The Best of Fiordland

Fiordland is New Zealand’s largest national park, but also one that receives the least recognition. While it has one or two tourist draws that bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, it is far too often overlooked as a destination in its own right. Taking the time to get to know it better is a worthwhile experience, especially if you do so with a sense of rugged adventure. Renting a high-quality wilderness campervan and spending some quality time near the myriad lakes, sounds, mountain paths, and other draws of the region is probably the best way to do so.

Most tourists start (and finish) with Milford Sound. This beautiful fjord was ranked the world’s top travel destination by TripAdvisor in 2008, and was famously referred to by Rudyard Kipling as the “8th wonder of the world.” It’s obviously worth visiting, and up to a million people do each year. There are immense waterfalls, excellent opportunities for kayaking, high alpine trails with great views inland of the Southern Alps and out over the endless ocean. Most visitors do a boat trip of some sort, whether it be for just a few hours or overnight. There are multiple visitors centers, and even an underwater observatory that allows for the viewing of rare black coral.

Best of Fiordland 2But moving beyond Milford Sound, there are several other excellent destinations within Fiordland. One is Doubtful Sound, which is an even larger fjord, and so named because Captain Cook was uncertain if he could sail out if he attempted to enter it. Doubtful is famous for its population of whales, seals, penguins, and bottlenose dolphins. The area is less accessible than Milford, but can be approached from inland at Lake Manapouri or from the seaward entrance with certain boat companies.

Best of Fiordland 3Three of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” are found in Fiordland. They take intrepid visitors on walks of 50 km or more, staying in anything from simple trekking huts to above-average hotels, and pass by some of the best scenery in the whole country. This includes Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand and one of the tallest in the world.

Visiting this area is a delightful experience, especially if you can get away from the majority of the tourists. Exploring the forest service roads and finding small campsites by the many lakes and rivers that dot the landscape is a great adventure. The best campervan experience in the whole country is waiting for you here.

 

Top 5 Travel Tips for Maui

Maui is perhaps the most dramatic and striking of the Hawaiian islands, due to its amazing natural scenery. With some of the most impressive natural monuments around, it makes a great destination for anyone who wants to get closer to nature on their holiday. Of course, the sophisticated side of the cities isn’t bad either, and you can easily find plenty of cultural things to enjoy. All in all, it makes for a great destination. Here are top five recommendations for a great holiday on Hawaii’s second-largest island:

1. Iao Valley
Verdant, lush, and spectacular, this national landmark is another must-see. Various hiking trails through the valley deposit visitors at the base of the Iao Needle, a rock spire that stands 1,200 feet high. Ancient rituals were practiced here, and many tribal chiefs were buried at its base. The spirituality and natural beauty of this place is truly magnificent, and spending an afternoon exploring the length of the valley is very much worth your time.

2. Aloha festivals
What happens when you put together a two month music and culture festival attended by tens of thousands of people every year? You get the Aloha Festivals. Since 1946, this grassroots celebration has been bringing in increasingly large crowds and growing longer each year. The celebration takes place on six islands, but one of the best places to catch it is on Maui, where traditional culture showcases and fantastic live music and dance acts combine and put on something truly special.

Maui 13.  Live in luxury
It’s not often that you can find affordable vacation rentals in a place as special as this. Fortunately, luxury Maui vacation rentals are available online that are surprisingly inexpensive and offer great value. Whether you choose to stay directly on the beach, or high in the hills overlooking a rainforest or pineapple field, you’ll find a degree of comfort that shouldn’t be possible within this price range. Living like this makes the Maui experience that much more heavenly.

4. Haleakala Volcano
“Wow.” That’s all there really is to say about the “House of the Sun,” the world’s largest volcanic crater. 21 miles around 3,000 feet deep, it is a massive and majestic piece of scenery. Sunrise here is particularly special, and most visitors that get up early to appreciate it count it as their favorite memory from a visit to any place in all of Hawaii. Hiking, camping, biking, and nature walks are all also available in the Haleakala National Park. Don’t miss it.

Maui 35. Attend a Luau
As clichéd as the concept of Hawaiian luaus may seem, the Old Lahaina Luau is widely regarded as the most authentic ceremony open to visitors. From the beautifully choreographed dances to the mouthwatering food, this celebration of ancient Hawaiian culture is extremely memorable. You can appreciate handicrafts, music, dance, and cuisine, all with an excellent seafront view for sunset. If you’re going to see a luau while visiting Hawaii (and yes, you should), make sure it’s this one.

Convinced yet? Culture and nature conspire to make Maui one of the most rich and beautiful places to visit in the US. It is a spectacular destination, and one not to miss. What are you waiting for?