The Land of the Long White Cloud: New Zealand

January 24, 2011 - Auckland, New Zealand

The start & end point for my trip with Adventure Tours NZ was Auckland and, in between this, our coach took us to some of the most beautiful places in the world & there were lots of adventures en-route.

I was 1 part of a sociable group (no oddballs) of 24 people who all mixed well & spent our free time together. We had a mixed bag of weather but overall we were lucky & managed to fit in most of our activities – the cloud, wind & rain did however hamper our numerous attempts at doing a Skydive!

From the North Island we visited the Coromandel region, Rotorua, Taupo, Tangaririo National Park & NZ’s capitol city, Wellington. We then caught the inter-island ferry to Picton & our journey south took us to Abel Tasman National Park, Hamner Springs, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef, Makarora, Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka, Queenstown, Fiordland National Park & Central Otago.

We had lots of inclusive Group activities: Visits to natural hot springs/thermal pools; great walks & hikes, including the Tongiriro Crossing; a visit to a Maori Cultural village (which ended with me on stage dancing); kayaking; wine tasting; boat trips, an overnight cruise at the serenely beautiful Doubtful Sound; curling (1st time & I loved it) & a 20 mile cycle ride on the Otago goldmine railroad.

I also booked myself onto some other activities so I could scare the s*it out of myself!

Top of the scary pile was an open-ocean swim with dolphins. The pods of 100-150 dolphins were playful & sociable but the Pacific ocean was deep, dark green and much too choppy for my liking - and DJ wasn’t about to protect & save me! It was a memorable experience...never before have I seen so many dolphins at close quarters...and particularly enjoyable once I was washed back up onto the safety of the boat! Hurrah. What a relief & an experience never to be repeated. Shoot me if I ever suggest it.

I also did a full day walk on Franz Josef glacier, which was equally spectacular but not as life-threatening. I walked through ice caves, squeezed myself into crevices and crawled through worm holes and I successfully completed the day without seeing my whole life flash before me!

In Queenstown I played it safe with a 4WD Lord of the Rings adventure & a jet boat trip on the Shotover River! Excellent fun :-D

As I write this I have yet to do my tandem Skydive – I have been booked onto Skydives throughout NZ - but, so far, the weather has defeated me. I will not give up watch this space.

Throughout my trip I couldn’t fault our accommodation; we have stayed in some wonderful remote places & on the edge on National Parks. We have been accommodated in cabins, alpine lodges, motels & hostels.

Whilst in Wellington, I got the opportunity to meet my cousin Colin and his lovely wife, Sheila. Despite arriving 5 hours late, they still managed to give me a good tour of the city & kept me up until the early hours, plying me with alcohol!! It must be 40+ years since I last saw Colin but we all hit it off so well.. and how could we not?? They are such a cool couple. So, thanks again to you both for arranging a weekend in Wellington to coincide with my visit & for an unforgettable time. When I return to NZ (& travel around under my own steam) I will definitely come to visit you in Taranaki.

And last but not least, I met up with my gorgeous friends, Cathy & Keith, from home in Queenstown. It was lovely to see some familiar faces so far away from home & we enjoyed a few glasses of wine & champagne and a Fergburger & fries. (Anyone who has been to Queenstown should know how amazing Fergburgers are) :-D

I said goodbye to the trip group on Sunday evening & spent my last full day in NZ on Waiheke. The island lies 30 minutes from Auckland and it is a little paradise of vineyards, olive farms, beautiful coastal walks and the most jaw-droppingly amazing houses (some with their own private vineyards) & with views over the Hauraki Gulf & Auckland.. ...How the other half live!!

You might think my trip is over now but you’d be wrong. I still have 4 beautiful days on Oahu Island to have some Hawaiian fun. So, I’ll shortly be digging out my colourful sulu again & once I’ve taken in the highlights of Oahu I’ll be hitting the beach. It’s not too late to find myself a veteran surf dude, bro’!!! Ha-ha

Oh what an adventure I’m still having.





Digging a hot pool @ Hot Water beach
Whakarewarewa Maori village
Sulphur Lake Rotorua
Kayaking @ Blue Duck lodge


January 24, 2011
Your visit to the Franz Josef glacier sounds exciting, the thought of crawling through worm holes and caves really freaks me out, but would love to do it!!

Enjoy Hawaii, really jealous, looking forward to seeing the pics! And seeing you soon of course!

Jo x
cathy spearman:
January 24, 2011
Enjoy your last 4 days Marj, hope tou get that Sky dive in! I miss NZ SOoo MUCH but so looking forward to having you back here! Have a good journey home too! LOL xx
January 24, 2011
Marj, it sound so amazing, have sooo enjoyed your news I can't ever imagine how you will ever settle back home. Looking forward to seeing you, enjoy the rest of your trip, safe journey home.
Linda & Michael:
January 24, 2011
What a wonderful time you have had, I've enjoyed reading your adventures and look forward to hearing about them too. I'm sure our paths will cross again in Cyprus in the near future. Safe journey home x
January 24, 2011
Oh my goodness me - just as well the weather is against you flinging yourself out of a plane!
Cannot believe you are nearly home - hope Ross realises and cleans your home for you! Sooo looking forward to ALL your tales.
Safe journey to Hawaii and onwards from there.
A bientot!
January 24, 2011
Hey honey, wow you have done so much in NZ. that's amazing. it all sounds so familiar. I would love to go back one day. I loved it too, but like you, had some dodgey weather, but i was there in May, so kinda expected bad weather. I cannot wait to share some travel stories with you. Enjoy and make the most of your last few days....because before you know it, it will all be over !!
Big hug honey, stay safe and safe return home. Hope we can meet very soon xxx
January 24, 2011
Hi You have enjoyed yourself in NZ. I agree it is a beautiful country. I have been to a lot of the places you have visited. I was very fortunate out of 6 weeks I only had 2 rainy days.
I didn't try my hand at bungee jumping nor sky diving but I did do the shotover river boat ride.
heard about you leading Colin and Sheila astray in Wellington.
Glad you enjoyed your visit with them.
I'm counting my sleeps now until I'm away (32) Hurrah!! Hopefully the weather will be nice warm and dry. We've got a busy month ahead.
January 24, 2011
great pics again Marj you are such a lucky gal. Hope you have a great time in Hawaii and will wait for pic of you with hula skirt on. You are going to struggle to be home and back into a daily routine, bet you will be away on more travels before we kow it.
Hope to hear from you when you home safe and sound. Take care.

Kym Bell:
January 25, 2011
Hi Marj so sorry I missed you in Christchurch, I am begining to think you and Mark are jinx's when it comes to my dogs! Mark arrived and my old German Shepherd was put down that day because of a stroke! you arrive and my new Leonberger had an altercation with a hedgehog and needed to go to the vet for treatment after loosing half the hair off her face from scratching! Lucky I did go home and check her I had been worried about her all day. It sounds as tho you had a great look around and took part in most activities, NZ really is a wonderful place, we have it all.
I look forward to your visit with the campervan, plenty of room to park up on my land. Enjoy your stay in Hawaii. Keep in touch

January 27, 2011
Hi Marj, your blog is wonderful! I love the pictures you picked - still got to do this little job... Well, I hope you are enjoying Hawaii!! Have a save journey back home! I was great sharing the NZ trip with you! Take care, Karen
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