Anand & Madhura Katti writes about compelling beauty of New Zealand and tries to jot down what makes New Zealand an amazing holiday destination.
New Zealand has only 4.6 million people living harmoniously with 39 million sheep. The young nation’s diversity of landscape is pure and inviting. There’s also plenty to indulge in, from world class wines and fine cuisine to luxury lodges and spas. It’s a destination for thrill seekers. The country led the way with bungee jumping; jet boating, zorbs and whitewater rafting. But you don’t necessarily have to jump off a cliff to experience the exhilaration. Even a walk through a native bush or watching the sun go down on an untouched beach can be a lifetime experience.
Auckland is the busy commercial city comprising a third of New Zealand’s population. Getting on top of the Sky Tower was our choice to have a panoramic view of the city and its harbor from 600 ft. high 54th floor. For a little adventure, we chose to go up to an open observatory deck of the 60th floor with an additional ticket.
Down below, Auckland’s harbor was active with many rows of different sized boats at the West-haven Marina. Every third person in Auckland owns a private boat, for favourite weekend leisure of picnics with families to nearby islands. Some enthusiasts use them for races too, the major title being the US Cup. Boats offered a good sight for photography, with the backdrop of Auckland skyline on one side and the bridge on the other.
Bush & Beach Tour
With a third of the country protected in national parks, the wilderness is always close by. Our first stop on a bush and beach tour was at Waitekere range. Artistically carved Maorian artifact frame at the entrance beautifully encapsulated the view of the surrounding hills and spring waters flowing down the gorges. The 5-hour tour included an hour’s walk through thick bushes of native New Zealand plants and trees. Soon we could spot plenty of shining silver ferns along the dark bushes, thanks to their fluorescent spots on the rear side. Guide informed us that they have served as path markers to bush walkers since time immortal. With no dangerous animals or predators, the national bird Kiwi has even forgotten flying but eluded us all the time due its shy nature.
Coffee break at Karekare, a small beach village in sylvan surroundings was soothing. Common feature outside most houses on the way had been a boat under the portico or tied to a car top. Kiwis (as New Zealanders are popularly referred to) sure are outdoor people and enjoy their postcard perfect surroundings. White, black and a colorful ducks & swans at the small stream nearby came quaking in anticipation of some food. A few yards away, the lovely beach at Karekare was deserted, except for a local lady playing (rather exercising) her dog. The dog ran to fetch the ball she threw into the sea.
The1000 year old Kauri tree was an amazing sight on the way. Tall, thick main stem with very few tiny branches gave it a log like appearance. Its strong wood is used in intricate carvings, many of which we found later through native Maorian art across the country.
We travelled to North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait to capital Wellington. The compact city has a busy harbor front with a promenade and sandy beaches. Our first visit to Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum gave us a deeper understanding of the country. Located on the Wellington waterfront, Te Papa Tongarewa (translation means a repository of treasures) Museum is a celebration of New Zealand’s identity-its environment, indigenous people, culture and the environment. This huge modern museum doesn’t charge any entry fee. We only paid for the hour long guided tour to enjoy most attractions within a limited time.
Experience of an earthquake, a volcano eruption and many exciting things are in store. Records of the country’s colourful past from European settlement, gold rushes and Maori wars through to contemporary New Zealand was educative. Maori art, culture and language in Mana Whenua and exquisitely carved canoes were amazing. We could scream through time in the Time Warp, which features motion simulator rides and virtual reality technology. Stories of the country’s dynamic landscape are part of the natural Bush city.
Walking unto Lambton Quay for the iconic red Wellington cable car was a wise choice to feel the city. The cable car trip to the top of Kelburn Hill at the Botanic gardens took five minutes. Panoramic view of the city and harbor at the viewing platform at 119 metres above the city was memorable.
A walk along the well maintained botanical garden was relaxing. Rose garden had vivid variety. A few minutes onto the Bolten Street reach us to the Parliament house built in neoclassical style. The adjoining library building has the original Victorian Gothic design. Beehive, uniquely architectures building, houses Minister’s offices and parliamentary catering service. An hour-long guided tour of parliament offered a good insight into the functioning style of the country that sees the first day-light in the world! We ended our tour with a positive note that New Zealand was the first country to give women voting (1893) rights and was also the first country to have a government ministry for tourism in 1901.
Visa: Indian nationals need to take a New Zealand visa from the nearest consulate, embassy, or through a travel agent.
Getting there: One can take Air India, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Malaysian Airlines or Emirates flight from an Indian city to go to Auckland
Stay: There is a wide choice of Hotels in all categories.
Useful websites: http://www.newzealand.com/int/