We appreciated all of the great communication and support. The itinerary was excellent - I don't think there is anything that I would have changed. The flow, pace, activities, operators, lodging - everything worked so well.
I would say that our favorite lodgings were Bronte and the Lakestone Lodge. They were very special experiences. We had dinners at both and the food was excellent (and the convenience of not driving, hospitality, etc).
I will give a quick recap- perhaps the feedback will be useful -
- Car rental was smooth. Didn't need/use the GPS (phones worked fine for that) but it was reassuring to have.
- Peppertree was just lovely. Heidi and Werner could not have been more welcoming and kind. It was such a sweet way to start the trip.
- Hamish, our wine tour guide, was fun, knowledgable and flexible. We enjoyed that day a lot. And he gets extra points for taking us by the Marlborough Farmers Market and letting me sit and listen to the super charming Marlborough Sounds Barbershop Chorus.
- It was raining and cold when we arrived for our kayak trip in Picton but to their credit they ran the trip for us and Charlie, our guide, was a great sport and we ended up having a lot of fun.
- As I said we loved the Bronte Country Estate - everything about it was really terrific. The facility, the view, the hospitality and the food - it was a home run. We had dinner here both nights and it was wonderful (wine included). FYI for the future - Ian (the host) arranged for the Wheelie Fantastic people to deliver the bikes to Bronte, apparently they do that often. They don't have a permanent shop in town so they either had to deliver them to the meeting place in Mapua or deliver them to Bronte (they drove us to a starting point) - it really didn't make a difference for them and it was much easier for us.
- I am so glad you sent us to Pukaiki - the drive was beautiful and it was so interesting to see that part of the island. The resort was good - the view from our room was fantastic. It was not as personal as the other places, of course, but the proximity to the rocks was super and we were able to go for a walk on the beach at low tide which we enjoyed.
- Train was a nice relaxing interlude. Scenic and enjoyable. We didn't need a car in Christchurch so rather than take a taxi to the airport rental location on arrival (the city location was closed) we just took a taxi to the hotel and then walked to the city location the next morning to pick up the car for our drive to Pukaki.
- Hotel Montreal was terrific. I really liked the location near the park and we were able to walk to a great spot for dinner. The staff was super helpful and friendly. After I saw all of the rest of Christchurch (construction and fences everywhere) I particularly appreciated the location.
- Lakestone Lodge - wow I loved this place. Peaceful, really well designed, super staff and incredible food. We took both dinners there. We used their bikes to ride along the Alps to Ocean trail for a couple of hours before we drove to Wanaka - loved that.
- Glacier kayaking - this was so much fun! Charles was great. We initially thought the trip was not going to run bc of the weather but then he changed his mind and told us to come and it was a beautiful day!
- Wanaka Haven - this place was lovely and the breakfast was really excellent. Wanaka is a sweet town and we would have enjoyed being able to walk in to town but I'm not sure if there is anything that compares with the quality of the Wanaka Haven that would allow that. They also had really great bikes that we used to ride on the river on our departure day for a bit and that was a treat.
- We figured it out on our own - but maybe you could suggest in the future a stop at the Cardrona Hotel for lunch when driving between Wanaka and Queenstown. We really enjoyed that. (though I guess not everyone likes driving on that windy road)
- Queenstown Park Boutique - at first I was a bit surprised by how busy Queenstown was after all of the peaceful little spots we had stayed - but the vibe was energizing and we loved walking in to town for awesome coffee at the Vudu Larder. The staff at the hotel was very gracious and we really enjoyed the little cocktail hour. Happy to have a room with balcony and view of the mountain.
- Heli tour of Milford Sound - what can I say - everything about this was top notch. I am so glad that the weather worked for us - it was a beautiful day. The helicopter and pilot were excellent, the smaller boat was appreciated (and the captain was entertaining), the whole experience was magical.
- Queenstown Bicycle folks were great to work with and we were lucky to have perfect weather. It was a full day on the bikes but the e-bikes made it only moderately challenging.
I hope I haven't forgotten anything and I hope that you can put this wonderful itinerary to use for others! Thanks for your flexibility with our requests along the way and with the communication and support. We appreciated it all!