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Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GLOBE TROTTING -

HE Maori trans­la­tion of New Zealand is ‘the land of the long white cloud’, how­ever New Zealan­ders call their mag­i­cal land ‘God’s Own Coun­try’.

The coun­try has the most amaz­ing nat­u­ral land­scape, with stun­ning scenery, ev­ery­thing from white and black vol­canic sand beaches to rain­forests, lakes and moun­tains.

You can choose to have real ad­ven­tures when you visit or per­haps you pre­fer to take a stead­ier pace and just ab­sorb and take it all in.

New Zealand con­sists of the North and the South Is­lands sep­a­rated by the wa­ters of the Cook Strait.

The main gate­way city for most in­ter­na­tional flights is Auck­land.

Flight times are ap­prox­i­mately 23 hours and, yes, this is a long flight, but on ar­rival you will see why ev­ery hour was worth it.

So for now, I am con­cen­trat­ing on the North Is­land only.

On ar­rival into Auck­land, a few days ac­cli­ma­tis­ing would be ben­e­fi­cial in ad­just­ing to the 12-hour time dif­fer­ence.

There are plenty of things to do – ad­mire the view from the ob­ser­va­tion deck at Sky Tower, on laid-back Wai­heke Is­land en­joy wine and olive tast­ing or laze on the beach, cruise the har­bour and visit the sea­side vil­lage of Devon­port or ex­pe­ri­ence sail­ing on Amer­ica’s cup Grand Prix racer.

Head out of the city to­wards North­land and sit­u­ated on the north­ern­most tip of New Zealand is the spec­tac­u­lar scenery of the Bay of Is­lands.

Pai­hia is the main tourist area with plenty of wa­ter sports, from game fish­ing to boat trips in the bay spot­ting dol­phin pods.

Cape Reinga is 100km north of the near­est small town and sits at the tip of the penin­sula.

If you want ad­ven­ture and have the ap­pro­pri­ate ve­hi­cle, a large por­tion of the jour­ney can be taken on the 90-mile beach.

Then head south to the Coro­man­del Penin­sula, home to misty rain­forests and pris­tine beaches, par­tic­u­larly Cathe­dral Cove marine re­serve with its reefs of hard rock, in­tri­cate caves and un­der­wa­ter arches.

Con­tinue in a southerly di­rec­tion to­wards Ro­torua but per­haps stop­ping on route in Mata­mata, home to ‘Hob­biton’.

If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings films then this is a must-do.

A two-hour tour will take you round the movie set and you can even stop off for a pint in The Green Dragon.

Two hours fur­ther south sits Ro­torua, home to geo­ther­mal parks full of nat­u­ral won­ders. You can walk among ac­tive vol­canic ar­eas, boil­ing mud pools, bub­bling sul­phur pools, and spout­ing gey­sers.

Plus there are many Maori cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences to take part in too – en­joy a tra­di­tional Hangi meal while be­ing en­ter­tained by Maori cul­tural per­form­ers and learn how Maoris in­tri­cately carve and dec­o­rate their war ca­noes, which can be as long as 40 me­tres.

With flights from un­der £1,000 per per­son you can stop off on route to New Zealand ei­ther via the Pa­cific route or Mid­dle and Far East route.

Tai­lor-made pack­ages can be put to­gether to in­clude ac­com­mo­da­tion, car rental and flights, or per­haps you pre­fer more in­de­pen­dence and like the idea of a camper­van.

New Zealand is such a worth­while ad­ven­ture, for any age!

Spec­tac­u­lar sights on New Zealand in­clude (clock­wise from above) a wa­ter­fall in the north is­land; the Waitopu ther­mal re­serve; Cape Reinga; and Hob­biton, from the Lord of the Rings films

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