Posted by Ruth Atherley on May 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm
This is always the most difficult blog post to write. Saying goodbye to New Zealand, the country we love and the amazing friends we have made along our journeys. (Click here to see some of the fun images from our amazing adventure.)
New Zealand is one of those special places that gives visitors just what they need – amazing activities, outdoor adventures, arts and culture, fun, nightlife, music and community, coffee (oh, the coffee!), wine and food, beautiful vistas, incredible wildlife… I could go on and on.
Such beautiful scenery, such amazing wines, such excellent food, such wonderful people… and it is the people who make New Zealand magical. There is an authenticity that seems to be in the DNA of Kiwis – they are cheeky and charming, open and friendly, and caring and genuine. And that is what we miss the most when we leave.
So long, New Zealand and all our friends. Until we meet again…
Posted by Ruth Atherley on May 7, 2013 at 10:49 am
Hawke’s Bay, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is one of my all-time favourite places. It is made up of several areas, each with their own diverse and interesting traits.
Hawke’s Bay spans from Mahia in the north through to Porangahau in the south, covering 1.42 million hectares and 350km of Pacific Ocean coastline. The main areas of Hawke’s Bay are Northern Hawke’s Bay – encompassing Wairoa, Mahia and Lake Waikaremoana – Central Hawke’s Bay, Hastings, Havelock North, Ahuriri and Napier. Each of these areas is unique and offers its own charm and activities.
Wairoa is the main town of Northern Hawke’s Bay and is the gateway to Lake Waikaremoana, Mahia Peninsula and the wilderness of Te Urewera National Park. Wairoa in Maori means “Long Water” and is located on the banks of the expansive Wairoa River, which provides an excellent and sheltered venue for water-skiing, jet boating and rowing. The town offers a pleasant, relaxed lifestyle – perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors.
Part of Northern Hawke’s Bay, the Mahia Peninsula is surrounded by the deep blue and crystal clear Pacific Ocean, which breaks onto a mix of black and white sandy and rocky beaches. It’s the perfect place to take a break from real life and just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the sea and sky.Encompassing the settlements of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Porangahau, Takapau, Otane, Ongaonga, Pukehou and Tikokino, Central Hawke’s Bay’s natural beauty stretches from the mountain slopes of the Ruahine Ranges to the vast sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean.
Hastings District includes the city of Hastings and covers the area from Cape Kidnappers (with the world’s largest, most accessible Gannet nesting place – check out Gannet Safaris), across the Tuki Tuki Valley and Te Mata Peak, to the Heretaunga Plains. It really is the “food bowl” of Hawke’s Bay and boasts numerous wineries and foodie options. And when they say foodie options, they mean it. Such fabulous wineries, cafés and restaurants are here. It is spectacular.
Havelock North offers boutique shopping, a thriving café culture, and accommodation options ranging from cottages, B&Bs and motels, to secluded luxury lodges.
Ahuriri is just a five-minute drive from downtown Napier. This bustling seaside village offers everything from a sandy beach and expansive boardwalk to waterfront cafés and restaurants, galleries, antique treasure houses, boutique stores and thriving businesses.
Napier, located by the sea, is often referred to as New Zealand’s Art Deco Capital. Rebuilt in the 1930′s to reflect the era, Napier is a must-visit city, dedicated to celebrating its past with amazing events and activities showcasing its rich heritage. (Click here to read more about the fabulous city of Napier.)
I wish someone could just get me to Hawke’s Bay right now!
Please click here for additional images.
Posted by Ruth Atherley on May 7, 2013 at 10:31 am
We love Rotorua. There is so much to do here. Whether you are seeking to experience Maori culture, geothermal earth forces, spa rejuvenation, thrills and adventure, or any of the other natural assets such as lakes, some of the world’s best mountain biking trails, fantastic fishing and a myriad of forest walking tracks – Rotorua offers it all.
The catchcry for this great place is: “Rotorua – feel the spirit – Manaakitanga.” And it holds a pretty powerful promise, as well as an invitation to experience this extraordinary slice of New Zealand. A deep-rooted Maori cultural concept, Manaakitanga places a responsibility on the people of Rotorua (your hosts) to give you the best of themselves, their time and their history.
The Rotorua district has a multicultural population of approximately 70,000 people – some 35% are Maori. Rotorua city is located on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua, while the district includes a number of rural and lakeside communities.
An international tourism icon, Rotorua is renowned as the heartland of Maori culture.
There are 16 lakes in the vicinity of Rotorua, many of which are fishable and packed with rainbow and brown trout. The lakes, all formed from the craters of extinct volcanoes, are a popular attraction for many water-based activities. From the moment visitors enter Rotorua, they know they’re somewhere quite different. Whether it’s the sneaky threads of steam finding unlikely escape routes in parks, pathways and streets, or the distinct scent of sulphur wafting through geothermal hot spots, Rotorua offers an impressive welcome.
Visitors to Rotorua have been stunned by the geothermal wonderland for almost 200 years, with the pink and white terraces being called the eighth wonder of the world, before they were destroyed in the late 19th century.
The volcanic crater lakes, spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, hissing fumaroles and colourful sinter terraces have amazed tourists and captivated photographers from all corners of the globe. As well as being home to these amazing, world-famous geothermal wonders, Rotorua has become known internationally as the birthplace of many world firsts, leading the way in outdoor pursuits and earning the title of New Zealand’s Adventure Capital.
Home to the world’s highest commercially-rafted waterfall, thrill-seekers in Rotorua are never disappointed. Bungy jumping, luging, or rolling down hill tracks in a large, inflatable globe are all on the menu to whet your appetite for excitement. The Shweeb is a pedal-powered pod attached to a monorail that soars over undulating terrain. If you want to soar even higher, try out the floatplane or helicopter rides – or even skydiving.
The amazing landscape makes Rotorua a haven for mountain bikers, hikers, and leisure walkers, with tracks for all skill levels through amazing forest and lakeside environments. Heading out onto one of the lakes is easy, with many operators running tours, including trout-fishing expeditions when it’s in season.
I have seen or done most of the activities listed here (I’ve been to Rotorua three times, after all) – and they are all excellent. Rotorua is a great place to visit in New Zealand.
Please click here for additional images.
Posted by Ruth Atherley on May 7, 2013 at 10:10 am
Just about everyone knows the Hilton brand and in New Zealand, they definitely live their brand. There are four stunning hotels to choose from here – both four and five-star luxury options for the discerning traveller. From lakeside in scenic Queenstown to the vibrant harbourfront in downtown Auckland, Hilton Hotels in New Zealand offer international visitors the ultimate New Zealand experience.
Hilton Auckland is positioned 300 metres out to sea on Prince’s Wharf. It offers 165 contemporary rooms and suites, all featuring large balconies. Hilton Lake Taupo, with its magnificent views over New Zealand’s largest lake, is the central New Zealand region’s only five-star international hotel and offers 113 luxurious guest rooms, suites and apartments.
In the South Island’s popular destination of Queenstown, Hilton has a choice of two resort hotels located within the trendy Kawarau Village – the lakefront five-star Hilton Queenstown, as well as the more economical four-star Kawarau Hotel, managed by Hilton, both opened in 2011.
At TRENZ this year, the Hilton team was showcasing outstanding dining – with celebrity chef inspired menus. Hilton’s three signature restaurants – Fish Restaurant at Hilton Auckland, Bistro Lago at Hilton Lake Taupo, and Whakatipu Grill at Hilton Queenstown, all offer celebrity chef inspired menus prepared exclusively for Hilton by New Zealand Master Chef, Simon Gault, and Kermadec’s Peter Thornley.
They have also just opened the Hilton Queenstown’s newly-elegant and spacious one and two-bedroom Lakeside Residences, offering panoramic lake views across Queenstown, together with stylish kitchens, laundry facilities, dining-room tables and gas fireplaces.
Please click here to see additional images.
Posted by Ruth Atherley on May 7, 2013 at 8:39 am
Lake Wanaka is the gateway to one of only three World Heritage Areas in New Zealand – Te Wahipounamu, Mount Aspiring National Park – the backdrop to Lake Wanaka and an easily accessible outdoor playground. It is a beautiful area with incredibly friendly locals. In fact, it is a holiday spot for locals, but is relatively unexplored by international visitors to New Zealand.
Lake Wanaka’s scenery is one of nature’s masterpieces; yet the memories are all about the welcome, the enthusiasm and the warmth of the people.
Rather than let us tell you how great this region is – the team at Lake Wanaka provided us with several videos that showcase its beauty and the charm (and Kiwi quirkiness) of the locals.
Check out the videos, in which a number of local personalities share their stories about what makes Lake Wanaka a special place – why people visit, keep coming back, and stay. Getting beneath the surface to discover the heart of Lake Wanaka.
Please click here to see additional images.