Travellers Ian Wright and Zay Harding head out on individual expeditions to explore New Zealand and discover why its Maori name of “Aotearoa” – meaning “land of the long whitecloud” – describes these romantic islands so well.
New Zealand is a land of unspoilt landscapes and immense natural beauty, with amazing extremes of climate and terrain. From rainforest to reef, and glacier to volcano, Ian and Zay explore the four corners of the country, taking in its Maori cultural heritage, empty wilderness, and bustling cities where even the skyscrapers are home to some of the world’s most extreme sports.
Starting in Wellington on the North Island, Zay enters the mysterious world of Lord of The Rings and visits the film locations where this box office blockbuster was made. In this thinly populated region some 23,000 locals took part in the film and Zay gets to meet a couple of characters involved its making along the way. Meanwhile, Ian hitches a ride in a 1950s house truck and makes his way down to the hot springs and thermal wonderland of Rotorua.
New Zealand’s economy was built on the sheep’s back, and with ten times more sheep than people in this country, shearing is an important skill here. Not surprisingly, a sheep-shearing contest is on the agenda for Zay where he meets the Masterton reigning champion, as well as a veteran of the competition, who now owns a truly individual bed & breakfast nearby.
Ian is welcomed into a Maori community, where he gets to experience tribal customs and ancient traditions at first-hand. The Maoris first came to New Zealand around thousand years ago, travelling hundreds of miles from the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific in large canoes. Zay meanwhile attends a Maori regatta in Ngaruawahia and finds out how the art of canoe paddling has been passed down through the generations.
Ian moves on to Christchurch and indulges in a nice relaxing punt down the river, which brings memories of England flooding back.
Zay, stays firmly on dry land where he joins in challenging game of rugby with New Zealand’s national womens team: the formidable Black Ferns. After a thoroughly good slamming, hejumps on the Tranz Alpine Train and travels across the Southern Alps to the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival where it looks like his tastebuds are in for a real treat! Lucky Zay gets to sample sautéed sheep’s testicles, steamed fish eyes, delicious huhu grubs, and some tasty tongue. He decides to beat a hasty retreat and heads on out into the wilderness of Lake Te Anau and the Milford Track. After a two-day trek through beautiful forests, stopping off to admire secluded waterfalls, and fast-flowing rivers, Zay ends up beside the serene waters of Milford Sound – a tranquil paradise.
Ian, meanwhile, is finishing up an intrepid trek of his own, heading out to the Fox Glacier, where he gets to marvel at some of the most stunning scenery New Zealand has to offer.
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