Discovering New Zealand

June 20, 2013

I don’t know if you are like me, but I am fascinated about the names of places. After all, behind the name of any landmark or city is always a story of intrigue, discovery or adventure.

This is most apt in New Zealand, where in 1768, Captain James Cook arrived with his crew aboard his ship The Endeavour to become the first Europeans to step on New Zealand soil and most impressively circumnavigated both the North and South islands producing detailed charts of a land which up until then was thought to be one whole land mass. It was an incredible achievement and testament to the steely determination and leadership that made Cook so famous.

It was not an easy assignment. Although Cook had the help of a local Tahitian chief (they sailed to New Zealand after a sojourn in Polynesia) to assist as a guide and translator with the local Maori people, when they arrived on the east bank of the river Waipoua (site of modern Gisbourne) not unsurprisingly the locals were somewhat wary of the arrival of what for them must have felt like an invader arriving from outer space!

Several fatal confrontations occurred with the Maori with the result that one bay was named Poverty Bay by Cook (and is so to this day) after four Maoris died.

In a section of North Island, a confrontation with Maori in huge war canoes resulted in Cook’s superior firepower (they had firearms, the Maori only spears) scaring the advancing Maori into a speedy retreat. This promontory was and is now beautifully named CapeRunaway!

Fortunately, as his explorations continued, the local Maori were less suspicious and Cook was able to explore on land as well as from his ship. Fertile lands were named the Bay of Plenty and when Cook and his astronomer (Green) put ashore in a cove to observe the transit of Mercury in the sky, the bay was named; you guessed it, Mercury Bay!

Titan’s ‘Best of New Zealand’ tour visits many of the beautiful places named by Cook all those years ago. The most obvious is Cook Strait, the stretch of water that divides North and SouthIslands. Actually it was Joseph Banks, a wealthy scientist and botanist who paid an enormous sum (in those days) of £10,000 to join the expedition to the South Sea who named this passage as testament to Cook’s great feat of persistence to show the world that New Zealand was divided into two islands. Indeed, over 100 years earlier, the Dutch explorer Tasman had assumed the North and South islands to be joined together and had not ventured between the two. Today, Cook Strait is still known by this name and we cross these waters on a mere ferry on day 11 of our Best of New Zealand tour.  

The highlight for many on our Best of New Zealand tour is our time in the Bay of Islands, where the dotted inlets and islands with their quiet sand dunes and hillocks on shells captivate the hearts of visitors, as much as Cook must have been so equally captivated back in the 18th century.

Indeed, a visit to New Zealand with Titan is very much a modern-day journey of discovery with like-minded travellers. Escorted by an experienced tour manager, you will be captivated by the beautiful scenery and become absorbed in the wonderful history and culture – most of all Captain James Cook.

Perhaps the best time to visit New Zealand is in their spring and early summer as the days are longer, the climate ideal for touring and the attractions are not filled to the brim with peak season tourists.

So why not take advantage of some special offers we have on our Best of New Zealand tour departing in October and November this year. Please note that places are limited and all offers are subject to availability, on a first come, first served basis.

Best of New Zealand – departing 26th October 2013 – save £200 per person

Best of New Zealand – departing 9th November – save £170 per person


 Chart of New Zealand


Hugh Clayson, Product Director


June Supper Club – Basel Tart

June 13, 2013

This post is the first in a monthly series for the Titan Supper Club. Each month we will select a recipe from somewhere we visit on one of our tours. This month we have decided to go for Basel Tart: an onion and cheese tart from Basel, Switzerland – a favourite stop on many of our river cruises on the Rhine.

Nestled on the banks of the Rhine, Basel is a completely unique city full of history, music and culture. Switzerland’s third largest city, it is nestled in the North-West corner of Switzerland, bordering both France and Germany – in fact the city has suburbs in all three countries.

Its position in the heart of Western Europe has ensured that Basel has been a cultural and historical powerhouse since the baroque times, but its origins are thought to go back to Roman times and beyond. The Roman’s were the first to fully settle in the area, near to where the world-famous Münster now stands.

Contemporary Basel is home to a vast array of art and music. One of the city’s most famous collections is to be found at the Museum of Fine Art – which hosts the oldest accessible art collection in the world – whilst there are numerous other galleries in the city catering to every taste in art. Basel also has a rich history of medieval and Baroque music, which has left it with numerous concert halls and a centre for the research and performance of music from medieval to the Baroque period – the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

If that wasn’t enough, the city is also home to 65 libraries and over 30 museums and cultural institutions which bring in over 1 million visitors a year.

When visitors are not visiting museums, going to concerts or relaxing by the Rhine, there is plenty of local produce from the city’s surrounding countryside. Our Basel tart makes use of some these local ingredients and makes a great summer lunch when served with a green salad.

You can download the recipe card for Titan Supper Club by right clicking on the image below and saving a copy, alternatively a PDF of the recipe card can be found here.

All you have to do now is go shopping! We would love to see how you get on, so share your photos with and comment below to let us know how you get on.


Basel Tart Recipe Card


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