By James Drakeford
Posted: 23rd April 2012 10:27
New Zealand may be small, remote and thinly populated but it punches well above its weight with its outlandish scenery, magical outdoor experiences, glorious sunshine and impressive celebration of its indigenous Mauri people. So now it’s time to go Kiwi spotting, learn the Haka and join the party.
Rudyard Kipling once called this the “eighth Wonder of the World”. The towering mountains, and steep valleys of dense native forest on the State Highway 94 opens up into the deep, narrow fiord of Milford Sound with Mitre Peak rising majestically from the water to give you one of the greatest views in the world. Go kayaking and explore the passage that leads 10 miles to the open sea, or take an overnight cruise on the sounds marvelling at the seals and penguins, and spotting the bottlenose dolphins that often bow-ride the passengers boats. Simply breathtaking.
Wellington is the home of Peter Jackson and the set of fantasy trilogy Lord of the Rings. The die-hard movie lovers can visit the filming locations, as well as Weta Cave, where you will get to see works created by the team behind Avatar, District 9 and many more. As the Capital City of New Zealand, there is so much more on offer. Get a taste of Maori history with a visit to Te Papa - the national museum, and visit the innovative inner city nature reserve, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Film nut or not, Wellington will truly enchant you.
This vibrant, multicultural and contemporary city is well worth an overnight stay. Visit the outstanding Christchurch Art Gallery, Hagley Park and the incredible Botanical Gardens before sampling one of the vast arrays of bars and restaurants. When you leave, be sure to ride the TranzAlpine Train, voted one of the top rail journeys in the world taking you through dramatically different scenery from the patchwork farmlands of Canterbury Plains and into the dramatic Southern Alps, before gliding into the pristine rainforest of the West Coast.
New Zealand easily adapts to its seasons so that summer hiking destinations turn effortlessly into winter playgrounds for skiers and snowboarders. If you visit during the winter months of June to October you will find the Southern Alps awash with spectacular rollercoaster terrain ranging from beginner slopes to Black Diamond runs that will be sure to get the adrenaline going.
New Zealand is an island country comprising of two main landmasses. Whether you travel to the North or the South Island, or even the numerous smaller islands surrounding, you will never experience the same holiday twice – making this a grand destination to visit over and over again.