New Zealand

Paraplanning Direct Principal, Brigitte Julien got reacquainted with New Zealand[c1] , the little treasure island right on our doorstep, last October.

The trip started in the North Island as we landed in Auckland.  The Hop and Off Bus took us to the main sights.   The adventure began with our drive to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands.   The views across the green islands and the turquoise colour of the waters from the Retreat prompted us to say some extra days.  Our wonderful hosts went the extra mile to make us welcome.  The Bay of Islands will remain one of the highlights of the trip…. a spot to rest, walk and be…

We took a cruise run by Explore to discover the Hole in the Rock and much to my disbelief, the boat even travelled through the Hole.   I kept saying to myself : “ No way, our boat is too big to go through”  but we did.   The barbecue lunch at Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island  was a surprise.  We were not expecting the outstanding smorgasbord of BBQ meat and salads.  Our guide entertained us with anecdotes of the Bay and provided us with an insight in the marine and birdlife.   As we did not spot any dolphins, we were given a return ticket.


A visit in this part of the world would not be complete without visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and getting immersed in the history of New Zealand, the very spot where the founding document of the island was signed. The authentic Maori cultural performance brought vibrancy to this beautiful spot over the water.

We then journeyed by train from Auckland to Wellington where we took the ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island.  We could not have wished for better weather as we cruised through the Malborough Sounds among the dinosaur shaped islands with the sun blasting and blue skies adding to the deep blue hue of the ocean.

The South Island was a delight, starting with picturesque Picton with its beautiful seafront and marina.   Abel Tasman National Park with its turquoise waters and myriad of dolphins was a success despite the  huge clouds looming all morning.   The  Tranzalpine scenic ride from Greymouth to Christchurch provided many  “Wow” moments, with snow capped peaks and glacial rivers storming past in deep gorges.


Queenstown, the adventure city of New Zealand.. whether it is bungy jumping, sky diving, jet-boating mountain biking, skiing or snowboarding.. this majestic town nestled on the shores of Wakatipu Lake has got it all and does not stop attracting visitors from all over the world.  Cruising on Lake Wakatipu on the Earnslaw Steamship offered breathtaking scenery and we had a gourmet lunch at the Walter Peak Farm.


New Zealand… a place to be one with nature where majestic scenery awaits on every corner.   We were graced with beautiful weather for most of the trip and even blessed with overnight snow across the Remarkables while in Queenstown.  So I am keen to go back and explore some of the trails.. maybe the Queen Charlotte Track and Abel Tasman Track .  I cherish warm memories of the  Routeburn and Greenstone Track that I hiked a few years ago.   But then why not Te Araroa, the 3000 kilometres trail from Cape Reinga, the tip of the North Island to Bluff, the tip of the South Island…makes one ponder on the possibilities!!