Ann and Joe Kasparek, Texas USA, 21 day self drive South Island tour January 2009
A much belated "thank you" for arranging such a perfect driving tour for Joe and me. Each South Island destination was exactly as advertised and well-suited to our traveling expectations. You also balanced our itinerary between rigorous sight-seeing adventures and much-needed "down time." We're still trying to determine our "favorite" experience. We have fond memories of every place we visited. Without hesitation, we agree that The Kruse System was the single most surprising and enjoyable feature of the trip. We looked forward to every tidbit of info that suddenly sounded forth through the radio. Now we're spoiled and will miss Prof. Kruse on future trips.Below are several reminiscences of the different places we visited:
We loved Christ Church, especially the highly informative and manageable museum. We were also awed by the enormous and exotic trees and flora in the botanical gardens. The George Hotel was very comfortable and the service first-rate. FYI, we do think we might have been housed in a lesser room than you had booked. When we were working with you in planning our accommodations, we requested balconies or terraces to facilitate Joe's afternoon cigar. We did not have either at The George, though they were available. At all other lodgings, we did have a "smoking area." Enroute to The Hermitage, we felt like we were adventuring into the wild, so seeing such a historic hotel at the base of Mt Cook was a pleasure. We definitely recommend the dining room of the hotel. Our evening meal was one of the best on the trip. And, of course, the helicopter ride with landing on the glacier was a first-time experience for both of us. I don't think we fully appreciated Wanaka after our fabulous, but really tiring, fly-fishing week. We leisurely strolled through the town, but spent most of our time napping. Just know that the room at The Stone House was very cozy and the young couple were excellent hosts.
Teanu turned out to be one of our favorite little towns. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and each restaurant meal was delicious. We enjoyed the Milford hike and - of course - the cruise on Doubtful Sound. But since we also had boat trips in Akarora and enroute to the Milford, I think an overnight was probably more boat time than we needed. We discovered that we prefer hiking through the spectacular scenery rather than sailing by it. Without question, Sails Away was the most beautiful B&B on the entire trip and Iris and Peter impeccable hosts. We did decide Stewart Island was a one-day, not a two-day destination. After we went on Peter's informative bird walk (more flora than birds) and strolled around the village, we were out of exploring ideas. If the weather had been warmer, we might have enjoyed sea kayaking or hiking farther from town. But, you saved one of the best for last. Our three days at the Wildlife Film Lodge were delightful. We thoroughly enjoyed Rob and Christina's hospitality and Rob was an extraordinary guide. We'll always remember our two days hiking across beaches and hills in search of that perfect animal photo. What would we do differently??? Not much. Perhaps by-pass Wanaka and spend a full 24-hours in both Queenstown and in Dunedin. A 2-hour stroll in each of those vibrant cities just wasn't enough. We loved the Southern Coast highway drive from Bluff to Dunedin and were so glad you suggested it. Every valley was like a picture postcard. Our memories - and photographs - go on and on. Thanks again for all of your help. When we tell our New Zealand adventure story, I sing your praises. In appreciation, Ann & Joe Kasparek
18 January 2009