Visiting New Zealand

A Friend’s Visiting New Zealand

What better way to enjoy one’s countryside than to see it through the eyes of a visitor. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of a friend from America – we’re tracking her flights and know she’s just landed in Atlanta – so she is still many hours away from arriving in Auckland.

I’ve been wondering and planning and querying from friends and family what I should show her while she’s visiting New Zealand. We have only three weeks and suddenly this doesn’t seem enough time to see much. If only the country wasn’t so long and skinny I might be able to fit in so much more but with our “essential” tourist sites spread from one end to the other I’m going to have to make some sacrifices.

My friend assures me she will be thrilled to see whatever I show her, and looks forward to meeting more kiwis, eating some of our local delicacies and generally catching up with my family again.

But I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t want to show off New Zealand, would I? I want her to go home with stories of what a great place she’s just visited, even if some of her workmates are still struggling to figure out where she’s going. Recently she’s been asked when she was leaving for New Guinea, and was she going “somewhere near Australia”

Being sure the most beautiful sites of New Zealand exist in the South Island – yeah I’m more than a little bit biased I know – we’re going to head down to Christchurch on a very early flight as soon as she’s over her jet lag and away we’ll go on a great southern South Island tiki tour. I haven’t everything planned as I want to make sure there is plenty of room for change, but we’ll head through Arthur’s Pass to the West Coast, down past the glaciers to Haast, then via Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Alexandra. Thank God for family who are willing to disrupt their homes and offer us free accommodation.

Alexandra is close enough to Queenstown for us to take a couple of days to do whatever we want there. Should we look at 25 mins of thrills on a Shotover jet or a half day up the Dart River? Thank goodness bungy jumping – from the original site of the very first jumps – is not going to be on the agenda, although we’ll have to stop and watch a few of the brave hearts, or idiots, making their jumps.

Milford Sound is the most visited tourist site in the South Island. For the life of me I can’t think why. To my mind, there are must prettier areas. I’m thinking of avoiding the place altogether and going to Doubtful Sound instead. I’ve tried to google how congested Milford must become for the few hours around midday when tourist buses arrive and boats take off for a little jaunt out into the Sound. In 2002 when 450,000 people visited, 800 vehicles including 250 buses might descend on this little village every day. Apparently visitor numbers are now closer to 1 million per year, I’m not sure if this means vehicles now number closer to 1600 vehicles per day, but I’m thinking I don’t want us to be one of them.

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

I’ll be showing my friend a lot of Southland. And there’s my promise she can experience a little of life on a sheep farm. We also have my son to catch up with in Invercargill. He was only 9 when Kathleen last saw him.

Depending on how our trip progresses, maybe I’ll have time to add a couple of posts as a “travelogue” – I’d enjoy that, but not sure if I’ll manage it.

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