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Thursday, May 21, 2015
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A World Unto Themselves: The Epic Scope of New Zealand and Australia
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The twin titans of the South Pacific boast an array of landscapes, cultures, and treasures diverse enough to fill an entire globe. In just one journey encompassing both New Zealand and Australia, you can experience ancient traditions that span millennia and compare some of the world's most cutting edge cities, while traversing rainforest, mountain, and coral reef.
Auckland, Where Modern and Maori Meet
Stunning Auckland can best be summed up by its literal low and high points. Beautifully set at sea level on an isthmus, it boasts not one harbor, but two: Waitemata to the north and Manukau to the south. Nearby, lift your eyes to the mighty Maungawhau (Mt. Eden), the highest of the region's 48 volcanoes at 648 feet. Maungawhau is sacred to the Maori, who once called its slopes home and still act as its guardians. Then follow the horizon to the Sky Tower; at over 1,000 feet, it's the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere and a symbol of the city's economic vibrancy and its role as the star of contemporary Kiwi culture. Between the city's natural and man-made wonders, Auckland's modern-meets-Maori flavor is on full display.
With its fantastic harbor setting, it should come as no surprise that one household out of every three has a registered boat. The local passion for yachting earned the city its nickname, the "City of Sails." Gaze out over either harbor at any hour, and you'll see vessels of all sizes, from massive trade ships to sleek yachts to the Maori waka, the simple, traditional watercrafts that have skimmed these waters for centuries.
Secrets of the Earth on North Island
Part of what makes New Zealand so appealing to nature lovers is the sheer drama of its landscapes. The longest underground walkway in the nation is on North Island in the Ruakuri Caves, first discovered 500 years ago by a young Maori hunter. The Maori dedicated the mouth of the cave as a wahi tipu (burial place), so visitors today descend a spiral staircase that doesn't disturb the sacred area, entering a world of shadow and light where sandstone seems to drip from the ceiling and walls sparkle with crystal and glowworms.
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18 Day New Zealand & Australia with Cairns
This was another great Gate 1 trip! We have toured both New Zealand and Australia on our own several times in the past so I was interested in the tour managers, hotels, and locations Gate 1 selected. The hotels were very good and located conveniently to attractions and points of interest. The staffs in the hotels were so friendly and anxious to please.
The tour managers in both countries (Angela in New Zealand and Dana in Australia) were wonderful. They shared their knowledge of the countries and history and made sure all passengers had the information needed to participate in the activities we wanted for our leisure time. New Zealand is so incredibly beautiful and one of my favorite places to visit. The penguins at Phillip Island and the Great Barrier Reef are certain to be among the highlights for all visitors. Thanks for putting together a great itinerary!
-- Luana N. Tucson, AZ
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