I was, sitting in my office, gazing through
the window at the falling snow, daydreaming
of warmer days. Ever so slowly, an idea
began to take form. Why not leave the cold,
dreary winter behind, and head for warmer
climes? But where would I go?
southern hemisphere seemed a good option
and is anyway a favorite winter travel destination
of mine. Being something of a smart cookie,
I immediately realized that I had to narrow
the choice down a bit, or I might have a
problem getting an airplane ticket. A quick
Internet airline check (I find that Travelocity
has great last minute deals, by the way)
and I reached a brilliant decision . . .
RIVER - SOUTH
ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
called my wife and told her to pack us a
couple of bags and to meet me at the airport.
She's used to my antics, but this seemed
a bit more spontaneous than usual.
are we going" she asked."To the
jewel of the South Pacific" was my
reply. No need to elaborate. Everybody knows
that New Zealand is the jewel of the South
Pacific. It is also a great RV travel destination,
and a pretty exotic destination at that.
And summer officially starts on 1st December!
about 15 hours later, our Singapore Airlines
747 touched down in Christchurch,
situated on northern South Island, a beautiful
garden city seemingly transported directly
was a breeze (make sure you don't have any
fruit or other foodstuffs with you or you're
liable for a steep fine), and we headed
directly to the Maui campervan (that's what
they call RVs down here) depot. After a
brief and friendly introduction to the vehicle
and the city (New Zealanders are notoriously
friendly) and a quick and delicious cappuccino
in one of the city's vibrant cafes, we were
ready to hit the road.
Zealand is a land of contrasts. From
modern, dynamic, sophisticated cities to
pristine natural wonders, this is above
all a land of tranquility and beauty.
places on earth rival the natural splendors
of New Zealand. Packed into an area about
the size of Great Britain or Colorado, the
unpolluted air, the clear, pristine pools
and streams, the natural wonders and the
myriad of outdoor and sporting activities
make it the ideal vacation destination.
Especially at this time of year, as the
cold December winter of North America and
Europe become a distant memory in this (mostly)
sun basked paradise of the southern hemisphere.
majority of the New Zealand population is
of English, Irish and Scottish descent,
so the main spoken language in the country
is English - although their accent may take
a bit of getting used to. Approximately
15% of the population is of Polynesian descent,
mainly originating from the Maori, who reached
New Zealand about the year 800 AD Both English
and Maori are official languages of New
a British colony, the country became an
independent dominion in 1907. Since the
mid 1980s, New Zealand has been transformed
from an agrarian economy dependent almost
completely on the British market to a more
industrialized, free market economy capable
of competing globally.
Zealand is a classic vacation destination
for all tastes. From ultra- sophisticated,
luxurious vacations to great backpacking
holidays, and anything in-between, New Zealand
has it all.
on their simplicity of style, casual elegance
and unbeatable reliability, New Zealanders
have mastered the art of meeting the varied
demands of travelers, ensuring you nothing
less than a wonderful vacation.
Zealand has two international airports.
The main airport is located in bustling
Auckland, but we flew in on Singapore Airlines,
landing in the delightful English-style
city of Christchurch, on the South Island.
two main islands that make up New Zealand
are remarkably different, despite their
South Island's main geophysical feature
is the Southern Alpine Mountain Range, that
runs down the length of the Island. This
range gives the South Island its diversity.
The northern part of the South Island is
the sunniest part of New Zealand, while
the west is probably one of the wettest
locations in the world. The east is very
similar to the English countryside and the
center of the island is mountainous and
perennially snow capped.
small city of Queenstown
that lies close to the southern tip of South
Island is New Zealand's second most popular
tourist destination. This town is the main
location for skiing and other typical New
Zealand action adventures such as Bungee
Jumping and Jet boating.
city is also very close to the popular Milford
and Routeburn hiking trails, as well as
to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, two
majestic fiords that offer absolutely stunning
scenery - one of the main reasons that many
people visit New Zealand, and definitely
shouldn't be missed.
a short ferry ride separate North Island
from South Island. North Island has a warmer
climate and also all of the countries volcanoes.
Most of the thermal activity, such as geysers,
thermal rivers and boiling mud pools, are
located on North Island as well.
New Zealand's North Island is characterized
not only by the geothermal activities, but
also by its many fine beaches, which only
get better the further north you go. The
regular rainfall and volcanic soil ensure
that North Island is very green and lush.
One of the North Island's highlights is
the city of Napier, an entire town designed
in the Art Deco architectural style of the
1920s and 30s. The city was destroyed in
a severe earthquake in 1931, and completely
rebuilt in the Art Deco style. Nowhere else
in the world can you see such a variety
of buildings in this classical style in
such a concentrated area. Napier's Art Deco
is unique, due to its Maori motifs and the
buildings of Louis Hay, a renowned admirer
of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.
Enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk
Island pines which are its trademark, and
bounded by fertile fruit and grape growing
plains, dramatic hills and the shores of
the South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the
center of the Hawke's Bay region.
No article on New Zealand can be complete
without a few words describing its well
known trademark - New Zealand sheep, which
you see just about everywhere you go. New
Zealand is home to some 45 million sheep,
which outnumber the human population by
a factor of 11 to 1. Considered the finest
wool producer in the world, New Zealand's
wool output is second only to that of Australia.
But visitors to this wondrous, beautiful
country be warned - two weeks just won't
cut it - while the country is not much larger
than the state of Colorado, if you want
to justify your flight time and to visit
both islands, you could it in a month, but
six weeks is much better.
in New Zealand
South pacific island paradise is a RVer's
dream destination. All your RVing needs
are well catered for - take note, though,
New Zealand follows the great British tradition
(remember, independence was only in 1907,
even though H.R.H. Elizabeth II is still
head of state) and New Zealanders drive
on the left hand side of the road. This
can be a bit of a traumatic experience,
but luckily it only takes a day or so of
driving to get used to it.
are many RV rental companies you can choose
from (my favorite is Maui, with their all
inclusive deals. They are also very good
in Australia and South Africa), and camper
parks are on the most part cheap, clean,
pleasant and plentiful.
Favorite Scenic Destinations
you've decided to dedicate a month (or more)
to a full scale tour of what is arguably
the most beautiful country in the world,
here are my favorite, must visit and highly
recommended highlights. I visited the places
on this list during the month of my visit,
and they all meet certain criteria: breathtaking
scenery, pleasant climate and, as is usual
for New Zealand, pristine environment. 6
weeks would have been better, of course,
and we would have had a more leisurely trip,
but if you like jaw-dropping scenic vistas,
New Zealand is the place to visit. And be
sure to check out my list of seven favorite
in New Zealand's Southland region, Fiordland
National Park is New Zealand's largest national
park, and indeed one of the largest national
parks in the world.
a country abounding with natural, stunning
scenic attractions, Fiordland is home to
what is undoubtedly the cream of the crop.
Situated near the popular tourist destination
of Queenstown, a very convenient stopover
point whether you're RVing or staying in
a hotel or motel, Fiordland has a myriad
of New Zealand's most stunning natural attractions:
Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, two majestic
fiords which must not be missed and can
be viewed from the air or from the sea.
Other scenic attractions include the famous
Routeburn and Milford tracks - Milford is
considered the finest walk in the world
- the Sutherland Falls, one of thousands
of stunning waterfalls in the park and Mitre
Peak which rises a staggering 1 mile straight
out of the ocean. Fiordland is one of the
wettest places in the world. It is almost
always rainy, even in summer. It is remarkably
pleasant to hike the Milford and Routeburn
tracks in the rain and on a fine day the
landscape is absolutely breathtaking.
Abel Tasman National Park
in the northwest corner of South Island,
Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national
park. Named after Abel Janszoon Tasman,
a 17th century Dutch seafarer, explorer
and merchant, the park is renowned for its
golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs,
and world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
It also has a mild climate and is a good
place to visit at any time of the year.
The Park is shrouded by lush rain forest
vegetation, and the Manuka, a type of Tea
Tree, is especially abundant..
days in Queenstown (summer in New Zealand
is officially from 1st December to 1st March)
are long and can be as action packed or
leisurely as you like. The midsummer sun
rises as early as 5 AM, while dusk rolls
in at about 10 PM. Situated to the south
of South Island, Queenstown is more of a
picturesque, old time mountain village than
a city. The town offers many outdoor activities
such as the New Zealand inventions of Bungee
jumping and jet boating, as well as other
action activities as white water rafting
city is the country's second most popular
tourist destination, and is well worth a
visit even if extreme sports are not really
in Central North Island, Rotorua is the
heartland of New Zealand's Maori culture.
Rotorua is also famous for its geothermal
activity. The area contains many geothermal
reserves such as Waimangu, Waiotapu and
Whakarewarewa, all situated in beautiful
natural surroundings. The reserves also
boast great examples of geysers, boiling
pools, hot springs and more. The area also
host abundant lakes suitable for swimming
and trekking and 4X4 trails.
Bay Of Islands
144 islands and bays, this subtropical region,
located at the northwestern tip of North
Island, is home one of the best maritime
parks in New Zealand The Bay of Islands
region has a bounty of marine life, including
whales, penguins, dolphins and many more.
region attracts visitors from around the
world, including fishermen, golfers and
marine enthusiasts as well as regular tourists
who just want to enjoy the subtropical climate
and beautiful beaches.
Mount Cook National Park
Cook National Park is situated Canterbury
region near the town of Twizel, in the center
of South Island. Aoraki/Mount Cook village
lies within the park. The area was formally
named a national park in October 1953 and
consists of reserves that were established
as early as 1887 to protect the area's significant
vegetation and landscape.
a snow covered, rocky environment, the park
has three of New Zealand's highest mountain
peaks - Mt. Cook, Mt. Tasman and Mt. Sefton.
The park is also home to the world's longest
ski run, down Tasman Glacier, and many scenic
walks and guided treks are available.
Westland National Park
for its two unique glaciers, the Franz Joseph
Glacier and Fox Glacier, Westland National
Park's shares its eastern boundary with
Mt Cook National Park.
in the center of South Island on its West
Coast, the park was created in 1960 to protect
an area of high mountains and glaciers,
and was then extended in 1982 with the lowlands
and coastal areas of South Okarito and South
area of magnificent primeval vistas - snow-capped
mountains, glaciers, forests, tussock grasslands,
coast, lakes, rivers and wetlands, the park
extends from the highest peaks of the southern
alps to the remote beaches of wild West
fantastic scenic landscape has been declared
a World Heritage site, and is part of the
Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.