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Enjoy the best of both worlds in New Zealand

31st August 2011 Print
Milford Sound in summer - credit Tourism New Zealand

For rugby fans who want to make the most of their time in New Zealand, Gullivers Sports Travel rounds up some of the best places to go near the heart of the action.

In just under two weeks, the world’s greatest rugby players will go head-to-head in stadiums surrounded by outstanding scenery in a country renowned for being the home of the hobbits.

With New Zealand’s ‘must-see’ sights and attractions all within striking distance of the major stadiums, Rugby World Cup 2011 is expected to bring 95,000 overseas visitors to the land of the long white cloud. Tourists eager to venture out and witness more than just rugby will be overwhelmed by the wealth of activities on offer plus a landscape which encaptured audiences during the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Gullivers Sports Travel has combined the best of both worlds in its packages to the Tournament with hotel, motorhome and cruise packages all still available for the big event which sees the final take place on October 23.

Guests staying aboard the 4* luxury cruise liner, The Pacific Dawn, will experience some of the country’s top highlights as they sail around the islands in between matches. Passengers will be taken to Poverty Bay where the ship will anchor in Gisborne – the first city in the world to see the sun each day. Wine enthusiasts can sample the New Zealand flavours in Hawke’s Bay at the food and wine festival before taking in the internationally renowned Art Deco buildings in Napier.

The cruise continues around White Island, where passengers can spot smoke rising from New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, before sailing to the well-known region of Tauranga just a short journey from Rotorua – a major centre of M?ori culture. Recognised for its geysers, thermal pools and hot mud pools, it is also famed for its smell as the sulphur fills the air.

The Bay of Islands then offers the final breath-taking treat for travellers with 144 islands surrounded by shimmering waters and superb beaches. The Pacific Dawn will drop anchor off the coast of Paihia, known as the jewel of the Bay of Islands, where the vast choice of activities include sailing, swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, diving and fishing. But the area is not just a leisure playground as The Bay of Islands is also a place of special significance. It was here in 1840 that New Zealand was created as the Maoris and British signed the Treaty of Waitangi.

With Quarter-, Semi-, Bronze-Finals and the Final taking place in Auckland and Wellington, rugby fans will also be able to make the most of the diverse and stimulating cities surrounding the stadiums.

At the forefront of the Rugby World Cup, Auckland will be hosting an explosion of events and festivals including Auckland International Boat Show (15 - 18 Sept), the Auckland Heritage Festival (18 Sept - 2 Oct), the Diwali Festival of Lights (7 - 8 Oct) and the Kowhai Festival (15 Oct) – an annual celebration of springtime. Rugby supporters keen to get adventurous can chose to climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge or sky jump from the Sky Tower. Plus, for wine lovers, there are some excellent fine wine tours and the historic village of Parnell is reputed to have some great restaurants for foodies.

Voted one of the top four cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet in 2011, Wellington leaves its visitors wanting more with its entertainment, culture and endless possibilities. Watch the world pass by at the harbour, check out the Botanical Gardens, ride the Wellington Cable Cars or be amazed at the Carter Observatory. Visitors should also to head to the visually stimulating Cuba Street district for its eclectic mix of bohemian cafes, boutiques, galleries and music shops. Or finally, for the adrenaline junkies, Wellington is also home to Adrenalin Forest where people can dangle from a high ropes course as they push themselves to their limit.

Gullivers Sports Travel’s ‘Odyssey Green’ tour (5 – 25 Oct) gives fans the chance to take in all of the above sights as well as watch the Auckland quarter-finals, semi-finals, Bronze Final (optional) and the all-important Rugby World Cup 2011 Final whilst staying aboard the cruise liner. Prices start from £6,263pp (based on four sharing) including 14 nights full-board accommodation (excluding drinks), 3 night’s hotel accommodation, return international economy flights, the guarantee of official match tickets (charged separately at face value), airport transfers, on-board entertainment, welcome drinks reception and tour merchandise.

For more information call Gullivers Sports Travel, visit

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

New Zealand Rugby - credit Offside Sports Photography Milford Sound in summer - credit Tourism New Zealand Pacific Dawn