The Kiwi Life with Contiki Holidays

by Emma Hackwood

Despite its small size, New Zealand is crammed with natural beauty and has an incredible amount to offer; the only complaint travellers have is that they wish they had more time to spend there! With a tremendously friendly, honest and helpful population, our flightie Lili Gosselin quickly discovered what makes this country so incredible and why she can’t wait to go back:

Greetings! Kia Ora! I have just returned from my travels to New Zealand with Contiki and I can’t stop beaming from the incredible experience I had. I’m already planning my next trip back!

There are plenty of reasons to take the venture overseas to this stunning country; the picturesque scenery, the beauty of the Maori culture, the dynamic variation of culinary delights, and of course the adrenaline pumping thrills! What hit me most was the laid back, welcoming smiles and attitudes of the people who live there.

I was immediately struck by the hospitality of Kiwis (as New Zealanders are referred as) once I arrived into the Christchurch airport. The Contiki representatives were so excited to have us, and were completely accommodating. Murray (our tour operator) was as cheerful, welcoming and upbeat as they come. We arrived bright and early at 9:00 am Christchurch time (which was 1 am my time!) so needless to say we were all pretty exhausted.

After our free day in Christchurch and encountering many colourful people in pubs and shops we headed back to our hotel.  The Bealey hotel hosted our stay in Christchurch and is owned by a retired All Blacks rugby player. As the All Blacks are practically royalty in New Zealand, we were quite delighted and had the pleasure of his presence for dinner. That evening we enjoyed an over extended welcome from our hosts followed by a scrumptious dinner filled with beer and local cuisine.  Our hosts took the time to get to know us, and as we slowly cleared out of the restaurant to retire for the evening, they switched tables taking the time to speak to as many of us as possible. Pictures were shared of families and loved ones, jokes were exchanged, and laughter was abundant. I found this to be the trend in all my encounters with Kiwi’s; they generally care about others.

One of the benefits of being a traveller here for 8 days, was waking up at the crack of dawn to seize the day and make the most of our time. Boarding the coach at 7:00 am wasn’t so bad when we were greeted by our animated driver Kevin. His high spirited perception of life complimented the whole New Zealand experience. Being in the presence of two local New Zealanders, combined with the breath taking scenery on our drive to Queenstown, made 9 hours just fly by. Stopping along the way for a few photo opportunities and making time for a meat pie or ice cream, was a bonus as well!

Everywhere we went, every excursion we did, and every person we had the pleasure of encountering, welcomed us with grins from ear to ear and were so excited to share their beautiful country with us.

Throughout the tour, day by day Kevin and Murray were joking around and filling our brains with knowledge of their country.  They positive spin on life in general inspired me. Murrays referral to rain as “liquid sunshine”; another perfect example of the upbeat attitude that all Kiwis I encountered have. They are proud of their heritage and extremely patriotic (as they should be!)

To sum up my 8 day adventure, being a kiwi consists of a genuine smile, an appreciation for nature, a lust for adventure, and a positive outlook on life. Being surrounded by the captivating laid back way of life and good natured spirit, had me bringing uplifting energies back home to Canada.

No matter what type of traveller you are , I guarantee that you will find comfort in the jovial spirit both islands have to offer 🙂 I know I did !

Looking for more information on travelling to New Zealand? Contact Lili Gosselin, a Team Leader with Flight Centre based in St. Albert, Alberta who can be reached at 1 866 725 5397. Book select Contiki tours to New Zealand with Flight Centre by September 30th, 2011 and receive up to $200* off per person.