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Published: June 24th 2010
I have been working for a few days on this post and it will probably be a long one. It is time to say goodbye, even though secretly I hope it is see you later, to New Zealand and there is so much to reflect on as it has been a most amazing experience.
My very first impression about New Zealand was how friendly people where! How easy it was to get settled into life here. We have really experienced the most welcoming and amazing service.
The country is beautiful with the most amazing places to see. They really know how to take care of their country. I love their brand of tourism and being able to access all areas. Even with mass tourism there is no sign of these grand hotels impinging on the landscape. The beaches instead are long and dramatic, and beach day in New Zealand is the bestest. You could literally spend a whole day at the beach without having to share it with anyone else. Buy a big umbrella, pack a cooler with some drinks (and no they don't have to be alcoholic), pack some food and off you go. We had no families or friends around us for Christmas this year but we still had the most amazing day at the beach. Possibly the only time the beach was "crowded". They are all so amazing I find it hard to choose my all time favourites (and I have not visted them all, like I saw a few good ones on Waiheke Island but never had time to stop and really enjoy them and well it really depends what you want from a beach like just beauty or do you want to swim?), but here is a shortlist (or maybe longlist!):
1. Karekare, Waitekere Ranges
2. Piha, Waitekere Ranges
3. Baylys Beach, Dargaville, West Coast, Northland
4. 90 Mile Beach
5. New Chums Beach, Coromandel
6. Otama Beach, Coromandel
7. Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
8. Oneill's Bay and Bethells beach
I have to admit if you do visit don't spend too much time in the cities but get out into the nature. I have seen some amazing places during my visit (and I still have not seen it all, I want to come back for Mt Taranaki and to walk the Abel Tasman)
* I guess my top stop would be Milford Sound and yes it was raining but it just added to the majic.
* The Otago Peninsula was amazing as we got to see the wildlife, seeing the mighty Royal Albatross and walking up to the sea lions resting on the beach and seeing the yellowed eyed peguins as they came up onto the beach after a hard day on the water. Elm Wildlife Tours
* I loved getting out on the water in the Bay of Islands, watching the dolphins chasing the boat.
* We took the most amazing helicopter ride to see the Fox and Frans Joseph Glaciers. Seeing them from the sky is something else. It was really worth it even if I was honestly scared senseless through it all as the helicopter does a few lurches when it gets close to the rocks and I sometimes had to resist the urge to close my eyes. Yet when it lands on the snow and you have these amazing views....priceless.
* A visit to the Coromandel is like the Lake district on steroids.
* Watching the geothermal activity in Rotorua was pretty cool as it was my first time for such experiences.
There have also been the simple things like enjoying Auckland's green spaces. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been to the Park to relax and read my book or even enjoying a cup of coffee outside the cafe in the sun! Then we go to go and enjoy Parnell's Festival of Roses. Auckland truly is the city of sails and we had the pleasure of seeing the Louis Viutton Cup. It is a shame though that I never made it on actually sailboat myself.
Then it's not just about nature it's also about the culture as well. I really enjoyed learning about the Maori culture and getting to go and watch the rugby! I highly recommend a visit to Auckland War Memorial Museum and the one in Dunedin was pretty good as well. If you get a chance you really must experience a Maori cultural performance. What a treat seeing the All Blacks do the haka. I loved celebrating New Years and Valentines Day here in Auckland.
Eating out has been extremely pleasurable and I find it hard to think of a restaurant we ate at and did not enjoy the food. Actually I learnt pretty quickly that I enjoy "doing lunch". I will never forget the glorious fresh seafood and the seafood festival they have here in Auckland was another great treat! I especially enjoyed the time I spent at the Vaiduct, Auckland. Great for lunch, a drink or dinner. My top favourites have to be the Karmadec and my favourite pub is the Four Nations who do the best bowl of potato wedges with sour cream (we only belated decided to head one day to the Fox and it is actually pretty cool as well). Best fish and chips was Oppies in Rotorua or Mangonui Fish Shop in Mangonui.
This country is as beautiful as they say it is! This post certainly does not do it all justice! So I hope that this is not goodbye but see you later New Zealand.
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