The first step

To be honest, I never really saw the point of New Zealand.

Poor bloody New Zealand: so far from civilisation, so close to Australia. Why bother? I always thought, who cares?

School didn’t help much. As far as my education was concerned New Zealand didn’t exist. My A-level geography teacher, Laurie Elliott, got some sort of bursary to spend a few months in Australia. As a result, upon his return I learned more about merino sheep and outback iron ore deposits than any English teenager could reasonably wish to know. But on the subject of New Zealand Mr E remained totally silent, and, if it were not for the exploits of the All Blacks knocking seven shades out of the home nations at every available opportunity, it would never have registered on my consciousness at all.

Julie, however, has always wanted to go to New Zealand, and who am I to argue? We’ve got the time and the money so what the hell we thought, we’ll give it a go.  We’ve done plenty of road trips in the USA and Canada, and even spent a month touring Tasmania, so how hard can it be to drive through New Zealand?  If we’re very lucky, we might even run into a kiwi!

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We are agreed that it will be a once in a lifetime trip so we have to get the itinerary right. Tailor made by an expert. With that in mind we contact New Zealand in Depth. We meet with founder and top guy Paul Carberry at his offices in Buxton, where he tries to understand what we want from our trip.

Paul is vastly knowledgeable and passionate about New Zealand. He offers advice on the best time to see penguins, waxes lyrical on landscapes we shouldn’t miss, and cautions against “cheesy” Maori experiences, proposing instead some more authentic alternatives.

And most importantly, Paul never once mentions bungee jumps, zip wires or Lord of the Rings, so our trip should be safe in his hands. We await his draft itinerary with eager anticipation.