Give yourselves time to relax!
Mar 3 - Mar 17, 2023
We really enjoyed our 17-day trip to New Zealand. If we have one regret it is that we packed our itinerary so full that we rarely got time to relax and just enjoy being there. While we were there (I'm told it's typical of the late summer period) there were road works on almost every route we travelled, so published driving times were always optimistic, which added to the pressure. Though we enjoyed many wonderful experiences, it would be hard to beat the cruise on Medford Sound. We almost missed this altogether, as our itinerary included flights to and from there from Queenstown which we cancelled at the last minute due to weather conditions. Our wonderful travel specialist, Lydia, managed to reschedule the itinerary for that day and the next so that we could drive there to enjoy the cruise the following day. The heavy rain that prevented our flights turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it resulted in the walls of Medford Sound being covered in waterfalls during our visit which made for a special day. Our favorite meal, was a lunchtime barbeque at the Walter Peak Farm accessed by a steamship cruise on Lake Wakatipu. Our favorite hotel room, the Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef. All our guides were friendly and knowledgable, and all the arrangments went without a hitch. Now we're back home, we just need to take a break to breathe...
The highlight of this hotel for us was the location of the room. The hotel is set amongst dense vegetation, and the ground-floor rooms are below the level of the forest canopy. You feel like you are almost in the jungle. In contrast, the restaurant is on the 2nd floor, so the view from the large floor-to-ceiling windows is of the surrounding mountains over the top of the forest canopy. The staff were very friendly and attentive. The overall impression was very relaxed and unrushed. The hotel grounds and public spaces were decorated with carvings in native wood, which added to the ambience.
We enjoyed this hotel very much. We spent a total of 3 nights there in two stays. The mini-suite rooms were large and well laid out with a comfortable seating area. The staff were very friendly and helpful and the service felt personal and unrushed. The breakfast was wonderful - we particularly enjoyed the french toast! The one-way road system in Christchurch challenged us in finding the entry to the car park, but once mastered was fine. The hotel is close to downtown, and a short walk from the hop-on hop-off tram service. It is also very close to the beautiful botantical gardens which we very much enjoyed.
Our driver was waiting for us as we emerged into the arrival area and welcomed us to New Zealand. The drive to our hotel in a private car was on quiet side streets through an attractive part of town and the friendly driver helped us with some ideas for our first day's activities.