New Zealand is located in the South Pacific, three hours flight from Australia, Fiji, and the Cook Islands, ten hours from Hong Kong, thirteen hours from Los Angeles, and a good twenty hours from Europe. This relative distance from any major population centre has helped define the unique character of this country. Here, there is time, there is space, and there are friendly people who have the time to talk with you and who want to share what they consider important with you.
Almost any visitor to New Zealand's first impression is one of openness and friendliness. New Zealanders tend not to be aware of this as they have always been this way and are usually flattered and pleased at how delighted visitors are with what they find here. Our personal belief is that it is the general feeling of friendliness and lack of stress which allows people to relax enough to really appreciate the beautiful views and energises people enough to allow them to want to push their boundaries. Hence all the stories of personal feats achieved while in New Zealand.
The country is the size of Great Britain (or slightly smaller than Poland) but has 4 million inhabitants as opposed to 60 million. It also has a culture which enjoys the outdoors and puts lifestyle ahead of careers or earning capacity. In the major, bustling city of Auckland, on a Thursday or Friday afternoon you will often find many people with serious jobs enjoying Rum Racing (sailing regatta for which the main prize is a bottle of rum) rather than sitting in meetings.
The weather here is temperate but changes very quickly, so it is always worth bringing clothes for a number of seasons - there is a saying that Auckland can have four seasons in one day. Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) has temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C, with cooler evenings. Winter does not go below zero in the north of the North Island, whereas it can get very cold indeed in the Southern Alps. People tend to dress casually all year round, with t-shirts, shorts and fleeces being very popular. Even the top restaurants do not necessarily require a tie and jacket, although some lodges do.
The dramatic scenery available in New Zealand made its first real appearance on the world stage through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Even bearing in mind how much special effects people can enhance scenery, what we have here still manages to make the jaws of ardent filmgoers drop. Many New Zealanders are a little bemused about this as we believe our country is far more beautiful and varied in terms of scenery than that which fitted into the scenes of the film. We have wonderful sand dunes, coastline, and islands as well as mountains, caves and tunnels! One of the things which makes the scenery so special here is how few people are around. You can be the only person in sight on a beautiful beach, the only boat in a lovely cove, or the only horse on a mountain range.
The space and time people have, combined with the magnificent scenery is what usually defines an extra-ordinary experience for our visitors - almost all of whom talk of coming back.
However, the purpose of this short document is not to be a guidebook - there are plenty of those about - it is to set the scene as to what Ahipara can offer in New Zealand which is different to the norm and worthy of a special mention.