Springtime is on the horizon south of the Equator, and the warm breezes of that welcome season will soon start blowing through New Zealand.
The soft weather begins unfolding across the island nation in September, warming through to mid-December, when summer makes its official debut.
But with summer comes the high season rush of visitors, so Singaporean families, singles and couples are discovering that a quieter window of travel to New Zealand is during the spring.
Those seeking to explore the picturesque landscapes of the country should consider a stay at Wanaka, a resort town amid the alps on the South Island with a magnificent setting of soaring mountains, alpine lakes and rivers. It is a great location for both outdoor adventurers and well-heeled travellers.
Nestled on the shore of Lake Wanaka, it has acquired a reputation as one of the world’s top adventure towns, with easy access to Mount Aspiring National Park in the Southern Alps.
Plus, it is easy to reach by car, coach, train or plane as Christ-church is the nearest large city.
The most daring way to get a view of the landscape is by skydiving.
Adventure seekers can also get their adrenaline rush with waterborne activities like abseiling down waterfalls at Deep Canyon, kayaking on river rapids or jetboating.
The Matukituki, Makarora, Clutha and Hawea rivers all offer outstanding kayaking and paddleboarding.
The area also has impressive fishing opportunities for salmon and brown and rainbow trouts in the clear waters of the lakes, streams and rivers.
Offering a luxury refuge in the wilderness is the Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet, with shoreside accommodations on Lake Wanaka and a backdrop of the Southern Alps.
The chalet serves as a base for heli-skiing, ski touring and mountainside picnics.
And the lodge is a convenient base for lots of diversions, including skiing at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone, heli-skiing in the Southern Alps, cycling, horse riding, flight seeing in a vintage aircraft over the lake, and sampling the wines of Central Otago.
Minaret Station is located in a secluded alpine valley west of Lake Wanaka, and is accessed via helicopter from Wanaka or Queenstown.
It offers a connection with the best of the wilderness in the South Island, with a choice of heli-adventures, guided fishing, guided hunting and heli-skiing excursions.
Many other adventures await in New Zealand, including the thrill of seeing wildlife (such as the rare yellow-eyed penguins) at the bottom of the South Island, in Dunedin.
A total of some 2,500km of bicycle trails criss-cross the South and North Islands as part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail project, taking in the country’s landscape, culture and heritage.
For some rest and relaxation, enjoy the hot springs resorts and pools at the top of the North Island, the scenic Coromandel Peninsula. Of note is the unique Hot Water Beach, where visitors can dig their own hot water spa pool.
Not far from the Coromandel Peninsula is Auckland, the capital of New Zealand, offering a sophisticated urban alternative to the adventurous, naturally wild side of the country.
Polishing that image is a vast choice of fine-dining restaurants and eateries of all description for discerning palates.
Auckland has four downtown food precincts offering a range of restaurants within strolling distance. For instance, the Britomart Precinct in Auckland’s downtown offers contemporary dining in a unique industrial setting.
The historic area was given a contemporary makeover, becoming a mainstay of Auckland’s dining scene and a premium shopping destination.
It is designed around a compact block of cobbled laneways, streets and open spaces, and features hip bars, cafés and restaurants. It has also become a favourite haunt for night-life seekers.
Situated here is Ostro, a stylish take on an international-style brasserie with a Michelin-starred chef. It has six floors of eateries, bars, a screening room and a private members’ club, plus an all-weather terrace with great views of Waitemata Harbour.
Beer fans will like the Brothers Juke Joint in an old leatherworking factory in leafy Akiraho Street.
It features a traditional southern style BBQ restaurant, a great range of beers, a sunny courtyard and a laid-back, retro vibe — which is only fitting, given that this is New Zealand!
Check out newzealand.com for more exciting travel ideas.
On cloud nine
Getting to New Zealand from Singapore is a simple matter of booking flights on Air New Zealand (ANZ), which operates daily non-stop flights between the two cities, departing Singapore at 8.45am and arriving in Auckland at 10.45pm.
From Auckland, ANZ has over 400 domestic flights connecting to more than 20 points throughout the country.
The carrier operates a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Singapore to Auckland. Passenger comfort is enhanced with its lower cabin altitude and higher humidity, as well as the enhanced sense of space created by large windows.
The opportunity to rest on the flight can be maximised by booking an Economy Skycouch, a great option for people travelling with kids or those who would like to stretch out.
Each Skycouch consists of three seats that easily convert to a flat surface for sleeping, relaxation and play. The full couch space from end to end measures 1.55m in length. Booking a Skycouch does not cost the sky. Those with an Economy Class ticket can purchase a Skycouch upgrade for $999* per sector, while a couple with two Economy Class fares can buy an upgrade for an extra $499* per sector.
Entertainment amenities include a 9” HD touch screen with a Seat Chat feature that allows passengers to message and chat with friends and family members onboard their flight, without leaving their seat.
The Screen Share feature gives passengers the ability to share their screen and watch the same movie or TV show as the seat next to them, at the same time. They can also order snacks, outside the main meals, via their in-seat screen.
And don’t forget to check out ANZ’s entertaining safety videos. In the past, they featured the All Blacks team and Lord of the Rings characters including Peter Jackson in a cameo appearance.
Visit www.airnewzealand.com.sg for details.
*Prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuations.