New Zealand Voyage

After a one-hour’s boat ride crossing beautiful Lake Te Anau. the boat docks near  the start of the Milford Track.  Here, read about my trip to New Zealand, made possible by Goway Tours.

My introduction to Flat White

Flat_White_CoffeeMy introduction to a Flat White came unexpectedly when I missed a connecting flight from Auckland to Wellington. The Air New Zealand flight from L.A. to Auckland was packed. Qantas was on strike, and Air New Zealand was accommodating passengers booked on Qantas, filling every seat on the aircraft.

Much to my chagrin, I had ended up in an aisle seat of the aircraft’s very last Mary Jo was a delight, and little did I know that she would prove my first introduction to a Flat White. On landing, the trans-Pacific flight was so packed that, being in the last row, it was very late by the time I disembarked and made it through customs and immigration. Retrieving my suitcase, I was told that I should wheel it from the international terminal at Auckland Airport to the domestic terminal, a fast walk of several minutes.row, where the seats seemed not to recline all the way back. Nonetheless, I have to admit that Air New Zealand’s seats, even in economy, provided ample room. As I was part of a Society of American Travel Writers’ group flying to Auckland for the association’s annual convention, part way through the flight, an Air New Zealand inflight concierge–Mary Jo van Hoppe– introduced herself and offered me an onboard amenities kit. Read more…

South Island Dreaming

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to see New Zealand, especially the South Island.  On my wish list were the Milford Track, Milford Sound, and the Southern Alps.  I had the opportunity to visit last fall, when Goway  helped me arrange the trip of a lifetime.

My biggest problem was time.  I had been attending the Society of American Travel Writers conference in Wellington, on the North Island.  Following the conference, I had only 5 nights before returning to the U.S., and the choices were agonizing.  I consulted with friends who knew New Zealand well, and with Goway. We ultimately settled on two nights Queenstown, one night Te Anau, overnight return to Queenstown, a night at Mt. Cook, and a final overnight in Christchurch prior to connecting in Auckland for the return flight to Los Angeles.  Read more…

My Encounter with the Milford Track

The Milford Track has always held a place in my imagination.  So when I learned that I could actually do a one-day “Milford Encounter” walk on the beginning part of the track, I jumped at the chance.

I took an early morning  cab into Queenstown – a five minute drive – to meet up with the motor coach that would take me to the sleepy town of Te Anau,  on the Lake of the same name, where my guide, Hunter, would meet me.   Hunter works with an outfit called “Ultimate Hikes” that arranges guided hikes of the entire Milford Track as well as others such as the Routeburn Track. Read more…

Queenstown: One great resort town

Queenstown bills itself as the adventure capital of New Zealand.  And no wonder.  Here you can find arrangements for everything from bungee jumping and 4-wheel drive tours to paragliding  and jetboating.  Hugging the shores of scenic Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area, from a trip down the scenic Glenorchy Road to visiting Fiordland and the Milford Sound.

I stayed at the Heritage Queenstown, which Goway had arranged for me.  The Heritage isa small-to-medium sized resort hotel about a 5 minute cab ride from town (if you choose not to use the local bus, which stops nearby), featuring its own restaurant and outdoor pool.  A real treat was the most sumptuous manuka honey soap in my room. Read more…

The Glowworm Cave of Te Anau, Part I

It kept spinning over and over in my head:  “The Glowworm Song” that I remembered as a kid.

“Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer….”  It hit number one on the Billboard Charts in 1952, and there’s  a Youtube video of the Mills Brothers singing it on the Nat King Cole Show in 1957.     Since then, I’ve always wanted to see a glowworm.

So, knowing that New Zealand has at least a couple of caverns renowned for their glowworms, I jumped at the chance when Goway Travel suggested  including the Te Anau Glowworm caves on my South Island itinerary. Read more…

The Glowworm Cave of Te Anau, Part II

“Te Anau”  in Maori, is actually said to mean, “the cave with a current of swirling water,” which led to the Glowworm Caves’ rediscovery in 1948. After a walk crouched down low, the tunnel opened on to a dimly-lit walkway suspended above rushing and swirling waters below, fed from above by Lake Te Anau.  Passing the 12,000 year old cave’s  jagged, limestone-sculpted walls and cliffs, we reached a waterfall above us.  Then, after a short walk, we boarded a small, open boat in total darkness to float along a silent lake in an underground grotto. The eerie silence was quite a contrast to the rushing and throbbing of the waters we had just passed. Read more…

Te Anau to Milford Sound

My overnight at Te Anau was at Te Anau Hotel and Villas, a comfortable resort whose rooms featured floor-to-ceiling windows looking on to Te Anau Lake, right across the street.  In contrast to bustling Queenstown, Te Anau is quiet, with a distinct laid-back feel.  There aren’t the number of attractions that Queenstown has, but it’s the perfect place to take it easy for a day or two.  And, it’s a great way to break up the four hour (each way) trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound.  And, if you’re a fan of Manuka honey, the plant from which it’s derived, lines part of the shore line of Lake Te Anau. Read more…