Sunday, December 22, 2013

The perfect road trip

New Zealand, The youngest country on earth – also known as Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud – glows in its snow-capped peak splendor, mountain-fringed fiords, bustling cities and hideaway towns with enough memories to last a lifetime.

Original text by Natalie Joy Lee, executive summary by darmansjah

Your trip mapped out; Embark on this seven-day road trip across the South Island – starting from cosmopolitan Christchurch, cruising across the beautiful lake regions of Tekapo and Wanaka, passing by bustling Queenstown for your adventure fix and finally seafood feasts in Kaikora.

CHRISTCHURCH Best for wine; Dusting off the remnants of recent earthquakes, the buzz is back in South Island’s gateway to the rest of New Zealand and the world. The newly refurbished International Airport makes Christchurch a great starting point for your self-drive.

QUEENSTOWN Best for adventures; Cruising along the gorgeous Lake Wakatipu and into the alpine region of Queenstown, this is where actor John Travolta once commented, ‘Oh my God – this is where God lives’.

WANAKA Best fro river journeys; Quieter but still equipped with proper tourist facilities, Wanaka boasts a dramatic history of glaciers dating back to the ice age, and choice locations picked for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

TEKAPO Best for picture perfect reflection; Lying in the heart of the Mackenzie country, lake Tekapo ists as the area’s crown jewel, shining in different splendors between day to night. Mt John also gives you a chance t shoot some stars, literally, at its Observatory.

KAIKOURA Best for whale watching; Fringed by a range of snow capped mountains, giant sperm whales, blue whales, seals and dolphins up the fun factor in the deep tranches off the kaikoura coast.

Make it Happen; New Zealand
About 33 per cent larger in land mass than the neighbouring North Island, the bustling tourist-loving cities of the Otago and Canterbury region – Christchurch, Dunedin, Tekapo and Kaikoura – all fly the charming flag of New Zealand’s south splendidly.

Getting There; Christchurch is a major base towards the rest of the South Island. From Singapore, direct flights are available from Singapore to Christchurch International airport via Singapore Airlines daily. Connecting domestic flights out of Christchurch are available via Air New Zealand.

Getting Around; Self-drives around the south Island are easily arranged for, via major car rental companies such as budget rent a car and hertz. Camper vans are especiallywell-received as well, these self-sufficient modes of transport available for rent via Britz Campervan Hire & Car Rentals or the higher end Maui New Zealand.

When in Queenstown, kids from six to sixty will adore the Kiwi birdlife park a short walk away from the Skyline Complex, walking through the kiwi’s nocturnal homes, joining bird feeding sessions, or embarking on a native garden trail through five acres of New Zealand bush and wildlife.

Tekapo boasts one of the world darkest yet clearest night skies in the Southern Hemisphere, making for an excellent stargazing session at Mt John Observatory. Located high above the Lake Tekapo landscape, visitors navigate the southern night sky with green laser pointers, peering through powerful telescopes (US$103).

With 740 parks, Christchurch is also otherwise known as the garden city, where the centrally located Hagley Park delight visitors with a visage of colours best in spring and autumn. Take a 30-minute romantic ride punting down the iconic Avon River, before getting lost in blooms within the Botanic Gardens (US$21).

The pretty rural town of Geraldine sits between Christchurch and Lake Tekapo, this stopover spot perfect for a cozy lunch, and stocking up on lovely jams at Barker’s Of Geraldine. Mostly using locally grown fruit, try the strawberry jam, Boysenberry jam and lemon curd, all delectably sweet and addictive (from US$4).

What the earth took millions of years to form can now be seen in just a few hours at the spectacular Milford Sound. Capturing New Zealand’s dramatic alpine beauty, a flight connection from Queenstown is the ultimate luxury gift, circling the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park areas (from US$167).

Smell the location even before you see it at Cadbury World located in Dunedin’s centre. Tour s available through the week, the 75-minute walk takes you through the chocolate making process, eating your bag of samples and gaping as one tone of melted chocolate cascades five stories down (from Us$16).

An hour’s drive from Kaikoura leads to the alpine town of hanmer, where many head to the farmed Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spas for long soaks in mineral-rich thermal pools and therapist kneading all tensed up muscles away (from US$15).

Get up close to towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs with Glacier Explorers, one of only three operators worldwide that offers such tours. Includes a trip through the Tasman Valley, and a 30-minute alpine walk across the National park (US$119).

They call it Wanaka’s ‘wonderful world of weirdness’, and Puzzling World definitely lives up to its name, with illusion rooms, crazy architecture (their Leaning Tower of Wanka tilts at 53 degrees – the Leaning tower of Pisa leans only six degrees), and a hologram hall (US$110).

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