Is it possible to see New Zealand over a period of just eight days? Our Australasia expert Katie discovered that it certainly is - and she was lucky enough to take on the challenge. Read on to find out more about her bespoke tour of the arrestingly beautiful country...
North Island, Bay of Islands
Fancy staying in New Zealand's Bay of Islands? Famous for water sports, abundance of wildlife such as dolphins and whales, Maori culture at Waitangi, wonderful weather and of course excellent food and wine. Original Travel recommends staying at Eagles Nest or Flagstaff Lodge. South Island, Christchurch After a destructive earthquake Christchurch could have been removed from the map, it is far from it. Not many cities can start from scratch, but this is what they are doing. Lonely Planet has voted it one of the top 10 cities to visit. 'Re: START' is the new shopping mall: it's cool and quirky, just a hint of what the new art-deco city is going to look like.
South Island, Wanaka
Now, to my favourite place on earth! It is full of Brits who originally visited on holiday and decided to stay. This incredible little town is situated within a valley of mountains and lakes. The town is extremely chilled out, and it is possible to do almost any adventure activity, from hiking, sailing, sky diving to simply focusing on the gourmet…
It's also an excellent place to star gaze, with hardly any light pollution, making it one of the best star gazing spots (other than Mount Cook). Head here to get a good view of the 'Southern Cross'. Be sure to stay at Whare Kea: the food is the best I had in NZ.
On the Arrowtown Drive from Wanaka to Arrowtown through the mountains, there are no words to describe the view. At Autumn, Arrowtown is famous for the bright colours of the leaves turning, I have never seen anything like it. It was like someone had edited my photos and enhanced the colours. This quaint town reminded me of a western movie, the saloon style buildings are so pretty… an excellent and much recommended day trip.
Queenstown: wow, wow, wow, wow. Known as 'Lord of the Rings Territory', Qtown did not disappoint - it was the most dramatic scenery I have encountered to date. The best way to see it is from high up and the good news is that there are a number of ways to get up there: skydive above the lakes, heli up to the glaciers, bungee from the sky or take a 4X4 and head up to the mountains.
This small city is full of wonderful restaurants. Head to Botswana Butchery for the best steak in town, and, of course, for a less expensive local dish, head to Fergburger for the best burgers in NZ. There are also a number of wonderful places to stay. My favourite was Azur lodge: the rooms are amazingly spacious and the bathroom offers what could be an animated view. You have to pinch yourself to realise the scenery is real.
So there you have it! The highlights of New Zealand in just eight days. Last tip: ignore the flight time from the UK to NZ - it's really not that bad - and head to this wonderful country. Photos cannot begin to give justice to how beautiful the country is.