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New Zealand: Heaven in the Middle of the Earth

It’s no wonder Hollywood loves it.  With stunning scenery, a progressive food & wine scene, a wide variety of accommodations, and activities galore, you basically have to try to find a reason to not go to New Zealand.

Town & Country Vacation Planner extraordinaire and certified travel-to-Australia and New Zealand specialist, Carolyn Durup, just returned from an 8-night whirlwind trip to New Zealand with Swain Destinations.  The purpose?  To visit luxury lodges, taste the wine, and partake is some real adventures!

The Program:

Arrive:  Arrive to Auckland after a 13 hour flight from LAX.  Think of it is a lazy Sunday; watch a few movies, eat a couple of meals, sneak in a nap… and you’re there!


To get to the first accommodation, a short 50 minute flight brought them to the town of Taupo, a recreation lover’s delight.  Local attractions include trout fishing, skiing, and geothermal parks.

Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge has long been considered one of the top retreats in the world, with an extensive list of prestigious awards celebrating the grounds, hospitality, and adventure experiences to be had.  Lake Taupo offers wonderful trout fishing and swimming, and a boat can take you to the many

isolated coves and bays fringing the edge of the great lake. Some may chose a quiet game of golf, enjoy horse trekking, sailing, river rafting, hunting or skiing.  A truly unique experience to be had? Heli-fishing offers a complete wilderness experience in some of the best trout fishing territory in the world.

Carolyn enjoyed boating on Lake Taupo for a little trout fishing and to see the famous Maori carvings.


Next stop, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers   

The transfer time from Huka Lodge to Cape Kidnappers is approximately 2 hours.

Set on a 6,000 acre sheep and cattle farm on the rugged coastline of the Eastern Coast on New Zealand’s North Island (where the cliff’s plunge 800 feet downwards) and on an amazing peninsula is the The Farm at Cape Kidnappers , a luxurious escape.

On the exterior, the lodge resembles a cluster of charming farm buildings. Local materials are incorporated into spacious rooms full of natural light and unexpected treasures, adding up to pure luxury in front of breathtaking views.  This property is a golfer’s delight, but also features access to many beautiful walking and mountain bike trails.

Go Rugged!

You might want to give 4-wheeling a try on Can Am, a four wheel drive ATV vehicle. Driven by a guide, a Can-Am Tour will take you to the furthermost reaches of the property with unrivaled vistas, through the old creek bed, across the expansive farmland and down to historic Rangaika Beach. This tour is generally about two and a half hours and is one of The Farm at Cape Kidnapper’s most popular activities.

Next Stop, Greenhill Lodge in Hawke’s Bay…

…But first, wine tasting in Napier!   Carolyn enjoyed  a couple of the fine Hawke’s Bay wineries including Elephant Hill and Craggy Range Winery.  The area features more than 40 boutique wineries, and is a short  30 minute drive from Cape Kidnappers.


Greenhill Lodge

Greenhill Lodge is an opulent and tranquil retreat located in the heart of Hawke’s Bay wine country, a region with some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand. Located within fifteen minutes of either Havelock North or Hastings, a comfortable two hour drive from Taupo, and one hour flight from either Auckland or Wellington.

Everything about Greenhill is gracious and elegant, from the wood paneled billiard room to the extraordinary viewing tower. Nestled in 30 acres of picturesque park-like grounds, Greenhill enjoys panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Guest facilities include a swimming pool, spa pool, fully equipped gymnasium and croquet lawn.

Next and final stop, The Spire Hotel in Queenstown

This transfer required a short and scenic 50 minute flight from Napier to Wellington for a connection to Queenstown. The Wellington-Queenstown flight was 1 hour and 20 minutes.


Nestled beside the deep blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, at the foot of the Remarkables Mountain Range, Queenstown is a year round resort, where you can be as active as you want, or just leisurely enjoy the magnificent scenery.

The Spire Hotel
With just ten carefully calibrated rooms, a sleek bar and fine restaurant, The Spire is thoroughly modern yet suffused with warmth. Centrally located in the heart of Queenstown, The Spire is the perfect base from which to explore New Zealand’s picture postcard alpine resort.

For thrill seekers:  Dart River Wilderness & Milford Ultimate

Dart Wilderness Adventures presents a jet boat that threads through a maze of channels between river flats in only inches of water. Snow-capped mountains surround you as you view the World Heritage Grandeur, and waterfalls cascade into the lush valleys – a magical, untouched place. The driver/guide shares their knowledge, and pulls onto a bank so that you may explore the area by foot.

When in New Zealand a helicopter flight is a must.  After an exhilarating morning, Carolyn boarded a helicopter and flew over the famous Milford Track & Sutherland Falls to Milford Sound. The flight whisked out to the mouth of the Sound and along the rugged West Coast presenting the opportunity to view seal colonies in their natural habitat. Then from the Tasman Sea, fly inland over glaciers and frozen lakes to one of our secret wilderness sites for some ‘Over the Top’ hospitality.

A Visit to Arrowtown…

The excursion was to savor the hidden delights of the world’s southernmost wine growing region, featuring a mix of spectacular New Zealand scenery, fascinating regional history and a chance to visit delightful boutique wineries.  Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand and is worth a visit.

And finally, homeward bound after a fabulous time “down under!” We challenge you to find a reason to NOT visit New Zealand!

For more inspiration and to discover some of the many ways to experience the spectacular region, please visit our New Zealand microsite – an entire website dedicated to travel to New Zealand!

To plan your dream trip to New Zealand, contact Carolyn Durup at Town & Country Travel  at (805) 495-9888 or email, or complete the form below and we’ll be happy to contact you.

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