The Inside Scoop: Epic New Zealand

Interview with Cindy Ducasse, Away by TTI Travel Advisor

What was the purpose of your trip?

Cindy Ducasse: I was invited to go on a Virtuoso Study Tour, hosted by the Tourism Board of New Zealand and Southern World. It was a great chance to learn more about the country and its luxury and adventure offerings. I was one of five travel advisors attending.

Tell us about your itinerary.

CD: It was a whirlwind! We visited Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch, Nelson, mountain peaks, grassy plains, white sand beaches, and even a few Lord of the Rings sets. We did and saw so much, and New Zealand has incredible geographic diversity.

What were some highlights?

CD: I think what struck me most were the people. The level of hospitality was out of this world. But beyond that, some of the activities really stayed with me. We took a helicopter ride over Milford Sound, a mountainous fjord in the southern end of the country. So beautiful. We also had some wonderful wine tastings, went jet boating, and ate really spectacular food across New Zealand. With so much farmland and fishing, every meal is fresh.

Favourite place to stay?

CD: Otahuna Lodge in Christchurch, no question. The scenery was beautiful. It’s a Victorian mansion surrounded by forests and fields with a volcano in behind. The food was exceptional, too. But it was the hosts who made it what it was. They were so warm and welcoming that I would return just to see them. Unparalleled service.

There are several wonderful hotels throughout the country. Huka Lodge, Treetops Lodge, Split Apple Retreat… we stayed in a different spot almost every night, but we really got a feel for what’s out there. Lots of first-class luxury accommodation.

Any last words?

CD: I’ve been raving about my trip since I got back. The organisers really showed us the variety of experiences you can have there. It’s a long way from Toronto, but so worth it. Both families and couples would have a fabulous time, exploring nature, learning about Maori culture, trying the local wines and food, doing water sports… It’s endless, really. It’s also a great location to visit during our spring or late winter, because it’s just becoming autumn there. Cooler temperatures and lovely fall foliage.