Why I love… New Zealand

Destination Executive Laura tells us about her trip to the picturesque country of New Zealand where she spotted whales in the wild and took a leap off the Auckland Sky Tower.

It was my second time landing in Auckland. My first was five years ago while backpacking with friends through Australasia. I fell head over heels for the incredible landscapes and jaw dropping scenery of New Zealand. I always wanted to go back but never thought I would get the chance, so when work offered me the trip to explore the North and South Islands, you bet I leapt at the opportunity.

We started our 10-day tour of the South Island with two nights in Christchurch before taking a day trip to Akaroa. Just 75 km from Christchurch, this little French and British settlement sticks in your mind for its quaint colonial architecture, great art galleries and cafés and its nature cruises around the bay. While on a cruise I was lucky enough to spot wild dolphins leaping out of the water– it was magical!

Keeping on the wildlife theme we worked our way up the South Island to Kaikoura for a whale-watching cruise. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never seen a whale in the wild before and I didn’t really expect we’d see one up close. But after a short wait, we caught sight of two sperm whales and a large pod of dolphins dancing around the front of our boat. Seeing such magnificent creatures against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains is a sight I’ll never forget.

Heading further north we spent some time wine tasting in Blenheim and visiting the stunning Abel Tasman National Park in Nelson. We then took the ferry from Picton across to Wellington in the North Island. I was lucky enough to visit Hobbiton Village, where I got the chance to visit where the films were created and enjoy a drink in The Green Dragon pub – a must for any Hobbiton fan!

 Known for its adrenaline-fuelled experiences, New Zealand is full of different activities to try. When in Rotorua I was lucky enough to have a go at white water rafting, jet boating and the Skyline Luge. But the most incredible, adrenaline-pumping experience I had during my trip was jumping off the Auckland Skytower.

 Leaping a total of 192 metres from the top of the tower with the most incredible views as you fall, this was by far the highlight of my trip. It’s not quite as scary as a Skydive or a bungee jump, so perfect for a first time thrill seeker. For those who don’t fancy the drop, you can still visit the top of the tower to see the beautiful city skyline.

Although my trip was fast-paced, I managed to see loads of the North and South Islands. I think two weeks is an ideal amount of time in New Zealand, through I would definitely recommend doing a self drive so you can explore at your own pace. There really is something for everyone in New Zealand, with a beautiful diverse landscape that differs between the islands; it honestly is a must-see destination. I cannot recommend a visit enough, and I’m already planning to return for a third time!