Travel arrangements all worked smoothly. We were glad to have booked a room at the Ambassador in Singapore for the sleep and to have a base while we were there.
The special trips:
Wairaurahiri Jet Boat: What an exhilarating ride. Johan was a great host/pilot, the kids loved it. He accidentally beached the boat while we were at lunch; he phoned a friend to tow the boat back into the river with a helicopter! This was a very memorable day.
Doubtful Sound: One of my favourite bits. John and Heather were super hosts. Although the Southern Secret can accommodate 12 guests there were actually only us four and a young German couple on our tour, so it felt very personal and intimate. Beautiful tour, and informative, but the active things like kayaking, fishing and swimming (it's very cold) were the highlights. Sleeping on a boat was a new experience, too.
Helihike: None of us had been in a helicopter before. We had to defer the trip by a day due to the weather but this was made very easy by the company. Loads of photos of sculpted green/blue/white glacial ice shapes.
Farewell Spit: Again, the trip was made by our host Paul, he was knowledgeable and informative but affable and humorous. It enabled us to have a day that was physically relatively lazy (which we needed) but to see a lot.
Whale Watch: We did get to see a sperm whale, but also the acrobatic dusky dolphins, albatrosses, a penguin out to sea and a sleeping shark! Oh and Jo got pretty sea sick…
Seal Swim: Jo stayed on the boat as she still felt uneasy from the morning’s seasickness. Lewis struggled a little with the mask/snorkel but we all had a great time and the seals did swim around us in close proximity.
Auckland: Enjoyed the museum and walking in the Auckland Domain. We went up the Skytower.
Te Anau: Glad to have gone on the glowworm cave trip. Had a lovely walk round the Kepler Track to Dock Bay (and another icy swim).
Queenstown: Overall favourite activity - The River Wild horse ride at Glenorchy. What a wonderful day for the whole family. The next day I persuaded the family to climb Ben Lomond, not using the gondola. Great views, great sense of achievement, sizeable blisters! Oh, and yes, Fergburger was a hit.
Favourite bit of driving: Along the Haast Pass with the river winding along next to us. Stopped off at Fantail Falls. We did go down to Jackson Bay, but regretted doing so as it added quite a bit to the travelling time and, although it was beautiful, I would have swapped it for fewer miles and stopping more along the Haast Pass road.
Fox Glacier: I went for a run around Lake Matheson and by chance not design reached the 'View of Views' at just the perfect time with great visibility for the reflection of Mt Tasman and Aoraki in the evening sun.
Punakaiki: Very odd rocks! Golden Bay: Buller Gorge swingbridge was fun. Charis and I walked round Pupu springs.
Kaikoura: Great Thai restaurant and second hand bookshop!
Christchurch: Very sad to see. It feels 'empty' and derelict in the centre, lacking a hub to draw tourists in.
Tekapo: Did gastronomy not astronomy at the observatory - had lunch and enjoyed the view without telescope.
Papanui Inlet: Walked to Victory Beach from the Pyramids carpark. Passage along the path was blocked by a seal that had only just given birth. Mesmerising! Also enjoyed walk to the Chasm and Lovers Leap.
David, Jo, Lewis & Charis