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Published on April 1st, 2014 | by john.weir


A Royal guide to New Zealand


When Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in New Zealand on 7th April, it will be their first official visit as a family, and the first visit to New Zealand for both the Duchess of Cambridge and eight-month-old Prince George.

From jet boating down the Shotover River in Queenstown to racing in Auckland’s harbour in America’s Cup Yachts, the couple look set to have an action packed trip. Follow in their footsteps with Tourism New Zealand’s insider guide to the destinations on their tour.

New Zealand’s capital city is also known as the nation’s arts and cultural capital, famed for its lively down-town cafés, shopping, nightlife and entertainment as well as a dramatic harbour setting.

The Royal Way: The Royal family will arrive on 7th April to a traditional Māori pōwhiri / ceremonial welcome and be based for most of their stay at Government House, making day trips around the country.

What they’re missing:

Boutique Beer Tasting – New Zealand might be best known for its award-winning wines, but Kiwis are also beer drinkers and have developed a discerning palate that has prompted a boutique brewery boom. Today there are more than 250 beers brewed in New Zealand – many have woninternational awards. Sample some of the best on this personalised tour of the capital’s best watering holes with a Kiwi critic. www.wildaboutwellington.co.nz
Cycling the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – Take to the saddle to explore one of the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides. Opened in October 2013, the 115km trail from Wellington Harbour takes cyclists through bush, open countryside and rugged coastline – all on the capital’s doorstep. www.nzcycletrail.com
‘Wellywood’ film capital tour – Wellington or ‘Wellywood’ is the centre of New Zealand’s film industry and the home of film director Peter Jackson and his world-renowned production facilities on Miramar Peninsula. Glimpse behind the scenes and visit the sites where filming began for The Lord of the Rings trilogy including the summit of Mount Victoria, which provides 360-degree views of Wellington city and its environs – on a good day you’ll see as far as the South Island. Don’t miss a visit to Weta Cave – shop front of the world famous Oscar-winning Weta Workshop. www.wellingtonrover.co.nz
Lodging fit for a Royal: One hour from Wellington overlooking Peka Peka beach, Atahauri is a uniquely designed lodge with just four suites hidden amongst the sand dunes. www.atahuri.co.nz. For a more value option with a Royal connection (the Queen stayed in the 1960’s) try the fittingly named Cambridge Hotel, a newly restored heritage building on Cambridge Terrace in Wellington. www.cambridgehotel.co.nz

Did You Know?

Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital
Wellington’s distinctive Beehive building – in the Parliamentary precinct – was reputedly designed during dinner on the back of a napkin

Blenheim in Marlborough at the top of the South Island is New Zealand’s largest grape and wine producing region. Year-round sunshine, and a diverse natural landscape of extensive coastline and untouched native forests make it and the entire region an outdoor adventure destination.

The Royal Way: On 10th April the Duke and Duchess will mark the WWI centenary with a wreath-laying at the town’s war memorial as well as visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to meet Sir Peter Jackson for a guided tour of the ‘Knights of The Sky’ exhibition (featuring his personal collection of WWI aircraft) and a fly past of classic aircraft.

What they’re missing:

Marlborough Sounds Adventure Tours – Marlborough Sounds is noted for its scenic beauty and abundance of bird and marine life in the forest and water and offers a spectacular environment for adventures. Enjoy a 4-5 day guided walk with Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company as well as mountain biking and sea kayaking tours through the Queen Charlotte track with 67 kilometres of stunning views. www.marlboroughsounds.co.nz
Visiting one of its 74 wineries – No trip would be complete without tasting the region’s award-winning wines and sampling the abundant produce from land and sea. www.lovemarlborough.co.nz/wine
Māori Experiences – From ancient moa hunters to modern Māori wine, Māori Experiences offers a unique range of Māori tours. Try a Māori Cultural Wine Tour for wine tasting with a twist. www.maoriiexperiences.com
Lodging fit for a Royal: The Sounds Retreat is the ultimate exclusive lodge with just one suite overlooking Queen Charlotte Sound, native forest walks on the doorstep, and a private hot tub – perfect for star gazing and dolphin watching. www.thesoundsretreat.co.nz

Did You Know?

Marlborough Sounds has 1,500 kilometres of coastline, or 20% of New Zealand’s coast
The king shag – one of the world’s rarest birds – is only seen in the Marlborough Sounds

New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, perched between Waitemata and Manukau harbours offers a buzzing mix of culture, events, nightlife and restaurants with native rainforest, wild beaches and wineries all within half an hour of downtown.

The Royal Way: In keeping with the title ‘City of Sails’, the royal couple’s visit on 11th April will include two sea based activities as they race each other in America’s Cup yachts and make their way across the harbour on ‘SeaLegs’ – a New Zealand invention that travels over dry land and water.

What they’re missing:

Free fall amidst the skyscrapers – Millions (including Beyonce) have taken the plunge from Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere, to enjoy the thrill of a 192 metre jump. www.skyjump.co.nz
Wining and zip lining on Waiheke – Dubbed the ‘Hamptons’ of New Zealand, just 35 minutes ferry ride from the mainland, Waiheke is a haven of art, sculpture, wineries and contemporary boutique hotels – and in true New Zealand style, home to its own flying fox zipline www.ecozipadventures.co.nz
Become an easy rider – A unique and exhilarating way to explore the city limits is on the back of a Harley Davidson – two hour tours are available to Auckland’s beaches and viewpoints with Kiwi bikers www.bularangi.com/harley
Lodgings fit for a royal: Built in 1841 as one of Auckland’s first hotels, the historic Hotel de Brett has been transformed into one of the country’s leading design hotels www.hoteldebrett.com. Alternatively check into the five-star Sky City Grand Hotel whose rooms (including the suitably named Premium Luxury King Suite) have spectacular views across the harbour www.skycityauckland.co.nz.

Did you know?

Auckland has more boats per head than any other city in the world
After New Zealand became part of the British Empire in 1839, Auckland was chosen as capital of the new British colony and was New Zealand’s capital for 25 years

Hamilton & Waikato is a prosperous agricultural region on the banks of the mighty Waikato River. Rolling green hills and long plains stretch above vast underground networks of limestone caves that have attracted adventuring visitors since New Zealand’s early days.

The Royal Way: On 12th April in the picturesque Waikato countryside just outside the town of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess will formally open New Zealand’s new national velodrome – the Avantidrome, and meet some of New Zealand’s recent Olympic medalist cyclists.

What they’re missing:

Waitomo Caves ­ New Zealand has white water rafting nailed with a huge range of grade rivers, but for something a little different, try black water rafting through underground caves. Waitomo Caves incorporates the best of blackwater rafting with caving, tubing, climbing and swimming taking in the unique glowworms. www.waitomo.com
Discover a Hobbit hole – Between Auckland and Hamilton, the permanent movie set of Hobbiton in Matamata offers the chance to follow in the footsteps of Bilbo Baggins and enjoy a drink in the Green Dragon Inn www.hobbitontours.com
Go kiwi and kaka spotting at Maungatautari Ecological Island Reserve –The conservation project is restoring the 3,400ha reserve to the way it was in ancient times. Protected by a 47km pest-proof fence, endangered native species such as kiwi, kaka and takahe thrive in their natural environment with walking tracks, a forest canopy tower and daily kaka feeding for visitors to enjoy. www.maungatrust.org
Lodging fit for a Royal: Not luxury in the traditional sense but fitting with Prince William’s farming background, Rural Tourism in Cambridge is New Zealand’s largest farmstay offering bed and breakfasts, hosted dinners and farm tours throughout the country. www.ruraltourism.co.nz

Did You Know?

Waikato River, at 425km, is New Zealand’s longest river and means ‘flowing water’ in Māori

Dunedin – on the South Island’s southeastern coast – with its rich Scottish heritage, historic architecture and New Zealand’s oldest university is a centre for arts and culture. Otago Peninsula has colonies of rare birds that are the focus of world-leading sustainability projects.

The Royal Way: On 13th April, the Royal Highnesses will enjoy a Māori tribal welcome, visit Dunedin cathedral and participate in a festival of Rippa Rugby – a non-contact version of rugby for youngsters.

What they’re missing:

Take a tour at Cadbury World – a must do while in Dunedin (even Tinie Tempah headed there on his recent visit) – an educational chocolate experience with tours including lots of free samples! www.cadburyworld.co.nz
Go wildlife spotting with Elm Wildlife Tours for a chance to get up close and personal with New Zealand’s wildlife, from penguins, seals and sea lions to royal albatross. www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz
Lodging fit for a Royal: Kaimata Retreat is a boutique luxurylodge on the scenic Otago Peninsula, just 30 minutes away from Dunedin city centre in a peaceful rural location with sweeping water views of coastal birds and wildlife. www.kaimatanz.com

Did You Know?

Dunedin is the Celtic form of Edinburgh, and original city plans were based on Edinburgh. While many street names are the same, town planners had to alter the plans to accommodate hills and swamps
Dunedin has the world’s steepest street – Baldwin St. Each year 30,000 Jaffas (round chocolate candies) are rolled down Baldwin St to support a local charity

On the shores of pristine Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains – Queenstown is New Zealand’s number one adventure destination, renowned for adrenalin thrills, spectacular scenery and luxury style.

The Royal Way: Following in the wake of more than a million thrill-seeking visitors, on 13th April the royal couple will take a spectacular high-speed tour on the Shotover Jet down a rocky ravine and over rapidly flowing white water. On a more relaxed note, they’ll also have the chance to sample renowned Central Otago wine at the Amisfield winery on the slopes of a rocky alpine valley near Queenstown.

What’s they’re missing:

World’s best burger? – No visit to Queenstown is complete without a visit to Fergburger – home to what some claim to be the world’s best burgers ranging from the Little Lamby to the Cockadoodle Oink www.fergburger.com
Golf on a glacier – One of New Zealand’s best golf destinations, those seeking something a little more thrilling can head by helicopter to a glacier to practice their drive in one of the world’s most spectacular and remote destinations – using biodegradable balls of course www.fly.co.nz
Making the jump – The birthplace of bungy has spawned many an off shoot for daredevils including the canyon swing, where thrill seekers take on a 200 metre swing off the world’s highest cliff jump www.canyonswing.co.nz
Bucket list walks – The gateway to Fiordland National Park, Queenstown is the jumping off point for some of New Zealand’s most photographed walks including the Milford Sound and Routeburn trails www.newzealand.com/walking
Lodgings fit for a royal: Luxury lodges abound in and around Queenstown, with many a VIP opting for some R&R in the region. Sir Ian McKellen is a fan of Blanket Bay, nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with a backdrop of rugged snow capped peaks www.blanketbay.com.

Did you know?

Queenstown’s name originated in the 1800s,when the local gold-miners dubbed it ‘a town fit for a queen’. The phrase, so the story goes, was found stamped on an anvil in a local blacksmith’s shop
The oldest-recorded bungy jumper is a 94-year-old at Kawarau bridge, whilst Billy Connolly famously made the jump naked

The gateway to the beautiful Canterbury region is being tagged as a ‘city reimagined’ becoming one of the country’s most vibrant and creative hubs as a passionate population work to rebuild and recreate their city following the 2011 earthquake.

The Royal Way: Cricket will be on the royal agenda in Christchurch which, along with seven other New Zealand centres, is preparing to co-host Cricket World Cup 2015 in February next year. On 14th April, the royal couple will attend a celebratory event in Hagley Park marking this major sports event, which will play out before a massive global audience.

What they’re missing:

Dancing in the streets – The Dance O-Mat, famously enjoyed by Prince Charles and Camilla during their 2012 visit, is back by popular demand as part of the Gap Filler creative regeneration project, started after the earthquake to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch www.gapfiller.org.nz
London buses – Feel at home with a ‘Discover Christchurch’ tour of the city on a red London bus www.hasslefreetours.co.nz
Get on your bike – The Canterbury region is one of New Zealand’s best cycling destinations. Whether it’s a tour on vintage bike through the city centre, mountain biking around the Port Hills just 10 minutes from the city or embarking on one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed and longest continuous cycle trails – The Alps to Ocean – travelling over 300km from Aoraki Mount Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru in Otago www.nzcycletrail.com
Lodgings fit for a royal: Newly opened, Annandale on the Banks Peninsula, just an hour’s drive from central Christchurch features just four private luxury villas in one of the world’s most spectacular coastal locations. For a romantic retreat choose the contemporary glass fronted architecture of Seascape set in in its own bay or for groups try Scrubby Bay set on its own beach front. www.annandale.com

Did you know?

Christchurch, known as ‘the garden city’, is home to 740 parks, covering about 3,000ha
Nearby Aoraki (meaning cloud piercer) Mt Cook (3,754m) is New Zealand’s highest mountain

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