The Great South Island Adventure, 11 February – 04 March 2013
This was my second trip to New Zealand, having first visited in 2004, but in winter. To my delight we had wonderful summer weather with cloudless blue skies, for the most part. And virtually no rain!
The highlights of the holiday for me were swimming in the crystal clear cold waters of Lake Wanaka after a long hot dusty walk, finally reaching the top of Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track to see the snow capped mountains under an azure blue sky. Kayaking in the deep dark waters of Doubtful Sound with the playful dolphins splashing about and walking in the National Park, again under a blue sky where Mount Cook could be seen in all its glory with icebergs floating in the glacial lake beneath.
The Milford Track was interesting with the second day up and over the Mackinnon Pass being the most strenuous. Staying in the Lodges was an experience where the generator went off at 10pm and the lights woke you up at 6.15am when it came on. Then it was time to wash, make our own packed lunch, breakfast and be on the track by 7.30am!
The walks were good, varied and included part of one of New Zealand’s other great walks – The Routeburn Track.
Generally the standard of the food and accommodation was very good apart from that in the Fox Glacier area. Most people said they would have preferred to have arranged dining in the hotels in places where there were few restaurants such as in Omarama and free dining in places where there was a good deal of choice such as Queenstown. The Edgewater Resort on the edge of Lake Wanaka was superb!
The only real downside of the holiday was the dreaded sandfly which seemed to ignore the strongest of insect repellents. However sandfly bites became the topic of conversation for a few days and the group even devised a ‘Sandfly Shuffle’ to ward them off as the flies kept away if you kept moving! People soon recovered when we moved away from the West Coast.
The group, which consisted of couples and single people, got on very well and many laughs were had by all!
I had a thoroughly amazing and enjoyable experience with stunning scenery and a sociable, fun group – I strongly recommend this holiday to anyone who likes walking and wants to see the delights of New Zealand!