2016 New Zealand Trip Report-A-Thon!



  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    there are several shots there that should be post cards or calendar pics. well done.

    Ah, the beauty of a digital camera! I bang away in the hopes of one really good shot. I know that I overpaid for the replacement camera that I had to buy in Queenstown but I just could not risk that my 'injured' camera might die on me since we were all booked into one of the most amazing air shows in the world on our last day. The camera shop right in Qtown had a nice Sony that fit my requirement so I closed my eyes, bit the bullet and bought it.

    Jenn had noticed that there was going to be a free mini-air show right at the end of Lake Wanaka on that Friday with the main air show that we had tickets for being on that Sunday. That mini-show would give me some practice with the new camera.

    Wanaka is about a 60 mile drive from Queenstown. The "Warbirds Over Wanaka" Air Show is held every other year there in April. We started our NZ trip plans last summer and fall, all around attending this amazing air show. So the trip was planned so that we could attend the air show and then we 'built' the rest of the trip based on that one day! It was my idea of making QTown our 'home base' for the week leading up to the Air Show which was on the last full day in NZ before we blasted off for home.

    To get to Wanaka from QTown we had two choices: The short way was up through the mountains but the faster way (Hwy 6) was a bit longer and not as scenic. On that Friday, we only needed to be at the lakefront in Wanaka no later than 4:30. We took the shorter, more scenic route!


    I just had to stop for a few more photos of the valley on the way......


    And, I knew that this valley led down to the Queenstown Airport and I was lucky to catch this 737 coming down on his approach. I was out on a viewing area and a lady next to me asked, "Is your son on that flight?" (hers was) and I replied, "No, but I sure wish that I was flying that plane right now!" :driver:


    Up over the top of the mountain range, we went through the tiny hamlet of Cardrona. It turns out that Cardrona is quite famous in NZ for having their own, famous, 'Bra Fence'! It's listed in Wikipedia and it has its own Facebook page! :rotflmao


    We had to hustle to get to the lakefront in time but by 4:30, there we were! The air show folks put on this mini-show for the people of Wanaka as a 'thanks' for allowing them to put on the air show every two years...... complete with an announcer!


    The floatplanes were first as we see this Cessna 206 on floats.


    Touching down right in front of us.


    Followed by this antique Piper Cub on floats!


    Here in the US, air shows are HIGHLY regulated by the FAA but in New Zealand? Eh...... why bother! Both the Cessna and the Piper Cub taxied right onto the beach, just feet from kids, babies, people....... and don't worry about those pesky, sharp, metal prop blades! This was up close and personal for sure! I loved it!


    The announcer told us that the recently restored Consolidated PBY Catalina patrol bomber was to fly in and there she was! This is a late 1930's design and it played an important part in every theater of WW 2.


    The PBY flew off, but the announcer later told us that she was coming in behind us and was going to land on the lake! I ran back off the beach to see her coming in low! Here she comes....... flying right OVER the crowds!


    Just incredible! :hairraiser


    And touching down......


    These are very rare to be seen in the air but to see one land and then later take off on the water? This is part of the uniqueness of having shows in places like Wanaka!

    The Cub was just about as 'basic' of flying as you can get. Hundreds of thousands of pilots learned to fly in Cubs since the 1940s. This is a beautiful example.


    Some former Russian trainer planes came over to show off. I timed this one just right........ "Three....... Two...... One....... BREAK!"


    The big 'Cat' (Catalina) finally lined up, the pilots pushed the throttles forward and off she went. We were to see her again in just two more days!


    Water pouring off her hull as she lifts off. Notice that after lift off, the wing floats retract out to form the wing tips, reducing drag. Smart!


    With the mini-show over, we walked into the cute CBD of Wanaka and the area is known to be an upmarket place to live or retire too. Normal population is around 2,000.

    We drove home the long way down Hwy 6 and Jenn pulled into an area that had an gorgeous little bridge over a fast running river. Over the river was the Cavell Bridge named after Edith Cavell who was executed by German soldiers in WW 1 for assisting soldiers to escape. Built in 1919.


    This is also the home to the world famous 'Shotover Jet Boat' rides!!

    New Zealanders invented the boat 'jet drive' hence the incredibly shallow water they can run in! Ian had a jet drive boat (with a Corvette engine in it!) and I could NOT drive a straight line! VERY sensitive steering!

    In the parking lot, was this mini-van with more Kiwi humour!


    After a long day, we finally pulled into Queenstown......... The next day was going to be a-mazing!
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
  • heatzheatz Posts: 104 Officer
    we spent much of our honeymoon in Queenstown. Loved every minute of it. Bunjy jumped out of a helicopter among other things. Playground for adults ! Still miss the beer and lamb chops. 22 yrs later.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    thanks for the detailed report, narrative and photos. great journey and glad i went along with it.

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    heatz wrote: »
    we spent much of our honeymoon in Queenstown. Loved every minute of it. Bunjy jumped out of a helicopter among other things. Playground for adults !

    That area is definetly a place for adrenaline junkies!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    I had been telling Jenn that we need a super-clear day to take the gondola up to the 'Skyline' that is on the small mountain and looks right down on QTown. That Saturday morning was looking pretty good!


    No hurries for that day so we had a typical hot-cooked NZ breakfast on the patio. Eggs, mushrooms, sausage, tomato, coffee/tea. Pretty nice! Thanks for whipping that up Jenn!


    We caught the Earnslaw steaming (literally!) out of port on her morning run up to Walter Peak.


    And I caught an early morning arrival of an Air New Zealand A-320.


    We parked the car at the bottom of the Skyline and they had the typical (very Disney or cruise ship like!) cameragirl snapping photos to try and sell you when you get down. I pulled a little Yank humor on her! When we hopped into the little gondola I told Jenn, "Watch this!" :rotflmao


    It's a 1,450 foot ride up to Bob's Peak and they have a big complex there at the top. Restaurant, bar, shops, bungee jumping, viewing areas and you could literally spend the day up there. They have a 'ride' called the Luge and it's a cart with a steering wheel (that also is your brake) and you ride it downhill...... as fast as you dare! At the bottom, you catch a lift back up to do it again! I did it in another NZ town on one of my first trips and it's a blast for kids of all ages.


    Some Luge drivers coming back up.


    Oh, and that great weather day with the clear skies? How was the main viewing area?


    And farther to our right...... looking up towards Walter Peak across the Lake.


    Using a little zoom on the new Sony, here's our favorite pub at the tip of the cream colored building, "The Pub On the Wharf", or 'POW' as we called it!


    Also up at the Skyline, you can literally run off a hill and launch (with an instructor) out on a paraglider and land in a school yard below! They launch right next to the start of the Luge track.


    They were launching once a minute it seemed! I count three in the air over the CBD & downtown.


    Didn't need any zoom here. The heli-pad is right there to take you for sightseeing rides. I regret not doing that on such a gorgeous day. :banghead


    "With this big zoom (30x) I think that I can see the Earnslaw docked up at Walter's Peak. She's about 10 miles away", I mumbled to Jenn.


    We (more like "I"!) goofed around up there just long enough to get a few photos that I really wanted. Here she comes back with a full head of steam up!


    And entering the harbour, she makes a wide sweep to starboard, then port to dock up, starboard side to.


    "Never approach a dock, faster than you are willing to hit it!" I think I see a bit of Reverse here to slow the old gal down.....


    Finally it was time to go back down and find a cold beverage, a snack and do some people watching from the patio at the POW! I have no clue why Jenn (only we two in the gondola) didn't laugh when we looked down at the beginning of the gondola ride on the way down and I screamed, "We're all going to die!" :hairraiser


    Crappy photo because of the sun and the hazy window in the gondola, but here's a screaming, bungee-jumping woman!


    And I'll close out this installment with a bit more Kiwi humour!

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    After coming down from the Skyline, we walked into town and found a great table right outside our "Pub On the Wharf". The first round of drinks went pretty fast as we also enjoyed some great 'people watching' as we like to call it.

    "Looks like the tide's gone out mate!"


    Ah....... that's much better! Some 'chips' to go with it!


    Since this was a Saturday, we ejoyed watching all the people that were at the Earnslaw Park Market that is set up right in front of the POW every Saturday. In NZ, they have great signage for Public Toilets as we see here.


    And across the Earnslaw Park, I noticed the same ice cream shop where Jenn had bought some goodies a few nights before.


    Jenn had told me that New Zealand has people from over 180 nations living there! Almost every waiter, bartender or waitress is from another nation. On this trip, we met people (mostly young people) from Canada, Sweden, England, Scotland, France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil and one lone American girl from Ohio. And the 'people watching' is amazing!


    This guy should be in some sort of movie!


    We finally went for a 'walk-about' and I saw the jet boat pull out with yet another full load of Asians. Here, the Captain had just asked, "Who wants to get soaking wet with 53 degree Lake Wakatipu water?"


    "Okay...... if you insist!"


    "Who's now shivvering, wet and cold?" We saw this time and time again and they all seemed to love it! Beyond, is the beach at the end of the harbour basin where the drinking game, (explained below) was being played.


    There were always street musicians and this guy was a blast to watch and listen too! These two little blond girls made me think of a young version of Jenn and her little sister Delwyn!


    Here's Capt Stu Dever's charter boat. We nearly booked a trip with him. I chatted with him a bit and he told me that the fishing had been very slow. Under the box is a Volvo inboard to run out and back and the little outboard is for trolling very slowly! This truly IS an inboard/outboard! Notice the trash can in the corner. There's always lots of eating on NZ boats! It's a 'tinnie' boat as well.


    We wandered around the corner of the waterfront to the very end of the basin. Here, we found a new kind of drinking game going on! Two teams, 30 feet apart. Beers on the ground, half-filled water bottle in the middle. One person tosses a stick at the bottle. If they knock it down, those on that team pick up their beers and drink. One person on the other team races out, sets the bottle back up, grabs the stick and runs back to their line which is when the other team has to stop drinking! You can imagine that a 'good' team, soon is not so good! :willynilly


    This was hilarious to watch!


    The 'winners' are drinking while the other team/guy is running back to his line!


    And here are just some of the 'spectators'! These guys were hilarious!


    Nearby, was probably the smallest 'charter boat' I have ever seen!


    Since it was our next-to-the-last night in QTown and because we had enjoyed a great lunch there a few days before, we grabbed two seat at the small bar inside of 'Madam Wu's' and had some amazing Malaysian street food. Wow! What 'flavors!' The 'Soy and Garlic Squid" was so delicious that I had to hold back from licking the plate!

    We finally got back to the apartment to find this outside. The perfect end to a perfect day!

  • Bimini DreamBimini Dream Posts: 407 Deckhand
    Just awesome as usual. Photos are unreal. Thanks for the journey
    A Part Of Paradise
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    Sunday. Our last day. THE DAY that this trip was all booked around, going back to last summer. The Warbirds Over Wanaka Air Show.


    I **** up a hearty breakfast and we were on the road early to make the 60 mile drive into Wanaka. Jenn had bought us "Silver Passes" which gave us seats in the grandstands. I had been on the search for a cool, NZ sun visor but never found or bought one. Jenn did not bring a hat either. With severely clear and sunny skies, we both were sorry! :nono

    Here's a few photos since this is not an air show/warbird Forum, but we had a blast. The planes were CLOSE! Here's a British built 'Vampire' jet fighter from the late 1940s. These early jets were so UNderpowered that I almost thought one of them was going to run off the end of the runway! :hairraiser


    The US built, F4U Corsair with her 2,000hp engine is always a blast to see!


    After he landed, he taxied near us to give us a 'salute'! You'd never see this in the US! We were in the third row and you can see here how close the runway was to us! Some planes also landed in the grass on the other side of the runway.


    The USAF was nice enough to fly a massive C-17 cargo jet from Hawaii to do a few fly-bys each day. The runway is not strong enough for him to land on (he's too heavy) so he flew over from Christchurch on both days. Most likely that was an overseas 'training mission' for them. Here, he has the gear down, going slow and with the twin rear doors open. It was impressive and I had not seen one in the air before.


    The announcer (who also mentioned Trump and both Pres Bushes!) pointed out that the 'enemy base' was off to the far side or the middle of the runway. He said that the 'J-a-p' pilots must have gotten drunk in a pub the night before and that this enemy airfield might have to be dealt with later in the day. Nothing PC with that guy and the crowd loved it as did Jenn and I!! :rotflmao


    For the grand finale, all the fighters took off and a big air battle ensued. The Allied fighters were able to attack and destroy the enemy airfield and it was spectacular!

    Looks like the British Avro Anson (this is the only one flying in the world and he put on a great show!) has been hit!


    Looks like the target has been hit!


    Wow, what a show! We did get a pair of Warbirds Over Wanaka 2016 hats and we will proudly wear them in July when we attend the largest warbird air show in the world at Duxford Airfield which is about 50 miles north of London.

    We took the scenic drive back and I told Jenn, "Look, we can 'try' a new restaurant tonight but since it's our last night in QTown (and in New Zealand) we'd be stupid to not go back to Madam Wu's tonight!" She agreed and we ended up in the same bar stools and ordered the Squid again!

    I noticed a woman behind the bar, looking at something and figured that she was the Manager. When she walked over our way I bluntly asked "Excuse me, are you Madam Wu?", and she just laughed! She's one of the owners and I soon said, "Go in your office and make a copy of this Squid recipe as we LOVE it and want to make it at home!" She offered to email it to us and she did AND she took that item off of our bill! Nice people, these Kiwis! :dance

    What another great day, but on Monday it was time to make the 24 hour journey all the way back home.........
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    Monday morning and we had to pack, check out, return the rental car, check-in for our flight and begin the long journey home. We had over-bought food and drinks for the apartment so the kids that cleaned our apartment got a nice surprise! :dance

    Our flights were to be an Air New Zealand A-320 back to Auckland (I had an aisle seat so no photos! :banghead). It was not only a nice day, but we departed out right over Lake Wakatipu! Uggggghhhh......

    Notice how close the hills are to the airport........


    It's pretty standard on Air New Zealand flights to have a young girl go down the aisle handing out candies!! They are called 'lollies' there. Jenn said that she did that as a child on a flight.


    When we got to Auckland, we had to re-check our bags for the Air New Zealand flight to Houston and that was a bit of a hassle, but we had 3 hours to waste there so it was not a big deal.

    Finally we were settled in to our Boeing 777 for the 14.5 hour flight to Houston. Climbing out over the Manukau Harbour......


    Air New Zealand has patented their "Skycouch" (economy) seats and we paid the extra to take advantage of that. It's a row of three seats next to the window and all three seats have pop-up leg rests that sort of make it into a bed.......


    It was a bit tight/short for the two of us to lay down (and we didn't even try!) but just having the whole row to ourselves was great for both of those long flights!

    I watched a few movies (The Reverant with Leonardo DeCaprio..... good but waaaaay to long!) and read my latest book about the D-Day Normandy invasion. It was basically a long over-night flight but soon we were approaching Houston (IAH).


    Clearing US Customs we again had to claim and re-check our bags. Jenn tries to book small apartments which may cost more per day, but we can do laundry as well as eat many meals in, which makes up for the extra cost. We don't need to bring tons of clothes either so we pack (well, "I" do!) pretty light.

    The good news at Houston was that we got to have a great lunch at a fun Cajun seafood restaurant there! But the really great news was that our United flight back to MIA was only going to be 1:32. We used to go via LAX and that last leg was always 5+ hours but with IAH being a new city for Air New Zealand we tried it that way........ much nicer to have the short leg as the last one!

    Wow, did we ever do a LOT of stuff on this trip! We spent more time with Jenn's family and we really enjoyed that. And Queenstown? No wonder why people who have been there all rave about the area!! Just amazing.........

    We plan to go back to NZ in two years from here on out (versus the normal every three years) and our next trip will most likely be half in Auckland (same apartment if we can get it!) so more boats, more fishing with Ian, more seafood **** photos and then spend the other half near the top of the North Island in another amazing area called the Bay of Islands! By then, it will have been 10 years since we had been up there and we have a wonderful, one-week timeshare apartment right there, looking right out onto the Bay.

    Next up, we've 'traded' our NZ timeshare week for a place in Cape Cod! So, that will be all things nautical, maritime and seafood and I'll post something after that trip in late June. A few days in Newport, Rhode Island as well on that trip.

    HUGE thanks to Jenn for organizing this amazing vacation and thanks to Ian for the fishing and for the rest of the family as well! I am so glad that I took many hundreds of photos! Sorry this took so long to finish up but 'life' got in the way since we got back, annnnd I even took a day off to go fishing last week! I hope you all endured this long Report but hopefully enjoyed it!
  • ReelHazardReelHazard Posts: 121 Deckhand
    Really enjoyed this post/story and look forward to visit some of these places in the future! (Now is part of my bucket list!)

    Thanks for taking the time to document it.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    Thanks...... glad that you enjoyed it. It was one of the most fun trips out of the 15-16 that I have done to NZ.
  • DogDocDogDoc Posts: 686 Officer
    Thanks for sharing...we've only done been to NZ once but the greenest greens and the bluest blues and some of the friendliest folks anywhere!
    Didn't see a luge course but our kids did the Zorb thing...they sure do have a bunch of ways to enjoy life.
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Awesome post and trip Gary!
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    gary, thank for the trip report. i am disappointed with the lack of food ****. :rotflmao thanks again.

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    alacrity wrote: »
    I am disappointed with the lack of food ****. :rotflmao thanks again.

    This Report will probably be the only thread in the history of the Forum to show a 'Bra Fence' though! :dance

    Thanks for the reply, it was a loooong thread because we did so MANY things this trip and Queenstown was far more amazing than I had envisioned......... For you skiers, that area is a BIG ski area.....
  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 410 Deckhand
    great job. my wife loves a cooking show with a woman from lake Wanaka on it. every time they do shots showing the lake she just swoons and talks about it for the rest of the day.... thanks for the rest of the report you really should start a formal travel blog.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    The trip was based all around attending the air show and we originally were going to stay right in Wanaka the entire week but since it was only an hour's drive from Queenstown we decided to base ourselves there and that was a fantastic decision!

    We did so many things in QTown that we actually may never go back! There are still a few more areas of NZ for me to see and experience because the entire country just has so much to see and do.

    In the CBD of QTown we saw one more example of Kiwi Humor with this sign right outside an outdoor activity shop! I should have bought a T-shirt like this for Ian!

  • odm2809odm2809 Posts: 21 Greenhorn
    Thank you for posting what an amazing trip!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,156 AG
    Thanks...... I appreciate that.

    As I post this I'm watching a show on World Fishing Network (WFN chan 747 on Comcast in South Florida and the upper Keys) called "Grand Slam Fishing" and it's a NZ produced fishing show where the host fishes all over NZ for saltwater fish. The episode that is on now, he's fishing in deep waters in the Cook Strait which is the body of water between the North Island and the South Island. he's catching nice Sea Bass and Hapuka (which is a type of Grouper). Check out that show if you get WFN!
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