New Zealand's Unique Appeal to Mature Age Visitors
Pictured below is Robert Burns statue in the entre of Dunedin and above, the stunning Dunedin station
Cruising into Milford Sound
Living In A Lovely World of its Own
By Dallas Sherringham
Superb, safe New Zealand provides a whole world of opportunity for Australia’s travel starved population.
You see, New Zealand is a whole little world all wrapped up on two of the most beautiful islands on earth.
You can see snow capped Alps, barren deserts, lush green farms, endless deserted beaches and amazing fjords all in a couple of day’s travel by road. Or, you can visit modern cities with top quality cuisine, the world’s best white wines and European style shopping with all the big names side by side.
And the people! They are friendly, courteous and while they may cast an evil eye while doing a fearsome Haka, they will then jump about joyously, slapping you on the back.
Well I remember playing inside centre against a New Zealand Maori team and after being trampled on and belted by the 120 kilo centre opposite, we shook hands, went to the pub and sang songs until 2am.
Such is the hospitality of people who love having a great time and if you are lucky and a hungi is being cooked in an earth pit in the neighborhood, you will get an invite.
On my first trip to NZ I was commissioned to photograph and write a book called ‘New Zealand Wide’. Off I went in a campervan, determined to see and photograph NZ in two weeks, a week on each island.
I soon realised I had way underestimated the task at hand because there is so much to see and do and after a few days I gave up trying to see it all and just drove up to the Bay of Islands, down to Rotorua and on to Wellington.
The ferry ride to Nelson across Cook Strait was freezing, but the Marlborough Sounds were quiet warm for April and I picked up a few bottles of treasured sav blancs along the way.
Now, there are many great places in New Zealand but my absolute favorite area was the West Coast and Queenstown. Visiting the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers and driving through the pristine forest and over vast wild rivers was awesome.
It is well worth your while spending a few days in Queenstown and doing a helicopter flight over the Remarkables and the sky rail to the lookout. A trip out to Arrow Town takes you back a couple of centuries and you can take a tour to Milford Sound.
Dunedin is a lovely Scottish style city well worth a visit and it has the most outstanding railway station you will ever see. Heritage train journeys are available.
Robert Burns statue looks down from on high, framed by the cathedral and colorful gardens in the city’s main square.
Dunedin once had the world’s first cable car system and there are attempts to reintroduce a tourist route.
I went to Mt Cook – amazing – and past stunning blue lakes, occasionally stopping for a picnic. On to Akaroa, an English village and adjacent French village which are set inside the walls of an ancient volcano.
My journey ended back in Christchurch, a city devastated by the earthquake a decade ago, but still as welcoming as ever. On my way there, I deviated to a paddock on the windswept plains south of the city with the snowclad faraway hills as a background.
There, in the corner or a flat, wild, fenced enclosure near Timaru was a simple sign: ‘Phar Lap was born in this paddock in 1926’. Such is fame.
So, in summing up, I saw some of New Zealand in my first two week campervan trip, but there was so much more to see.
I recommend you visit one island at a time and allow plenty of time at each major attraction. Or, you can take a cruise and visit many major ports of call, each one fascinating in its own way.
Keep posted for sailing adates now that the bubble has finally opened.