NZ garden holiday tour

Garden lovers inspired by this year’s Chelsea Flower Show — which included the award-winning 100% Pure New Zealand garden — might like to consider a new Boutique Gardens of New Zealand holiday, exclusively offered by English-based specialist Bridge & Wickers.

Horticultural highlights of the 16-night, self-drive tour starts with Auckland’s Domain, a 150-acre park developed around the cone of an extinct volcano, with both formal and winter gardens and a pair of historic glasshouses.

Other horticultural highlights include the global range of plants on show in Hamilton Gardens; Pukeiti, home to one of the world’s great rhododendron displays, as well as an exotic tree collection in the adjacent garden estate of Brooklands; the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens in Wellington; and the 120 year-old Larnach Castle gardens in Dunedin.

The tour finishes in Christchurch, New Zealand’s official Garden City, with a wide choice of green retreats, including its outstanding Botanic Gardens.

For those who prefer an escorted tour, Bridge & Wickers offers a ‘mid-spring’ November trip to New Zealand to coincide with the biggest horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere.

The 18-day itinerary for garden lovers culminates with a private guided tour of the Ellerslie Flower Show near Auckland (November 15-19, 2006), and includes visits to several botanic gardens in Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.

The 16-day trip costs from Stg £1,595 (€2380) and the escorted tour from £2,180 (€3260) with Bridge & Wickers (020 7483 6555; www.bridgeandwickers.co.uk).

STILL on the subject of New Zealand, Austravel has a special offer available to book until June 15.

The company is selling a 10-night break in Singapore and New Zealand’s North Island from €1608 per person

This deal includes return flights from Dublin to Auckland with Singapore Airlines, a stopover in Singapore for three nights including three star accommodation, city tour, night safari and seven nights at the four star Hyatt Regency, including a day on the Discover Waitomo Caves tour. Travel before June 30.

For further details and reservations, telephone Austravel in Dublin on 01 642 7006. Flights, hotels and Australian visas are bookable online at www.austravel.ie.

IN January 2008, Fred Olsen’s Black Watch will embark on a world cruise.

This cruise of 107 nights departs Dover on January 5. The route taken is westerly and highlights include Canary Islands, the Panama Canal, Easter Island, Pitcairn, Tahiti, New Zealand (North and South Islands), Papua New Guinea, Bali, India, Egypt, Jordan, the Suez Canal and Malta.

Discounts of up to 45% on published fares are currently on offer for early bookers. Offer prices start at €13,750.

Contact Fred Olsen at 0044 1473 742424, email res.enquires@fredolsen.co.uk, or see your travel agent.

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