Raglan's Raglan and Kawhia's Cool

Raglan's Raglan and Kawhia's Cool

Surf's up when we arrive in Raglan. We haven't yet seen the ocean but it's easy to tell because there's zillions of surfboard-clad vehicles all vying for a park on the main street, where salty individuals lounge outside cafés. Nearby at Manu Bay, famous for its left-hand break, the surf pounds in. Every summer surfers from around the globe compete here in the international surfing competition so we're not surprised to see locals making the most of the good swell.

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Memories of Mokau

Memories of Mokau

When you’re a kid, the perfect holiday mix includes plenty of sand and sea, ice creams as big as your head, BBQ bangers and toasted marshmallows, and a good dose of exciting yet educational local activities organised by Mum and Dad, who are eager to inspire and create those never-to-be-forgotten ‘first time’ experiences.

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

A visit to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is something of a rite of passage for young New Zealanders. The caves were first explored in 1887 by a local, Tane Tinorau, accompanied by an English surveyor, Fred Mace. They entered the caves via the Waitomo Stream, negotiating their way underground on a raft built from flax stems.

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Waitomo's Cave of the Spirit

Waitomo's Cave of the Spirit

Stars twinkle in the inky blackness, constellations never before seen, emitting beams of light tinged with green. A myriad galaxies swirl by, like so many Milky Way’s, with such dizzying regularity that I’m starting to wonder if I’m not on some intercosmic mission.

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Trout fishing Lake Rotorua

Trout fishing Lake Rotorua

Sunlight glances off Lake Rotorua. Beneath its glassy surface some three metres below, brown and rainbow trout undulate sensuously. We’re 200 metres or more from the mouth of the Ngongotaha Stream and the flies on our lines gently pulse as we troll back and forth.

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Hot Water at Lake Tarawera

Hot Water at Lake Tarawera

Rotorua has a surfeit of lakes to explore including the scenic route past magnificent redwood forests to the crystal-clear Blue and Green Lakes. Just past the Buried Village, we catch our first glimpse of Lake Tarawera and Mt Tarawera, the latter’s brooding gaze a forbidding reminder of the havoc it caused during its eruption in 1886. But today the mountain is a sleeping giant that oversees the picnicking families on the lake shores and anglers practising their casting in eager anticipation of the season.

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The Great New Zealand Chocolate Trail

The Great New Zealand Chocolate Trail

I have to confess, I’m a raving chocolate fiend – especially when it is handcrafted. Boutique-style chocolate is just too good to resist! Whenever I travel the next fix is never far away, and believe me, there’s many a wicked stop to be found nationwide. In the past I’ve been known to go 100 kays or more out of my way, just to swing by my all-time favourite chocolatiers. Here's a list of my all-time favourite treats, guaranteed to induce a cocoa-induced stupor:

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