New Zealand Journals

A Jaunt Through Middle Earth

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An August 2002 trip to New Zealand by Nosferatu

Quote: This was a winter driving wonderland trip of the North and South Island of New Zealand. After exploring the geological wonders of the South Island, we enjoyed the culture of the North Island.

A Jaunt Through Middle Earth

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Overview

Quote:
The ultimate highlight of the trip occured at the Waitomo Caves in the North Island where we took the Lost World Adventure cave tour. We first abseiled 100 meters (330 feet) into the world's deepest commercial cave and then spent the next two hours bouldering and tunnelling our way to the surface again.Quick Tips: It is certainly best to book as many things beforehand as possible since activities get filled up quickly. Also, for those wishing to save some money, get the New Zealand Discount Travel card at www.discounttravel.co.nz. It certainly saved us a lot of money from hot air ballooning to jet boating to the indigenous Maori shows and Hangi...Read More

The Latimer Hotel

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Hotel

Quote:
This was the first hotel we stayed in during our trip. The location of the hotel is centralized within Christchurch as is within easy walking distance of the City Center. The hotel also offers free parking for guests, which is a good benefit since you won't have to drive to the City Center and pay for parking on the streets. However, that being said, the hotel itself certainly did not amaze us, considering that it was supposed to be a Gold Star hotel. Although there are certainly plenty of windows throughout the room looking out into the city, the layout of the place seemed a bit awkward. The ceiling was low and seemed squatty with respect to the layout of the room. Coming from the United S...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 5, 2002

Radisson Villa Antigua

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Hotel | "Skyline Leisure Lodge"

Quote:
This was the second accomodation of our two week trip through New Zealand. We arrived here after a four hour drive from Christchurch down State Highway 1. Coming from that direction, Duke Street comes upon you rather quickly and the Skyline Leisure Lodge is right on the corner of SH 1 and Duke Street. In terms of the accomodation itself, the Skyline Leisure Lodge was rather nice. It was smaller than our room in Christchurch, but the room, and the hotel in general, felt much more comfortable. The Kiwi Gold Pass allowed us to stay in one of their Superior Suites and we were pleased by the accomodations. There was a sliding door in the back of the room that opened up to the landscaped garden a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 13, 2002

Radisson Villa Antigua
9A Calle Poniente
Antigua, Guatemala
(502) 331-7409

Dart River Jet Boating

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Attraction

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This was my first jet boating experience and it wasn't too bad. Glenorchy is located about 40 miles from the New Zealand Adventure Capital City of Queenstown on the South Island. The Dart River is one of the tributaries that runs into Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's third largest lake. You can either drive to Glenorchy yourself or have a shuttle bus from the Dart River pick you up. However, this pick up is not free as I later found out once I arrived to Glenorchy. So, if you have your own transportation, my recommendation will be to drive yourself. Anyway, once there, you are suited into a rain poncho and life jacket and then put into the jets for an hour trip up the Dart River. Alon...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Hot Air Ballooning

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Attraction

Quote:
This is what it is like to fly with the birds. I've been flying on a number of different aircraft during my life, but is all they are -- aircraft; they have engines and make noise from takeoff to landing. Hot air ballooning is completely different. We went with the Aoraki Ballooning outfitter located in the quiet town of Methven, about an hour southwest of Christchurch, the South Island's largest city. We were picked up from our hotel at around 5:45 am and reached Methven a little after 7 am. After signing waiver forms and whatnot, we took off to the field where we unloaded the balloon and had participation from everyone to take the balloon out and get it ready for takeoff. After about 35 m...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Shaolin Monks Wheel of Life

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Attraction

Quote:
This live theatre performance is a martial arts marvel!!! It tells the story of how the Shaolin Monks originated the style of Kung Fu and used it to defend the emperor of China over 1,500 years ago, only then to be betrayed by him by having a number of their monks assassinated. The performance then concludes by showing off some of the amazing feats that these monks can do and the different styles of kung fu that is practiced. The show is two hours long with a twenty minute intermission in between. Unlike other live theater pieces such as musicals, the Wheel of Life does not have dialogue by the performers. Rather, a recorded narrarator injects periodically to describe the scene or give histo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Abseiling and Caving

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Attraction

Quote:
This is a totally thrilling adventure. First, we abseil 100 meters (330 feet) into the world's deepest commercial cave called the Waitomo Cave on the North Island. Then we spend the next couple of hours making our way back to the surface again. The abseil down in magical. On the day of our travel, the air was cold and there was a heavy mist in the sky. This made the descent all the more otherworldly. The flora and fauna we encountered was just stunning to look at and it seemed like we really were in Middle Earth. About 75 feet down, there was a rather large cave to our left and I was expecting a dragon to come roaring out of there and take flight to find its meal for the night. A...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Tamaki Maori Village and Hangi

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Attraction

Quote:
In a region of New Zealand where there is a large concentration of the indigenous Maori race, this tour is certianly one of the highlights all of the Maori attractions. The fact that it does not take place in a hotel is certainly a draw. Rather, it takes place about 15 miles south of Rotorua in a replica of what a Maori village looked liked during the pre-European era. After being picked up on a tour bus at your local hotel, you are shuttled off to the Maori village with a fairly chatty and humorous Maori bus driver. During the ride, a 'chief' is picked from among the visitors to be greeted by the Maori warrior with a challenge dance known as the Wero. Customs, history, and etiquette is desc...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Horseback Riding

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Attraction

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This is a fairly relaxed ride through the dairy and farmlands in Whataroa, a small agricultural community about twenty minutes north of the famous Franz Joseph Glacier on the South Island. We took the two hour ride (which came closer to three hours) that took us from the stables, through the ranch and out into the farming areas of Whataroa. Surrounding us were the impressive peaks of the Butler Range that made up a section of the Southern Alps. The guide was quite good and had lived in the Whataroa area all of her life. The horses were properly trained to handle both novice and experienced riders alike. Overall, even though the ride was easy without anything technical, it wasn't a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 23, 2002

Quote:
This is a nature cruise that takes the visitor through the entire expanse of New Zealand's most accessible fiord: Milford Sound. The scenery in the Sound is absolutely breathtaking. Tall 2000+ meter mountains tower completely around the Sound. Scores of waterfalls spray hundreds of gallons of water per minute throughout the entire length of the Sound all the way out to the Tasman Sea. Marine animals such as seals, sea birds, and other wildlife settle into the quiet sanctuary that the Sound provides.

All in all, it is a beautiful area and worth a trip for all travelers to New Zealand.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2002

Larnach Castle

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Attraction

Quote:
We arrived at Larnach Castle on a rainy, windy, and gloomy day. However, that just added to the overall effect that the castle had on me. Although the castle itself is not huge, it is still quite impressive and the grounds surrounding the castle are a lush green with lovely trees, flowers, and plants well laid out. There are two options for visiting Larnach Castle. The first is to just tour the Castle grounds which allows the visitor the opportunity to walk through the 35 acres of gardens and grounds as well as see some (potentially) great views of the Otago Harbor and the city of Dunedin a little bit to the south. Since the weather was so bad on the day of our arrival, the view didn't even ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 5, 2002