Where’s your favourite destination in the Mackenzie?
The whole of this region has its hidden secrets but the one thing you can’t keep hidden is Aoraki Mt Cook. Standing in this national park surrounded by the Southern Alps, glaciers, the aqua blue of Lake Pukaki and its sheer natural beauty is awe inspiring. I love to listen to the quiet and appreciate the pure environment you are in – it is quite spiritual.
What do you love about New Zealand?
It has to be the people. Kiwis are true to themselves and so friendly! Whether you are engaging with the highest echelon of politician, sportsperson, celebrity or the local farmer – there is no pretentiousness. Everyone sees themselves as simply good kiwi blokes or girls. Naturally the other thing to love is having the world in one small country. The lakes of Canada, the alps of Switzerland, the plains of the USA prairies – you only have to travel an hour or two to see the landscape changing in front of you.
What’s your favourite winery?
Now that is truly a difficult question – New Zealand punches well above its weight on the international wine stage and in some cases we are leading the race. Here in the South Island there are three primary wine regions, Nelson/Marlborough, great for the savi blancs, Waipara in North Canterbury, an emerging chardonnay and pinot noir region and Central Otago – definitely renowned for its pinot noirs but also its rosé and pinot gris’. But there are also pockets of pure wine gems – Kurow in the Waitaki Valley being one of them. The Ostler winery is stunning and the wines are to die for!
What’s your favourite itinerary/tour?
I want to say the whole of the South Island. But I know that takes time. The road between Christchurch and Queenstown is spectacular with plenty of things to do and see along the way. I also love the ruggedness of the West Coast through Haast and into Queenstown. One of the less promoted trips is through the Mackenzie then the Waitaki Valley to Oamaru on the Coast, down to Dunedin and then inland through Roxburgh, Alexandra, Clyde and Cromwell to Queenstown. So many surprises on this route!
What is the best time of year to visit?
Tourism in the summer months is growing rapidly and often this can affect the traveller with shortage of accommodation and queues for attractions. I love the spring and autumn shoulder seasons when the plants are coming alive and when the tress are changing colours. The weather may be a little more chilly but it is more settled and there is so many more accommodation options at great rates!