Friday, 21 January 2011

More reviews

I know I am going to lose momentum/interest in this idea now I am home and busy again - so here is some thoughts about the other accommodation we stayed in during our NZ travels. After Tekapo we headed to Dunedin. There we stayed in our best value accommodation of the trip, Living Spaces, although I was shocked at first by how small the room was. However, we got to appreciate that we had everything we needed and it was very well designed to maximise the lack of space. The bathroom, built in a big glass cylinder, had fantastic water pressure, which redeemed the room when I was initially feeling a bit claustrophobic, compared to our wonderful large unit in Lake Tekapo. We didn't make use of them, but there was a range of shared facilities, like a 'theatre' you could book to watch DVDs and a shared kitchen. Overall, for the price, quite good value and I'd stay there again. Although, looking at their website, we payed quite a bit more than the advertised rate - (so much for bargains on wotif) but I guess it was peak period....
I can't remember where we stayed in Akaroa at the moment. I'll look it up at some stage :) but next stop after that was Hanmer Springs. The main draw card there of course is the hot springs, so a motel in walking distance to the centre of town is very handy. We stayed at Aspen Lodge Motel, and since it was our wedding anniversary, splurged on a spa room (in hindsight, a bit redundant in a spa town, LOL) and had a beautiful suite, with a separate lounge and its own balcony. The home made baked goods delivered when the room was cleaned were a lovely touch. And while you are in Hanmer Springs, make sure you try the Tapas at the Rustic Cafe - such good food, we ate there both nights (we needed 2 visits to try the full range of Tapas). While on the subject of dining, we discovered a fantastic restaurant in Dunedin, very reasonably priced, called Nova Cafe. It's right next door to the cinema, in the Octagon. You have to try the slow cooked lamb... and the caramelised banana creme brulee was amazing.
Last stop of the trip was Kaikoura and ironically (we stayed there the longest), our most modest accommodation (although not the cheapest). The Bella Vista was a perfectly acceptable motel, with really nice service in the office (they let me on their computer to check in and print our boarding passes) but overcrowded rooms and very expensive Internet. We were tripping over the suitcases for 4 days. The motel was also quite a way out of the centre of town, so for the first time, we had to drive in every time we wanted a meal. Luckily, there is so much to do in Kaikoura, we didn't need to spend a lot of time sitting around our tiny room. And that's where I'll leave things for now - I'll review the attractions next post.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Since I've got back in the habit of posting here, I thought I might write some reviews of the various accommodation and attractions/tours we struck while travelling in New Zealand. Since our trip didn't really start till we flew into Christchurch from Auckland, I'm going to start with our accommodation in Lake Tekapo. We found all our accommodation using You can now book a few months ahead on wotif, rather than just 2 weeks. I suspect that means the deals aren't quite as good as they used to be, but it's very handy to have one central site, with photos, ratings and discounted deals.
In Lake Tekapo, we stayed at Lakeview Tekapo. This is a very new business, with only 3 apartments, with the latest gadgets (pincodes instead of door keys), beautiful decor and a star viewing window above the bed. Our hosts were extremely friendly and helpful, and co-incidentally, used to own the Christchurch motel that we stayed in last year. While we enjoyed eating out at the great restaurants in Lake Tekapo, the rooms do have a well equipped kitchenette. We were thoroughly spoiled regarding our accommodation at this early stage of our trip - it set the bar pretty high! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this venue, or stay there again - it was fantastic.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A fun few days.

Last Wednesday we spent quite a bit of time at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, where they have a great Butterfly house (pictured above). It was quite cold in Dunedin today, and I wasn't really dressed for it, so the warmth in the Butterfly house was quite welcome!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Catlins

Yesterday we spent the day on a self driving tour the of The Catlins - the coastal area at the very tip of south island. It's a beautiful area, and we were lucky enough to get up close and personal with a couple of rare Yellow Eyed Penguins, and some sea lions (or fur seals - not 100% sure which). It was exhausting, and we missed a site or two that could only be viewed at low tide (Cathedral caves will have to be on the agenda next time) but it was a fantastic day.
The view at Curio Bay, our first stop, where many of the rocks are actually fossilised trees!
A view of the fossilised forest - that diagonal line in the foreground is a fallen log.
A Yellow Eyed Penguin (the rarest in the world) on the rocks at Curio Bay
A Sealion on the beach at Surat Bay.
Purakaunui Falls
Nugget Point

Monday, 3 January 2011

Berry Heaven!

We drove to Dunedin today. The weather isn't great - it rained lightly most of the day, but it was a beautiful drive. Along the way we stopped at a U-pick berry place and picked berries and had some wicked desserts for morning tea - Rasberry Crumble for Jason and Mixed Berry Shortcake for me!!
When we got to Dunedin we checked out the steepest street in the world - it was easier to walk up than I expected, but my muscles didn't stop quivering for ages afterwards! :)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Last day at Lake Tekapo

Today we drove up to Mt Johns, where the Observatory is. We have been trying to do the skygazer tour the last 2 nights, but mother nature has not co-operated, and the cloud cover was too heavy. That will have to be something we do on another trip I guess, but today we at least got to experience the amazing view from the summit. The weather was not great - very windy and overcast, but still definitely worth a look. And tonight I had fun playing with the photo stitching software within PhotoShop and made some photo montage panoramas....

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011 in New Zealand!

2011 is off to a fantastic start, as we are travelling in New Zealand and having a wonderful time. While we did fly into Auckland, the holiday didn't really start till we flew down to Christchurch on Friday, in the South island. We have been in Lake Tekapo for a couple of days, and the scenery is amazing. Today we went on a tour from Mount Cook with 'Glacier Explorers', which was fantastic - a boat trip onto Lake Tasman, at the head of the Tasman Glacier, on which float numerous Icebergs. It's mindblowing to think that 90% is below the water, and some of them have run aground, in over 200m of water at the 'shallow end' of the lake. We have another day or so here, then we move on to see other parts of South Island!