Julie Patterson of Venus Adventures is usually based in Egypt and from there organises six adventures a year for women. A kiwi, she is locked down in New Zealand and has decided to do some trips for women in New Zealand. See them all here
Last month we joined the one based in a lodge at Twizel – once a down at heel town housing the families who built the large Hydro dams in the region. Nowadays it is an up and coming tourist holiday destination on the popular Alps to Ocean Cycle trail, and in the heart of the MacKenzie Dark Sky reserve.
Nerilee is hosting us in her large home overlooking Lake Ruataniwha, just a few kms from Twizel. Arriving early we jumped on our electric bikes to explore – great cycle trails everywhere, including into the village. Face packs were the order of the day – much hilarity 🙂
Must stops in Twizel include:
- Lunch and excellent coffee at Hydro followed by a browse through
- Jakes Hardware store the best hardware store in NZ – I dare you to not buy something here.
- Bike hire – this is the centre of the Alps to Ocean cycle trail – hire a bike and do a day during your stay
Nine women have gathered for a three day adventure in the area, and it was not surprising when the pub we were eating at put us in a corner on our own! Our waiter Liam did his best to keep us in line Top Hut restaurant in Twizel.
Day one – the forecast was for snow – and by mid morning we were all excited when the rain had turned to a steady fall of snow. First stop today is to feed the Salmon before heading off to Omarama where we descended on one of the GlenCraigs Clothing – one best country shops I have seen. Great discounts were offered to us all, as we tried on some great merino and other winter goodies.
Our primary destination today is Kurow for wine tasting and cheese platters at Ostler Wines in the main street. Jim Jerram regailed us with stories of how he began this local vineyard in the Waitaki Valley. Jim left his life as a JP seduced by the lure of the 35 million year old limestone country. Jim and his wife Annie fed us wine and cheese and stories – a fabulous way to spend a few hours. We all went home happily loaded with bottles of wine.
I have lived in NZ for 45 years and never been up to Mt Cook village. Yesterday it had snowed in Twizel, so today a perfect day to drive up Lake Pukaki to Aoraki/Mt Cook village. Snow blanketed the hills around us, a little low cloud did not put us off.
It turns out Mt Cook village is a magic place in any weather. We arrived at this perfect Alpine Village hunkered down for the weather, with its moslty small buildings – apart from the Hermitage, standing tall, but closed after Covid-19 closed the NZ borders.
The Visitors centre is absolutely beautiful in both its design and in its story telling about Aoraki, and the cafē next door has everything you need for a feed before going to explore some of the many local walks. The others in the group head out, and I stay to do some work in what has to be one of the best office space in the world.
What an unexpected treat this is – let’s face it Omarama is not a metropolis, and many people just drive (or cycle) through. The Omarama Hot Tubs are worth stopping for – but warning – you need to book ahead 🙂
Julie has booked two tubs for the Venus girls, perfectly timed for sunset. Each tub has its own changing room, is private, has no chlorine – the tub is emptied and heated by wood again each time. We have come prepared with wine – they provided water and glasses.
It is perfect – the sun fades, the moon rises, the ducks quack away on the nearby pond… This is a must stop!
A little off the main road, but worth a drive. These are a geological wonder. The Cliffs were created out of layers of silt and gravel deposited by ancient glaciers around 4 million years ago. These layers were compressed, then up-lifted by geological activity in the area, then as the high points began to be eroded pinnacles were left behind.
Venus Adventures in NZ
Julie Paterson was born in NZ, and usually she lives these days in Egypt, which is her overseas base for leading Venus Adventures for women. In lockdown she has put together some great trips for women in NZ – check them out… Venus Adventures for women