New Zealand is popular with just about any type of traveler – families, solo travelers, adventure seekers or the honeymooning lovebirds.
It is no secret that New Zealand is particularly proud of the wealth of natural resources it has been blessed with, and it has every reason to be.
New Zealand packs plenty of surprises for the first-time visitor and even more for the returning ones because there is still so much left to discover.
Known as the “Paradise of the Pacific” and “God’s own country” since the early 1800s, New Zealand boasts acres upon acres of lush green farms, vast valleys, rugged mountain peaks and rolling hills, perfect settings for a solo hike, trekking trip, romantic stroll, or as a filming location for a fantasy adventure film.
New Zealand consists of a large number of islands, estimated to be around 600 in total, but it is mostly identified by North and South island.
New Zealand’s South Island is one of Earth’s most mysterious bioregions, inhabited by flightless birds such as the kakapo, weka and kiwi, which can be found nowhere else except here. And one of the most largely undiscovered worlds tucked away in the southernmost part of South Island is Southland.
Paradise of the Pacific
Southland makes for a perfect escape for rejuvenation and to connect with nature.
For nature lovers, a weekend on South Island promises to be a feast for the eyes and soul as the area is filled with rugged scenery and native wildlife.
In Southland, the weather conditions are cooler than other regions of New Zealand due to its distance from the Equator, and its diverse landscape makes for a multitude of outdoor adventures.
If you are craving for that rush of adrenaline in your system, jet-boat across New Zealand’s deepest lake, Lake Hauroko, and down the wild whitewater rapids of Wairaurahiri River. The thrilling, fast-paced ride is bound to leave you breathless, but it may also leave you begging for more.
But for a real taste of extreme adventure, you must take a trip to the Foveaux Strait just off Bluff, home to many migratory animals including seabirds, marine mammals and of course, the Great White Shark. Here, you can come face to face with the apex predator, all from the safety of a shark cage. Bluff is the only place in New Zealand that offers this thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime underwater experience.
Looking for something less extreme? Get on the trail of the wild kiwi in Stewart Island, also known as Rakiura, which is Māori for “The Land of Glowing Skies”, instead.
Hop on a catamaran cruise and enjoy the bird song on the way to Ulva Island, a forested predator-free sanctuary. As the sun sets in the soft southern light, make your way through the native forest to Ocean Beach with the stars and forest night sounds around you. Here in the darkness is where the Rakiura Tokoeka, a kiwi subspecies that is rare on the mainland, are often searching for food.
Alternatively, enjoy taking a stroll along one of the many pristine beaches in Southland. Spot sleeping sea lions in the dunes or the rare yellow-eyed penguins when venturing out along the Catlins Coast. Sink your toes into white powder sand as you bask in the warm sun and let the rolling waves lull you into a sense of calm on a long summer evening.
God’s own country
In a poem written by Thomas Bracken, New Zealand is described to be an area favored by God. It is easy to see why New Zealand deserves the title.
Its rich soil and favorable climate mean it produces the world’s best food and finest wines. In fact, food and wine are one of the destination’s many predominant themes.
Travelers hankering for a satisfying gastronomical tour will not be disappointed with what is on offer.
In Southland, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, pubs, and bars are sprinkled along every street, serving up delicious meals and refreshing drinks.
From the freshest oysters to whitebait fritters, to the creamiest blue cod as well as melt-in-your-mouth prime lamb and premium beef, it is truly New Zealand’s foodie destination. Just don’t forget to leave ample space in your stomach to sample locally produced sweets.
Then wash it all down with generous servings of internationally acclaimed wine. After all, who can say no to a refreshing glass or three of chilled Sauvignon Blanc?
If that is not enough to fill you up, head over to one of the many homely bars for a nightcap. And while you are here sipping on Pitch Black, a locally brewed craft beer, strike up a conversation with the friendly locals. You may end up making a new friend or two.
After a long day and as night falls, pamper yourself with a home away from home retreat at Queenstown, the gateway to Southland.
One of Queenstown’s best, the charming Hotel St Moritz boasts elegant architecture and interiors that offering intriguing works of art, bespoke furniture, and refreshing colors that are pleasing to the eye.
And that is just its aesthetics alone.
The five-star property offers four beautifully-appointed classic-style hotel rooms and five spacious apartment-style suites, each with the same sense of calm and serenity. It is a haven to retire to after the day’s adventures as each room also offers panoramic views across Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range.
Designed with the digitally-connected traveler in mind, each Hotel St Moritz room also comes with complimentary Wi-Fi. If you wish to just cuddle up in the plush bed with a good flick to watch, a choice of pay per view movies is also readily available.
Feeling a little peckish? The hotel’s award-winning restaurant Lombardi Dining Room offers a superb New Zealand dining experience complete with enthralling views of the lake and mountains. And at the Lombardi Bar, which sits adjacent to the hotel lobby, the resident mixologist is always ready to whip you up a bespoke cocktail.
Bathed in the browns and greens of nature, the remarkable Hotel St Moritz is the physical embodiment of the paradise that is Southland.
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