Strolling around the parks of Christchurch. Punting along the River Avon. Viewing the Canterbury Plains. It is very English-sounding. So how about also visiting Maoris at Kaikoura, dolphin watching off Akaroa, exploring the Tasman Glacier, boating on Lake Tekapo, climbing Mount Cook…
It is evident, as you saunter around the graceful little city of Christchurch, that the English connection is still strong. Victorian, neo-gothic architecture, carefully groomed parks and traditional gardens are abundant here, gathered around a river called the Avon. But travel slightly further afield and you will have ample reminders that you are, in fact, on the other side of the world. The spectacular bays and inlets around Akaroa spread out along the coastline on either side of a historic French whaling station – now the starting point for superb dolphin, seal and penguin-spotting expeditions.
Swimming with dolphins, whale watching – by boat or helicopter – is one of the reasons to visit Kaikoura. Another, even more fascinating perhaps, is the opportunity to mingle with the largest Maori tribe on the islands and learn about their history, culture, natural medicine and ancient sites.
And then it’s on to Tekapo and – literally – the high point of your luxury, tailor-made vacation to New Zealand. Mount Cook is the highest peak in the country and features the massive Tasman Glacier – all of 30 km long – with virtually unlimited potential for scenic flights by ski planes, glacial trekking and glacier boating, amongst others.