New Zealand: For Women Only

New Zealand Is the Perfect Place…

Milford Sound, New Zealand.
Milford Sound, New Zealand.

To experience women-only travel

By Max Hartshorne

Many people have asked me over the twelve years I’ve been a regular international traveler what my favorite destination was or is.  Though I prefer my standard quip that “the next trip is always my favorite destination,’ if I was pinned down, I’d have to say New Zealand.  Why?

Because no other country combines so many outstanding things on two small islands.  There is such a wealth of adrenaline activities, a tourist infrastructure that’s set up to make it easy for visitors, and local people who speak English and can understand our culture.  The fact that it’s so far down and far away means that nearly all Kiwis have traveled abroad, so there is a lack of provincialism that’s refreshing.

My reasons are my own, you’ll find yours if you join Sights and Soul Travels on their January 2015 all-women trip to New Zealand’s north and south islands. To find out what you can experience, we interviewed two women who joined owner Yolanta Barnes on a 2012 journey to New Zealand, with an itinerary that is similar to the 2015 trip.

Irene’s NZ Favorites

Hot springs in Rotorua, New Zealand, the country's most popular attraction.
Hot springs in Rotorua, New Zealand, the country’s most popular attraction.

Irene Conway is a retired medical office manager who lives in Reading PA. She’s traveled with Sights and Soul to France, Italy and Argentina.  Like so many of Sights and Soul’s clients, she’s a repeat customer! We asked Irene about the New Zealand trip, the highlights and advice she might have for women who are thinking of taking the plunge.

“There are 2 things that I especially liked on this trip, one of them was the very long exhilarating jet boat ride we had on the Dart River Safari-so much fun! The other experience was our trip to the Polynesian Spa Retreat – lounging in the heated rock pools with a lovely view of the lake. It was relaxing and beautiful.”

“My bit of advice to other women would be to put aside any reservations you might have about traveling such a long distance on a plane, since the flights are overnight and you’ll probably sleep most of the time. As far as the destination itself, the natural beauty of the country (and its Pinot Noir) is certainly worth the trip.”

The trip includes a jetboat trip up the scenic Dart River, which is spectacular. Max Hartshorne photo.
The trip includes a jetboat trip up the scenic Dart River, which is spectacular. Max Hartshorne photo.

I liked the South island most because of its absolute beauty! Along the west coast, it was covered with beautiful giant ferns and then around Queensland there were wonderful lakes and mountain peak views that were absolutely breathtaking.

Milford Sound could probably have been the scenery hightlight but unfortunately it was quite foggy that day, though we did manage to see enough of it to realize we were missing something special.”

Carol Carter from Bristol, CT, is a retired teacher and HR manager who couldn’t say enough, “New Zealand is at the top of my list!” about this destination.  She also explained part of the appeal of traveling with only other women. “My husband is not interested in traveling. We were empy nesters and he preferred coaching baseball, watching baseball, basketball and football.

You asked about how it would be different with your husband or partner rather than a women-only trip. You are kidding about this??  Maybe you’re one of those rare men who pack their own suitcase, help plan the trip, and won’t insist on playing golf during the trip?

Enjoying a soak in the hot springs.
Enjoying a soak in the hot springs.

Sounds selfish but I only have myself to be concerned about. It is so freeing to go off by yourself!”   Carol from CT.

New Zealand Is UniqueDefined by unspoiled, picture-postcard vistas, dotted with friendly villages, New Zealand combines nature at its most sublime with adventure, history and the native Maori art. The native Maori call it Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud), but New Zealand has been called Godsland and the Paradise of the Pacific since the early 1800s. New Zealanders know they live in a paradise, and they love sharing it with visitors.

In my four visits to the islands, two to the north and two to the south, I would have to agree with that statement about sharing the place with visitors.

With very little natural resources to exploit, tourism is far and away the largest industry, so the average Kiwi (New Zealand resident) understands how valuable visitors contributions are to their local economy.  So you’ll find things like clean pubilc bathrooms, well organized roadways, and plenty of directional maps and signs to keep you from getting lost.

A sheep shearer at Walter Peak farm in Queenstown, NZ. Max Hartshorne photo.
A sheep shearer at Walter Peak farm in Queenstown, NZ. Max Hartshorne photo.

And just think–you don’t even have to think about mastering the art of driving on the right, since your motor coach will take you wherever you need to go!

Carol raved about her 2012 New Zealand trip, that included highlights of both the North and the South Islands.

“Be prepared to be wowed, entertained, thrilled and wishing you could do it again,” is how she described her reaction to the Dart River jet boat trip, on the South Island. “The scenery in this country can take your breath away. It is awesome. Milford Sound is not to be missed. During the boat trip within the sound, you feel dwarfed by the cliffs and waterfalls.

Queenstown is a delight. It has beautiful parks and people’s homes and gardens are so neat and tidy. Auckland is a large city and their restaurants along the water/harbor are busy and the nightlife in that area is in high gear.”

Inside the Fox Glacier on the south Island.
Inside the Fox Glacier on the south Island.

We asked Carol about her experience with women-only tours. Like Irene, she had already been on numerous other Sights and Soul trips.”One of the things I really appreciate is that on her tours, you are met at the airport. If new to traveling internationally, this is such a comfort.”

Sights and Soul’s 13-day New Zealand tour will take in the country’s highlights, and the tour price includes the airfare to cross from the North, where the tour begins in Auckland, to the south island where Queenstown is the center of adrenaline and outdoor adventures, such as Fox Glacier.

Highlights of the Journey

Maori warrior in the North Island. Max Hartshorne photo.
Maori warrior in the North Island. Max Hartshorne photo.

During the two weeks you’ll spend in New Zealand, you’ll:

*Tour the cities of Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland

*Take a private yacht cruise in the Waitemata Harbour

*Marvel at geothermal activity of Rotorua

Sail on an underground river into the Glow Worm Grotto
Take part in a powhiri, a traditional Maori ceremony and feast

Enjoy the Polynesian Spa Retreat

Cruise onboard a vintage steamer to the elegant Walter Peak High Country Station;

The beautiful Dart River near Queenstown.
The beautiful Dart River near Queenstown.

Taste wines in a boutique underground winery;

Ride a jet boat during the Dart River Wilderness Safari;Be amazed at the beauty of Milford Sound

Walk in the shadows of the Fox Glacier

Travel through the Southern Alps on Tranz Alpine train

Explore the International Antarctic Centre;

Stay at upscale boutique hotels amid New Zealand’s surreal green beauty

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Max Hartshorne
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.
Max Hartshorne

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