Dolly Travels – Our Last Day in the South Island

Author: , October 1st, 2015

Dolly - Canterbury ChurchKia Ora,

It is now late at night. I am in my very comfortable hotel room in the heart of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. We had such a long day, I was certain I would sleep well. But, no. That was not to be. I was jolted out of a deep sleep by the sound of an emergency vehicle siren going past on the street below. I realized then, that we had not been in a big city since we left Auckland, which was nine days ago. How quickly my mind and body had adjusted to the quieter atmosphere of the smaller towns and the peacefulness of the great outdoors.

Early this morning, right after breakfast, we boarded our bus and left the west coast town of Greymouth. We had been blessed all week with sunny, pleasant weather. This morning, though, there were some clouds in the sky, and the air was quite chilly. With our excellent driver, Paul, we started going inland traveling a bit south and east, traversing the Southern Alps. We went over Arthur’s Pass, one of the highest mountain passes, driving on a steep, winding highway. Paul stopped the bus at a turnout, so that we could take pictures. The temperature outside was 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and a sharp, cold breeze blowing.

We each took a couple photos, and we’re more than ready to hop back on the bus. We went just a bit further up the road, and stopped again at a cafe, so we could all get a cup of coffee. Then Aaron, our tour guide, led us on a short walk to a small chapel, then to the Visitor’s Center The little church was very pretty, as the window behind the pulpit looked out at a grand waterfall. Unfortunately, my picture did not turn out well, as the sun was shining brightly on the waterfall.

This area has many different kinds of outdoor activities: hiking, mountain biking, white water sports (don’t think that tiny river below the highway is the only river here). There is river fishing, lake fishing, just about any kind of outdoor activity is available. This is very rugged country, so one has to be knowledgable and prepared for dealing with the elements. One poster in the Visitors’ Center was entitled, “How to Kill Yourself in Arthur’s Pass”.

Back on the bus again, we started our descent into the valley, leaving the Alps behind us.

This is prime country for Merino sheep, as they thrive best when they can graze on the mountains. We were told, later, when we visited the sheep station, that Merino sheep need a very different diet from the sheep that are raised in the valleys.

We visited a working sheep station, where the owner and his dog, Pete, gave us a demonstration of the herding qualities of the Border Collie. The shepherd actually use another dog, called a Huntawey (I don’t know how to spell that). The Huntawey barks, causing the sheep to group together in a herd. Then the Border Collie keeps them in a herd, and directs them towards the shepherd. We also got to see sheep shearing.

When we left this place, we continued on to Christchurch, on the east coast. Christchurch had been devastated by two earthquakes: the first, in September, 2010, but the second one, in February, 2011, caused the greatest destruction. For me, it was very sad to see the city as it is now. Rebuilding has been very difficult. So many buildings have been torn down; others waiting to be restored or demolished. We had stayed in Christchurch in 2005, and the vision I saw today made me very sad – a ruined cathedral.

We left the city, went towards the airport, and visited the Antarctic Center, which is right near the airport. I loved seeing the little blue penguins. That cheered me up. They are the tiniest penguins in the world. The ones we saw today have been rescued, having suffered injuries to their tiny feet or flippers, rehabilitated, but they would not survive in the wild again, so their permanent home is at the Antarctic Center.

After our visit there, we were taken to the airport; there we had to say goodbye to Paul, who had been our driver and companion for the past several days. We flew from Christchurch to Wellington, arriving a little after 8:00 p.m. As I said earlier, it had been a very long day, but with so many interesting stops and sights.

We will be here for the next few days, and then our fantastic New Zealand adventure will come to a close. I will fly back to the United States late Wednesday afternoon.

I will try to get another blog post written, after we have had the chance to visit Wellington.

I do trust you have enjoyed visiting this amazing country with me, and that you are planning your own OAT trip to New Zealand.

There is so much that I haven’t written about. I haven’t told you about the food, the cultural differences between our countries…I will try to write about those things, and more, after I get home.

So I shall say goodnight for now, and try to get some sleep. I can only hope another siren doesn’t go by and wake me again. I shall try to adjust to city life again,

Dolly

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

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

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

Featured Property: Pen-y-bryn Lodge, Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand

Author: , September 8th, 2010

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

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

Pen-y-bryn Lodge, Oamaru, South Island, New ZealandPen-y-bryn is a luxury, award-winning boutique style hotel, offering unrivaled visitor accommodations, fine dining and hospitality, and a growing international reputation.

Pen-y-bryn is an ideal honeymoon destination, relaxing retreat, romantic getaway, heritage inn, wedding location or the perfect place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or other special event.You’ll enjoy the warmth and humour of famed Kiwi hospitality.

Guests can meet each other in the evenings, warmed by blazing log fires to savour first-class table d’hôte cuisine. We use of the freshest local organic produce together with New Zealand wines from a connoisseur wine cellar to create an exceptional dining experience.

Choose from a wide variety of local outdoor activities or just relax at the Lodge, play billiards on the genuine slate table in the billiard room, or curl up with a good book in the library.

Pen-y-bryn is on the southern boundary of Historic Oamaru on the East Coast of the South Island, just an hour north of Dunedin, halfway (three hours) between Christchurch and Queenstown, and just two hours drive from Mt Cook.

See the Property Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Featured Property: Trelawn Place, Arthurs Point, New Zealand

Author: , August 22nd, 2010

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

Gay Friendly Otago Region, New Zealand Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Trelawn Place B&B - Arthurs Point, New ZealandWelcome to Trelawn Place, one of Queenstown’s popular and long established Bed and Breakfast (B&B). If you are looking for warm hospitality and an atmosphere that makes you feel at home, then look no further.

It is also a stunningly picturesque venue for your wedding (picture above taken from the property), with several accommodation options to suit your needs. The house is large, so you have plenty of space for privacy if you wish.

Trelawn Place is a country home and bed and breakfast only 5 minutes (4km) drive from central Queenstown. 11 km (15 minutes) from the Queenstown Airport. We offer:

  • B&B accommodation, with King sized beds
  • A self contained option in our Honeymoon cottage that can sleep up to four people
  • Our Garden Apartment sleeps four
  • The Cherry Tree House sleeps three
  • For bed and breakfast we provide a full cooked and a continental breakfast for those staying in the house
  • We offer all the peace and privacy of a tranquil retreat
  • The delightful 2 acre cottage garden is on the edge of the famous Shotover river
  • The property is surrounded by dramatic mountains
  • The Queenstown Coronet Peak ski field is the major part of our panoramic river view.

During your stay you have complimentary use of our guest laundry, guest computer, a riverside Jacuzzi and plenty of off street parking. We have collected relevant information on the Queenstown area to help you plan your holiday. Talk to us during your stay if you need help with your itinerary. There are no strangers here, only friends who have never met.

See the Trelawn Place Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here