Well... we've just come back from our trip to New Zealand so I'm jotting down what we did, and I'll keep re-editing this, before I forget....
So we got in to Wellington airport quite late. Weather was a bit bad so we got in after midnight, and then checked in to the Duxton hotel. Next day we went to Te Papa, and then walked the length of Wellington city via Cuba Street, ending up at Omega Car rentals. We rented a Toyota Platz. No, I hadn't heard of one either. So what is it? 1.3L of raw power through an automatic gear box. New Zealand has a lot of hills. 1.3L doesn't give you much zoom up those hills.
So that night we checked in to the Shearer's Inn hotel, on the other side of Wellington. Possibly the swanky suburbs (the houses nearby were really quite pretty). Tasty venison and Speights on tap. Yum. So the next morning we drove through Mt Victoria tunnel down to Seatoun. We couldn't find the funky cafe that is supposed to be both sides of the road but hey... the scenery was great. We then drove up Mt Victoria to see the view. The weather was clear and the view was great! We then went for a drive up the Hutt River. Past the Lower and Upper Hutt all the way to Kaitoke regional park, and back again. That evening we looked at the Wellington Museum as well, before having some tasty tasty beer at the Mac's brewhouse. Best beer ever. We were at the same hotel that night so we could get up nice and early for the 8:25am Interislander.
So we spent as much time in Picton as it takes to get out of it. Nothing personal, just had other destinations in mind. We drove through Blenheim and on to Renwick. The checked in to the Wayfarers Way (something with too many w's) and hired their bikes to go wine tasting and riding. It's very flat in that region. I managed to get quite tired riding the bike, thinking I'm just way unfit, but turned out that the wheel was in fact digging in to the frame so it was like having the brakes on all the time. I ended up borrowing a spanner set from a nice winery (Nautilis) and we could ride home in comfort. We did stop on the way to pick up 2.5kg of locally grown apples and pears from a very nice man. Very tasty apples of a variety you can't get here.
Next day we went to Nelson where we walked around the town and went to the World of Wearable Art museum. We stayed at the Paradise Backpackers which was a little unexpected because the first couple of places we checked we actually (surprisingly) full. It wasn't supposed to be tourist season!
On the next day we went to Kai Teriteri and checked in to the Kaiteri lodge. We got a Sea Shuttle up to one of the bays (went past split apple rock on the way) and got to walk a little around the bottom end of the Able Tasman National Park. That afternoon we drove then up to Takaka Hill to check out the view and the local sinkholes.
Next day (Anzac Day; drove past quite a few ceremonies) we drove down to Hokitika via Greymouth, and stayed in the "Stumped" bar/accommodation. The other pub in town had a 21st birthday party so were out of everything except bunks. We wanted to stay in a pub this time because we could. The next morning we spent wandering around the crafts of Hokitika, but as it was Sunday there were no people carving greenstone (nephrite Jade), and a lot of the shops were manned by schoolkids. There was the artists collective shop which was staffed by the artists in the collective and had some cool stuff. Mind you, the greenstone stuff there was also quite good. That afternoon, we headed down the coast to check out Franz Josef and Fox glaciers which were hard to see in the weather, before we headed down to and stayed the night in Haast at the Wilderness Backpackers because sadly the Hard Antler didn't have accommodation.
From Haast we battled the elements to go stay in Twizel with a few scenic stops on the way including Wanaka. In Twizel we sayed in the huts (called "Twizel Lodge", High Country Lodge & Backpackers) that were part of the original shanty town to build the hydro-electric scheme.
The next day we drove around the lakes before gradually making our way down to Christchurch, staying in the Millenium hotel. Sadly, that was our last night, although was again very picturesque. Next day it was on a plane in the afternoon and back to Sydney.
There were a number of other townships we stopped at on the way that I should name at some point, but I can't remember them without a map in front of me so until next time, this is version one of my diary.....