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From the glaciers, we made our way south through Wanaka to the wine country of Central Otago. We then checked in at Matakauri Lodge, which was a welcome retreat after the west coast drive.
Matakauri Lodge was reopened in 2010 after being purchased by Julian Robertson. It is the most recent addition to his New Zealand lodge collection. Located in the Queenstown Lakes District, the lodge offers spectacular scenery overlooking Lake Wakatipu.
Much like the other two properties, Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, the main lodge has a library, reception, and dining facilities. Matakauri also has a spa, fitness center, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. Just this week, the lodge completed the four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage. This is an ideal option for families or couples traveling together.
While Kauri Cliffs was built in a southern plantation style and Cape Kidnappers resembles a vast and attractive farmhouse, Matakauri is reminiscent of a modern-style lake house retreat with bright and airy rooms and floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of the lake. While just minutes from downtown Queenstown, Matakauri is a quiet retreat but is still convenient to great restaurants, shopping and numerous outdoor pursuits. Just adjacent to the property is a two-mile lakeside trail. It was well worth the early morning wake up call to walk the trail for the morning sunrise over the Remarkables Mountains.
Queenstown is the South Island’s epicenter for outdoor activities and the options are endless. Most importantly, there is great trout fishing in every direction from town. There are a myriad of water sports available on the lake. There are helicopter tours, paragliding, parasailing, hang gliding, bungee jumping (it was invented here), hiking, biking, jet boats, whitewater rafting, great golf and wineries that produce the best Pinot Noir in the country. Milford and Doubtful Sounds are also reachable for day trips.
The town reminds us of Jackson Hole, replacing the Tetons with The Remarkables Range. Add in the huge lake and a very international culture and you have a wonderful ski town that is the pride of the South Island. In addition to numerous shopping opportunities, there are great pubs and restaurants, including Michelin-star Chef, Josh Emett’s new eatery, “Rata.”
The first day, one of our ground operators in New Zealand, Seasons Travel, coordinated a helicopter flightseeing trip to Milford Sound with the most spectacular views of the mountains and sea. To our delight, once we reached the peak, our pilot landed on one of the many glaciers giving us the opportunity to get out of the helicopter. It is amazing that you can be in a summer resort town one minute and whisked away to find yourself standing high on a mountaintop with sweeping views of glaciers on one side and the ocean below. From there we traveled to the coastline and landed on the beach near a seal colony before carrying on to Milford Sound where we landed again, and had great views of the Sound in flight and from the ground. We highly recommend that our clients consider this excursion!
The second day we had a full day of guided trout fishing with Nick Clark, one of the most veteran guides in the country. We have been working with Nick’s company, Southern Trout, for many years for our clients in Queenstown. This is an ideal location to accommodate families or couples who want to combine fishing with the multitude of other sightseeing interests in the town. Nick is a genuinely nice guy. He put us on a number of fish and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day on a small stream that had both rainbows and browns. Kristene worked a few fish with dries and others readily took nymphs. This river was very easy to wade with no large boulders to negotiate demonstrating that New Zealand is not just for fit fishers. We ended the day stopping at a farmers market to enjoy some ice cream with local fresh fruits and berries.
From Queenstown, we are heading to Te Anau for another day of fishing and access to Doubtful Sound as our trip nears its end . . .
By: Mike Jr. and Kristene Fitzgerald