Virtuoso Life - July/August 2018 - 79
Natural wonders on tap in the land of kiwis.
Black-sand beaches, bright-green pastures that fade into the horizon, alpine lakes, vineyard-lined valleys - New Zealand is
a sweeping cinematic masterpiece. (Have you seen The Lord of the Rings?) "There's amazing food and wine, adventure for
days, and friendly locals who really know how to unwind in pristine beauty," says Cassandra Bookholder, a
travel advisor from Phoenix. "It's easy to make a second, third, or fourth trip."
Slow down on the South Island.
FIRST TIME Lodge-hop from north to south.
The more time in New Zealand, the better, advises
Bookholder, who recommends two weeks for a ﬁrst visit.
Your travel advisor can work with Southern Crossings, a
Virtuoso on-site tour connection in the country, to line up
the Middle-earth essentials: Make sure your ﬁrst itinerary
includes a day or two in Auckland, a soak in the Waikite
Valley Thermal Pools outside Rotorua, a helicopter tour
from Queenstown to Milford Sound, and a road trip to
the South Island's Franz Josef Glacier, for starters. "They
know all the special people and secret places that will
make your experience incredible," Bookholder says. "And
lodges are a must when possible. Places like Otahuna
Lodge near Christchurch and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers on the North Island are destinations in themselves."
(MOUNT TARANAKI) BEERPIXS/
GETTY IMAGES, (JACKET) PIOTR
Getting around New Zealand is easy - daily ﬂights and
ferries connect the North and South islands, and your
GPS works almost everywhere - but all that transit is
still time-consuming. "When travelers go back to New
Zealand, they realize they can really focus on one place
properly," Bookholder says. Base a return trip at Minaret
Station Alpine Lodge - a four-chalet Southern Alps
escape accessible only by helicopter - and ﬁll days
with ﬂightseeing adventures, farm tours, guided hiking
excursions, and more. Doubles from $1,693, including all
meals and beverages. Round-trip helicopter lodge transfers, $1,347 per person.
New Zealand's natural beauty, from left: Mount Taranaki
on the North Island, and Southern Alps views at Minaret
Station Alpine Lodge.
DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT: "You'll experience four seasons in one day, no matter what time of year or which island you're on," Bookholder says. "Wear layers and pack gloves, beanies, and windbreakers."
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