US tourists live New Zealand holiday dream
04 Feb 2010
An American couple have just completed their holiday dream trip in New Zealand after winning an online luxury travel auction.
Terry and Diane Cowman, of Woodlands Hill, California, were the winners of the ‘Give it up to Live it up’ campaign offering two people a luxury holiday in New Zealand - a prize package valued at NZ$31,000 which they bought for just NZ$7,500.
The Cowmans left today (3.02.10) after a month in New Zealand travelling through the North and South Islands, staying in luxury hotels and lodges, and experiencing many tourist attractions.
Flight of the Cowmans
Long-time New Zealand fans, the Californians documented their travels on a personal blog entitled ‘Flight of the Cowmans - our adventures in New Zealand’ - and featuring some of the 3000-plus photos they took.
On the eve of their departure, the couple said their New Zealand experience was "the trip of a lifetime and had far exceeded their expectations".
"We’ve absolutely loved it. We would like to be staying. Every place is beautiful - looking out the window right now here on Waiheke Island, it’s beautiful.
"People are so friendly. When we got lost and stopped to ask for directions of people walking by, they were so happy to help us out. We met a lot of good people, new friends who asked us to stop by at their place," Mr Cowman said.
The trip fulfilled a 26-year dream for Terry Cowman who had originally planned to visit New Zealand on a working holiday before meeting his wife-to-be Diane.
"Just before we met, fell in love, and married, I was planning to work in New Zealand for a couple of years," Mr Cowman said.
"Two months after we were married my wife became pregnant with our daughter, who is now almost 25 years old. So the priorities changed ... this seemed like a great opportunity so I had to bid."
Taking time out together for the holiday wasn’t an issue as the pair work together. Diane is an artist who designs and makes vintage Victorian-style fashion and jewellery, and Terry is involved in marketing the designs.
The month-long self-drive journey took the Cowmans to most of New Zealand’s major destinations - from the Bay of Islands, in the north, to Milford Sound, in the south, and a dozen places in-between.
"The itinerary was so tight - probably 4000km of driving and only one flat tyre - it was one adventure after another," Mr Cowman said.
After landing in Auckland on 8 January, the Cowmans travelled to Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, Mt Cook, Queenstown, Nelson, Bay of Plenty, and Northland before finishing their journey with two days on Waiheke Island, near Auckland.
The couple planned their itinerary with the help of vacation tips supplied by a friend’s son who had visited New Zealand by campervan.
With their own trip behind them, Terry Cowman said they would advise fellow travellers to ensure they had as much time as possible to see New Zealand.
"Plan to spend as much time as you can because there’s so much. There were so many things we couldn’t do," he said.
Stand out experiences included helicopter sight-seeing flights into Fiordland, in southern New Zealand, and a landing on volcanic White Island, off the east coast of the North Island.
"We went on some phenomenal helicopter tours, flying into Milford Sound and then taking a boat out to the sea. And, the flight out to White Island was like landing on the moon," Mr Cowman said.
They also discovered New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mt Cook, and the Tasman Glacier by Argo - an eight-wheel all terrain vehicle capable of conquering virtually anything from water, ice and deep snow to steep mountain terrain.
"The Argo was definitely the way to do it. Mt Cook took our breath away. You’re looking at a postcard, thinking ‘is this real’," Mr Cowman said.
The Cowmans experienced some of New Zealand’s best food and wine, particularly lamb, prepared by chefs in the luxury lodges they stayed in, as well as the best "catch of the day" bought from the fish and chip shops they found on the roadside.
"The lodges were just amazing and the food is incredible. We tried a lot of New Zealand lamb - so good, and so many variations. The bacon is amazing, and the fish and chips! We’ve both gained weight, even though we’ve been doing a lot of walking."
Background: Give it up to Live it up
The ‘Give it up to Live it up’ campaign offering two people a life of luxury in New Zealand for a month was auctioned on eBay in May 2009. The 14-day auction attracted bids from all over the world.
Organised by New Zealand Luxury, a company that represents a collection of the country’s leading luxury tourism operators, the luxury package sold for NZ$7,500.
Money raised from the luxury campaign went to support the Untouched World Charitable Trust which helps young adults develop life skills to maximise their potential and achieve a sustainable future.
The trust is run by the New Zealand-based Untouched World clothing brand which is the first fashion company in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for sustainability.
The company also donated a range of men’s and women’s clothing as part of the online auction.
Flight of the Cowmans blog
Unspoiled New Zealand luxury holiday destinations
Live it up on NZ$1 luxury deal
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|Terry and Diane Cowman, in Milford Sound