After a week of surfing the web, we have at last settled on a route around the South Island. The sites (tools) that I have used have been http://www.booking.com/ for the Hotel and Motel type accommodation. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ to see what everyone else thinks about possible venues. Many decisions changed or altered after refering to this, though some have been rather old postings and the management changed and /or accommodation updated recently. Worth viewing the postings in date order. There is always someone who has a gripe, and rates their stay as "terrible", often brought on by their own stupidity and they feel they need to get at someone. This is often a real lambasting for something quite trivial. Occasionally you can find such gems as " no one mentioned the trainline 10 foot from the bedroom window". Homestay (B&B) type accommodation was found in the "Big Black Bed and Breakfast Book" sent for on our behalf by Marlene (ex Kiwi with whom we play Petanca). Very useful Marlene, and many thanks. Your own copy from..... http://www.bnb.co.nz/ Other very useful tools, Google Earth and Google Maps. Both will show a bed symbol if you zoom in on a town and one or two overnights, were found this way.
1st Feb Arrive Christchurch and have two nights in Pub B&B adjoining Brewery. Pub grub and real Ale! Oh Yes!!!
3rd Feb Catch TranzAlpine train to Greymouth and pick up hire car after lunch drive up coast to Cape Foulwind for one night. Hope it does not live up to its name.
4th Feb Drive inland via Bullers gorge and Springs Junction (the long way, but more scenic) to Reefton.
5th Feb Drive to Fox Glacier via Greymouth and Hokitika.
6th Feb Drive to Lake Wanaka via Haast and new road over the Southern Alps. ( previously impassable)
7th Feb Short drive to Queenstown for two nights.
9th Feb Day trip to Milford Sound stopping off at Te Anau on return journey.
10th Feb Invercargill for two nights. (Garden visits)
12th Feb To Dunedin via "Southern Scenic Route" which is more or less the coast road.
14th Feb Drive north to Oamaru (old architechture and strange boulders) then turn inland to stay overnight in Omarama. To view the lakes that reflect Mt Cook etc.
15th Via Geraldine to Christchurch (more on that venue later) for two nights.
17th To Nelson on smaller roads via Hanmer Springs and St Arnaud. Three days here having day trips, here and there, but always returning to same accommodation. (Self Catering) Must include the town of Collingwood to see if they have celebrated/commemorated the Admiral's death 200 years ago like we all did recently.
20th Blenheim for two nights. Vinyard tours and get ready for Picton Ferry on 22nd to North Island.
The only accommodation on this Island not yet booked, is the second visit to the Christchurch area (15th).
Two B&Bs investigated so far have been closed due to earthquake damage. Whilst one hopes to be up and running by January the other has been "red tagged" which means it is a no go area due to imminent collapse. (follow the Flickr link to see images) Three enquiries for accommodation have not been replied to. Are they still standing? I continue to do research in this area. Update..... two nights now booked on coast south of Christchurch... north of rocky peninsular, where there are gardens to see.