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Spring Edition 2013


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Acorn Publishing, PO Box 105 758, Auckland City, 1143, New Zealand


agazine New Zealand m el av Tr r fo d or Forew ming to visit, I’d considering co re u’ a trip yo If . rld you’re planning of the wo see us, I hope a fantastic part to is d en an be al y Ze ad re New if you’ve al to do so. And encourage you and back soon. Kiwis are ready New Zealand, wn do d an up try, and oud of our coun s to offer. We are very pr New Zealand ha at th st be e th f of ow many thrilling waiting to sh and food, and e in w us io lic de , a unique culture . nding scenery, ure playground nt ve ad ed We have outsta wn no -re rld wo a ake us activities that m the mighty W est Coast , to ’s nd la Is h ut fiords of the So ne to see. ng glaciers and ething for everyo m so is From the stunni e er th u, e Central Platea out volcanoes of th take some time pine stream or al an in ut tro r arae, fish fo ditional Maori m Experience a tra resort. at a spa or eco th an array of , and match it wi rld wo e th in od st fresh fo . some of the be of our produce. You could taste can’t get enough rld wo e th – es in w l , and bungy delicious loca ite-water rafting wh g, in at bo t je t a thrill – from lf courses. many ways to ge ore than 400 go m of e on on And there are so g in ay pl or ng ntain-biki er in our little jumping, to mou more to discov ys wa al s e’ er shores again aland. Th ll return to our time in New Ze u’ t yo ea gr pe a ho ve e W ha . en I hope you or is always op rld, and our do corner of the wo soon. Best wishes,

y Rt Hon John Ke R TE PRIME MINIS

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Editor’s corner Managing Editor David McEwen Contributing Editor Darren Greenwood Senior Designer Danny Rawlins Content Manager Adrienne Zamor-Bongout Account Manager Aaron Waata awaata@acornpublishing.biz Account Manager Rupert Hogan rupert@acornpublishing.biz Australasian and International distribution by: Speedimpex Australia Pty Ltd Pansing IMM Australia Pty Ltd Digital In-Flight Jetstar Gordon & Gotch Auckland Office Level 2, 14 Viaduct Harbour Avenue Auckland CBD 1010 New Zealand Free call: 0800 226 762 International: +64 9 375 6057 Queenstown Office Level 1, 11-17 Church St, Queenstown, New Zealand New Zealand Free call: 0800 226 762 Melbourne Office 76 The Boulevard, Ivanhoe Victoria 3079, Australia Ph: +61 4 16 326 464 Published by

ISSN 2200-5021 (Print) ISSN 2200-5013 (Digital) www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

Kia Ora Those of us who live in New Zealand find it hard to look at the country with unjaded eyes. Words like ‘paradise’ that fall from the lips of visitors with such frequency are often met by Kiwis with a matter-offact shrug. Too often, locals think people travel here for our majestic mountains, lush bushlands and our unique flora and fauna. However, it is just as common for people to come here for our people. New Zealanders have a reputation for friendliness, warmth and honesty and that can be the difference between a good holiday and a great one. Then there is another unique aspect to our people – the Maori. The original settlers of Aotearoa established a rich and vibrant culture and were among the last native peoples to come into contact with European explorers. Maori influence upon modern New Zealand vocabulary, customs and institutions has been significant and Maori is an official language that can be found on many official signs and heard at official functions. New Zealand has many other forms of culture as well and this month we feature a European import that has found favour here – Opera. While it often is viewed as the purview of highbrows, Opera with its lavish sets and costumes, superb voices and dramatic flourishes is an experience that anyone can enjoy. For those who might feel intimidated about hearing an Opera in a language they cannot understand –most opera houses in this country helpfully offer subtitles on a screen that correspond with the action on stage. Sometimes the best way to understand the culture of a nation is to get away from the highways and meet a variety of people. One of the best ways to do this is by walking or cycling ‘off the beaten track’ and see who you come across. That is why we have devoted a feature to ‘hiking and biking’ and New Zealand is justifiably famous for the variety of its options. We hope you enjoy this issue of Travel New Zealand Hei konā mai

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David McEwen Managing Editor


Contents The marvellous maori 6 ice cream dreams 16 new zealand opera 16 hiking and biking 18

Regions FIORDLAND

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SOUTHLAND

32

QUEENSTOWN

34

DUNEDIN

43

CENTRAL OTAGO

47

CLUTHA

52

WANAKA

54

TEKAPO/MT COOK

56

BULLER

62

WEST COAST

65

CANTERBURTY

68

HURINUI

74

KAIKOURA

77

MARLBOROUGH

81

NELSON

84

RUAPEHU

88

TAUPO

90

ROTORUA

94

WAIKATO

100

BAY OF PLENTY

102

HAWKES BAY

106

COROMANDAL

110

EASTLAND

113

AUCKLAND

116

NORTHLAND

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He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

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We are the Maori! The unique thing about New Zealand is its welcoming Maori culture, which is undergoing a renaissance, with a raft of authentic tourist attractions too, writes PAULA JONES He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people! This is a very popular Maori proverb, which encapsulates everything and anything Maori… because this is the only thing we have in New Zealand that is unique, Maori. British explorer James Cook landed on the shores of New Zealand in 1769, so he probably would have been our very first tourist. Although the journey was fundamentally scientific, he also knew the importance of determining what resources were available and whether New Zealand would be suitable for settlement, so basically he came to see what New Zealand had to offer. When he and his men rowed their longboats ashore, Maori thought they were goblins because they rowed their boats backwards, fair enough. They landed, hoping the Maori would be friendly natives, and because they didn’t understand each other, there was a bit of biffo and a Maori or two got killed and this was probably one of the first of many instances where intention became lost in translation. But he went back and he told all his mates from England, New Zealand’s a great place with plenty there. So, from as early as the 1700s New Zealand has attracted visitors (a few stayed) from all over the world. However, it’s been a hot topic of debate as to when Maori arrived. Whether is was 750 AD, 1350 AD or perhaps the late 13th century, one thing we know for sure, it was a very long time ago and they all stayed. We have such a colourful history with a number of different versions depending on who you talk to. We have stunning scenery, a clean green reputation, more extreme sports than you can shake a stick at, delectable food, hobbits and we even have a giant carrot, but so do many other places in the world. Actually they don’t have hobbits either but to be fair, we imported them,

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and we can’t take credit for the idea and I’m not sure about the giant carrot but we are talking about Maori tourism in this article, someone else can write about hobbits and giant carrots.

The early experience In order to talk about Maori tourism we must look at it historically. In the early 19th century, places like Rotorua’s hot springs were favoured by visitors to New Zealand and the Maori of the area (Te Arawa) quickly recognised economic advantages of the intrepid travelers who were drawn to the veritable wonders. As word spread about this unique attraction, improvements were made and visitor numbers increased which saw Te Awara gain economic independence as they controlled all areas of geothermal activity. The small village on the Rotorua lakefront, Ohinemutu, was the home of the stunning pink and white terraces, reputed to be the 8th wonder of the world and New Zealand’s most famous attraction. The Tuhourangi people were the caretakers of this attraction and also gained revenue until in 1886, Mt Tarawera erupted, destroying the terraces and ending not only a natural phenomenon but also the autonomy that the Maori of the area had enjoyed. Incidentally, in 2011, the two layers of the terraces were discovered intact at the bottom of a volcanic lake in Rotorua. When the terraces were destroyed, instead of the Government offering aid, they took advantage of the disaster to continue to purchase Maori land until the end of the century. By this time the Crown owned most of the land containing thermal springs in the Rotorua and Taupo districts. When the visitors starting returning, the government reorganised the tourism portfolio. It was decided (not by Maori) to redefine the “look” of a historical Maori past, opting for a romantic view. The government then recruited Maori who in turn became employees or cultural exhibits themselves. Ironically, in 1910, a centuries-old fighting pā at Whakarewarewa was destroyed to build a replica pā. Obviously the government at the time thought that they could recreate something better than the original. It was eventually abandoned. The South Island was lacklustre in its efforts at cultural tourism and really offered just lakes. Its potential there had not been realised yet. Maori had no representation down there at all and from the 1860s, Maori land ownership in the South Island was non existent. But I digress, we can’t tell the history of Maori tourism without mentioning our world famous in New Zealand tour guides, some becoming household names, like Mākereti Papakura (Guide Maggie), her half-sister Bella, and Rangitīaria

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Dennan (Guide Rangi). In these women we saw Maori ingenuity where they saw and took the opportunity to educate those who came through Whakarewarewa. Guide Rangi, having shown around various dignitaries, didn’t adhere to the formalities expected of her and kept true to what was to be her signature. Her sense of humor, her wit and her passion for her people. She did a most reprehensible thing when showing a young Queen Elizabeth II around Whakarewarewa. Guide Rangi offered Liz her arm to lean on as she negotiated a dodgy piece of path. This saw Guide Rangi getting a formal slap on the wrist for being too familiar to which she replied. “It would have been far worse if the Queen has unceremoniously slipped”. From the 1960’s, New Zealand became a little easier to access because of jet travel. This was great news for the tourism industry! Now, even more people were able to experience the cultural tourism. The government decided to launch of “Haere Mai Year” in 1966. But there was one small oversight, no-one consulted Maori.

Maori take the riding seat Maori had a significant role in drawing the punters here but had no say in the ownership or promotion of Maori culture. In the 1990s a few small operations or family based ventures started to veer away from the norm. Maori operators went to extreme measures to get their ventures up and running because of their unwavering belief in the value and uniqueness of Maori tourism. Brothers Mike and Doug Tamaki of Tamaki tours sold Doug’s Harley Davidson (rather Mike sold Doug’s Harley) to start their hugely successful Tamaki tours. Their point of difference was they picked their visitors up and took them to a purpose built Maori replica village, had a hangi (food cooked in an underground oven) and entertainment and took them home again. This took the hangi and concert away from the hotels which is what usually happened. Simple, yet no one was doing it. In 2013, Tamaki Maori Village is still here, so is Whakarewarewa and Te Puia’s Maori Arts and Crafts centre. Is it possible that these ventures have withstood the test of time because they are Maori owned and operated? Who would have thought this would be a successful formula. That Maori should know how best to promote Maori? All Maori tourism ventures in New Zealand offer authentic experiences and we are still world class and now world leaders not only in indigenous tourism but Maori expertise is sought in everything indigenous. Maori tourism was blossoming and offers more than song, dance and hangi. The sky is the limit and tourists have a veritable feast of experiences at their fingertips.

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Whale Watch Kaikoura started when people from the local iwi, Ngati Kuri, mortgaged their homes. This is an example of deviating away from cultural tourism but there’s no denying the fact that it is still a Maori operation and a very successful one at that. In the early 2000s, Potiki Adventures in Auckland offered an urban Māori experience. In the South Island, Ngāi Tahu Tourism included kayaking, jet boating and glacier guides amongst its businesses. Then, there is the tranquillity of ventures like the Kapiti Island Nature Tours, which offer a unique opportunity to experience New Zealand’s most highly endangered wildlife. For those who enjoy history, every tour, guided walk, forest, National Park and landmark has stories but one of the most significant is the background to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the stunning Bay of Islands. With guided tours and cultural performances, education and many more activities you must take the time to reflect on the fact that you are in the birthplace of the nation as we know it today. It is the place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on the 6th February 1940 by representatives of the British Crown and various Maori Iwi or tribal representatives. This document is still being contested by Maori as there is still major debate over the translation of the document. So the Treaty is as relevant today as it was in 1840. The Bay of Islands is also home to Taiamai Tours Heritage Journeys and Ngapuhi, New Zealand’s largest tribal Maori group. They offer an interactive Waka (canoe) experience which provides an insight into their ancient customs, rituals and traditions. You will get to climb aboard the 50ft waka ( Canoe ) and paddle ( don’t worry, not on your own ) to a traditional riverside Maori village, where you will be welcomed on with a traditional challenge (wero ). You will meet with local Ngapuhi whose traditiona l knowledge and storytelling skills are legendary in the Bay of Islands. Up a bit from the Bay of Islands for those who want the wind in their hair and sand in their faces, or the other way round of you prefer, is the Sandtrails Hokianga - Guided dune buggy tours riding all around and over the giant Hokianga dunes, sand sculptures, canyon and beaches. Further down from the Waipoua Forest and the Treaty grounds is a fairly new place called Te Hana o Te Ao Marama. This offers a marae stay and is truly an exquisite blend of old and new with everything for the discerning traveller. The modern architecture coupled with the traditional


www.bluebridge.co.nz 0800 844 844 (NZ Freephone) +64 4 471 6188 (from overseas) www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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ways is what 21st century Maori tourism looks like. Although the fixtures are modern, the premise of what is being offered is the same, Maori hospitality, entertainment and enlightenment. The East Coast is home to Mataatua Te Manuka Tutahi, which has a historical building that has been returned after 130 years away. This meeting house did an OE over a century ago. It travelled to the other side of the world and back again.... impressive!! The ancient carvings are brought to life in Hiko: Legends of Light - the Mataatua digital experience. Unlike anything else currently on offer in New Zealand, Hiko fuses hundreds of years of Ngāti Awa tradition with the latest in world-class digital projection technology, and of course Maori hospitality . Then, there are the solid staples of our Maori tourism, Whakarewarewa, The Living Thermal Village, mud pools, geysers, guided tours and much more. Tamaki Maori Village, New Zealand’s most awarded cultural experience which is a 3.5 hour re-enactment, based on historical events, with real characters, authentic arts, crafts and powerful song and dance It’s the same in the South Island, Maori Tours in Kaikoura which is family owned and operated, and the very first Maori cultural experience in Kaikoura. For those who are needing something a little more tame there is the Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre. Te Ana explores the rich manawhenua history of the Aoraki region, in particular its many ancient Maori rock art sites. The local Ngai Tahu guides share the traditions of their ancestors in a world class cultural centre housing the most significant collection of Maori rock art in New Zealand. Not to be outdone by their cousins in the North there is Ko Tane Living Maori Village at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Christchurch, where Maori culture and conservation meet, giving you a unique glimpse into the way of life of the South Island Ngai Tahu Maori people before the arrival of the Europeans.

Rituals still a reality Most of what we present to visitors to New Zealand is an actual depiction of our way of life. We may not be walking around in flax skirts and waging war on our neighbours in between harvesting and planting, but we do adhere to certain traditions, and you as tourists are privy to these traditions, experiencing what is a way of life for us. For example, tangi or our way of mourning death has not changed over the years. When we mourn a loved one, the body is taken to a marae. Many of you will visit such a place, whether it is an active marae or one that has been purpose built for tourism. The premise of the place is exactly the same. It’s like a community centre that is the heart

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of extended family groups or hapu. Our deceased lies in state on the marae and people come to pay their respects. The family stay with their loved one all night and day, welcoming the visitors as they arrive. This is the same experience tourists have when they visit a marae. You are welcomed on, which is akin to a group hug but without the touching! When you get to the marae, a woman calls out (karanga) to you and your group to come forward and then when you approach the marae a warrior will put a piece of fern down. Your representive will pick it up and this signifies that your group don’t intend to come and kill everyone ..a simple gesture but effective. This is called a wero or a challenge, you either come in peace or to wage war. So far no wars have been waged by tourists, and if they have it has been resolved quickly by a “lets just try that again, if you don’t want war, you have to pick up what we put down, OK? If only captain Cook knew this! Once onto the marae you become family, you are no longer manuhere (visitors). Back to the tangi, we don’t do the whole putting down of the fern, but we always have the karanga and there are cooks and people in the kitchen that would put any catering company to shame as mobilise in a matter of hours to feed the masses that come and keep coming over the course of 3 to 4 days. You as tourists will experience the same thing when you have a marae experience that provides meals, only you probably won’t have to do the dishes, peel the mountains of potatoes or kill the beasts. People sleep at the marae and again, if you have a marae stay, this is exactly the same thing. The mattresses come out and it’s like a giant sleep over, with 50 or so strangers. But at tangi, theres far more people and all are friends and family (whanau) and it kind of turns into a giant “no” sleep, sleep over. Everyone is together in every way. Eat, sleep, laugh, cry, argue, make up, fall in and out of love and celebrate life. They way we prepare food for big celebrations is the same, our weaving(harakeke) our art, our music and songs (waiata) our carving (whakairo) our tattooing (ta moko) even the language(te reo)

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is experiencing a renaissance. Maori is very much a living culture and all around New Zealand, Maori tourism is charged with letting you into Maori “life�. The reason I can say that every Maori operation offers an authenticity in their product is because any operation that is either owned by Maori OR has Maori employees has to be authentic because we are not being or doing Maori, we are Maori.

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Don Donaldson finds out that artisan ice cream has a taste of its own. As a kiwi who lived in London for several years, I could never adjust my taste buds to the local ice cream. Much later I was horrified to find that most of it was made from vegetable fat, a wartime measure that somehow has continued on for decades. By comparison, New Zealand ice cream is made from the country’s justifiably famous fresh milk and cream and many believe it to be the best in the world. Improving on that reputation seems to be the goal of a Wanaka-based gourmet producer, Pure New Zealand. This is not just a name; the company prides itself on producing free of gluten, artificial flavours, preservatives, stabilisers and colours. For those who don’t like or want dairy products, they also create a range of superb sorbets. The company was founded by former chef Richard Bullock and wife Tracey and is based in South Island lakeside town of Wanaka. “Family has always been first in our minds, and that is why we moved here in the first place. A chance to show our girls a different lifestyle, from the northern beaches of Sydney to the mountains and snow of New Zealand,” Richard said. They stress that daughters Tess and Lara are actively involved with the business and make up the “Research and Development” team, always willing to taste new flavours and come up with some ideas of their own. One example of these is the gold medal winner, “Berry Thai Coconut and Lime”. This came about after Lara was swirling her two favourite flavours together in a bowl. The other came about from Tess, who was living in living in Melbourne at the time, and she came 16

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across Salted Caramel. This concept was developed into a “Lightly Salted Caramel” with added homemade caramel pieces. This has now become one of Pure New Zealand’s most popular flavours. Richard says their unique flavours stem from their days working in restaurants, where everything was made from scratch. That idea has followed onto their ice creams. As with their award-winning Mascarpone, Date and Orange, the mascarpone is made from fresh cream. Their Marmalade is made from blood oranges, tangelos and ruby grapefruit, then folded through our Vanilla Bean ice Cream. They make their own Hokey Pokey that is chopped into pieces and folded through - all by hand. There is no automation to our product, it truly is an artisan product. So when we were recognised for that and then given the “Cuisine Artisans Award” this year, we were so excited and proud,” Richard said. In just three years, the company has been awarded one Best In Category, six Gold Medals and 13 Silver Medals by the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to Wanaka to taste these amazing ice creams. The company supplies restaurants and stores around the country.

MULTI AWARD WINNERS 2011, 2012 & 2013

PURE

The lucky research and devolpment team.

NEW ZEALAND ICE CREAM AT ITS BEST! www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com www.pureicecream.co.nz

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Distinguished conductor and New Zealand Opera’s Director of Music, Wyn Davies, explains why he’s excited about conducting The Flying Dutchman, even though he wouldn’t call himself a Wagnerian.

“When it comes to The Flying Dutchman, what’s so staggering is its newness. And the shock of it. The year is 1839. And out comes the 28 year old Wagner’s Dutchman, all guns blazing. This is theatrical, even cinematic Romanticism undiluted, fully formed and foaming. The hero is the Heathcliff of opera, a stormbeaten piece of rough; and the girl who falls for him does so with a soaring, scorching passion of the kind only opera can supply.

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“The legend of The Flying Dutchman could hardly be more ‘romantic’. He is deified and worshipped by Senta who falls into a very advanced state of rapture. He is fascinating because he’s so outside of the ordinary. A gothic Dr Who. You might even get the feeling that Wagner himself identified with him. I think the atmosphere of this story is familiar to us not because we all know Wagner’s opera but because it’s a mixture of ghost story and adventure. From this eventually – a whole century ahead – emerged the Hollywood Swashbuckler; films like The Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn and its superb music by Korngold, and even Johnny Depp in the Caribbean. “Quite a few people have asked if I’m looking forward to conducting The Flying Dutchman, the inference being I think that it’s a significant hurdle to jump. But how could you not relish the chance to play the most hearton-sleeve piece of music anybody had written to date? The sea storm music in the Overture is the best since Mozart’s Idomeneo and the best before Britten’s Peter Grimes. The ladies’ Spinning Chorus and the men’s Sailors’ Chorus are two of the best in the repertoire. They are unforgettable tunes and fine scenes. And then there is the most crazily ambitious, most highly theatrical scene of the opera in Act Three when the Norwegian crew on shore taunt the Dutchman’s crew aboard ship only to be scared out of their wits by the latter’s ghostly response. It is a massive quarter-hour the young Wagner has imagined and one that challenges conductor, director and designer. “We have, in Matt Lutton and Zoe Atkinson (director and designer) two super-imaginative people of the same generation as Wagner when he wrote The Flying Dutchman. Be afraid! Expect theatricality.” NZ Opera’s production of The Flying Dutchman opens in Wellington on Saturday 14 September and in Auckland on Saturday 5 October. www. nzopera.com

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NECTAR Dunedin’s Scottish heritage extends to making world-class whiskies, Tom Thomson discovers One of the fascinating things about Dunedin is how similar it looks to Scottish city Edinburgh. I have long known that Dunedin was founded by Scottish settlers and that explains why the buildings look so similar to Edinburgh’s. What I have only learned more recently is that, astonishingly, the settlers tried to rebuild Edinburgh and applied the same street patterns to their new home! Another great tradition that Dunedin has in common in Edinburgh is a love of whisky and that still endures to this day. The New Zealand Whisky Company is the latest producer in a long line of distillers attracted by the region’s fine barley, peat and pure water.There was no shortage of whisky makers in the early days of the city but prohibition sentiment and government pressure saw the industry virtually disappear in the late 19th Century. That changed in 1974 when the Willowbank distillery was opened by the Baker family. The Bakers successfully marketed blends including Wilsons and 45 South. Canadian liquor group Seagrams bought the distillery in the 1980s, marketing the single malts as Lammerlaw,

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named after a nearby mountain range from whence its pure water is derived. Production ceased in 1997 and the business was sold to brewing group Fosters, which mothballed the company in 2000, sending the stills to Fiji to make rum! The New Zealand Whisky Company purchased the last 600 barrels of mainly Lammerlaw malt and the whisky has been maturing in the towering seaside bondstore in Oamaru’s famous heritage precinct ever since. In recent years its whiskies have won a slew of international awards, beating competition from best known Scottish, Irish and US brands The company has recently released the oldest whisky ever matured in New Zealand, the 24 year-old ‘1987 Touch Pause Engage’ Cask Strength Single Malt designed to commemorate this country’s winning of the first Rugby World Cup. This whisky is a delight, with a hint of tropical fruit, pears and honeydew melon and the company has a range of whisky ages and styles to suit every palate.


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A hike like no other Janelle Cooper-Smith enjoys cliffs, ancient lava flows, waterfalls and creepy wildlife while tramping on Mt Taranaki Having recently returned to New Zealand from Europe, I was determined to start hiking again; but I didn’t want to rehash the same old tracks I could do backwards... I wanted new scenery! A friend who works in Taranaki suggested the Pouakai Crossing day hike. I’d never heard of it! I couldn’t find much online about it (maybe the locals are keeping it a secret), but my friend was adamant I would love it… he wasn’t wrong! Wow – what a hike. First of all – it’s not crowded. Secondly – I’m told that you can hike it approximately 300 days a year. Thirdly – the scenery is so unique… Under the advice and transportation by the friendly folk at Kiwi Outdoors in New Plymouth I started the 17km hike on the northern slopes of Mount Taranaki at the North Egmont Visitor Centre. The DOC (Department of Conservation) staff member there gave me some great information before I began my hike. Starting in lush alpine forest I went up onto sub-alpine terrain. The views at this early stage are breath taking – look up and you see the conical peak of the ancient volcano towering above (the summit day hike now high on the to-do list), and on a clear day (which I had)

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you can see right across the lush green landscape to the mountains of the central plateau. I passed the Dieffenbach cliffs (named after Ernst Dieffenbach, a German born naturalist who organised the first ascent of the mountain in 1839) and past ancient lava flows to the Kokowai Stream, stained ochre by the natural mineral deposits. At this point I entered the habitat of the ancient giant carnivorous Marchant land snail! I was told by DOC to also keep an eye out for native Weta, stick insects, butterflies, green cicadas, huhu or scarab beetles, wolf spiders and small reptiles too. Thankfully I didn’t see any hungry snails, but I was impressed with the work DOC has done to eradicate pests; allowing these slimy locals to thrive. I crossed the very impressive Ahukawakawa wetlands and met a young couple heading to Bells Falls. A convincing argument nearly had me joining them for the side trip, but I decided to save the waterfall for another day and carry on to the Tarn lakes, where Mount Taranaki stands very impressive in reflection. Stopping at Pouakai Hut for a break was well deserved. I found a spot on the sunny deck and looked out across the vast green Taranaki landscape to the Tasman Sea. After chatting to some other hikers who were doing the longer two-day Pouakai Circuit they convinced me to visit the Lake Rotokare Scenic Reserve in South Taranaki, if I was interested in a shorter walk and abundant wildlife (apparently it has entrance gates reminiscent of Jurassic Park!). Another one on the to-do list! I had made good time, so took my friends advice to pop up and back (add an hour) to Henry Peak for the impressive 360degree views! After soaking up the scenery I made my way back down to the road end (and shuttle pick up) through a rainforest dense with ferns, mosses and bird life – and past some historic graffiti rock carvings too! The whole hike was varied, uncrowded, and good underfoot plus totally different to other well-known NZ day hikes. I’ve already booked dates to come back to discover more Taranaki hikes and walks; you should too.

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Cycle Tours Hawke’s Bay


Useful websites: www.taranaki.info/visit - download a ‘Walkers Guide’ from their library for many other walks http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/ places-to-visit/taranaki/taranaki/north-egmontroadend/ - DOC Visitors Centre http://www.outdoorgurus.co.nz/ http://www.rotokare.org.nz/

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Fiordland

Justine Tyerman joins the Milford Track fan club . . . She’s a star, a celebrity. Her beautiful face adorns billboards the world over. She’s capricious and famous for her fits of fury. But she can also be enchanting and beguiling. Thousands of people from all corners of the globe seek time in her presence. She is photographed from every angle, in all her multifarious moods. We approach her with trepidation, having heard stories of the legendary storms she has unleashed on her devoted fans during the 125 years of her life. But we find her in a gentle, sunny mood, welcoming and bewitching us with her extraordinary beauty. The first day, we meander across a picturesque swing bridge and through moss-draped beech forests beside the Clinton River with its clear pools reflecting images of the wooded valley walls. As the Clinton Valley narrows to a canyon on the second day, I remember the words of Englishwoman Blanche Baughan who described the terrain as “truly the region of the perpendicular ... you realise you are walking at the bottom of a gigantic furrow of the earth” (London Spectator, 1908). The editor of the day headlined the article, ‘The Finest Walk in the World’, an epithet which has given the Milford 105 years of the kind of publicity that marketing gurus kill for. Near our idyllic lunch spot at Prairie Lake, where a wispy

waterfall tumbles over a mosaic of rock and moss to a mirror pool below, we get our first view of the formidable Mackinnon Pass, our mission for the next day. After a sixhour tramp, we sit outside Mintaro Hut with a friendly weka for company. The image of the last rays of sun on the wise old hunk of granite towering over us is deeply etched in my memory. Next day, the exhilaration of finally climbing the five zigs and six zags up the steep wall to Mackinnon Pass in perfect conditions completely obliterates any memory of the effort involved - a bit like childbirth! There are rewards for every step as the Clinton Canyon drops away below and the breathtaking landscape of the alpine pass unfolds above. At the stone cairn near the top of the track, we pay homage to Quintin Mackinnon and Ernest Mitchell who discovered the route from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound on October 17, 1888. The views at the summit are so spectacular; they wage war on my senses. The mountains, gouged and scraped to bedrock by Fiordland’s ice-age glaciers, are other-worldly. The pass (1154m) is suspended between the massive rhino horn of Mt Balloon and the broad-shouldered, deeplyweathered bulk of Mt Hart. To the right, Mt Elliott’s craggy face is awash with tears falling from the Jervois Glacier. The

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orns billboards . Her beautiful face ad She’s a star, a celebrity s for her fits of capricious and famou the world over. She’s beguiling. o be enchanting and fury. But she can als the globe seek le from all corners of Thousands of peop hed from every . She is photograp time in her presence proach her with arious moods. We ap angle, in all her multif endary storms ard stories of the leg trepidation, having he s during the 125 on her devoted fan she has unleashed e, sunny mood, we find her in a gentl years of her life. But r extraordinary witching us with he welcoming and be beauty. que swing bridge der across a pictures The first day, we mean beside the Clinton raped beech forests and through moss-d of the wooded ols reflecting images River with its clear po to a canyon on inton Valley narrows valley walls. As the Cl Englishwoman ember the words of the second day, I rem n as “truly the o described the terrai Blanche Baughan wh you are walking dicular ... you realise region of the perpen earth” (London gigantic furrow of the at the bottom of a Spectator, 1908). ‘The Finest Walk headlined the article, The editor of the day the Milford 105 ithet which has given in the World’, an ep ting gurus kill for. publicity that marke years of the kind of where a wispy spot at Prairie Lake, Near our idyllic lunch and moss to a er a mosaic of rock waterfall tumbles ov the formidable get our first view of mirror pool below, we day. After a sixr mission for the next Mackinnon Pass, ou a friendly weka tside Mintaro Hut with hour tramp, we sit ou sun on the wise age of the last rays of for company. The im ly etched in my ering over us is deep old hunk of granite tow memory. the five zigs and tion of finally climbing Next day, the exhilara ss in perfect wall to Mackinnon Pa six zags up the steep of the effort ry obliterates any memo conditions completely s for every ard ildbirth! There are rew and the involved - a bit like ch low be Canyon drops away above. ds step as the Clinton fol un pe of the alpine pass mage ho y breathtaking landsca pa , we ar the top of the track vered co At the stone cairn ne dis o wh and Ernest Mitchell tober Oc to Quintin Mackinnon on d un Te Anau to Milford So the route from Lake 17, 1888. they wage war it are so spectacular; The views at the summ and scraped to mountains, gouged on my senses. The are other-worldly. d’s ice-age glaciers, bedrock by Fiordlan een the massive is suspended betw The pass (1154m) ouldered, deeplyon and the broad-sh rhino horn of Mt Ballo Elliott’s craggy Hart. To the right, Mt weathered bulk of Mt is Glacier. The rs falling from the Jervo face is awash with tea

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Tnz Top Pix

Central Otago Trails bike hire specialists. 0800245366 info@bikeitnow.co.nz www.bikeitnow.co.nz

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deep valleys on either side of the pass vie for attention, along with alpine tarns and brave little mountain lilies. I apologise to Elsie K. Morton who stood on the summit in 1949 and saw nothing. “What a grief to be doing it in this fog! We are walking on top of the world amid such company of Mountain Kings as we may never meet again, and not one glimpse of them to gladden our eyes!” And I feel very sorry for Alys Lowth who walked the track just 10 days after us in 1906 and felt the full wrath of the famous one in a seriously bad mood. “It was bitterly cold ... and as we climbed higher the snow on the track became deeper and deeper so that we sank into it almost up to our knees ... we could not see a single peak of the mountains ...” But for us the summit is bathed in bright sunshine with the lightest of breezes and playful snow-white puffs of cloud. I have irrational thoughts about taking up residence in the day hut where we lunch in the company of Elsie’s Mountain Kings, and have to be dragged off the pass with reminders the hardest part of the seven-hour tramp is yet to come. Forewarned is not forearmed - the descent is indeed steeper, rockier and longer than the ascent. We stop often to photograph the famous Sutherland Falls in the distance, knowing the side-track to New Zealand’s highest waterfall (580m), the fifth highest in the world, is closed due to a huge rock fall. The penalty for many stops is a late arrival at Dumpling Hut and being at the tail end of the bunk-bagsing. We end up with top bunks in the snoring zone so quietly move our mattresses elsewhere. Day four is an 18km flat walk with a scary deadline - if you fail to meet the mid-afternoon boats at the end of the track, you risk being eaten alive by nasty little blood-suckers at Sandfly Point. So there is little time to marvel at the Mackay Falls, Bell Rock and the Giant Gate Falls, refreshed after overnight drizzle. A cloud shroud adds mystique to the walls of the Arthur Valley, which seems appropriate for the subdued mood of our last day. It is as if Ms Milford wants to show us how beautiful she can be, without the illumination of sunshine and blue skies. Dressed in sombre tones, her mountain tops partly hidden behind veils of diaphanous silver-grey, she knows how alluring her face will appear, reflected in the tranquil waters of Lake Ada. All too soon, we are at track’s end, mesmerised and delighted. We have tramped in magnificent alpine terrain before but the Milford Track is on another planet for spectacularity. She may be world famous but the experience is ultimately an intensely personal one. She worked her magic on us and left an indelible imprint on our hearts and memories. * The Milford Track is a four-day, three-night 53.5km walk. Justine Tyerman walked independently and stayed in Department of Conservation huts. 32

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Southland/Stewart Island

Hannah Fraser reports on the annual celebration of a Kiwi character whose motorcycling exploits were immortalised in THAT film with Sir Anthony Hopkins Every November a pilgrimage of sorts snakes its way south to the southern tip of New Zealand.

when he set the record which still stands today.

Motorcycle enthusiasts from New Zealand and the world flock to the Burt Munro Challenge to honour the inspirational life of the world-record breaking rider – who holds the fastest recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle.

After the success of the 2005 movie of his amazing life The World’s Fastest Indian, the Burt Munro Challenge was created for casual and professional riders to share Munro’s love of speed and motorcycles and is now known as one of New Zealand’s major motorsport events.

The racing legend holds the land speed record (under1000cc world record, 183.586 mph (295 km/h)) which he set at Bonneville Salt Flats, USA, in August 1967. Born and bred in Southland, New Zealand, Munro was 68-years-old

Thousands of motorcyclists throttle south to Invercargill. It’s the hometown of the late Munro, who broke the world record on a 48-year-old Indian motorbike, modified with parts made in his garage.

Southland

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Little was known about his achievements until the release of the film, starring Anthony Hopkins, became one of the highest-grossing Kiwi films at the New Zealand box office and a worldwide box office success, turning Munro into a cult figure.

warriors, all provided with a variety of exciting events, fantastic entertainment, and famous southern hospitality at both the Oreti Park rally site – which resembles a sea of tents and motorcycles for the weekend – and around the city.

The Challenge was named as one of Time magazine’s fivemust-do events of 2013. As Time puts it: “Like its eponym, the Burt is unique, combining seven forms of racing: beach, circuit, street, long track, sprint, hill climb and speedway.“Throw in live music, food, camping and Invercargill’s famous hospitality, and you’ve got one of the most colorful motorsport festivals ever conceived,” the magazine goes on to say.

Time Magazine’s listing of the Challenge as one of its “must do” events for 2013 was potentially a massive boost, Mr Gillies said. Venture Southland is fielding calls from people interested in bringing bike memorabilia to show off at the event and from motorcycle groups planning trips down the country culminating in a weekend at the Challenge.

The Challenge is run by the Southland Motorcycle Club with support from economic development agency Venture Southland and runs from November 28 – December 1 this year. About 1500 people attended the Challenge rally last year, with about 250 taking to the track, beach and road as competitors. About 50 attendees were from Australia and organisers hope to build the international contingent in 2013. The event is held in different locations around Southland including Oreti Beach, where Munro originally trained for the Bonneville Salt Flats, as well as Teretonga Park raceway which is the southern-most FIA approved raceway in the world. The weekend event concludes with street racing in the small country town of Wyndham.It also includes a toy run which benefits local charities and underprivileged families. The Southland Motorcycle Club created the Burt Munro Challenge to honour Munro, his ingenuity, determination, and love of speed and motorcycles. Southland Motorcycle Club President Craig Hyde said the 2012 event was the smoothest run yet but this year could be a lot bigger with national and international interest growing. Among the Australian contingent in 2013 is Alan Kempster. A doubleamputee, Mr Kempster lost his right-arm and right-leg after a tragic accident while he was riding his motorcycle. He refused to give up on motorcycle racing and rigged his motorcycle to have its controls on the left-hand side, He convinced his local motorcycle racing league to let him compete and won his very first race. His racing number is ½. Venture Southland Event Manager Jade Gillies said some Southland motorcycle enthusiasts had attended rallies in Australia at which they had spread the word about the Burt Munro Challenge.

This year the main rally site entertainment will be provided by The Recliner Rockers with support from local bands. The rally will also again be part of the ‘Movember’ charity supporting prostate cancer and other men’s health initiatives. Burt Munro was born in Southland in 1899. He purchased his first motorcycle at the age of 15 and had his first Indian Scout in 1920 – the bike he would continue to modify (with his own custom made unique parts) for the rest of his life. He died in 1978 aged 78. After setting several New Zealand land speed records in the 1940s and 1950s his next goal was to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. His first trip to Bonneville as a competitor was in 1962, when he was 63, and there he set a land speed record of 178.97mph (288km/h). He travelled there a further eight times to compete and set two more world records. His 1967 record of 183.58mph (295km/h) still stands today, and on this trip he also managed to hit 190.07mph (305km/h) during a qualifying run which is the fastest ever recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle. Earlier this year Indian Motorcycles, the United States’ first motorcycle company, revealed a one of a kind custom-built streamliner named the “Spirit of Munro” – showing the enduring legacy of the man from Invercargill. Burt Munro was an extraordinary character who represents real and positive Kiwi attributes such as ingenuity, dogged determination, and a laidback and humorous demeanour. Registrations for the 2013 Burt Munro Challenge are now open. For more details check out www. burtmunrochallenge.com

Now in its eighth year, the Challenge was seen as the biggest all round motorcycle rally in New Zealand. “Where it beats all the rest is that there are so many disciplines. There are bigger rallies (in terms of numbers in New Zealand) but they don’t have the racing events we do.” The inaugural event was held in 2006, and it has since forged a name for itself as one of New Zealand’s major motorsport events. It has a strong local and national following, and rapidly growing international interest. It attracts top New Zealand riders as well as the weekend www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Queenstown

5 Latesha Randall and friends enjoy five of Queenstown’s top attractions

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Queenstown is beautiful and quite compact; everything you want to see is generally in one large valley. With this in mind if you are visiting Queenstown and you want to save money and still be able to get around check out the Connectabus local bus service. If you want to avoid the cost and dramas of buying or hiring a car, you will be pleasantly surprised with the convenience of the local bus service. The Connectabus bus service goes to all the must see places like Arrowtown, and of course is a great way to get back to your accommodation at the end of a big day - or a big night. It’s so easy to catch public transport in Queenstown that I sometimes wonder why those intending to be here for short periods bother hiring a car. On a bus, someone else has to deal with the stresses of driving and of course filling the gas tank - we won’t even mention insurance.

YES! We Stop

Near Your Queenstown Hotel*

The first thing to know about using Queenstown’s public transport system is that it is there to meet you at the airport, and is very affordable. The buses from the Airport into central Queenstown run every 15 minutes most of the day, they even go on to Wanaka twice a day. Most visitor accommodation is within minutes of the main bus route, even out of the way hotels like the new Hilton have a regular Connectabus bus service. Public buses leave from the centre of downtown Queenstown 16 hours of the day to all the suburban areas. During winter the bus service is a handy and easy way to connect up to the transport services going to the local ski fields. Here is the smart way to take advantage of this service, buy yourself a 7 Day Card or a Go Card either from your bus driver or from the little kiosk at the downtown bus stop. The 7 Day Card gives unlimited travel for seven consecutive days on Queenstown’s public transport network, by the card as you get on the bus at the airport and just your return airport transport will pay for the card (taxis are very expensive in comparison). The bonus is you can also head out to Arrowtown for a look around and maybe lunch and a walk or even Amisfield Winery for some or superb wine and cuisine. If you are staying in Queenstown a bit longer a Connectabus Go card make sense. There are pre-paid cards which enable you to “touch” on and off the buses deducting fares as you go. Go Cards are great more than a week as your a 10% of your travel. You can use the cards at any time, and you can share a card amongst your friends and family. The driver can add more credit to the card as you need it. Even though most Queenstown accommodation is within walking distance of town be warned, Queenstown is a place where the nightlife and the restaurants are as legendary as the scenery. With the buses running until late in the evening they are a welcome and easy option to an uphill walk back to your accommodation. The very scenic ride from Queenstown to Arrowtown involves transferring buses at Frankton; you will be given a voucher to do this. Not included on either the 7 Day Pass or the Go Card is the Connectabus Wanaka service. See details and timetables on our website at connectabus.com

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$ .00 AIRPORT BUS TO QUEENSTOWN Every 15 minutes

Ask about our $35** Unlimited Queenstown Travel 7 Day Pass *Check with your Driver **plus $5.00 for SmartCard

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Tnz Top Pix “Get in-touch with your inner Bear”

0800455712 www.youvswild.co.nz

Tnz Top Pix A Stunning Location with Award Winning Cuisine.

+64 3442 5969 www.wai.net.nz

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1 & 2hr Tours of Queenstown!

Ph: 0800 SEG FUN (734 386) www.segwayonq.com www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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FEAR FACTORY QUEENSTOWN Queenstown is now the home of New Zealand’s scariest Haunted House! Fear Factory Queenstown based in Shotover Street, offers you a real life horror experience Challenge yourself and your friends to walk the dark hallways of Queenstown’s newest adrenalin-pumping experience. Fun and spine-tingling suspense await you – if you make it out alive, you’ll have the time of your life! Legend tells of the haunted Lockhart Hotel and of the tormented souls who still walk its dark passageways. Are you brave enough to walk through the big red door and meet them??! Fear Factory Queenstown is open from 11am until late and is a drop-in attraction – no booking required. You walk through at your own speed on your terrifying tour, following a trail of red lights. The tour is best enjoyed with friends, although a few brave souls have ventured in alone and lived to tell the tale! Fear factory Queenstown is geared towards adults, but children will survive with a parent or guardian (under 15’s must always be accompanied by an adult). The experience lasts approximately 30 minutes. Your fears are brought to life within the dark passageways – so if you choose to ‘Chicken-Out’ you will be added to Fear Factory Queenstown’s growing Chicken List. Are you ready to take the challenge? Fun and scares await you! Some comments from customers…’Awesome, best thing to do ever!’ ‘Epic fun loved it, want to go in again’ ‘Amazing! Absolutely brilliant can’t believe I could say this but def worth the $30’ ‘F#*k, scarier than Van Helsing. My poor cousin is deaf after I screamed in her ear the whole way round ’ ’If you like horror movies, you’ll love this!’ Where: 54 Shotover Street (Town Centre), Queenstown Open: 11am until late, 7 days a week Admission: $29 adults, $19 under 15’s Enquiries: 03 4428 666 Each tour: 1-6 people www.fearfactory.co.nz www.facebook.com/FearFactoryQueenstown

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Get me the HELL out of here....! Dave (UK) 54 Shotover Street Queenstown New Zealand Email us on info@fearfactory.co.nz Call us on (0800) FEAR FACTORY or 03 442 8666


Voted number one hotel in the South Pacifc for Small Hotels, Luxury and Best Service in the Trip Advisor Travelers Choice awards 2013

If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and private, but within close reach of all the best amenities, for your next Queenstown visit, look no further than The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel. This unique property was built around the original corner dairy store dating back to the 1920s and is located just a minute’s walk from Queenstown. Not just a Bed and Breakfast, the property is renowned for its excellent service from the minute that you walk through the door. Slightly elevated, there are good views of the town and the hotel is an easy stroll to the shops and many restaurants. With 13 private ensuite bedrooms, all offering different views of Queenstown and the surrounding area, as well as a large open fire, private library, breakfast room, you will be able to sit back, relax

and let someone else do all the work during your stay. Head on down to the Honesty Bar where you can enjoy a selection of local award winning wines, unwind in the outdoor spa and warm up in front of the fireplace in the outdoor courtyard. The Dairy has been voted the 4th hotel in the world in the category of Small Hotels and number one in the South Pacific for both categories of Best Service and Luxury in the Trip Advisors Travelers Choice awards for 2013. The staff at The Dairy are happy to assist with everything during your stay, to ensure you can relax and enjoy your holiday without any hassle. From the minute you walk through the door to the time you leave, you will receive the best hospitality and service.

Email address: info@ thedairy.co.nz Website: thedairy.co.nz Phone: +64 3 4425164 Address: 10 Isle Street Queenstown www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Dunedin

Once New Zealand’s largest city, Dunedin offers a rich legacy of historical and natural attractions for today’s traveller to enjoy, writes Tom Thomson

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118 High St Dunedin | R20 0800 477 4545

www.dunedincasino.co .nz


LARNACH CASTLE New Zealand’s only Castle

Open Daily 9am • Award-winning Attraction • Garden of International Significance • Cafe and gift shop

• Accommodation Options Available • Excellent collection of NZ Antiques • Enquire about our family rate

Phone 03 476 1616 • Email booking@larnachcastle.co.nz www.larnachcastle.co.nz

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Dunedin

Tnz Top Pix “Absolutely unrivaled private viewing with New Zealand’s best wildlife tour”

0800356563 www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz

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Central Otago

You can have the thyme of your life in Alexandra, writes Jonathan Gadd, as the township celebrates spring with a series of festivals that are pure Kiwiana

We approached Alexandra with some trepidation. Having never visited Alexandra before, our impression of the town had been formed over a number of years by watching the day’s weather highlights on the news. Pretty much all we knew was that in winter it seems have its own special climate with days that seem impossibly cold. It was September, and while spring was well established elsewhere through the country, I had a vague expectation that we would arrive to find one of Central Otago’s famous hoar frosts holding court. We couldn’t have been more mistaken. As we came up the road that runs alongside the hugely impressive Clyde hydro dam we were greeted by an expanse of pink and white as a vista of large areas of fruit trees was revealed. It seemed that the harshness of winter has here found a counterpoint. We were surrounded everywhere by signs of new life. As well as an expanse of blossom trees there were fields of fresh grass, seemingly complete with new lambs exercising their joy of being alive. This brings me to our reason for coming to Alexandra on this beautiful day. We were here to experience the “Contact Alexandra Blossom Festival”, a four day celebration of the arrival of Spring to this Central Otago town. After we had checked into our accommodation (and

grabbed a map of town from reception) we made our way to the opening event. Certainly the most iconic symbol of Alexandra, the giant clock that sits above the town is the destination of a short energetic race: the “News round the clock race”. Individuals and teams raced from the interestingly named Linger and Die reserve, crossing the Manuherikia River and then climbing up a steep barren slope to the clock and then back. The teams’ race was especially impressive, involving canoes, runners, downhill bikers and horse riders. Apparently anything goes in pursuit of speed. The evening was capped off at a mardigras that sees the main shopping street closed off. The combination of a family atmosphere, lots of stalls and shops, live music and novelty races made for a great evening. The first evening, however, only serves as an appetizer for the main event the next morning. We joined the people thronging to Centennial Ave, the main street that runs through town and found our place in the crowd of thousands lining the blossom-tree lined street to watch the “Contact Grand Procession”. It seemed that we spent the next two hours constantly cheering and clapping as firstly big rigs (all sparklingly clean), then vintage cars and tractors, marching bands, acrobats and children’s groups www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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(all dressed in themes) walked by. The piece-de-resistance however is the wonderful floats. All decorated with crepe paper blossoms, they celebrated local icons or popular culture. They surely represented thousands of hours of effort and each was blessed with the presence of a beautiful blossom princess. We have witnessed many big town Christmas parades but this celebration was unique and enchanting. We were surrounded by a crowd who had made their way from all points Otago, Southland and (including ourselves) further afield. All come to see this special piece of kiwiana. After the last float had passed we made our way to the centrally located Pioneer Park. We whiled away the afternoon at “Saturday in the Park” part of the large crowd, browsing a truly huge variety of market stalls and chuckling indulgently at the antics of kids queuing for fairground rides or trying their luck at the sideshows. Mostly, however, we sat in the sun, strategically placed near the food and wine stalls as well as the live music. What a great afternoon! Our only regret was that the queue for the whitebait fritters always seemed too long and they had run out before we had convinced ourselves that it would be worth the wait. That concluded our personal experience of the Blossom Festival. After a pleasant evening dining with other visitors and a final night at our motel we were ready to shoot through. Which was really a shame, as the Festival ran for another two days and included Thunder Sunday, a drag race meeting at the Alexandra airport. We were told that for many visitors this is the main event. There is also a garden tour. From what we had seen, there are many impressive homes around “Alex” and this is truly the time of the year to visit them.

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jor spring shown itself to be a ma Alexandra has definitely ning with As we sat in the sun yar destination for tourists. additional ce to find out about two locals, we had the chan year. town at this time of the reasons to come to the n event ards. WoolOn is a fashio Up first is the WoolOn Aw woolir ar and far showcase the where designers from ne Fe m stival sociated with the Blosso based creations. It is as eks later. but occurs a couple of we in spring. Festival is staged later The Alexandra Thyme d around thyme that grows wil During November the purple. , turning whole hillsides Alexandra is in full bloom and is r rates this time of the yea The Thyme Festival celeb me the and sustainability with the h a celebration of the arts wit ed ck nment. The week is pa , of cherishing the Enviro ns itio hib ists, demonstrations, ex workshops, working art s and exhibitions. walks, talks, performance the Park re during the Saturday in We reflected as we sat the forming d out on something by that we had really misse ns it is tow Alexandra. In terms of such a shallow view of s that tain e of our visit the moun truly unique. At the tim ter, win of still showing the effects , loom over the town were ver we Ho ow gleaming in the sun. t with large patches of sn tha r ou vig s bursting forth with a down in the valley life wa ms sso blo ewhere. We know that we hadn’t witnessed els us on that area, but it seemed to are not unique to this re here. y represent so much mo sunny afternoon that the al, I am stiv s with the Blossom Fe Having tested the water soon as ra back down to Alexand now motivated to head ils, tra ling emergence of new cyc as possible. With the led ee wh o ming a Mecca for tw Alexandra is fast beco uld love taken up riding a bike I wo touring. Having recently and to il Tra Otago Central Rail to make a visit to ride the Clutha the xburgh Gorge Trail and fit in as much of the Ro ed! tun y dy can cope with. Sta Gold Trail as my aging bo held be l wil ndra Blossom Festival The 2013 Contact Alexa the 29th of September. this year from the 27th to w.blossom.co.nz For more details see ww

to 12th of two days from the 11th WoolOn is staged over .nz co ls see www.blossom. October. For more detai November yme Festival runs from The 2013 Alexandra Th 9th to the 17th w.thymefestival.co.nz For more details see ww

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New Zealand’s newest must visit destination! A

Southern hemisphere first has changed the landscape of motorsport in New Zealand with great motorsport events planned! The brand new 4.5 km international-standard circuit is located in Cromwell. It is a great place for a day out!

“Choose from Go-karts, FASTLaps, Motorsport Museum!” Experience some of our exciting new attractions:

Go Karting Have a go on the new 650-metre Go Kart Track at the Highlands Motorsport Park in the single or tandem go-karts! 10, 20 and 30 minute sessions available!

Highlands National Motorsport Museum Discover all there is to know about New Zealand’s motorsport legends and view over 30 historically significant race cars on display. If you like cars and motorsport, this is a must! The Pitstop Café offers great coffee, light lunches and sweets. Museum gift shop has a wide range of motorsport-related gifts as well as the Highlands merchandise range. Mini Golf and Balance Bikes FREE with museum entry. Functions, Weddings & Corporate Events: The 1,500 square feet museum is an ideal venue for large and small functions.

FASTLaps & YOURLaps FASTlaps: Take an exhilarating ride with a race car driver in a Porsche GT3 Cup Car! Go to www.fastlaps.co.nz for more info. YOURlaps – have a go on the race track yourself in a Suzuki Swift Sport race car! First you get instruction on how to drive on the track, then you have a go yourself! Combos available!

Highlands Taxi Take a tour around the track at speed in the Highlands Taxi, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and learn all about this brand new 4.5 km race track!

The Nose Restaurant & Wine Adventure Right next to the Highlands Motorsport Park is the Nose Restaurant and Wine Adventure, with great food and a lovely setting amongst the vines. Come in for a coffee, lunch or dinner. Taste and learn about the Central Otago wines in our Wine Adventure. It includes a visit to the Aroma Room and learn about this award winning wine region, specialising in Pinot varieties. Go to: www. thenose.co.nz for more info!

An amazing facility for a great day out!

CONTACT DETAILS Ph 03 445 4052 www.highlands.co.nz Cromwell, Central Otago - just 45 min from Queenstown www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Clutha

You can have a cruisy day on the Clutha River, enjoying its wildlife and scenery, while stopping off to see its rock formations and former gold mines, writes Rikki-Lee McLean

Arriving into sunny Alexandra, a small rural town with a population of around 5,000 people, a town that’s renowned for its hot and dry conditions over the warmer months and its snowy and cold conditions in the coolers months, having the best of both worlds in this one small town. In the region of Central Otago, Alexandra is a stop off point and the most well know place to begin the rail trail. There is other ways to really experience Alexandra in all of its glory and one the best ways, is to go on a Clutha River Cruise which takes you on a two and a half hour adventure into Central Otago’s heritage and history. The only licensed operator to run tours on the Clutha River, Clutha River Cruises offer various tours including an educational tour which you still learn about the Central Otago history, the local wildlife and study the rocks and geological formations. You also get to have a go at gold panning, this tour is great for the whole family. Clutha River Cruises also offer private functions. Going on the cruise boat Nevache II is a pontoon craft that provides a quiet, stable and an exceptionally smooth ride. The vessel is very easy to board and has very spacious and comfortable seating, which can carry up to 18 adults. 54

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I was greeted at the Alexandra boat ramp by my guide and skipper for the day, Laurence, who actually owns the company also. There was a lot of people ready to go on the cruise with the sun streaming down on us and the river glistening, it really increased the anticipation of getting out on the water to enjoy the day. After a safety brief, we all sat back on the super comfortable Cruise boat and gently drifted down stream with the skipper spinning us all wellpolished yarns of days gone by. Starting with the discovery of Gold in New Zealand, all the way through to gold mining during the depression, the skipper brings to life tales of endeavor and hardship. After being on the cruise for about fifteen minutes I realized I had left my camera in the car! I had to use my cell phone which didn’t show the true beauty of Central Otago that you can really only experience for yourself but remembering to bring a camera would have been a good start to record the memories. Clutha River Cruises Heritage cruise took us through the spectacular scenery of the Roxburgh gorge to the old


gold mining sites of Butchers and Doctors Points. Most of these places are only accessible in its entirety by foot or boat. Laurence took us on a guided tours of Doctors Point Gold Mine, highlighting points of interest and explaining how the gold mine operated leaving us a lot more knowledgeable about the area, learning that gold was first discovered in this location on a shelf in 1860’s. We were able to view the miners huts tucked away in the spectacular schist rock formations and wander through one of the best preserved 1860’s Gold mines in New Zealand. Laurence painted a picture for me, so it was almost as if I could see the gold miners at work panning out schist and rock to find the notorious gold.

families and to build up the gold industry in New Zealand in the harsh Central Otago conditions. After having an enjoyable lunch, we all piled back into the boat and sat back to enjoy the leisurely return trip to Alexandra, which provided everyone with many opportunities to take everlasting images of the stunning Central Otago scenery, and for me low resolution cell phone images. I was worried that it would be too hot to completely enjoy this trip as it was an astounding 29 degrees Celsuis, but the light breeze that the boat provided just by moving made it the perfect temperature for me.

After the tour and interpretation of the Gold Mine we were

Arriving back at the boat ramp we all said our final goodbye’s to the new people we had met on the cruise and thanking

served light refreshments including delicious sandwiches and indulging cakes in the scenic picnic area on the banks of the Clutha River at Doctors point. Sitting there eating my lunch really help me absorb the heritage enriched environment that I was lucky to be in. Really gave me a sense of pride to be honoring and taking time to learn about the people who worked so hard to provide for their

Laurence for his knowledge and the enjoyable trip he had provided us. The Heritage Cruise offers a unique opportunity to explore these isolated reaches of the Mighty Clutha River and view some of New Zealand’s best examples of European and Chinese gold mining. And don’t forget your camera!

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Wanaka

Having being seduced by the beauty of Lake Wanaka, Tone Hill finds Spring is a time of renewal too

It started with a winter conference. A particularly boring one as it happened, which left me plenty of time for the important conference business of staring out of windows and wishing I was somewhere else. Except I didn’t wish that. I was quite happy staring out at where I was. So when the call came in the office for a volunteer to spend a month back in Wanaka on a research retreat my hand was up in a heartbeat. This time it was spring though and like a man with a cricked neck, I’ve never looked back! You’d be a hard-hearted soul not to feel the excitement of the days getting longer and that merino top being just a bit too heavy for the weather. But if you don’t get excited when you see those springtime shadows painted on the rugged hills around Lake Wanaka it may be time to call the doctor for a check-up from the neck up. In some places the warmer part of the year suddenly plops on to the welcome mat with a humid thud, but in Wanaka it sidles up and introduces itself quietly along with a subtle dry warmth and the faintest aroma of thyme. 56

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The region’s well known for that sort of seduction though. If it’s not the climate it’s the views of lakes, rivers and mountains claiming your attention, and if it’s not them it’s the easy attitude of the people or the astonishing food, wine and shopping that sends you looking at real estate magazines and working out of it makes sense to relocate completely. Start with the setting. Wanaka township sits on the lakefront, like ON the lakefront, staring straight up a body of water no computer graphics wizard could ever better. It’s best viewed over a glass of wine, or a coffee or a beer or a breakfast or a full-blown dinner, all of which you can do easily, but even sitting on the grass with a cheese roll and a bottle of water will give you a cheery glow. Add in one of those warm spring zephyrs of wind riffling across the water and all’s well with the world. Of course, I was lucky. I had a month of solitude with only a mind-numbingly dull project for company, but clearly, from what I witnessed every day, whether you’re visiting with your intended, your family or even the mother-in-law and her best friends from the bowling club, Wanaka very quickly answers all your holiday questions too. For starters, the town’s compact enough that everything you need is only a few steps from the last thing you needed. And the


next one too. You could quite happily spend anything from a short spring weekend break to a whole season on holiday without the urge to climb into a vehicle, but you’d miss out on some superb memories. Legendary wine tours, great golf, mountains to climb, hills to tramp, jetboats to explore in, planes to jump out of or easy strolls to take the air between cosy pubs – The place has everything you’d have to visit a dozen destinations to find elsewhere, and a bit more besides. Plus, wherever you go, the scenery goes with you. Come October’s Wanakafest and the culture of the place takes over. Not the formal hokey display type culture, the real stuff that makes the town’s heart beat at a variety of paces. In the space of around a week you can enter or spectate the 10 hour endurance bike race (I spectated and I was exhausted), check out the latest creations at Passion for Fashion or sample what the locals take for granted at the Lake Wanaka Food and Wine Fest. I’m not a festival person but I discovered the Wanaka way translates to a genteel dose of excitement and entertainment in the growing warmth, which guarantees a buzz around the town wherever you go, without the hurlyburly hubbub and hustle of a crammed big city.

This is one of those places you visit and remember by feel before anything else. Sure, the panoramas will have your eyes out on stalks but generations of locals who see this stuff every day have ensured everything about Wanaka, from the buildings to the attitude has all morphed into a tangible vibe of relaxation. You don’t need to be a beanie-wearing trousers-half-mast snowboard aficionado to get it. You don’t have to be a muscle-bound mountain runner or a fanatical lake sailor to feel it, it’s just there. You may not be a local until you’ve lived there for umpteen years but it isn’t half easy to feel like one real fast. Spring’s all about renewal and Wanaka proved the perfect destination to recharge my batteries before summer. The tedious work grew easier as I settled into the rhythm of the place, with regular visits to my favourite coffee shops and lakeside strolls that soon saw me taking on the odd hill – it all seemed so natural. As it happens the company I work for is having its next conference in Wanaka this year too. And I got to book the speakers this time. I’ve made sure they’re all really boring. After all, those windows won’t look out of themselves…

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Tekapo/Mt Cook

Rikki-Lee McLean enjoys an air safari around New Zealand’s highest mountain plus an interplanetary experience that’s out of this world!

Carefully watching my breath roll off the top of my hot chocolate, I look up to see the most indescribable view of my life: Snow-encrusted mountains surround small waves rippling onto stones from the deep turquoise paint. This view I am absorbing looks like a painting, but in fact no artist could ever display the full beauty of Lake Tekapo on a cold winter’s day. Leaving the picturesque Queenstown to drive three hours away was a hard task to do. But when we got on the road it was well worth it. There wasn’t a dull photo taken of the simply breathtaking New Zealand environment. One the way we pass the landmark big fruit statue in Cromwell and vineyards stained white and glassy from the recent sprinkle of snow. We had never been to Lake Tekapo before so this route was all new to us. On arrival at Lake Tekapo that evening, we were welcomed by the friendly staff at Peppers Bluewater Resort, giving us the key to our temporary new home. Walking into our villa we were greeted by a kind burst of warmth which helped us thaw off immediately and turned 58

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our cheeks red from the sudden temperature change. Looking out on our lakeside view was captivated by a beautiful star speckled sky. Adjourning to the resort’s restaurant, Rakinui Restaurant, we indulged ourselves over the menu, reading about the origin of the food we were about to eat and a bit of the history about the area. Finally I decided on the tasting platter as an entrée which enticed me as “a snapshot of flavours celebrating produce from the surrounding Mackenzie District” which seemed like a good way to get to know the area a bit more. When the time to order our main dishes came around I decided on the vegetarian pasta and my partner ordered the Canterbury Eye Fillet, keeping in mind that Rakinui restaurant has won the 2013 New Zealand Beef and Lamb excellence award. Both were amazing, filled with 100% local flavour since the restaurant is a showcase of the Mackenzie Country’s best products. Awakening to the gorgeous Lake Tekapo sunrise, with steam coming off the lake, I eagerly got out of bed to begin my day exploring the town. After a full gourmet buffet breakfast at Rakinui Restaurant we drove a couple


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Experience a spectacular AIR SAFARIS 50 minute “Grand Traverse” flightseeing tour of Aoraki Mount Cook and glaciers. Covers over 200 km and highlights include: Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman Tasman & Murchison glaciers - Franz Josef & Fox glaciers plus much more!!

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of kilometers out to the snow-hidden airport of Air Safaris to begin our “Grand Traverse” tour of the alpine environment and Aoraki Mount Cook. Operations started at this small airfield back in 1970 and has really taken off since then. As we boarded the C208B Cessna Grand Caravan we learned a little bit about the aircraft from the pilot. It is a bigger aircraft than many, with the capacity to carry up to 13 passengers each with a window view of their own. We had 12 people on our tour, almost filling up the aircraft, which is the way it usually is - Air Safaris is highly commended with a certificate of excellence 2013 on Trip Advisor. There is no other way to see what you see by car or walking; being up in the air gives you a panoramic view of the rugged landscape that you will never be able to forget. The Grand Traverse tour gives you an ultimate viewing of some of the iconic landscapes of New Zealand. First on the list was a bird’s eye view of the Lake Tekapo village itself, showing off the deep turquoise lake surrounded by snow. We are shown several glaciers including The Godley, The Murchison, the Tasman, Franz Josef and the Fox glacier. So not only do you get to see the Canterbury landscape, but you get a sneak peek of the West Coast. Even though the whole flight is definitely a highlight of my Lake Tekapo Experience, seeing Mount Cook in all its glory was remarkable. Thinking about all the people that have attempted - and have actually climbed - this 12,316ft mountain is wondrous, I recall that Sir Edmund Hillary made his first ascent of this mountain in 1948. In the same year he also made the first ascent, with three others, of the South Ridge to the low peak, which was renamed the Hillary Ridge in 2011; we were lucky enough to see this all perfectly under blue skies. Air Safaris have tours to suit everyone and aircrafts to suit every sized tours and by the end of the Safari it is obvious that the pilots are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. It’s really something you have to experience for yourself. Once we landed we made our way to a relaxation paradise, Lake Tekapo Hot Springs, but instead we were greeted by an adrenaline pumping snow experience. Happily, the must-do activity of Snow Tubing had just opened! After making our way to the magic carpet, helmets strapped on and a tube hanging off our arms, we are pushed down the slope. Cold air fills into my lungs as we jitter up and down the bumps, off over the jump and into an ice bay, slowing us down. Snow tubing happens in winter only but they have made it so people can enjoy this adrenalin-fuelled activity in the warmer months too, using the same magic carpet and slopes which allow for all year round tubing! This is the first of its kind in New Zealand. After a couple more rides we decide to retire to the pools. There are three hot pools and they range from 40 degrees Celsius to 36 degrees Celsius, each hot pool having a different shape representing the region’s lakes; Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo. Starting off at the coolest pool I settle into a corner with a massage jet to relax my muscles from snow tubing. Not only are you treated with the serenity of the hot springs but also the view, overlooking the lake and the surrounding hills. www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Lake Tekapo Hot Springs also have a day spa where you can indulge yourself with everything from massages to body wraps and exfoliation. So you can go there, be pampered and loosen your muscles up then soak in the hot pools for an ultimate relaxation day. There is also a sauna and steam room but, if you’re feeling a bit more daring, then you can take a dip in the 8 degree Celsius plunge pool. The whole hot springs site is extremely sustainable with most of the building materials sourced locally. After being at the hot springs for hours, the sky was darkening and the stars were beginning to come out. It was almost time to go the Mount John observatory with our guides Earth and Sky. Meeting at the Earth and Sky office in the heart of the township, we all piled into the bus and made our way up the mountain to the Mt John observatory. On arrival we all wowed at the bright sky. I have never seen anything like it before; no light pollution from any big towns, just bright stars that you feel like you could reach out and touch. Even the café had no lights on, just candles everywhere. We all gathered around our guide and with his green laser he pointed to several stars and told us about them; we even learnt how to find true south. The guides here are very passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, showing us stars I have never heard of through powerful telescopes (9.25-inch, 11-inch and 16-inch apertures) like Omega. Being able to see Saturn was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When I saw it through the telescope my eyes widened - being able to see the ring around Saturn perfectly in real time and not just a picture in a book makes you feel so small in an enormous universe. With Earth and Sky you will always be treated to something special and on my night there I saw something I have wanted to see my whole life, an Aurora Australis. After seeing magical things happen in the sky our group entered into the warm café to be provided a delicious hot chocolate which completely thawed my body. Earth and Sky have day time, night time, twilight tours, family tours and tours at different observatories. With Earth and Sky tours I really did get to explore the majestic skies of Lake Tekapo.

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Buller

Buller District offers a unique combination of wilderness and industrial history, writes Tom Thomson

Buller

Staying at Bazil’s Hostel in Westport, you can enjoy a colonial style homestead close to the town centre with its bars, shops and cafes.

Such sleep call for daytime activity, with the Stockton Mine Tour offering a look at the largest coal producing mine in New Zealand.

Bazil’s offers a variety of facilities and accommodation for everyone from backpackers and families to school groups and sports teams; with standard dorm rooms, fully-self contained rooms and campervan and tent sites. There are two tv rooms, two lounges and an outdoor covered BBQ area, plus there is free wi-fi. For something upmarket, Birds Ferry Lodge offers ecofriendly luxury near Punakaiki on the dramatic West Coast. This 13 hectare oasis is ideal for a romantic getaway. You can indulge in a historic massage, soak in the outdoor spa high above a river valley cascading through native forest to the ocean.

The tour departs Westport and passes through several small towns till it reaches the Plateau, delivering an off-road adventure along the way. Visitors learn about the life of a miner and some of the mining processes, such as the removal of topsoil, blasting, removal of the overburden, and very importantly, site rehabilitation after the mining is completed. Other similar tours include the Denniston Tour, a historic guided tour exploring the coalmining towns on the Denniston Plateau. It includes a visit to the “Friends of the Hill” Museum, visiting the mining settlements of Burnett’s Face and Coalbrookdale, the ‘Burning Mine” site and reaching out for the clouds at the summit of Mt Rochfort at 3,600ft.

Superb cuisine and wines are available, including homemade conserves, real espresso and the lodge’s own organic fruit and produce. Meals can be delivered to the self-contained Ferryman’s Cottahe as a breathtaking sunset gives way to the absolute quiet of evening. You’ll sleep as never before in luxury linen and wake to the song of bellbirds. 64

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The Mackley Tour travels up to Denniston, through the Mackley River to the Upper Buller Gorge and back again. Be prepared for rugged landscapes and a number of river crossings- all in the comfort of one of Out West Tour’s special vehicles. This trip offers spectacular scenery, and rugged terrain featuring fast-flowing rivers, deep gorges


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urney into exciting full-day jo an It’s . lls fa er at w and many ss. genuine wilderne Tauranga st Surf, based at oa C t es W ith w is Contrast th wind, Westport. a safe and Bay on Cape Foul th first timers with bo es id ov pr h as providing This beac to learn in as well t en m on vir en g perienced invigoratin for the more ex es av w ss cla ld some wor surfers. surfers and sons for the new les rs fe of rf Su st looking to up West Coa advanced levels e or m e th pr fo coaching ater. their skills in the w one of New rana (Puke) is Pe ike M h ac ected surf Head co g and well resp in rv se t es ng lo sessions to Zealand’s to customise the e tim s ke ta e H en coaching coaches. ments and has be ire qu re l’s ua vid Zealand for each indi t of surfing in New or sp e th ng pi lo and deve s. more than 30 year tting, with a yllic surf beach se id an in is y Ba Tauranga car parking. sandy beach and Cafe;, which wonderfully long mous ‘Bay House fa e th of e m ho It is the aviews. as well as fine se leading to the offers many dishes tra is a walking ck y ba e th of rth ist attraction. To the no ny, a popular tour lo co al se y Ba Tauranga and beyond the around the cliffs, alk w nt illia br a merous local There’s ill lead you to nu w ck tra e th e, lighthous cal pub. e park and the lo accomodation, th history, beauty, y Buller, there’s jo en d an e m citing around So co hing new and ex et m so d an ss wilderne every corner!

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West Coast

So many superlatives apply to the West Coast of the Southern Alps it’s almost ‘mission impossible’ to select just one, writes Chris Bir

The great thing about the West Coast is that a visit at any time of year brings out its uniqueness. The four seasons are as different as chalk and cheese. But Spring is certainly my choice for timing a visit, for so many reasons. For a start the weather is usually mild and meek as ‘The Coast’ emerges from its winter mantle and enters a new season of revitalisation and revival. Having said that, visitors should always be prepared for rain in this region, as they should do everywhere in this temperate country. Taking the Tranz Alpine Express from Christchurch to Greymouth is always one of the great rail experiences in the world, and at no time of the year is that more apparent than in Spring-time. It’s hard to adequately describe the majestic views provided by those huge glass windows as this unique rail journey proceeds through the alpine passes from the grasslands of the Canterbury Plains to a coastline that receives the crashing waves of the Tasman Sea. It’s best experienced, not talked about. On this journey of discovery, I have opted to go north, then to backtrack to the south in a bid to cram as much of the

region into the few days that I have available for this visit. But time and again I am reminded that the journey down – or up – the West Coast is not one that ought to be rushed. There is just so much to see and do, a week or more is ideal. My target destination this time is Westport, a drive of about an hour and a half alone the coast road, State Highway 6. It’s as spectacular as any highway or byway in the country, with photo opportunities at every turn. But it’s Westport or bust this day as I have a burning desire to experience the new Coaltown museum in that historic little town’s main street which I have heard so much about. There has been a museum depicting the coal industry at Westport for 35 years, but the new one – this architecturallydesigned facility was opened only in June this year – is now a major visitor facility on the West Coast. It is, indisputably, one of the must-see attractions for any itinerant traveller, linking the past to the present. The Coaltown Museum’s giant Q-wagon – it weighed more than eight tonnes when fully laden – is staggering not only for its size, but for the acute angle on which it lurched when www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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walk the

treetops

freephone: 0508 TREETOPS phone: 03 755 5052 email: info@treetopsnz.com

www.treetopsnz.com 12 MINUTES SOUTH OF HOKITIKA, WEST COAST, SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND

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traversing the Denniston Incline. Known internationally, this embankment was one of the steepest in the world to carry a railway wagon and the massive 20 tonne brake drum used to slow the rampaging wagons is a reminder of the equipment required. In this day of modern technology and creature comforts, it’s hard to grasp the hardship endured by miners and their families in the coal-mining settlements such as Denniston, Stockton and Millerton, all names intimately entrenched in the history of the West Coast. In that light, the simulated underground mine at the Coaltown Museum provides a wonderful insight into the tough working conditions of the miners, and the families who had to endure extreme conditions in the wild and remote places they called home. Coaltown is a fantastic all-weather attraction which appeals to any age and I am pleased that I have opted to overnight in Westport, as closing time at this museum comes far too soon for this new convert to mining history. The drive south again is conducted with a travel plan in mind, but as I’ve discovered on previous visits to the Coast, it pays to leave plenty of time for new adventures. They abound in a region that was built on daring expeditions, firstly by the indigenous Maori explorers after the discovery of the land they called Aotearoa and, half a millennium or so later, by their European settler counterparts. The compactness of the West Coast of the Southern Alps makes for easy touring. At its widest point, there’s less than a hundred kilometres between the tumultuous Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps, and Buller in the north to Haast in the south is a drive of just five and a half hours.

Tnz Top Pix “For simply the best underworld adventure join us on our internationally acclaimed- “Underworld Rafting” or the dry version- “The GlowWorm Cave Tour”

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Before heading south, I stop off at the West Coast Treetop Walkway and Café just out of Hokitika. Another of the Coast’s new attractions, it was recently built to showcase the ancient natural world for which this region is internationally acclaimed. High in the tree tops of ancient rimu and kamahi I get not only a bird’s eye view of the snow-covered alps to the east, but Lake Mahinapua below me. Twenty five metres above the ground the multitude of tree-dwellers can be spied upon, living life on high in their own little world. One of the acknowledged whitebait capitals of the world – the West Coast has most to them to its credit – Haast is beginning to come alive after its winter siesta, and anticipation of the most popular fishing season of the year is beginning to build. What makes Spring so special at Haast is whitebait season, a time of great intensity when thousands of hopefuls, many from far away, journey to these parts as they seek a few grams – or even better still, a few kilograms – of the tasty, tiny native fish species that swarm up the rivers to spawn. At the Curly Tree Whitebait Company I sink my teeth into one of the fritters – other nationalities call them patties – which cause many people to drool, often uncontrollably. It’s easy to see why. The history of whitebait, and the annual migration that occurs as people try to catch enough for a decent meal is a story in its own right. But for now there’s a flight to be caught and reluctantly I set off for the airport. As is invariably the case for anyone who takes the time to see this spectacular region in its full natural glory, it’s superlatives that abound, not regrets. Such is the nature of the West Coast of the Southern Alps. www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Canterbury

Just as Melbourne has its own Cup Week in November, so does Canterbury

continued on pg 73

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Pohatu Penguins

4WD Penguin safaris to the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand

Accommodation activity packages give more time to enjoy this special sheep farm packed with penguin burrows with Pohatu Marine Reserve on it’s door step. Pohatu Marine Reserve sea Kayaking

Spend a night in the middle of the penguin colony

Pohatu Penguins/Plunge NZ ltd www.pohatu.co.nz email tours@pohatu.co.nz www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com 75 Phone 03 304 8542 mobile 021 246 9556


Hurunui

Cliff Chalmers discovers an expansive “Oasis of Wellbeing” at the 15 pools that make the thermal resort such a hit with visitors

“It’s not a bad life, is it? Hot water, sunshine, blue skies”. The English visitor looked like the cat that got the cream as he sat, up to his neck in hot thermal water, eyes closed and face tilted towards the warm spring sun. His wife was in the spa having a massage, he said, but this was all the relaxation he needed. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools have been providing this kind of relaxing therapy to generations of Kiwis and overseas pleasure-seekers for more than 125 years. But it’s unlikely that our grandparents could have imaged the expansive oasis of wellbeing that has grown from one pool of hot mineral water drawn from a thermal spring. The mineral-rich water of Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools fell as rain on the Hanmer Plains around 200 years ago. Seeping through cracks and fissures in the Greywacke 76

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basement rock, it created a water table that is naturally warmed by the intense heat radiating from the earth’s core. This heat creates the pressure that forces the water toward the surface. Today the thermal water is drawn from one of two bores located on the property at a constant 52 degrees centigrade which enables the use of this energy to maintain the pool temperatures through a series of heat exchanges. The Thermal Pools complex now boasts 15 open-air mineral pools, three sulphur pools, a freshwater lap pool with “lazy river, six private indoor thermal pools, sauna and steam rooms and separate activity area with family pool, Aquaplay area, and three waterslides including the newest addition the 15m-hign SuperBowl ride. Pool water temperatures range from 28 to 42 degrees C.


Well. Beings.

Award-winning Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is the jewel in the crown of a region abounding in natural attractions. Soothe your body in the famous waters, relax with a glass of wine in a local winery, and enjoy the fresh air, space and views of a land made to be enjoyed. Hurunui. Travel well. Visit soon. www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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The landscaped grounds and their mountain backdrop provide a pretty setting for lazy soaking or for more energetic fun in the activity area. Overlooking the pools is a café serving good coffee, snacks, meals and drinks in a casual atmosphere indoors and out.The Thermal Pools have undergone a number of major upgrades in recent years – the latest costing $7.5 million – expanding the complex and adding new pools and attractions. Among the latest additions are the three adults-only AquaTherapy pools, where powerful jets massage grateful bodies soaking in the 38 degree C water. Here I come across our English friend again. “This is really something,” he said as he moved his back against the jets, “I don’t think I’m ever going to get out!” That’s another thing about the Thermal Pools, by the way: the hot water seems to thaw chilly standoffishness and replace it with an easy sociability that soon has complete strangers chatting away like old friends. I’d found this to be true in each pool I visited, starting with the large Hexagonal Pools near the changing rooms, where you can choose to catch the rays as you soak or retreat into the shade of overhead sun umbrellas. The three small Sulphur Pools, meanwhile, are hotter and the silky water proved to be a talking point among our small group of bathers. It’s easy to while away the hours doing nothing much at all, but families with energetic children can now let them blow off steam in the activity area conveniently distant from those enjoying a peaceful soak. It’s not just for kids, though, that race to ride the high-speed SuperBowl and two snaking Waterslides – though they probably scream louder than their grown-up companions. Nearby, the large Family Activity pool has animal slides and toys to keep smaller kids happy, while the AquaPlay water play centre has more interactive features for the little ones. The big new Lap Pool and Lazy River meanwhile, promise to be popular with all ages during spring and summer, when warmer pools may have less appeal. The pool attracts fitness swimmers but also has a walk-in “beach” access for the less agile. Children and parents can float happily on the current around the adjacent Lazy River circuit always providing a fun environment.

Fun & relaxation

you can share 15 open-air thermal pools • Sauna and steam rooms Six private thermal pools • Heated freshwater lap pool and lazy river Family zone with three WaterRides • Picnic area, café and bar.

Plus visit our stunning health & beauty spa.

CA.CO.NZ HST1509

0800 4 HANMER www.hanmersprings.co.nz Open seven days 10am - 9pm 78

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Kaikoura

Kaikoura should receive your seal of approval if you love marine life, writes Tom Thomson

There can’t be many towns that have simply grown up on the back of a boat trip to look at the whales, but Kaikoura has done that. Local Maori created the Kaikoura Whale Watch Company, which since 1989 has grown to become the largest employer in the township. Furthermore, with Kaikoura Whale Watch attracting so many visitors, around 100,000 a year, these visitor numbers have turned around the economy of a once declining town. Kaikoura today is a bustling resort, with motels, hotels, shops, bars and cafes. Its economy now relies on visitors seeing the whales that generations ago the township was equally dependent on killing. But Kaikoura, sited on State Highway One, roughly halfway

Fifteen open-air thermal pools • Sauna and stream rooms between andpool theandPicton Six private thermal poolsChristchurch • Heated freshwater lazy riverFerry to the North Family activity pool •remains Three waterslides • Picnic area, and bar setting that will Island unspoilt, with a café mountain

take your breath away. Throughout the springtime and beyond, visitors should be treated to a stunning backdrop of the lofty Kaikoura ranges as they top 2,700 metres, with snow lasting well into summer, if not all-year-round.

Before them, lies a narrow strip of land, where the sea also drops suddenly, creating an area known as the Hikurangi Trench, where ocean currents feed the waters with much plant food and nutrients, allowing for varied and numerous wildlife in its waters. I have been to Kaikoura many times and have always enjoyed what this small township of several thousand has to offer. Typically, my visits have followed the ferry to Picton, passing through the wine growing Marlborough/ Blenheim area and heading south towards Christchurch. Just north of Kaikoura comes rugged coast, with roadside vans selling the area’s famous crayfish. Indeed, it is crayfish that gives Kaikoura its name, which in Maori means “crayfish meal.” Along the coast you will see signposted seal colonies, but a particular favourite lies a short walk inland. The Ohau Point waterfall is usually full of baby fur seals from May to October. Sited 27km north of Kaikoura, Ohau Stream has become www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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The Whaleway Station Kaikoura. Phone 03 319 6767 Email: res@whalewatch.co.nz book online at www.whalewatch.co.nz FREEPHONE 0800 WHALES (0800 655 121)

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a popular stopping point for locals and tourists. The ten minute walk leads you to a pool beneath a waterfall where the seal pups will be found. These are the New Zealand fur seal/ kekeno pups that are common to the rocky Kaikoura coastline. With its outcrops, nooks and crannies, the coast provides an excellent breeding habitat by offering protection for young pups from storms that hit the coast. The pups are born in November, and travel up the stream from April onwards. They remain at the pool for several days and then return to the coast to feed on their mother’s milk. The mothers head out to see on foraging trips, for periods of up to 20 days at sea, before returning back to feed the pups. During their time in the pool, the pups will develop social, swimming and foraging and anti-predator behaviour, building muscle power and co-ordination. They will often be seen playing with sticks and leaves in the water, cashing each other and generally being curious. However, since they are wild animals, the Department of Conservation warns the 40,000 a year that visit the site each year, not to approach the seals. Seals can also be found closer to town, including around the car park at the end of the Kaikoura Peninsula. Tour

companies even offer the option of swimming with the seals, as well as dolphins.The drive to the peninsula car park passes little vans selling crayfish and other seafood from the area, as well as fine views of the mountainous backdrop.But it is further back in town, where the main tours operate from. Back along the Esplanade, with its Norfolk Pines, lies Encounter Kaikoura, a charitable trust formed in 2009, offering trips to see the dolphins as well as the albatrosses and other birds. I have yet to experience either of these encounters but both are highly recommended by TripAdvisor. But like many a Kiwi, I have been on the famous Whale Watch Tour. However, the attraction can be busy, so it is best to book ahead. The weather can be unpredictable too and can lead to cancellations. Once I had to cancel because of the weather, so instead I took a flight from the nearby airfield, which took you above the waters out to where the whales were. The flight was enjoyable but you did not get that close to see the whales below. Next time, I was lucky, able to get on a boat and out on the water. For a couple of hours we traversed the depths of the nearby ocean in search of the whales, aided by a sonar. We saw around a dozen sperm whales and they are truly magnificent creatures.

Café Encou

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Enjoy a delic ious breakf ast, lunch, snack or co ffee at our beachfront Café. There’ s outdoor se ating with beauti ful views an d plenty of pa rking too. TM

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But the best was yet to come, as dozens, if not hundreds of dusky dolphins, appeared and swam part of the way back to Kaikoura with us. Around a metre long, they looked so cute, I just wanted to take one home. I am sure it would have fit in the bath.Back in Kaikoura, I was hungry. There are many bars, cafes and restaurants, but I fancied a takeaway pizza. The pizzeria was owned by an Australian, who said he much preferred it in New Zealand. But though it was summer, business was hardly booming, he told me. Kaikoura receives many visitors nowadays, around 900,000 a year, but such growth has been matched or exceeded by the multiplying number of businesses, so for traders the piece of the growing pie remains the same. It certainly seems a tough life baking pizza till late, especially when you face growing competition. Still, this all means there is plenty more for the visitor to see, do and enjoy, with new attractions popping up all the time. Just south of Kaikoura is a vineyard, there’s also arts and culture, plus a variety of walks. A raft of accommodation is available, from backpackers to standard motels, luxury lodges and other places with an eco-theme. Whatever you fancy, you should have a whale of a time in Kaikoura. I am sure it will get your seal of approval!

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Malborough

Nelmac Garden Marlborough is an event like no other, where visitors enjoy some of this country’s best gardens and meet what become old friends, writes Olivia Bowers

From the very first time I went to Garden Marlborough, I loved it.Spending a few days touring the magnificent Marlborough landscape, wandering around beautiful gardens with like-minded people and sipping afternoon tea always was, and still is, my idea of a blissful break. Especially when someone else is doing the driving and there’s a lovely morning tea or picnic lunch provided.

home with cars full of roses or turn up at the airport with a bunch of peonies under their arm.  

Likewise, the top notch gardeners who present the workshops each year at Garden Marlborough provide the kind of stimulus that makes for a lively and informative time.

That’s why so many of us are always keen to go back year after year. We know we’re in for an enjoyable and relaxing time. Scheduled as it is on the first weekend in November, the four day event of garden tours, workshops, cooking classes, garden party and fete comes at the perfect time of the year for those, like me, wanting a break before the Christmas rush. It’s also a time when the weather is beautiful and the gardens of Marlborough are at their very best. Among those included in the day tours are some of this country’s most outstanding gardens, festooned with rambling old roses, formal knot gardens, floriferous avenues and productive kitchen gardens.

And, what I always love is the chance to dress up for the garden party and charity auction on the Saturday evening, this year being held in the outstanding and not-to-bemissed grounds of historic Lake Timara Lodge. Despite the fun and festivities of the garden party evening, I’m always keen to drag myself out of bed the next morning and see what’s on offer at the annual garden fete. Held in Blenheim’s picturesque Seymour Square, it’s the perfect opportunity to buy a few plants I might not find elsewhere, indulge in a few delicious treats and pick up some early Christmas presents.Afterwards, it’s always easy to spot those who’ve been to Garden Marlborough as they head

It’s all part of what makes Garden Marlborough, now sponsored by local contracting company Nelmac, such a winning formula, bringing people together to enjoy gardens in a fun and informative way.

It’s wandering Carolyn and Joe Ferraby’s Awatere Valley garden, Barewood, with it’s abundance of colourful www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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perennials, old roses, avenues of flowering trees and connoisseurs’ collection of shrubs, that I’ve found so much inspiration for my own garden. While it’s hard to go past Carolyn’s fragrant roses and flowering hawthorns, it’s her artistic and productive potager, with its espaliered fruit trees, bountiful vegetable plots and whimsical obelisks, that I find such an absolute joy..      Similarly, the bold design features, outdoor rooms and a magnificent citrus grove at Richard and Sue Macfarlane’s coastal garden, Winterhome, have always appealed. Like so many of the world-class gardens on the tours, Winterhome and Barewood are as inspirational in their layout and design as they are for their creative use of plants. And if you ever wanted to see what a knot garden looks like, that of Upton Oaks gives a picture perfect example of formal clipped elegance, surrounding beds of colourful annuals and perennials. But, for me there’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing Huguette Michel-Fleurie’s Monet-inspired garden, at Hortensia House. It’s a dreamy, romantic garden, overflowing with flowers in soft pastels and blues and yellows Monet’s favourites - matching the elegant Victorian style house.  Wandering Huguette’s garden is pure bliss, especially where it rambles down the banks of Marlborough’s Spring Creek to the Monet-style bridge. There, if you pause a moment, as I love to, you can usually spot a trout or three, lazing in the cool, gin-clear water. Or you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the welcome shade of a nearby garden folly.  It’s these little details that make the Garden Marlborough tours so enticing and makes returning each year like visiting old friends. The tours offer a day’s escape to another world when you can absorb the joy of others’ endeavours who, in the way of Garden Marlborough, are always on hand to meet and greet.What amazes me is not just how much work the owners do in the gardens for the event, but that they are then so willing and happy to share their time and knowledge with visitors. Likewise, the speakers and chefs who have given workshops at Garden Marlborough over the years have always been inspirational and fun. No matter how big a celebrity, they’re always willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. Some of my best recipes have come from Garden Marlborough, not just from the chefs, but also from the people who open their gardens for the tours and provide such wonderful, homegrown hospitality. But, for me, Garden Marlborough’s not only about the gardens and people who host and present it, it’s also about the people I’ve met there year after year. And, sometimes, I’ve had the delight of bumping into old friends I haven’t seen for years who’ve come from far away for the event.. Meeting them again at Garden Marlborough over a rose bush or a glass of wine at the garden party has been one of those rare treats in life you cherish.  And, every time, we’ve promised each other to go and meet up again.  It’s that good.

Our Fishing Charters are out of Havelock in the Pelorus Sound and our Homestay Accommodation is in beautiful Yncyca Bay in the mid Pelorus Contact us on 03 5781526 or 0274365616 email:amilne@karakabay.co.nz 84

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Visit our website www.karakabay.co.nz


What to take to Nelmac Garden Marlborough:

* Sunhat and sunblock * Notebook for jotting down ideas, plant names, recipes and new friends’ names and contact details * Comfortable shoes you can slip off and on again * Layered clothing so you can peel the layers off when the going gets hot  Water bottle  Camera of smartphone for photos  Tote bag for all the above  Lovely summer dress for the garden party  A big smile

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Nelson

Nelson claims to be the beer capital of New Zealand, with the craftiest brewers producing many a fine drop, as Tom Thomson tries to remember

There’s nothing like a good pub crawl, and no better place than Nelson, which has gained national acclaim as the country’s craft beer capital. For years the city was noted for its Mac’s range of beers when former All Black Terry McCashin made the leap from publican to commercial brewer.

craft beers. There must have been at least 15 on tap. I went for a Fern Dark, which at 4 per cent, was reasonably strong, with a hint of chocolate, coffee and caramel. Then, I had a Porter, which offered a fuller flavour at 5 per cent alcohol.A cider-loving mate found the berry cider to be most delicious.

His dark beer, Black Mac, became a favourite of mine, though some were disappointed when Terry sold his brand to the Lion Breweries in 2000, taking it to Wellington. Fortunately, when a restraint of trade clause expired, Terry was able to fire up the old brewery now making a new range of equally tasty beers under the Stoke label. But there are more ales, stouts and porters out there, and plenty for the lager lover to choose from. Whatever you do, do not do what I did, that is take the car just because it is raining, as often might be the case in what is supposedly a sunny centre of New Zealand.

There are other Sprig and Ferns in in the area, such as at Milton Street, plus others in nearby Richmond, Brightwater, Motueka and Tahunanui. Nelson also has the Bays Brewing Company, which offers tours by appointment, plus offlicense sales.

It means missing many delights, which are all outlined in the beer trails and guides promoting Nelson and its beers. Nonetheless, the Sprig and Fern in Hardy Street should not be missed. The warm, welcoming pub offers board games and comfy seats to boost the pleasure of its own range of 86

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The Dales Brewing Company in nearby Richmond offers a Belgian Pale Ale, an American Amber Ale, plus a lovely Doppelbock, which like many craft brews have made their way across the nation’s supermarkets and bottle stores. Dead Good Beer offers an IPA, Pilsner, Golden Ale, plus seasonal brews. The Founders Brewery has six generations of history, with a cafe and organic brewery at the northern edge of Nelson. But for me, my next stop was the Free House in Collingwood Street, which is often rated as Nelson’s best pub.


www.abeltasmankayaks.co.nz

There’s nothing like a good pub crawl, and no better place than Nelson, which has gained national acclaim as the country’s craft beer capital. For years the city was noted for its Mac’s range of beers when former All Black Terry McCashin made the leap from publican to commercial brewer.

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His dark beer, Black Mac, became a favourite of mine, though some were disappointed when Terry sold his brand to the Lion Breweries in 2000, taking it to Wellington. Fortunately, when a restraint of trade clause expired, Terry was able to fire up the old brewery now making a new range of equally tasty beers under the Stoke label. But there are more ales, stouts and porters out there, and plenty for the lager lover to choose from.Whatever you do, do not do what I did, that is take the car just because it is raining, as often might be the case in what is supposedly a sunny centre of New Zealand. It means missing many delights, which are all outlined in the beer trails and guides promoting Nelson and its beers. Nonetheless, the Sprig and Fern in Hardy Street should not be missed. The warm, welcoming pub offers board games and comfy seats to boost the pleasure of its own range of craft beers. There must have been at least 15 on tap.

EST 1986

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I went for a Fern Dark, which at 4 per cent, was reasonably strong, with a hint of chocolate, coffee and caramel. Then, I had a Porter, which offered a fuller flavour at 5 per cent alcohol. A cider-loving mate found the berry cider to be most delicious. There are other Sprig and Ferns in in the area, such as at Milton Street, plus others in nearby Richmond, Brightwater, Motueka and Tahunanui. Nelson also has the Bays Brewing Company, which offers tours by appointment, plus off-license sales The Dales Brewing Company in nearby Richmond offers a Belgian Pale Ale, an American Amber Ale, plus a lovely Doppelbock, which like many craft brews have made their way across the nation’s supermarkets and bottle stores. Dead Good Beer offers an IPA, Pilsner, Golden Ale, plus seasonal brews.The Founders Brewery has six generations of history, with a cafe and organic brewery at the northern edge of Nelson. But for me, my next stop was the Free House in Collingwood Street, which is often rated as Nelson’s best pub. Since opening in April 2009, this popular hostelry has served more than 500 different craft beers served from more than 60 breweries. If beer is Nelson’s new religion, it is perhaps appropriate the Free House is sited in a former church. And to add to that feeling of beer nirvana, it is also perhaps appropriate there is a Mongolian Yurt (tent) outside, giving extra space. I can’t remember what I drunk, other than it was dark. The log fire was also enjoyable, especially as it was such a wet day. Sadly, until the day when Google will make my car drive itself home, it meant I head to head back to my motel, thinking that maybe I should have taxied instead. But next morning, the weather was better, so a drive into the nearby countryside was called for. As well as vineyards, you will also pass many hop fields as you head out towards Mapua and Moteuka in

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Golden Bay. Mapua has the Golden Bear Brewery, which offers a microbrewery, bar and restaurant serving serving Mexican food. It’s a pretty little seaside settlement too, with other cafes and restaurants, but it was too early in the day for a drink, so after a coffee and a snack, I continued my journey. At Riwaka, just the other side of Moteuka, I noted the strange purple colouring of the Monkey Wizard Brewery as I passed through. I pulled over and gave a few beers a try, this time deciding to buy a flagon of dark ale to take back to my motel. Then, it was a drive through the vineyards and the hop fields back to Nelson. I quite like my wine, but the beers of Nelson and its surrounds are a lovely alternative. There’s also the Lighthouse Brewery in Stoke, the Moutere Brewing Company, the Mussel Inn Brewing Company, the Totara Brewing Company, and by the time you read this, there could well be more. In an age when so much is increasingly the same, mass-produced and mediocre, it is heartening to see New Zealand beers undergoing a crafty revolution. Many of our cities have their own home brews, such as Good George in Hamilton and Three Boys in Christchurch. Sprig and Fern recently opened an outlet in Thorndon, Wellington, and now I happily see one has just opened in Auckland at the former Drake Hotel, just a short walk from our offices, by Auckland’s Victoria Park. Just as New Zealand has a deserved reputation for fine wine, so we will for fine beer!


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Ruapehu

Ruapehu can run rings around its Southern hotspot rival, writes Sandy Waters, with its own walks, cycleways, historical towns and other attractions, plus the best spring skiing in New Zealand

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It’s often been said ‘Ohakune is the Queenstown of the North Island,’ well, what Queenstown was like 20 years ago anyway, before the appearance of an airport and thousands of Aussie’s on package ski holidays.

rental operators now specialize in mountain bike hire and stay open to meet the needs of visitors during summer. Dempsey Buses offer daily transport to Horopito for the 15km journey back to Ohakune.

The Central North Island’s mountain town hasn’t gone big and commercial yet and is relatively undiscovered in terms of international awareness. You’re still greeted by a kiwi at the reception desk. That is, if the locals aren’t up the mountain themselves. Many an honesty box on the counter and a room key, even though the unit you’re checking into is already unlocked, have been a reassuring sign there are no fellow travellers attempting to rip you off while you’re enjoying the slopes. Ohakune is not without entertainment though. Bars, restaurants, shops and a pampering retreat known as Bliss Beauty will keep the non-skiers busy enough.

Just a stones throw away, and as strategically positioned from Ohakune as Arrowtown is from Queenstown, the nearby historic township of Raetihi has as much character as it’s South Island equivalent, albeit 20 years behind the times. Sadly one Auckland businessman owns most of the main street, but the shops that are privately owned are exceptionally warm and welcoming, refurbished to their former timber town glory. Beds here are a little cheaper and the hospitality is worth the 11km drive. Raetihi is also the closest town to the starting point for one-day Bridge to Nowhere tours and the pick up point for the three-day Whanganui River Journey.

By day, the stunning walk or bike ride known as Ohakune Old Coach Road is a must-do. Originally built as a 6-foot wide stagecoach track while the main trunk line was under construction, this historic trail features interpretive signage displaying photos and stories of the settlements that were once dotted along the way. Local ski and board

A bucket-list item, and one of nine Great Walks, the Whanganui Journey starts at Whakahoro deep in the heart of Whanganui National Park and ends at Pipiriki, 27kms west of Raetihi. It’s a step back in time. No cellphone reception, no shops. Just you, a Canadian canoe and nature.

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Waterfalls, caves and a few rapids make the voyage interesting. Sleeping at a DOC hut or campsite add to the authenticity and a short walk on day two leads to the Bride to Nowhere. Buy a copy of Arthur Bates book about the early settlers who tried to farm this hostile land if you really want to feel grateful for the life you have. Further upriver lies the town of Taumarunui, similar to Cromwell in terms of distance from the ski slopes and it’s original purpose as a rural service centre. Taumarunui is home to one of New Zealand’s new National Cycle Trails; the Timber Trail. Starting at Piropiro Flats, the 44km ride to Ongarue is mostly downhill. An epic adventure through regenerating native forest, learning about life as a lumberjack while riding over some of New Zealand’s longest and highest swing-bridges (thank you Prime Minister John Key for delivering on the 2009 job summit promise). Book transport in advance and stay in Taumarunui or Ohura. If you have time or older relatives to amuse, take a ride with Forgotten World Adventures on the decommissioned Taumarunui to Stratford railway line. Converted golf carts do all the work while you sit back, relax and watch the world go by. Rolling paddocks and pitchblack tunnels up to a kilometre long give way to spectacular bluffs, bush and the odd Hereford cow mooching around the lunch shelter.

and Turoa on the southern slopes, has spring skiing right through to the beginning of November. Wear SPF 30+ as the sun at this time of year beats Gold Coast beaches. If you’re smart, you’ll avoid weekends or you’ll take the kids to Tukino instead. En-route to Tukino is the National Army Museum at Waiouru. Embracing memorabilia from those that fought for our freedom, the National Army Museum is a worldclass facility deserved of at least one visit. You’ll need a bit of time up your sleeve to get right around the exhibitions, library, gift shop, café and kids activities. It’s a great day out and gives the muscles a break from all that downhill action. And if your visit to the Ruapehu isn’t yet complete, squeeze in a horse trek with Waara Trekking through a working sheep and beef station to Mellonsfolly Ranch. There are no facades or replicas at New Zealand’s own wild west town. It is however, an exclusive option so you’ll need to come with a crowd and book in advance. Just an hour’s drive from Taupo, or four hours from Auckland, the Ruapehu region has something for everyone, at anytime of year. Ski, snowboard, hike, mountain bike or canoe to your hearts content. Book a week in October and you can do it all. For more information go to: www. visitruapehu.com

Speaking of National Cycle Trails; the Mountains to Sea has added another string to the bow of nearby National Park and Whakapapa Villages. Lord of the Rings fans will recognize Mt Doom from the internationally acclaimed trilogy. Film locations from its recently released prequel are rumoured to have been found here. The area is well known for one of the world’s best walks; the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Book a guide with Adrift Outdoors if you plan to hike this during winter. You’ll find the most amazing views from the many lodges, boutique B&B’s, motels and hotels but instead of waking up to lake views as you would in Wanaka, the scenery is of active volcano’s Ruapehu and Tongariro, and their dormant cousin Ngauruhoe. Ruapehu is the largest mountain, with three ski areas and a phenomenal amount of snow in recent years. Who can forget the five metre base at Turoa in 2008? With the addition of a 6-seater express chairlift at Turoa, complete with a padded seat and a rack to rest your ski’s on, the new Knoll Ridge Café at Whakapapa, and the introduction of cat-skiing at Tukino, North Island skiing and snowboarding has never looked so good. A lift pass at Mt Ruapehu is transferable between Turoa and Whakapapa so there’s flexibility to choose whichever side has the better weather. Unbeknown to our buddies across the ditch, Mt Ruapehu also has the longest opening season of any ski resort in New Zealand. North-facing Whakapapa will operate at least a month longer than it’s south island competitors, www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Taupo

Its an open house at a new addition to New Zealand’s golfing calendar All roads lead to Taupo in late October for the first edition of The Hilton Lake Taupo Golf Masters. This newest addition to the New Zealand golfing calendar is presented by local PGA professional Jim Clelland in partnership with Aaron Carter of Total Sport, and brings to golfers an opportunity to compete over three courses in three days in a Pairs format, but still with recognition given for individual performances. Taupo has long been recognised as a golfing destination in its own right, with three high quality courses within a 20km radius of the town. The Kinloch Club, Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, and The Centennial Course at the Taupo Golf Club will host The Hilton Lake Taupo Masters from October 30 – November 1. Playing each course is special enough but to play all three in three days will provide a memorable experience. The format will see players compete in combined score Pairs at Wairakei and Centennial, while best-ball scoring will be used at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Kinloch in a nod to the difficulty of that particular course. Kinloch is something very special. Now ranked at No.76 by Golf Digest Magazine in the Top 100 golf courses in the World outside the US, The Kinloch Club has become a must visit golf experience for travelling golfers and local New Zealand golfers alike. Sir Bob Charles stated after playing The Kinloch Club: “Having just played Kinloch for the first time I can honestly say this is the Number 1 golf course in New Zealand. For

Taupo

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those unable to play the great links courses of Scotland, Kinloch compares with the best of them. A true Links experience with Jack Nicklaus at his best.” Wairakei, ranked #1 in New Zealand in 2010 and still rated by many as the one course they most want to come back to. What an absolute pleasure it always is to visit this place. And now with the Sanctuary aspect continuing to develop where else in this country can you play the game amongst such birdlife, pheasant and quail everywhere, as well as a small herd of almost tame fallow deer. Peter Thomson AO CBE and five times winner of The British Open, was very involved in the development of Wairakei, and his masterstrokes of planning are still so dominant in its layout. The Centennial Course at Taupo will be a surprise to first time visitors, and certainly no pushover as a test of the game. It has been host to the New Zealand Amateur Championship, the National Inter-Provincial, and many times the International Under 23 Teams Championship. Recent renovations and the removal of many trees have transformed this championship course into more of an ‘inland links” style with generous enough fairways, penal rough and superb greens. It has its own Amen Corner, holes 13 to 16, and they are the key to a good score. Check it out on www.laketaupomastersgolf.co.nz , talk with your best golfing buddy, and join us for a golfing experience you will remember forever.


07 378 7500 ENJOY A SPECTACULAR SCENIC FLIGHT IN OUR HIGH WING CESSNA FLOATPLANE WITH VIEWS OF THE BEAUTIFUL GREAT LAKE TAUPO REGION. Flights from Taupo Boat Harbour info@tauposfloatplane.co.nz

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Taupo

Taupo golf sponsor is the perfect place to stay, says Tom Thomson

When the $55 million Hilton Lake Taupo opened in 2009, it revolutionised accommodation in the popular lakeside resort. True, the town had other high-class providers, but the Hilton Lake Taupo was the first deluxe international hotel in the town and the only Hilton outside Auckland (others have opened in Queenstown since). Sited by State Highway 5, on the road to Napier, just on the edge of Taupo, the 113room hotel occupies a prime position with views over the shimmering lake and beyond, to where majestic mountains dominate the skyline. When you drive up the entranceway, you see a magnificent combination of colonial tradition and modernity. Hilton Lake Taupo is comprised of the Heritage Wing, which was previously known as the landmark Terraces Hotel, which

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was built in 1889 and is now completely refurbished, though retaining its Victorian grandeur. Sited alongside is the new and much larger Mountain Wing, which offers 100 rooms. Together, the wings offer a range of accommodation from the already luxurious Hilton Guest Rooms, which are a spacious 30 square metres and tastefully decorated, through to the grand Presidential Suite.For families, groups and those staying a little longer, one to three bedroom apartments offer a convenient new option. Though Taupo offers many fine dining options, the hotel’s own flagship restaurant and bar, Bistro Lago, offers indulgence without having to leave the hotel. I found the warm fire in winter most welcoming, but you can also pull up a seat at the bar, or enjoy the view from the expansive


veranda. The Bistro Lago offers a superb dining experience, helped by wonderful food centred on an inspired menu created by master chef Simon Gault. Coupled with a delightful winelist and friendly, attentative and intuitive staff, the restaurant has become one of Taupo’s premier dining destinations, something confirmed by good reviews on TripAdvisor and similar websites. As expected of a hotel in a famous spa resort, Hilton Lake Taupo offers tennis, a fully-equipped gym, thermallyheated outdoor pools, plus a sauna, steam room and spa. The pools were certainly most welcoming during recent cold winter days, as I am sure they will be during the evening when the Taupo air can be fresh, even as summer approaches. Business guests can also benefit from other services, which make the Hilton Lake Taupo a sound choice for

conferences, incentive trips and similar events.There is wireless connectivity throughout the hotel and a Cellar Ballroom can cater for 120 banquet guests, making it also ideal for weddings as well as business events. Sited midway between Auckland and Wellington, with Hawkes Bay and the Bay of Plenty not too far away, the Hilton Lake Taupo delivers a most convenient Central North Island location in such a stunning setting. Indeed, after my stay, which included an indulgent breakfast, I left the hotel with thoughts of the breathtaking panaroma, the exceptional service and top class modern luxury. Whether or not you are going to watch the Golf Masters, Hilton Lake Taupo would make an excellent choice for your stay. It certainly has luxury, service and relaxation off to a tee!

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Rotorua

Off-road riding has put the real attractions of Rotorua on the map, writes Sam Thurston

The fresh coffee, the views of the lake, plus thoughts of family, will tell you you are home.I see others at the cafe drinking and chattering, local youth play the guitar. This is talent, this is a real place. The people are real, the sights are real and the experiences are real. The experiences on offer in Rotorua had been the secrets of the locals for a long time. A secret no more, now the cats out of the bag it seems almost impossible to stop the floods of people curious to find out what all the hype is about. It must be good, because they’re coming back for more. After an explosion of trails and riders alike in the forest, following the extremely successful World Mountain Bike Championships seven years ago, it’s hard to remember how this all started. But flash back 25 years though and delve in to the lives of a couple of local lads who were considered nothing than bicycle “hooligans”. They had found a passion for off road riding, creating their dream runs down the slopes of the hills that surround the Rotorua caldera. They soon focussed their efforts in to one area in particular. Now the legend of the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest are echoed all around the world. Soon, riders from all over the globe began narrowing in on Rotorua. After The Australian Mountain Bike Magazine ran an article which gave Rotorua 96

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the prestige of being named the “best mountain bike trail network in the world”, the floodgates were opened and we now welcome more than a half million riders through our world class trails every year, and it’s still growing. As I walked out of that café, my path followed the jovial youths as they made their way in to the CBD. My destination would be quite different though. I hop on my bike and take the stunning Sulphur Track that weaves its way through the geothermal sites of Ngapuna on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Ten minutes later, I’m the envy of our cousins from across the ditch as I start some of the 140kms or 70 tracks that are available through this extensive forest network. I start easy on the lower lying trails, just to warm up and gain my confidence again, but before long I’m making my way up to the top of Tokorangi Pa. This has become the ritual of many riders, taking advantage of the phenomenal views that capture the beauty of Rotorua. We ride up in our droves to “lap out” a section of trail that has been masterfully crafted by trail engineers. Those with the ability saddle up and go big, getting high in to the air and do so with elegance. The rest of us have the impersonated thrill of flying like our Red Bull heroes. The great thing about being at the top, is that now you get to go down. I’m feeling good today so I decide


to bypass the easier Tokorangi trail option, and even skip the intermediate Corridor trail. Today, I’m stepping up and truly taking up the challenge; Eastern Spice, here I come. Breaking out of the jump section I reach the intersection which sees me and my buddies breaking right. Over the first jump and straight over some roots I pick up speed in to a fun little section with a set of one, two and three jumps all in a row. Squeezing between a few trees and in to a sweeping right hander I find myself above a newly built section. The signs are warning me but testosterone has taken over and I breeze passed those. “What’s after that lip Nick?” I call out. “Donno bro”, he replies “Sweet as!” It was sweet as, in fact it was better than that, it was the best day of riding yet. But I say that every ride….. Better still, my day isn’t over, not by a long shot. We post fond farewells to the Whakarewarewa Forest and make our way 15mins out of town to Lake Rotoiti. I know what’s coming but still the rush of excitement; like Christmas morning when you were but a wee one combined with that nervous feeling when you were a teenager asking that special one out on a first date. I’ve been here before. I know the motions like the back of my hand, but still my mind still needs to be pushed to make the first move. The Kaituna River beckons me as her twist and turns make way to drops over waterfalls, I’m about to wet my pants. Lucky that’s what they are made for!

annual Oktoberfest out here. I’m actually right on both counts. The day still isn’t over though. As the afternoon sun starts to kick in and hype of the day starts to catch up on me, we wander down the road from the store for what turns out to be one of the most magical ways to end a day you could ever imagine. We arrive at the jetty and the two pretty blonde hostesses welcome us aboard. It’s quite a sight, the boat I mean. The 53ft catamaran is a monster for a lake. With room for 50 people, I almost feel a little selfish with just the five of us. I soon get over that as I am told to “lay on the deck, the bean bags are already there, I’ll bring you your gin and tonic”. Luuka is a great lass, she also looks familiar (turns out she is an Olympian who trains on the Kaituna River and calls Rotorua home). As the wind catches the sails the sound of the hull cutting through the small waves mixes with the Skippers relaxing tunes playing on the sound system. We’re told we can jump in the lake for a swim if we like, it’s just about the perfect way to prepare yourself for the hot springs apparently. It’s quite a sight, looking out at your luxury catamaran as you sit in a hot pool that you can only access by boat on the edge of the lake. Ladies and gentleman, I’ve found Nirvana in a little paradise called Rotorua.

A trip down the Kaituna isn’t just about the rafting though, there is so much more to this awe-inspiring place. The local Maori fought wars over this stretch of river, and to be offered their blessing by way of karakia just makes this an even more special journey. The sub-tropical native rain forest that frames our excursion can only best be thought of a Peter Jackson shot, the envy of film directors and producers everywhere. Silver ferns and native Rimu pine trees border the moss encrusted rock cliffs that climb 30m above me. It really is a step back in time to how New Zealand would have looked an age ago. With all this beauty, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. That is of course until you reach Tutea, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. At a proud 7m tall, you can be forgiven for not remembering anything from the trip, I’m told it happens. “Food!” Nick says. I’m keen…. Tucked in the corner, across from Lake Rotoiti and looking over the Kaituna River, Okere Falls Store is the place of locals with visitors from afar. This boutique eco-store focusses on natural and sustainable products. There is also a German flavour here too, evident from the Beer Garden out the back. A local band plays at this riverside retreat and as I sit with my bratwurst and soy chai latte I can’t help but think how lucky we are to be in this adventure mecca. A newly made local tells us his story of how he made his millions and decided that this was paradise on earth here, so bought a peninsula on the lake and decided to call this place home. I knew he looked familiar. Originally I thought it was TV, turns out we may have shared a pint during the www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Rotorua

It’s like paradise, but more fun As I sit and gander out the café window, a brew of flat white in one hand and mobile phone in the other, I see a world going by. The lingering thoughts of my family grow stronger, with that comes an overwhelming comfort which can only best be described as that felling you get when you finally reach that special place called home. I turn around and behind me I gaze longingly out another window with a picturesque view that spans across a formidable lake. In the middle, a proud island that stands tall and strong yet still seems to say, “Welcome”. I hear the chatter of the other coffee drinking folk when the faint sound of adolescent voices can be heard, broaching nearer and nearer. The home-grown youth smiling and enjoying each other’s company as one takes the lead with guitar in hand and the others sing with the most magnificent untrained voices you can imagine. That’s real talent, and this is a real place. The people are real, the sights are real and the experiences are real. The experiences on offer in Rotorua had been the secrets of the locals for a long time. A secret no more, now the cats out of the bag it seems almost impossible to stop the floods of people curious to find out what all the hype is about. It must be good, because they’re coming back for more.

98

www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

After an explosion of trails and riders alike in the forest, following the extremely successful World Mountain Bike Championships seven years ago, it’s hard to remember how this all started. But flash back 25 years though and delve in to the lives of a couple of local lads who were considered nothing than bicycle “hooligans”. They had found a passion for off road riding, creating their dream runs down the slopes of the hills that surround the Rotorua caldera. They soon focussed their efforts in to one area in particular. Now the legend of the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest are echoed all around the world. Soon, riders from all over the globe began narrowing in on Rotorua. After The Australian Mountain Bike Magazine ran an article which gave Rotorua the prestige of being named the “best mountain bike trail network in the world”, the flood gates were opened and we now welcome more than a half million riders through our world class trails every year, and it’s still growing. As I walked out of that café my path followed the jovial youths as they made their way in to the CBD. My destination would be quite different though. I hop on my bike and take the stunning Sulphur Track that weaves its way through the geothermal sites of Ngapuna on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Ten minutes later I’m the envy of our cousins from


across the ditch as I start some of the 140kms or 70 tracks that are available through this extensive forest network. I start easy on the lower lying trails, just to warm up and gain my confidence again, but before long I’m making my way up to the top of Tokorangi Pa. This has become the ritual of many riders, taking advantage of the phenomenal views that capture the beauty of Rotorua. We ride up in our droves to “lap out” a section of trail that has been masterfully crafted by trail engineers. Those with the ability saddle up and go big, getting high in to the air and do so with elegance. The rest of us have the impersonated thrill of flying like our Red Bull heroes. The great thing about being at the top, is that now you get to go down. I’m feeling good today so I decide to bypass the easier Tokorangi trail option, and even skip the intermediate Corridor trail. Today, I’m stepping up and truly taking up the challenge; Eastern Spice, here I come. Breaking out of the jump section I reach the intersection which sees me and my buddies breaking right. Over the first jump and straight over some roots I pick up speed in to a fun little section with a set of one, two and three jumps all in a row. Squeezing between a few trees and in to a sweeping right hander I find myself above a newly built section. The signs are warning me but testosterone has taken over and I breeze passed those. “What’s after that lip Nick?” I call out. “Dunno bro”, he replies “Sweet as!” It was sweet as, in fact it was better than that, it was the best day of riding yet. But I say that every ride….. Better still, my day isn’t over, not by a long shot. We post fond farewells to the Whakarewarewa Forest and make our way 15mins out of town to Lake Rotoiti. I know what’s coming but still the rush of excitement; like Christmas morning when you were but a wee one combined with that nervous feeling when you were a teenager asking that special one out on a first date. I’ve been here before. I know the motions like the back of my hand, but still my mind still needs to be pushed to make the first move. The Kaituna River beckons me as her twist and turns make way to drops over waterfalls, I’m about to wet my pants. Lucky that’s what they are made for!

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Waikato

Balloons, jetboats, glowworms, lemurs, hobbits and New Zealand’s only tea plantation. The dairying region Hamilton and the Waikato has it all, writes Natalie Dean A close friend of mine had grown up in the Hamilton & Waikato region of New Zealand, and always talked about the awesome things she did as a kid. So when it came time for our winter escape it wasn’t hard to choose where to spend our time. Having flown directly to Auckland, we jumped straight in the car and headed off to our first stop, Hamilton City. We spent the night in Hamilton, heading out for dinner at the nearby SKYCITY complex, and in the morning called in to the Hamilton Gardens. It was easy to lose track of time as we strolled through the many historically themed gardens, but we reluctantly pulled ourselves away to head to our next destination. We reached Waitomo Caves in the early afternoon and headed straight for Waitomo Adventures. We quickly decided to give black water rafting a go. Fast forward to some attractive wetsuits and large inner tubes and there we are jumping backwards into the cave stream and floating under the twinkling light of the glowworms. Definitely glad we ticked that one off the list, it was a truly great experience, and after working up an appetite we called into Huhu Café

right next door to our accommodation for some delicious local fare. The next morning we booked ourselves on the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour. It was a magical experience as we were guided through the amazing limestone cave, a highlight being ‘the cathedral’ which apparently has amazing acoustics although no-one on our tour had the courage to test them out. After making our way past all the impressive stalagmites and stalactites we hopped on to a boat and serenely floated on a subterranean stream under thousands of twinkling glowworms. After a quick bite to eat in the Waitomo village we were on our way once again, this time for a ‘slice of the real Middleearth’ near the rural township of Matamata. My partner in crime is a total Tolkien nerd – and can practically recite full sections from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and has seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey countless times. So I was a bit unsure what to expect at Hobbiton Movie Set. But rest assured it was amazing – perfect for the dedicated fan but also those who simply like to get lost in the magic of making movies. The permanent set transported us

Waikato

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into another land as we strolled past Hobbit holes, actual vegetable gardens and posed for a photo outside Bag end. To top it off, we were treated to a Southfarthing beer out of earthen ware mugs at the Green Dragon Inn where I half expected a Hobbit to be serving behind the bar. We reluctantly agreed to leave Hobbiton before the camera memory card read ‘full’. Some more adventure was on the cards as we made our way to Cambridge for a thrilling jet boat ride with CamJet. As we shot down the Waikato River in the V8 jet boat, Aaron, our driver, would give us the signal and we would hold on as the boat spun around in a 360, much to the excitement of all on board. If you are in to speed and are a bit of an adrenalin junkie this one is a must. It was an action-packed day so we were grateful when we pulled up outside our accommodation for the evening, a beautiful boutique lodge nearby called Sarnia Park. On our final day we were up at the crack of dawn. Unbeknown to me my partner had scheduled a little surprise. We arrived at Hamilton Lake just before sunrise to tick off the number one thing on my bucket list, a hot air balloon ride. As the sun began to rise we gently lifted off drifting over Hamilton City. It was just beautiful, looking out over the rolling green hills of the countryside and down to the snowy peak of Mt Ruapehu, I could have stayed up there all day. We touched down on the rural outskirts of the city, and headed off for our champagne breakfast which was the final part of the trip. With most of the day still ahead of us we drove a short distance to Hamilton Zoo and after strolling past the many native and exotic animals we joined a ‘Face2Face’ encounter. A Face2Face encounter allows you to get up close with a particular animal to learn more about them and the conversation of the species. We opted to learn more about one of my favourite monkeys – the ringtail lemurs - so while our guide provided insights in to the world of a lemur we sat in the enclosure as the lemurs climbed on our shoulders, sat on our laps, and generally just hung out with us - as long as you had food that was - the minute your food ran out they were on to the next person.

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Heading north we stopped in at Zealong Tea Estate for the Discover Tea Experience where we learnt about the art of tea making and had a tea tasting followed by a stunning high tea lunch. Being New Zealand’s only tea plantation and producing organic oolong tea we just had to make room in our suitcase for some to take home. As we made our way back to the airport I remembered one last thing my friend had recommended we do in the Hamilton & Waikato region, so we quickly stopped in Pokeno to get an ice-cream, apparently a real ‘Kiwi’ road trip tradition. We were tempted to go for the enormous 12 scoop, but opted for a far more sensible 4 scoop (albeit a large 4 scoop) – the perfect end to a great short break holiday. For more information on what to see and do in the Hamilton & Waikato region visit www. hamiltonwaikato.com www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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BOP

Lucy Brake enjoys the hazards of exploring the edge of the crater of New Zealand’s only active marine volcano

Bay of Plenty

I don’t know of anywhere else on earth you’d get to walk with such relative ease around the steaming, bubbling heart of a marine volcano. So it was with much excitement that I found myself checking in at the White Island Tours office in Whakatane, ready to discover one of the most accessible active volcanoes on this planet.

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hour’s boat ride away from civilization.

I was a touch early and a little tired after my drive from Tauranga, so thought I would try out one of their café’s acclaimed organic coffees, which was simply delicious. Once fuelled up, I headed to the wharf with my fellow travellers, who were just as eager to cast off on our adventure. We chatted about what had brought us here today – for most it was the lure of a once in a lifetime chance to step onto a live volcano.

Travelling out across the Pacific Ocean, I could see the rising and billowing steam from the volcano, a warning that it might not be peacefully awaiting my visit and the hard hats and gas masks on offer were a necessity not a luxury. On arrival, we moored just off the island and were ferried ashore on small inflatables with nervous eagerness building. As soon as I stepped onto land my senses were literally assaulted by sights and smells I had never encountered before. I could feel the sulphur dioxide from the volcano seep into my lungs and before my eyes was a feast of colour - brilliant greens and stunning yellows all spread out across a lunar landscape of rock. All the photographs I have seen simply don’t do this place justice.

I settled into PeeJay IV, a luxury launch purpose-built for White Island day tours, and under a perfect winter morning sky we set off. We all sat at the top of the boat to enjoy the fresh air and soak up the views. Here was an eclectic bunch, including backpackers from Switzerland and Germany as well as a local bringing along her young grandsons. But we all had the same goal in mind – to see where new land is literally being created right beneath our feet just over an

As a group we wandered along enjoying an informal and friendly commentary from the very professional crew. I certainly hadn’t appreciated the tumultuous and tragic history that White Island has suffered and valued the chance to get up to speed. Local Maori collected sulphur to use as manure back on the mainland and the island’s abundant bird and fish life was an important food source. Next, the Europeans mined the land and studied the volcano, which

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is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old. John and Rebecca, our knowledgeable tour guides, shared with us intriguing stories about the old factory ruins and the various human inhabitants. What struck me is the rawness here, where little plant life survives and all that surrounds me is hissing, steaming vents and towering columns of hardened yellow sulphur. “I feel like I’m walking through a Star Trek movie”, whispers the Swiss girl. I raise my eyebrows – I was just thinking the same thing. I found out later that scenes from the Narnia series had been filmed here. Just to top it off, we venture right up to the main crater’s edge and peer over hoping for a glimpse into the centre of the earth. A steaming cauldron greeted me. Stories regaled about neighbouring Donald Duck and Noisy Nellie Craters and pieces of hardened sulphur got handed round. John stuck a piece of driftwood the grandsons had been carrying around into a soft white lump and pulled out bright yellow hot liquid goo. We even got to taste the water in one of the streams – it was bizarrely sweet.

I have every confidence in the guides as they assure me that whilst there are always elements of risk in such a visit, White Island Tours has been bringing visitors here for over 21 years and have experienced the island through different levels of activity. This island has also long been a destination of choice for fishermen and divers. With rugged cliffs disappearing into deep ocean, crystal clear water, abundant fish life and underwater thermal vents it is a perfect marine haven. “Divers say it’s like swimming in champagne,” John tells me. If we had visited during the summer we could have swum and snorkelled off the back of the boat – now that would be an experience of a lifetime. However, going by boat is not the only option to get here. If I was strapped for time or prone to chronic seasickness I would probably opt for appreciating the strange, haunting beauty that is White Island arriving via one of Frontier Helicopters’ White Island Volcano Adventures. It’s a great way to get to the island quickly and see the majestic volcano in action from all sorts of perspectives.

I am a bit of an ecotourism advocate and it is great the White Island Tour place such a focus on keeping the island as natural as possible. There are no safety barriers or signage meaning access to the geothermal and volcanic activity is as close as you would ever want it to be. I was pleasantly surprised at how near we could to get to the hot steaming vents. I particularly appreciated how the guides followed watercourses so that all of our footsteps would be washed away. Nice touch.

But a boat trip offers more time to soak up our surroundings and as we left, Pete the skipper drove us around the island while everyone enjoyed a supplied lunch of sandwiches, fruit and yummy cake. Given this tour’s emphasis on the splendor of nature it is not surprising we saw New Zealand Fur Seals lounging on the rocks, or the dramatic ash-burnt pohutukawa forests clinging precariously to the island’s edge. I had hoped for dolphins, but Rebecca pointed out it was a wee bit cold for them this time of year.

John pointed out monitoring equipment discreetly located which is constantly checked by scientists. I feel like I am flirting with danger being here on this island, it’s strangely exhilarating. White Island is currently on a Level 1 alert status meaning there is constant background activity. But

Heading home, a sleepy calm descended as we reflected on our surreal adventure and enjoyed the comfort of the soft sofas inside. The grandsons crashed out. Suffice to say I was going home a little more in awe of this country’s amazing geologic history and natural environment.

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Hawkes Bay

Lucy Brake enjoys the hazards of exploring the edge of the crater of New Zealand’s only active marine volcano

Hawkes Bay

I don’t know of anywhere else on earth you’d get to walk with such relative ease around the steaming, bubbling heart of a marine volcano. So it was with much excitement that I found myself checking in at the White Island Tours office in Whakatane, ready to discover one of the most accessible active volcanoes on this planet.

108

hour’s boat ride away from civilization.

I was a touch early and a little tired after my drive from Tauranga, so thought I would try out one of their café’s acclaimed organic coffees, which was simply delicious. Once fuelled up, I headed to the wharf with my fellow travellers, who were just as eager to cast off on our adventure. We chatted about what had brought us here today – for most it was the lure of a once in a lifetime chance to step onto a live volcano.

Travelling out across the Pacific Ocean, I could see the rising and billowing steam from the volcano, a warning that it might not be peacefully awaiting my visit and the hard hats and gas masks on offer were a necessity not a luxury. On arrival, we moored just off the island and were ferried ashore on small inflatables with nervous eagerness building. As soon as I stepped onto land my senses were literally assaulted by sights and smells I had never encountered before. I could feel the sulphur dioxide from the volcano seep into my lungs and before my eyes was a feast of colour - brilliant greens and stunning yellows all spread out across a lunar landscape of rock. All the photographs I have seen simply don’t do this place justice.

I settled into PeeJay IV, a luxury launch purpose-built for White Island day tours, and under a perfect winter morning sky we set off. We all sat at the top of the boat to enjoy the fresh air and soak up the views. Here was an eclectic bunch, including backpackers from Switzerland and Germany as well as a local bringing along her young grandsons. But we all had the same goal in mind – to see where new land is literally being created right beneath our feet just over an

As a group we wandered along enjoying an informal and friendly commentary from the very professional crew. I certainly hadn’t appreciated the tumultuous and tragic history that White Island has suffered and valued the chance to get up to speed. Local Maori collected sulphur to use as manure back on the mainland and the island’s abundant bird and fish life was an important food source. Next, the Europeans mined the land and studied the volcano, which

www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com


is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old. John and Rebecca, our knowledgeable tour guides, shared with us intriguing stories about the old factory ruins and the various human inhabitants. What struck me is the rawness here, where little plant life survives and all that surrounds me is hissing, steaming vents and towering columns of hardened yellow sulphur. “I feel like I’m walking through a Star Trek movie”, whispers the Swiss girl. I raise my eyebrows – I was just thinking the same thing. I found out later that scenes from the Narnia series had been filmed here. Just to top it off, we venture right up to the main crater’s edge and peer over hoping for a glimpse into the centre of the earth. A steaming cauldron greeted me. Stories regaled about neighbouring Donald Duck and Noisy Nellie Craters and pieces of hardened sulphur got handed round. John stuck a piece of driftwood the grandsons had been carrying around into a soft white lump and pulled out bright yellow hot liquid goo. We even got to taste the water in one of the streams – it was bizarrely sweet. I am a bit of an ecotourism advocate and it is great the White Island Tour place such a focus on keeping the island as natural as possible. There are no safety barriers or signage meaning access to the geothermal and volcanic activity is as close as you would ever want it to be. I was pleasantly surprised at how near we could to get to the hot steaming vents. I particularly appreciated how the guides followed watercourses so that all of our footsteps would be washed away. Nice touch. John pointed out monitoring equipment discreetly located which is constantly checked by scientists. I feel like I am flirting with danger being here on this island, it’s strangely exhilarating. White Island is currently on a Level 1 alert status meaning there is constant background activity. But www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

109


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I have every confidence in the guides as they assure me that whilst there are always elements of risk in such a visit, White Island Tours has been bringing visitors here for over 21 years and have experienced the island through different levels of activity. This island has also long been a destination of choice for fishermen and divers. With rugged cliffs disappearing into deep ocean, crystal clear water, abundant fish life and underwater thermal vents it is a perfect marine haven. “Divers say it’s like swimming in champagne,” John tells me. If we had visited during the summer we could have swum and snorkelled off the back of the boat – now that would be an experience of a lifetime. However, going by boat is not the only option to get here. If I was strapped for time or prone to chronic seasickness I would probably opt for appreciating the strange, haunting beauty that is White Island arriving via one of Frontier Helicopters’ White Island Volcano Adventures. It’s a great

way to get to the island quickly and see the majestic volcano in action from all sorts of perspectives. But a boat trip offers more time to soak up our surroundings and as we left, Pete the skipper drove us around the island while everyone enjoyed a supplied lunch of sandwiches, fruit and yummy cake. Given this tour’s emphasis on the splendor of nature it is not surprising we saw New Zealand Fur Seals lounging on the rocks, or the dramatic ash-burnt pohutukawa forests clinging precariously to the island’s edge. I had hoped for dolphins, but Rebecca pointed out it was a wee bit cold for them this time of year. Heading home, a sleepy calm descended as we reflected on our surreal adventure and enjoyed the comfort of the soft sofas inside. The grandsons crashed out. Suffice to say I was going home a little more in awe of this country’s amazing geologic history and natural environment.

Tnz Top Pix Boutique stylish accommodation, vibrant seaside village.

(64) 6 831 0077 www.navigatenapier.co.nz

www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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Coromandel

The varied and beautiful Coromandel deserves its reputation as a nation’s favourite centre of tourism, writes Darren Greenwood It’s easy to see why the Coromandel is a favourite with Aucklanders.Just a few hours from the stresses of the throbbing metropolis of New Zealand’s biggest city comes peace and relaxation amid some of the country’s prettiest countryside with golden sandy beaches.

The rooms are in a chalet style, as big as my flat in Auckland. Modern but in the process of being upgraded in time for the Spring. That night I slept soundly in a king-sized bed, noting a distinct lack of noise compared to the city, except for the odd native bird.

One winter holiday weekend I had the pleasure to sample what the Coromandel had to offer, discovering some new favourites, from what I had always enjoyed before. Alas being delayed at work meant it was dark as I approached Kopu, which officially marks the start of the Coromandel. But let me tell you, once you pass the new bridge, which replaced a notorious bottleneck, you will enjoy dramatic mountains and sweeping vistas as you head over the hills towards Hikuai.

Breakfast was substantial buffet but a la carte options are offered too, which we took on the large deck outside, enjoying weak winter sun overlooking a wooded hillside and Pauanui resort with its canals and luxury waterside villas. Soon after, we checked out and passed fertile farmland, forest and bush, plus scenic seaside townships like Tairua, noted for its estuary and the mysterious-looking Paku Mountain.

Arriving at Grand Mercure Puka Park, it had just turned 10pm, meaning the Miha Restaurant had closed, but the friendly, international staff, soon whipped up some of my favourite dark beer, with tasty sandwiches and a delicious custard tart.This was delivered with the beer in a bucket of ice, hitting the spot perfectly as it was wolfed down by me and a couple of friends. The hotel can offer something for late arrivals and it plans to offer “Chef ready meals” too.

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The twisted State Highway also offers some stunning views over the Pacific Ocean, with its little islands out at sea.

Steamy fun in Whitianga

Approaching Whitianga, you see a bustling resort that has grown much in recent years, with fresh attractions including its famous new The Lost Spring. This is an unexpected find in a quiet suburban street, where millions of dollars have been lavished to create a sensory


experience of spa and thermal hot pools. A former school house houses the cafe, restaurant and rooms where fine massages left you totally relaxed. If you’re still stressed out, and you shouldn’t be, enjoy the warm waters outside, which are a particular pleasure on cold, sunny days, as it was, especially when helpful, friendly staff will bring you beer or cocktails. I enjoyed a luxuriously creamy pina colada. After several hours of relaxing bliss, it was off towards Cooks Beach, to stay at Mussel Bed B&B, a Tuscan style property with an adjoining block of guestrooms. Sited in a delightful garden, which landlady Chris Hopkins is happy to show you around, the property also offers a convenient stream to the beach for budding canoeists. Mussel Bed B&B is also close to two popular cafes, and it was at the famous Eggcentric Cafe for dinner. The name suits its creator Dave Rowell, one of those characters you often find in the Coromandel peninsula. Dave supplies free range eggs and arranges events at his cafe once or twice a month over the winter, with extra performances from him on his guitar. That night was a Cook Island feast, with authentic Cook Islanders from South Auckland, the Polynesian capital of the South Pacific. New friends were created at this enjoyable and entertaining night, earning us a ride back with the guests in our adjoining room at Mussel Bed. After a sumptuous garden breakfast, joined by some friendly little native Wax-eye birds in an adjoining bush, we farewelled our lovely host, whose husband Paul has just launched Cathedral Cove Water Taxis and son Justin operates Ocean Leopard Tours boat trips. The hearty breakfast needed a walk, so after a couple of strolls along some of the main beaches nearby, it was off to Lonely Bay, where Chris said we would find sea shells, which we did. The beach was lovely and lonely, at least until a noisy family arrived. Next came nearby Mercury Bay Estate, where over the past seven years, the vinyard has grown and offers a range of locally-made wines, with pinot noir its speciality. The friendly staff will serve tastings, and some of the most substantial platters I have ever come across. Naturally, I took a bottle of the fine wine home, paying more than I do normally, but I later found it worth every cent. I particularly enjoyed the superb view over the vines, towards the sea. Just the spot when summer comes and the vineyard stages live music. After such sumptuous fare, it was back to Whitianga, stopping off for coffee at the Colenso Country Shop and cafe. Owners Ruth and Andy Pettitt have created a fine attraction, situated in citrus groves. Theres plenty of outside seats, some friendly donkeys to pat and the Atomic coffee is the best. The food looked good too, with customers leaving empty plates, making it a shame I wasn’t hungry. After returning to Whitianga, it was onwards towards the white sands of Kauotunu and a quick drive towards Opito Bay and down the dirt track Blackjack Road. www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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A new star attraction

, but Alastair and It was starting to get dark as well as cold to compensate ome Harriette Brickell gave us a warm welc at their Stargazers B&B. teur astronomer Alastair is a former geologist and ama , with his large living who is now turning his hobby into a nce, helped dista telescope able to spot the stars in the y from any awa by being situated in a dark valley well could be Way Milky streetlights. You would never know the billions ally actu ds, so creamy, with what appears to be clou d us joine iette Harr of stars so far, far away. Alastair and has s year few a just for dinner at Luke’s Kitchen, which in ls loca and rs visito become a popular attraction with both a has en Kitch ’s alike. Created by chef Lukas Reilly, Luke s pizza est tasti the of fine range of fusion food and some The . oven pizza l I have ever had, made in a traditiona the chowder. portions are large too, especially if you have ort each other, Ruth told us how the locals try to supp hasising the emp buying their products when they can, eat. locally-made fare wherever you stay and lighted as when Such community-mindedness was high ity fire alarm mun my pizza was about to arrive, the com . “We’ve help to off sounded and crowds of villagers ran came she as ress wait just lost half our staff,” commented a d the joine r earlie had to our table. Fortunately, Alastair, who for a r’s gaze Star to rush, returned and then it was back ds clou the thing look at Saturn and its rings. It was a good had cleared. with locally-made After yet another sumptuous breakfast meet Avon and to rf produce, it was off to Whitianga Wha been a boatie has Rennee of Windborne Charters. Avon d schooner, rigge for 35 years and operates a 62ft gaff rm sailing er-te long either for day trips around the harbour, hire too. ter char for adventures, and the vessel is available drifted we as d boar It was cold and calm when I was on and tell to yarn a has around Mercury Bay, but Avon always to craft the in g sailin I enjoyed hearing of his adventures was it ry, bake a in pie various tropical islands. Then, after a sun came out back in the car for the journey home. The I mentioned ps hillto and I enjoyed that scenic drive over the if you have even and , earlier. It had been a busy weekend is always there , have I been to the Coromandel before, like y. something new to discover and enjo rs than before, The Coromandel may be enjoying more visito at faster as ewh som n but its resident population has grow settle here seas over more and more Kiwis and others from s, new ction attra new to enjoy its fabled lifestyle.It all means work else h muc not ’s tourism-related businesses, as there wise for these residents to do.

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ing choice of For the visitor, the tourist, it means a grow stay. to things to do, extra choices of places ent, operators are In this increasingly competitive environm dards of food, stan er having to strive ever harder, with high ng. prici a better visitor experience and keen ay weekend, it But I met so many good people that holid friendliness, their but might not just be for business survival, extra mile the go ld their genuine warmth, means they wou anyway!

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Tnz Top Pix Visit Cathedral Cove, Sea Coves and marine Reserve

0800 88 86 88 www.cathedralcovesceniccruises.co.nz

Tnz Top Pix Cathedral Cove Scenic Adventure Boat Tours.

+64 7 8663910 www.haheiexplorer.co.nz


Eastland

Christine Shanahan heads out east where the musical and viticultural delights of Gisborne have become a Labour (Weekend) of Love

Eastland

The start of summer last year was marked for me by a memorable mini break to sunny Gisborne on the East Coast of the North Island for Labour Weekend where I enjoyed a FEAST of activities. Gisborne is in my opinion, the ultimate destination for a long weekend, being just an hour away from Auckland and Wellington by air. On this particular trip to Gizzy, as it’s fondly referred to, I hired a car, I had a full itinerary planned around FEAST Gisborne, the annual wine and food festival held on the Sunday of Labour Weekend. If you have never experienced FEAST Gisborne it’s at the same venue as the epic music festival Rhythm & Vines, at Waiohika Estate. It’s a stunning outdoor amphitheatre venue, the perfect setting to enjoy wine in the sunshine while looking out over the picturesque vineyards and bay towards iconic Young Nicks Head. After I checked into my spacious suite at The Emerald Hotel I had an hour to kill before I met with the infamous Mayor Meng Foon who speaks English, Mandarin and Maori. So I wandered the main street for a slice of shopping. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of shops nestled

between green palms, complete with an iconic pink Town Clock, with the bonus of no hassle to find a park! I met with an old friend at the Works Café who told me I should walk across the old railway bridge that connects the waterfront bar area to the main shopping precinct. According to the locals you haven’t experienced Gizzy until you walk across the railway bridge, and usually that happens at night! I love the simplicity of life Out East, where family and food are paramount to good times. Little has changed about the culture of Gisborne since my first trip there when I was eight years old to visit relatives, so I’m guessing it may look and feel the same in fifty years! Teamed with the natural beauty, there are always long sundrenched days and pristine beaches to be shared, and for those in the know, it offers much more! After a delicious lunch I headed to the Gisborne i-SITE to hire a wetsuit and boogie board. It wasn’t exactly summer yet but still warm enough to experience Rere Rockslide. It’s about twenty minutes inland from Gisborne. During the www.travelnewzealandmagazine.com

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relaxing drive through rows of grapevines and agriculture I felt a sense of leaving the big city stresses behind. Rere Rockslide is a gem. Once in my wetsuit I watched a few locals take their boogie board and go flying down the naturally formed rockslide to a pool of crystal clear fresh water. I took my turn, shivered with the fresh water on my toes, I lined up my board on my nerve turning stomach, and encouraged by the locals, took the plunge! It was an exhilarating experience and I loved it so much that I had to do it time and again. Although never getting brave enough to attempt standing up on my board which the locals managed to make it so easy to do. Friends mentioned the close by Eastwoodhill Arboretum, which is picturesque in springtime, where you can do safari style tours on open backed jeeps. But I had run out of time, next visit! Back at my hotel as the sun started to disappear I decided to walk up Kaiti Hill to view Young Nick’s Head. It takes about 20 minutes to walk the hill, and overlooks the brilliant turquoise ocean. Kaiti Hill’s significance is partly due to Captain James Cook in 1769, and his ship Endeavour. Gisborne was Cook’s first landing place when he arrived in New Zealand and the ribbed rock cliff is named so after the first of his crew who sighted our land, Young Nick. That night old friends gathered at The Wharf. I selected the fish which was fresh that day. Combined with a Gisborne Chardonnay and a light garden salad I was in food heaven. Next day was a very early rise to experience a stingray feed with Dive Tatapouri. What a cool experience to feed and touch the slippery stingray while the water glistened, and all before breakfast. Over a cup of tea I was told the more adventurous can try the shark cage diving! On the way back I stopped for an early morning swim at the epic Wainui surf beach, and enjoyed an ice cream from the iconic Wainui Store.

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Later I headed for the Gisborne Wine Centre for advice from the friendly team there, they know the Gisborne wine region well. While enjoying a good coffee they told me the long history of wine growing in Gisborne and the variety of wine tours on offer. Little did I know that after the FEAST Festival I would return to the Wine Centre for more good times Out East. They encouraged me to head to the local Gisborne Farmers Market, at the Army Hall it’s a weekly happening, and on this occasion I purchased 3 local cheeses for $5 and an oversized bag of Gisborne oranges for $7. A few hours later I headed to FEAST at Waiohika to taste the many Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer that is famed throughout the region. I was pleasantly surprised at the delicious food as well, especially the crayfish! The event was well run - like an oversized party with so many old friends to catch-up with, and the music was great! We rocked out to Dragon’s set that included April Sun in Cuba and were safely ferried into town on buses after the event. I’ve heard the 2013 line up will include The Exponents so I plan to return, and will get my tickets before they sell out. My personal favourite wines were Millton’s biodynamic sparkling wine Muskets at Dawn, where the attention to detail can be tasted in the delicious wine. A cheeky Rose from TW, the Hihi Gewurztraminer, and 2010 Kirky (Ian Kirkpatrick) Signature Series Reserve Malbec. I’m told the 2013 vintage will be the best in 20 years. In the departure lounge at the airport I reflected on what makes Gizzy special and concluded it’s like a good book where each chapter is set in the background of stunning beaches; with down to earth people, good food, hearty conversation and great wine. It’s a book that I never want to finish! Every year at Labour Weekend people flock to Gisborne for a fun sun drenched wine fuelled weekend, and I plan to return in 2013 to start my next chapter

Tnz Top Pix Wild Stingray Feeding and Shark Cage Diving

+64 6 868 5153 www.divetatapouri.com

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Auckland

Tom Thomson visits the Rendezvous Grand Hotel in the heart of cosmopolitan Auckland and discovers a recent refurbishment has re-established this iconic hotel through a stylish new design and fresh brand identity

Whether you are travelling for business or leisure, you will appreciate being centrally located with some of the city’s finest dining, shopping and entertainment venues right at your doorstep. The hotel is linked via an underground tunnel to the Auckland Convention Centre at THE EDGE, which comprises four of Auckland’s landmark venues: Aotea Centre, The Civic, Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square, offering the perfect solution for those visitors in town to see a show. All of the 452 stylish rooms and suites at Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland combine smart design, chic decor and modern amenities to ensure you have a comfortable stay. The recent refurbishment has seen all guest rooms and suites, the lobby area and restaurants undergo a complete transformation, and has reinforced and extended the hotel’s commitment to guests providing the best facilities coupled with impeccable service. Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland’s current #10 ranking on Tripadvisor bears testament to this! Rendezvous Grand Hotel’s Value Promise ensures you receive superior value when staying at the hotel, and includes complimentary wireless internet, low cost mini bar pricing and no credit card surcharges to name just a few. 118

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Experience the best in dining with three on site restaurants and bars located within the Rendezvous Grand Hotel, including Straits Cafe; perfect for both quick bites and leisurely meals, The Atrium Lounge; great for catching up over a coffee or for light meals, and the signature Katsura Japanese restaurant. Indulge in a variety of authentic Japanese Cuisine including fresh sushi and sashimi as well as teppanyaki cooking by talented Japanese chefs. Take advantage of quality facilities on offer during your stay, which include Club Rooms and facilities, a 24 hour business centre, gymnasium and indoor swimming pool, individual male and female saunas and Japanese rooftop garden. 15 modern and versatile function rooms offer a sophisticated setting equipped with the latest technology. From intimate, private functions for four people, to gala dinners for 800 or cocktail events for 1000, Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland offers attention to detail, superb catering and impeccable service that will ensure every aspect of your event is a success. Visit www.rendezvoushotels.com/auckland for packages, bookings and more information, or call 09 366 3000 to book now.


Tnz Top Pix Closest caves to Auckland, cafe, accommodation.

+64 9 2333199 www.cathedralcovesceniccruises.co.nz

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Auckland

Tom Thomson visits the “Seabird Coast” to enjoy its migratory spectacular and other pleasures

If anything highlights the resilience of our feathered friends, it must be the godwit. These little birds are known for extremely long migratory voyages, from New Zealand and all the way to Alaska and back, even stopping off at China, along the way. The Firth of Thames is famous for its all-year birdlife, but the spring and autumn migration times are a noted spectacle. Barely an hour from Auckland takes you to this special, but off-the-beaten-track part of New Zealand. You can pass pretty villages such as Clevedon as you head along the coast road, which takes you past some scenic beaches and a couple of regional parks, with their splendid views across the firth towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The Hunua Ranges and fertile farmland also makes for a lovely backdrop as you reach beaches known for their 120

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white banks of shells. The first main township is Kaiaua, noted for its fish and chip shop, often winning awards for being the best in New Zealand. There’s a pub next door, but the snapper, terakahi and chips comes highly recommended, especially washed down with the wine the chippie also sells. Further down the road, you will become more aware of the shell-lined beaches that have built up over 4,500 years. There is parking alongside, very popular with camper vans, who have parked up to enjoy the sight before them. Soon, at the Miranda Shorebird Centre, you will learn about the birdlife they have come to see. The Firth of Thames, with its 8,500 hectares of wide intertidal flats, attracts thousands of migratory birds, along with twitchers from all over the globe. Some, like the godwits, have flown 10,000km from Alaska,


while others have taken a shorter flight from the South Island. In October, it’s a changing of the guard as the arctic migrants like the eastern bar-tailed godwit , the turnstone and the red necked stint arrive and the South Island birds like the wrybill, the South Island pied oystercatcher and the kokuku, which have over-wintered in the firth, will fly back to their southern breeding grounds. A welcoming ceremony, organised by the Miranda Naturalists Trust, is held in mid-October. In March, another ceremony marks the autumn change-over as the godwits, the turnstones, the stints and others head off and the birds from the south move in. The tidal flats and the mangroves between Miranda and Thames support up to 40,000 birds. Sixty different species have been recorded, 24 of them wading birds. The godwits are the most common arctic wader to arrive, making only one Asian stop-over as they migrate to and from Alaska, a journey for which they double their bodyweight. In March 2007, one of the godwits was tagged and recorded as flying from the Firth of Thames, to Alaska, via the Yellow Sea of China and then back to New Zealand. Known as E7, from the tag on her leg, she returned to New Zealand six months later in one non-stop flight of 11,680km

in just over eight days- a record for a non-seabird. The tiny red-necked stints are the smallest of the visitors, weighing just 30-grammes, as light as a sparrow. They are also joined by arctic terns, the champions of the arctic migration, who fly some million kilometres during their 30year lifespans. Such are the tales you will be told at the centre, which also offers escorted tours down the mudflats so you can enjoy the best views. The best time to view the birds is two hours either side of high tide. The centre has reasonably-priced accommodation too, but for me it was a refreshing soak at the nearby Miranda Hot Springs, which has a campsite next door, if you want to stay over. The pools have been around a while, but they are large and relaxing, with the water kept at a pleasant 37c, and a bubbling adult-only spa pool offers a warming 42c. The $13 entry fee for adults is much cheaper than other hot pools complexes and Miranda is not as busy either. Just the perfect place for a basic soak and de-stress. While there are options to stay the night on the coast, including a few B&Bs, it was back to Auckland, with State Highways 1 and 2 providing easy access. And if you think that’s a long journey for one day, just think of the distances covered by those poor little godwits!

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Northland

Cheryl Jensen selects several of the best walks in Northland

Northland

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Discover the exciting history of the Mighty Kauri, it’s fascinating gum and pioneering past. Northland’s largest undercover attraction. At Matakohe, just off SH 12 on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. Approximately 2 hours drive north from Auckland

The Kauri Museum, 5 Church Rd, R.D.1., Matakohe, Northland 0593 Ph: 09 431 7417 www.kaurimuseum.com

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Guided Tours & Cultural Performances ga l l e r y, c a fe s & g i f t s h o p The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is New Zealand’s most historic site where in 1840 the country’s founding document was signed. The grounds feature the Treaty House, carved Meeting House, the flagpole signifying the spot where the Treaty was signed, the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe and panoramic views across the Bay of Islands. Learn more about New Zealand’s history on your Guided Tour; enjoy an authentic Cultural Performance in the carved Meeting House or join an intimate Hangi & Concert evening. For a hand’s on experience participate in our afternoon workshop covering flax weaving, wood carving and kapa haka.

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Restaurant • Cocktail Lounge • Private Dining

(09) 361 5858 bookings@brownstone.net.nz 108 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland www.brownstone.net.nz

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Where can I experience the very best family escape? No need to travel too far to discover the perfect winter escape. Explore the ski slopes, embrace the comfort of a roaring fire or indulge in the warming winter menu. There are many reasons to enjoy the cooler weather at Peppers, and for a limited time children dine FREE in our Rakinui Restaurant.

PEPPERS BLUEWATER RESORT, LAKE TEKAPO Stay 2 nights from $698* in a 1 Bedroom Apartment. That’s $349* per night. Includes: • 2 ‘Roundhill’ adult lift passes • Full buffet breakfast served daily in our Rakinui restaurant • Children under 12 dine FREE from our children’s menu Experience Peppers. Call 0800 275 373 or visit peppers.co.nz *Conditions apply, subject to availability. Block-out dates and minimum 2 night stays apply. Valid for new bookings only. Children must be under 12 years and dine from children’s menu ONLY, when dining with parent or guardian. Not valid for conference or group business. Valid for sale and travel from the 06/07/2013 – 30/09/2013

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Travel New Zealand Spring 2013