No sheep here: Auckland is
the main gateway to
The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy
has put this far-flung nation solidly on the tourism map. Visitors
can learn about native Maori culture, hike in the Great Outdoors,
participate in extreme sports and spot unique wildlife, such as the
flightless Kiwi bird (New Zealanders are referred to as Kiwis).
In June, Air New Zealand introduced nonstop flights from San
Francisco to Auckland, three times per week. This follows the
recent addition of thrice-weekly flights between Los Angeles and
The Skycity Auckland Convention Centre
will open next April. The facility will have five stories and
approximately 60,000 square feet of exhibit space. Overall, the
center will accommodate conferences for up to 1,500 people,
banquets for up to 2,100 and cocktails for up to 4,000. The venue
also links to the 702-seat Skycity Theatre, the 344-room Skycity
Hotel and opening next spring the new 316-room Skycity Grand Hotel
The TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre will
open in Manukau, near Auckland, next April. Resembling a waka a
Maori canoe the facility will include the 700-seat Genesis Theatre
and the 3,000-seat Sir Woolf Fisher Arena, which will host banquets
for up to 1,500 people. Trade shows can be arranged.
New Zealand’s largest sea cave, Rikoriko, on
spectacular Poor Knights Island (one of the world’s top
scuba-diving sites), can be explored in dry comfort thanks to the
Cave Rider boat, launching next month. Near Whangarei, a mainland
town 60 miles north of Auckland, the 10 million-year-old cave
doubles as a concert and event venue.
Seeking an unusual dining experience? New this year in the New
Zealand capital of Wellington is Kai on the Bay, a
Maori-owned and -managed restaurant serving traditional native
dishes. The menu of kai (Maori for food) includes local fish, herbs
and even ferns (the official symbol of New Zealand), in savory
choices such as pasta with fern-frond pesto sauce.
New Zealand’s Heritage Hotels recently took over the former
Centra Rotorua, which overlooks the city’s Whakarewarewa Geothermal
Reserve. Now called the Park Heritage Rotorua, the
hotel has five meeting rooms hosting up to 300 people and the
Pohutu Cultural Theatre seating 600. An expansion added a 75-room
wing for a total of 203 guest rooms.
The 139-room Parkroyal Queenstown and 107-room
Centra Christchurch soon will be reflagged as
Holiday Inns. In December, the Centra will be renamed the Holiday
Inn City Centre Christchurch, while next June, the Parkroyal will
be known as the Holiday Inn Queenstown.
Hilton plans to build two $45 million hotels
on South Island, one in Christchurch, the other in Queenstown. Both
are to be boutique in style, with close to 150 guest rooms in each.
No opening dates have been announced.
The Whare Kea Lodge on Lake Wanaka, 73 miles
north of Queenstown, in March opened an upscale chalet 5,600 feet
up in the Buchanan Mountains at the edge of Mount Aspiring National
Park. Fully equipped, the two-bedroom chalet is reached via a
10-minute helicopter ride from the lodge.
French hotel chain Accor will open the 82-suite Sofitel
Queenstown in mid-2005. The hotel began construction in