10 months ago

The Star: April 27, 2017

32 Thursday

32 Thursday April 27 2017 Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi The Star Earth & Sky Mountaintop stargazing with Earth & Sky provides an unequalled appreciation of the full night sky. View the Milky Way, star clusters and seasonal planets whilst knowledgeable astronomy guides provide factual commentary. The St James Hanmer’s an absolute picture at this time of the year, so why not book some time out at its newest five-star property? In the heart of the village, The St James has recently been rated New Zealand’s second-best luxury hotel (TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travellers Choice Awards) and has now joined forces with Artisan Spa to bring you ‘Autumn Indulgence’ – a two-day package of pure relaxation. Relax in two of Hanmer’s finest sanctuaries, and soak in the colour and tranquillity of the alpine spa village. GREAT ESCAPES With autumnal colour coating our landscapes in shades of gold, now is a great time to jump in the car and head out beyond the city limits. These premier accommodation and activity options will inspire you for your next trip. Larnach Castle New Zealand’s castle is the perfect place to have a weekend getaway. Experience the craftsmanship and Victorian architecture and take time to explore the enchanting garden. Three types of accommodation see you sleeping either within the historic Stables, inside the delightful Larnach Lodge or in the lap of luxury at Camp Estate. All include breakfast, but, for something extra special, don’t miss the opportunity to dine at the castle in the evening. Black Cat Cruises Swimming With Dolphins in Akaroa with Black Cat Cruises was recently voted the #1 Bucket List activity in New Zealand. Running all year round, and offering the award-winning Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise, too, there’s never been a better time to head over the hill. Use code ‘style17’ online for a 10% discount. TranzAlpine As one of the world’s greatest and most captivating journeys, the TranzAlpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth is an experience of a lifetime. Relax, take a break and see the real New Zealand unfold before your eyes. Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River. Spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape of the mighty Southern Alps will take your breath away at every turn.

The Star 33 Travel Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday April 27 2017 SPECTACULAR: Cruising into one of the fiords on the Emerald Princess and passing by Bowen Falls. Drifting through Fiordland • By Mike Yardley CRUISING through our fiords had been lingering on my wish-list for quite some time. I revere Fiordland and its formidable terrain, which produces its own weather pattern, with an annual rainfall index measured in metres. Recently, I boarded Princess Cruises’ latest liner to potter around our coastline, Emerald Princess, which is a novel way to appreciate the beauty of your own country. Sailing overnight from Port Chalmers, I awoke early to grizzled misty skies, as we entered the remote, untouched reaches of our biggest fiord, Dusky Sound. Fortified with freshly brewed coffee, I ventured out on the promenade deck, as we glided by cinematic mountain ranges, garlanded in wispy long white clouds. Fleetingly, a flash of frolicking dolphins was lapped up with palpable passenger delight. In stark contrast to the heavy swells rounding the South Otago Coast, the inky waters of Dusky Sound were millpondsmooth, as if the ship was gliding on an ice rink. To marvel at this masterpiece of grand-scale nature from the vantage point of a cruise ship really is quite breath-taking. Fiordland boasts 14 fiords and after Dusky, our next assignment was the exalted grandeur of Doubtful Sound. Entering its snout, this sky-piercing cathedral of sheer granite walls feels positively Jurassic, otherworldly and all-consuming. The live soundtrack of lofty waterfalls cascading down the sheep granite slopes serenaded our arrival, while lumbering fur seals wallowed on rocks by the entrance to the fiord. The sheer, rugged landscape of towering mountains, clad in primeval rainforest had me halfexpecting a brachiosaurus to shuffle into view. The heroic dimensions and the untouched beauty of the fiord that makes Doubtful such a profound encounter. Later in the day, the clouds cleared and spectacular sunshine bathed us in warmth, just as we entered Fiordland’s most famous poster-child, Milford Sound. The recent precipitation turned on a giant waterworks spectacle, with a vast curtain of waterfalls thundering down the rock faces to the sea. I spied the vein-like patterning of Bowen Falls turning on a splashy show, beyond the ship’s stern. On starboard side, the backside of Mitre Peak, thrust its majestic presence towards the heavens – the world’s tallest mountain to rise directly from the sea. The thick forests that carpeted the mountains took on an emerald hue in the golden autumn sun. But for all its wraparound photogenic splendour, it’s your relative sense of insignificance that comes into sharp relief, when thrust into the bosom of such ravishing, grand-scale majesty. I felt like a speck of life in a landscape carved for giants. And the 113,000 tonnes of the 15-storeyed Emerald Princess was similarly rendered comically small, in the clutches of such granite-walled grandeur. Drifting through the fiords, retired Department of Conservation senior ranger, Ian Thorne, was our expert guide with a treasure-chest of nuggets to share with us, after clocking up 35 years of conservation work in Fiordland. Ian specialised in biodiversity work with endangered birds and leading pest eradication programmes. It was a thrill to see Fiordland’s offshore islands up-close, which are veritable arks for our most endangered species. Richard Henry was one of pioneering conservationists, transferring kakapo and kiwi to islands in Dusky Sound, over a century ago. Many of the kakapo call Anchor Island home, which is predator free. Ian has worked extensively on its neighbour, Resolution Island, eradicating stoats in pursuit of predator-free status, too. Passing by Wet Jacket Arm, Ian remarked that this is where 10 Canadian moose were let loose in the forest, in 1910. In spite of persistent rumours of moose sightings, no evidence has surfaced that they’ve survived. As we exited Dusky, we drifted by another DOC sanctuary, Breaksea Island, which clocked up a worldfirst for its successful rat eradication programme. For all of the stupidity wrought by our forebears, introducing pests to our country, the tireless endeavours to safeguard our natural species in Fiordland’s dedicated sanctuaries is patriotically uplifting to see. WILDLIFE: Fur seals in Doubtful Sound. FAST FACTS •Princess Cruises operates a series of Australasian and South Pacific cruises, with five ships currently home-ported down under. An extensive schedule of sailings into Fiordland will resume later in the year, in the 2017/18 summer season. For more information and cruise bookings, see your travel agent or visit www.