Sometimes I get so frustrated – there just seems so much to see and do in New Zealand – I just want to do it all at once. I had an ingenious idea recently – an awesomely beautiful scenic train ride on the TranzAlpine train. Its run by Kiwi Rail, and I should imagine it must be rated as one of the most scenic trips in the world. The train runs between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth and if you’re like me, you’ll be awe-struck by the sheer beauty.
What I love about the trip is that you don’t have to take days away from home, although that would be nice as well – the journey takes 4½ hours. You don’t have to buy a return ticket either – you can take a one-way journey and explore a bit in Greymouth. A popular trip is to visit the Franz Josef Glacier. Its a magnificent 12 km glacier, but its very setting, in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park is an added attraction for nature lovers. In fact the area around the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier is a World Heritage Site. Once you have seen this, you will realise, like me, that we live in a stunningly beautiful country. I can’t wait to fill you in on more of our breathtaking travels in New Zealand.
Picton is one of those small villages that seem entirely too good to be true. It’s the very definition of “quaint village”. Picton is tucked away in Queen Charlotte Sound, in the South Islands. It’s located in the middle of New Zealand’s wine county, so you can imagine just how amazing your holiday would be. The Marllbourough Wine Region is the place where most of New Zealand’s wine is produced, and you will have the choicest wines, even before they hit the main markets. That is the kind of holiday that would make any wine aficionado jealous!
It’s not just about the wine. Picton is a charming little village, located right on the bay, and the people are amazingly friendly.You need not travel far to experience the beautiful countryside, and the breathtaking coastal scenery. There are restaurants along the harbour, where you can dine on freshly caught seafood as well. For those who are interested in something more active, the Queen Charlotte Track is an option. It’s a beautiful track along the coast- and it’s 71 km long. It’s the ideal place for those who love to hike, and would want to take a weekend off and run to the wilderness.
Thought this post I would share a day trip we did from our home. We thought it was about time we did a trip to Middle Earth! Yes , we decided to visit Hobbiton, where they filmed the Middle Earth village that can be seen in the Lord of the Rings & Hobbit movies. We decided to go via an organised tour, as you have to take the guided tour for Hobbiton anyway and it gave hubby a chance to relax ( yes its Elaine writing today) and enjoy the drive. It really is a lovely scenic drive and the tour company took us one way and back the other. There are many tour companies operating trips but we went with a private tour as we took the family. It was a good decision, looked after us very well and we got to learn some interesting facts about our own neighbourhood. The route took us past a historical battlefield and other famous Maori sites special to Maori Royalty. The Waikato River and Taupiri Mountains where fabulous and a definite day out for us another time.
Enjoyed it so much will definitely use them again for a family trip out. So much easy than having to organise everything and everyone by myself!!! The village is amazing, although I would have prefered a longer tour. Info about the filming, designing and building was given. Being a bit vertically challenged, the kids and I had no problem with the size of the homes. Food was organised and we ate in a private area next to the Green Dragon Inn along with a drink in said inn! All in all a great day out.
We’re sticking closer to home with this post, but still very much focused on nature. Kaikoura is one of our favourite places in New Zealand and although we haven’t been there for years it’s always on our minds to go back! Kaikoura is located right on the Pacific Ocean about two and half hours’ drive north of Christchurch with the snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura mountains behind the town providing a picture perfect setting. The town is also uniquely located by an oceanic trench which attracts all sorts of amazing marine life to its waters, and means you can eat some delicious seafood by the shore too. In fact, the name Kaikoura means ‘meal of crayfish’ in Maori and you can find plenty of that, as well as reliable old fish and chips.
There are loads of opportunities to get up close to the marine life, with whale watching and swimming with dolphins being the highlights. Whale watching can be done from a boat or helicopter if you feel like splurging on a treat, and it really is amazing being up close to these huge, magnificent creatures. However, swimming with the dolphins is even better, you get to swim with pods of dolphins in their natural environment and they are so sociable and curious that if you hum a song through your snorkel they’ll come and investigate, I tried some Elvis with mixed results! Back on land you can go for some beautiful walks, with the peninsula walkway being the obvious top choice for spectacular views, it’s informative too with an impressive array of information panels explaining the geology, animals and the plants that make the area so special. It’s awe-inspiring to get up so close to a seal colony and see huge fur seals basking on rocks, and all for free! A few kilometres north of Kaikoura you can visit seal pups playing in a pool at Ohau Waterfall, seeing them frolicking in the water is simply enchanting and it’s a nice walk too. Kaikoura has so much to offer wildlife lovers and seafarers, one you’ve visited you’ll never forget it.