June 27th 2014

Say 'kia ora' to New Zealand and discover a far-away land with the warmest of welcomes and truly spectacular landscapes. And don't be disconcerted if the traditional Maori greeting is accompanied by 'hongi' - when you touch your nose and forehead to that of your new acquaintance - it's considered the equivalent of a formal handshake! New Zealand's South Island offers wonderful hiking along sapphire blue seas, incredible mountains and lush rainforests. It's no accident that the country was picked as prime locations for The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia movies - the scenery is truly fantastic. From the gorgeous coastal panorama of the Marlborough Sounds where Captain Cook stepped ashore in 1770, to the cooler drama of the southern alps, the view changes almost by the minute. Visit the rainforest of the Paparoa National Park and see the weird limestone formations of the Pancake Rocks where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes. Enticed by the prospect of a glimpse of a secret glow-worm grotto? It's all part of the itinerary! Emerge from the verdant forest and hike to the edge of the Fox Glacier where a frozen sea of turquoise ice seems to descend toward you. Then escape into nature at its best along the shores of Lake Wanaka, which offers some of the best hiking in New Zealand. From the summit of Mount Iron the 360 degree views of the Minaret Peaks, Mount Aspiring and the Otago plains unfold below. Don't miss the opportunity to chat to a sheep farmer at Mount Earnshaw, whose family was one of the original European settlers in Otago. In Arrowtown, a former gold-mining community, a shady river track meanders through the township and traveling further south to Queenstown, the aptly named Sunshine Valley walk follows Lake Wakatipu's shores. For more information on this unmissable and unforgettable adventure in the southern hemisphere, click here.

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