The South Island


New Zealand is a breathtaking and incredibly beautiful country with its majestic snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, cool glaciers and stunning fiords providing the spectacular scenery. I had been dreaming of visit this gorgeous country for a lifetime, and I was ecstatic last year that a journey to this destination would be finally realized.New Zealand is an archipelago of more than 700 islands in the southwestern portion of the Pacific Ocean. There are two main islands, the North Island and the South Island.  The former is an island of mountain ranges, volcanic plateaus, and thermal areas. The latter has the majestic Southern Alps, glacial lakes, and the picturesque fiords. New Zealand is a land of diverse and sensational landscapes. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy con trasting experiences. The Southern Alps is just hours away from a virgin rain forest, and the peaceful beach can only be minutes from a busy urban city. Their tourism industry focuses on these natural wonders of mountains, lakes, and fiords. Every day is a different journey here. New Zealand was first discovered by the Dutch and was named after the Dutch province of Zealand. Later, it became a British colony in 1840. Today, New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II is still the titular head) with a parliamentary democracy.

THE SPOTLIGHT ON NEW ZEALAND BY THE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIES It is not surprising that New Zealand was chosen as the shooting location for the blockbuster film trilogies of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” that captivated the movie audiences worldwide. New Zealand native and director Peter Jackson chose to highlight the stunning landscape of this country as the perfect fantasy backdrop of the epic Middle Earth journey as envisioned by J.R.R. Tolkien. New Zealand would forever be associated with these successful films. Any time between September to May are the most popular months for travellers to New Zealand, though the ski season brings visitors during the winter months (June to August). One word of advice for tourists: it can be very expensive to tour this country. A journey to New Zealand has been on my bucket list ever since I learned geography at age six. It was the allure of the majestic mountains and pristine lakes that captivated me. The recent spotlight on New Zealand by Hollywood further motivated me to make this childhood dream a reality.  Auckland was our gateway to this exciting adventure. We toured the North Island, through a friend’s Fiat 500, which for your information is under the Fiat 500 lease, first for five days and especially enjoyed the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata. This was built as the Shire where hobbits play and live in hobbit holes as featured in “The Lord of the Rings’ movies – truly a great cinematic adventure.


From Auckland, we took a short flight to Christchurch. It is South Island’s biggest city and is called the very “English Garden City” due to its fine old English tradition and pleasantly cultivated gardens. The city is still recovering from the destruction of the devastating earthquakes it suffered in 2011. As too much of the city center is still in the rubble, we toured the rose beds and English lawns of the Botanic Gardens. We then left Christchurch in the afternoon to pass through the Canterbury Plains whose flat coastal plains nourished by snow-fed rivers contrast with the surrounding lovely mountains. We rode in our coach bus for four hours until we reach Tekapo by the early evening. Just watching the spectacular scenery through the window was an awesome experience. Never had I seen such stunning landscape from my seat and just enjoyed the view. The same excitement reminded me of the Glacier Express that I took with my brother Robert in Switzerland. As a matter of fact, several tourists compare south Canterbury with Switzerland and the Alps. The road trip through the Canterbury Plains marks the beginning of where the breathtaking natural landscape of New Zealand mirrors the journey to the Middle Earth as described by Tolkien. In the South Island, you will feast your eyes on a variety of nature’s best creations from the towering snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, huge glaciers, pristine lakes of Canterbury and Otago regions, the lofty Remarkable Mountains surrounding Queenstown, verdant rainforests, and the picturesque fiordlands of Milford Sound.

Elderly fitness

As we age, our body deteriorates. Our bones become brittle, our breathing becomes shorter and our strength gradually diminishes. What we can physically do in our teens such as climbing a mountain, carrying loads of boxes, and even running up and down a flight of stairs can already put such a heavy toll on us.

This is where exercises come in. Cardio exercises have benefits for older adults and those with hypertension. Let us keep in mind, though, that before embarking on any forms of exercise, we should always consult our doctor.


Here are some cardio exercises that elderly adults can squeeze into their schedule.

Walking is a low-intensity cardio exercise that slightly increases our heart and breathing rate and it is suitable for older adults with a range of conditions that make exertion quite difficult. Walking around the neighbourhood early morning, shopping around with your kids, slowly climbing up and down a flight of stairs are just classic examples to bring our strength back. Do not think of just staying in front of the computer. Sometimes, you need to let go of some techie stuff, like what my cousin talks about nas server test and other geekyu stuff. You gotta move!

If we think that our stamina and health has improved, we can increase the length or pace of our walk. From 10 minutes, we can spend more time in this cardio exercise say twenty or thirty minutes a day.

Like walking, recreational swimming is also a low-intensity cardio exercise that reduces the strain in the joint. For starters, we can wade in the water without doing anything and just let the waves do the exercises for us. On the other hand we can splash our arms a bit and walk from one side of the pool to the other. This is an ideal exercise for those with asthma, by the way.

For a more intense workout, we can enrol in a water aerobics class which are available in gym facilities near us.

Recommended for healthier and older adults, cycling is a moderate-intensity exercise that has a moderate impact. If balance is an issue, consider investing on a stationary bike which can limit the risk for injury. Start with just a slow run of the pedal and then increase over time as strength and endurance develop

Other benefits of cycling for seniors include generating a stronger heart and lung capacity while limiting the risk for coronary artery disease. We can also build muscle in the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles and this muscle strength can affect our neighboring tendons. Cycling also improves our coordination and balance especially if we struggle in this area.

For fun and excitement in the routine, try a little bit of dancing. Let us go to the nearest dance studio and enrol in a class and let someone guide us through the steps. There are also gyms that offer group dance classes, particularly for the elderly and the seniors and this may include jazz, swing or other ballroom options.

If money is a problem, on the other hand, consider watching some dance videos on the internet and just follow through.

Jogging is a high-intensity cardio workout that can be vigorous if the elderly somewhat easily loses his breath. This exercise can also cause injuries and puts a strain on the joints. So whenever we try high-intensity cardio workouts such as jogging, we can consider the elliptical machine on the gyms which reduces the impact on the legs and the knees.

Jogging, though, is a lot beneficial since it gives our heart strength and stretches our muscles and joints. This exercise also produces endurance in each of us.

Hiking is also another form of cardio workout that the elderly can benefit from. If the outdoors or the beauty of nature is not enough for us to get out, then this exercise is really not for the faint of heart.

But really, it is better to don on the hiking boots and trudge the outdoors than to stay at home and do nothing. Have a friend or a family member as a companion. For an exciting time ahead, pack the camping gear and stay the night.

It is estimated that exercise should be incorporated into the routine for at least thirty minutes on most days, or if possible, on all days. But for those who suffer from immediate shortness of breath after just starting out a program, split those thirty minutes into three times each day, ten minutes in the morning, another ten in the afternoon and the last ten minutes in the evening.

These thirty minutes should not only be restricted to just one physical activity – mix two and two together to form different activities in just a short time.

On the other hand, for those who haven’t exercised for quite some time, reduce the minutes and gradually build it up as days pass by. And keep in mind that a sustained physical activity is important. For whatever reason we have stopped exercising for weeks, maybe because of health problems, build up our exercise routine gradually again. Talk to our doctor or professional fitness coach about continuing our exercise routine.

Meanwhile as for the elderly who enjoys the rigorous benefits of exercise, continue doing so – in relation to our capabilities. Just remember that when we begin any form of strenuous physical activity, it is vital that the level of activity should be appropriate to any related health problem that we have.