New Zealand is the youngest country on earth - the last major landmass to be discovered. It has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting both our Maori and European heritage. Amazing Maori historic sites and taonga (treasures), some dating back almost a thousand years, are a contrast to many beautiful colonial buildings. New Zealand today is a culturally diverse and fascinating country. Discover the movie magic when you visit the Lord of the Rings filming locations. Take guided tours of the stunning locations shot in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
GREAT NEW ZEALANDER'S
6. Jean Batten

JEAN BATTEN - FIRST SOLO FLIGHT FROM LONDON TO AUCKLAND

One Friday afternoon in October 1936, Aucklanders descended in their thousands on Mangere aerodrome to see a slice of history being made. Pioneering New Zealand aviator Jean Batten was due to touch down at the end of her epic flight from London. On cue, her little silver Percival Gull aircraft appeared in the sky overhead. It looked “a picture of speed and grace as it approached the aerodrome with the sun glinting on its wing and fuselage”.

When Batten landed the plane 10 days and 21 hours after leaving Britain, she had etched her name on the honour board of aviation history. Not only was she the first person to fly solo from London to Auckland but she had beaten the previous record for a transtasman crossing by 1hr 28min.

“She stepped from her machine fresh and smiling, with no sign of fatigue or strain visible after her momentous flight”. Her plane was besieged by the excited crowd and the nation’s mood was expressed in a telegram from Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage: “The world recognises you as one of the most famous airwomen and New Zealand is proud to claim you as one of her own.”

But Batten, like a typical Kiwi hero, was unruffled by the fuss. “I find it hard to believe that I do not have to go on somewhere else,” she said. “But there doesn’t seem anywhere else to go to,” she added, “unless to the Antarctic. But one thing I do know: When I travel for a while after this I am going by train or road transport. I have had enough of the air for the time being.”

And she told the story of her 10-hour crossing of the Tasman in which she dodged storms, flew for a while with an albatross and spotted whales far below in the sea. “As for the flight, I think my main impression was the utter loneliness and the immensity of the vast blue stretch of water. Still, I had the utmost confidence in my machine, which is the one I used when I flew across the Atlantic to South America.”

“Whatever may yet be done, by herself or others, nothing can erase the renown that is hers because of this first direct linking of England with New Zealand by one scheduled flight.” Yet with the passage of time, deeds that once required great courage, exceptional vision and finely tuned skills can – like the work of literary or scientific genius – become so commonplace that they are taken for granted. But how many jaded passengers from London, lamenting the effects of jet lag, glance up at the little plane and reflect that it once took real courage and greatness to make the journey that has taken them about 24 hours, with hot meals laid on and numberless channels of in-flight entertainment?

Batten’s silver aircraft now dangles from the ceiling of the arrivals hall in the international terminal named after her at Auckland Airport.

Travel to New Zealand. There is just so much to do make sure you allow plenty of time for your visit. You will find a diverse range of scenery and conditions from sub-tropical to a little colder down south particularly in the winter time. New Zealand can be enjoyed at a pace to suit every age group. Grab a cheap flight to New Zealand for a game of golf, Buy a map, hire a rental car, have an adventure and fill your lungs with the smog free air New Zealand has to offer. Accommodation from backpackers, bed and breakfast to luxury hotel. Take your New Zealand tour.
TRAVEL TO NEW ZEALAND - HOME OF LORD OF THE RINGS