Kia Ora. Welcome to New Zealand or Aotearoa as it¡¯s originally known, meaning ¡®land of the long white cloud¡¯. A country well known as the place to get a little taste of the entire world¡¯s contrasting environments in one nature-packed hot spot.
New Zealand is a set of pacific islands covered with otherworldly volcanoes and fjords that are coated by lush rainforests and mountain-fed rivers. Not to mention the thrilling ski slopes and soothing hot pools.
Flying into the city of sails, Auckland blends ancient topography with modern style. It¡¯s the biggest metropolis in the land and is a delightful place to kick start the adventure. Highly recommended is the modern viaduct buzzing with ferries to take you to the luxurious wineries of nearby Waiheke Island or for a trek around the harbour¡¯s dormant volcano of Rangitoto.
Three hours south and welcome to Rotorua - the city of sulphur. There¡¯s no escaping the tangy aroma as it bubbles from the drain pipes of urban streets. Giant geysers spouting out of geothermal moon-scapes are a must see. You can even take time to splash out and white water raft before rejuvenating in a local mud pool.
Continuing south past a freshwater ocean the size of Singapore, Lake Taupo offers the mighty volcanoes of Tongariro National Park which is still active and some of the southern hemispheres favourite ski areas. Arrival in the capital of Wellington often comes next and it¡¯s the cultural mega museum of Te Papa and the chic-city caf¨¦ strips that make this place a must see.
The inter-islander ferry departs Wellington several times a day for an impressive journey through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds at the top of South Island. Just east is Nelson City and the Able Tasman National Park which is home to golden beaches, rainforest covered islands and an abundance of wildlife creating an ever-changing landscape.
Take one of the world¡¯s most revered drives down the West Coast to the adventure hub of Queenstown, a winter wonderland for half the year and a sunny alpine paradise for the remainder. This enchanting settlement is home to striking scenery, five star dining and more than anything - mountain addicted adrenalin junkies. Queenstown is also a great base from which to visit the majestic Fjord land National Park. Milford Sound is rated as one of the top twenty wonders of the world and is also accessed from the placid lakeside tourist town of Te Anau where glow-worm caves are plentiful.
Heading north towards the English city of Christchurch, you¡¯ll park up for a photograph of Mount Cook which is the highest peak in lower Oceania. Next a toasty soak at the Alpine Spa hot-springs overlooking the milky blue, mineral rich Lake Tekapo is an utter must before reaching Christchurch airport to board your flight home.
Image credit: Tourism NZ
Monday, January 09, 2012
Touring Paradise - New Zealand
Source = Lionel Paul Grant