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A spacious country with a dramatic landscape that belies the humble slither on the map, New Zealand's unique Maori heritage, charming cities, outdoor pursuits and world-class food and wine make for a real breath of fresh air. The country's north and south islands and their smaller counterparts jut out of the Pacific Ocean 2,000km southeast of Australia –about as far from the UK as it's possible to get. The location of innumerable films –perhaps most famously The Lord of the Rings –this diverse country is renowned as one of the most beautiful in the world: you'll find towering mountains, fjords, formidable coastlines, volcanoes, lakes, quiet beaches, native bush and rolling meadows, all within an area around the same size as the UK. New Zealand's population of just over four million people is mainly clustered in and around Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, making it possible to ditch the crowds at a moment's notice. Understandably, the country is a haven for outdoor pursuits: whether you're seeking a gentle stroll or a rush of adrenalin you will find it here. With all this landscape to explore, it's easy to forget the charming cities: heart-stealing Wellington, a blend of old and new and handy for the wine region nearby;vibrant Auckland,;Christchurch, with its British colonial architecture;and bohemian Nelson, the sunniest place in the country. Take in the dreamy Art Deco architecture of Napier, head to Kaikoura for delicious seafood and wildlife spotting, walk in the rugged hills surrounding Akaroa, or immerse yourself in Maori culture amid the feisty volcanic landscape around Rotorua and Taupo.
New Zealand with A&K
If there's a more dramatic destination for an al fresco tipple we'd like to know. After spinning around the vertiginous walls and serene water of Milford Sound, A&K's surprised guests found their helicopter touching down in the mountain top snow for champagne and canapés. Of course you expect poetry-inducing scenery in New Zealand. You might be surprised, however, to find it also offers the perfect pillow. We'd like to take some of the credit. When we heard that a client of ours was dissatisfied with the ones in her hotel, we immediately relayed the information to her next accommodation. The result? The owners of South Island's superb Eden House rushed out to buy plump, supportive pillows. The country that gave the world the bungee jump, had now given it the ultimate night's kip.
It's the sort of attention to detail our Australasian office has been delivering for the last two decades. Its expert consultants have tried and tested just about all the country's hotels, guesthouses and excursions - one of many reasons we were recently voted Tour Operator of the Year. Travel to New Zealand with Abercrombie and Kent in 2014 and we'll deliver our handpicked highlights.
You can chose your sand variety: do you want Karekare's volcanic black, Gisborne's gold or the Bay of Island's honey blonde? Or you can soak in Rotorua's emerald geothermal waters, sip fine wine around Hawke's Bay, or dine in Auckland's gourmet restaurants - we'll design a culinary tour of brilliantly creative chefs and acclaimed vineyards.
Alternatively you can burn off a few calories paddling through Abel Tasman park, or with some high octane adrenaline in Queenstown, before heading into the mountains for the astounding Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers. Unsurprisingly the Land of the Long White Cloud is glorious self-drive country, and clients have written poetically about touring through the sublime Haast Pass with its snow-licked peaks and alpine lakes.
Many also tell us their first reaction to the idea of a New Zealand holiday is it's a long way to go. But once they've been, they adamant they'd happily give up a couple more days of their life to return. We can't think of a better recommendation.
Best time to be there
Summer on the north island (December to February) is ideal for outdoor pursuits with mild temperatures and hours of sunshine. Venture to the numerous ski slopes and warm up close to a crackling fire during the winter months in June to August.
Auckland (Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, daily)
26 hours, one stop
GMT +12 hours
Not required for UK passport holders
Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Nights: 15 | from £13,620
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Holiday type: Group departure
Small Group Journeys
Call 01242 547 704 Enquire