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Archive for new zealand

Aspiring in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

Named for Mount Aspiring, one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Aspiring National Park provides inspiring walks for trekkers eager to view its glaciers, waterfalls, braided rivers and acres of native beech forest. Short walks around one hour include the Devil’s Punchbowl and Wainui Falls, featuring native forests and waterfalls. If you’re interested in a more serious walk, consider treks such as the Gillespie Pass Circuit, the Wilkin Valley, Aspiring Hut, Liverpool Bivy and Cascade Saddle. Of course, the park is also easily accessible by plane, helicopter or jet-boat, and a glacier landing high in the mountains can’t be beat.

New Zealand’s Iconic Tree

By Linda Tancs

Located in the stunning alps of the South Island in New Zealand, Wanaka is beloved by outdoor enthusiasts for its year-round array of activities amidst the lakes and mountains. It’s equally loved by shutterbugs, who flock to the region for their own storied photo of Lake Wanaka Tree, that lone willow tree in the middle of the lake. Perhaps the most photographed tree in the country, it may be the best known photo stop, but it’s not the only one. There are 24 designated scenic photo points with helpful commentary. Points 1-9 can be done either walking or biking and Points 10-24 can be done as a scenic drive with the opportunity to stop and walk about.

Stargazing in New Zealand

By Linda Tancs

Situated in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island, the Mackenzie Region is a photographer’s paradise of turquoise blue lakes, valleys of emerald green and snow-capped mountains. It’s also a heavenly place for stargazing, its clear skies earning it a designation as the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The reserve is home to Mount John Observatory, the perfect locale for a stargazing tour year round, where powerful telescopes will reveal all that the southern sky has to offer, like the Southern Cross and unparalleled views of the Milky Way.

The Forgotten World Highway

By Linda Tancs

Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, New Zealand’s Forgotten World Highway is its oldest heritage trail. Otherwise known as State Highway 43, the 93-mile route meanders over four mountain saddles, through a one-lane tunnel and over a river gorge in a way that many describe as a roller coaster experience. Located between Stratford and Taumarunui, a highlight along this scenic route is Whangamomona, a little village that declared itself a republic in 1989. You can get your passport stamped at the local hotel.

Rest for Oenophiles

By Linda Tancs

Do you hate shuttling between wineries, losing time to drink in (no pun intended) the countryside over a leisurely glass of vino?  In New Zealand, your ship has come in.  Actually, make that a motor home.  Maui, a vehicle rental company, is offering wine havens, a motorhome rental for an overnight stay at select vineyards.  Now relax, and enjoy the view.

Where the Stars Are

By Linda Tancs

Light management is critical to preserving the beauty of the night sky. Just ask the folks at the International Dark-Sky Association, a non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night. They’ve certified five places in the world as an International Dark Sky Reserve–in other words, that’s where the stars are. The honorees are Mont Mégantic in Canada, Exmoor National Park in England, Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand, NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia and Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

World’s Steepest Street

By Linda Tancs

Dunedin, New Zealand boasts the world’s steepest residential street, with an average slope of 1:5.  Recognized by Guinness World Records, 1150-foot-long Baldwin Street gives any StairMaster a run for its money.  Good thing a water fountain greets you at the summit!  Best of all, though, it runs up Signal Hill, offering great views of Otago Harbor.  Together with the peninsula, Otago Harbor is home to some of the rarest wildlife in the world and New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle.

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