Free Travel Newsletter : February 2014
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Blossom Goonting, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning "Kiwi Country New Zealand DVD".
The fun continues this month with some great festivals for music, food and beer lovers in the north and on the Wild West coast of the south. If you prefer a more restful atmosphere, then look instead at our selection of the top gardens in the country, each one is inspiring and informative. This month's 'Go See' suggestion is the Pohutu Geyser in the thermal valleys of Rotorua and a side trip down to Mount Taranaki is also recommended.
Find out about:
- The Oratia Jungle Festival, Auckland, 1st March
- Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika, 8th March
- The New Zealand Beer Festival, Auckland, 15th March
- Go See... the Pohutu Geyser
- 10 Top Gardens
- Off the Beaten Track to.... Mount Taranaki
- New Zealand Fast Facts
The Oratia Jungle Festival, Auckland, 1st March
Set in the lush surroundings of Landsendt Subtropical Gardens in the West Auckland rural village of Oratia, the Oratia Jungle Festival is a one day celebration of live music, art, sculpture, film and visuals, wine and creativity in one of the most stunning locations in Auckland.
No longer a secret, the all-ages friendly boutique festival event features BlackSandDiva, The Nukes, the Waves and the crazy Dirty ol' Pirates to keep the kids enthralled under the palm trees and amongst the garden ambiance. A mix of big screen visuals, live music and garden trails, art exhibitions with great local wine and food.
Find out more at the festival website or to buy tickets, call 0800 BUY TIX (289 849).
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika, 8th March
Now celebrating the wild food and drink of the West Coast for the 25th time, this unique event is unlike any other. The festival programme includes live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, a photography competition and prizes for the best-dressed festival-goers. Enjoy the taste of the wild and try seagull eggs, huhu beetle grubs, whitebait patties and mountain oysters (tickets sell out fast).
Find out more at the Festival website.
The New Zealand Beer Festival, Auckland, 15th March
The New Zealand Beer Festival is back in 2014 for its eighth year as New Zealand's leading and most celebrated craft beer event.
The festival has grown every year, and is expected to exceed last year's 12,500 person sell-out crowd, the festival will feature a massive line-up of food vendors and musicians. The perfect setting for good times with great mates.
Find out more on the Beer Festival website.
Go See... the Pohutu Geyser
The Pohutu Geyser is the most famous geyser in the Whakarewarewa thermal valley, an area close to Rotorua which has around 500 pools and nearly 100 geyser vents. The Pohutu Geyser (meaning big splash or explosion) can erupt up to 30 metres usually every hour.
The Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pohutu Geyser, Te Horu Geyser (The Cauldron) and Waikorohihi Geyser are on a sinter plateau about 6 metres above Puarenga Stream. Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pohutu Geyser's closest neighbour, always precedes Pohutu, a feeble jet at first but gradually increasing in power until a 9 metre high column is ejected on a dramatic angle, when Pohutu usually erupts also.
Visitors to the geyser can also visit Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, see Māori cultural performances, live kiwi, boiling mud pools, native bush and the National Schools of Wood Carving and Weaving.
Where to go: Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, Rotorua, North Island
How to get there: 3km from Rotorua
When to go: Summer hours, 8am - 6pm (last tour starts at 5pm)
Winter hours, 8am - 5pm (last tour starts at 4pm)
(Te Po evening experience runs 6pm - 9pm (requires exclusive Te Po ticket)
10 Top Gardens
New Zealand is home to some highly talented horticulturists, who in some cases have developed wonderful gardens from empty paddocks or scrub land. We've picked ten of the best, including public and private gardens, all of which are open to visitors - some opening hours and visiting restrictions may apply.
- Waitangi Treaty House and Gardens, Waitangi, North Island
The Waitangi Treaty House and Gardens is located on the historic site of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the historic treaty document was signed in 1840. The gardens surround the Treaty House and are set in a park-like reserve. Along with cultural performances, visitor centre and gift shop this is a must see destination.
- Palmco Display Gardens, Bay of Islands, North Island
Palmco is an exceptional destination for anyone visiting the Bay of Islands and is New Zealand's largest palm nursery. It has a successful blend of both exotic and native palm species and New Zealand native under plantings. It features a display garden and has a shop featuring all the palms and products they specialise in.
- Ayrlies, Whitford, Auckland, North Island
A private garden recognised for both design and horticultural excellence. The wetlands in the surrounding 12 acres is home to native and visiting bird life. "If you think of gardening as an art form, I think Ayrlies is the best expression of that art. The whole thing is an experience beyond any other garden in the country." Jack Hobbs, Auckland Botanic Gardens
- Woodlands, Gordonton, Hamilton, North Island
Woodlands is a treasured historic estate situated in the Waikato, only 10 minutes from Hamilton. The first plantings were made 135 years ago and add depth of maturity to the garden. The estate is home to some of the oldest and largest trees in New Zealand. Camellias are also planted extensively throughout the gardens.
- Te Kainga Marire, New Plymouth, North Island
Te Kainga Marire is Māori for 'the peaceful encampment'. Situated in a leafy suburb of New Plymouth, the predominantly native garden is skilfully created. Lush ferns, wetland plants, alpine treasures and native trees here make up a microcosm of the landscape.
- Wellington Botanic Garden, Wellington, North Island
Wellington Botanic Garden features 25 hectares of unique landscape, protected native forest, conifers, specialised plant collections, colourful floral displays and views over Wellington. Visitors can enjoy glow worms, public art, children's play area, a café and the Carter Observatory.
- Christchurch Botanic Garden, Christchurch, South Island
Christchurch Botanic Garden is situated within Hagley Park, in a loop of the River Avon. The garden was founded in 1863 with the planting of an English Oak tree and now features one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants in New Zealand.
- Longbeach, Ashburton, South Island
Longbeach garden is managed by the Grigg family. A historic estate handed down through generations, they started developing the garden in 1864. A wooden church, situated in the gardens, was bought for £30 in 1873 from Prebbleton and moved on skids by oxen... one of the many stories this estate holds.
- Dunedin Botanic Garden, Dunedin, South Island
Dunedin's Botanic Garden opened in 1863 and is the oldest in the country. From forested slopes to floral borders the garden presents a variety of settings hosting thousands of plants from New Zealand and overseas. There is a café and a beautiful Edwardian Winter Garden Glasshouse providing a tropical retreat.
- Larnach Castle Garden, Otago Peninsula, South Island
Visitors can enjoy a trip back in history, a beautifully developed garden topped by an indulgent moment in the café. There is also a 'tip of the hat' to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
You can find out more about private and public gardens in New Zealand on the New Zealand Gardens Trust website.
Share Your Experience
If you have visited some wonderful New Zealand retreats during your stay, let other NZTG readers know about them. Send details of your experiences to the newsletter editor.
Off the Beaten Track to... Mount Taranaki
If you've finished visiting the out-of-the-way film locations used for the Lord of the Rings movies, then why not add a side trip to Mount Taranaki on the west coast of New Zealand's north island? This 2518-metre-high mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world and because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji, was used as the backdrop for the movie, The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise... (more)
New Zealand Fast Facts
Award-winning wine writer, Will Lyons selected his top 10 pinot noirs from the 2013 Pinot Noir New Zealand gathering (held every 3 years) to help wine lovers navigate the huge choice of pinot noir grown in New Zealand. His favourite pinot region by the way is the Waipara (one hour north of Christchurch on the South Island). Enjoy your strawberry, raspberry and cherry notes:
- 2008 FOXES ISLAND BY JOHN BELSHAM Marlborough, North Island
- 2010 AUNTSFIELD SINGLE VINEYARD Marlborough, North Island
- 2008 DRY RIVER Martinborough, North Island
- 2010 ATA RANGI PINOT NOIR Martinborough, North Island
- 2009 BELL HILL North Canterbury, South Island
- 2009 MOUNTFORD ESTATE North Canterbury, South Island
- 2011 VALLI GIBBSTON VINEYARD Central Otago, South Island
- 2011 BURN COTTAGE Central Otago, South Island
- 2011 FELTON ROAD BLOCK 3 Central Otago, South Island
- 2010 PEGASUS BAY PRIMA DONNA Waipara Valley, South Island