Sometimes I get so frustrated – there just seems so much to see and do in New Zealand – I just want to do it all at once. I had an ingenious idea recently – an awesomely beautiful scenic train ride on the TranzAlpine train. Its run by Kiwi Rail, and I should imagine it must be rated as one of the most scenic trips in the world. The train runs between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth and if you’re like me, you’ll be awe-struck by the sheer beauty.
What I love about the trip is that you don’t have to take days away from home, although that would be nice as well – the journey takes 4½ hours. You don’t have to buy a return ticket either – you can take a one-way journey and explore a bit in Greymouth. A popular trip is to visit the Franz Josef Glacier. Its a magnificent 12 km glacier, but its very setting, in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park is an added attraction for nature lovers. In fact the area around the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier is a World Heritage Site. Once you have seen this, you will realise, like me, that we live in a stunningly beautiful country. I can’t wait to fill you in on more of our breathtaking travels in New Zealand.
Picton is one of those small villages that seem entirely too good to be true. It’s the very definition of “quaint village”. Picton is tucked away in Queen Charlotte Sound, in the South Islands. It’s located in the middle of New Zealand’s wine county, so you can imagine just how amazing your holiday would be. The Marllbourough Wine Region is the place where most of New Zealand’s wine is produced, and you will have the choicest wines, even before they hit the main markets. That is the kind of holiday that would make any wine aficionado jealous!
It’s not just about the wine. Picton is a charming little village, located right on the bay, and the people are amazingly friendly.You need not travel far to experience the beautiful countryside, and the breathtaking coastal scenery. There are restaurants along the harbour, where you can dine on freshly caught seafood as well. For those who are interested in something more active, the Queen Charlotte Track is an option. It’s a beautiful track along the coast- and it’s 71 km long. It’s the ideal place for those who love to hike, and would want to take a weekend off and run to the wilderness.
What’s so special about English villages? It can’t be denied that there is a certain appeal about the quaint brick cottages, winding lanes, stone walls, gentle streams, footbridges and greenery of English villages. There is something unique about village life, perhaps stemming from the history that goes back centuries, sometimes as far as medieval times, that many parts of the world outside Europe just don’t have. Of course those countries have their own unique histories of natives, aborigines, etc, but villages…not so much. Perhaps that’s why they appeal to so many ‘new world’ countries (USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc) which share a language and heritage with England but lack village life. It helps that numerous writers and artists have immortalised the English countryside too, think of Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.
Most English villages have certain things in common: they usually contain at least one pub, a church, a park/common/green/square, a groceries shop and a post office. These places tend to provide a feeling of community and many villages have a local sports team or some kind of association that brings people together, and usually has annual fetes, fairs or other events. The pub or church (depending on your sensibilities) seems to be the heart of village life. Cities are more multi-cultural and anonymous, but they lack that quintessential English character. That’s not to say that city-life is bad: it’s ever-evolving, fast-paced and fun, but it’s just difficult to experience the simpler existence of old England. The rural idyll also appeals to many people; the cottages with Tudor beams, immaculate village greens, ancient graveyards, fruit trees, winding rivers and endless fields.