Inspirational gardens from around the world

With the cold weather receding and spring moving in, now is the perfect time to undertake a little garden renovation.  The weather is starting to warm up, and with increased temperatures and levels of light comes new growth in the garden.  Many garden lovers take their inspiration from the great gardens of the world, and the good news is that it does not take a gardening expert to achieve some great results.

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Before attempting any garden renovation, however, it is important to get the basics right.  The garden should be in good condition before any planting or alterations begin, and the space should be kept in good condition through ongoing maintenance throughout the gardening year.  This is why the beginning of the year is a perfect time to check out garden equipment, making sure it is working well and, where necessary, ordering new parts or spares from a reputable supplier –, for example.

After completing this task, it is time to sit back and do a little garden browsing.  The following are some of the world’s great gardens, and they can serve as fine sources of inspiration.

Versailles, France

It took whole regiments of men to create this legendary landscape, but it is perfectly possible to recreate elements of it in a modern garden, with far less manpower!  The swirling, curvaceous shapes that characterize much of Versailles look wonderful when recreated in the form of flowerbeds.  Such a design can bring a touch of old-style French glamour to even the most modern yard.  Versailles is almost defined by the way in which it plays with shapes, to the point where almost nothing is left in its natural form, so topiary is a key feature.  Other options include the use of plants in large pots (for example, bay trees), making this garden style a viable inspiration for even the smallest of spaces.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

In sharp contrast, this garden is all clear lines and clean angles, providing the perfect backdrop for any sculptures, statues, and other accent pieces, rather as an art gallery is carefully designed to set off the paintings to their best advantage.  For gardeners who love to display sculptures outside, this garden provides top quality inspiration.  However, to recreate this style will require some solid garden equipment and a flair for topiary!

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland

Distinctive for being inspired by ideas rather than nature, the design of this garden is inspired by the laws of science and mathematics.  Therefore, this garden uses a lot of repeated patterns and geometry.  The use of vertical space is another striking feature of this garden.  Taking this as inspiration, gardeners may want to try growing plants in an upward fashion, for example on trellises or canes.  Once again, the horticulture is somewhat in the background, but it is still essential to the garden’s design.

Whichever of these gardens inspires, remember that the gardener is in charge of the direction of his or her own garden, so any aspect of it can be changed or altered.  All gardeners will want to make alterations over time, and they may chance upon a style that really suits them.  Finding a way of expressing personality through a garden is one of horticulture’s most satisfying achievements.


Visiting Hobbit Country: Where To Go In New Zealand

New Zealand has long been famous for its stunning natural landscapes, but the Lord of the Rings and more recent Hobbit movies directed by Peter Jackson have really thrown the spotlight onto this incredible nation and its scenery.

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Many of the shots of Middle Earth are familiar to film fans, who will no doubt relish being able to see these places with their own eyes. A walking tour in New Zealand should therefore be high on lots of travellers’ wish lists – you’ll find some itinerary suggestions here.
We’re going to give you an overview of some of the places you can explore on foot that were featured in one or more of the movies.
Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island is featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with the range’s Mount Tongariro used as Mount Doom in the movies. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with amazing peaks, active volcanoes, lava flows and emerald-coloured lakes all waiting to be discovered.
This walk is one of the most iconic and striking hiking routes in New Zealand and is well worth doing. It takes a full day for the hike, which covers nearly 20 km, but the effort is more than rewarded by the countless beautiful views you’ll encounter along the way.
Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park on the South Island was used for many epic scenic shots in all of the movies, with its amazing fiords, tumbling waterfalls and towering peaks lending itself perfectly to the idea of a wild Middle Earth. It also provided the setting for Fangorn Forest.
This is truly an area of unspoilt natural beauty, with several walking trails you can tackle within its boundaries. One of the most famous is the Kepler Track – you can take it on in its entirety or just hike a section of the route. What makes Fiordland so special is the variety of landscapes you’ll see here – there are glacial lakes, rainforests, deep gorges and snow-capped peaks within the park.
New Zealand’s capital – and the surrounding area – lent itself to many different parts of Middle Earth, with scenes of Rivendell, Osgiliath Wood, the Paths of the Dead and Hobbiton Woods all being filmed in and around the city.
Mount Victoria, which is clearly visible from Wellington, provided the wooded slopes for the Hobbiton Woods where Frodo and company encounter the Black Riders for the first time, while Kaitoke National Park was transformed into Rivendell.
Head out of the city to the Putangirua Pinnacles, meanwhile, to see where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli walked in search of the Army of the Dead.
Pelorus River
The Pelorus River was used in the second Hobbit film – the Desolation of Smaug – and is where the hobbits floated down the river in the famous ‘Great Barrel Escape’. There’s a lot to explore around the region, including the Pelorus Sound and the Pelorus Bridge. Take a break from discovering filming locations to stroll along the picturesque bays of the sound – the seaside village of Havelock is particularly worth visiting.
These are just a few of the many amazing places you can visit in New Zealand on a walking tour. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or not, there’s no denying that the nation is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and varied landscapes. If you do plan to visit, make sure you allow at least two to three weeks to really get a sense of what’s on offer. There is so much to discover, you could easily spend months here and still feel as though there’s more to see.

Best Holiday Destinations for Artists

Holidays are fun for most people, but if you are an artist they could be more than just a chance to relax and enjoy yourself. A holiday is an excellent chance to take time to practise your art and to seek inspiration for new artworks.


Depending on what you want to get out of your holiday, there are a few different types of holiday that can suit artists. These range from quiet retreats to produce art and seek inspiration to bustling city breaks to look at the works of great masters.

Preparing for a Holiday

If you intend to spend your holiday actively producing art, it is best to make sure you stock up on supplies before you go. While on your holiday, you will not know the best place to source art materials and so it is best not to get caught out.

As an artist’s holiday can be a great source of inspiration, you may find yourself being more productive than you expect, so you will want to bring plenty of supplies just in case. If you need to stock up, click here to browse through a range of materials available online.


Paris is known as a worldwide centre for culture, and it boasts a wide range of truly wonderful galleries. These range from the masterpieces produced by great names of the past and present in galleries such as the Louvre to small independent galleries catering to the city’s thriving arts scene.

The wide range of galleries in Paris combined with the lively arts scene and thriving culture of the city will provide no end of inspiration for artists. On top of this, seeing famous works such as the Mona Lisa will always be enjoyable even when it doesn’t directly affect your own art.

The Lake District

The Lake District offers a completely different kind of holiday for artists. While Paris is a thriving, bustling city, the Lake District offers quiet retreats in remote countryside. This gives artists plenty of time for quiet contemplation and relaxed work, making it ideal for producing art without distractions.

Inspiration in the Lake District comes not from seeing great artworks but from the surroundings. The area is known as an extremely scenic part of the world. The area’s beautiful countryside and wonderful landscapes provide plenty of inspiration for artists and have done for generations.

A Tour of India

India is a fantastic location for artists, but choosing any one location in the country would mean missing out on one of its greatest features. As a result, artists will do well to go on a tour of the country in order to take in the full range of benefits on offer.

India has a long history of art, with multiple styles guided by the many religions that can be found in the country. Much of the historic architecture of the country is also spectacular. However, India is a country with very contrasting areas. On the one hand, a number of busy modern cities can be found there, yet many rural areas are very traditional and old-fashioned. As such, artists touring the country can benefit from an extremely broad range of experiences and take their inspiration from great artworks of every kind as well as from beautiful rural scenery and a fascinating culture.


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Experience complete luxury: Cape Verde islands

Some destinations are synonymous with luxury, but unfortunately they’re often fairly well trodden too. If you fancy jetting off somewhere that’s not only luxurious, but also has the feel of an untouched paradise, I thoroughly recommend a trip to Cape Verde.

This country comprises ten volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. What’s great about it is that across all these are some incredibly varied landscapes – think mountain ranges, barren flats, scenic beaches and, in places, lush vegetation. What’s more, each island has something a little bit different to offer, with some providing more seclusion than others.

Ifit’s luxury you’re after then it makes sense to book an all inclusive hotel on Cape Verde, because this way you can completely relax as soon as you arrive, safe in the knowledge that everything is taken care of for you. Of course, you should always check exactly what you get with each package you’re considering, just to make sure it suits you.

Now, I’m going to introduce you to some of the islands and attractions in Cape Verde.

Cape Verde – an overview

First, let’s take a look at Cape Verde as a whole. As well as being known for luxury, the country also has a reputation for being a place travellers go to for a little excitement. This is because it offers loads of opportunities for things like exciting hikes and thrilling windsurfing, not to mention it’s nowhere near as developed as your average tourist destination.

That said, there are islands that are becoming more popular with package travellers, with Sal and Boa Vista being two of these. It’s these I’m going to focus on today, since they offer a good balance between that sense of adventure, tranquility and luxury accommodation.

Boa Vista

The third largest of the Cape Verde islands, Boa Vista is an absolutely stunning place – it’s no wonder that its name means ‘beautiful view’ in English. It has one of the flatter Cape Verde landscapes, characterised by 55 km of sandy beaches, alongside desert scenery.

As well as having gorgeous landscapes, it’s also home to some amazing animals. In fact, it’s one of the world’s most important breeding grounds for loggerhead turtles – and if you’re lucky you’ll see them laying their eggs on the beaches! Plus, between June and August you also have the chance to see whales off the coast of the island of Sal Rei.

Sal Rei is the capital city of Boa Vista, and is home to around half of the island’s residents. Despite that, it has a really sleepy feel and is a charming place to walk around – think interesting markets, colourful houses and a view of the Ilheu de Sal Rei just off the shore. Plus, thanks to the fact the waters here are protected by this little island, the bays here are wonderful for swimming and relaxing.


Nicknamed ‘the sunniest island’, Sal is one of the most popular isles to stay on. Like Boa Vista, it’s home to deserts, but it’s also where you’ll find some impressive dormant volcanoes, as well as small oases.

Thanks to consistent trade winds from November to June, Sal is a particularly great destination for surfers. The island’s also perfect for anyone hoping for a relaxing package break – and especially so if you head to Santa Maria. This city has lots of luxurious accommodation and has pretty much everything a tourist could want – large beaches, water sports (including surfing, water skiing and scuba diving) and plenty of evening entertainment.

From LA to Mexico: a journey with a difference

You don’t need to stick to the UK to take a short cruise – why not consider mixing up an overseas holiday by adding a mini cruise to your itinerary? A trip like this is the perfect way to explore a little further afield in a short space of time, without sacrificing any relaxation time.

The perfect example of this is a three-day cruise from LA to Ensenada in Mexico and back. And you needn’t worry that an addition like this will cost the earth, because you can find loads of amazing deals on sites like

By making this journey, you can experience Mexico as part of your trip to the US. What’s more, Ensenada has an absolutely massive range of attractions and tourist treats – everything from wineries to the chance to go whale watching – making it the ideal destination for a fun-filled visit. But before we get to talking about the attractions of Ensenada, though, let’s take a look at what LA has to offer.

What not to miss in LA

A land of quirky beaches, movie magic, designer stores and sunshine, LA has a lot to offer travellers. And with so much to see and do, it can be pretty hard to work out exactly what to prioritise – but we think we have an idea of where to start.

For instance, no trip to LA is really complete without getting a feel for its movie credentials. One of the best places to do this is Hollywood Boulevard, where you’ll find the Walk of Fame. Stars are inlaid all along the pavement here, with the majority having been filled with the names of famous faces in the film, TV and music businesses.

And if you’re keen to follow in the footsteps of the stars, you should definitely pay a visit to the TCL Chinese Theatre, which regularly hosts major movie premieres. In its forecourt, meanwhile, you can see the footprints of more than 200 big-screen legends.

In terms of the coast, don’t miss Venice Beach. This weird and wonderful place is known for attracting an eclectic bunch of eccentric performers, bodybuilders and more – so expect a show as much as a chance to relax on the sand!

What not to miss in Ensenada

Moving on to Ensenada, one of Mexico’s most famous ports, we come to somewhere that offers a massive range of tourist attractions alongside the classic combination of beaches and sunshine. Everything from playing golf and rock climbing to whale watching and vineyard touring is available here, making it an appealing destination for virtually everyone.

If the idea of whale watching appeals to you, visit during the winter and spring. During this time, the state of Baja California welcomes grey whales, which come here to give birth. To see them, join a boat tour at the port of Ensenada, which will also give you a chance to see creatures like pelicans, sea lions and dolphins.

Meanwhile, if you’re keen to see natural wonders of a different nature, make sure you don’t miss La Bufadora, which is just over 20 miles south of the city. One of the largest marine geysers in the world, this impressive sight has an interesting story behind it.

You see, according to legend, a baby whale was once separated from a group of migrating grey whales here. This little whale was playing among the rocks when it got stuck, and tried to get help by shooting increasingly large jets of water in the air. Over time, though, the whale turned to stone and became one of the local rocks – or so the story goes.

Alternative art galleries in Paris

Paris has always, it seems, been associated with art, culture and the intellectual good life (not to be mistaken with the material excellence of the wealthy). The great nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to the French capital as the (spiritual) home of all European artists, while the twentieth century author Ernest Hemingway remarked that the city “will always stay with you”.

Not much has changed in that regard. Today’s Paris is still as iconic as ever, its al fresco lifestyle envied by all and its commitment to art, past, present and future, as strong as it has always been.

Over the years, the city has developed an extensive network of independent fine art galleries that add another layer of wonderment to the bigger, more established alternatives. Here’s a guide to some of the ones that are worth checking out.

Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier

Six years of productivity has helped establish the gallery as a potent force in Parisian art. Located in a former office, it exquisitely showcases interesting pieces across four floors, making the milieu almost as interesting as the works.

Taking a viewpoint that focused curation is vital in helping enhance understanding and experience, the gallery has brilliantly shown work by Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Arman, Yayoi Kusama, -Michel Othoniel and Man Ray.

Air de Paris

A true avant-garde space for art, Air de Paris focuses on exhibiting works that are at the periphery of contemporary attitudes. Neo-conceptual and sometimes without any order – wild even in abstract terms – this gallery really likes to push the boundaries of what is and isn’t art.

Very youthful in its orientation – not in a bad way mind you – it artists include Leonor Antunes, Thomas Bayrle, Guy de Cointet, Francois Curlet, Stephane Dafflon, Joseph Grigely, Pierre Joseph, Ben Kimnont, Sarah Pucci and Adriana Lara.

Passage de Retz

If you blink, you’ll miss it and what a shame that will be because Passage de Retz is a quiet giant. It states that it exists to ask “questions about our history, our society and our memory, while focusing on objects, witnesses and testimonies for each generation”.

It is big on collaborative approaches to art and looks to extend its work to other disciplines, such as manufacturers, designers and even consumers. Anything which can be done to amplify the meaning and integrity of art it advocates.

When buying art

It is important to have at the back of your mind fine art logistics, as Paris is one of the busiest cities in the world. Your pressing concern will be to safely transport the work from one of the above galleries and safely to your home, or, if you’re not native to France, outside of the country.

In such circumstances, consult with storage and transport specialists, one of which can be found here. Such organisations will be able to devise the most suitable solutions and, for peace of mind, they tend to come up with bespoke answers.

Ultimate highlights of China

An impossibly vast country, China is home to some of the world’s most fascinating history. What’s great about visiting the nation is that this history can be discovered all over the place – it crosses remote countryside in the form of the Great Wall; it stands in the heart of modern cities like Beijing; and it’s even hidden in subterranean chambers. Of course, the only downside is that, when faced with so much variety, us travellers often struggle to know where to go.

So, today I thought I’d give you an overview of China’s ultimate highlights. If you’re really keen to discover the country in depth, it’s worth booking yourself on to an organised tour from a specialist operator like TransIndus. This way, you can travel all over the nation to see its most significant cultural and historical sites – and trust me, you’ll find the local expertise you benefit from really enhances your experience.

The Great Wall

Where else could I start but with the Great Wall? Probably the most famous site in China, the wall began its life an incredible 2,000 years ago. Back then, it was actually a collection of lots of smaller walls that were built by individual kingdoms (this was in the days before the country was unified). When Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified the nation, it was decided that the gaps in the wall would be filled in to form one whole.

The wall was meant to act as a line of defence, but the history books tell us that it was never particularly effective. What it was good at, though, was alerting the capital to approaching enemies (via a torch beacon system) and acting as a kind of highway to help people cross tricky terrain.

It largely fell into disrepair after Manchu armies took power in China for several hundred years, but the tourism industry has helped to preserve and restore sizeable sections.

The Forbidden City

Next on my list is the Forbidden City, which sits in the heart of Beijing with the modern city all around it. Coming here is an absolute must if you want to find out more about China’s history, since it forms not only the country’s largest complex of ancient buildings, but also its best-preserved.

You should set aside a full day to explore the Forbidden City (which, by the way, is also called the Imperial Palace or Palace Museum). Inside, you’ll find out all about how this acted as a home for the country’s old reclusive rulers – in fact, trying to enter the complex without invitation was punishable by death.

The Terracotta Warriors

While the Terracotta Warriors are a relatively recent discovery (1974), most people are familiar with at least their name because of just how remarkable they are. Thousands and thousands of terracotta warriors and horses have stood undiscovered for centuries, guarding the soul of leader Qin Shi Huang.

What I most love about this place is that it combines a real insight into ancient China with an absolutely awe-inspiring visual spectacle. The thing that most fills me with wonder is the fact that, despite being thousands strong in number, no two of the warriors have the same face.

The Mogao Caves

Last on my list is the Mogao Caves, which are one of the top sites to visit in Xi’an. What makes them so remarkable is that they’re filled with ancient Buddhist art – some of the finest, in fact, that has been discovered in China to date.

These caves acted as monasteries and hermits’ cells, and were originally decorated with murals. Over time, things like silk paintings and clay sculptures were also created here, while scrolls detailing ancient histories and even things like musical scores have been found in th caverns too.

Winter events around Devon

If you’re eagerly awaiting a trip to Devon this winter, then you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a host of events to enjoy in addition to the county’s usual attractions. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best.

And as a quick tip, if you haven’t already organised your getaway and are hoping to sort out a last-minute break, then it’s worth visiting this website. From here, you can rent a holiday cottage in Devon for the duration of your stay, which gives you a really cosy, homely base from where you can explore the region. Plus, it also acts as a handy place to relax when the wind is howling and you don’t fancy venturing outside.

Exeter Christmas Market

First on the list is Exeter Christmas Market, which is running until December 19th. This fantastic festival takes place at Exeter’s Cathedral Green, and will offer everything a classic Christmas market should, from beautiful decorations and handmade gifts to indulgent festive food and drink.

And remember, you don’t need to be on the hunt for some last-minute gifts to enjoy it, because Christmas markets like this are the perfect places to relax and get into the spirit of the season. That said, the things on sale here are so tempting that you may well end up with one or two purchases, even if you didn’t intend to buy anything!

Babbacombe Model Village Winter Wonderland

Another winter event well worth attending is the Babbacombe Model Village Winter Wonderland, which you’ll find in Torquay. Now, the model village is a great place to visit at any time of year, especially if you have a young family, but it really comes to life during this event.

As well as being sprinkled with realistic snow, the tiny streets and buildings are lit with little Christmas lights from 15:00 onwards. It’s impossible not to get into the festive spirit once you see it!

The display will be up from December 14th until January 5th, and a number of other events will be held along the way. These include miniature Christmas pantomimes on selected dates, as well as the Christmas Character Hunt, which challenges visitors to find tiny yuletide characters in the model village.

Paignton Zoo’s Crafty Christmas

Paignton Zoo is another attraction that’s fun to visit all year round, but its Crafty Christmas event makes it a winter must-see. Running until December 24th, Crafty Christmas will give kids the chance to meet not only Santa, but his helpful elves too!

Plus, little ones will also be able to ride around the park on the Jungle Christmas Express, not to mention take part in activities like making Christmas baubles. And once you’ve done that, you can watch the zoo’s animals being given little Christmas presents by the keepers too!

Walk Out the Old Year

Keen walkers, meanwhile, should make every effort to join Walk Out the Old Year. Taking place at Arlington Court in Arlington, Barnstaple on New Year’s Eve, this event gives you the chance to go on a guided walk through the estate.

Led by a knowledgeable ranger, you’ll be able to see some of the prettiest scenery in North Devon, not to mention walk off a few of those mince pies!

Seeing hidden London on an extended visit

London is a fantastic place to holiday, and while there are far too many great attractions to see for those who are on short trips, taking a longer break in the capital will mean you want to see so much more, digging deep into what it has to offer.

Downing Street and parliament are great, but if you’ve been in London for a while, you’ll want to see something else a little off the beaten path and away from the hustle and bustle of tourism.

Heading to London with a plan will be the best way to ensure you see as much as possible, so once you’ve found the perfect serviced flat or apartment in London, set out exactly what you want to see and do in the best areas of the city.


Known as something of a ‘yuppie village’, Balham is one of the nicest parts of London to head to for shopping and eating out.

It is an area of the city that has great links to the centre, with Balham undergound station on the Brighton Line and just four stops from London Victoria.

In Balham itself, though, there is a lot to see and do. Just a few of the treats on offer include restaurants like Gazette, a wonderful French brasserie, and Lamberts, which serves a beautiful range of seasonal British food.

There are also many shops in the area, ranging from trendy little boutiques to florists. It also has its own market on Hildreth Street, where visitors can enjoy a taste of the finest Caribbean cuisine, fresh fruit and vegetables and wonderful flower arrangements.

Wandsworth Common

Wandsworth Common is a fantastic little place to visit when in London, especially for those who want to try their hand at a couple of sports that are quintessentially British.

Bowls and tennis are the order of the day in this area, with lessons from experts accessible to those who have never attempted to play in the past.

There are also a number of ponds, as well as a small lake in Wandsworth Common, where anglers can fish if they have access to the right permits.

And for those who have no interest in taking up a new sport or hobby, there is also the chance to head to Bellevue Road, which hosts fashion boutiques, art dealers and the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce restaurant, among other delights.

The area also has its own station, on the South London Line, with easy access to the city via Victoria Station.


Clapham has some of the best transport links in the capital, making it a great place for commuters – Clapham North, Clapham Common and Clapham South are all on the Northern Line – but it’s also a great place for visitors.

Some of the main attractions of the area are the plentiful bars and cafes that are spaced throughout. Whatever walk of life you come from – be it a family trip or a young couple – you will find something to suit.

There are also a number of different shopping areas that make Clapham a great place to visit – with something for all tastes.

The Old Town is home to a range of trendy little boutiques and clothes stores, while Clapham Junction hosts all the major brands, and Northcote Road holds street markets where you can buy fruit and veg and flowers among other goods.

Peter Jackson, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Beautiful Island of New Zealand

Kiwis must be amongst the most fortunate people in the world, with 8,700 miles of coastline, breath-taking glaciers, incredible national parks and unique wildlife on their doorstep, all shared out amongst just four million inhabitants. With such an abundance of natural beauty, it seems hardly surprising that legendary director, Peter Jackson, chose his native country as the backdrop to his incredible The Lord of the Rings trilogy. See the true Middle Earth and experience just why New Zealand is constantly cited as an unmissable travel destination with our guide to the most beautiful Kiwi attractions!

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Abel Tasman

There simply aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe just how beautiful Abel Tasman National Park is, so visit Abel Tasman National Park and see it for yourself! One of the world’s best hiking destinations, the entire National Park lies on the coast, offering a fantastic selection of beach and mountain trails.

Milford Sound

Located in the South Island, Milford Sound is one of the country’s top attractions and it isn’t very hard to see why. You can visit it by water, air, or even hiking if you’re feeling adventurous. As well as breath-taking scenery, the Sound is also home to an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins and seals.


Though not as conventionally beautiful as some of the other attractions listed here, Kaikoura is still well worth a look and is a real haven for any seafood lover! The town is small, but there’s plenty to see and do, and you can buy delicious fresh seafood from local fishermen including mussels, blue cod, and lobster. There’s also an opportunity to spot fur seals, sperm whale, dolphins and albatrosses of the coast, all against a backdrop of gorgeous snow-capped mountains and a dramatic coastline. Kaikoura is definitely one not to be missed!

Waipoau Forest

Waipoau Forest really does feel like something out of The Lord of the Rings, and a wander through here will explain just why Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his filming location. The forest’s Kaouri Trees are some of the oldest in the world, and though most of them were destroyed by early settlers who used them for making boats, the ones that do remain are truly remarkable. Tāne Mahuta is the most famous and, at 168ft tall and 45.1 feet in diameter, it’s the biggest too!


We all pray for good weather when we go away, but Punakaiki is definitely best explored when the weather is terrible. Come at high tide when the wind is strong and you’ll see the waves crashing against the rocks, forcing the water upwards like it’s being spouted from a blowhole.


Walking is something not to be missed while you’re in New Zealand, and it’s the best way to take in the country’s incredible beauty. There are nine official Great Walks which will take up between two and four days, but Routeburn is particularly special, taking you through two national parks, Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. It’s an exhausting walk, but most of the hike takes place above the line of the trees, offering magnificent views at any time of the day.