Fodor's Exploring New Zealand, 1st Edition (Exploring Guides)

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9780679004707: Fodor's Exploring New Zealand, 1st Edition (Exploring Guides)
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Praise for Fodor's Exploring Guides

"Authoritatively written and superbly presented...Worthy reading before, during, or after a trip."  -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Absolutely gorgeous. Fun, colorful, and sophisticated."  --  Chicago Tribune
Fodor's Exploring Guides are the most up-to-date, full-color guidebooks available. Covering destinations around the world, these guides are loaded with photos, essays on culture and history, descriptions of sights, and practical information.  Full-color photos make these great guides to buy if you're still planning your itinerary (let the photos help you choose!), and they are perfect companions to general guidebooks, like Fodor's Gold Guides.
What to See
All the great sights, plus the history and anecdotes that bring them alive
Itineraries, walks and excursions, on and off the beaten path
Architecture and art

Where to Stay
Quick tips in every price range

Where to Eat
Savvy picks for all budgets

The Basics
Getting there and getting around
When to go & what to pack

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

New Zealand Is ... Contrasting Landscapes

Over 1,243 miles away from the nearest continent, Australia, the islands of New Zealand have the South Pacific on the north and east, the Tasman Sea on the west, and the Southern Ocean to the south. The two major landmasses are the North Island (44,702 square miles) and the South Island (58,384 square miles), with Stewart Island (674 square miles) lying off the southern tip of the South Island. To the south and east there are also six remote and uninhabited island groups (many now wildlife refuges), plus the inhabited Chatham Islands.

The North Island is the more heavily populated of the two main islands and the chief center for commerce and business, while the South Island has the lion's share of majestic scenery and unspoiled wilderness. With about three-quarters of the population of 3.6 million living in urban areas, there is no shortage of space.
New Zealand is ... Adventure Tourism

Kiwis themselves prefer to spend a large amount of their recreational time in the open air, and given that most overseas visitors are also drawn to the country by the many outdoor attractions (such as lakes, mountains, glaciers, and forests), it is perhaps only to be expected that New Zealand should have developed a sophisticated infrastructure for adventure tourism. Nearly three-quarters of the 1.2 million visitors to the country each year take part in some kind of outdoor adventure, and there are now well over a thousand guides or companies in the adventure tourism business.

Bush walks and bungy-jumping -- One of the most popular outdoor activities for visitors is a short bush walk (usually lasting less than half a day), and nearly every visitor information center or Department of Conservation center provides helpful leaflets and information on local walking tracks. Longer tramps on some of New Zealand's famous long-distance paths (such as the Abel Tasman, Routeburn, Heaphy, Milford, and Hollyford tracks) are also popular.

Ballooning is a great way to see the countryside, and is mainly centered around Christchurch. Sea kayaking is a wonderful way to see the coast --- try the Abel Tasman National Park. Jet-boating gives you a noisier, faster perspective on the great outdoors, and has become the third most popular activity for visitors (after short walks and scenic boat cruises). With its mountainous terrain and high rainfall, New Zealand is a perfect location for white-water rafting and as many as 50 companies operate on rivers in both the North and South Islands. Recently, black-water rafting has also taken off in a big way: this mostly takes place around the Waitomo region.

Tandem hang-gliding, tandem parapenting, and tandem parachuting are all good ways of experiencing these sports with little or no training, and bungy-jumping has become virtually synonymous with wacky adventures in New Zealand.

Flightseeing -- Helicopter sightseeing is also very popular, with the busiest areas being in the Mount Cook National Park, Fiordland, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and around the Queenstown Lakes. Heli-fishing, heli-hiking, heli-skiing, and heli-rafting are all popular. However, a spate of air crashes prompted a review by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into aircraft safety in New Zealand. This resulted in a crackdown on operators who had been flying below minimum heights. If you are cruising around Milford Sound by boat, noise pollution from the constant procession of light planes and helicopters above can be annoying.

Dare-devil stunts -- While bungy-jumping and tandem parachuting are now so common as to be almost mundane, operators are seeking even more daring skills to tempt the brave. Among the new thrills recently proposed are "wing-walking" (in which passengers are strapped to the top wing of a Tiger Moth plane) and a simulated, low-level aerial top-dressing run. Latest crazes are zorbing (rolling down Rotorua hillsides encapsulated in a large transparent ball); urban rap jumping (abseiling down Auckland tower blocks); and Fly-by-Wire ("flying" a "plane" hanging from cables above a Wellington valley). These activities can change by the minute, so it is advisable to check with the local Visitor Information Centre.

If there is a new experience out there waiting to be invented, there is a good chance it will happen first in New Zealand!
New Zealand is ... A Culinary Feast

From stodge to sashimi -- Having inherited a tradition of British Empire cooking, culinary culture in New Zealand has for a long time been epitomized by solid, no-nonsense fare such as steak, fries, and coleslaw, pies, fish and chips, and roast meats. Even now, this may be all that you will find in country pubs or rural towns, but in cities and vacation havens like Queenstown there is an abundance of new restaurants, bistros, and urban cafés serving a cosmopolitan array of regional dishes from around the world.

There are few "national dishes" as such, although paua (abalone) patties and whitebait fritters are certainly unique, but it is the incredibly fresh produce, meats, and seafood that make eating such a pleasure in New Zealand. Drawing on many different styles, the best Kiwi cooking today tends to lean towards the Mediterranean or alternatively the Pacific rim, a fashionable fusion of East and West in a style perhaps best described as "Californian".

Some regions do have their specialties, and while most of the raw ingredients are available everywhere, these specialties are likely to be that much fresher in local restaurants. Oysters and mussels are farmed around the Coromandel Peninsula, and the Firth of Thames is noted for its scallops, flounder, and crayfish. In the Bay of Islands, smoked kingfish and marlin are delicacies available during the game fishing season, and feijoas, passion fruit and tamarillos ("tree tomatoes") are grown in the Kerikeri area. Peaches, apples, and pears are produced in abundance in Hawke's Bay, as are kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty. The rich dairylands of the Taranaki region provide numerous excellent cheeses, and Lake Taupo is famous for its massive trout -- although you will have to hook it yourself, since restaurants are not permitted to sell trout.

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