Thursday, February 28, 2008

Te Anau

We drove up to two wineries in the Queenstown area yesterday before heading down to Te Anau, arriving about 5:00 p.m. Chard's Farm is lovely, with a Tuscan-style cellar door and great whites and pinots. It is up a long gravel drive with steep drop-offs to a roaring whitewater river below. Well worth the heart-stopping drive. Bill has taken to driving on the left side of the road like a champ, with lots of coaching through every round-about.

Then, we had lunch at Amifield Winery. They have a great restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor patio. Food was wonderful, and a sauvignon blanc from a single vineyard and a little oak finish that was unlike any we've had before. Absolutely heavenly. Then, we headed for Te Anau. It's about a 2 hour drive through gorgeous sheep and deer (!) ranch countryside in valleys between two steep mountain ranges. It is so strange to see herds of deer grazing the pastures. Our motel room is very nice with a small kitchen, a separate bedroom, and a view of Te Anau Lake. (Te Anau rhymes with "see the cow.")

Today we went on the Milford Sound cruise. The two hour trip on a coach between Te Anau and Milford included some of the most raw beautiful scenery we have ever seen. It is a landscape I never dreamed still existed without the ruinous influence of people. Fijordland National Park is 3 million acres of protected rainforest, wide planes with trout streams, and crashing waterfalls (literally thousands of them today because it was raining). The boat trip took us around the sound to view more waterfalls than we've ever seen in our lives. I kept thinking of the poor people of Atlanta who would have given anything for all the fresh water. It rains there 200 days out of 365 and the annual rainfall is more than 25 feet. No wonder it rained all day today.

Our luggage has yet to appear. We did get $100 each from the airline yesterday and visited the NZ equivalent of K-Mart to buy a change of underwear and some t-shirts. It's so frustrating because we have all that nice rain gear in the suitcases that we need for this weather and our trek tomorrow. They say the luggage is now in Auckland, (they said that yesterday) and should be delivered sometime tomorrow. We'll see.

This part of NZ is dramatic and un-spoiled. The people are all still friendly and helpful. We have a great landlady who is even supplying rain gear for us tomorrow.

More later.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


It's Thursday morning here, and we spent yesterday traveling from Auckland to Queenstown by air. We had only 3 hours in a motel in Auckland 2:30 am - 5:30 am) before the on-going flights, therefore, we were exhausted but after an easy transfer to the Blue Peaks Lodge, we forged ahead to Bob's Peak to travel 1200 feet almost straight up on the cable car to the top. The views are magnificent of the Remarkable Mountains and Lake Wakatipu below. Hang-glidders were sailing from top to bottom, and the sun peaked in and out makiing a dramatic display on the lake and mountainsides. It was spectacular. The lake is turquoise.

After lunch, we took the TSS Earnslaw steamer to the Walter Peak sheep farm. The steamer was built in 1911 and still has it's original coal fired engines. We watched a Welsh collie work the sheep to whistled commands, and then, most amazing of all, a big wooly sheep sheared of her wool in about 4 minutes. The tea was served in the lovely big house, and consisted of a generous supply of scons and little pancakes with whipped cream and jam. It was all provided very graciously and a beautiful setting. The roses, hydrangeas, agapanthes, and dahlias are in full bloom.

Jared and Neil, you would have loved the luge on Bob's Peak. It was so much fun, even for us two very cautious seniors. You could have gone down the advanced course - over an over. Also, you'd be here about two days and be hang glidding off the top. There's also para-sailing and bungy jumping. Something for everyone.

We have no luggage yet. NZ Air keeps promising to deliver, but so far, we have nothing but the clothes on our backs and a few basics like toothbrushes. We head for Amisfield winery and a couple of others when our car is delivered at 10:00 a.m. Then, this afternoon we go to Te Anau.
It's been a bit difficult so far with the flight delays, no sleep, and no clothes, but this is a gorgeous country and the people are just a friendly as reported. Everyone here is dressed casually, mostly in outdoors sorts of clothes. Our motel here, Blue Peaks Lodge, had a small kitchen and was very comfortable.

Hopefully, in my next posting, I'll be better dressed!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The City of Angels

We are still in LA as Air NZ had to postpone our flight until tomorrow morning. So, we will arrive in Auckland 12 hours late. We are staying in a lovely Sheraton, however, at NZ Air's expense, have had a great dinner in Shuler's restaurant, and will enjoy complimentary breakfast in the morning. Too bad to miss 12 hours in NZ, but at least we are comforatable and happy. Had a great day at the Getty Museum, and a wonderful lunch in their cafe. It's an impressive place, however Mr. Getty earned his fortune.

The saga continues tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cook Islands Itinerary

Sun 23:

4:15 p.m. Welcome to the Cook Islands. Three nights in the Moana Sands motel on the beach

Mon 24 Rarotonga Arts and Culture Tour - visit sites historical to the native Maori people

Tues 25 Free day to explore, swim, and snorkel

Wed 26 Fly to Aitutaki, arruve 11:20a.m.. Two nights Tamanu Beach, a native style accomodation on the lagoon

Thurs 27 Bishop's Lagoon Cruise. Cruise includes snorkeling, fish feeding, stops at the motus, a fish BBQ lunch at One Foot Island, and a birthday cake for Roxanna

Fri 28 Fly to Rarotonga, arrive 10:00 a.m. One night at Pacific Resort including use of kayaks, canoes, snorkeling equipment, tropical breakfast daily.

Sat 29 Market day in town. Black pearls for sale! Depart Rarotonga at 11:59 p.m.

Sun 30 Arrive LAX, 12:20 p.m. Overnight Marriott

Mon 31 LAX to Greenville, arrive 5:47 p.m.