Subject: New Zealand tips requested
G'day Paolo, I wasn't sure just how much your friend knows about N.Z., how long he's staying or whether he is only going to Auckland. So let's start with Auckland. This is a city of a million or so people. As population centres go it totally dominates the rest of the country. Not only does it have the major port but there has been a population drift to the north for decades - much to the disgust of the other cities throughout the rest of N.Z. Auckland is also the largest population centre of Polynesian people anywhere in the Pacific. Because of this and due to recent immigration patterns this is a city of great diversity.

You ask about beaches, restaurants and hotels. There is great similarity with Sydney. A city that focuses on the its harbour. It is no accident that the tourist line is to call it the City of Sails.

>From now until February (I think) the city will be charged with the excitement of The America's Cup challenge. As a consequence of N.Z. being the holder for a number of years the city has seen an amazing growth of cafes and restaurants. Your friend will have no difficulty following the crowds down to the waterfront trend setters. Because of the large number of yachting junkies that follow such events I'm not at all sure about the availability of hotels. There is sure to be large number of internet sites covering this field. As far as nautical clothing and other gear I think the problem your friend will have is how do I avoid it. You can be assured that all along the waterfront near where the America's cup entrants are based there will more than enough choice for him. N.Z. is probably more oriented towards all types of yachting than any other country. Take a look at these choices plus the official N.Z. tourist site at; I'm not sure as to your friend's other interests. N.Z. has more golf courses per capita than any other country in the world. Because of the Polynesian past there are any number of museums and cultural activities associated with the indigenous Maori people but I'm equally sure all the other major island groups will be represented eg. Samoan, Tokelau, Niue, Cook Is etc. There is a fantastic aquarium - I'm not sure whether you've been to one where you walk through the aquarium via a plastic tunnel so that the fish and sea mammals are swimming all around you. This technique had its origins in Auckland.

Beaches there are aplenty but in my experience your friend should not hope to find water warm enough for swimming until Dec. (then again, I'm a known wimp).

As a country to visit, N.Z. is without peer for its diversity. I've travelled extensively around the world and no where else have I found a country where you can travel through so many distinctive zones within a day's journey. An example; in the South Island you have Swiss type mountains, glaciers that come within a short distance of rainforest, fjords, sunken valleys, premium wineries, and above all, fabulous scenery within a few hundred kilometres.

I became discouraged with my country of birth for a variety of reasons and it has taken a decade for me to see the country in other people's eyes. For sure, N.Z. does not have the history and culture that you find in Europe for example, but in terms of scenery, excitement, value for money, safety for travellers and friendliness of the people I can't understand why more tourists aren't flocking to this South Pacific nation. As a rough guide, what costs a euro in Europe costs a dollar in N.Z. (exchange rate 1 Euro=$NZ2.10) Please let me know if you need any more detail about places to visit near Auckland or, within the rest of the country. Regards, James Campbell