NEW ZEALAND – More Than a Walk Through Middle Earth
It’s very likely that Mother Nature used New Zealand as a test model before going on to the rest of the world, just to make sure her ideas worked. For as you tour the country, it becomes clear that the two islands that make up the country have every imaginable climate and topography, much of which can be defined by your nose.
On the north island are the tropical green smells of the Bay of Islands, north of Auckland; the sulfuric odors of Rotorua’s hot springs are in the middle of the island; and the dry fragrances of the wine country on the way south to Wellington.
The crisp mountain scents of the South Island remind one of The Rockies, just as the musty rainy autumn days of old Christchurch with its Victorian architecture bring on memories of old London.
And if you’ve never been there, you’ll likely be surprised at seeing golf courses everywhere your touring takes you. For the country is a golfer's paradise with 393 golf clubs - placing it second in the world for the number of courses for its 4 million population. Only Scotland with 543 courses for 5 million people has more golf clubs per capita.
Besides, the real adventure in golfing New Zealand is telling your friends back home where you were. With courses named Muriwai, Huapai, Titirangi, Pukekohe, and Arikikapakapa you almost need elocution lessons. Off-shore golfers asking directions are a constant source of amusement for locals.
But, there’s far more to New Zealand than a round of golf or even a tour of the spectacular Middle-Earth scenery that highlighted The Lord of the Rings trilogy that was filmed entirely in-country on both the north and south islands.
About 15% of the country’s population is of Maori descent, the original native inhabitants of New Zealand. Maori culture forms the basis of New Zealand culture and is the essence of its society. Experiencing that culture first-hand with cultural excursions to Waitangi, two hours north of Auckland, or in Rotorua in mid-island, allows you to see New Zealand's history through the eyes of local Maori.
More than anything, though, New Zealand is a physical place where people do things outdoors. It has some of the finest walking pathways in the world; fishing draws anglers from around the world to haul in sea and lake catches; cycling is possible year ’round in the tropical North Island and for most of the year in the mountainous South Island where skiing is an international attraction.
The country is not easy to define because there are many aspects to it, with each segment unique in character and diversity and depending on which part of the country you want to explore, you can find one or more distinct adventures.
And of all the a “must-see” areas of the country, the Coromandel Peninsula on the north island is near the top of the list. A rugged, pristine piece of land that sticks out into the South Pacific like a giant claw, it is an hour-and-a-half drive from Auckland to the region’s east coast.
There, you’ll find spectacular scenic contrasts and down-home hospitality in the attractive seaside towns of Whitianga, Tairua, Cooks Beach, Pauanui, Whangamata, and Tauranga where there’s a variety of short and long term accommodations that will fit any budget.
They rest along a rugged, pristine coastline of sweeping bays and isolated beaches where the surf breaks in cascading crescendos, and where you’ll find unique features such as Hot Water Beach, midway (23km) between Tairua and Whitianga.
Locals come to the beach, dig a hole in the sand two hours either side of low tide and have their own hot-tub. Watch it fill with steaming water, and sit in it. If you're hungry, you walk into the Pacific and pick mussels from a protruding rock and cook them in the water.
Heated by underground mineral water, it’s a pleasing sensation to be lying in a pool of hot water just metres from the sea. From the hot water area, the long sandy beach stretches north and curves east under a headland where sheltered and secluded spots provide isolated sunbathing.
If you’re part of a cruise and have limited time to sight-see, tour companies, such as Kiwi Dundee Adventures, offers 1-3 day walks. -30-
IF YOU GO:
New Zealand Tourism - http://www.newzealand.com/ca Kiwi Dundee Adventures -
http://www.kiwidundee.co.nz/ Maori Culture - http://www.lovenewzealand.net.nz/maori/
Air Canada - http://www.aircanada.com/
Air New Zealand - http://www.airnewzealand.ca/home
Holiday Houses - https://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/
Photo #1 – Bay of Islands – Photo by Toshi
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