Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Call of the Wild; at the Farthest Corner of the Earth Lies a Magical Land of Spuming Whales, Soaring Mountains, Bagpipes and Fine Wines. Godfrey Barker Finds His Eden in New Zealand

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Call of the Wild; at the Farthest Corner of the Earth Lies a Magical Land of Spuming Whales, Soaring Mountains, Bagpipes and Fine Wines. Godfrey Barker Finds His Eden in New Zealand

Article excerpt

Byline: Godfrey Barker

Iasked a friend who is a regular traveller to New Zealand what he most admired about it. 'The wildlife,' he replied, 'the majesty of the spectacular scenery, the sea coasts, the Huka Falls at Rotorua, the Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu and the weather, the relaxed lifestyle, the Maori culture and friendliness, the lack of class snobbery, the lack of rush, the peace.' This judgement adds to what most Britons know about New Zealand, which is little. We know it proudly bore Sir Edmund Hillary, hero of Everest. We know it as home to 40 million sheep. It also hosts, who knows, 100 million kiwis, whales, albatross, seals and penguins. Its native people (native for around 700 years, anyway) are Maoris, who used to eat their enemies when provoked; Captain Cook in Dusky Sound in 1770 lost five of his crew to the local restaurant. Queen Victoria, however, sorted out the Maoris, despatched Highland Scots of Presbyterian hue to build many churches and sing hymns to them and named New Zealand's towns after the House of Lords.

The used lost local To learn more modern truth, you must embark upon the world's longest journey. New Zealand is a frightening 12,060 miles away as I flew it - over Moscow, then round the fringes of China to Hong Kong. Just as your plane approaches the Land of Oz, which Dutchman Abel Tasman allegedly managed to sail around without noticing, you shake as it dawns that you have another 3,000 miles to go. Yet this remote land must be the adventure of a lifetime. It is not just 12,000 miles from here, it is mentally further away than Zanzibar.

I went south to join a Noble Caledonia cruise which began in Auckland and circled the two islands, North and South, in 17 days. It called at every place you would dream of visiting. I now know New Zealand better than the UK. It turns out to be like no other faraway place on earth - not the Scottish Highlands nor the Norwegian fjords, which the South Island much resembles, not like Australia, not like Hudson Bay or the penguin-heavy stretches of the Northwest Passage. It is in some inexplicable way like life on another planet.

New Zealand is no single thing, stretched as it is across 1,000 miles in the Roaring Forties, from businesslike Auckland in the north to the uninhabited, penguin-covered Snares Islands in the remote and windy south. But everywhere its essence is nature and natural beauty. This is a country of glaciers, rocks, waterfalls, ferns, trees, geysers, mud pools, whales, sheep and snowcapped peaks and Noble's cruise, timed for high summer in the Antipodes, maximises contact with them. The elegant Noble small ships Clipper Odyssey and Oceanic Discoverer carry fewer than 100 passengers and nose into remote spots, such as the spectacular fjord Milford Sound and the tiny Stewart and Ulva Islands, that uglier giants cruising with 2,000-plus passengers cannot get near. …

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