We are back from our trip to Fiji. It was totally awesome...
Jo & Marilyn
New Zealand
by The Travel Group
More testimonials...

Off the Beaten Track

Off the Beaten Track down South
On one of my trips back to New Zealand I decided to visit Stewart Island as I had never been there even though I grew up in Invercargill! I’m talking about way down South here now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with New Zealand. (Most tourists tend not to come any further south than Queenstown) but I love the drive from Queenstown to Invercargill – the endless green hills, poplar trees and of course all those sheep. Invercargill has a beautiful park (Queens Park) with a rose garden, Aviary and a Museum.  I always like to go check on Henry the Tuatara who is about 100 yrs old by now. Tuataras are native reptiles and were around when dinosaurs walked the earth. He can be viewed from the park through bullet proof glass or you can go into the Museum and see these very slow moving creatures from inside. While you are in the museum you will want to check out the Burt Munro exhibit which was set up following the success of the movie ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ with Anthony Hopkins. Burt Munro was also from Invercargill and some of the earlier scenes in the movie were filmed at Oreti Beach about 20 minutes out of town. 
 To get to Stewart Island I decided to cross Foveaux Straight by Catamaran and that involves driving to Bluff (about 30 minutes) which is famous for its oysters and signpost reminding you just how far away you are from the rest of the world! The crossing takes approximately 1 hour and I was a bit apprehensive as sometimes it can be a bit rough. Fortunately it was a nice day and a smooth sailing.
 Stewart Island is commonly known as Rakiura to the Maori. Most of the island (85%) is within the Rakiura National Park with unspoiled natural beauty. The island is very quaint, and abundant with native flora, bush birds, great hikes, and one can also enjoy, kayaking, fishing and relaxation. For the moserious hikers you can walk the (Rakiura Track) which is a moderate 3 day 36km track suitable all year and for anyone with moderate fitness. There are also a couple of 10 day tracks suitable for experienced trampers and weather would also be a factor for these longer trips. 
You can visit Stewart Island as a day trip or spend a couple of nights in a Bed & Breakfast.  If you are a bird enthusiast you can see bellbirds, tui, fantails, parakeets and maybe even a kiwi. So if you want to take a step back in time, enjoy quiet serenity and amazing coastal scenery you will enjoy this trip.  All season clothing recommended as this is a rain forest and wetland area.   
To return to Invercargill I had booked a flight which started with checking in at the office in the town. I was a bit horrified that they wanted to weigh me as well as my bag! There was quite a discussion of the total weight and finally some of us were called to board a van. It dawned on me then that this was going to be a very small plane. There were actually four of us and we drove to what I would describe as a large field in the middle of nowhere and we just sat there. The driver radioed the pilot to see where he was and this is when I couldn’t help but laugh. Of all the airports that I had been in and the airplanes I’d been on, this was the first time I’d had this experience. After a minute or two the pilot and his plane came circling above, and then landed in the field and we drove up to it and the pilot started loading us in. I was last and wasn’t sure how I was going to board and then I realized I’d have to climb over the wing and enter the seat next to the pilot. So glad I wasn’t wearing a dress but I certainly had a great front row seat flying back to Invercargill which took about 12 minutes.
Please contact Marie if you have any questions or would like to include this area on your next trip to New Zealand.


One of Marie's trips back to New Zealand was heading to Stewart Island. It is way down South for those of you not familiar with New Zealand, you can visit for a day or spend a couple of nights in a Bed & Breakfast.