Free Travel Newsletter : July 2014
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Cheryl Arnesen, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning a "Kiwi Country New Zealand" DVD.
Our highlighted events for August demonstrate just how varied cultural life in New Zealand can be with topics as varied as the First World War, gourmet food, freeskiing championships and a touring international film festival. We hope you can make time to enjoy and experience them all, including visiting the iconic mountain Mitre Peak and the ten top whitewater rafting destinations we've picked out. Happy travels!
Find out about:
- The Beginning of the First World War - National Ceremony, Wellington, 4th August
- Wellington on a Plate, Wellington, 15th - 31st August
- Freeski Open of New Zealand, Queenstown, August/September
- New Zealand International Film Festival, Various, August /September
- Go See... Mitre Peak
- 10 Top Whitewater Rafting Destinations
- New Zealand Fast Facts
The Beginning of the First World War - National Ceremony, Wellington, 4th August
Make your way to The Beehive and Parliament Buildings in the nation's capital for a ceremony (9am – 10am) which marks the beginning of the First World War for New Zealand. The main ceremony will be held in Parliament Grounds with a 100 gun salute being conducted on Wellington's waterfront in front of Te Papa.
Find out what other events are planned to commemorate the First World War centenary at ww100.govt.nz.
Wellington on a Plate, Wellington, 15th - 31st August
Wellington celebrates its status as the culinary capital of New Zealand with two weeks of gastronomic delights at the Wellington on a Plate festival. Foodies will once again flock to New Zealand's capital for more than 100 different food and drink events, including Beervana – a showcase of the country's craft beers - and the New Zealand Chocolate Festival.
There's also the Master class, where foodies get up close to top international chefs to learn their secrets. Known for its café culture, fine dining and gourmet local produce, Wellington is a foodie heaven and a wonderful city in which to enjoy the creative, political and cultural nature of New Zealand.
Visit www.wellingtononaplate.com for more yumptious details!
Freeski Open of New Zealand, Queenstown, August/September
The Southern Hemisphere's biggest freeski competition is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014 with The North Face® Freeski Open of New Zealand kicking off its park and pipe events from 28th to 31st August. This event attracts world-class skiers from around the world as half pipe, slope style and big mountain skiers compete in events held at Queenstown's Remarkables ski field and Snow Park NZ.
With the magnificent Southern Alps as a backdrop and the vibrant ski towns of Wanaka and Queenstown on the doorstep, The Freeski Open of NZ has a reputation for combining a high quality event with a laid back atmosphere and fun social schedule.
Events are great for spectators with plenty of exciting pro-skiing to watch.
Visit www.nzfreeskiopen.com for more information.
New Zealand International Film Festival, Various, August /September
The New Zealand International Film Festival – which first started in 2009 - is a national event comprising of a programme of between 150-170 features, first presented in Auckland and Wellington. A smaller film programme then travels to twelve further centres.
For more information on the programme and venues, visit www.nziff.co.nz.
Go See... Mitre Peak
Mitre Peak is one of the most photographed and one of the most iconic mountains in the South Island of New Zealand. The distinctive shape of its peak gives the mountain its name as it looks similar to the mitre headwear worn by bishops. (The mountain was originally named by a crew of surveyors aboard the HMS Acheron.)
One of the reasons Mitre Peak is so well-known is because of its location close to the shore of Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It is a majestic sight on both clear, sunny and wet, misty days. The peak rises to just over 1,690 metres from the waters of Milford Sound and is actually a close group of five peaks, although from most viewpoints it looks like one.
No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to Milford Sound – it is celebrated for its pristine landscapes and remote, rugged beauty. It is known for its indigenous flora, fauna and marine wildlife including fur seals, dusky dolphins and Fiordland crested penguins. Popular activities around Mitre Peak and Milford Sound include cruises (both day and overnight) and the Great Walk, the Milford Track – famously described as "the finest walk in the world" (the track must be booked well in advance).
Where to go: Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park
How to get there: By road (car or coach) or by air
When to go: Any time of year
10 Top Whitewater Rafting Destinations
Whitewater rafting in New Zealand is one of the best experiences the country has to offer for adventure tourists. It is one of the safest places in the world to take to the rivers with world-class guides employed throughout the country. Whether you are in a family group, a complete novice paddler or experienced rafter, you'll find something for you in our ten top picks:
- Kaituna River, Rotorua - This river can satisfy both rafting enthusiasts and first timers providing 14 Grade 4 and Grade 5 rapids and three waterfalls including the biggest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the 7-metre Tutea Falls.
- Mohaka River, Napier - Sections of the Mohaka River offer challenging and beautiful rafting including technical rapids within amazing canyons. Some parts of the river require previous rafting experience. (Grade 3 to Grade 5) Closes for the winter season, but opens again in October.
- Tongariro River, Taupo - Some of the best rafting available all year round with most of the local white water rafting done on the Tongariro River, situated at the southern end of Lake Taupo. The Tongariro River produces three sections of world-class white water from Grade 2 to Grade 4.
- Wairoa River, Tauranga - The Wairoa River has plenty of great rapids and is very accessible. You can do the same run several times on the same down. However, this is a dam release run and can only be rafted 26 days of the year. (Grade 4+ to 5)
- The Rangitikei, Manawatu - Rafting the Rangitikei is an exhilarating experience, involving navigating white water rapids of different levels in rivers. You can test your adventurous spirit and combine fantastic scenery with a white water rafting experience that may just become the stuff of holiday legend. (Grade 4 to 5 depending on flow)
- Arahura River, Hokitika - The lower reaches of the Hokitika and Arahura rivers are ideal for beginners (Grade 1 and 2) whilst upstream sections of the river provide great Grade 3/4 rapids. For the more adventurous, a helicopter flight up to one of the steep 'heli-runs' offers paddlers access to sheer sided gorges, true wilderness and nail biting Grade 5 water.
- Buller River, Murchison - The Buller River is a large volume wild river with no dams to regulate the flow, so it varies between Grade 3 to 4 depending on rainfall. You can raft the well-known Buller River Earthquake Rapids, challenge yourself at the "swim" rapid and test your nerves with an 8 metre cliff jump.
- Rangitata River, (near) Christchurch - Practice paddling and safety drills surrounded by the same stunning mountain scenery which formed the backdrop for 'Edoras', Lord of the Rings. Then conquer Grade 5 white-water rapids of the Rangitata Gorge and test yourself with the 'leap of faith' rock jump.
- Shotover River, Queenstown - The Shotover River is exciting enough to satisfy daredevils and adrenalin junkies, but can also be enjoyed by those with no prior white water rafting experience.(Grade 3 to 5 which can vary season to season)
- Waiau River, Hanmer Springs - Perfect for a more family-orientated whitewater rafting adventure. The Grade 2 river changes quickly – drift down calm, serene waters to rough and rocky rapids in an idyllic setting.
View more details of guided whitewater rafting trips in New Zealand.
Share Your Experience
If you have visited some wonderful New Zealand lakes during your stay, let other NZTG readers know about them. Send details of your experiences to the newsletter editor.
New Zealand Fast Facts
Over 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in the First World War (1914 – 1918), many of them young men who had never left home before. More than 18,000 died as a result of the war and over 40,000 more were wounded. New Zealand forces were involved in the conflict from the capture of Samoa in 1914 to the end of the fighting on Armistice Day in 1918. They fought at Gallipoli, on the Western Front and in the Middle East.