New Zealand's hot for Valentines
11 Feb 2011
Looking to pop the question this Valentine’s Day? New Zealand might be the best bet with the Otago Peninsula - in the South Island - just named among the most romantic places on the planet.
The claim has been made by CNN International in a Top 10 list of places to propose to a loved one on Valentine's Day.
"If your beseeching eyes can't soften her heart, the mating rituals of South Island's unusual coastal wildlife may do it for you," says CNN.
Listing the area in the top 10 along with places like Petra, Jordan, the Maldives and the Great Wall of China, CNN suggests "joining wildlife tours organised by one of South Island's many nature tour operators will help you figure out which wildlife hot spot is best for the occasion."
Otago Peninsula wildlife
Otago Peninsula is home to colonies of yellow-eyed penguins, blue penguins, fur seals and the royal albatross. Last year the region’s albatross population made news when same sex parents successfully hatched their first chick, and now the female couple have reunited to repeat the performance.
While extraordinary wildlife is Otago’s major draw card, tourism operators in nearby Dunedin are quick to point out that romantic happenings and the nesting instinct isn’t exclusive to the native bird population.
As one of New Zealand’s oldest and most important settler cities, Dunedin offers the romance of a past era with heritage buildings, stately gardens, a castle and steam train travel to entice visitors - so tourism operators say love is definitely in the air, not only on Valentine’s Day.
Window on romance
Romance will be more than just in the air in Auckland on 14 February, it will be sky high with one lucky Kiwi couple celebrating St Valentine’s Day 194m above the city in an exclusive glass dining room.
While no-one can see in, the couple will have a bird’s eye view of New Zealand’s biggest city as they enjoy a romantic dinner for two at the top of the Sky Tower in a private dining space called ‘The Glass Room’.
SkyCity is offering the Valentine’s Day treat on the website TradeMe, and all proceeds will go to the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation.
As well as experiencing the thrill of dining in New Zealand’s highest restaurant, the couple will enjoy an exclusive five-course degustation menu, with matching wine tasters, prepared and served by SkyCity’s world-class chefs.
The newly-opened Glass Room dining area is on the observatory level of the Sky Tower, and is hired out as a private function space.
Love on the airwaves
Love will also be on the airwaves in New Zealand on St Valentines Day with a Hawke’s Bay radio station staging a competition in conjunction with a concert at the popular Black Barn winery.
It’s the fifth year that three of New Zealand’s favourite artists - Brooke Fraser, OPSHOP and Midnight Youth - have come together for the MORE FM Winery Tour summer series, and the Hawke’s Bay concert on Valentines Day will have a special romantic twist.
The radio station has asked listeners to submit a romantic story, marriage proposal or message, together with their favourite winery tour artist and song.
The winner’s lover will be serenaded at the sell-out concert by the artist of their choice. Promoters say a similar competition two years ago resulted in a marriage proposal at the concert - apparently also inspired by the romantic setting in the picturesque Black Barn Vineyards.
‘Love to Roll’
Further south, in Wellington, a bunch of Kiwi women are preparing to glam up for a the ‘Frocks on Bikes’ ride from Oriental Bay to the Island Bay Festival to celebrate love and the freedom of two wheels.
Because Valentine’s Day falls on a week day, the "love to roll" ride will be held a day early on Sunday (13.02.2011).
Cycling romantics are being asked to get together with their "essential partner" - that’s a bike - to join friends and biking buddies on an enjoyable scenic ride around the Wellington waterfront to coastal Island Bay. Prizes will be given to the best-dressed couple (any combo), most awesome bike and most chic "lover to roll".
Last year’s Frocks on Bikes attracted 151 "lovers to roll", plus one dog, and organisers say the aim is to show how much fun two people can have on two wheels - while looking great.
From peddle to paddle - another form of celebration for Kiwi romantics is being offered by the recently launched Paddleboat Company at Mangakino, 85km south of Hamilton in the North Island.
A special ‘Sweetheart Cruise’ aboard the Otunui paddle steamer - one of New Zealand’s oldest operating paddleboats - will take Valentines on a gentle, romantic cruise over the tranquil waters of Lake Maraetai.
Up to 48 passengers will board the 103-year-old paddle steamer to enjoy a champagne sunset cruise on Sunday (13.02.2011).
The recently refurbished Otunui runs regular cruises on Lake Maraetai which was formed when the Waikato River was dammed for power generation. The Waikato River and its environs are steeped in history, and cultural significance for New Zealand’s Māori people.
Jet-setting romantics have also been the target of a last minute Valentine’s Day suggestion by world famous Condé Nast Traveller which lists The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, on the North Island’s east coast, as a place worthy of a romantic celebration.
The Hawke’s Bay property featured in the Condé Nast Gold List 2011 is offering guests accommodation in a hilltop suite with treats like French Champagne and a special five-course dinner - then a full breakfast and late check-out the next day.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a Relais & Chateaux property in a dramatic setting on a 6000-acre sheep and cattle farm overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
And romantic couples keen to be set adrift from the humdrum of busy life could escape to a luxury beachfront retreat at Tukurua in Golden Bay near Nelson - recently voted one of the 10 Best Romantic Hotels in the South Pacific.
'Adrift' was the only property in New Zealand and Australia to make the grade in the 2011 Traveller's Choice Awards on the world's largest travel review website tripadvisor.com.
The recognition comes a year after the five luxury cottages on the 4 hectare property were awarded five stars by Qualmark, the official body for quality assurance in the New Zealand tourism industry.
Spa bubbles and bubbly
Luxuriating in a spa with champagne could be the ideal Valentine’s, and New Zealand comes up trumps with natural thermal spas where bubbling waters are both relaxing and therapeutic.
Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa - in the central North Island’s thermal region - has recently listed in Condé Nast Traveller’s ‘Top 10’ in the 2011 Reader’s Spa Awards.
The Polynesian Spa has 26 pools and is built on natural hot springs that have been frequented by locals since the early 19th century. Nearby Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora resorts also offer mud baths and mineral hot pools with therapeutic and relaxing properties.
In the South Island the beautiful spa town of Hanmer Springs is another romantic destination. The Heritage Hanmer Springs is offering an overnight Valentine’s package with bubbles, chocolates, breakfast and passes to the popular thermal springs.
Cuddle class on Air NZ
New Zealand’s national airline is asking Valentines an intimate question about their "favorite cuddle position".
A Valentine’s Day promotion on Twitter offers lovebirds the chance to win a round-trip "cuddle class" flight for two on a Skycouch - Air New Zealand’s new lie-down seats - from Los Angeles to Auckland or London.
The Skycouch seating is being introduced on Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 777-300 from 1 April.
Playing Cupid comes naturally to the airline that flew an inaugural matchmaking flight for single travellers in 2009, and Air NZ vice-president - the Americas Roger Poulton says the "hopelessly romantic airline" cherishes the chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Since Air New Zealand came up with the revolutionary new Skycouch seating design, more than 30 other airlines have expressed interested in licensing the seating concept for their own planes.
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