10 October 2014
Firstly, Jurgen, as I am sure you already know is a gentleman and a scholar. We felt like he was family after a few days with him. He got into our heads quickly and anticipated our needs at every turn. His range of expertise was very impressive yet not overstated. He stayed two steps ahead of our travel itinerary and anticipated problems and solved them before they became problems. My only criticism is that as Marianna recommended he should get some hair gel for a little spiking. Each of the lodges was unique and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to be there. The proprietors were gracious hosts who went out of their way to insure our enjoyment….I suppose Jurgen would like me to rate the kitchens. Once again this is very difficult as they were all excellent. In any case, my favourite was Hapuku for food and setting. We dinned outside the first night and attempted a second night until a southerly wind blew us inside. Westhaven is a very close second particularly due to the Austrian favourites which Monika so expertly prepared when I requested ‘Spaetzle”. Bay of Many Coves prepared beautiful mussels…Lunch at Rock Ferry Winery and dinner at Pier 19 in Queenstown were standouts due to setting and food…The helicopter ride was another highlight. We were lucky to get aloft and once again that was due to Jurgen’s knowledge of the area….We really appreciated the opportunity to taste the regional wines particularly since we have little experience with pinot gris and pinot noir. Jurgen allowed us to decide how many wineries we wanted to visit….Driving out of the way to Hump Ridge Jet was well worth the effort. The river was spectacular and the barbecue lunch was a great surprise….The pace of the trip was appropriate for our timetable. If I were to recommend my itinerary to anyone I would add one day to Westhaven to go kayaking or another hike and another at Bay of Many Coves for reasons mentioned above. I would keep Queenstown to one night (irrespective of Azur being beautiful) as our brief walk through town was sufficient and we had done all of the adventurous activities that we could handle prior to arriving. I don’t regret missing the bungy jump or the hangliding. I would also add three days in the North Island to fish while Laura might tour. We were successful in bringing two bottles of Manuka honey through customs and we will covet them. …Many thanks for arranging our trip which ranks up there with some of our best travel experiences.