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New Zealand: Lonely Planet    by Carolyn Bain, George Dunford & Korina Miller order for
New Zealand
by Carolyn Bain
Order:  USA  Can
Lonely Planet, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Having hitchhiked around New Zealand in 1979, and now planning to take a slightly more upscale trip there again in 2009, I was intrigued to see what my usual source of travel guides, Lonely Planet, advises on places to see, to stay, and to eat - and especially welcome its suggested itineraries and not-to-be-missed highlights.

The inside front cover includes a handy Quick Reference on how to use the book, information on exchange rates and price ranges, conversions, business hours and telephone area codes. A map highlights attractions, followed by summaries - accompanied by enticing photographs - of National Parks, Islands & Beaches, City & Cultural Life, and Food & Drink. Itineraries are suggested, from Top to Bottom to a more specialized Fine Wines tour.

I was delighted to see a writeup on Captain James Cook by Tony Horwitz (author of Blue Latitudes) in the History section, as well as one on Middle-earth Tourism under Cinema, and an informative introduction to Maori Culture by Errol Hunt. An excellent overview of New Zealand Outdoors includes great places for tramping (hiking), something I very much enjoyed when last there.

Major sections of the guidebook provide coverage (by region) that includes: Highlights and Top Activities; Tours and Festivals; child-friendly resources; Accommodation, Restaurants and Shopping; and different ways of Getting Around. General information at the back of the guidebook includes Maori geographical terms - to help the traveler make sense of Maori place names - and greetings.

I remember New Zealand as a friendly and very scenic country that offers a remarkable variety of experience in a relatively small amount of territory, a traveler's Eden. This Lonely Planet: New Zealand guide portrays it well, and is an invaluable resource for either a first-time or returning visitor.

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