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A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join American couple Mary and Al on a "picnic in the high country", an exclusive day trip they had booked to enjoy whilst staying in Christchurch.
The Canterbury high country is not on the typical tourist lists and this is exactly what made this experience even more special… This was a unique wilderness experience away from the crowd.
I have to admit that I didn’t realize that the “perfect picnic spot” was to be reached by helicopter, which made the whole adventure a real treat, but Oh so worth it!
We left Christchurch in the morning with our guide David. It didn’t take long to drive across the vast Canterbury plains and reach the Rakaia River, where we stopped to admire the clear water.
The Rakaia is one of the region’s braided rivers whose arms spread on the landscape. Our journey took us along the riverbanks, to Double Hill station, where we met the owners, Anna and Tim.
What I loved the most about this day was how friendly all the locals we met were: I almost forgot I didn’t know them before that morning!
We started the day eating lovely handmade berry and almond friands with Anna and Tim, then were waved goodbye by their three adorable young sons and within minutes we were flying above the amazing braided river, rocky mountain faces and glaciers.
We even spotted red deer, chamois and Himalayan tahr (types of mountain goats) … Hundreds of “Wows” later we landed in the most peaceful spot, having almost forgotten we were on a picnic mission!
Sitting blissfully on a picnic chair surrounded by a 360 degree view, all we had to do, was to pick one well garnished bagel and local fruit juice or wine and enjoy… in perfect silence.
With no one else around, you can’t help but feel your spirit lifted and engulfed by an exquisite feeling of freedom… that, to me, is what New Zealand is all about!
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