Beverly Hills, California Travel Agent
Welcoming New Zealand
New Zealand has something for everyone, from nature and food lovers to active adventurers. The country is as long as the U.S. is wide which gives it hugely divergent microclimates. Volcanoes have created glorious mountains and lakes. Many areas are still geologically alive, so you can soak in natural hot springs and see amazing geysers, steam vents and other evidence of its fiery past.
On recent trips, I have stayed at three Robertson Lodges. They were built by an American family, the Robertsons and are members of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux collection. The level of luxury and style they brought to New Zealand has inspired other hoteliers to rise to that standard and now, New Zealand hotels are among the best and most beautiful in the world.
Among the many highlights are the helicopter trips. I took one from the airport toward the Bay of Islands along the coast to the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, at Matauri Bay on North Island. The hotel has a championship golf course, but more importantly, it offers opportunities to learn about the Maori culture, explore unusual Glowworm caves and enjoy a wide range of sports, from mountain biking and horseback riding to fishing and diving.
Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge and farm at Hawke’s Bay located in New Zealand’s oldest wine region, is a great spot for food and wine lovers. The lodge has an extensive farm and one day I went out with the chef to pick the ingredients for that night’s dinner.
There are more sheep and more gannets than people at the property, but what is not so numerous are the kiwi birds who are being wiped out by local cats. Though it is their national bird, the kiwi birds are so endangered that few New Zealanders have ever seen them. This hotel is bringing them back in a secure area. I had a chance to go on a discovery walk with a guide whose radio is tuned to transmitters on the kiwi chicks.
I also stayed at Matakauri Lodge on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, where you have amazing mountain vistas of The Remarkables. In winter, it is a base for heli-skiing; in warm weather, you can go heli-fishing or heli-sightseeing, and enjoy other alpine adventures.
The food and wine are exceptional throughout New Zealand. Ingredients generally come from no farther than 30 miles away and often from the chef’s garden. Even at little roadside places, the food is freshly prepared and delicious. It is a country that cares about its land, its food, and its visitors.
What most of my clients love most of all is the people of New Zealand. Almost everyone you meet is welcoming, wonderful, and very easy to be around. Perhaps it is the isolation of being on an island that makes them so warm and friendly; in any case, it is nice to be in a place that truly seems to enjoy its visitors.
Adventure, great food or awesome scenery, New Zealand has it all!