AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Stories from our backyard: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Bungy at First Sight

Bungy at first sight…now that is a twist on the traditional Valentine’s Day date! Not that I did it, but plenty of people did do a tandem Bungy with a stranger. AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder Henry van Asch explained it’s all about overcoming your fears and getting the most from your life. Now that makes sense to me, and it certainly has made sense to the millions of adventurers that have dared themselves to do just that over the past 30+ years with AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand. It all started back in 1988 near Queenstown on the South Island, New Zealand and has grown to three iconic Kiwi destinations – Queenstown, Auckland and Taupo – with 13 ground-breaking experiences on offer – from giant swings to bridge climbs, ziprides to Catapults and five unique Bungy experiences. The company has certainly earned its place at the cutting edge of global adventure tourism, and I think their credo also extends to first-class match-making (more on that later) …

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Ledge Bungy

Queenstown is the jewel in the crown when it comes to a must-visit New Zealand destination. It’s simply spectacular and delivers the whole package. Queenstown combines the magnificence of the great outdoors with Kiwi indulgence. Expect stunning vistas, walking trails, ski resorts and scenic drives. Spend a day bike riding along the shores of Lake Wakatipu or visit the gorgeous nearby towns of Wanaka, Arrowtown or Glenorchy. Don’t miss a scenic flight, bus tour or self-drive to the world heritage-listed Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. Choose from a myriad of adventure activities on offer plus the chance to indulge in some of the more genteel pursuits such as wine tasting, a round of golf or retail & restaurant therapy. In short, Queenstown is a natural hub and was the perfect place for AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand (AJHBNZ) to establish their first base back in 1988.

A giant leap of faith…

It all started with a daring publicity Bungy jump off the Eiffel Tower, a short detainment and then the impetus shifted half-way around the world to Queenstown New Zealand. The heritage Kawarau Suspension Bridge was established as the site of the world’s first commercial Bungy. The Queenstown environment was a perfect fit. A beautiful place. Spiritual. The perfect backdrop to achieve a personal challenge. It is where you can do something dangerous safely. It’s something anyone can do whether you are 10 or 94 years of age. The challenge is to overcome your fear with the guidance of the AJHBNZ team and apply the experience to get the most out of life.

Taupō Swing

Live more. Fear Less.

And so Bungy jumping took off. It was recognised as a transformational experience. Visitors from around the world travelled to give it a go, and in so doing AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand gave rise to the birth of adventure tourism in New Zealand. Fast forward 30+ years, and AJHBNZ is still just as committed to their customers mustering up the courage to do something they’ll never forget. And they’ve done so with a 100% safety record. As the pioneers of Bungy Jumping AJHBNZ established a written set of rules for commercial operations. The Code of Practice was instigated in 1990 and is now an industry standard for Australia and New Zealand and used as a guideline throughout the world.

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Kawarau Zipride

We promise to thrill you…

As a proud Kiwi company AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand is honoured to be a part of the fabric of New Zealand tourism. Their simple goal of inspiring people to awesomeness by helping them do things they never thought they could has extended to community engagement through offering the local graduating high school leaders a free jump. It’s a way of encouraging them to face their fears before they embark on adulthood. The COVID pandemic also forced AJHBNZ to evaluate and reinvent, like no doubt it has for most of us. As a result, AJHBNZ got involved in predator trapping which served the double purpose of not only helping the local wildlife, but redeploying team members with a purpose during the down-times. They also added a virtual Bungy experience (known as Avatar Bungy) so that people in lockdown around the world could give it a go from home. And to celebrate the resumption of domestic travel AJHBNZ invited the local Mayor to Bungy jump!

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Nevis Swing

Now back to the Valentine’s Day event – Bungy at first sight. Well, there’s a nice back story to this as a lot of Bungy relationships have been forged on the jump deck over the years. There’s been Bungy marriages and Bungy babies. I might have to check-in next year to see if there were any permanent hook-ups from the tandem Bungy with a stranger event from this year. Nice work all round AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand I say! Make sure to include AJ Hackett Bungy on your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday…. I know I will be doing just that 😊.

Facts:

The summer season (December-February) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures average 22 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. The shoulder seasons just prior and after summer are also good times with less crowds but expect the daytime maximum to drop to 18 degrees. Perfect weather for all activities.

Good to know:

Queenstown enjoys a beautiful alpine setting and it’s well known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Apart from the endless activities on offer, Queenstown boasts a huge range of excellent restaurants, cafes and boutique shops to wander. Now this is important advice: aim to stay for 3+ days…as there is plenty to do! Apart from the great outdoors and the obligatory Bungy Jump, other top highlights include: take your pick from any of the numerous adventure activities such as kayaking, heli-biking or heli-skiing (depending on the season), Gondola & Luge rides, or the famous Shotover Jet ride, enjoy some stunning vistas on a walking trail, visit the nearby towns of Wanaka & Arrowtown, take a winery tour, and don’t forget to go a little further afield to Milford Sound. Read more on Queenstown & things to do.

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Wildwire Wanaka

Stories from our backyard: Wildwire Wanaka

Wildwire Wanaka

Wild Thing climb

Laurel Morrison is both an adventurous and a generous soul. Together with her husband Mark they established the world’s highest waterfall cable climb in stunning Wanaka, on the South Island New Zealand. Designed by adventurous souls for adventure seekers, Wildwire Wanaka offers three amazing climbs and enables those with no climbing experience to reach remote locations and enjoy places and sights that they might not otherwise be able to encounter. It’s all about turbo-boosting your holiday up a notch and getting hooked on those scenic views and adventure. But Laurel did not foresee that 2020 would bring such left-of-field detours such as payment for climbs with honey. Yep, that’s right. Honey. How lucky is she?

Wanaka

Lake-Wanaka Photo: Miles Holden

Wanaka is a picture-perfect town set around Lake Wanaka with Mount Aspiring National Park as a backdrop. It’s gorgeous. Wanaka is famous also as the site of the determined, solitary Willow Tree #ThatWanakaTree, which is very Insta-worthy, as well as being the anchor point of the Haast Pass, one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. The town is easily accessible with a 60-minute drive from Queenstown Airport and a quieter option with only 11,000 residents. The town is a year-round destination with your choice of four ski fields and of course, the incredibly scenic tramping or trek options exploring the remote wilderness of Mount Aspiring National Park. The trekking highlights are the half-day Rob Roy Glacier Track and the must-do short walk to swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Pools. In short, Wanaka is naturally beautiful and the perfect place for Wildwire to establish their base back in 2015.

Wildwire Wanaka

Wild Thing climb

Set amongst the natural beauty of the Twin Falls waterfalls, Wildwire offers participants a truly unique experience with breathtaking views. The falls are located on private land and is part of a large farm called Cattle Flat Station. The ability to admire the beautiful blue pools, grassy plateaus and dramatic canyoning sections are exclusive to Wildwire climbers. Hundreds of steel rungs, safety cable and epic wire-bridges have been secured to the canyon walls, enabling easy access and an unforgettable climb experience. With 20+ years’ experience, the Wildwire guides have scaled the world’s greatest heights, led climbers at the base of Everest to the top of Mt Aspiring and almost everywhere in between. Wildwire take safety seriously! The team offer three climbs that range from easy to the more challenging. Go Wild is the entry level climb and is a fun and easy activity for climbers from 8 to 80. The next climb, Wild Thing, is the most popular and offers a bit more adventure and height for climbers 12+ years. Finally, the Lord of the Rungs climb leads up to the highest waterfall cable climb in the world, and descent is via helicopter. It’s truly spectacular!

Life is about experiences, not stuff…

Now, back to the honey. The onset of COVID has meant crazy and tough times for us all, and for Wildwire it delivered the additional stress of demand for full refunds, no international travellers and no income/bookings throughout lockdown. But the good news was that New Zealand were successful with their COVID restrictions and domestic travel resumed mid-year. That’s when Koha for Kiwis kicked in. In recognition of tough times, Wildwire introduced a pay-what-you-can scheme for locals and received an overwhelming response with over 1,000 Kiwis taking up the Wildwire challenge on one of their climbs. It was all about recognition of tough times and delivering a feel-good option for the local community…

Wildwire Wanaka

Go Wild climb finish

Wildwire Wanaka is more than a community-minded adventure company with a window view of the spectacular scenery of the South Island of New Zealand. The company is also dedicated to maintaining the natural integrity of the local environment and are actively involved in predator free activities. That involves both laying traplines to stop predators entering Mount Aspiring National Park as well as planting indigenous trees to encourage the native species to thrive in their natural habitat once more.

And so, as they say…. take a walk on the wild side, push your limits, and claim victory. Celebrate daring deeds and moments truly lived! There are plenty of very good reasons to support the good guys. Make sure to include Wildwire Wanaka on your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday…. I know I will be doing just that 😊

Facts:

The summer season (December-February) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures average 22 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. The shoulder seasons just prior and after summer are also good times with less crowds but expect the daytime maximum to drop to 18 degrees. Perfect weather for all activities.

Wanaka

Roy’s Peak, Wanaka. Photo: Miles Holden

Good to know:

The lakeside town of Wanaka has the buzz of a genuine alpine town and is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures. It’s the perfect destination for exploring the Southern Alps with Mount Aspiring National Park located on the doorstep. Wanaka also has plenty of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops for those more inclined to the quieter pursuits. You could stay for a day or 4 days, there is plenty to do! Apart from the great outdoors and Wildwire Wanaka climbs, other top highlights include some unique attractions like the 3D maze at Puzzling World, checkout one of the world’s largest private collections at the National Transport & Toy Museum and enjoy a working lavender farm with farm animals at Wanaka Lavender Farm.

Wildwire Wanaka

Wild Thing climb finish

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Bruny Island Cruises

Stories from our backyard: Bruny Island Cruises

Bruny Island Cruises

The monument

Rob Pennicott used to own a fish & chip takeaway shop in Tasmania. Fishing and the Tasmanian wilderness were and still are his passion. That was over 20 years ago. Those initial passions seeded the beginnings of Bruny Island Cruises, and his company Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Today he shares the magnificence of the Tasmanian wilderness with the world and fields over 8 journeys showcasing stunning landscapes, local gourmet produce and wines, historic sites, native wildlife, and spectacular walking experiences. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys is the award-winning operator that presents Bruny Island, and the cruise shines the spotlight on wilderness places you normally would not be able to get to.

Bruny Island Cruises

Bruny Island is 50km long and only a 40-minute drive plus 20-minute ferry from Hobart. It’s a popular day trip. Discover some of Tasmania’s most beautifully preserved natural environments with abundant wildlife and spectacular cliff top views. These are the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. Take the time to spot a rare white wallaby and enjoy hiking through the South Bruny National Park with its amazing towering cliffs. Bruny Island was inhabited for tens of thousands of years by the Aborigines before featuring on the well-worn path of the Southern Ocean discovery by many European explorers. The parade included Abel Tasman, Captain Cook, William Bligh and the French explorer, Bruni D’Entrecasteaux who named the island in 1792. Bruny island developed over the years with whaling stations, settlements, farming pursuits and quarries. Today there are only 800 residents. According to Rob Pennicott, Bruny Island is one of the best nature shows in terms of scenery and its local wildlife.

Bruny Island Cruises

Fluted Cape

The showcase Bruny Island cruise is an absolute must-do to appreciate the wilderness and get up close and personal with the rich variety of local wildlife. The 3-hour wilderness cruise runs up to three times daily in summer. It explores the rugged coastline as well as delving into the deep sea caves. Guests search for the abundant coastal wildlife such as seals, dolphins, migrating whales and sea birds.  The highly trained interpretive guides love what they do – they work hard to ensure that the experience is fun, enjoyable, entertaining, and informative. If you choose the day trip from Hobart, you begin your Bruny Island adventure with morning tea and enjoy a lunch after the cruise at the Visitor Centre featuring premium Tasmanian fish sustainably caught. It really does deliver an exceptional day out!

Legacy of conservation….

Albino Bennetts Wallaby. Photo credit: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and Bruny Island Cruises is more than a window view of the splendour and wonder of southern Tasmania. The company is highly acclaimed as both an environmental tourism operator and they are 100% Carbon Offset. The good news does not stop there. A portion of each cruise ticket fee goes towards philanthropic activities. In the past these have included conservation efforts, eradicating feral cats from Tasman Island, and eradicating rats from the big Green Island. Since the successful eradications, over 100,000 breeding seabirds are saved each year! The aim is about operating in harmony with the environment and local communities and protecting the environment for future generations. That’s a very worthy cause and one which I hope encourages you to include Tasmania and Bruny Island Cruises on your wish list for your next holiday….

Bruny Island Premium Wines. Photo credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Facts:

The summer season (December-April) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 22 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.

Good to know:

Tasmania is an island at the edge of the world – a natural paradise … small in size yet big on experiences.  The unique wilderness and pristine environment is the main drawcard for Tasmania, and Bruny Island is no exception. Connect with the unique wildlife, taste the outstanding local produce, and explore the South Bruny National Park. You could stay for a day or 3 days, there is plenty to do! Apart from the Bruny Island Cruise, other top highlights include visiting the Neck for some magnificent views, if you are a seafood lover then a must is the Get Shucked Oyster restaurant, sample some local creations at the Bruny Island Cheese Company, enjoy some great walks through the South Bruny National Park, and don’t forget some tastings at Bruny Island wine or the Tasmanian House of Whisky.

Bruny Island Cheese Co. Photo credit: Adam Gibson

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Franz Josef Heli Hike

Stories from our backyard: Franz Josef Heli Hike

Strapping on crampons immediately draws my mind to Sir Edmund Hillary. Unlike the famous mountaineer, my use of crampons is simply for a 2-hour hike on the Franz Josef Glacier, in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the South Island, New Zealand. Let’s face it…. crampons are not your normal footwear, but they play a crucially important role when hiking on ice and exploring ice caves and crevasses. The glacial hike paired with the helicopter flight is known as the Franz Josef Heli Hike. This world-renowned adventure is a privilege to behold and definetly a highlight of our holiday in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Franz Josef Heli Hike

The Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers are part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, a recognised World Heritage-listed area. The park extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, to the remote beaches of the wild West Coast. It is a region of magnificent rugged vistas – snow-capped mountains, glaciers, forests, tussock grasslands, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and beaches. The glaciers are equivalent in latitude to the south of France, which is an unusual location to find glaciers that extend down to temperate rainforest and finish just above sea level! You can expect lots of rain in this area (after all rain & snow is what feeds the glaciers, rainforests and waterfalls), so it is best to allow a few days in the region so you have the flexibility to ensure you don’t miss your Franz Josef Heli Hike.

Franz Josef Heli Hike

The Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age…

Rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are beautiful and mighty… and are undeniably a must see. Franz Josef Glacier (Kā Roimata ō Hine Hukatere) is one of the steepest glaciers in New Zealand, and it moves faster than your average glacier at around 50cm per day. This creates some truly incredible features in the glacier such as ice caves, tunnels, seracs and crevasses. Both the Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers have retreated drastically over the last 100 years and consequently, neither of the glaciers are accessible from the valley floor. All glacier experiences now involve a helicopter flight. The Franz Josef Heli Hike is a combination of an exhilarating helicopter flight with glacier landing (5 minute duration) which is operated by the Helicopter Line, and a unique guided walk amongst the ice caves and spectacular glacier features (2-hour total ice time), with expert guided services from Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Perfect for families and children 8 years plus, expect a 3-hour experience that is both unforgettable and awe-inspiring.

Franz Josef Heli Hike

It’s a team effort! The companies behind the tour….

The Helicopter Line is the largest Kiwi owned Heli company in New Zealand, as well as the biggest provider of scenic flights in the country.  Many of the scenic flight options are within New Zealand’s national parks which means easy access to some of the most iconic landscapes a reality which may not otherwise be accessible. The Helicopter Line works closely with the Department of Conservation as well as contributing to the local community activities & events.

Franz Josef Heli Hike

Franz Josef Glacier Guides is an internationally recognized guiding operation, established in 1990. They have exclusive guiding access to Franz Josef Glacier, combining traditional guiding techniques unique to Aotearoa (New Zealand) with modern innovations, and provide access to remote glacier terrain that would normally only be accessible to experienced mountaineers. Franz Josef Glacier Guides is owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, a company owned by the biggest iwi (Māori tribe) by population in the South Island of Aotearoa.

So, for spectacular scenery and some elusive blue ice experience please make sure a visit to Franz Josef and the Heli Hike is on your bucket list for your next trip to New Zealand.

Good to know:

Lake Matheson-West Coast

Franz Josef is 5 hours north of Queenstown and is famous for the stunning scenic drive through Wanaka, to Haast and on to Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers. This is glacier country and a must-do is to view one or both glaciers if in the region. It is only a 30-minute drive between both glaciers so why not do both? To allow for optimum weather conditions, we recommend staying for 2 nights. The Franz Josef region has many activities on offer including: glacier valley walk or Heli Hike, catch a scenic flight, view spectacular waterfalls in the rainforest on numerous short hikes, see the Glowworms, Kayak on Lake Mapourika, meet the Kiwi birds and get plenty of Insta-ready photos at Lake Matheson! Read more

Lake-Mapourika-West-Coast

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

 

Yellow Water Cruises

Stories from our backyard: Yellow Water Cruises

Yellow Water Cruises

Meet Big Maxi. He likes a fight. At 55 years of age, he’s a long-term resident of the Yellow Water Billabong and is an impressive fellow at 4.2 metres long. The operators of Yellow Water Cruises take a keen interest in their locals….and Big Maxi is a definite drawcard. He’s prepared to fight for his turf and is one of the many saltwater crocodiles that call the Billabong home. But the famous reptilian predator is not the only resident, in fact you will find a huge variety of wildlife including wild horses, buffalo and a vast range of birdlife….and sometimes even a stray shark who happens to make its way downstream. Yellow Water Cruises is the award-winning operator that has exclusive use of the Billabong and their boat cruise is an absolute must-do to get up close and personal with the rich variety of local wildlife in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory.

Yellow Water Cruises

Kakadu National Park covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres of exceptional natural beauty and is one of the very few places World Heritage-listed for both its cultural and its natural values. Kakadu is a living cultural landscape. Generations of the Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people have lived on and cared for this country for more than 65,000 years. Kakadu National Park is a timeless place – a landscape of exceptional beauty, great biodiversity and a wide variety of landforms, habitats and wildlife. Kakadu is home to 68 mammals, more than 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, more than 2,000 plants and over 10,000 species of insects. The opportunity to meet the wildlife and experience the spectacular journey through Kakadu’s wetlands is why the landlocked Yellow Water Billabong is one of Kakadu National Park’s best-known landmarks.

Yellow Water Cruises

Yellow Water Cruises

Azure Kingfisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indigenous-owned Yellow Water Cruises takes you on a discovery tour through the dramatic scenery and ever-changing landscape of this world-famous Billabong. The cruise operates from sunrise to sunset and runs up to five cruises daily. The indigenous guides provide fantastic commentary about the local habitat and of course, regale you in the local stories. The guides are skilled in searching for and identifying wildlife. The sunrise and sunset cruises are very popular, and many people take more than one cruise during their stay to see the changes in the wildlife at different times of the day. It really does deliver that WOW factor!

Yellow Water Billabong

Kakadu Yellow Water Billabong. Photo credit Paul Arnold

Positive Indigenous outcomes…

Yellow Water Cruises is more than a window view of Kakadu. The indigenous guides are educating the visitor about their land and country. Their interpretation adds to the visitor experience. And coincidentally, the visitor also contributes to the local indigenous culture as a portion of their cruise fee is put to good use with a direct funding contribution to local Traditional Owners and the community. The aim is about connection, to give back and enrich the world’s oldest living culture.

Guided cultural tours in Kakadu. Photo credit Tourism NT/James Fisher

Welcome and respect the country….

Yellow Water Billabong and Kakadu National Park is more than just a beautiful landscape. I know after our family holiday we left with a greater understanding of the Aboriginal connection to the land. And in the words of Jacob Nayinggul, from the Manilakarr clan: “Our land has a big story. Sometimes we tell a little bit at a time. Come and hear our stories, see our land. A little bit might stay in your hearts. If you want more, you come back.”

Yellow Water Cruises

Yellow Water Billabong Kakadu. Jesus bird walks on water. Photo credit Paul Arnold

Facts:

The winter season (May to September) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 30 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities. Shoulder seasons are a good option, with A Taste of Kakadu in May and Kakadu Bird Week in September/October. The wet season offers a totally different experience, but worth considering if you like thundering waterfalls and spectacular lightning shows. Getting around Kakadu during the dry season is relatively easy with roads to most of the major attractions (such as Ubirr, Nourlangie and Cooinda/Yellow Water Billabong) bitumen and sealed. Driving can be done in a conventional vehicle, though a 4WD is recommended, especially if you want to get to places like Maguk, Jim Jim & Twin Falls, which are 4WD access only.

Rock art at Nourlangie Rock. Image from Tourism Australia/Nicolas Kavo

Good to know:

The Top End of the Northern Territory delivers a fantastically special and unique Australian holiday. The highlight of this area is the joy of exploring World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, only a 3-hour drive east of Darwin. Connect with the oldest living culture on earth and admire the rugged and remote beauty of the greatest National Park in Australia.  Kakadu National Park has countless activities on offer, you could easily stay for 3+ nights. Apart from Yellow Water Cruises, other top highlights include the free daily Ranger guided-tours, the “must-see” Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, marvel at the Rock Art at Ubirr and Nourlangie, swim at the stunning Gunlom Falls or at the pristine Maguk Gorge, check-out the biggest waterfall, Jim Jim Falls, and there’s plenty more! Read more on Kakadu & the Top End.

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Jim Jim Falls Kakadu

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Stories from our backyard: Rotorua Canopy Tours

Rotorua Canopy Tours is celebrating their latest win in the Top 10 experiences for South Pacific as judged by TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awards Best of the Best for 2020. Now this is not their only accolade, but the latest in a long string of awards the company has gathered in their eight years of operation. Their motivation however is to go even better by delivering the best visitor experience on the planet…now that is an ambitious KPI!

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Rotorua is famous for its pristine natural beauty and is situated in the Bay of Plenty region on the North island, New Zealand. From sparkling lakes and lush forests, to epic biking trails and explosive geysers, Rotorua has it all. However, in years gone by, Rotorua was part of a rich logging industry which destroyed old-growth forests in the region. As luck would have it, a pocket of ancient forest remained as it delivered some scenic value for those enjoying a train ride to the town. It is this pocket of ancient old-growth forest which Rotorua Canopy Tours is fortunate enough to call home.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Ultimate tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With international borders currently closed, Rotorua Canopy Tours have lost access to 60% of their regular customers. For the interim that means quieter times with domestic and corporate customers able to enjoy the ziplining experience in smaller numbers. The forest adventure delivers a journey through prehistoric native forest and allows customers to explore the rainforest canopy through a network of ziplines, swing bridges, cliff-walks, tree top platforms and more. Perfect for families and children 6 years plus, expect a 3-hour experience that is both unforgettable and enlightening.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

And here’s the twist… tourism is restoring nature!

Rotorua Canopy Tours is not your standard zipline experience. Their vision is to offer a life-changing encounter with the natural world that aims to delight guests. The ancient forest provides the magical setting – the ziplines, swing bridges, cliff walkways and other features are simply a way to experience it. Conservation was an important factor in the Rotorua Canopy Tours’ mantra since the beginning. Initially the forest was in poor health and had a total rat and possum infestation. The goal was to hear the bird song ringing loud through the forest and the aim has been to see the canopy flourish once again.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Everyone with trapped animals

The twin bid to save the native forest and the establishment of Rotorua Canopy Tours is one of New Zealand’s leading conservation stories. Each customer who participates on a canopy tour is part of that story, as a portion of their ticket price contributes to the conservation efforts. Today, Rotorua Canopy Tours has worked to trap over 250ha of the forest thanks to customers participation. There have been amazing results with the possums gone and the trees have been able to restore and flourish. Native animals are returning including long-tailed cuckoo -koekoeā, rare striped skink, tom tit and North Island robin. See the difference in the following photos of the before and after shots on the health of the forest canopy.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

2013 Before shot Tui Song

Rotorua Canopy Tours

2018 After shot Tui Song

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Bird feeding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to Rotorua Canopy Tours is very much an emotional journey as well as an activity challenge. It is the connection and ownership of a regenerated old-growth forest that has made Rotorua Canopy Tours a much-loved nature experience in an area that is so reliant on tourism and unforgettable adventures. The beauty is with each visitor contributing to the transformation of the local eco-system. Rotorua Canopy Tours’ promise is to keep each visitor safe, create some laughs along the way and become part of the forest restoration story.

Good to know:

Rotorua

Lake Tarawera views

Rotorua

Te Puia Rotorua

Rotorua

Te Puia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotorua is a 3-hour drive south-east of Auckland and is easily one of the most popular areas to visit on the North Island for many good reasons. It is the centre of Māori culture as well as the main geothermal hub (think bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers & natural hot springs). Rotorua is beautiful with numerous sparkling lakes and lush forests. The town has countless activities on offer, you could easily stay for 3+ nights. Rotorua delivers many iconic New Zealand experiences including thermal wonderlands to explore, visit a living Māori village and Arts and Crafts institute, don’t miss Hobbiton enroute to Rotorua for your Lord of the Rings fix, and loads of action options including white water rafting, mountain biking, luge rides and plenty more! Read more on Rotorua

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

 

Phillip Island

Stories from our backyard: Phillip Island Penguin Parade

They are only 33 cms tall. Formerly known as fairy penguins, Phillip Island’s little penguins are indeed the world’s largest colony of the world’s smallest penguins. It’s a heart-warming experience to see…and something that draws a smile during these COVID times. On any given evening at sunset you can expect to see 1,100 little penguins waddle in from the sea. This is the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. A magical event in which the little penguins have the starring role and their natural environment is the stage.

Phillip Island

Penguin Parade

Phillip Island is located only 90 minutes from Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The Penguin Parade first drew attention back in the 1920’s with small operators taking tourists by torchlight to see the penguin’s nightly arrival. Now there are up to 3,500 visitors each evening (pre-COVID) and operations are managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks, a self-funded not-for-profit organisation. This is a unique conservation organisation whose responsibilities include the management of 25% of the land on Phillip Island, as well as wildlife management and the operations of a range of ecotourism experiences. Their goal is to protect nature for wildlife and inspire people to actively protect the environment.

Phillip Island

Koala Reserve

Phillip Island

Churchill Island

Phillip Island

Antarctic Journey

The main eco-tourism experiences which are managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks are the Penguin Parade, the Koala Reserve where you can see koalas up close via the tree-top boardwalks, Churchill Island which offers farm activities and historical grounds and the Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre which is designed to entertain and educate about the southern ocean and Antarctica. The 3 parks pass bundled ticket with an upgrade to Penguins Plus is the most popular and recommended booking choice. Profits generated by these main attractions are invested into conservation, research, ecotourism, environmental and educational initiatives within the Nature Parks.

 

Phillip Island

Pyramid Rock walk

So, every visitor contributes…

As a result of these contributions Phillip Island Nature Parks have scored many great conservation wins. The island is now the largest inhabited island in the world that has eradicated the European red fox and remains free of this introduced predator. That is good news for the penguins and other native wildlife! Other efforts and conservation programs focus on the care of the habitat with many new native plants in the ground that provide food and shelter for wildlife, removal of invasive weeds, wildlife rescue of seals from fishing lines, examining images from motion detection cameras to identify any pest animals, as well as the all-important wildlife research and monitoring.

Phillip Island

Seal Rock – Phillip Island

But back to the main event. With international borders currently closed, and a second pause to visitation of the Penguin Parade due to a Coronavirus uptick, the Nature Parks have concentrated on keeping things as normal as possible for the stars of the show. That means many nights of no crowds with the lights still flicked on so that the waddling stars experience no difference to their environment. Such strange times!

Time to put on a smile on your face…

Even in these quiet times the penguins still draw attention. The respected Scottish BBC sport commentator Andrew Cotter, whose voice is well known to fans of international golf, tennis and athletics, has narrated the antics of Phillip Island’s most famous residents as they waddle from the shoreline, across the sand dunes to arrive safely at home, in their burrows. Please watch the hilarious video here…

Phillip Island Nature Parks is a not-for-profit conservation organisation, committed to the protection of wildlife and its habitat, funded through the operation of its ecotourism experiences. Make sure to support Phillip Island Nature Parks and enjoy the penguin parade when you next visit Victoria, Australia.

Good to know:

Phillip Island

Island Surf School

Phillip Island

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Phillip Island

 

Phillip Island is only a 90 minute drive south-east of Melbourne and is easily one of the most popular spots to visit in Victoria for many good reasons. The island offers stunning coastal scenery, beaches to explore and many wildlife encounters. Well worth a 2-night stay, make some time to catch the large colony of Australian Fur Seals on a seal watching cruise, feed the wild pelicans at San Remo, visit the Chocolate Factory and then burn off all the sugar at Amaze n Things. Finally, don’t forget to take the kids go-karting on the scale replica of the famous Grand Prix circuit!

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Stories from our backyard: Whale Watch Kaikōura

July 4 is a celebration day for Whale Watch Kaikōura as they will be back on the water after 103-days downtime! New Zealand have had great success in their fight against the Coronavirus, and the resulting reward is social distancing elimination and the resurrection of domestic tourism. For the Māori-owned operator in Kaikōura on the South Island New Zealand, it will mean a simple start on the path to recovery and a chance to show-off the Whale encounters that Kaikōura are well renowned for.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Sperm Whale – Tiaki

Kaikōura is a small coastal town where the mountains meet the sea. The Seaward Kaikōura mountain ranges are the northern-most part of the Southern Alps and just 800 metres off the coast lies the submarine Kaikōura Canyon which provides a constant rich food chain for the local population of Sperm Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Albatross and Penguins. The waters are a protected marine sanctuary for the many who call Kaikōura home.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

For Whale Watch Kaikōura, this marine sanctuary is their backyard. With international borders currently closed, Whale Watch Kaikōura have lost access to 85% of their regular guests. For the interim that means quieter times with domestic travellers able to admire the antics of the giant Sperm Whales in relative tranquillity. The Sperm Whales are unquestionably the stars of the marine experience. Whale Watch normally run up to 16 cruises per day year-round with a 95% sighting success rate of these amazing creatures that can measure up to 20 metres in length. Their unique marine experience also provides the opportunity to sight other whale species on their migratory route as well as the high-spirited dusky dolphins, and other residents of the marine sanctuary.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Passengers & Hectors Dolphins

Whale Watch Kaikōura is no stranger to downtimes…. COVID-19 has seen to that. Apart from the current global pandemic, in 2016 Kaikōura experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which destroyed lives, businesses, roads, railway lines and houses. The earthquake influence extended to the sea floor which rose between .5 – 1.5 metres around the peninsula. The result was a 49-day downtime for the company whilst dredging and marina adjustments ensued.

Lucky for us that Whale Watch Kaikōura put their downtimes to good use…

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Hutton’s Shearwaters

In 2005 Whale Watch partnered with the Department of Conservation and the local Kaikōura community to help save the Hutton’s Shearwater seabird. It is an endangered seabird with their only breeding colonies located high in the seaward Kaikōura Ranges. Numbers of these seabirds have dramatically declined due to introduced predators and habitat loss. With only two breeding colonies remaining, a third artificial colony was established with predator-proof fencing which enabled a safe environment for ongoing breeding. These efforts have enabled the preservation and sustainable management of the endangered Hutton’s Shearwater, the world’s only alpine breeding seabird.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

NZ Fur Seal

Whale Watch is a multiple national and international award-winning nature-based tourism company who is committed to a sustainable future both on and off the water. Formed in 1987, the company grew on the back of their quality whale watching experience and Kaikōura became an eco-tourism destination as a result. Together they partner in many conservation initiatives including the Trees for Travellers program, which encourages visitors to plant a native tree in Kaikoura and offset their carbon footprint. Whale Watch and the Kaikōura community have formed a partnership in recognition of the responsibilities of guardianship, as well as protecting and preserving the Kaikōura environment. Make sure to support Whale Watch and enjoy a cruise with them when you next visit Kaikōura and the South Island.

Good to know:

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikoura

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaikōura offers many compelling reasons to visit this stunning region. Its location is on the well-worn Alpine Pacific Touring route north of Christchurch. The town caters well for the wide range of marine & land activities. Well worth a 2-3-night stay, take time to also swim with the dolphins, kayak with the seals, wander the Kaikōura Peninsula walkway as well as trek the many short walks in the area. Most importantly, don’t forget to sample the local crayfish for which the town is so famous! Read more on Kaikōura

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Stories from our backyard: Wavelength Reef Cruises

Jenny Edmondson was mowing her lawns. Quite a strange thing for the co-owner of Wavelength Reef Cruises to be doing…. but then again, we are in COVID times. Her normal backyard is not grass, but rather showing off pristine coral gardens, abundant fish and the clear waters of the outer Great Barrier Reef. Wavelength is the premier cruise operator when it comes to exploring the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas in far-north Queensland.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Snorkeller, Opal Reef, Wavelength Reef Cruises

With both international and state borders currently closed, this is a downtime with no cruises scheduled and a hopeful re-start come this July. Wavelength is normally fielding a vessel with 38 guests for their regular day trip to 3 exclusive sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Locally owned and with over 34 years’ experience, Wavelength Reef Cruises specialise in small group size guided snorkelling tours with their very own marine biologists.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Great Barrier Reef – humphead wrasse

The Great Barrier Reef:

is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and was declared a World Heritage site in 1981 for its remarkable variety and beauty. It’s the world’s largest coral reef system with over 3000 individual reefs, 900 islands and stretches for over 2,600 kilometres (bigger than the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Holland combined). Amazingly 90% of its diversity occurs within 4 metres of the surface…which is why snorkelling on the reef is so popular and undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

St Crispin Reef, Tropical North Queensland

But there is no snorkelling happening on the reef for now…COVID-19 has seen to that. The coronavirus is a disrupter above the water line, and for coral reefs worldwide one of the big disrupters below the water line is indeed climate change and the warming water temperatures. The result is the Great Barrier Reef has seen a series of coral bleaching events over the last 5 years which have damaged some of the coral ecosystems on the reef. Fortunately for us all of the Great Barrier Reef is not damaged nor dead, and many areas of the reef are not affected. With time and a stable environment those bleached corals can re-grow, but the series of bleaching events within a short time-frame means that there is a greater challenge to recover.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Branching Fragment, Coral Nurture Program

This is where Wavelength have stepped in.

Conservation:

In early 2018 Wavelength Reef Cruises formed a partnership with the University of Technology Sydney to establish a Coral nurture program. It is a partnership between tourism and science that encourages and propagates the growth of heat resilient corals. Initially established with 2 multi-specie coral nurseries and now expanded to 7, these nurseries are located at healthy reef sites that Wavelength manage. The idea is to supplement the high-value reef sites with hardy corals that are heat tolerant to keep these reef sites healthy and thriving for the long-term.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Coral Nurture Program

The Coral Reef rehabilitation efforts have now expanded to a total of 6 operators within the Port Douglas/Cairns area. If successful, the goal is for broader adoption again of the Coral nurture program to other tour operators and stakeholders connected throughout the Great Barrier Reef. This program does not replace global efforts to further protect the reef, but if successful and upscaled it will contribute to the overall conservation of the reef. Combined with the Eye on the Reef monitoring program, Wavelength Reef Cruises is utilising their current downtime well to contribute to the health and well-being of the Great Barrier Reef.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Wavelength is passionate about conservation and low impact tourism at its best. Even in these tough COVID times the company is working to protect the incredible natural wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef. The company recognises the importance so that future generations can experience and benefit from the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef as we do today. Make sure to support Wavelength Reef Cruises and enjoy a day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef with them when you next visit Port Douglas and far-north Queensland.

Good to know:

Port Douglas is a touch of paradise.

Wavelength Reef Cruises

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas. Tourism & Events Queensland.

Just an hour north of Cairns Airport, Port Douglas is uniquely bordered by two World Heritage sites, the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest.

Dreamtime Gorge Walk – guided tour. Mossman Gorge Centre. Tourism & Events Queensland.

Crocodile, Daintree. Tourism & Events Queensland

Mossman River, Daintree. Tourism & Events Queensland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well worth a 5+ night stay, take time to also explore the northern beaches, sample coffee and chocolates in the Atherton Tablelands, meet the big crocs at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, don’t forget a swim in the fresh-water Mossman Gorge and simply relish in the delights that this tropical village has to offer. Read more on Port Douglas

Daintree Ice Cream Company. Tourism & Events Queensland

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us