What do primates and humans have in common? Apart from a love of bananas, space travel and playing drums, we all descended from one ancestor. And according to evolutionist Charles Darwin it wasn’t Adam, Eve or King Kong. In 2009 the scientific world celebrates Darwin’s work. You too can get into the evolutionary groove on a New Zealand holiday that blends wild, raw and primordial adventures with modern luxury digs.
The Waitomo Caves near Auckland would have been 5-star accommodation to knuckle dragging cavepersons, with its open plan rooms, stunning glowworm show and visually intriguing stalactites. These days you can do a tour, and also stop off at Rotorua to see the bubbling mud pools and geysers. Then enjoy a gin and tonic on the patio of Arundels Garden bar, before jumping in your own bubbling spa at the 5-star Hyatt Regency Auckland.
Just imagine dragging heavy supplies through the snow in sub-zero temperatures, decked out in nothing more than bear skin and longjohns? That’s what it took to be an Antarctic explorer in the centuries past. These days, you can check out little blue penguins in comfort at the International Antarctic Centre as part of the Christchurch City Sightseeing tour. Polar bears are not a recommended fashion statement. We suggest jeans, t-shirt and jackets for your Antactic freezer. At the nearby Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, you can spot Kiwis and feed other animals, then relax in the secluded environs of the Gunyah Country Estate tucked away in gardens close to woodland walks.
No need to trek thousands of miles for a challenge when you can simply wander through Puzzling World in Wanaka, near Queenstown. You’ll find a magical maze, with over 1.5km of passages to escape from. Then explore the Ames Forced Perspective Room, where you’ll look Hobbit or human depending on where you stand. After such wild adventures, enjoy some more civilised recreation with a game of tennis at the Nugget Point Luxury Resort.
The Earth revolves around the Sun? Nonsense! That was the belief hundreds of years ago, until science questioned this seemingly certain fact. Before Dan Brown’s books shook up some controversy, a man called Charles Darwin dared to suggest that humans evolved from animal ancestors. The theory of evolution was published in The Origin of Species 150 years ago, dividing the western world. Visit the Otago Museum’s Darwin exhibition until 30 May 2010, and also check out the interactive Discovery World’s Tropical rainforest and beautiful butterflies. If Darwin were still around, he’d feel right at home in elegant surrounds at the Mercure Leisure Lodge in Dunedin.