Day 9 – Wednesday, March 27th: TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch through Arthur’s Pass to Fox Glacier (CANCELLED)
We arrived late, 6:45pm with dinner at 7:45pm. So no photos on this trip, but we will be back at the end of the tour.
Woke up in Christchurch to a gray, rainy day. Our schedule is changing due to 100 year floods on the west coast. The TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch through Arthur’s Pass to Fox Glacier has been cancelled and the coach is not able to get through because the railway, roads and bridges have washed out.
We are now on a “Magical Mystery Kiwi Ticky Tour” (a little New Zealand Kiwi humor😊). Meaning we do not know where we are going, we go where the safe roads allow us. Truly a”new adventure”!
On the drive heading south from Christchurch there are a few vineyards. Later it’s mostly dairy cows until after the Rakaia River and then there are corn fields followed by other agriculture.
Rakaia River – Canterbury south of Christchurch
Other side of the coach and our Canadian friend Ella.
First tea stop – Geraldine:
Quaint small town with delicious bakeries.
Lunch stop – Oamaru:
Historic shipping port.
The weather on this stop had been called “brisk”, “fresh”, or “down right cold”, depending on what part of the world you come from😜.
Ariel welcomes everyone back onboard the coach to warm up!
Continuing our drive south to Dunedin.
Blue Skin Bay
Welcome to Dunedin!
The bagpipes were calling us. This group was practicing for a competition. They were very good.
Dinner with our group at the Scenic Hotel Dunedin. Clockwise from left, Terry & Kathy, US, Michel & Marie-Claude, France, Gloria, Canada, and Leslie, UK. Photo compliments of Margaret from AU.
Larnach Castle, NZ’s only castle:
The coach took us up to Larnach Castle for a tour. It is located at the top of a mountain overlooking Port Chalmers and the Pacific ocean.
The view from the roof of the castle.
From far right counterclockwise: Simon or Tour Director, John & Katherine, Ireland, Kay and Don, AU.
Kathy with Alice in Wonderland.
Far left is Simon Walker our Tour Director.
Day 10 – Dunedin to Queenstown:
Tea stop – Milton:
Lunch stop – Alexandra
Cromwell – Mrs. Jones Fruit Orchards:
Stocking up on fresh fruits and dark chocolate. From left, Kathy with John, Ireland and Simon our Tour Director.
Historic Gold Mining Town – lots of character and charm.
Arthur’s Point on the way to Queenstown.
Day 15 – Tuesday, April 2: Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
Off to a good start on time again this morning. Our good luck didn’t last as the defroster and air conditioner went out. The windows were all fogged up so we had to stop because our driver could not see.
Photos from our emergency stop – no idea where we are 😲😜.
Views on the drive to Geraldine.
Morning tea and emergency stop in Geraldine:
We stopped here on the way south, so no photos this time. The defroster and air conditioner are still on the blitz so more repairs are needed. Apparently this is going to be another long day only this time it’s very cold both inside and outside the coach😞.
We had a lovely hot cup of tea and repairs to the coach were made. Back on the road again. Next stop in about 2 hours in Christchurch.
Commodore Hotel Christchurch:
Another beautiful hotel. This one is family owned and they focus on great service.
Across the street from the building above is the most amazing museum, at least 5 floors. We could easily spend a few days exploring the museum and they also have beautiful botanical gardens.
Dinner tonight will be in the hotel because we’re a little way out of town. Don and Kay, AU along with Judy and Ken, AU will be joining us. Their flight out in the morning is at 6:00am and ours is at 4:00pm. Hoping to get a little more exploring done tomorrow morning.
Day 7 – Monday, March 25: Rotorua to Wellington
Travel Thermal Explorer Highway:
Beautifully scenic drive – made for a very long day on the coach!
Huka Falls our first stop of the day:
I’ve never seen water so crystal clear with such an icy blue color.
Lake Taupo is so large you could put entire the city of Singapore in the center and still have room for lake sports. This lake is approximately 300 meters deep!
Travelodge Wellington – we had a lovely anniversary surprise waiting for us in our room. This was our first Pavlova compliments of the hotel (something of a story behind this).
Exploring Wellington and dinner on the Wharf at Portofino.
22 Mar & 23 Mar – Days 4 & 5
Day 4 – Friday, March 22: Land Tour starts with welcome dinner at the Rydges Auckland Hotel
We had a wonderful 3 course meal with a couple from Australia, Lorraine and Graham, and a British couple, Deidra and Graham. Both couples are very nice and we had a lovely visit with them. We are enjoying meeting people from all over the world and learning about their lives and their countries.
Day 5 – Saturday, March 23: Leave Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua
On the coach from Auckland to Rotorua
First coffee or tea stop
Waitomo glowworm caves & boat ride through caves:
Photos are not allowed in the caves. So you’ll just have to come down under to see this. On the way down to the river, we walked through limestone caves covered in stalactites and some of the glowworms could be viewed from this area. Further down was a short boat ride along a river in the caves where there were thousands of glowworms!
New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute:
Maori Hangi Feast at Te Puia – entertainment and Maori cuisine:
Hotel: Rydges Rotorua
View from our hotel room.
Best lunch place for fish and chips and great music on Eat Street.
Eat Street in downtown Rotorua.
Lake Rotorua (Roto means lake, rua means second) is a very shallow lake. The”island” in the middle is the top of the volcano’s crater.
Tourist Center downtown Rotorua.
Government Gardens downtown Rotorua.
Historic Rotorua Museum in the background.
This is a popular Geothermal area so the sulfur smell is very strong!
Our trip to New Zealand included a stop at Larnach Castle. From the top of the castle you can see for miles, and this shot shows the bay leading to Port Chalmers. The castle has a history that has taken it to the brink of destruction. At the time the current owners purchased the castle, developers were eying the property and intended to demolish it for a residential development. With views like this, is it no wonder they would have wanted to destroy this magnificent piece of history?