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Even if you have been to New Zealand in the past – how much do you really remember or know about our ‘across the ditch cousins’. I am a bit of a study junkie so when a new course is launched on a country, I am right in there. So it comes as no surprise when I say I am still learning about the world – even places I have been to many times.

So what else is there to do there apart from bus tours and wine tasting? A lot depends on your interests but New Zealand has everything covered on top of their remarkable scenery. I am going to break with convention and start with the South Island. I am sure that all are aware of Christchurch’s dilemma with earthquakes but the infrequency of them is something you can take into consideration. Combined with Akaroa and the gateway to the Canterbury region, Christchurch and the Avon River offer incredibly diverse landscapes with the beautiful Pegasus Bay and Banks Peninsula on the road to Akaroa. From here head south to the World Heritage listed Mount Cook – New Zealand’s highest peak- Lake Tekapo famous for turquoise waters – a result of ‘rock flour’ and the glacial melt and all in the Mackenzie region. Earth and Sky Tours in Tekapo are a great way to see the stars with the Mount John and Cowan Observatories.

Dunedin referred to as the Edinburgh of the south is a city of classical architecture as well as being the gateway to the Otago Peninsular. Natural attractions with the yellow eyed penguin (the worlds rarest) little blue penguins, Royal albatross, Spotted Shags, Cormorants and New Zealand’s Fur Seals and Sea Lions. The wildlife is so abundant in the region no matter when you go you will be assured of an entertaining journey. Larnarch Castle is one of the most visited attractions along with train travel along the Taieri Gorge. But we cannot linger so we now make our way to the very South Fjordland and Stewart Island.

The drive from Te Anau- with the luminescent glow worm caves- to Milford Sound is considered to be one of the world’s most scenic drives and Doubtful Sound 3 times longer and 10 times larger than Milford. Kayaking around Milford Sound is an ideal way to learn about the bays biodiversity. If oysters are your thing then Bluff is the place to be. Blue cod, crayfish, mussels whitebait and Paua are in plentiful supply. Stewart Island is one of the rare places you can see a Kiwi in the wild – the bird that is- at the Rakiura National Park. Of course back on the mainland is Invercargill with her majestic Queens Gardens. This region is popular with trekkers.

Queenstown –the action town, everything from Bungy, rafting, jet boating, and skiing- is what the city is well noted for. The wine trail as with anything wine in New Zealand is highly recommended and a visit to the boutique Arrowtown can have you panning for Gold. Lake Wanaka translated from Maori means ‘rejuvenation for the soul’. Just 1 hour from Queenstown it is an easy drive. Everything from hiking and trout fishing top the list but as the home of Pinot Noir wine and stone fruit in season, there really isn’t a lot left when it comes to utter relaxation.

The West Coast is glacier region from Haast in the south to the famous Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers - the craft centre of the west Hokitika, Greymouth and panning for gold and finally finishing with Pancake Rocks and blowhole at Punakaiki. In the next issue we will head to the northern tip of the South Island ready to embark on the stunning crossing from Picton to Wellington.

In the meantime, Happy Travelling Deanne Scanlan Travel 0411682577

New Zealand, South Island – Milford Sound

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