Where to travel in New Zealand

Welcome along folks. It’s YourLifeChoices’ podcast Mind Your Own Retirement with me John Deeks and the founder of YourLifeChoices Kaye Fallick. And today we talk with Peter Harding, managing director of Grand Pacific Touring (NZ)

Peter Harding: Good afternoon.

John Deeks: Hello Peter. We’re going to be talking about travelling to New Zealand and we can’t wait. Where do we go first Peter?

PH: Well I think it’s all about why New Zealand, isn’t it really?

JD: Sorry Peter, was that wine? Or is it just my hearing?

PH: Well it could be a bit of both there John, you hit it on the head straightaway there I think. There are so many reasons why New Zealand, or wine New Zealand, is on the radar. One of the things that always resonates with me is that people refer to it as a world in miniature. Which really describes it as a destination where it’s got something for everyone.

JD: Can I just start by saying I have never toured New Zealand in my 69 years. I have now made a pledge to myself, and it has brought it into focus with what has been going on lately, that is time I toured New Zealand. As someone who does love wine, what should I be going to find out to do the best tour of New Zealand?

PH: I think there are a number of choices John that you could look at. I suppose it goes back to the early days when I was lucky enough to travel the world when I was younger, and I had a close association working with my father who was in the travel industry. In 1996 I decided to start a brand-new business from scratch, and the thought was to do one thing well and that was to be a coach to a specialist. I think it’s a great way of getting around New Zealand because there is so much to see, there’s a lot of different regions that you can visit, and it’s a very easy country to get around. So 24 years on – first of April 1996. We started on April fool’s day funnily enough. My love for New Zealand goes beyond the breathtaking scenery. I think what creates such special moments is the people, who are very genuine. They’re excited to share their story and that’s what really inspires me about dealing with just New Zealand as the sole destination for Grand Pacific Tours. It’s like any relationships John I think in business it’s critical to the success that you enjoy and I think every time I get on that plane and travel across to New Zealand I look at it as like going home to a second family.

Kaye Fallick: So Peter you shared with us off air that you are excited that there will be some fantastic air fares so Australians can get over there we believe, and news unfolds as we speak but we believe Australia and New Zealand will be our first bubble. So we are raring and ready to go, and I guess North Island or South Island or both depending on time? Would you start in the North and then head down?

PH: I think you can do it either way Kaye, I think it just depends on which way you decide to take that journey, so there are options. Both islands are so very different.

JD: Why are they different?

PH: Well, how long have we got John? The North Island certainly has a lot more cultural aspects to it, a lot more areas of history. Like up in the top of the North, which is Paihia, the Bay of Islands, which is the historic settlement where it all began back in 1840. That’s where the actual treaty was signed between the British crown and the Maori people. It’s a beautiful haven for cruises and out through ‘the hole in the rock’ and there’s lot of wildlife up there. You’ve got the key city of Auckland there which is one of the most liveable cities in the world, and then you head south through some beautiful farm land and places like ‘Hobbiton’, which are part of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies, which is just incredible spectacular rolling hills and green pastures that were a part of the backdrop for those amazing movies.

KF: Peter was that called Hobbiton before The Hobbit was filmed?

PH: It was actually a working farm before Peter Jackson went and knocked on the door of the owners. They created this movie set which was quite spectacular, which has now become one of New Zealand’s largest attractions that people visit in the North Island, so an amazing story.

KF: That’s called life imitating art isn’t it?

PH: Absolutely, and there’s been a lot of movies filmed in New Zealand in recent times I think. But everything is so different, you know even a little further south in Rotorua – it’s an amazing geothermal wonderland. And has an incredible showcasing of the Maori culture. A ‘must-do’ there is the traditional Maori Hangi and concert which shows the traditional cooking methods of the Maori people coupled with entertaining and informative cultural concerts. It’s just spectacular. Then you have the bubbling mud pools, the geysers, and the hot springs, so Rotorua is just another fascinating location loved by all who visit for all those reasons.  

KF: And then heading down to the South Island – Wellington you’re saying…

JD: Windy Wellington

KF: …is pretty vibrant

PH: Windy wellington is known as the coolest capital in the world actually, at the bottom of the North Island, and it really is a wonderful, very casual and relaxed atmosphere there. It has some spectacular visits such as Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, which houses some of the most fascinating displays. So the North Island really has some fabulous variety, but it’s simply so different to the South.

JD: I’m going to ask you a really dumb question Peter I’m sorry, but to drive around the North Island in its entirety, how long would that take if you’re going to stop and do it nice and easy, and the South Island the same?

PH: Our most popular duration of tours to cover both islands would be 19 days, and that would be about nine days in the North and the remaining 10 days in the South. Now, that will give you a nice relaxed experience that will cover the key locations that we have just spoken about in the North – being the Bay of Islands, Auckland, through Hobbiton, Rotorua, and down through Wellington. Then you’d cross over, you do a three-hour ferry across from Wellington to the top of the South Island called Picton and then you’d enter that magnificent wine country that you spoke about earlier – the region of Marlborough. It’s New Zealand’s largest wine-growing region.

JD: I love the pinots from there!

PH: They are spectacular and the world-famous sauvignon blanc as well.

KF: where do I need to go to find Sam Neill?

PH: Sam Neill’s place is down just out of Queenstown

JD: Don’t tell her that!

KF: Could I have the number and the street?

JD: No you cannot.

PH: I can show you, I can take you there, I can drive you to his house.

KF: Thank you

JD: Can you go to his winery for a tour?

PH: Absolutely his winery is available to visit.

JD: Did you see him on Australian Story just recently? He was sensational.

KF: I know when I go to Italy I look for George Clooney, so I thought New Zealand – Sam Neill.  

PH: He is a genuine icon and he is obviously down near Queenstown, which is certainly one of those incredible places, it’s one of my favourite locations actually.

JD: Okay Peter where do we go to find out more?

PH: Well Grand Pacific Tours obviously have a range of options, and we certainly are pleased to able to present 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star coach tour options from 48 seats down to 20 seats which is our business class on wheels offering and more personal. So there is something for everyone. Our website is gptnz.com or for people who would like to get a brochure, they can give us a call on 1800 622768.

PH: Kia ora to you John, and Kia ora to you Kaye, thank you

JD: That surely wet my whistle as far as travel.

KF: Let me out!

For more information visit Grand Pacific Tours website, Facebook or Instagram.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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