Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, May 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
A Brit based in Fort Lauderdale, Sheila Randall, earns her living as a tour organiser. Her latest educational trip has been to New Zealand. This is what she has to say..
New Zealand is a spectacular country with wonderful friendly people. Recently I visited Northland, a region of the North Island and spent time in the Bay of Islands and surrounding area.
Whether you arrive from the east or west, your landfall will probably be at Auckland, where one third of New Zealand”s four million people live. It”s worth an ON TOUR by itself but for a quick overview, head for the Skytower, the tallest building in New Zealand, which is part of a large complex consisting of the Sky City Grand Hotel, shops, five star dining and a casino. Take the high-speed lift to the top, where The Observatory serves a delicious buffet offering many of New Zealand” s specialities and a fabulous view of the city and the fabulous harbour (here see with QEII about to dock). If you are lucky, someone may be bungee jumping off the platform as you arrive at the top floor, at 325m not even tall by London”s standards, but impressive nevertheless.
For Northland, head across the Auckland Harbour Bridge on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. This route gives you a taste of subtropical Northland. It provides glimpses of the different experiences to be found on the various coasts, the stunning beaches, mystic kauri forests and diverse Maori culture of the northern region.
A very interesting stop was at the Kauri Museum in Matakohe. One of Northland”s premier attractions tells the story of the giant Kauri Trees and the people who came to the area in search of premium timber and the prized Kauri Gum. Don”t forget to take a guided walk in the Waipoua Forest to see the world”s largest kauri tree, either during the day or at night.
Visit Waitangi in the Bay of Islands (left) and tour the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with Maori Guides. This is a very special place in the history of New Zealand where two cultures came together. Take a lunch cruise up the Waitangi River. A charming experience takes you through the mangroves, up the river to Haruru Falls, past the many Maori village sites that once lined this river. On arrival at Paihia, which is a very pretty township, there are many interesting options for activities, a couple of which are to swim with the dolphins or take an eco cruise through the Bay of Islands out to the famous Hole in the Rock and learn more of the Maori early European history and ecology of the area.
Russell is the original capital of New Zealand and was once a whaling and fishing port. Its chequered past is just a memory and it is a beautiful little town (left). Across the bay by ferry is Paihia, slightly larger with beautiful scenery and offering many interesting trips such as a flight up to the northern most tip of the North Island, or a trip on a passenger speedboat called ”The Excitor”, out to the Hole in the Rock. The Kawiti Caves are nearby. In the same Maori family for generations, you will have a lovely experience complete with culture, glowworms and a beautiful bush walk along part of the Cape Brett Track.
Lodgings are varied, offering hotels of every quality and wonderful homesteads which typically have four to six guestrooms and luxury appointments. Morongo Bay Homestead in Russell, is a wonderful four room establishment renowned for its organically home grown fruits and vegetables, and freshly baked bread, rolls and muffins served at breakfast with a variety of home-made preserves and cereals. Local patrons regularly make dinner reservations and enjoy wonderful food in the cosy dining room, which seats a maximum of ten people at one large oak table.
New Zealand is a fly/drive destination. The roads are good, though can be narrow and windy in the countryside, similar to the British road system. One in three Kiwis owns a boat and Auckland is known as the City of Sails. There are opportunities to sail and race on America”s Cup yachts, as well as rent a yacht for a day, or a week. For wine buffs, New Zealand has wonderful wine growing areas and travellers can certainly tailor their visit to suit almost any interest. There is tough adventure for a certain type, wine and food for others, some of the best trout fishing in the world, as well as big game fishing and, of course, flora and fauna. So, don”t delay and visit Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud. You will never forget the amazing experience.