Hillary McMaster’s trip to New Zealand.

My trip to the Land Of The Long White Cloud began with an amazing experience of whale watching from a rugged town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

In Kaikoura, where the emphasis is on conservation of marine life, my small group took a prop plane tour that provided us with wonderful panoramic views of the beautiful peninsula and more importantly of NINE sperm whales!

Following the whale watching tour, we stopped at the Kaikoura Winery, settled on a beautiful spot between the mountains and the coast with breathtaking views of the peninsula for a sampling of the local sauvignon blanc. With its small town setting and splendor Kaikoura really gave me a sense of peace. I would love to visit it again.

We recommend the Wilderness Lodge at Arthurs Pass to many of our clients. The welcoming, gracious Kiwi hospitality shown to me by the staff and the exuberance of the owner, Gerry McSweeney, as he demonstrated sheep herding and sheering, and guided us on a tour of his property led to me to understand why people so enjoy the time they spend on the edge of the national park. During my stay I took advantage of a beautiful sunny, spring day to hike alone along the Rainbow Trail, one of many trails where visitors can freely roam. I stopped along the way to read information at points of interest and to take in the panoramic views of the Southern Alps. Were it possible I would pack up my family and move to the serene mountain setting forever!

From Arthurs Pass I traveled to Fox Glacier, a sight unlike anything I have ever seen! It was awesome to see the glacier, surrounded by a lush temperate rainforest, cutting a dramatic valley between the Southern Alps. The fact that these glaciers were formed during the last ice age is simply amazing!

My last stop was in Queenstown. From there I took a spectacular small plane flight to Milford Sound flying low over, and close to, the highest peaks of the Fiordland National Park. Following my awe-inspirig flight (pictured to the left!!) was a cruise along the Sound leading to the Tasman Sea and there I saw the sights carved by ancient glaciers and the local wildlife, including dolphins, seals, and penguins living in their natural habitat. Milford Sound is surrounded by mountainous peaks and breath taking views unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

This trip was simply an amazing adventure and it is one that I will never forget!

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