New Zealand Journals

2005 Trip to New Zealand

A November 2005 trip to New Zealand by Guanilo

Pancake Rocks Photo, Punakaiki, New Zealand More Photos
Quote: Honeymoon and hiking.

2005 Trip to New Zealand

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

From Queenstown Harbor Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
Our trip to New Zealand was for our honeymoon. We intended to spend about two weeks hiking and the other two weeks exploring the country. The hikes were definitely high points, as the landscape and countryside of New Zealand are just this side of Eden. A close second, though, were the people of New Zealand. The Kiwis that we met were (pretty much without exception) open, friendly, and kind - just the kind of people that you'd hope to meet on a long trip.If I had to pick a few highlights, it would be:* Helihiking Fox Glacier.* Standing atop Conical Hill on the Routeburn Track.* Helping a farmer herd his sheep while he was moving them from field to field.* Meet some really good p...Read More
Quote:
This was strictly a place to lay down your head that also happens to be near the airport. The rooms were clean enough and passably quiet, but it was kind of a down way to end what had been such a great trip. The place has the feel of existing to service a convention or business meeting.

There was a pool on premise, but it was out of order while we were there. The lobby has computers which can be used for web access, but I remember it as being pricey under the circumstances.

I believe our nightly rate was about $150 (US).

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Centra Auckland Airport
Corner Kirkbride And Ascot Roa
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (9) 275-1059

Sanctuary Palms Photo, Paihia, New Zealand
Quote:
A very high end bed-and-breakfast in Paihia. It was located high up on the hillside, making for very beautiful views, albeit at the cost of being somewhat inconvenient. To be honest, the location was a bit confusing at first, but it worked out in the end.We stayed in the Pacifika Suite. The interior of the rooms we had (located right about the garage/driveway) were well appointed, with a large bathtub and open shower in the master suite. There were several TVs throughout the area, including a VCR in the main room. Speaking of the main room, a full kitchen (dishes, cookware and flatware provided) came with the unit.This was a very good place for us to base out of during our time...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Sanctuary Palms
31 Bayview Road
Paihia, New Zealand
+64 (9) 402-5428

Skycity Grand Hotel Auckland

Hotel | "Sky City Grand Hotel"

Skycity Grand Hotel Auckland Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
It's a five star luxury hotel in the heart of Auckland. If that's what you're looking for, then you're in luck. If not, well...The building seemed to be either recently built or recently redecorated. It's an ultra-modern place, with lots of open space on the walls, glass and hard edges. There are several good restaurants in the building, and a skywalk to the nearby convention center/casino. The room itself was good sized, with a comfortable bed and somewhat small bathroom.The very good thing about the hotel is that it is very centrally located. We were within a ten minutes walk to the harbor, and there were lots of restaurants and shopping within easy walking.To be ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Skycity Grand Hotel Auckland
86 FEDERAL STREET
Auckland, New Zealand
64-9-363-6252

Quote:
A quirky place in a former bank, each room as a distinct theme. It is centrally located in the city, which is quite nice, but also comes with a parking issue. Our bill for two nights came to about $500 (US), including one good meal in the hotel restaurant.

Originally, we had the "Turkish" room, but we asked to be moved - the bed was a bit uncomfortable for us. We ended up in the Captain's room, which was open and airy, with very high ceilings.

The overall service of the place was rather good. This was definitely a "price is no object" kind of hotel.

www.durville.com

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Hotel d'Urville
52 Queen Street
Blenheim, New Zealand
+64 (3) 577 9945

Siena Motor Lodge

Hotel | "Sienna Motor Lodge"

Quote:
I would unequivocally, absolutely, highly recommend this place. To be honest, this was probably one of the best places we stayed the entire time in New Zealand (particularly if you factor in the cost). One night's stay was about $100 (US).It's an unassuming place, a low-slung one story standard motel. It's located somewhat away from the main part of Wanganui, but there are still a few restaurants within walking distance. There are also laundry facilities on site.The layout of the room itself was pretty standard as far as motels go. The beds were good and comfortable, and the bathroom facilities were larger than we had expected. The entire place was immaculately clean. And I can...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Siena Motor Lodge
335 Victoria Avenue
Wanganui, New Zealand 5031
+64 (6) 345-9009

Balmoral

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "The Balmoral"

Balmoral Photo, Queenstown, New Zealand
Quote:
A great bed-and-breakfast on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. Great place to stay, an easy ten minute walk down the hill to the main square in Queenstown, and the proprietors are very friendly and helpful. This was probably our most favorite place to stay in our entire New Zealand trip.We hiked several of the nearby trails (which are multi-day experiences). While we were gone, they held both our bags and our rental car for us until we returned. We had the honeymoon suite (#2) (it only seemed apropos). The room was well lit by natural light and spacious. The bathroom was quite good though - very roomy with a great view. It was very relaxing to sit in the Jac...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Balmoral
24 York Street
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 (3) 442 7209

Beachcomber

Hotel | "The Beachcomber"

Quote:
The Beachcomber is located just across the street from the beach/park. The location is rather good, a few blocks east of the town center, making for easy walking.

The rooms were very clean, open, and airy. Our room was on the end, so we also had a beach view. Laundry units were available in the back of the facility.

Our nightly rate was around $80 (US).

www.orewa-beach.co.nz/staying/beachcomber.htm

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Beachcomber
42 Norfolk Street
Orewa , New Zealand

Westhaven

Hotel | "The Westhaven"

Westhaven Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
This hotel was advertised to us (by the travel agent) as a luxury hotel. It wasn't. Not to say that it was bad, it just wasn't a high-end hotel. It reminded me more of a motor lodge, as you parked your car immediately in front of the door to the room.

The place is set up with a somewhat modern interior and sliding glass doors to a patio in back. The walls were a bit thin (either that, or our immediate neighbor was being very loud). Still, the rooms were clean and decently sized. The bathrooms were average.

www.thewesthaven.co.nz

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Westhaven
PO Box 87
Fox Glacier, New Zealand
+64 (3) 751-0084

Cove Motel

Hotel | "The Cove"

The Huka Falls Photo, Taupo, New Zealand
Quote:
A rather high-end hotel on the shore of Lake Taupo, it was well situated by being near enough to the main part of town that you could get there with a few minutes drive and far enough away that you didn't have to listen to it constantly. For example, the main shopping district was about a five-minute drive, with the Huka Falls being about another ten minutes past that.The rooms were very nice, with a large bathroom en suite. On the balcony was a secluded hot tub, set up so that you could see the lake, but someone would have to be really trying to be able to see you.The beds were large and comfortable, with good service from the staff. The only thing that holds me back from givi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Cove Motel
213 Lake Terrace
Taupo, New Zealand +64 (7) 378-759
+64 (7) 378-7393

Quote:
We stayed at the lodge after hiking the Northern Crossing of Tongariro. Our guide (Stu -- great guy!) recommended us the place, and we're glad he did. It was a pretty good place, nice staff, with clean and quiet rooms. It was set up in a pretty quaint way, with low slung buildings on either side of the main office/lodge area. As we were the only people staying there that night, we kind of kept it to ourselves, but I can see where it would be a very fun place during ski season.

www.tongarirocrossinglodge.com

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Tongariro Crossing Lodge
37 Carroll Street, National Park Village
Tongariro Mountain, New Zealand 2653
+64 (7) 8922688

Hobnail Cafe

Restaurant

Quote:
Having stayed the night at the Westhaven just across the street, we were in the mood for some breakfast before our Helihike. The food was filling and of good quality. I believe we had omelets and waffles, as well as juice and milk, which ran the both of us about $20 (US).

The service was rather good; there were quite a few people about, waiting for various hikes to start. The tables were mostly set up for groups of four to six, but there was one group of fourteen eating at the same time we were.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Hobnail Cafe
Main Road
Fox Glacier, New Zealand
+64 (3) 751 0005

Wing Wah

Restaurant

Quote:
This was a Chinese restaurant directly across the street from Sienna Motor Lodge (where we happened to be staying). It was a strictly average place as far as the food goes. The service was very good, though. From what we could tell, it seemed to be a family run business.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Wing Wah
330 Victoria Ave.
Wanganui, New Zealand
06 345 6096

Mai Thai Restaurant

Restaurant

Quote:
Located on the 2nd floor of a busy street near the main thoroughfare, this was pretty good Thai. The atmosphere and decor was pretty busy, but somewhat standard for Thai restaurants. When we were there (it was a weekend night), they were quite busy, but the service was more than acceptable.

For some reason, I was hoping for more (given the proximity to Thailand as opposed to the US), but it was certainly passable. I'd eat there again.

www.maithai.co.nz

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Mai Thai Restaurant
57 Victoria Street West
Auckland, New Zealand 1010
+64 09 366 6258

Quote:

A somewhat random stop on our way back to Auckland from the northern end of the island, we happened upon Reva's by sheer luck. The food was pretty good (the lamb shanks in particular), and the location is very nice -- right in the middle of the sailing ships.

We ate outside on the deck, which had a slew of small tables as well as one or two larger ones. I do not know how they would be normally; we came at an off hour (in between lunch and dinner).
www.revas.co.nz

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Reva's on The Waterfront
31 Quay Side
Whangarei, New Zealand
+64 (9) 4388969

Landing - The Cove Motel

Restaurant | "The Landing (Cove Hotel)"

Quote:
The Landing is the restaurant located shoreside at The Cove hotel. The food was quite good, with very attentive service. We ate outdoors on the deck, just a stone throw away from the lake -- making for a very good atmosphere over a bottle of wine.

www.thecove.co.nz

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Landing - The Cove Motel
213 Lake Terrace
Taupo, New Zealand +64 (7) 378-759
+64 (7) 378-7393

Quote:
We found this restaurant just walking through the main section of Orewa. I remember this as being pretty good Indian food -- much better than we were expecting given the look of the restaurant from the street. We had our usual -- chicken tikki masala and rogan josh with garlic nan. The restaurant was pretty slow (we came a bit out of season), but the service was still pretty good.

www.orewa-beach.co.nz/dining/wwindia.htm

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Wishing Well Of India
334 Hibiscus Coast Highway
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (9) 4 26 4499

Sky Tower

Restaurant | "Sky City Observatory"

Sky Tower Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
Perched about halfway up the Sky Tower (the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere), the Sky City Observatory combines great views with so-so food and passable service. We took the buffet (heavy on seafood) -- perhaps the made-to-order food would have been better. Granted it was a busy time, but the wait staff were (at best) inattentive. For $35 (US) per person, I would have expected more.The main reason why we chose to go to the Observatory was that access to the deck and viewing areas were tossed in with the cost of the meal. You're much better off just getting the viewing areas by themselves.Basically, the view is worth the money; the food isn't....Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Sky Tower
Victoria Street at Federal Street
Auckland, New Zealand 1001
+64 (9) 363 6000

Quote:
After a day of biking around the vineyards, we had lunch at the small cafe out back of the schnapps tasting area. We had sandwiches and soda. The place is basically self-serve, so your service is as good as you want it to be. The food was pretty much strictly average. The nicest thing was a small pond out back which was hosting a pair of black swans. They were very friendly and finished off the crusts of our sandwiches for us.

www.prenzel.com/prenzelatmudhouse.htm

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant
Church Bay Road
Oneroa, Waiheke 1240
+64 (0)9 372 9050

Prime

Restaurant

Quote:
Located on the waterfront of Queenstown Bay, Prime offers high-end food and an elegant atmosphere. From the main dining room, the breath of Lake Wakatipu provides the viewing experience while a crackling fire roars in the background.

We had a soup appetizer (squash) and steaks for our mains -- one with Bearnaise sauce, the other with garlic and herbs. They were quite good, cooked just right and served with aplomb. The sommelier recommended a good Shiraz to go with our meal, and dessert was quite nice as well (Pavlova -- a New Zealand standard, and Chocolate Mousse).

www.primerestaurant.co.nz

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Prime
2 Rees Street, Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 (3) 442 5288

Sir William Fox Restaurant & Bar

Restaurant | "Sir William Fox Restaurant"

Quote:
We arrived in Fox Village somewhat late. The only place open and still serving dinner  at that time was the Sir William Fox restaurant, located in the Glacier Country Hotel. The dining area was somewhat sparsely appointed, with most of the space in the room(s) going to a pair of pool tables and some very loud jukeboxes. Of course, that it was 9pm might have something to do with the volume... The food was about what you would expect for a hotel restaurant -- nothing bad, but nothing particularly good, either. I believe that we had a hamburger/chicken sandwich with fries. The service was decent enough; our waitress was pretty friendly. ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Sir William Fox Restaurant & Bar
Scenic Circle Glacier Country Hotel
Nachod, Czech Republic
+64 (3) 751 0847

Blue Duck Cafe & Bar

Restaurant | "Blue Duck Café"

Quote:
As far as places go, this was surprisingly good and cheap. I say surprising because it doesn't have to be all that good -- in the town of Milford Sound, there really isn't anywhere else you can go to get something to eat. At night, the pub gets a bit busy (usually a string of hikers from the Milford Track are in, blowing off steam) and the pool table and darts in back will get a good work out.

Food is pretty standard pub grub, with service a cut above what you might have otherwise expected.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Blue Duck Cafe & Bar
Waterfront
Milford, New Zealand
+64 (3) 249 7931

Boardwalk

Restaurant

Boardwalk Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
Overlooking the Queenstown Harbor (with the remarkable in the distance), Boardwalk combines phenomenal food with outstanding service. The cuisine is more seafood oriented, but there are other options, if that is desired. The tables were arranged so as to give each table enough privacy without seeming to be completely isolated. It was quite pricey, but it was also one of the best meals we had the entire time we were in New Zealand.

www.boardwalk.net.nz

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Boardwalk
Steamer Wharf
Queenstown, New Zealand
(3) 442-5630

Rebo Cafe & Bar

Restaurant | "Rebo Cafe & Bar"

Quote:
Located at the base of the Sky City Tower, Rebo's gave us a good lunch with snappy service. We had salads and a pizza while sitting outside, watching people doing the Sky Jump from off the top of the Sky Tower.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Rebo Cafe & Bar
Victoria Street at Federal Street
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (9) 363-6000

Tatler

Restaurant

Quote:
Located in the midst of the pedestrian mall of Queenstown, Tatler provided good quality service matched with decent enough food. We had garlic bread (completely not worth it) and followed on with lamb shanks and the vegetarian main (rather good, actually). We ate outdoors on the street level, enjoying a nice breeze blowing in from the nearby harbor.

www.tatler.co.nz

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Tatler
No 5 The Mall
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 (3) 442 8372

Mack Attack

Attraction

Quote:
A jet boat ride (meaning the boat moves at speeds greater than 100k) while the pilot of the ship provides a running commentary of the scenery. The whole ride lasts about two hours or so, and you get to see the Bay Of Islands from a very unique perspective. Once you get out to The Hole In Rock (named as such because the ocean has eroded a large hole in the rock big enough for small ships to sail through), the boat slows for long enough to take photographs; otherwise, the boat moves too fast and the water (for us at least) was too choppy for any photographs to come out as anything other than completely blurs.Rate is about $60 (US) per adult....Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Mack Attack
Maritime Building
Paihia, New Zealand
+64 (9) 402-8180

Minus 5 Bar

Attraction

Quote:
It's worth going for the novelty, if nothing else. The entire bar is made of ice - the "glasses", the seats, the bar, everything. You pay a pretty steep cover charge (I think it was about $20 US) which does include a single drink for about 30 minutes or so. Honestly, that was about all you'd want to spend there. Prior to going in, you suit up in thermal gear (provided by the establishment) so you don't get frostbite.

www.minus5experience.com

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Minus 5 Bar
Princes Wharf
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 (9) 377-6702

Prenzel Mudhouse

Attraction

Quote:
A delightful twist on the usual wine tasting - this was a schnapps tasting. The staff provided complementary mixed schnapps (chocolate and butterscotch, chocolate and mint, etc.) for the tasting along with some commentary on how the schnapps is made. A very nice change of pace from the wineries in the area. It's too bad that they don't ship to the US...

www.prenzel.com

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Prenzel Mudhouse
193 Rapaura Road
Blenheim, New Zealand
+64 (3) 572-7225

Wine Tours By Bike

Attraction

Wine Tours By Bike Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
It's a great idea - bike from vineyard to vineyard tasting wine. The bikes come with "holsters" to hold individual bottles, and the rental group will come pick you up if you get too tipsy.

It's a great way to see the vineyards in a relaxing environment. The local automobile traffic was pretty good about giving us a wide berth while we were riding (something that I had worried about, given some of my experiences in the US).

Rental rate was about $40 (US) for the day per person.

www.winetoursbybike.co.nz

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Wine Tours By Bike
191 Bells Road
Blenheim, New Zealand
+64 (3) 5776954

Sheep World

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
Let's start off with the obvious - yes, this is pretty much the definition of a tourist trap. However, it's a good one. Prior to the Lord Of The Rings movies, one of the things that New Zealand was most famous for was sheep. While we were driving northwards on the North Island, we happened by "Sheepworld" and decided to stop on a lark. We're rather glad that we did.For us. Sheepworld consisted of two main things - the sheep and dog show and feeding various farm animals. The sheep and dog show was interesting, as neither of us had ever really seen the way that sheep dogs do their jobs, as well as all of the varieties of sheep working in New Zealand. The host also demonstrated th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Sheep World
State Highway One
Warkworth, New Zealand

Pancake Rocks

Attraction | "The Pancake Rocks"

Pancake Rocks Photo, Punakaiki, New Zealand
Quote:
A park on the western coast of the North island, it is well worth stopping by to see the Pancake Rocks. And what are the Pancake Rocks, you may be asking? Well, the are "limestone formations from over 30 million years ago... [As] the seabed was raised above sea level to form the coastal cliffs and coastline, the sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations..."They are quite unique and well worth stopping to see. Also, if you are a fan of the Bird of Paradise flowers, there are some of the largest we have ever seen at this site. The planets reached well beyond the heads of either of us. Interestingly enough, we were told that the Kiwis view th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Pancake Rocks
Paparoa National Park
Punakaiki, New Zealand

Franz Joseph Glacier

Attraction | "Franz-Josef Glacier"

Approaching the glacier Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
We did not do the formal hike (complete with guides and all). We just walked up to the front of the glacier on our own while we were waiting for the Helihike on Fox glacier to start.Fox and Franz-Joseph are separated by a short drive (maybe fifteen minutes). Walking to the front of either glacier is free for anyone who wants to make the hike. It's an interesting experience to be that near an advancing glacier - particularly when the air temperature isn't all that cold (I think we were wearing thin pants and a rain slick).This probably would have been much more enjoyable without the rain and haziness, but there's not much you can do about that....Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Franz Joseph Glacier
State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
+64 (3) 752 0763

Kiwi & Birdlife Park

Attraction | "Kiwi & Birdlife Park"

Quote:
This was very much a tourist trap kind of place just slightly off the center of town in Queenstown. However, we had a little bit of time to kill, and we really wanted to see a kiwi (as it is the icon of the island).After you pay your admission fee (about $25 (US) per adult), you can get a set of headphones to allow you to walk through the park, listening to various experts tell you about the wildlife on display - including quite a few ducks, birds, reptiles, and other smaller creatures. The ducks are very friendly and will eat directly out of your open hand.As kiwis are nocturnal animals, you had to go into a special shed. There, a few of them were rooting about through the shr...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Kiwi & Birdlife Park
Brecon Street
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 (3) 442-8059

Auckland Museum (Tamaki Paenga Hira)

Attraction | "Auckland Museum"

Auckland Museum (Tamaki Paenga Hira) Photo, Auckland, New Zealand
Quote:
A friend of ours told us about this museum while we were planning our trip. I'm glad they did. We ended up spending a whole day there without really noticing the time.The first floor is dedicated to indigenous peoples (mostly the Maori, but others as well). There's a lot to see there, and it's worth the time. Upstairs, things start to get more and more modern leading up to the military stuff. There is a very large set of exhibits about World War II, including a German U2, a rebuilt Japanese Zero (I don't recall the precise model, but my brother - who's one of the WWII nuts - said it was quite rare) and an American Mustang.There was also a show performed by Maori tribes people. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Auckland Museum (Tamaki Paenga Hira)
Auckland Domain
Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand

Sky Tower

Attraction

Sky Tower Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
Quote:
The Sky Tower rises some three hundred meters from the center of Auckland (which I believe makes it the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere). There is a restaurant or two at the top, as well as an observation deck. Throw in a way up and down the tower on the outside, and you've got an interesting experience.Outside? Yes, you can climb the outside of the tower (the Vertigo Climb) and then do a wire guided base jump/controlled fall from about halfway up the tower. Neither of us were either brave or drunk enough to try, though.In any case, if you've got the extra change on hand ($20 US per adult), the views are rather commanding....Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 13, 2007

Sky Tower
Victoria Street at Federal Street
Auckland, New Zealand 1001
+64 (9) 363 6000

Skyline Gondola, Restaurant and Luge

Attraction | "Skyline Gondola & Adventure Activities"

Skyline Gondola, Restaurant and Luge Photo, Queenstown, New Zealand
Quote:
Perched on the ridge high above Queenstown, Skyline provides a commanding view of the entire lake region and the Remarkables. It's worth the $15 or so (US) for the gondola ride up to the top for the views. Once you're there, there are quite a few things to do -- the land luge (more like a gravity powered cart), bungee jumping, a restaurant and a Maori show. To get down off the ridge, you can take the gondola down, or you can do a tandem paraglide back to Queenstown.We elected not to avail ourselves of the more dramatic options on Skyline, and rather just had lunch. The food at lunch buffet was pretty much average and the service was non-existent. A disappointment, really, even it was only ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Skyline Gondola, Restaurant and Luge
Brecon Street
Queenstown, South Island Queenstown 9300
(03) 441 0101

Wine Tasting

Attraction | "Wine Tastes"

Quote:
We just happened upon this place in Queenstown. Perhaps there are others like this, but this was a first for the both of us. Imagine a wine tasting set up like a food court. Fifty, sixty bottles of wine, arrayed all along the room. Take your credit card, slide it in the slot above the bottle, and the machine pours you a taste of the wine. If you like it, take the bottle from below the machine. If not, wash out and keep going. We liked this because it was different than the standard wine tasting experience -- a room full of somewhat snooty people all trying to out-smooth the other. Much more relaxed and just about the liquid itself....Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Wine Tasting
All around Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

Dolphin Discoveries

Attraction

Quote:
In what we were hoping to be a great experience, the weather and the seas did not cooperate. No dolphins were sighted, we didn't get in the water, and (actually) the seas were kind of rough, inviting a load of Dramamine to be passed around.

However, that's the way it goes with wildlife; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The crew was very nice and knowledgeable, as well as patient with some of the less seafaring patrons.

Cost was $100 (US) per adult. Wetsuits and snorkels are provided by the ship; swim-wear is your own concern.

www.dolphinz.co.nz/swim.htm

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Dolphin Discoveries
Cnr Marsden & Williams Rd's
Paihia, New Zealand 0252
+64 (9) 402 8234

Flying Fox: Helihike

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Flying Fox: Helihike Photo, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Quote:
Of all the hikes we did in New Zealand, this was one that we were most looking forwards to completing. Imagine: a helicopter ride up to a flat stretch of glacier, a four hour hike around the ice, followed by a return ride. And this is nothing like the calm, expanses of the glaciers in, say, Alaska. No, these are active glaciers, advancing down the side of the mountain into a tropical rain forest.First, a warning. Helihikes at Fox Glacier are very weather dependent. We were unbelievably lucky to get to take the trip we scheduled some weeks in advance on schedule. A number of people at Hobnail Cafe (in the same building as where the hikes are booked) had been hanging around for days hoping f...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 25, 2007

Flying Fox: Helihike
State Highway 6
Fox Glacier, New Zealand
+64 (3) 751-0825

Milford Track

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Milford Track - Great Walk"

Milford Track Photo, South Island, New Zealand
Quote:
The Milford Track is oft times described as the "loveliest walk in the world". I don't know about the world, but it is pretty darn good. It's a five day, 33.5 mile hike (but don't worry - it's nowhere near as bad as that might sound) over Mackinnon Pass from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound.This is not a hike like most people from the US are going to recognize. For one thing, the popularity of the trip is such that the NZ government restricts access to the trail (you have to book a ticket well in advance), and you can only go in one direction. In our circumstance, we were planning in a hurry; the only way we could get tickets to the trail in a way that would work with our schedule was to use ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 26, 2007

Milford Track
Fiordland National Park
Southwest, South Island
+64 3 249 7924

Milford Cruises

Attraction | "Milford Sound Cruises"

The many waterfalls of Milford Sound Photo, South Island, New Zealand
Quote:
A cruise out to the end of the sound (plus a little ways into the Tasman Sea) and then back, with an overnight stay in one of the coves. During the trip, you have a number of culinary choices to choose from, as well as a full bar. There are quite a few things to see - seals, penguins, dolphins, very interesting trees, waterfalls galore, and picturesque mountains. Once the ship reaches the cove, you can go kayaking or to the underwater observatory. At night, the crew serves a filling multi-course meal of seafood (as well as a few other things for those who would prefer a change of pace), followed by drinks and retiring to the cabin for the night. We elected to have the private cabin, which ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 26, 2007

Milford Cruises
Milford Harbour
Milford, New Zealand

Routeburn Track

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Final day of hiking on the trail Photo, New Zealand, South Pacific
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Probably the most adventurous of the three hikes we did in New Zealand, it was also the most rewarding. It's a three day, 25.1 mile hike over Harris Saddle from The Divide (on Milford Road) to Routeburn Flats.This is not a hike like most people from the US are going to recognize. For one thing, the popularity of the trip is not as much as with Milford, so NZ government does not restricts access to the trail; however, they do restrict access to the huts and lodges (you have to book a ticket well in advance). In our circumstance, we were planning in a hurry; the only way we could get tickets in a way that would work with our schedule was to use the guided hike approach. Now, let'...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 26, 2007

Routeburn Track
Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks
South Island, New Zealand

Craters of the Moon

Attraction

Craters of the Moon Photo, Taupo, New Zealand
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This one was suggested to us by a shopkeeper in the area. She said it was very barren, but still interesting. She was right, too.It's a field of bubbling craters, mud pools, steam vents, and sulfur flats. The temperatures in the bottoms of these opening can reach north of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and yet plant life adapts and even thrives in the conditions. It's well worth the stop for an hour or so. But, when they tell you to stay on the path, they mean it. A teenage girl got hurt just before we got there. Apparently, she was playing around with her friends, stepped off the path a ways, and got too close to one of the pools. The ground near the edge of the pit gave way, and she fell in...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 26, 2007

Craters of the Moon
Off Hwy 1
Taupo, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Fabulous Tongariro Crossing Trek"

A view of Mount Ruapehu Photo, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
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Our only hike on the North Island, we were unfortunately rained out for two of the three days on this hike.The main attraction to the Tongariro hike is the Emerald Lakes, which are a brilliant green color due to all the minerals in the area. We did get to see them, but from a distance of about two feet (very thick cloud cover that day). Anyway...We elected to go the long way around (leaving the Emerald Lakes -and their crowds- for the last day of the hike). The first day was merely overcast, with lovely views of a grey, boulder-filled desert. As we started into dinner, the clouds parted and did not let up for three days straight. But that's what hiking is, right? It's not that ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2007

Tongariro National Park
Central North Island, Ruapehu District
Tongariro Mountain, New Zealand

Huka Falls

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

The Huka Falls Photo, Taupo, New Zealand
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The Huka Falls are one of the more magnificent waterfalls you might find, as well as one of the more unusual. When most people think of waterfalls, the typical image conjured to mind is of a sheer rock face, careening hundreds of feet overhead and a roaring jet of water pounding into the base of the cliff.That's not at all what you'll find at Huka Falls. Rather, what happens here is the Waikato River squeezes from a width of about 350 yards to just around 50 feet. It stays in this tight stretch for 250 yards, gaining speed and pressure all the while (as the mass of water piles in from behind, pushing forwards) until it launches over a 35 foot high cliff into the river below. It...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 28, 2007

Huka Falls

Taupo, New Zealand

Waipoua Forest

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Waipoua National Forest/Tane Mahuta"

Waipoua Forest Photo, North Island, New Zealand
Quote:
Not far from Paihia on the Western coast of Northern side on the North Island, there's a national forest of of Kauri trees, including Tane Mahuta (the "Lord of the Forest"). It's well worth the drive over to check out these trees in general and Tane Mahuta in specific. When you get there, it's quite imposing, standing at about 170 feet tall and 45 feet wide. We found ourselves just sitting and drinking it in. "Here in front of us", we thought, "is a tree that was around when Christ was."The Kauri trees used to be found nearly everywhere in New Zealand, until they were nearly harvested (for sailing ships) to extinct. This forest is the largest collection left in New Zealand....Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 28, 2007

Waipoua Forest

North Island, New Zealand

Body Sanctum

Story/Tip

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A very relaxing massage for both of us after a few days of hiking. The staff were very accommodating and pleasant, with high quality aesthetics and an enjoyable atmosphere.

We went with the "Couples Massage", which ran us about $100 (US). After several days on the trail, it was well worth it.

Located at 50 Stanley Street in Queenstown NZ.

www.bodysanctum.co.nz

Body Sanctum
10 Athol Street
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 (3) 442-4336