New Zealand – Wine Paradise

Your love of wine and food will draw you to Marlborough © Ian Trafford

Your love of wine and food will draw you to Marlborough © Ian Trafford

New Zealand is a country like no other, and its wine is an experience like no other. The special combination of New Zealand soil, climate and water, the pioneering spirit and commitment to quality all come together in every glass of New Zealand wine. These wines are known throughout the world for their purity, vibrancy and intensity. New Zealand is home to what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc, and is often called the New World’s utopia for Sauvignon Blanc, marrying old world wine-making traditions with the vibrancy of exotic aromas from the New World.

The country boasts distinct major wine-growing regions spread throughout the country, with the majority located on the East coast of the South Island. Wine lovers will find this land of the Kiwis to be ?an enchanting destination, with beautiful vineyards and enchanting landscape ?a natural backdrop to all your activities, paired with excellent food and magical wines.

Marlborough region was the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc © Ian Trafford

Marlborough region was the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc © Ian Trafford

New World’s Toast

In the 1980s, the Marlborough region was hailed as the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. Now the region has strengthened its reputation as New Zealand’s premiere wine-growing region, producing some excellent Chardonnay and Riesling as well as a fast-rising reputation for high quality Pinot Noir. Located in the north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and towering mountain ranges to the north and south, Marlborough boasts a diverse landscape of spectacular natural beauty.

The city of Blenheim is the heart of Marlborough, just a short drive away from the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Most wineries can be reached easily from Blenheim, although the area of land under cultivation is rapidly spreading. Marlborough boasts more than 9000 hectares of vineyards, spreading across the landscape onto the river flats of Rapaura district, west to the Waihopai and lower Wairau and further south into the Awetere Valley.

The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is an annual showcase for the region’s bounty, drawing people from all over the world to taste and see for themselves the excellent produce. Held on the 2nd Saturday in February, the 2011 Festival sees more than 8000 wine and food lovers converge at one of the oldest vineyards in Marlborough – Brancott Estate.

Abel Tasman National Park © Ian Trafford

Abel Tasman National Park © Ian Trafford

Scenic Nelson

Located at the top of the South Island next to Marlborough, Nelson is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand. The region is often overshadowed by its more prestigious neighbor, but Nelson boast one of the best scenic landscape and spectacular scenery in the country. Nelson enjoys a lot of sun, and is a paradise for a relaxing counterculture lifestyle – painters, artists, foodies and wine lovers.

25 boutique family-owned wineries have banded together to form Nelson WineArt, combining the experience of touring arts and crafts studios with sampling the best local produce and wine. It’s thriving cafe culture, with its al fresco dining and brilliant fresh seafood merge together to create the quintessential Nelson experience.

The wines of New Zealand © Ian Trafford

The wines of New Zealand © Ian Trafford

Canterbury Plains

Historically Canterbury was one of the first regions to attempt wine growing in the 1940s. French immigrants planted vineyards in Akaroa Peninsula, taking advantage of the warm dry north westerlies which frequents the Canterbury plains. The vast Canterbury plains sweep from the magnificent Souther Alps of New Zealand to the east coast of the South Island, providing an ideal climate for wine-growing.

The heart of Canterbury is the picturesque Christchurch, with most of the wineries located within short driving distance from the city. The major wine areas of Canterbury are the Banks Peninsula, located around the city of Christchurch, and the more recently developed valley area of Waipara, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir making up the most widely planted grape varieties here.

Central Otago's climate produces wines with a subtly different character © Gilbert van Reenen

Central Otago's climate produces wines with a subtly different character © Gilbert van Reenen

Spectacular Otago

The region of Central Otago is New Zealand’s highest and the world’s most southerly wine region. It is surrounded by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, with the spectacular Queenstown at the heart of the region. Central Otago boasts stunning scenic landscape which makes it a popular destination for all kinds of tourists.

The mountainous location provides a semi-continental climate with stark difference between the hot summers and very cold winters, hot, long summer days and dry autumn. This provides an excellent growing conditions for varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. The wines of Central Otago boasts a purity, intensity and vibrancy reflective of the region’s territory and pure mountain air.

Looking for fun and relaxation? Check out Cancun holidays for a vibrant and exciting night-life, great shopping and all the beach and water-sport you could ask for.

Six Great Asian Hikes

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Feature Highlights, General Fun, Nature

Being a cross between huge expansive continents and island nations, Asia is a dynamic geological landscapes. Add in the Pacific ring of volcanic activity and you end up with some fantastic space for walkers and hikers. The region is filled with scenic beauty, ranging from sunny beaches, tropical forest to snowy mountains. This time around however, we’re looking out for hiking trails that brings one closer to nature and far beyond. Here’s our list of six of Asia’s best hikes.

Abel Tasman Coastal Trail, New Zealand

Photo credits - patleahy

Photo credits - patleahy

New Zealand is probably the best country in the world for hiking, so I’d be remiss not to include it on this list. While it’s difficult to choose and everyone has an opinion, I remain firm in my choice of the Abel Tasman as my favourite. Winding along the northwestern coast of the south island, the route is fairly flat and gives you continuous views of the ocean while allowing time to explore the flora and fauna nearby. Crossing estuaries and streams adds to the excitement, but save time to hang out and relax is some of the pristine and nearly empty beaches along the way.

Wilson Trail, Hong Kong

Photo credits - yunmeng

Photo credits - yunmeng

Just steps away from the neon and smog of Hong Kong are some fantastic trails. (Just consider a face mask if you’re sensitive to the pollution). You can head into the New Territories for loads of long, scenic walks but you can also find great trails on Hong Kong Island itself. A popular choice is Wilson Trail, a 78km path that goes from Stanley on the island all the way to Nam Chung on the Kowloon peninsula. It’s a fairly strenuous walk but the resulting viewpoints from each the peaks along the route are well worth the effort.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

Photo credits - hectorgarcia

Photo credits - hectorgarcia

If you want one heck of a great Chinese adventure, then head for the Tiger Leaping Gorge, where you can hike and see some fantastic landscapes, in one of the world’s deepest river canyons. About 15km in length, the gorge is named after a legendary tiger jumped across the gorge to escape from a hunter. No small feat considering at its narrowest point, it is still 25 metres wide! The trail, called the “High Road” (pun intended, I think), is slightly narrow but well-maintained and has accommodation stops along the way. You can also walk closer to the river along the lower road, which gives you that gorge valley feel and more frequent water views, but at times the trail is unstable and far less safe. The gorge area is not safe for hiking in the summer rainy season.

Overland Track, Australia

Photo credits - rickmccharles

Photo credits - rickmccharles

Covering the most beautiful 65km of all of Australia, the Overland Track in Tazmania is a must-do if you visit this southerly island. From Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair is a natural wonder, and along the way you’ll see some of Tazmania’s tallest mountains topped off with gorgeous waterfalls. The walk also has a reputation for excellent sighting of the island’s unique ecosystems. Fairly challenging but well worthwhile – similar to other trails in the area, be sure to book ahead and be sure to respect the path, leaving everything as you found it.

Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan

Photo credits - acordova

Photo credits - acordova

Tajikistan seems to be heading away from the off-the-beaten path, but it’s still a chore to reach. Believe it or not, though, the gorgeous and unspoilt Pamir Mountains offer hiking and walks to suit all levels of fitness. You’ll need inexpensive permits to access the trails and given the remote nature of the area, you’ll want to bring all necessary equipment and be well versed in mountain safety. Gharm Chasma and Julandee are good bases to explore the region, and don’t forget your camera!

Mount Fuji, Japan

Photo credits - molas

Photo credits - molas

There’s a saying that goes something like ‘you’re wise to climb Mount Fuji once, but a fool to climb it twice.’ Within easy reach of Tokyo, Mount Fuji looks like a formidable climb but hikers of all ages and experience have climbed it without issue. The best times of year to climb are July-August, which provide the best weather and much of the snow has melted. Having said that, the route is still quite mucky, so good footwear is needed. Sunrise at the top of Mount Fuji is a surreal experience comparable with few others; to do this you’ll need to start the climb in the afternoon the day before, then spend the night in a hut along the way. This is a popular option; there are plenty of huts along the trail and the whole system is reasonably tourist-friendly. Just remember, though, when you reach the base after you’ve finished, you’ll still have a couple of hours of transport before you get back to your accommodation (if staying in Tokyo) – it makes for a long trip.

And don’t miss…

If these hikes strike your fancy, don’t miss our previous articles on hiking hotspots such as the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, Tibet – Roof of the World, or Papua New Giunea.

Remember, you should always well-research your route, accommodation requirements, equipment needs, and fitness level required before you depart. Travel safe!

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About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.