New Zealand Touring

April 13th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do this year is shoe-horn myself onto a plane for 25 hours and go to depressed Europe or the UK.  I have better things to do with my money.

With this thought in mind we recently spent 2 wks in one of our favourite places — New Zealand.  Close to home, and great value for money (the exchange rate is very much in our favour at the moment), NZ offers relaxed touring on uncongested roads, great food, wine and accommodation options and fabulous scenery … not a grey gum tree in sight.

NZ scene, small3.jpg

International carriers like Emirates are only charging about $200 each way to Auckland, a city remarkably like Brisbane in size and feel.  We had two outstanding meals there — at the French Cafe (not a bit like a cafe, but a quietly elegant upmarket restaurant), and Soul at the Viaduct on the harbour.  Both remarkably busy considering that New Zealand has been in recession for over a year now.

Whilst in Auckland try to spend time on a nearby island called Waiheke, a charming 45 minute ferry trip from Auckland harbour. There are some excellent overnight accommodation options or just go over for the day. Besides being very scenic, there are wineries and olive oil producers — have lunch at Mudbrick Restaurant or Cable Bay Vineyards. Take a private tour of the island in a 6 seater bus with Christine Gisby

A 40 minute drive north of Auckland is Matakana, a small village with an exceptional Farmers’ Market every Sat morning. Introduced to us by Lauraine Jacobs, a food editor with Cuisine Magazine (one of the best food mags in the world we believe, and comes bi-monthly out of little NZ). She has written a book about Matakana (recipes, where to stay and eat) so tap into some local knowledge and buy it directly from her:

New Zealand is an easy place to discover yourself, but here are a few tips:

* Do rent a car and do a bit of research for yourself. Guided bus tours just take you where all the other tourists go.

* You need 2-3 weeks to get an overview, then re-visit and concentrate on specific places that took your fancy.

* For us standout places to visit were Bay of Islands, Hawkes Bay, Napier, Wellington (north island), and Marlborough wine area, Queenstown and surrounds, Dunedin (Lanach Castle and don’t miss Olveston House, a home in Dunedin built in 1905 and now a museum) and Oamaru in the south island.

* We tend to go Jan/Feb/March but you can fly direct to Queenstown in winter for the skiing.

* Another place to consider in Summer or Autum is the Marlborough Sounds. Walk bits of Queen Charlotte Track and stay at Bay of Many Coves Resort ($300-500 for 2 people per night for an apartment, but very special)

* New Zealanders consider possums road kill (they are an introduced pest from Oz) and make the softest possum/wool knitwear out of it.

* Cuisine Magazine put out Cuisine Wine Country 2009, the perfect guide to all the wine regions — wineries, restaurants/cafes, accom and activities.  You wont go amiss just aiming your activities around these wine regions because they attract all sorts of other interesting things.

* I have a more detailed fact sheet which I can post you if you want more.

One Response to “New Zealand Touring”

  1. barbaraon 13 Apr 2009 at 3:00 am

    Soul was always a favourite when we lived in Auckland. A great people watching place if you get a table on the deck.

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