What I liked most about my customized private Intrepid tour was the eye popping beauty we encountered on our drives, luxury oriented yet intimate accommodations and some soft adventure activities, away from the crowds for a minimum planning effort on my part.
From the lodge living room and dining room common area (and from my room) the views of Lake Pukaki and the mountains were impressive. Aoraki Mount Cook (one of the country’s most iconic mountains) was under cloud cover during my entire stay, making it impossible for me to gaze at the naked peak. Despite that I enjoyed my stay in large part thanks to its picture perfect direct lake and mountain views.
Perched midway up New Zealand’s North Island on a narrow isthmus of rolling hills between two major bodies of water, Auckland is a city resolutely focused on the sea. On its eastern coast, the Hauraki Gulf leads to the South Pacific Ocean, while its western side overlooks the Tasman Sea. This privileged seaside location has fostered in Aucklanders a long-standing love affair with the sea.
: One side of the hotel faces the harbor and provides clear views of the bridge and Opera House. When I was there, it was still the Renaissance Sydney, and the three most important things were location, location, location. The Rocks area is just a short walk away, and Circular Quay (with ferries to Bondi and other great spots) is about a block away. Lots of great shops, some open 24 hours within a short walk. The Opera House and a huge park are just the other side of Circular Quay, so there is something going on in the area nearly every day. The hotel itself is well maintained and the staff courteous and efficient. I thought it was a terrific stepping off point to see all that Sydney has to offer in comfort and style.
The Opera House is a memorable sight and the bridge and harbor give this city a character all its own. A trip to Bondi beach feels like perhaps this country is too crowded, until you find out that most of the population of the entire country lives in this small metropolitan area. Once you leave the Sydney area, the rest of country is very different, but Sydney is the heart where the action is.