This country is one of my top three favorite destinations. It reminds me of home, Scotland, with Switzerland, Norway and Austria all rolled into one special place with spectacular Alpine scenery. The South Island is special to me, everyone should visit it, and a must see is the city of Dunedin. It means Edinburgh in Gaelic, which is very appropriate since it was settled by Scottish emigrants in the early l800’s. I always hear bagpipes when I visit and they are proud of their Scottish heritage.
I can’t recommend New Zealand highly enough. I was proud to be named New Zealand Travel Agent of the Year a few years ago. My itineraries were judged the best out of 100,000 entries. Great skiing, fantastic golf courses, and definitely a wonderful place for trout fishing. Fantastic rivers to choose from, all jumping with fish. It’s wineries are outstanding, and there are lots of luxury lodges in remote places to relax in. I could play golf 365 days a year and not get bored. I use my camera as much as my clubs and most of the courses are reasonably priced. This is where you renew your passion for life.
I could live in this country, it has everything I need.
The Trans-Alpine train journey is one of the top five in the world. Its goes from Christchurch to Greymouth, across the centre of the South Island, and I always put clients at the Wilderness Lodge in Arthur’s Pass for a couple of days.
New Zealand is an easy country to drive around with two lane roads, little traffic, and a wonderful maritime climate. No one lives more than 75 miles from the ocean with a population of 3.5 million people, with only 500,000 living in the South Island.
The Kiwis as the New Zealanders are called, are passionate about Rugby. It is a national obsession. After watching the All Blacks play at Eden Park, I could see they are like machines, a hard game played by brave people. I had tears in my eyes when they did the Haka, a Maori war dance, before they start the game.
Best place in the world for hiking with many guided treks, flowers, wildlife, and above all, spectacular scenery and friendly people. The Maori culture is felt on both islands, with long names you can't pronounce. In fact, the Maori name for New Zealand is Land of the Long White Cloud. The air is the purest in the world. When I hike in the Alps I always say to myself – this is where the Angels live.
I remember the first time I went to church in Dunedin. This was the only pew I ever sat in which had a place at the end to stand your brolly (umbrella), which made me chuckle. It’s a city like no other. It has the steepest street in the world, the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere, best wildlife viewing, and has a energetic fun atmosphere.
The city is framed by a magnificent harbor, sits on the doorstep of the Otago Peninsula and has a laid back population. It is described as the finest example of eco-tourism in the world. You can see seals, rare penguins, albatross, sea lions and much more all in their natural environment.
I once spent a week there, looking at 27 different properties, only put three on my preferred list, and every time I go, I manage to find something new to report on in my articles for the three travel magazines and two newspapers I write a column for.
The most photographed place in town is the railway station. Also worth a visit is Olverston House, a wonderful home full of antiques which was left to the city. The highlights are the University of Otago, Larnach Castle, Otago Settlers Museum, the Botanical and Chinese gardens, The Taieri George Railway, and Cadbury’s chocolate factory. Speight’s Brewery is also a popular tour. I also like the Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens which is a few miles out of town.
A great trip is the Monarch Wildlife Cruise, which is an hour’s trip out of the harbor to see up to 20 species of bird and marine life. I can sit for hours in a blind at the Royal Albatross Centre watching the birds on their nests.
Great restaurants, shopping, and quality goods. Definitely put a few nights stay in Dunedin on your New Zealand itinerary.
Maureen Jones is president of All Horizons Travel at 160 Main Street. Members of her staff are experts in business travel, cruises, and all types of leisure.