No matter how many times I return to Wanaka it never fails to take my breath away. Overlooking a vast glacial lake and surrounded by picturesque mountains, it is a nature lover's dream. There is so much to do in the area and nearby Mount Aspiring National Park offers tremendous walking, cycling and climbing. Wanaka town also has plenty to offer from Puzzling World to excellent restaurants and pleasant lavender gardens. It's also home to Cinema Paradiso, in my opinion the best place to catch a movie anywhere in the world. Comfy sofas replace the normal seating and the homemade interval cookies are divine.
Rupert, New Zealand & Cook Islands Specialist
I fell in love with travel on my first holiday to the Caribbean aged five. I've travelled extensively since and rank Cambodia, Zimbabwe and the Maldives as some of the most memorable destinations I've visited.
Way ahead of them, at the top of my list, is New Zealand, which I first visited in 2003. I immediately fell in love with the diverse landscapes and unique Maori culture and loved it so much that I visited every summer and moved there as soon as my studies ended. I spent over four years living in Auckland and explored the country from top to bottom many times, often discovering incredible off-the-beaten-track destinations that in other countries would be headline attractions.
Now back in my home city of London, I'm in my element sharing my passion for the Land of the Long White Cloud and the Cook Islands with everyone I meet. When not talking travel I enjoy swing dancing and playing football.
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I felt so at home at the Marlborough Lodge that I never wanted to leave. It's a converted Victorian convent set on a large riverside estate in the heart of the Marlborough wine region and makes a great place to unwind after a busy day touring the vineyards. Every little detail has been thought of and the ten suites combine contemporary style with period charm. The food is some of the best I've eaten in New Zealand with pre-dinner canapés providing an opportunity to meet other guests. There's a swimming pool and tennis court but I was content reading on the balcony with a glass of wine.
I'll never forget when…
I spent a day touring the Coromandel Peninsula with Kiwi Dundee, New Zealand's real-life equivalent to Crocodile Dundee. Over his years of exploring he has built up a huge store of knowledge of the history and culture of the region and took me to numerous sights and pointed out details most visitors miss. We visited a significant Maori pā (fortified hill), the giant rock arch at Cathedral Cove, and Hot Water Beach where we sat in hot pools of water and saw rocks used by ancient Maori for crafting weapons and tools. The highlight though, was exploring the old gold mines in the mountainous Coromandel Forest.