through town and caught the hotel shuttle back to get some much needed sleep before tomorrow’s busy day began.

Breakfast at hotel
8.00am Picked up by Newmans Coach, then depart for Fairlie via Mt Cook
We were picked up by a large, but comfortable bus for this long ride to Mount Cook and then to our drop-off point in Fairlie. This bus also had glass windows in the roof and window walls, but typical bus seats. Our first stop was in Cromwell, but this time at Mrs. Jones fruit stand that was not in sight of Lake Dunstan. Cromwell is one of the biggest fruit areas in this part of NZ. It was a cloudy morning with layers of clouds resting in and on the mountains.

We passed through Tarras, then entered the Lindis Pass which is craggy mountains on either side of the road, generously covered in tussock - tufts of golden grass looking like hundreds of thousands of blond porcupines. We had a 20 minutes stop in Omarama at the Merino Country Café. While we were there sirens sounded and cars and pickups started arriving with volunteers for the fire station across from the café. Next was a short stop in Twizel to drop off one passenger with a mountain bike.

Mount Cook (or Anorangi meaning “cloud in the sky”) is NZ’s highest mountain at 3,764m above sea level. During 50% of the year cloud cover hides it, but we were lucky on our visit – as it was visible. We stopped at a roadside lookout where there was a great view of Mount Cook rising between the lower mountains. To access Mount Cook you drive through the Aoraki National Park. We arrived at the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook’s Alpine Village. The view of this mount is spectacular; even in summer the mountain range is covered in glaciers. We had a one hour lunch stop at this hotel, where we hear the rooms cost $450/night. It’s a rather remote area, quite picturesque, but nothing nearby other than the mountains. This would be a great place for hiking – or “tramping” as they call it in NZ.

After lunch we continued on our journey. As we neared Lake Tekapo the land flattened out and the mountains receded, no longer looming closely overhead, but still in sight. Back in Twizel we had left off a cyclist. He had bet the driver that he could beat us to Lake Tekapo. He very nearly did, but we passed him and picked him up just outside of the town.) ? We made a quick stop at Lake Tekapo to drop off and pick up a couple passengers.

We drove through Burks Pass and arrive at our stop, Fairlie. This town boasts a population of 800.

3:25 pm Arrive at Fairlie
On arrival, transfer to farm by farm host - dinner on farm.
“Hillcrest” - Sherwood Downs, Fairlie
The Fairlie bus station is a post on the side of the road. We arrived 15 minutes late, but our host, Jenny, was parked on the grass waiting for us. We loaded our luggage into her van and off we went, driving for about 15 minutes on the country roads to the Crone farm, “Hillcrest”. In the center of the U-shaped drive were two huge pines, and around the front of the house were several different flowers and shrubs. There was a carved sign over the entry steps, which said “Hillcrest” It was a large house, and our room was generous and had an extra single bed.

Jenny brought us out to the back garden where we met another couple who had driven up to the farm from Queenstown just a short while before we arrived. Trish & Darrin Farrell were celebrating their 15th anniversary with this trip. They were fellow Americans from Vancouver, Washington – near Portland, Oregon.

After a short break, Steve took the 4 of us in the van on a drive over their 16,000-acre property that stretched from the flat land all the way up to the top of the mountains that we saw in the distance from their backyard – and which is where he drove us. They keep sheep for wool and also for meat sale, and Black Angus cattle. These herds all wander freely around the 16,000 acres, up through the mountains. There are fences to keep the sheep separate from the cattle, and the sheep are also separated into various age groups. As we drove the long trail up through the property, Steve used the van to chase cows and sheep off the track ahead of us. When we reached the top of one of Steve & Jenny’s mountains we all got out to take photos. From our viewpoint we looked across a valley to an even higher mountain, which also belonged to this couple. From across the distance, the sheep looked like little white dots on the mountainside. The view was spectacular, even though it was overcast and raining in spits. It was here that poor Trish ran out of film, so we promised to send our farm stay photos to them on our return home.

Steve drove us back down the mountain and through the sheep and cows back to the house. We had a glass of wine while Jenny finished the preparations for dinner – which was a lamb chop casserole, boiled potatoes, mixed vegetables, and wonderful rolls. After dinner we had tea and homemade apricot crumble made from Hillcrest grown apricots. We all headed off to bed before 11:00.

Breakfast on farm - free until departure.

We were all up and ready for breakfast by 8:00. Since Trish and Darrin were driving themselves, and it being their last day in NZ, they needed to get back to Christchurch and their 4:30 flight. Their NZ fantasy had come it’s end, and ours had one more day remaining.

After breakfast and farewells to the Farrell’s, Frank and I went for a walk around the immediate farm area, then out to the road. We walked quite a distance but only passed two farm, obviously as large, or larger than Hillcrest. When we returned, Jenny took us out behind the back garden to see more of their animals while she hung up laundry. They had about 8 “pet” sheep that were penned close behind the large backyard. There were also two rabbits and a guinea pig. Besides the sheep dogs (there were 4 grown dogs and a 4 month old pup), which lived outside in pens, the Crones had 3 indoor Spaniels, which spanned three generations, and 3 cats that had free rein inside and out.

Just before departing to the bus stop (post), poor Steve had to change a flat on the van. We bid goodbye to Jenny, and Steve drove us and waited with us for the bus pick-up.

Transfer to Intercity Bus Stop by farm host.
12.10 pm Picked up by InterCity Coach, then depart for Christchurch
The bus arrived late, at 12:25. And, this was not the tour bus that dropped us off the day before, this was an Express InterCity passenger bus. No tour day was this, just transport – no information on the sights and places we passed along the way. The bus made a 5-minute stop in Geraldine – it wasn’t the food stop that we had expected, and we’d had nothing to eat since 8:00. We grabbed a sandwich from one of the shops and shared it on the ride. There were a couple a nice shops in Geraldine, it’s too bad we didn’t have time to explore them. Our next stop was an unexpected stop at the airport to drop off several people. This delayed us and we didn’t arrive in Christchurch until 3:45. Although our voucher said that we were to be dropped off at our hotel, we were brought with the remaining passengers to the bus station behind Cathedral Square. When we asked at the desk about our transport, they directed us back to the surly bus driver who informed us that we were on our own. The girls at the Newman/InterCity desk were very helpful and after confirming that we were to be delivered to our hotel, arranged a prepaid taxi trip. After such a nearly perfect trip, this was a disappointing event at the end.

3.10 pm Arrive in Christchurch.
After settling down our bags at the hotel, we wandered over to the bridge over the Avon River and caught the Tram ride around the city. We got off and on a few times, then wandered back to the Christchurch Casino to enjoy their terrific buffet restaurant. We caught the last Tram ride back to Cathedral Square and found a bar with some slot machines not far from our hotel. This time it was MY turn to win and we walked away with NZ$40! An upbeat way to end our idyllic NZ experience.

Breakfast at hotel
8.30 am Transfer by Super Shuttle NZ Christchurch International Airport
Unfortunately, the Super Shuttle was a no show. When the concierge called the company, they had NO reservation for us. He kindly arranged a taxi at a charge of NZ$22 to get us to the airport in time for our flight. Up to the last two days of our trip, all went amazingly smoothly. Unfortunately, NTB (the New Zealand based tour company) didn’t have the last bits of our trip tied up.

9.40 am Depart for Singapore. NZ514
With the exception of a few glitches at the end of our trip, our New Zealand adventure was super. A not-to-be-missed, once-in-a-lifetime trip.


* The main business in New Zealand is obviously agriculture – with a total population of 4.5 million residents, they have a 45 million sheep!
* Hedges – These amazing walls of pine surround most property lots. They are pine trees that are trimmed up the sides and across the top – probably reaching height of 12-20 feet high and 6-10 feet thick. These are to protect the livestock and crops from weather and wind. We were told that the winds in some places are strong enough to lift and move a sheep!!
* Clean – we saw absolutely no litter anywhere! The New Zealanders definitely protect their country and take pride in its beauty.
* John Deere – we saw a dealership along one of our routes! ?
* Countdown – this is a bulk grocery store chain. When we visited the one in Dunedin, our song "Amazed” played while we were wandering the aisles.
* New Zealand is 1/28th the size of the USA.
* Sheep, cattle, horses, DEER, and alpacas are raised in NZ for profit.
* Did I already say that the constantly changing panoramic vistas of the NZ scenery is AWESOME! Magnificient!! ?? The ever-changing scenery takes your breath away with every kilometer you cover and every corner you turn. There is nothing monotonous about the NZ landscape.
* It is easy to feel like you’re the last person on earth looking on the sweeping plains and mountainous vistas with no human in sight!
* Deer farming began in NZ after their population began to threaten to harm the natural foliage. Deer were originally brought into NZ as a sport. But, their numbers all too quickly began to multiply. At first they were outright shot and killed using helicopters. After time, it was decided to capture them and keep them penned and farm them like sheep and cattle. Today, there are virtually no free roaming deer in NZ.
* Dunedin – this city needs to work on their tourist services. They have a “hop on/hop off bus” service, but it only passes each point every 2 hours! Makes it hard to “hop on/hop off” to many sights in one day. Also, stores close early and are NOT open on Sundays.
* As you ride the roads of NZ you are often on a flat plain flanked by the continuous mountain ranges on one or both sides, with sheep grazing nearly everywhere. As your eyes look up th sides of the rising mountains, you know that those scattered white specks are still more sheep.
* It is not unusual to see very few other cars as you travel from town to town on the one lane road.
* Anoretora (spelling??) Maori word for New Zealand which means, “land of the long white cloud”.
* Highways in NW are all one lane each way, which become one lane over the small bridges – leaving traffic to politely take turns. But, there is no traffic!
* “Give Way” – the popular traffic sign at many intersections. This means that if you see no conflicting traffic you keep going, otherwise you’re expected to “give way” to the opposing traffic.
* Lupines grow wild along the roads and on the hills. It must be spectacular in Spring!
* The flowing waters of NZ is colored by the glaciers. Very fine rock dust, which is pulverized from the constant movement of the glaciers, gives the water a slightly milky look. It takes years for this fine dust to sink and the water to clear.
* Early morning in Queenstown – The huge lake is surrounded by mountains; watching the clouds lay on the top of the mountains while the sun peeks through the edges between the mountains and the clouds – awesome!

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