Ever thought of going to New Zealand? Don’t think – go!

Ever thought of going to New Zealand? Don’t think – go!

Andara got us incredibly low rates because we planned and booked a year in advance, and helped us every step of the way. We could not have done it without them. Go for as long as you possible can – there is just so much to see, and everything is fabulous.

What did we love? Don’t get us started! Just for tasters then: on North Island, staying at Paihia on the Bay of Island coastline and exploring that region (including flying round the entire coastline in a single engine fixed-wing plane and learning about Maori culture at Waitingi).

Rotorua with its geothermal and mud pools, staying in Tongariro National Park in the shadow of Mounts Tongariro and Ngauruhoe and right at the foot of Mount Ruahepu (Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings) (going up the last by chair lift), the glorious crossing from Wellington to Picton on South Island on the Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds, followed by the beautiful scenic coastal route to Abel Tasman National Park – a super place to spend a few days however active or inactive you want to be – driving down the wild and rocky west coast via the fascinating Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki to Franz Josef and Fox, landing on the last – possibly one of the most awe-inspiring things we have ever done – then down south over wide turquoise rivers and past lovely lakes, zig-zagging through steep-sided thickly-wooded ravines and through mountain valleys, over the Haast Pass to the enchanting Lake Wanaka and characterful little town, over the pass to Queenstown on the glorious Lake Wakatipu and the heart-stoppingly beautiful drive along it to Glenorchy, then on down further south to Te Anau, on the edge of the Fjordland National Park, for the trips to Milford and Doubtful Sounds – the natural world in its vast and almost primeval beauty…atmospheric, mysterious, awesome, fabulous, evocative, whatever the weather, then turning north again and driving through the valley alongside Lake Pukaki to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village – indescribably wonderful to be surrounded 360 degrees by snow-capped mountain peaks, all under a star-laden night sky – then up to Lake Tekapo (with its famous Church of the Good Shepherd) via Mount John Observatory, ending up at Christchurch.

And all along the way, travelling on good road, there are always countryside views, hills of all description (a geographer’s paradise), mountains, rivers, viewpoints, small settlements, places to see – and the friendly New Zealanders ready to help.

There were plenty of places we missed – we wish we had given it longer so we could have included them (we were actually in the country for nearly 4 weeks). Our time there will fuel amazing memories for such a long time to come. We want to go back – now!