Author Topic: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings  (Read 20194 times)

Offline Luvtotravel

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 2336
  • Total likes: 26
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
  • Location: Ny
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #135 on: November 29, 2016, 09:55:24 AM »
We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.
love the WE! is this a mrs. ajk special?
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline AJK

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 24391
  • Total likes: 73
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 13
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: United Concierge Key; Delta Global Services; American Chairman; US Airways 1K; Hilton Sapphire; Hyatt Tritium; Marriott Californium; Starwood Kryptonium; Hertz Plutonium; National Adamantium, Avis Executive Proactanium
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #136 on: November 29, 2016, 10:10:51 AM »
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Luvtotravel

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 2336
  • Total likes: 26
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
  • Location: Ny
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #137 on: November 29, 2016, 10:34:18 AM »
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
well, you (plural connotation) have my patronage. looking forward.
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Online 12HRS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2013
  • Posts: 3761
  • Total likes: 77
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #138 on: November 29, 2016, 09:01:49 PM »
I'm about halfway through a decent length segment. Will try to find time in the coming days to finalize and publish.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.

Goes to show that a well timed teaser doesn't need a photo to whet the appetite. Don't tell something fishy

Offline AJK

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 24391
  • Total likes: 73
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 13
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: United Concierge Key; Delta Global Services; American Chairman; US Airways 1K; Hilton Sapphire; Hyatt Tritium; Marriott Californium; Starwood Kryptonium; Hertz Plutonium; National Adamantium, Avis Executive Proactanium
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #139 on: December 23, 2016, 01:10:41 AM »
Thursday: Picking up the RV

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, one of the employees from Wilderness, the RV company, rolls up in one of the smaller RVs. He asks how our flight was and how long we intend to tour. We respond, "a bit under two weeks." And he says, "Well, you may as well book tickets to return because, gosh, that isn't nearly enough time."

Awesome.

We quickly loaded our luggage and off we went to the company headquarters to pick up our RV.  After going back and forth, we decided to splurge and purchase the highest level insurance (read: not cheap) after he told me (i) how expensive the RVs were. and (ii) that I could drive it off a cliff and be covered. Sold!  [It was a couple years later that I found out that Citi covers RVs!]

I then told him my grand plan:  Head north to see some seals, do some whale watching, head to Abel Tasman for Shabbas, head down the west coast for some unbelievable scenery, hikes, glaciers, Milford sound, then off to Te Anau for the glow worms, then to Queenstown for some action, then up to the beautiful lakes, then back to CHC.






...and I was met with this (from him and the rest of the office):








Awesome.  Weeks of planning gone. Poof.

When he recovered, he said: "First, you'd need a chopper to do all of that in 12 days. Second, the weather is supposed to be rainy in the north, so allow me to suggest you start going south, where the weather is sunnier now. Something like this:




He was persuasive. And he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Fine. We'll just have to come back and do the rest.  With that, we walked outside and he showed us how the RV worked--how to drive, how to add water, how to clean waste, etc.  We then packed up our beautiful RV with food, candy, snacks, and clothes (we left the suitcases and cooler in their office) and we were off.

First stop, grocery shopping.  First problem, "how the heck do we park this thing in the parking lot?"

Seriously, we went to a grocery store and glaringly stuck out of every parking spot we tried to fit in by a good eight feet. And it's not like we could just take two spots--the lot was *packed.* We wondered what other tourists do. We debated on what we should do. We wondered if we needed groceries at all. And then we decided to just park with our back end sticking out and hope for the best.

Mrs. AJK ran and began grocery shopping while I went to next door for... a haircut. What... I needed one. And besides, our RV was only sticking out eight feet blocking one lane of parking lot traffic, not both.

Anyway, wow are groceries in AKL expensive. I think eight eggs were like $11 USD or something ridiculous like that. After spending part of my yerushah, we were grateful to find that our RV was neither ticketed nor towed, thanked God, loaded up and off we went, with Mrs. AJK as navigator.  It was about 7:30-8:00 PM.

First stop: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park, about a three hour drive.





A relatively short drive, one I could ordinarily do in my sleep, er, perhaps that's a bad way of putting it.  Let's just say neither of us were prepared for the upcoming and overbearing onslaught of fatigue.  Flying from JFK to HKG to SIN to AKL to CHC without sleep in a bed, even in First, took its toll like Katrina "took its toll" on New Orleans.  We battled hard. We sang. We did the "freeze out" where one opens all windows at 65+ mph and is met with a blast of cool air. We did interpretive dance to blaring music. Alas, Mrs. AJK could not prevail.

I kid you not. It got to a point where we were so ungodly exhausted that Mrs. AJK would turn to me, and ask: "Are you OK to drive? Should we pull over?" and would fall asleep after EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Literally it was, "Are..." head down... "you..." head succumbed... "OK..." down again... "to..." snoring for 3 minutes... "drive?" You get the point. Finally, she realized she didn't have that much time between what seemed like brief glimpses of consciousness that she blurted it out really quickly "AreyouOKtodriveShouldwepullover!" and then fell back asleep. God bless her, she tried.

As for me, well, I don't recall a point in my life being as tired. Can't really explain it. And, looking back, I should have just pulled over. I mean, we were already in an RV with two beds!

Finally, after what seemed like a yovel, the GPS indicated we were five minutes away.  I began praising the Lord effusively. We pulled up to the office at about 11:30PM, and it had long since closed. But RV parks leave directions for entry outside the office and you're expected to pay in the morning. So, we took the directions and followed the highlighted paper to our RV spot.  Once we parked, I hopped out and connected us to 220 volt power (to be able to use the microwave) and we ate a sumptuous dinner of swedish meatballs. Satiated, we buttoned down the hatches, turned on the heat and instantly fell into a much-needed sleep.

Friday: Lake Tekapo, St. John Observatory, Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Hilton Queenstown

A snapshot of Friday’s drive:




After a warm, restful, and comfortable night of sleep, we woke up early Friday morning to a breakfast of American cereal which we had brought with us.  Incidentally, when I mentioned to Wilderness RV that they could take out all of the silverware, pots, and pans that were included with the RV on account us keeping Kosher, they graciously offered to stock the RV with brand new silverware, pots, and pans, etc. A very nice gesture.

When we finished eating, I hopped out, disconnected us from "shore" power and took a couple snaps of our beauty.

DSC00511 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00512 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Before I forget, allow me to take this opportunity to highly recommend the Kauai Revealed-level-bible for New Zealand: NZ Frenzy (http://www.nzfrenzy.com/). If you don’t have 3 months to plan every facet of your trip to AKL--and even if you do--get this book.  It has every sight you’d want to see, and some you don't (which the author tells you to skip), in easy to read, digestible chunks, with ratings of hikes, GPS coordinates, and great descriptions. In fact, the descriptions are so evocative and compelling, I’ll include some here for your reading pleasure, set off in quotes, to make sure everyone is clear such portions come from that book.

Anyway, we packed up the RV and headed down to Lake Tekapo, the first of the stunning lakes we saw in AKL.  Just by way of background, the reason why New Zealand lakes are that distinctive gorgeous blue/aqua is due to glacial flour, which is fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion.  When the flour enters the river, it stains the color of the water, and when that river flows into a glacial lake (formed by a melting glacier), then the water turns turquoise.

Quote
Lake Tekapo’s aquamarine blue color is simply beyond description. On a sunny day it’s jaw-drop, eye-boggling beautiful. You NEED to see it! On a grey day the beauty dims, but the blue opacity of the lake water still impresses. Lake Tekapo is the postcard-perfect fabled beauty of New Zealand. There’s not much for travelers to do at Lake Tekapo other than just stare at the lake and take yet another photo, but there are a few options. The lake is glacier-cold year-round, so don’t plan on swimming. Mostly just plan for a laid-back day of relaxing eye-candy.

DSC00513 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00519 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



After a few shots from ground-level, we headed to up to Mount John Observatory to view Lake Tekapo from “on high,” a 15 min drive up a rather steep hill. And, boy, if we thought Lake Tekapo was beautiful from below, this was a real treat.

Quote
This celestial observatory, some 300m above the town atop 1,031m Mt John, is a MUST-SEE! The 360° view from the Mt John’s Astro Café is beyond fabulous! Of course the view over Lake
Tekapo to the distant snow-capped peaks steals the show, but on a sunny day look for the peak of Mt. Cook/Aoraki poking over the western ridgeline.

DSC00558 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00560 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00573 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



It was a bit chilly up there, so we headed into Astro Cafe to grab a warm cup of joe.

DSC00576 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00575 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



From Mount John Observatory we drove 90 minutes to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in New Zealand at more than 17 miles. 

Here's a quick shot from the way down from the observatory:

DSC00579 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



But, before arriving, we stopped off at Lake Pukaki, another one of the gorgeous New Zealand lakes. [In the first picture, you can see Mt. Cook in the background, the tallest mountain in NZ.]

DSC00609 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00614 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Fortuitously, we stumbled upon the Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Shop, which had some of the freshest looking salmon we’ve ever seen. 

DSC00623 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00625 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



It was far from cheap (I think it was like $30 for two of the pieces below), but given the reviews of the other people there, we just had to try, so we picked up some smoked salmon to go, for a snack during our ascent up to Mt. Cook.  It was incredible.  For the record, though we’re not sashimi people, the sashimi looked very good as well.

DSC00629 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Finally, it was time to head up towards the Tasman Glacier, “on the way to which we got some pretty good pictures”--which to be honest, is the common refrain in New Zealand.

DSC00634 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00636 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00640 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00641 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once we arrived at the Tasman Glacier Car Park, we took the Tasman Glacier View Track up to see the view.

DSC00646 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Quote
The 15-minute steep stepped-track to the top of the Tasman Glacier’s moraine ridge is amazing. The track is steep, but the payoff is worth it! The view sweeps over the entire glacial lake and its scattered flotilla of icebergs. This birds-eye view down onto the glacial toe and lake is quite unlike any on the Hooker Valley/Lake track. The Tasman Glacier itself hardly looks like a glacier, given that it’s covered with a heap of black rubble with only small slices of white showing up through its rubble covering.

Once at the top, we were treated with this view.

DSC00665 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Just to give you an idea as to how large those two icebergs are, here’s a photo of just them.


DSC00658 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

See that speck off to the left of the icebergs? Yeah, that’s a zodiac:



And, then, turning back toward to car park, we were treated to this wondrous view:

DSC00674 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00682 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Our trusty steed:

DSC00687 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once back in the RV, we settled in for what was undoubtedly going to be a beautiful drive to Queenstown.  Except what they don’t tell you is that it’s nearly impossible to just do the drive without stopping every 500 feet for another beautiful picture.  And so it was.

Glacier water floweth towards the mountains...

DSC00688 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



The Ahuriri Bridge.  Midway through the bridge, we looked over the side and saw a gorgeous array of interesting looking flowers.  Of course, we stopped, took some pics, and picked a few flowers (for shabbas!).

DSC00708 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00699 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00704 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Lake Dunstan:

DSC00713 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Roaring Meg, a turbulent stream that drives a hydro-electric power station and merges with the Kawarau River, which runs between the towns of Cromwell and Queenstown:

DSC00718 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Famous South Island Vineyards:

DSC00729 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



At about 4:00 PM, we arrived at the Hilton Queenstown, which was definitely one of the nicest Hilton’s at which we’ve stayed:

DSC00731 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Fortunately, we were upgraded to a suite, which was lovely. 

DSC00735 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00745 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00737 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00740 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00739 by AJK DDF, on Flickr

DSC00741 by AJK DDF, on Flickr



Once we unpacked, we went for a quick swim in their pool, heated up two POM meals (steak and stuffed cabbage), brought in shabbas, ate, and slept in the most comfortable beds I think we’ve ever slept in.  I'd say we started off the trip with a bang.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 8832
  • Total likes: 58
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #140 on: December 23, 2016, 01:28:23 AM »
Wow, an unexpected surprise seeing this post. I've been wanting to go to NZ for a while now, but your pictures make me really, really want to go. Problem is July-August is the only time I can go that's not the best time of year to be there.

How many days of Shabbos did you keep, or do I have to wait for the next post to find out what you did on Sunday?

Great job and looking forward to the rest.

Offline benjie1305

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 6142
  • Total likes: 11
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 15
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY Area
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #141 on: December 23, 2016, 07:56:12 AM »
What a lousy trip. Looks so boring and has no beauty in it what. so. ever.

I mean who'd actually want to go to New Zealand after seeing your post.

#OppositeDay
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline AJK

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 24391
  • Total likes: 73
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 13
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: United Concierge Key; Delta Global Services; American Chairman; US Airways 1K; Hilton Sapphire; Hyatt Tritium; Marriott Californium; Starwood Kryptonium; Hertz Plutonium; National Adamantium, Avis Executive Proactanium
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #142 on: December 23, 2016, 12:33:10 PM »
Wow, an unexpected surprise seeing this post. I've been wanting to go to NZ for a while now, but your pictures make me really, really want to go. Problem is July-August is the only time I can go that's not the best time of year to be there.

How many days of Shabbos did you keep, or do I have to wait for the next post to find out what you did on Sunday?

Great job and looking forward to the rest.

We kept one day.  Thanks for reading!

What a lousy trip. Looks so boring and has no beauty in it what. so. ever.

I mean who'd actually want to go to New Zealand after seeing your post.

#OppositeDay

Yes, I felt the same way about AKL on the opposite day before we went!
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Dawie

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 715
  • Total likes: 26
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: BLM
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #143 on: December 23, 2016, 12:53:50 PM »
W.O.W.
I'm convinced

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 8832
  • Total likes: 58
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #144 on: December 23, 2016, 01:02:03 PM »
We kept one day.  Thanks for reading!
Lucky you guys!

Offline Yaalili

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2009
  • Posts: 10372
  • Total likes: 122
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 119
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: USA
  • Programs: American Gold, Alaska MVP, Delta Silver, Jetblue Mosaic, JetSmarter Simple, Hilton Gold, Hyatt Platinum, IHG Platinum, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold, DansDeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite.
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #145 on: December 23, 2016, 01:40:44 PM »
Thank you for continuing, great installment!

Offline davidmal

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 6583
  • Total likes: 435
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 179
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Pintrest
  • Location: New York
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #146 on: December 23, 2016, 02:27:22 PM »
Brave trip. Great read. Great photos. I just wish when I click the photos it allows it to be maximized.
-DMC
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it ~Ferris Bueller"

Offline AJK

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 24391
  • Total likes: 73
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 13
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: United Concierge Key; Delta Global Services; American Chairman; US Airways 1K; Hilton Sapphire; Hyatt Tritium; Marriott Californium; Starwood Kryptonium; Hertz Plutonium; National Adamantium, Avis Executive Proactanium
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #147 on: December 23, 2016, 02:59:54 PM »
Brave trip. Great read. Great photos. I just wish when I click the photos it allows it to be maximized.
Me, too. Never figured out how to do that using Flickr guest pass.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline eandd

  • Non-Elite Member
  • Join Date: Nov 2016
  • Posts: 23
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #148 on: November 22, 2017, 11:06:42 PM »
Any chance you can continue please?