If there’s one thing I learned from the Experience New Zealand Trade Fair held recently at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati, it’s that a visit to New Zealand would be nothing short of magical.
I imagine the place to be where fantasy meets reality and if things go according to plan early next year, I might just find out how true that is.
Fantasy and film buffs know New Zealand to be Middle Earth as it is the filming location for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But did you know about the rich and diverse Maori culture there? I didn't!
At Te Puia, a living Maori arts and culture center located in Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley there are 500 natural geothermal wonders such as geysers and mud pools. The center also features native flora and fauna, live kiwi birds and unique Maori arts and architecture. It houses the National Carving and Weaving Schools of New Zealand which preserves the traditional arts. In the evening, visitors enjoy a feast of food and friendship with a cultural performance and a banquet of modern and traditional cuisine.
Then there’s the aforementioned LOTR attraction. There are tour options that include a visit to the Hobbiton set and Edoras location. Some 37 hobbit holes, the mill, double arch bridge, Bilbo’s party tree, Bag End and the Green Dragon Inn are included in the Hobbiton tour.
Nature lovers will have the opportunity to embrace the scenic vistas from a tour of Auckland, the “City of Sails.” The beautiful Christchurch city is revealed on tours given on a classic double-decker bus. The spectacular Milford Sound, dubbed as the 8th Wonder of the World, is enjoyed via a boat cruise to see waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife.
In Rotorua, visit the Waimangu Thermal Valley, considered the newest geothermal system in the world. The valley houses Frying Pan Lake and Inferno Crater. At the Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour, take a boat ride through caves illuminated by thousands of glowworms.
In Queenstown, visitors can choose a number of optional adventures such as river jet boat tours, a helicopter scenic flight with alpine landing, the bungee jump, skydiving, guided nature walks, 4WD tours or a winery tour of Central Otago.
From Christchurch, fans can also journey to Edoras via a 4WD ride. The trip brings visitors to the beautiful Mt. Potts high country station to see where the set of Edoras, home of the Riders of Rohan was built. Aside from an informative and entertaining commentary, enjoy a short guided walk, champagne picnic lunch and handle movie replicas of swords, Gandalf’s staff and the flag of Rohan.
Seen here with the traditional Maori arts group are H.E. Ambassador Reuben Levermore, Ambassador of New Zealand to the Philippines, New Zealand Embassy; Rowena Tomeldan, Ayala Land Vice President and Head of Operations and Support Services, Commercial Business Group; and Ranjan Jha, General Manager, Singapore Airlines
“This presents a great opportunity for Filipinos to explore the vast attractions New Zealand has in store,” said New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore during the Experience New Zealand Trade Fair. “Whether it’s the stunning scenery, adventure tourism, the great wine and food, or even the Lord of the Rings locations, there is something for everyone,”
Tours range from four-day, three-night packages to seven-day, six night packages, including roundtrip airfares via Singapore Airlines. Packages start at only $1,071 upwards, providing every kind of adventure for every kind of traveller.
Those interested in New Zealand tours may inquire from SIA Holidays (753-5151), Rakso Travel (812-9667), Travel Specialist Ventures (928-7487), Trends Travelmart (478-5401), Interlink (524-0016), Allpoints Travel (410-1527), Swire Travel (817-1082), Citimiles Travel (523-2881), Corporate International Travel (631-6541), The Marvels of Travel (842-7548), Best Wing Travel (Cavite) (425-4203) and Ecozone Travel (Pampanga) (045-887-0332).