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Posts tagged New Zealand
Blanket Bay continues to retain its international ranking as New Zealand’s top lodge with prestigious USA based Hideaways International naming Blanket Bay the #1 lodge in New Zealand, and #6 in the world, within its annual 2012 Readers
by Roberta Sotonoff
Six people pile into a helicopter, buckle up and then the copter soars. It cuts through ridges of the mountains flying so close that at one point it looks like the copter will scrape the granite-but it just glides past. The craft lands 6,000 feet above sea level on 2,000 feet of ice – the Tasman Glacier. Surrounded by mountains, silence, and a feeling of peacefulness, passengers leave the copter and walk on dry snow. They gasp in amazement at the serene beauty that encircles them.
The Tasman Glacier is part of Mount Cook. Maori call it Aoraki or “The Sky Piercer.” The pointy snow-covered mountain that majestically rises to about 12,216 feet really does puncture the clouds. Located in the central part of New Zealand’s South Island, it sits deep in the heart of the Southern Alps. Before attempting to climb Mount Everest, Mount Cook was Sir Edmund Hillary’s training ground.
It’s about a four-hour drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook via the Canterbury Plains. Snow-capped mountains emerge in the background of New Zealand’s largest flatland. In front of them, sheep graze amid multi shades of green grass and the yellow flowers of Scottish Broom. On a sunny day, the clouds stretch across the sky like white cotton candy.
Along the Waihi River at the bottom of some foothills sits the village of Geraldine. Trees and gardens border its main street. Here, one can sample some very good Hokey Pokey vanilla ice cream with chunks of toffee- a Kiwi specialty. But Geraldine’s real claim to fame is “The Giant Jersey,” or sweater as we call it. At 7 feet high and 5 feet wide, the garment looks like the perfect covering for the Jolly Green Giant.
One can use a sweater, particularly around Lake Tekapo (pronounced Take-a-poe), the bright turquoise lake with the snow-covered mountains as its backdrop. Sitting alongside the shore, the little stone and oak Church of the Good Shepherd is one of New Zealand’s best photo ops, especially when the picture is taken from the altar window which perfectly frames out the dazzling lake and mountains.
The activities center at the Hermitage Hotel houses the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, a small museum about the mountain and the man. A 3-D movie, “Mount Cook Magic,” gives one the feeling of climbing Mount Cook, skiing on the Tasman Glacier and flying like a bird across the Southern Alps. Another part of the center contains a large gift shop that sells merino wool everything. Stock up on gloves, stockings and a hat–essentials in a place where the weather can change on a dime. It is possible to have rain, sun, warmth, cold, and blowing snow all in one day.
Exploring Aoraki Mount Cook National Park on an Argo Tour in an ATV comes with laughs, learning and adventure. The ATV bumps over rocks and slithers through water. There is a stop for a nature walk to see the world’s largest buttercup flower. Then the drive continues to 2,800 feet. Here a rocky but easy 400-foot climb to a steep ridge reveals a glacier lake full of rocks and milky water. This area is so pristine it is no wonder that the Mount Cook Range was the backdrop for the fantasy movie trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.”
The Mount Cook area offers incredible scenery and experiences. The serenity felt when walking on a glacier, the starkness of Mount Cook, and the turquoise-color of Lake Tekapo is well worth the long plane and car rides required to get there.
by Subhasish Chakraborty
A holiday in New Zealand is always very special and I have seen a number of my friends migrating to this country in search of greener pastures and promise of a good life. During my days as a student of
Tourism Management at the Trade Wings Institute of Management, Guwahati (Assam), quite a number of my close friends opted to migrate to New Zealand, given the fact that the Tourism industry in New Zealand is booming and the prospect of jobs in the Tourism industry is quite encouraging.
Rajesh Goyal was one such buddy who left India lock, stock and barrel. Hailing from a business family and given the fact that terrorism was eating into the vitals of Assam’s economy, the Goyal family decided enough was enough and after successfully overcoming the rigorous immigration procedures, finally settled down in the city of Auckland.
Its been almost a decade now and with Goyal family’s burgeoning spices business doing really well in the promised land, Rajesh decided it was about time he tied the nuptial knot. In spite of the fact that I was engrossed with my job as a Travel Writer, crisscrossing the subcontinent, I simply couldn’t say no to him when I received the Invitation Card.
So off I was, first to Auckland to attend the marriage ceremony and later on at the fabulous Cavalli Beach House Retreat, which is one of New Zealand’s most isolated secret beach hideaway. The four hours drive from Auckland was exhilarating and I was received at the Resort’s lobby by one of Rajesh’s colleague – Ankit, who is of Indian origin and a business partner of the Goyal family. Ankit would be my guide cum companion for the next few days and a lot of outdoor activities were planned in advance.
The Cavalli Beach House is an exclusive beach retreat and the remote location along with the unusual architecture was every bit interesting. I took a deep breath and as I opened the windows, the breathtaking beach panorama left me stupefied, as if the world was at my feet. I felt like I was at home. Its not a profanity. Its not a cliché. Any hotel or resort that makes you feel at home has to have an identity, a bearing and a sense of security, all of which I found at the Cavalli Beach House.
There is an old saying that man is a master of his home. This could not be a more appropriate aphorism, when it comes to the sublime and aesthetically done up Beach Retreat. Whoever provided the architectural blueprint to this one-of-its-kind retreat has to be a man of exquisite tastes. Just like music, I could see and feel the rhythm and harmony, in everything that was laid out in every single room. Be it the furniture, tapestry, artifacts, glassware, lamps and carpets, it was elegance personified.
My friend Rajesh is a widely traveled man and he is always on the lookout for either an antique or contemporary work of creativity when it comes to choosing hotels and resorts. I am glad he choose the Cavalli Beach House as my place to rejuvenate.
What was striking to me about the retreat was the “Color Harmony”. Colors are silent communicators, yet they say a lot. The color harmony at the Cavalli Beach House was a pleasing application of colors as you have in paintings. There was a sense of order and balance. The intelligent choice of colors that adorned the walls gave the retreat a sense of space and grandeur.
At the Cavalli Beach, world-class visitor amenities set in a sylvan rural setting and a life enhanced by boundless activities awaits you. The first night, me and Ankit sat by a beach fire lit up by the resort’s friendly staff and let me tell you…. the resort’s wine collection is not only rich but honored guests are also offered award winning New Zealand wines to keep them in good spirits. A traditional three course dinner under a starlit sky followed.
Given the breathtaking natural panorama, replete with secluded bays, exclusive fishing zones and a host of adrenalin pumping watersport activities, its not surprising that the Cavalli Beach House has its own Environmental policy. The landscape in this part of New Zealand is ecologically fragile and even the designing of the retreat took into consideration the link between the local ecological balance.
The retreat supports Eco-Tourism that is sustainable in nature and the retreat’s staff too seemed well aware of the ecological issues not only facing New Zealand, but the rest of the world as well. I was told by one the resort’s amicable Front Office Executive that the Cavalli Beach House works in tandem with Tourism New Zealand as well as Qualmark in its efforts to popularize and put into practice Eco-Friendly norms.
Instead of jumping headlong into some outdoor activities, the “Lazy Indian” syndrome caught up with me and I kind of delayed my stint outdoors for a day, choosing instead a therapeutic massage at the retreat’s cool parlor. I meet Gabriella Fischer, the retreat’s in-house Massage Therapist – very amiable and well mannered. After a brisk Question & Answer session through which she arrived at a conclusion to impart the 90 minutes “Deep Tissue Relaxation” therapy that promised to rejuvenate my body and soul.
The next day Ankit, my companion, woke me up early as we planned to get involved in outdoor activities. After a warm shower and light breakfast, we headed to the retreat’s jetty and boarded a launch that would take us on a sightseeing trip. After an enthralling 2 hours sea voyage, we decided to have an impromptu lunch onboard.
Although I am not an avid adventure sports freak…. No guts really! On one of my visits to Goa, I did take a few days’ lesson on Scuba Diving at the Barracuda Dive Center that is located at Panaji’s magnificent Marriot hotel. However, unless you practice at regular intervals, you tend to forget the skill sets that are required in deep sea diving. Any which way, I mustered some courage and decided to give it a shot, since a qualified diver was at hand.
As I put on my diving gear, I could sense a tinge of nervous sensation engulfing me and I got hold of Mike (Diving Specialist) as we splashed on the azure blue waters. I had the notion that India was by far the most captivating country in terms of diving spots since we have fabulous diving destinations like Lakshwadeep, Daman, Diu, Goa and Andaman Islands that are unrivalled. But after an hour, as I rose up to the surface and put my foot onboard, there was a sense of fulfillment. Post diving, I can say with certainty that be it the “Rainbow Warrior” wreck or the bewildering coastal conservation reserve in close proximity to the Cavalli Beach House, they are amongst the best diving sites the world has to offer.
Apart from the usual beach activities, the Cavalli Beach House is ideally located in close proximity to the famed Mahinepua Conservation Reserve that offers some incredible hiking options. We spent one full day hiking in the forest cover of Mahinepua, which was refreshing to say the least.
One great way of romancing New Zealand is by hopping on to a helicopter flight. I know the worth of Heli Tourism as I have first hand experience of embarking on Mountain Flights that are operated in Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim. In Nepal it is the Mount Everest, while in Sikkim it is Mount Kanchenjunga that are the focal points of attraction.
Here in New Zealand though, it is Cape Reinga, popularly referred to as “Top of New Zealand” which draws the discerning visitors to go onboard the breathtaking 1 hour Mountain Flight. As we sat onboard the Salt Air helicopter and fastened our seat belts, the copter slowly started its ascent and within minutes we were flying on top of the West Coast. The scenery below was surreal to say the least and made for a truly kaleidoscopic vignette.
We landed at Far North where a coach was awaiting our arrival and we were whisked away to the panoramic Pouto where we had an impromptu lunch in the ethereal backdrop of the spectacular sand dunes. Late in the afternoon we made a few more rounds of the stunning landscape before our flight back to Cavalli Beach House.
Although Helicopter Tourism sounds great, it comes for a price. The 6 hours Cape Reinga/Pouto trip is pegged at NZ $ 4,300 – NZ $ 4,600 depending upon the number of passengers. There is another trip operated by Salt Air – this one takes you to the enchanting Waitiki region and can be covered in 4 hours and is competitively priced at NZ $ 375.00 per person. Unfortunately due to paucity of time, we gave the later a miss, much to the dismay of the retreat’s Manager.
For those unable to board high altitude helicopter flights, the Cavalli Beach House does offer breathtaking day trips by car to some of the most exotic locales of New Zealand. I was especially stupefied by the sheer grandeur and panoramic natural vistas of Cape Karikari and Mangonui. Time permitting, first time visitors would do well to visit the heavily forested regions of Waipoua and Puketi forest as well as Paihia and Russel, all within driving distance from the Cavalli Beach House.
According to my companion Ankit, no trip to New Zealand is ever complete without a stint at one of New Zealand’s superbly landscaped golf courses. On the penultimate day of our stay at the Cavalli Beach House, the retreat’s friendly Manager arranged for our trip to the fabulous Carrington Golf Club, which is an hour’s drive from the retreat. The drive itself was beautiful as you pass by the scenic New Zealand countryside.
The Carrington Club is ideally nestled in Northland’s Karikari Peninsula. The resort’s world class facilities a heated swimming pool and an exclusive spa pool, a well stocked bar, two championship tennis courts, Olympic standard clay and skeet target shooting range as well as a gymnasium.
Carrington Club is spread over an area of 3000 lush green acres and what impressed me the most was the natural setting of 4 Kms. of exclusive balmy beach stretch. There is also an exclusive wetland site and the region is rich in avian life.
We meet a group from far away Los Angeles, who were out to have fun in cool, cool New Zealand. They were truly enchanted by the excellent golfing ambience at Carrington Club. And why not! The course is all of 6417 meters with a par 72 and offers a terrain ranging from green undulating vales and testing water holes. What makes the Carrington Golf Course truly spectacular is that it has the longest par 5’s in the whole of New Zealand as well as the shortest par 3’s.
As we indulged in the mouth watering Sea Food fare at the Retreat’s exclusive multi cuisine restaurant, the ethereal sight of the picturesque and make belief world of a rural New Zealand with its dimly lit lights appearing like a million studded diamonds sparkling or should I say flickering, reminded me of those eternal words of Rishi Aurobindoo –
“When you and I, we played together,
Who my playmate was I did not know.
Without a fear, without a shame,
Life in quiet ease did flow”.
Traveler’s Fact File:
New Zealand being a small country is well served by International Airlines’ like Air New Zealand, Qantas, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai International.
Reaching Cavalli Beach House:
The Cavalli Beach House Retreat is ideally located in a remote waterfront locale in East Coast. From Auckland one can reach the retreat in four hours driving time. However, if you happen to board a commuter flight from Auckland, you will reach the Bay of Islands airport in 35 minutes. Alternatively, if you choose a helicopter ride, you will reach the retreat from Kerikeri in 45 minutes.
For further information and reservations at Cavalli Beach House Retreat, please feel free to contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska Kosher Cruises
You will see Alaska’s breathtaking natural beauty- glaciers glowing blue and magnificent wildlife – from your vantage point aboard the five-star Norwegian Pearl. Whether you’re touring the rainforests and fjords of Ketchikan, helicopering over the stunning Mendenhall Glacier or seeing whales up close, you’ll understand why Alaska is so sought after. THE PERFECT CRUISE FOR FAMILIES
Australia & New Zealand Cruise
Join us on the elegant Holland America line as we explore the land down under. Revel in the cosmopolitan attractions of Sydney where history, opera, opals and koalas are ever present. Then venture to New Zealand, where nothing can prepare you for its majesty. The experience is only enhanced by 5 Star Glatt Kosher cuisine and exemplary Kosherica customer service
Look After Me is a new accommodation concept connecting mature travellers with authentic Kiwi hosts. The website is a “virtual hotel” that currently lists about 100 local hosts and their properties – each one unique and memorable in its own way.
The website, aims to connect mature travellers, particularly women and mature couples in the 50-plus age group, with like-minded private hosts who provide Kiwi hospitality and personal security. Travellers are encouraged to stay with hosts with shared interests such as gardening, cooking, travel, literature or music. More at www.media.newzealand.com
There’s no better way to see Auckland – the city of sails – than from the water, and Auckland Jet Boat Tours is offering a new way to see the sights on a guided jet ski safari. Clients climb aboard their personal jet ski and set off with a guide to explore the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland city coastline. More at www.media.newzealand.com
Napier’s list of heritage attractions is about to grow with the introduction of two custom-built Art Deco-styled tourist buses that will offer a hop-on hop-off service along the architectural heritage trail between Marine Parade and Ahuriri village. The buses, which are due to arrive next month, have been designed in France and built on American Thomas school bus frames in California. www.artdeconapier.com
The Southern Lakes region of New Zealand is arguably one of the most beautifully diverse landscapes in the world. The area has long been both a tranquil and exciting stop for leisure travellers and backpackers alike. From Lake Wanaka to Fiordland, the breathtaking scenery of southern New Zealand is sure to drop your jaw multiple times along your journey