This week’s guest post costs from Victor over at Travelzzle. I spent ten fantastic days in New Zealand myself back in 2010 and fell head over heels in love with the land of the long white cloud. My own adventures included climbing Franz Josef Glacier, blackwater rafting at Waitomo, riding the zorb in Rotorua, and being stunned by the beauty of Milford Sound.
Victor’s put together a collection of his favourite memories from the shaky isles and I’m pleased to see a different collection from my own. Looks like a repeat trip is in order…
My New Zealand Adventure
I was looking for a great vacation destination recently. I love to travel, as do many of my friends. I love to go hiking, exploring, wining and dining. I’m also a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings movies. Where could I go to indulge in all these things? The answer was clear: New Zealand! Looking around on Groupon, I was able to find a number of great travel coupons that helped make my dream trip to New Zealand a reality!
You know the saying about good things coming in small packages? In the case of New Zealand, the fun-sized island nation, it certainly proves the old adage correct. Seriously, New Zealand truly satisfies the desire for anyone wanting a lush, interesting and ultimately diversely beautiful vacation destination. In fact, there are so many interesting places to see and things to do, it can seem a little overwhelming. Here are are of the places I’d say are must-see destination when you vacation in New Zealand.
If you like wine, then you owe it to yourself to visit the Cable Bay winery on Waiheke Island. Cable Bay is a breathtaking restaurant and local winery that was built on Waiheke Island over 20 years ago, in the Greater Auckland region. You’ll have two choices of transportation to take to get to the sub-tropical wine paradise. You can board a ferry across the Auckland Harbour for a 40 minute sightseeing tour. If you want to be more direct, you can hop on a helicopter and be there in 8 minutes. Personally, I decided to take the ferry and was rewarded with a peaceful journey amongst gentle waves.
No matter how you choose to get to Cable Bay, you’ll be delighted by the entire wine-growing area. The entire bay area practically buzzes with its enthusiasm for quality wine. The passion for exellence extends to the local food and the laid-back but passionate culture. You’ll find a refreshing microclimate, taste the salty ocean breeze in the air, meet lots of friendly people, and of course, you’ll be able to sample fantastic wine. I particularly enjoyed the Cable Bay Riesling 2008, which had notes of berry, a fragrant bouquet, and a crisp finish.
I mentioned that I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan, right? And since New Zealand is where they Lord of The Rings movie was filmed that meant I could get an up close and personal with many of the locations seen in the films. Now, I could have gone and wandered around by myself, but I didn’t want to get lost. I couldn’t get Gandalf to guide me, so I went and got the next best thing – the guides at Southern Lakes Sightseeing. I opted to go with the “Trails of Middle Earth” tour, and it was an all-day blast.
First off, I got a free collectible souvenir just for booking a spot on the tour, and everyone on the tour also got to look at, handle and pose with about $15,000 worth of props from the movies– swords, shields, armor, staffs. The tour took us through some truly breathtaking scenery. I’d say the most stunning location was the trek along the Kawarau river, which offered a wonderful view of the Remarkables mountain range. The guides also obviously had a passion for both the Lord of the Rings movies and books and were more than happy to discuss as many details as as I cared to ask about. I’d recommend that you make sure to book a spot as early as possible. Tours fill up fast because they keep the groups small for a more personalized experience.
While I sadly wasn’t able to find the golden One Ring, I did get to have another great adventure– I went panning for gold! There are lots of places all over the Queenstown environs where would-be prospectors can try thier luck at panning for gold. I had a fun time panning for gold along the Arrow River (which was the river that was richest with gold during the New Zealand Gold Rush). A great place to do some prospecting and panning while you explore the an educational site would be the Goldfields Mining Centre.
It’s pretty easy to get to– just follow SH 6 going in the direction of Queenstown to Cromwell. It’s about an hour’s drive from Queenstown, and will be visible from the right hand. You get to the mining centre by crossing over a footbridge spanning the Kawarau River. When you pass by the Roaring Meg Power Station on your right, you’ll be a mere 5 minutes away from the parking garage where the river footbridge starts. While my success is not a guarantee of your sucess, I did end up taking home some gold dust and a small nugget!
What are your favourite spots in New Zealand? Got any recommendations you’d like to share?
Ever done a Lord of the Rings tour? I know Amanda from A Dangerous Business has! Check out her Lord of the Rings adventures.