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Old May 10, 09, 9:56 pm
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New Zealand Luxury Hotels - trip report (part I)

I just returned from a 12 day trip to New Zealand during which I stayed in a number of luxury hotels and had site inspections of others. I want to share my impressions ó but in light of some responses that have been made to prior trip reports, I want to offer this disclaimer: this is just my own, personal opinion of the the hotels. Others may very well come to different conclusions, which is as it should be. I cannot pretend to judge the service that guests will receive as (obviously) hotel managers will go out of their way to impress travel agents.

I have been asked: Whatís the best place to stay in New Zealand? on a number of occasions. After spending twelve nights in this beautiful country, my respectful response is ... thatís the wrong question to ask. New Zealand is a country roughly the size of Colorado with an incredible variety of things to see and do. Begin with this question: what kind of experience do you want to have in New Zealand?
  • Do you want to see incredible alpine beauty?
  • Do you want to visit wineries?
  • Do you enjoy fly fishing or hunting?
  • Are you into adventure travel ó (e.g., hiking or trekking)?
  • Do you go for activities that give you an adrenaline rush (e.g., bungy jumping)?
  • Are you a golfer?
  • Will your budget permit touring or transferring by helicopter?
  • Do you want to self-drive throughout this country of two-lane roads or arrange for private drivers who know the attractions of New Zealand intimately and can save you from having to search out many of the secluded properties and attractions?
Answering questions like these will enable you to develop an itinerary that will provide you with a great trip. No matter where you want to go in New Zealand, there are luxury hotels that would appeal to discriminating FlyerTalk travelers.

Some basic geography

SOUTH ISLAND. New Zealand has two major islands. The South Island is sparsely populated with most of its residents living in Christchurch. Come here for the incredible alpine scenery. Milford Sound is the most famous attraction, but Iím told that Doubtful Sound has less tourists but is just as wonderful. Near Queenstown is the original Bungy Jump site in New Zealand.

NORTH ISLAND. The North Island is the more populous island, but outside of Auckland, thereís really not much population. Come here if you are interested in Mauri culture. Wellington in the south is the nationís capital city; its beautiful Museum of New Zealand is a contemporary building with a fabulous exhibit of Maori culture - and free admission.

The Hawkeís Bay region has some of the finest wineries of New Zealand. The Art Deco city of Napier is worth a visit with a guided tour.

Driving north, Lake Taupo is a recreational area in the center of the North Island with opportunities for fishing and boating.

Further north, Lake Rotorua is a popular tourist area with a beautiful lake and some interesting tourist experiences. Kiwi Encounter is an interesting educational experience about the Kiwi, New Zealandís national bird whose survival is endangered. Kiwi eggs are gathered and brought here where the eggs are incubated and the chicks raised to maturity before releasing them into safe habitats. The earthís crust is thin here, and you can witness a lot of geo-thermal springs bubbling to the surface or visit the crater of an extinct volcano.

Auckland is New Zealandís largest city. Youíll fly into Auckland if coming from the United States (there are direct flights into a number of different NZ destinations from Australia) but you donít necessarily need to spend any time in Auckland. Itís a very pleasant city that reminds me of Vancouver, BC. The Auckland War Memorial Museum has a good display of Mauri culture.

(to be continued)
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