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Good Morning Ian:

Great Trip and finally re-adjusting to leaving Kiwi adventures behind.

Auckland/Waiheke Island:

—Our guide was right there to meet us upon arrival.  Like all of the drivers/guides we encountered he was great—took us on a slight detour to the airport that provided scenic view of Auckland, which we had not had time to do.

—The guide was on the ferry on Waiheke Island to meet us; another Great!  He gave us a very personal tour of the island, was very knowledgeable and we spent an enjoyable half day with him.  By the way, lunch provided at the winery was terrific—one of the best of the trip—and we had many.

Delamore Lodge was great.  In the end the 2 bedroom had fantastic views and space—a lovely if somewhat extravagant way to start the trip.  We were super pleased with our accommodations and dinner was included the first night, and it was all very nice.



Another great guide here!  We had private tour of Hobbiton with Anthony, who was also great;   Cath and Simon at Wildwood Lodge were super.  Super food, very lovely hosts.  There were other guests the first two nights, but then just us and with Marcello being so outgoing we all got to know each other very well.  Lovely experience.  The room was large, very comfortable and it everything was clean and very comfortable.

The days of touring were great—Maori culture center was great and very worthwhile—welcoming ceremony and tour of mud-pools; geyser, actually got to see the Kiwis moving around their nocturnal abode at the Center.  On the day off, we could have done helicopter to White Island to see volcano.

The last day of touring we hiked the Tarawera Falls—this was a great hike of several hours; great picnic lunch and few other hikers.  Then on our cruise, I did catch a trout—sent home with the guide for his dinner—and we stopped at some hot springs to soothe our feet after the hike.  It was all great!


Multi-Day Guided Hiking

It was great!  First, we had only 6 people in Mercedes Van that holds 12—so lots of space to spread out.  But, most importantly, our two guides were fabulous.  They were just terrific.  And the other two couples (also Americans) were lovely as well—which always makes for a good trip.  The one-night-stays were a little tough but we saw a lot.  Hit rain in Milford Sound, so substituted boat cruise for hike.  Despite the drizzle, the boat cruise was really good and worthwhile.  No cruise ships around, so that helped.  Also we booked a 9am cruise, which put us ahead of all the buses (we counted 49) arriving from Queenstown to do this cruise. Also, there is an Observation Center where you can go down below sea level and see all the fish swimming around.  It was really interesting.   The Martins Bay Lodge is great for what it is– very clean; lovely hosts, great dinner and breakfast the next day.  Glad we did this even though a wet start in the morning, sun came out in the afternoon.  Eddie really liked this hike. This was tough to compare, after the Routeburn, for me, that was it, just loved our 12 mile hike that day—great track, great Falls, great weather!

So, I just didn’t realize that weather for Milford/Martin’s Bay is more often rain than not.  Anyone going should be forewarned—I didn’t truly realize until we got there how much rain that area gets!   Don’t think I would have changed though, as positive was seeing so many places like Wanaka (great hike there and Edgewood Resort a real highlight) and Mt Cook/ Hermitage Hotel, and the glow worms in Punakaiki that I would not have thought to include in our planning.



So glad we added this stop, if just for 2 nights—highlight of the trip.  Our hotel was great; loved the city! Airport transfers were right on schedule.

So, whew!  I feel like Bilbo Baggins, “we’ve been on an adventure!”

Thank you for all your help in planning this; with lots of moving parts, everything fell into place just as planned!

Still editing pix, will send any we think worthy of your photo contest!

Now, what do you know about Tasmania?  That may be our next trip Down Under!


Many thanks again from both Eddie and me,

Jo Ann