Having stayed 2 says in the comfort of the Te Anau lodge we were next headed to Queenstown.
This won’t be a huge post as we only spent one night in Queenstown. It’s an amazing drive so leave some time for stopping to admire the view. The small town of Kingston is an ideal stopping point – set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu ; it makes for a great excuse to stretch the legs and take some photos. There is a train there but when we were there the train was not in operation.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
We stayed at the Distinction Nugget Point Boutique Hotel & Spa about 10 minutes drive outside of Queenstown (Booked on Booking.com iPhone app which is a handy app to download). The hotel wasn’t overly full as it was heading towards low season, but it was very nice, with antique furnishings. The Spa is very good and has a large pool. The highlight was the view from the room, an amazing vista overlooking a canyon. At night you can see the milky way extend between the peaks of the two hills, and due to the lack of light pollution this view around 2 or 3am is worth getting up for. There are plenty of hotels and hostels in the town which might be more to your liking if you are after some nightlife or if you are with a group as it takes about 10 minutes to get in from Nugget Point.
What to See in Queenstown
Queenstown has a lot to offer, as it is a very scenic place on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. The quay side or lake side is very picturesque and worth taking some time to walk around. There are also many cafes around there so you can enjoy a snack also.
Queenstown, The Lakefront
When you arrive in Queenstown, one of the first things you will see is the cable cars heading up to the Skyline complex. If you are approaching from Arthurs Point direction the Skyline complex actually looks like a UFO in the dark as there are no surrounding lights and looks quite cool just perched in isolation on the peak of the hill.
Accessed by scenic gondola or cable car the Skyline Queenstown is the “Must See” attraction during any visit to Queenstown. You will get stunning views of the spectacular lakes, Coronet Peak, and The Remarkables mountain range. You can also eat while taking in the view at the Skyline Restaurant, recently voted the restaurant with the best view by Trip Advisor. More Casual dining is available in the Skyline Cafe.
While you are up there if you want you can take in the Skyline Luge which has you hurtling down the winding downhill Luge track. If you are feeling more adventurous you can try a tandem parapente flight. If you are feeling less adventurous you can simply shop in the Skyline Souvenir Gift Shop. Don’t forget to bring your camera if you are visiting the Queenstown Skyline Observation deck as the views are not to be missed.
View from the Viewing point in Queenstown, New Zealand
Other areas around Queenstown
Before leaving Queenstown, you have to visit Arrowtown. Arrowtown is a lovely little town, almost like a frontier town from the old west. Not to be missed, stunning in Autumn.
Queenstown is a very nice town, ideal for extreme sports if you are into that. Probably worth spending more than one day here but its a place I would certainly go back to.
Finally, one hour out side Queenstown on the way to Fox Glacier you will find Puzzling World which is an amazing series of visual tricks of the mind which will leave you confused. If you want something to puzzle your world then visit Puzzling World in Wanaka.
Continuing on the review of all things good in the south island of New Zealand I have outlined some of the best things to do an see in and around Te Anau and Milford Sound.
The Drive from Dunedin to Milford Sound has a few areas of interest. Firstly, if you are looking for a spot along Highway 1 to stop and stretch the legs and grab a bite to eat, Gore, is the place. Strange name but it’s a nice town with plenty of cafés to help you on your way. Get back on the road along highway 94 and you will have stunning scenery all the way to Te Anau (watch out for the sharp right turn just after Lumsden which continues highway 94). One nice stopping point is a place called The Key which is about 35km (25 mins) after Mossburn. This area has stunning views of Mount Hamilton. Te Anau is then only 20 minutes from this point.
Mount Hamilton Panorama from The Key - Near Te Anau, New Zealand
Te Anau is a lovely little town, with a great character. There are plenty of accommodation options in Te Anau but by far the best place to stay in Te Anau is Te Anau Lodge located on 52 Howden St, Te Anau, this former nuns home is now a fantastic accommodation option. We called George, the owner, from Dunedin , having found it on TripAdvisor and arranged our accommodation – very friendly and helpful.
Te Anau Lodge - Excellent Accommodation in Te Anau
On arrival at Te Anau Lodge we were given a tour of the house and it’s facilities. The view alone was worth staying here for. It is a stunning property, very clean and very well managed. Hard to believe it’s not your home when you stay here. Rooms are bright and airy with great facilities. The staff are so helpful and nice. Breakfasts include a buffet area with cereals and fruit plus a hot option is also available cooked to order by George himself. We stayed here two nights and leaving this sublime spot was very difficult. The Te Anau lodge was one of the highlights of our trip. (Only for the TripAdvisor iPhone app we may never have found it!)
While in Te Anau we did some trips. Glow Worm caves are located on the lake and trips can be arranged at the lakefront marina. The glow worm caves are stunning if you have never seen them before.
Further afield is Milford Sound. It’s a bit of a drive but the scenery along the way is stunning – lucky if you get there at all with all the scenic points and at one point you drive through a mountain tunnel. Leave early in the morning around 8am to avoid the coach busses coming from Queenstown (also speeds at some points drop to 25kph so you have to take it handy).
You will also get morning mists if lucky. A “MUST SEE” are the Reflective Lakes which mirror the mountains in the water. An amazing effect. (see some of the images at the foot of this blog post)
On arriving at Milford Sound you have many options including cruises on the sound, or scenic flights. We decided to take a cruise which lasts around 90minutes. You get to see waterfalls, the vast cliffs which surround the sound plus if lucky seals and dolphins.
The Te Anau and Milford Sound area are very scenic and 2 days would be a minimum stay in this area in order to see everything.
Next Stop… Queenstown.
Reflective Lakes on the Way to Milford Sound
Massive Waterfall in Milford Sound - to the right of the falls you can see one of the cruise ships.
Copthorne Hotel Commodore Christchurch Airport, New Zealand – Hotel Review
We had originally planned on staying at the Copthorne Central in Christchurch, but following the Christchurch earthquake in February, we had to move our accommodation but still wanted to stay with the Copthorne group hotels – as we had great experiences when staying with Copthorne and Millennium Hotels in the North Island last year.
On arrival at the hotel, the Duty manager, Jaimie, sorted out our reservation and walked us to our room, as well as showing us the facilities in the room. I have stayed in many hotels and even in 5 star hotels I have rarely seen such a level of service and friendliness on check-in. We were well impressed with everything and were blown away by the welcome and the level of comfort at this hotel. Airport hotels are normally just a place to rest your head after a long flight but this hotel is actually comfortable and a delight to stay in.
The room was excellent, very comfortable bed, the room was large, bright, clean and airy. Air conditioning was very good with tea coffee facilities and a great bathroom. There was even a little welcome note on your bed welcoming you to the hotel – which was nicely done.
The breakfasts are served in Pattersons restaurant in the hotel and are very well presented with a lot to choose from. There is also a hot tub and covered pool (which we did not try on this occasion … but it looked nice). There is also a nice garden area with a fire where you can enjoy a drink in the open air if you so wish.
The complex is very secure and safe with key cards required after a certain time to access the main accommodation building and then again at your floor.
We actually stayed twice at this hotel, once on arriving into Christchurch from Singapore and again the night before leaving en-route to Cork via Bangkok/London.
The Copthorne Hotel Commodore Christchurch Airport, New Zealand is a great hotel within 5 minutes of Christchurch International Airport, ideally situated for you to start or end any trip to New Zealand. I would certainly stay here again and hope to visit Christchurch and the South Island of New Zealand again very soon.
Official Hotel Website : http://www.commodore.net.nz/
Going to New Zealand? This rough and brief travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See traveling between Wellington and Lake Taupo in New Zealand. Continuing on from Wellington on our way to Lake Taupo we were traveling along the N1 on the North Island of New Zealand visiting small towns such as Foxton, Bulls, Taihape on the way to Lake Taupo where we had already booked accommodation.
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The first town we reached was Foxton. This is off the main road, but the guide book said it was a lovely town so we decided to take a look. Foxton is like a step back in time, not in a bad way or behind the times, rather Foxton has manged to keep the old town look and feel in a nice way.
Windmill and Tram in Foxton, New Zealand
The main feature is the Windmill which was brought over from Holland, bit by bit and build by people who had never built a windmill before – by reviewing the plans for the structure. There are horse drawn tram rides, an electric trolleybus, old style streets – I was told there are plans to make Foxton a hub of activity with kayaking, walks and other things to do. We enjoyed about 2 hours here before getting back on the road, taking a nice coffee and snack in the cafe near the Windmill.
From here we traveled back on the N1 again and on passing through a town called Bulls we just had to stop and take some photos. The shops are all BULL Oriented, e.g. the local realtor / estate agent has “live-a-bull” as his tag line, the town hall centre has “soci-a-bull”, and so on to Taihape where we had decided to take lunch.
Fun signs in the town of Bulls, New Zealand
Taihape is another very nice town, almost like small town America, worth taking an hour or so to enjoy, plenty of nice cafes to take a snack in.
The town of Taihape, New Zealand
On the last leg to Lake Taupo, back onto the N1 we go via the desert road, part of which is a military area, with an amazing landscape.
As soon as you see Lake Taupo for the first time you will have a few opportunities to stop into the left and enjoy many of the viewing areas, with incredible vistas of the lake. I’m sure there have been an accident or two with drivers looking at the nice view and not the road. Its still another good hours drive to Lake Taupo – so far its been about 6 hours since leaving Wellington.
Lake Taupo, Viewing Point with Snow-Storm moving in
After about 45 minutes we enter into Taupo and arrive at the Millennium Hotel which sits on the waterfront with amazing views of the lake. The Millennium Hotel also has a really nice outdoor heated pool, no problems using it in winter as it is quite warm. The restaurant there is very nice and we enjoyed a buffet there on arrival – only $39NZ per person which was very reasonable.
Lake Taupo with the Mountains covered in Snow.
We later found out that the desert road was blocked by snow and we made it to Lake Taupo with 4 or 5 hours to spare before the snow trapped people on the desert road.
Lake Taupo – To Be Continued … ( Lake Trip to Maori Carvings & Craters of the Moon… )