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Travel & Leisure has released their 2010 list of the world’s top 500 best hotels, including five in New Zealand:
- Westin Auckland Lighter Quay (Auckland)
- The George (Christchurch)
- The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs (Matauri Bay) – in the top 25!
- Huka Lodge (Taupo)
- Farm at Cape Kidnappers (Te Awanga) – in the top 25!
Click here to see the full list.
I had the chance to visit New Zealand on an 8 night escorted tour of the South Island (round trip out of Christchurch).
My adventure started on a Tuesday as I boarded my 4 1/2 hour non-stop flight from Nashville to Los Angeles. I then had a 5 hour layover in Los Angeles before catching a red-eye flight on Qantas. The Qantas flight took approximately 12 hours to get us to Auckland, New Zealand. In the process we crossed the International Date Line and completely skipped a day, landing in Auckland at 8:10 AM on Thursday. After clearing immigrations and customs we had a 4 hour layover in Auckland before boarding our JetStar flight to Christchurch. That was a reasonably short flight (less than an hour and a half) arriving at 2 PM. We were greeted at the airport by our tour manager and tour driver. Once we loaded all of our luggage onboard the motor coach they took us to the center of Christchurch where we had about an hour and a half to explore, shop, and sightsee. It was then time to check into our hotel and start our adventure!
Our first night in Christchurch was at Bealey’s Hotel followed by one night at the Ohau Lodge at Lake Ohau, one night onboard the Milford Wander in Milford Sound, three nights in Queenstown at the Aspen on Queenstown, one night at the Rainforest Retreat in Franz Joseph, and a final night back in Christchurch at Bealey’s Hotel. All of the accommodations were more than comfortable with twin or double beds and private facilities in each room, with a variety of amenities (some but not all of the hotels offered hair dryers, televisions, phones, clock/radios, and wi-fi access). The one exception was the Milford Wander, which was quad accommodations. But let’s be honest, when you are in New Zealand you’ll barely be in your hotel room, so don’t waste your money on higher end accommodations. The hotels used on our tour were perfect for this trip.
All of our transportation was onboard the motor coach which was very comfortable and included a charging station (for MP3 players, digital cameras, iPods, etc.), and an onboard bathroom. We drove through some amazing countryside, and had plenty of opportunities to stop, take pictures, stretch our legs,sightsee, eat, and shop for souvenirs.
New Zealand is an absolutely awe-inspiring, beautiful country, with stunning scenery everywhere. It is also the adventure capitol of the world, offering just about every form of death-defying adventure imaginable, including Bungy Jumping, Canyon Swinging (for those that think Bungy Jumping is too tame), sky diving, heli-biking, heli-skiing, and Zorbing. Looking for local culture? You don’t have to look far. The native culture in New Zealand are the Maoris. We were able to attend the Kiwi Haka show in Queenstown at the Skyline Restaurant, but you can find Maori culture on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Some of our group took the opportunity to Bungy Jump off Kawarau Bridge (43 meters), where AJ Hackett started the phenomenon over 20 years ago (due to knee issues I passed on that opportunity). Bungy Jumping is actually very safe. They have never had a fatality or injury in all the years they’ve operated at Kawarau Bridge. Once we reached Queenstown the sightseeing and adventure really kicked in … some folks did a 134 meter Bungy Jump in Queenstown, went Canyon Swinging, horseback riding, jet boating, white water rafting, visited sites where Lord of the Rings was filmed (totally breathtaking!), and some of us even braved tandem sky-diving (ok, that’s one that I actually did!).
And when the day was over, Queenstown has 45 different bars / clubs and an abundance of restaurants to keep the nightlife hopping. We maybe visited 1% of them (The Buffalo Club, Winnie’s, Minus 5 Ice Bar, and an Irish Pub among them). If you want an incredible view with your dinner, take the gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant, overlooking Queenstown, and enjoy a wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet dinner with your view. And after dinner, don’t miss the Kiwi Haka show!
Overall, visiting New Zealand is an unbelievable, life changing experience. Any vacation can give you a break from your daily routine, but it takes a special kind of vacation to give you back your life. In New Zealand you can rediscover the things you love about yourself and the planet you live on, with fresh scenery, clean air and amazing adventures. In this southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find breathing space, a change of pace and experiences that will recharge your batteries. And because the US dollar goes so far in New Zealand, your vacation won’t be spoiled by the nagging feeling that you’re spending too much.
New Zealand is like a set of living postcards. The South Island has fiords, glaciers, sky-scraping mountains, alpine lakes, braided rivers, rainforest and vast quilts of verdant farmland. The North Island is blessed with volcanoes (extinct, dormant and active), crater lakes, geothermal areas, beautiful harbours, fabulous beaches and sub-tropical forests. Finding beautiful places that are just as nature intended them to be is incredibly easy. Even in Auckland, the country’s largest city, you can reach wild places in just 30 minutes by sea or road.
In New Zealand you’ll have both the time and the opportunity to tick some of those “things I want to do before I die” items off of your Bucket List. Have you always wanted to shoot rapids in a raft or skydive over snow-capped mountains? Would you like to float through caves or walk on glaciers? Or do you simply crave the pleasure of relaxing in a geothermal hot spring or watching the sunrise over a serene lake, without another person in sight? Their population is just 4.5 million and yet they have a land area greater than the state of Colorado, so crowds and lines are hard to find. If you dream it, New Zealand has it.
Are you ready to get your life back? Give us a call at (888) 221-1209 for help planning your New Zealand get-away.
Australia & New Zealand – more than Koalas, Kangaroos, or Kiwis
It’s an emotional impact of incredible modern architecture, fascinating aborigine and Maori culture, and miles of breathtaking coastlines. Ascend into the mountains and ancient forests and experience the thrill of exploring active volcanoes. Even shopping will be an exhilarating experience through the fashionable district of Auckland, before stretching out on your veranda and watching the sun wash over Sydney’s famed harbor. Australia and New Zealand provide some of the most unique and beautiful landscapes in the world – breathtaking fjords, charming towns and modern metropolises. Immerse yourself in the mystery and beauty of the South Pacific.
Where adventure was invented
Cruise past the famed waves of Australia one day and surf on them the next. See the steaming belly of the Earth from the mouths of active volcanoes. Or dive deep into the magical underworld of the Great Barrier Reef. The only thing you’ll risk is having too much fun.
Extraordinary Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruise itineraries offer something for everyone — from two-week cruises focused on a particular region to 23- to 26-day Pacific crossings. With unique ports of call, and award-winning shore excursions, even guests who have previously cruised or visited the South Pacific will experience something new. Discover a world of ancient mysteries in the Maori Haka and aboriginal didgeridoo. Witness the dramatic beauty of Fiordland National Park. Be among the few to see Tasmanian devils and wombats in their native habitat. Revel in the cosmopolitan attractions of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. With itineraries beginning and ending in Sydney or Auckland, extend your exploration with pre- or post- cruise vacation packages and take in the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and Alice Springs or New Zealand’s countryside. Australia and New Zealand provide some of the most unique and beautiful landscapes in the world. From the sophistication of the Opera House and the world-class wineries, to the rugged individualism of the Outback and its inhabitants, Australia and New Zealand possess a wonderful diversity of sights, activities and cultures.
Cruise New Zealand
Why cruise in New Zealand and Australia?
- See spectacular scenery that can only be viewed from a cruise ship.
- Unpack only once, as your “floating hotel” moves between a variety of wonderful ports.
- Your meals are included.
Book your Australia / New Zealand cruise with Your Kiwi Specialist at Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel! Contact us for itineraries and pricing.
Give us a call (888-221-1209) or email us (email@example.com) for more information or to book your New Zealand / Australia adventure today!