New Zealand Travellers

This item appears on page 32 of the September 2011 issue.

New Zealand’s South Island has it all: alps, glaciers, rainforests, sandy beaches and swinging bridges, just to mention a few. And an excellent way to see it all is with Jan King’s New Zealand Travellers (169 Cable Bay Road, RD1, Nelson 7071, N.Z.; phone [64] 3 545 2546), an advertiser in ITN.

I had done this itinerary in ’97 with the previous owner of New Zealand Travellers and was so taken by the experience that I decided to do it one more time while this 72-year-body could still get around reasonably well. So on Jan. 5, 2011, I boarded Holland America Line’s ms Amsterdam in Ft. Lauderdale to disembark in Auckland 33 days later. I then flew to Nelson, where Jan King greeted me at the airport.

As it turned out, there were only three group members for the 13-day February walk: Theresa and Chris, from Canada, and me. Jan was hostess, guide, driver and sometimes breakfast cook and excellent in all her roles.

Some highlights of our two weeks — a cruise to Abel Tasman National Park, a jet boat tour to the White Heron Sanctuary, a jet boat to Raspberry Creek for the hike to Rob Roy Glacier, and our “big day out” to the awesome Milford Sound. These destinations were not included in the ’97 program, and I found them to be excellent additions.

We walked, hiked and, from point to point with a challenge here and there, used the van. I’m a bit slower than I was.

Our accommodations were outstanding, mostly efficiency apartments plus a few B&Bs, almost all with fantastic views right out the windows and front doors. With single accommodations, I paid a land price of $4,563 for the tour.

Most fun was pitching in for breakfast. Jan makes a mean pancake! Lunch was included in the tour price. Half the dinners were included, all from regular menus at excellent local restaurants. No one went hungry!

As noted, this was my second time on this tour, and was I pleased with how Jan has tweaked the original walk with new sights, walks and visits! Once again, I was so impressed with the program and scenery that, when age demands I turn in my boots and walking stick, I’ll be tempted to go one more time if only for the ride. I would then sit on the patio, deck, porch or lawn simply taking in the beauty surrounding me.

(If you go, ask Jan about Morris dancing!)

By the way, we departed for home from Christchurch about an hour before the Feb. 22 earthquake.

Philadelphia, PA