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Published on : Monday, May 2, 2016
Autumn is a real feast for the senses in New Zealand, offering plenty of great reasons to plan an indulgent getaway Down Under.
Whether you fly into Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, you’ll find curious, sensual, only-in-New Zealand, autumn experiences in all four corners of the two main islands.
Get in touch with nature as you cross the sands on a deserted beach. Southeast of Auckland on the languid Bay of Plenty coast, Moutohora Island is a world away. The cool autumn air is a perfect match for the warm thermal beach pools and the squelch of sand between your toes.
Head south to Wellington, and the Museum of New Zealand where you can run your fingers over the glossy, soothing surface of a pounamu boulder – the deep green New Zealand jade – and learn how important it is to Māori culture.
Just across the waters of Cook Strait in sunny Marlborough, EcoWorld Aquarium in Picton, is the place to get a feel for one of the world’s oldest reptilian species, the tuatara.
Touch the wizened, gnarled skin of this ancient living fossil at the ‘Meet the Locals’ events.
Each year in May, seafood fans set off for Southland – in southern New Zealand – for the Bluff Oyster Festival, where music, entertainment, wild foods, seafood, oysters and local beverages take centre stage.
However, if you’d prefer something from the land, make you way from Auckland to the Waiheke Wine & Food Festival in early April to sample some of New Zealand’s best reds along with some local cuisine.
And then there’s the feijoa — the humble ‘pineapple guava’ fruit that makes New Zealanders living abroad feel homesick. All around the more temperate parts of Aotearoa, you’ll find roadside stalls stacked with fruit from late March to June.
The North Island’s central volcanic regions are a playground for rich outdoor adventures and sensual experiences.
Deep in the heart of the Waikato, in the small country town of Te Aroha, you can relax in natural soda waters sourced from springs deep under bush-clad Mt Te Aroha.
Further south, the North Island’s Chateau Tongariro is one of the most beautiful hotels in New Zealand. Built in 1929, its Neo-Georgian grandeur is the perfect place to inhale crisp, clean mountain air and relax after a thrilling day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – where you might just get a whiff of volcanic thermals.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, you may prefer to take a walk on the green side on one of New Zealand’s nine great walking trails – a multi-day experience in a remote South Island wilderness or just a couple of hours in Wellington’s Zealandia Eco-sanctuary is as far as you need to go to inhale the earthy perfume of the forest floor underfoot.
But you haven’t seen it all until you’ve discovered the magnificent Southern Alps – the mountain range extending the length of the South Island – and the skies above the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. The heavenly reserve of nearly 4300 square kilometres of night skies is protected from light pollution, making a visit to the area’s Mount John Observatory, above Lake Tekapo, a must-do for star-gazers.
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