A three hour drive South from Lake Tekapo brought us to the small mining town of Arrowtown, our home for the next two weeks. It was so nice for all of us to unpack our things and get comfortable. For the month of May and first few days of June, we hadn’t been in the same place for more than five nights, and had been living out of the suitcase for much of the time. Unpacking and knowing we’d be stationed in the same home for the next two weeks felt great. It also didn’t hurt that there was a trampoline on the property along with plenty of space to run and play outdoors.
Our Arrowtown Cottage, surrounded by snow caped mountains, was in such a scenic location. It was common for cars to pull over on the side of the road at the end of our drive way for photos. The houses on the hill in our aerial video mark the start of “downtown Arrowtown”, about a five minute walk or two minute drive from our cottage. Queenstown and all of the activities based there were only a fifteen minute drive away.
Arrowtown was a great home base for the remainder of our time on the South Island. Only 15 minutes drive from Queenstown, it was close enough to all the activities and far enough away so that we could enjoy some peaceful time in the country. The old mining own has a quaint little downtown area complete with several restaurants, pubs, and a grocery store. There were trail heads up into the mountians everywhere we went and we took a couple of nice hikes very close to our Arrotwtown cottage. First, only a couple minutes drive from our house was a five mile walk around Lake Hayes. The second hike we did was a little shorter in distance, but quite a bit more challenging up through Sawpit Gully. The loop began with a pretty steep uphill climb, and finished with us needing to navigate several crossings of a small mountian stream by hopping from rock to rock.
The highlight of our first week in the Queenstown/Arrowtown area was our Dart River tour with Wilderness Jet.
The tour took us from Queenstown up to Glenorchy where we boarded the JetBoat and zipped up the river into a National Park. Emily was a little nervous getting started, but after a few spins on the lake, her screams of fear turned into screams of fun.
When the 45 minutes or so of boat ride was over, the guide led us on a short walk through the bush. En route, we stopped to view locations where many movies had been filmed, learned about some of the plants and history of the land. We all burned our tongues chewing on a piece of a spicy pepper bush leaf, formerly used as an antiseptic by the Maori.
The guide also pointed out a berry the early sailors brought when settling New Zealand. High in Vitamin C, it was great to combat Scurvy. However, the side effect was a numb mouth and a loss of ability to speak for a day or two. After a month in Australia without much time for schoolwork, we had a few battles over getting into the routine of school again. The thought did cross our minds how it may be nice for us to carry a few of the berries with us, and test them out the next time girls were complaining or fighting over nonsense. We of course left them behind, but since, there have definitely been a few occasions in which we wished we had them.
When the tour was over, both girls asked if we could go again the following day – always a good sign that a fun time was had by all.
We did a five mile hike around a hole entire lake. We also did another hike and we got to jump from rock to rock to get to the other side of a stream. In Queenstown, we also got to go ice skating and there were these two boys who kept being show offs. In Arrowtown, we got to stay in a cute little cottage. I really liked the yard it had two hills that Angela and I really liked playing on. There was also a rope course. We went on a jet boat tour and at the end of that, we went on a bush walk. I really liked the jet boat tour when we did the spins.
Then we went to Arrowtown and we went ice skating. I started off with Daddy pulling me. Then, I did it with one foot and finally two feet. After that, we went to a place called Fergburger. Daddy said it was world famous, but it was just New Zealand famous. On one of the days we hiked around a lake. On another day, we hiked a big loop that took us through forests, across fields, and over a mountain. We also went on a jet boat tour where he would go so fast, if you blinked, you missed it. Sometimes he would go in a super fast circle.
We’ve arranged for most of our family touring in New Zealand through Southern World. We like exploring new destinations by all methods of travel – cruising, touring, or on our own. The thing we like best about private custom tours is that we can collaborate with and design our experience exactly the way we want, under the expert guidance of a trusted local operator.
Southern World has contacts all over both islands of New Zealand. Under their knowlegable guidance we’ve coordinated several day tours as well as chosen cities to serve as our home base while we explore the amazing country.
There are several options for cruising around the perimeter of New Zealand – Large ship, small ship, expedition. The cruises are a great way to see the sections of the country you may like to return to at a later date. With as long as it takes to get to New Zealand from the States, we recommend also organizing some pre-or post touring to experience the local towns and villages while participating in some of the fun adventure activities available.
Taking a tour with a small group provides the opportunity to experience the sites of New Zealand with other like-minded travelers on popular pre-designed itineraries.