The land of the Long White Cloud. This is how the Maori people call New Zealand, an archipelago located on the other side of the world floating in the Pacific Ocean. One would look on that side of the world map, dreaming about all the mysteries of this remote territory, so far from our horizons.
When you land in Auckland, on the North Island, you cannot help but think of the famous blockbuster: “The Lord of the Rings” … On landing, we can catch a glimpse of this luminous city where the glass towers, dominated by the 328 metres high Sky Tower, are built alongside Victorian buildings revealing a slightly obsolete character.
Very quickly, we move away towards Taupo and its lake located in the crater of an ancient volcano, where the rivers Tongarino and Waikato, finish their journey. Here, trout fishing, “rainbow” or “brown”, is a must, as well as the nautical activities, rafting, horse riding and even golf for golf enthusiasts.
We reach the Huka Lodge Relais & Châteaux – located on the peaceful banks of the Waikato River. The next day, we hold our breath on board a helicopter that rushes us to Rotorua for a full-day adventure with a geothermal theme. The tumultuous landscapes keep on coming with a farandole of fumaroles, geysers, mud ponds, volcanoes with terrifying memories, lunar stretches of land on the White Island, bubbling waters and lakes whose emerald colour look like an audacious paint mix.
The region is also strongly influenced by the fascinating Maori tribal culture whose people are deeply attached to their ancestral values, where traditional war dances and songs are a form of expression in their own right. We settle down for a while and unpack at Cape Kidnappers on Hawke’s Bay. The Hawke’s Bay vineyards are the oldest and most famous in New Zealand.
Certainly, the Relais & Châteaux Cape Kidnappers which looks a bit like an elegant wooden and stone farm is a paradise for golfers who walk along a course whose design follows the meandering high steep cliffs. But that’s not all. Opposite the bay’s seawater, one can enjoy tasting grapes such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, as well as horse riding on wild beaches, and watch colonies of rare seabirds, the Fou de Bassan. The time has come to go to the South Island.
Near Queenstown, city of adrenaline, where the bungee jump was born, you will stay at the Relais & Châteaux Matakauri Lodge, whose suites with private veranda face Lake Wakatipu surrounded by mountains. Another quick quiet time just before one of the highlights of the trip.
Equipped with our noise-cancelling earphones we fly off in a helicopter to the far north of Fjordland National Park to experience the “real” and “live” decor of the Lord of the rings movie … Milford Sound, UNESCO World Heritage site, unfolds its extravagant panorama where canyons, waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, glacier, rainforest with giant ferns, leaping seals in calm waters all gather peacefully … Magnificent!
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