New Zealand 2018


The photos have not been edited, except to add GPS information to most of them, so that you can see where each photo was taken, usually to within a few meters.  Photos are size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you a full-size image for any photo like want, or a DVD containing all of the photos. For each day, the “Photos” link will take you to the photos for that day; I placed a GPS track on day 15‘s page.  Unlike most of my trip pages, the itinerary below is mostly mine.  The published itinerary was too verbose to include verbatim, and the trip went “rogue” for a few days due to travel issues associated with the remnants of Cyclone Fehi.  (There was another cyclone, possibly Gita, threatening at the end of the trip, too.)


Day 1
Fly from Denver to Auckland via San Francisco.

Day 2
Cross the International Date Line going west, and “gain” a day.  In New Zealand the local time was 4 hours behind Denver, but the next day, or officially 20 hours ahead (e.g. 10 AM Monday in NZ was 2 PM Sunday in Denver.)

Day 3  Photos
Arrive in Auckland and transfer to the hotel.  There’s a mid-afternoon meeting to meet Tracey and the other tour participants.  Take a ferry to Dev0nport for dinner (in the yellow building in the background at far right in the photo).

Day 4  Photos
Visit a local “domain” (park), where we meet a local Maori spokesman and have tea and snacks.  The adjacent museum houses the largest collection of Polynesian artifacts in the world.  Later, a free-time visit to the maritime museum.

Day 5  Photos
Depart Auckland for Rotorua.  We visit a Maori park for lunch and a tour through a redwood forest.  Later we visit a kiwi hatch-and-release facility.

Day 6  Photos
Visit the newest geothermal site in the world, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, dating to 1886.  This includes a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana, where we see lots of geothermal activity.  I also did the optional Maori Cultural Experience at the village of Mitai.

Day 7  Photos
This day didn’t go according to plan.  Our noon flight from Rotorua to Queenstown was canceled due to Cyclone Fehi.  We caught another flight at 7 PM, but the pilot executed a missed approach due to weather at Queenstown airport, and diverted to Christchurch.  Tracey managed to find rooms for us at a hotel and two apartment buildings, but our luggage stayed on the plane.  Many, both locals and travelers, had far worse problems that we did - power outages, flooding, closed roads, etc.  Tracey did a great job handling the disruptions, and everyone took things in stride, as seasoned travelers.

Day 8  Photos
We drove from Christchurch to Queenstown, and were able to get our luggage from the airport after we arrived.  We had a “comfort stop” near a local lake and park.

Day 9  Photos
Originally scheduled for day 8, we drove to Milford Sound (really a fiord).  Because of the Southern Alps, the coach trip was about 3 hours, doing about 3/4 of a circle.  To my surprise, I was the only one to opt for an optional plane ride back to Queenstown, not because of the time saved but to fly over the Southern Alps, many lakes, and basically see from above what we had driven around earlier.  The plane was brand new, and the pilot was concerned that we not scratch the windows with long lenses; I think there were 10 people (at least one from Vermont!) plus the pilot, probably the smallest plane I’ve been on since I was in Australia.

Day 10  Photos
This was a free day, something OAT likes to have several of on each trip.  All or most of us chose to do an optional half-day “jet boat safari”, which included a walk through a local forest as well as the jet boat itself.  The jet boats were fun, fast, and noisy!  The pilot liked to do 360-degree “doughnuts”, too.

Day 11  Photos
Because of the cyclone, we weren’t able to visit Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier.  OAT did decide to fly us to Christchurch, saving another long coach ride.  There was an unplanned lunch, and Super Bowl TV, at some friends of Tracey who heard about our disruptions and wanted to help.  We also visit a historic, and unique, Otira Hotel on the way to Greymouth.

Day 12  Photos
We discover Hokitika, including visits to several craft/artist/jade shops.  Today we had a “hosted lunch”, another OAT feature, where we have lunch with a local family. We also got to see, and travel across, a bridge shared by the train tracks and the road; a new second bridge is being built.  This was also a local holiday.  (For unknown reasons, I got no GPS information on day 12, so these photos are not geotagged.)

Day 13  Photos
The highlight of the day was a visit to a sheep ranch, where we saw animals, sheep dogs doing their thing (and listening only to the rancher), and had a BBQ lunch.  Christchurch was hard-hit by an earthquake several years ago, and on a private tram ride we saw both new and repaired buildings and buildings still being repaired or rebuilt.  Later we flew to Wellington, back on the North Island, and the capital.

Day 14  Photos
After a coach tour of Wellington, we visited Weta, several related businesses responsible for a lot of the cutting-edge computer-generated graphics in modern movies, including Lord of the Rings but also many others.  We also visited a site overlooking most of the city, including a triangular sculpture that points towards the South Pole.

Day 15  Photos
Visit the National Museum of New Zealand (“Te Papa Tongarewa”), which currently includes a Gallipoli exhibit created by Weta.  Later some of us took a cable car up for a good city overlook, and walked back to the hotel.

Day 16
This is a very long “day” flying home - Wellington to Auckland, Auckland to San Francisco, San Francisco to Denver.  Crossing the International Date Line going east “loses” a day, so on paper the almost 24 hours of traveling are all “Saturday”.  All of my flights leave and arrive roughly on time, and my connections all work.  However, when I get back to 15 degree weather and snow in Denver, I begin to wonder why I left mid-summer in New Zealand!

Kia Ora!
This was my second Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) trip.  I was in Australia in 2012 for an Andante Travels rock art tour, but not yet New Zealand, and our winter / their summer seemed like a good time to visit.  There were 16 people on the trip, half from California, and a local tour leader, Tracey Davis.