Two islands, one inspiring experience, stretching from the glaciers and fiords of the south, past the bubbling pools of Rotorua to the yacht-dotted bays of the north. A land of wild, natural beauty, studded with magnificent snow-capped mountains and beautiful lakes. On the exquisite tip of the sub-tropical North Island, adventure and repose beckons in the Bay of Islands, a maritime park with an abundance of marine life. Driving around the Hawkes Bay wineries brings the opportunity to sample oaky chardonnays and rich reds. In Auckland, aptly named the ‘City of Sails’, all is cultured and calm, the centre abounding with fine restaurants and shops; Waitemata Harbour a mass of billowing sails. In Rotorua, the ground bubbles with hot springs, geysers and mud pools – the indigenous Maoris to this day cooking the food for their ‘hangi’ feasts in red clay pits hollowed into the earth.
The South Island has a character all of its own and is home to Queenstown, the country’s adventure capital and simply brimming with youthful vitality. Hike through Abel Tasman National Park, renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and spectacular coastal track; soar high over the ice caves and crevasses of Mount Cook in a helicopter with a view to landing on a glacier for a gourmet lunch with champagne. And yet more, the thrill of a whale encounter in Kaikoura or jet boat rides along the Shotover River. Across this magical realm lie the legendary super-lodges; astonishingly stylish and luxurious enclaves of privacy and tranquillity. Yet the final lasting impressions will be of the local people, it is they who make this land special.
New Zealand’s seasons are the opposite to those in the UK and less extreme. The North Island is sub-tropical whilst the South Island is temperate. The warmest and most popular months to visit are from December to April, although the shoulder seasons are also very pleasant and highly recommended.
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