Great South­ern land

Ex­plorE thE many charms of thE South Is­land and you may nEvEr want to lEavE!

Soap World - - STAR STYLE - SW

By all re­ports, Prince Harry and new wife MegHan Markle

had a won­der­ful time on their re­cent “baby­moon” tour of New Zealand. And it’s no sur­prise: its charm­ing towns, glit­ter­ing lakes, an­cient forests, mag­nif­i­cent vine­yards and friendly lo­cals mean NZ has great deal to of­fer.

Ev­ery­one from A-list celebri­ties such as cHar­l­ize THeron, JoHnny DePP, Tay­lor SwifT, Ja­Son STaTHaM, JuSTin TiMber­lake and laDy gaga to the cast of The Lord

of the Rings block­busters also hap­pily give our near neigh­bour a big thumbs-up.

In par­tic­u­lar, the buzz is all about the South Is­land right now. Whether you ex­plore it by foot or by car, by tram or hot-air bal­loon, by boat, kayak or on skis, there’s a de­light wait­ing around ev­ery cor­ner.

If you book now, you might just be able to make it to

Marl­bor­ough, aka the big­gest wine-grow­ing re­gion in the coun­try, for its fa­mous Food and Wine Fes­ti­val in Fe­bru­ary. Treat your­self to a few of its leg­endary sauvi­gnon blancs. And for the more ac­tive, Marl­bor­ough’s Queen Char­lotte

Track is con­sid­ered one of the world’s best cy­cling trails.

The South Is­land’s big­gest city, Christchurch, is well on the rise again fol­low­ing its re­con­struc­tion af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing 2011 earth­quake. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing com­bi­na­tion of the old and the new: from Ye Olde churches and build­ings to mod­ern eater­ies, shops and in­cred­i­ble street art. There are

so many ways to get around the city – vin­tage bikes, trams and gon­dola rides (and even a punt down the Avon River).

Ded­i­cated cul­ture vul­tures should seek out Can­ter­bury

Mu­seum, the Arts Cen­tre and the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed

Christchurch Art Gallery; na­ture lovers will want to stroll through the Botanic Gar­dens, the Wil­low­bank Wildlife Re­serve, take a dol­phin-watch­ing day trip at Akaora Har­bour or board the TranzAlpine Express train to Arthur’s Pass.

Dunedin is an­other charm­ing city that buzzes with en­gag­ing nightlife and boasts a Euro­pean feel. It’s a uni­ver­sity town – home to New Zealand’s old­est uni – so don’t be sur­prised to find your­self among students at its colour­ful cafes.

Marvel at the mag­nif­i­cent har­bour, ex­plore Lar­nach Cas­tle

and Gar­dens (stay for high tea) or take a scenic drive along the

Otago Penin­sula to ad­mire the beaches and sea life.

Re­mem­ber rolling Jaf­fas down the aisle as a kid? Dunedin also hosts an an­nual Cad­bury Cho­co­late fes­ti­val, where thou­sands of Jaf­fas are rolled down the hill (the city is home to the steep­est res­i­den­tial street in the world).

If you have sturdy legs and a heart for ad­ven­ture, head out on a hike along the South­ern Alps, which cov­ers hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres along the South Is­land. Many hik­ers make a pil­grim­age to New Zealand’s high­est moun­tain, Ao­raki, which tow­ers more than 3724 me­tres. The spec­tac­u­lar, ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment, from lush forests to river val­leys and snow-capped peaks, will give you an idea of the spec­tac­u­lar range of the is­land’s scenery.

If your boots are still made for walk­ing, why not visit the

Pan­cake Rocks and blow­holes at Pu­nakaiki, tramp the Franz

Josef Glacier or tramp along the coastal par­adise of the Abel

Tas­man Na­tional Park and see the seals and dol­phins at play?

Fancy play­ing the same golf course as bill clin­Ton? Hit the links at Mill­brook Golf

Re­sort, north of Queen­stown. They don’t call Queen­stown the ad­ven­ture cap­i­tal of New Zealand for noth­ing. Quad­bik­ing, white-wa­ter raft­ing, jet-boat­ing, even bungee­jump­ing… Queen­stown has it all. Pack your adrenalin.

A pop­u­lar hot-spot for celebs (just ask the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge), Queen­stown is also a ma­jor foodie des­ti­na­tion:

Ferg­burger has been dubbed the world’s best burger joint! Big call, but they’re mak­ing it! You must check out Cen­tral

Otago, just an hour out of Queen­stown. Its award-win­ning wines – par­tic­u­larly its pinots

– have been mak­ing a ma­jor splash on the word stage. Sam­pling the prod­uct of the sun-dap­pled vine­yards right be­fore you is a spe­cial de­light. Tourists rave about the view from Rip­pon Vine­yard (as well as the wine, nat­u­rally). Pair that pinot noir with merino lamb and slow-roasted duck at

Mt Dif­fi­culty. Or clink glasses while ad­mir­ing the mag­nif­i­cent view of Lake Hayes at Am­is­field. You just can’t lose!

Ski­ing and snow­board­ing are big around Queen­stown,

Wanaka and Cen­tral Otago, so after­wards, put the wine in the car boot and drive to the moun­tains for fun on the slopes.

You’ll want to ex­plore the UNESCO World Her­itage site of Fiord­land Na­tional Park – and not only be­cause you saw it in LOTR. Take a cruise down Milford Sound, once de­scribed by Rud­yard Ki­pling as “the eighth won­der of the world” (you’ll soon see why – don’t for­get your cam­era).

End your is­land odyssey by sam­pling the re­gion’s most fa­mous ex­ports, the Bluff oys­ter, at the sea­side town of Bluff, right at the end of the is­land.

If you want the com­plete NZ is­land ex­pe­ri­ence, take the ferry to Ste­wart Is­land, NZ’s third (and oft for­got­ten) is­land. Or head to the North Is­land... but that’s an­other story.





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