Dolly Travels – Franz Josef Glacier, Reefton and Greymouth

Author: , September 28th, 2015

New Zealand - Dolly Goolsby

Kia Ora,

We had stayed overnight in the little town of Fox, very close to Franz Josef. Today, on a beautiful sunny day,me drove to Franz Josef. We were met at the beginning of the nature walk path by Paul, a local guide and expert on the geology and history of this glacier. Paul walked with us for about an hour, telling us about this fast-moving glacier. I had seen this ten years ago, and could not believe how far the glacier had retreated in that time.

Franz Josef Glacier, Dolly GoolsbyAfter visiting the glacier, we boarded our bus again and headed toward Greymouth, where we would stay for the next two nights. Being the pragmatic person that I am, I had thought I would compose my blog posts as we drove along the roads to each destination. Not going to happen! The scenery was so astounding, and so lovely, I just had to look out the window and see the cattle in the fields, the sheep on the hillsides, the deer farms, where they raise this very tasty venison as a market crop. In the background were the icy, snow topped Southern Alps. Wherever we went, the scenery was lovely, relaxing and I simply could not do anything but enjoy the view.

When we got closer to the sea, where the rivers meet the sea, fishermen were netting “whitebait”. This is such a cultural delicacy that I shall not go into it now..this merits its own post.

We arrived at Greymouth in the early evening, got settled into our rooms, then enjoyed a cocktail and dinner with our group at the hotel.

Today we headed further north, still following the Tasman seacoast, until we came to Pancake Rocks, a geological but unique and beautiful natural phenomenon along the coast.
If you can see the layers of rocks, resembling pancakes: layers upon layers of fossilized sea life and minerals. Amazing. These do not exist anywhere else in the world.

New Zealand - Dolly GoolsbyBack on the bus again, we traveled inland to Reeftown, an old gold mining town, but still alive and vibrant. We had a special guide, again, another Paul. (We have learned that most of our guides and/or drivers are named either Paul or Mike). We had lunch at the visitor center, where we were joined by several kids from the schools around Reefton, as well as a few adults, who joined us for lunch and told us about life In their hometown.

After lunch we went to the re-created Bearded Miners’ Camp, where the old guys told us about the miners’ life in early Reeftown.

We finished our day trip with a visit to a dairy farm. There, Nancy, one of our travelers, got to check an item off her bucket list. She got to milk a cow.

We visited with the delightful family that own the farm, and we’re very captivated by Laughlin, the 9 year old grandson, who took over the tour guiding, leading us into the gardens.

Laughlin is either going to be an OAT tour leader in about ten years, or a politician. He was very charismatic, explaining how his artistic aunt had built the garden over the past thirty years.

Eventually, we made our way back to Greymouth. We had the best intentions of going down to the beach for a sunset picnic, but we had some wine and snacks in Margaret and Maureen’s room here in the hotel, and we never got to the beach.

This has been a most awesome trip. The country of New Zealand is so unspoiled..towns are small and separated by miles and miles of open fields, mountains, or just treacherous terrain. The people living here are resilient, able to fix anything with Number 8 wire…they are very friendly and receptive to us, as tourists.

Also, our group of twelve are probably the most compatible group of travelers I have ever had the pleasure of traveling with. All of us have traveled extensively. In fact, Aaron told us, that between the twelve of us, we have done 65 OAT or Grand Circle tours, and we don’t even know how many trips we have each taken independently. This makes a wonderful group experience, when we talk about our travels, as we did tonight, over wine and snacks.

Aaron, our tour leader, is a native New Zealander; he is a real Kiwi. Aaron is so passionate about his country, and he is so knowledgeable. Here is a picture of Aaron, taken in the Redwood Forest in Rotorua, showing us the silver fern, which is the national symbol of New Zealand.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow we will fly to Wellington, and in three days we will have to fly home.

I will try to write more later, but, as I said, I am so busy soaking up the scenery, the culture, the history of this country, I have been remiss in my writing, I know you will forgive me.

After I get home, I plan to write about differences in New Zealand culture from ours, as well as cuisine of this country, other aspects of New Zealand that I just haven’t had the time to write about.

I know, if you come here, once you see those snowy peaks of the Southern Alps, you will understand why I am writing when everyone else is sleeping . This is the only time I am not being distracted by the beauty of New Zealand.

Goodnight for now. Are you booking your Overseas Adventure Travel tour yet? A visit to this country should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | West Coast New Zealand Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: Queenstown and Milford Sound

Author: , September 27th, 2015

Dolly GoolsbyKia Ora,

Time is just flying by. I thought I would write about Queenstown and Milford Sound before now; however, there is so much to tell you, I had to revise again and again, to give you the highlights. This is such a beautiful, unique, majestic area that finding the words to describe it was a task.

First, we flew into Queenstown by way of Christchurch when we left Rotorua. After leaving Christchurch, flying south, these magnificent Southern Alps came into view. The day was brilliantly sunny, and I was constantly looking out the window. I finally had to take a short break, as I felt that I might go snow blind!

It was so interesting. All that vast expanse of land, mountains, lakes and streams, and no sign of human activity. As we neared Queenstown, I did see one isolated farm. One long lonely road leading up to it. The rivers were so interesting. They looked like giant silver braids. The small streams running down the mountainside were children’s scribbling lines. The mountains, with the snow on them, seemed to me that I was looking down and across a meringue pie.

After we collected our bags and started for the town of Queenstown, we stopped on the way to visit Arrowtown, an old gold rush town that has been maintained to still have the 1860’s charm. There is one section that was the Chinese miners camp. Some of those old, tiny buildings have been kept as they were 150 years ago.

After visiting Arrowtown, we made our way through Queenstown, to our hotel, which was situated on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, just about a mile from the city center.
We all walked downtown that evening, had a great dinner in a pub in the city center, then Aaron arranged taxis to take us back up the hill, to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

Early the next morning, we set off for Milford Sound. This involved a long bus ride through some of the prettiest country I have ever seen. For the first hour, we followed the lake side. Then we went inland, seeing different terrain, fields of sheep, fields of cattle grazing, pastures of farmed deer. We had to stop at one point, and let the farmer herd his cattle down the only road in the area.

It was rather fun, seeing the cattle being herded with a pick-up truck.

We stopped several times. Each time we were looking at another wonderful sight. Here we were, at a clear, pristine creek. We were able to fill our water bottles from the stream. The mountains in the background were so magnificent.

Eventually, we reached Milford Sound. By now we had traveled for over 5 hours, and the scenery had been so astounding. We were ready for a different kind of visual beauty: the lovely Milford Sound.

I hope you will know now why it has taken me so long to write this blog post. It is impossible to try to convey all the beauty, the magnificence of that area in this tiny blog post. (I have this one request: if you have not been to New Zealand, put it on your bucket list.). I think New Zealand is the most pristine, green and beautiful country in the world. I also think I will have to get a new Thesaurus, as I need more words to describe what I am seeing here.

Now Milford Sound. This is a body of water that flows out to Tasman Sea. We boarded a boat for a two-hour cruise of the Sound. We had a most lovely, sunny day to see all the surrounding hills and inlets, and the waterfalls cascading down the mountains.

We had such an adventure. Sadly, the cruise ended, and we had to go back to our hotel in Queenstown. We did travel back the way we came, so once again we were treated to the visual cornicopia. Aaron put on a movie for the last two hours of our trip; a film about a New Zealander and his desire to see how fast his motorcycle would go. If you haven’t seen it already, rent the movie , “World’s Fastest Indian”, starring Anthony Hopkins. It is based on a true story, of a real, genuine New Zealander.

We got back to the hotel late in the evening, a bus load of tired, but happy travelers.

Today was another day of visual, sensory overload. I will try to get today’s adventure onto the blog soon, as tomorrow we will have another adventure.

I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to see New Zealand again, and that I can share it with you. At least a bit of it. You must come see it for yourself.

Until next time,

Good night,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Otago Gay Travel Resources

City Sundays: Auckland, New Zealand

Author: , September 27th, 2015

City Sundays: Auckland

Hey all,

We’re launching a new weekly series on the blog and our Facebook travel groups – City Sundays. Each week we’ll select a different LGBT friendly city to talk about, and we’ll invite our innkeeper and travel agent/tour operator friends to come talk with us about it as well.

Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country. The city has a subtropical climate, with warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. It is home to many cultures. The majority of inhabitants claim European – predominantly British and/or Irish – descent, but substantial Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian communities exist as well. (Wikipedia)

Have you ever been? What did you do while you were there?

Do you wanna go?

Let’s chat! Join the conversation here:

Gay (Men) Travelers: Gay Travel Club
Lesbian Travelers: Lesbian Travel Club
Transgender Travelers: Transgender Travel Club
Bisexual Travelers: Bi Travel Club
LGBT Families: LGBT Families Travel Club

Check out our Auckland page here:

http://www.purpleroofs.com/southpacific/newzealand/nzauckland.html

And our Auckland articles on the blog here:

http://purpleroofs.com/gay-travel-blog/?s=auckland

Dolly Travels: Rotorua

Author: , September 25th, 2015

Rotorua

Kia Ora,

Yesterday, we had a very full day in Rotorua. Our wake-up call came at 0630. Right after breakfast, we boarded our bus, and drove up to Waimangu Volcanic valley. Our group was met at the Visitors’ Center by Mark, who led us on a walk through this area. There were clouds of steam rising from the valley, the smell of sulphur was in the air. That reminded me of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. However, as Mark explained, this Waimangu area has the characteristics of an active volcano, more than just a geothermal area. In 1886, there was a massive volcanic eruption, resulting in the formation of Lake Rotomahana, and destroyed seven villages.

While those little white wisps may just look like mist rising from the trees on a drizzly day, they are actually steam clouds rising from the valley. Those are all part of this ongoing volcanic action.

We spent an more than an hour walking down the trail, with Mark explaining the different features of the volcanic area as we walked.

After our walk, we got on board a boat, and Paul took us around Lake Rotomahana. The water in the lake is not hot, despite all the hot water flowing into it. We saw quite a few birds, including black swans, that seemed to enjoy the lake.

After lunch at the Visitors’ Center, we headed back toward our hotel. As you saw from the pictures, it was raining while we walked in the volcano region. However, as we started back toward Rotoruta, the sun came out, so Aaron took us on another “surprise” walk. We went to the Redwood Memorial Forest. This is a special place, dedicated to all forestry people who died in World War II. The forest has redwood trees that were started from seedlings imported from California a little over 100 years ago. The redwoods have tree ferns, trees that are native to New Zealnd growing alongside of these imports from California. It was a very pretty walk, very peaceful.

Apparently, the reason for importing these redwoods was to have a supply of good redwood lumber. However, the trees grew so tall so fast, that they were not suitable for lumber. Now they just reside in a lovely memorial forest.

Later, yesterday evening, all of us went to a Maori feast and traditional show. When we started out, it was raining, and the rain just got worse. We did get to enjoy the feast and the show, though. We had to walk through pouring rain, muddy, sliding pathways, to watch the war canoes come up the river. Once the warriors got off the canoes, we followed them to a long covered building, and they, along with some of the Maori women, performed songs and dances for us.

It was cold! You could see the vapor from their breath as they sang.

Eventually, we got back to the long building, and the hangau dinner, that the Maori had prepared for us.

What a busy day. I slept well, but I got up early this morning, to watch the All Black New Zealand team play Argentina in the first match of the World Cup, Rugby. That was exciting. I wish I knew enough about rugby to tell you about the game, but my reciting the rules and plays of that game would be ridiculous and detract from the vision of New Zealand that I want you to see.

Today, we flew from Rotorua to Queensland. Crisp, cool weather but sunny, and the Southern Alps are so stunning. You will have to wait to hear about that, as it is now past a good, decent bedtime. I will be getting up at 0500 tomorrow to go to Milford Sound with our group.

I cannot even convey what a fantastic country New Zealand is. I only hope you are enjoying seeing this country through my writings, until you are able to come see it for yourself.

So, I will say, good night, and I will write again very soon. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to make this trip again.

Until next time,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Bay of Plenty Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: From Auckland to Rotorua

Author: , September 24th, 2015

Calves in New Zealand - Dolly GoolsbyHello, or Kia Ora,

Oh, there is so much to tell you about this wonderful country of New Zealand, I find that I must write something before I go to sleep tonight.

We had a beautiful drive down from Auckland yesterday. The weather was sunny; just a few puffy white clouds up high, and we had miles and miles to travel. We traveled by way of the motorway, which in the United States we would call a freeway. We drove past field after field of green rolling hills. I had expected to see many flocks of sheep with new baby lambs; however, it has been ten years since my last visit to New Zealand, and the North Island, where we are now, has become more of a dairy country. In fact, dairy products presently are the largest industry in the North Island. Therefore, I did get to see many herds of cattle in the green fields.

Our tour company. Overseas Adventure Travel, had arranged a home-hosted lunch for our group. We were welcomed by Ray and Dorothy to their home on an organic dairy farm. We were told this is the third generation now that has owned this farm. What a delightful few hours we got to spend with these two people. After we had eaten, Ray explained how they originally were certified as an organic farm and what they, as farmers, need to do to keep that certification. Then they took us on a tour of Dorothy’s garden, and we got to see the new farm babies… the calves.

Now here are some of the babies. I just wanted to squeeze these cute little creatures. Ray told me to let one suck on my fingers, but I knew better than to do that, if I wanted my fingers back.

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to visit with both of these friendly people, and I was so happy to get to gently hug one of the babies.

Since the day was still very pleasant and sunny, our guide, Aaron, had the bus driver take us to an area where we could go on a short hike, only about a mile or so, to the headwaters of the Blue Spring, the source of most of the bottled spring water in the North Island. The water is so clear and so blue. The green water grasses were just such a contrast to the blue water.

We followed the stream for another hundred meters or so, then we had to retrace our steps back to the waiting bus. There were some other tourists at the spring. One young man decided he would jump into the water. He did that, we heard a scream, and he jumped right out of the water. The water is freezing cold! Silly boy.

That little trek was such a nice surprise side trip that Aaron had planned for us. As we are finding out, Aaron has such a love for his native New Zealand, and such a passion for these unique experiences, that we know the rest of this two week trip is going to be quite an adventure, with delightful surprises when Aaron can work them into our itinerary.

Finally, in the late afternoon, we arrived in Rotoruta. We checked into this very lovely Waiora Resort, right on the shores of the lake. After a delicious gourmet dinner, we all retired early; a group of some very tired but happy travelers. We knew we had another busy day ahead of us, so I, for one, was not the least bit reluctant to do this. This resort has the nicest amenities. I was not expecting to find a hot water bottle in my bathroom cabinet, but I filled it with hot water, put it into my bed, and went to sleep very happy. I hadn’t even seen a hot water bottle since I was a kid, so this new treat brought back happy childhood memories, and I slept, dreaming only happy dreams.

So I will say goodnight to each of you now, and will continue telling you more about New Zealand tomorrow.

Good night, all.

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | New Zealand Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: Auckland, New Zealand

Author: , September 21st, 2015

Auckland, New ZealandKia Ora,

Hello, or welcome, to New Zealand. I hope you are ready to share this magnificent country with me. Unfortunately, for you, your experience will be what I hope I can convey through my writing, as well as the pictures that I am able to send along with the writing.

First, I want to say to you, I have been to New Zealand before…ten years ago, with this same company, Overseas Adventure Travel. Since that time, most of my travels have been in Europe, or Mexico, or Costa Rica. However, always in the back of my mind, was this running thought: I simply must see New Zealand again. I had found this country to be the greenest country I had ever visited. The rolling hills, the volcanos, now extinct, so therefore, green. I remember seeing the new lambs, frolicking about in the green fields, for this is springtime here in New Zealand, which is lambing season. Daffodils and calla lilies growing wild on the hillsides.

> Yesterday morning, after a very long plane ride (13 hours from Los Angeles), I arrived in Auckland. At the airport I was met by our group leader, Aaron. After going through Customs, I met 4 other group members, who had been on my flight. Aaron led us to a bus, we boarded and started on our way to downtown Auckland. Aaron, who is a New Zealander and very passionate about this country, decided we needed some exercise after our long flight. Therefore, he had our bus driver take us up to Mount Eden, a suburb of Auckland. We walked from the bus to the top of the mountain. From the viewpoint at the top, we could look down at the city, the 2 harbors.

Finally, we arrived at our lovely hotel, the CityLife Auckland. What a good feeling to check into my room, have a wonderful shower, and relax for a bit, before joining Aaron on a short tour of the city on foot. The hotel is very near the Marina. Aaron pointed to some historic buildings that were interspersed with modern structures. We ended our tour at the Marina, near the Ferry Building.

Some of us went to lunch at the Crab Shack on the waterfront. What a meal! I just wanted a fish sandwich – I do believe it was the biggest fish sandwich I have ever seen, and it was delicious. I had to ask for help from my dining companions to finish the French fries.

Later, we went to dinner with the entire group to another fine restaurant on the waterfront. I was still full from lunch, but I was able to make a sizable dent in my red snapper entree.

When we got back to the hotel, I didn’t waste anytime getting to bed. By 8:30 p.m.on this our first day, we had crossed the International date line, our new time zone was 19 hours ahead of California time. My mind and body was so tired. I slept very well, and woke up feeling much better this morning.

Our Tour Leader, Aaron, had arranged for us to go on a walk with Prince Davis, a member of the local Maori tribe, Ngati Whatua. I cannot spell or pronounce his Maori name. Davis is a Welsh name that he goes by. As he talked, we learned so much about the Maori history in New Zealand. He also sang some story-songs to us, telling us about sharing. What a lovely tenor voice he has! He used his hands, also, reminding me of the hula singers in Hawaii.

Prince Davis walked us through the park and into a building that contained the most beautiful flowers, all that grow in New Zealand now, that are not native to this country. Later, Prince’s wife met us in the park. She had set up a table with native kiwi fruit, tea, coffee, cheeses, and cookies. We had a little refreshment while both Prince and his wife told us more stories about New Zealand.

After our refreshment, we went to the Auckland Museum. That was a fantastic place, with a huge Maori exhibit on the ground floor, Natural History on the second floor, and the War Memorial exhibits on the third floor.

Eventually, we returned to the hotel. I was too tired to go out anymore, so I had an appetizer and glass of wine in the hotel bar, then visited with some of the other tour members, and now it is almost time to go to dinner! My, how time flies when one is having fun.

Tomorrow we leave Auckland, and start our journey towards Rotorua. I wish I had more time to spend here in Auckland. However, the rest of this lovely country is waiting for me, so I must go.

I will try to write often. Until next blog post, I must say,

G’day. (I must find out how to say, until we meet again.)

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Auckland Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Friendly Tour Operator: New Zealand Awaits

Author: , September 5th, 2015

New Zealand Awaits

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

New Zealand Awaits is the only New Zealand and lesbian owned and operated tour company offering New Zealand tours for gay and lesbian travellers and their straight friends. Join a small group (no more than 8) of like-minded travellers for the trip of a lifetime on one of our tours. Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, or love active vacations, we have a tour for you. If you prefer to drive yourself, let us do all the planning to create your dream vacation, just show up and drive! Or maybe you’d prefer a private guide to take care of every last detail for you and guide you around our amazing country. Let us know how you want to experience New Zealand and we’ll make it happen.

See the New Zealand Awaits Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in New Zealand

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Marlborough’s Diva DeLuxe B&B, Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand

Author: , July 24th, 2015

Marlborough's Diva DeLuxe B&B

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Welcome to Marlborough’s Diva DeLuxe Bed and Breakfast. Marlborough is a gourmet’s paradise. This is New Zealand’s largest wine growing region and is the home of some of New Zealand’s finest wines. With award winning wineries, the Marlborough Sounds with its walking, mountain biking and Launch cruising opportunities this is a fantastic region to stop overnight or for multiple nights.

See the Marlborough’s Diva DeLuxe B&B Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Marlborough, New Zealand

Speed Dating Planned for New Zealand Gay Ski Week

Author: , February 11th, 2015

Gay Ski WeekDNA Gay Ski Week organizers have revealed a special speed-dating event at this year’s queer winter sport festival in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The planners will team up with the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell for the ‘Highlands Hook Up’ adventure day on September 1.

The ‘Highlands Hook Up’ involves high-speed speed-dating in Highlands Porsche Cayenne Taxis, where you’ll be given three minutes to make an impression on a potential date while driving around the course at speeds of up to 200 KPH.

Full Story at Gay Star News | Otago, New Zealand Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Forget Rainbow Crosswalks. Wellington Has Gay ATMs!

Author: , February 6th, 2015

GAYTMSedate inner-city banking has been transformed with ANZ unveiling four fabulous “GAYTMs” in Auckland and Wellington to celebrate diversity and inclusion for New Zealand’s rainbow community. Dripping with rhinestones, the customised cash machines were accompanied today by ANZ staff dressed as their drag queen alter-egos, a colourful scene that stopped passersby in their tracks.

“I think it’s awesome,” said one woman as she photographed the sparkling spectacle in Wellington’s Willis St today.

The art installations celebrated the bank’s partnership with Auckland’s Pride Festival, which would run throughout this month, and Wellington’s Out In The Park on February 14, and marked its accreditation into the Rainbow Tick programme. The machines welcomed customers with rainbow-friendly messages on their screens and printed “out and proud” on receipts.

By Richard Meadows and Deidre Mussen – Full Story at Stuff.co.nz | Wellington Gay Travel Resources