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

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

 

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

 

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

Kaikoura

4 Must-do’s in stunning Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is one of a few places in the world that can boast stunning nature on both land and sea. Just a little over 2 hours drive north of Christchurch on the South Island, this small coastal town is where the mountains meet the sea. The Kaikoura mountain ranges are the northern-most part of the Southern Alps and are such an impressive sight…snow-capped in winter and they frame the Kaikoura village to the Pacific Ocean. The scenery is simply awe-inspiring.

In addition, the Kaikoura coastal waters provide a unique habitat for marine life. 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 Kaikoura home. Kaikoura is an absolute must visit for wildlife lovers and marine encounters!

Kaikoura

Whale Fin, Kaikoura. Photo: Miles Holden

So it is easy to see why Kaikoura offers many compelling reasons for any tourist to visit this pretty amazing region. Its location is on the well-worn coastal path between Christchurch and Marlborough Sounds. The town caters well for the wide range of marine & land activities. There is a huge variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury lodges, glass pods set in the stunning landscape, motels & a very unique farm-stay. Lose yourself in the landscape, walks, marine activities and whale watching. The hard part is deciding on how to fit everything in!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Whale Watch:

Kaikoura is best known for their giant sperm whales. Whale watching cruises run all year. With a 95% chance of spotting a whale, it is an absolute must-do and a great way to meet the whales up close! Minimum age is 3 years and tour duration 3 hours.

Kaikoura

Whale, Kaikoura

Swim with Dolphins/Seals:

Catch a tour to swim or watch the local resident Dusky Dolphins. It’s a fun activity that will hold special memories! Minimum age is 8 years for swimming or 3 years to watch. Tour duration is 3 hours. Alternatively, why not snorkel with wild NZ fur seals? Recently listed as one of the world’s ‘Top 10 Marine Encounters’ by Lonely Planet. Tours run daily over the summer months.

Kaikoura

Dolphin Watch, Kaikoura. Photo: Graeme Murray

Kaikoura

Kayak with Seals:

Kayaking is a great way to explore the marine environment and be closer to the stars of the show, the local playful fur seals. You will also have chance encounters with dolphins, penguins and albatross. Discover the magnificent marine life of Kaikoura! Participate in a guided tour with a maximum of 8 persons. 3-hour duration.

Nature Walks:

There are a number of easy walks that deliver plenty of wildlife and natural wilderness. Firstly, walk the 3-hour Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. It’s a great way to observe seals & seabirds as well as enjoy the amazing views. The Ōhau Point Seal Colony is not-to-be-missed. Expect hundreds of Seals and their Pups. Finally, don’t forget the Ōhau waterfall walk. A great chance to enjoy the waterfall views as well as see Seal Pups sunning themselves on the rocks.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura. Photo: Miles Holden

Other activities:

Kaikoura has plenty of alternative options once you have exhausted your marine wildlife activities. Catch the Coastal Pacific Train to Picton or Christchurch. If you love seafood, then feast on fresh crayfish from many of the local restaurants. You can enjoy some quad bike riding with amazing views, go fishing, visit the local Lavender Farm, catch a sheep-shearing session, meet the extraordinary Albatross seabirds up close or visit the Farmer’s Market to chat to the locals and enjoy the fresh produce.

Kaikoura

Nins Bin, Kaikoura. Photo: Graeme Murray

Kaikoura

Crayfish, Kaikoura. Photo: Graeme Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to add Kaikoura to your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one area not to be missed. Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

West Coast New Zealand

Experience Franz Josef Glacier & the West Coast, New Zealand

The Fox and Franz Josef Glacier are two of only three places in the world where you can view glaciers descending into temperate rainforest and close to the sea. 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 simply a must see.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier. Photo by Fraser Clements

As part of the Westland Tai Poutini  National Park, the glacier region is a recognised World Heritage area for good reason. The park extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, to the rugged and remote beaches of the wild West Coast, South Island New Zealand. It is an area of magnificent rugged vistas – snow-capped mountains, glaciers, forests, tussock grasslands, lakes, rivers, wetlands and beaches.

West Coast New Zealand

Westland National Park

The Glaciers and Westland National Park are just two of the main attractions on the wild west coast. Wedged between the towering Alps and the crashing sea is Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks/Paparoa National Park, Hokitika Gorge, and of course Haast which is surrounded by national parks and World Heritage areas. Simply breathtaking scenery.

But Franz Josef Glacier village is definitely at the heart of it all. It is a pretty town alongside the fast flowing Waiho River. The village caters well for the wide range of adventure activities close by. Lose yourself in the rainforests, glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes. You are guaranteed plenty of excellent cafes, restaurants and activities. The hard part is deciding on how to fit everything in!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Heli Hike: 

An amazing experience as the only way to touch or hike the glacier is by a short scenic Helicopter flight up the glacier valley. Global warming has seen the glacier retreat and we were told it is likely that the Heli Hikes will only be possible for a further 5 years. Get great views from the helicopter over Westland National Park before you get your crampons on and explore the ice caves and admire the many crevasses which feature across the glacier. Minimum age is 8 years and tour duration 3-4 hours.

Franz Josef Heli Hike Franz Josef Heli Hike Franz Josef Heli Hike

Glacier Valley & other local walks:

An alternative for those with younger family members, you can choose a self-guided or guided walk down the valley where the Franz Josef Glacier once stood. A great way to understand the history and retreat of the glacier. The guided walk has a minimum age of 6 years. There are many other fantastic walks in the region including a short 45-minute walk from town centre to the Tartare Tunnels. This is an old gold-mining tunnel with plenty of Glowworms!

West Coast New Zealand

Town activities:

For more action consider quad bike rides or skydive. For an awesome perspective of the area catch a scenic flight over the Glaciers & Westland National Park. Relax at the Glacier hot pools in the Rainforest and enjoy the many local restaurants and coffee shops in town. Say hello to the local Kiwi birds at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, and don’t forget a scenic boat/kayak tour or fishing charter.

Haast Pass Scenic Drive:

It took 90+ years to complete this spectacular 142 km stretch of road. The winding route from Wanaka to Haast is not to be reckoned with. The road hugs the towering Southern Alps… look the other way and be rewarded with stunning aquamarine glacial lakes. Wild shorelines and untamed natural wilderness. This dramatic landscape offers a bunch of fun adventure activities: hiking, trout fishing, jetboating – but be sure not to miss the thundering waters of the Gates of Haast.

West Coast New Zealand

Photo courtesy Tourism West Coast. Haast

Tranzalpine Train Journey:

One of the world’s great train journeys, the Tranzalpine traverses the spectacular Southern Alps and vast Canterbury Plains from coast to coast. The inland journey takes a little over 4 hours and runs daily between Christchurch and Greymouth. A nice way to sit back, relax and soak up the striking scenery as it passes by. A great way to begin your West Coast travels!

Tranzalpine Train Journeys through vast Canterbury Plains

Make sure to add Franz Josef Glacier & the West Coast to your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one area not to be missed. Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

Queenstown

How to make the most of your visit to Queenstown, NZ

Looking for a holiday destination with staggering beauty, crisp fresh air and plenty to do? Then look no further than Queenstown, a bucket list destination that does not disappoint. Well known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown boasts endless activities on offer as well as great food & wine venues. In addition to the vast array of town centre attractions, you can journey further afield for some fabulous day trips to Wanaka, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, and of course, the World Heritage Fiordland National Park. Yes, you can expect a resort town with a population that swells with plenty of tourists, but the town does deliver a fabulous base for the whole family to explore and enjoy.

Queenstown

Shotover Jet Queenstown

Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the dramatic Southern Alps as the stunning background. With a permanent population of 30,000, it has a small-town charm with plenty on offer. Queenstown is New Zealand’s top year-round resort town. Expect picture perfect scenery and plenty of excellent cafes, restaurants and entertainment. The hard part is deciding on how to fit everything in!

Queenstown

Queenstown Bike Trail Adam Bryce

Here are some of the key things to do and consider:

Accommodation: 

With a huge variety of accommodations on offer you are spoilt for choice. If you decide to pay the extra to stay in town proper, then don’t bother with a hire car as you have a quick walk to everything. If you are out of the town centre, consider staying in lakeside accommodation. That way you have gorgeous views, as well as quick access to the lakeside walking trail or the water taxi, both of which are a far more pleasant way to get to town without fighting for a car park!

Town activities:

Queenstown is the adventure capital for good reason. Choose from a multitude of heart-racing activities such as: Bungy Jump, Sky Dive, Jet boat rides, Gondola and Luge racing, Hot Air Balloon rides, Zip Lining and White-water Rafting.

Queenstown

Luge Ride Queenstown Julian Apse

Take in the Scenery:

For those of us that prefer to embrace the great outdoors, then consider:  Horse Riding, Hiking, Winery Tours, Bike Tours and don’t forget a scenic flight of the Southern Alps.

Queenstown

Over the Top Helicopters Queenstown

Scenic Drives:

There are some magical short drives from Queenstown. One of the top scenic drives is the 45-minute trip to the historical settlement of Glenorchy. This town is the starting point of many tramping trails as well as being famously featured in the Lord of the Rings films. Another great drive is to Wanaka, a pretty lakeside town at the end of the Haast Pass, and make sure to stop en-route at Cardrona to enjoy a long lunch at the historic Cardrona Hotel.

Queenstown

Cardrona Hotel

Arrowtown Day Trip:

Drive 20 minutes to picturesque Arrowtown and explore the historic Chinese settlement and the main street shops. Then do the 15km bike ride from Arrowtown to Gibbston Valley winery region through the gorgeous countryside on riverside bike trails. Collect hire bikes in Arrowtown and catch a shuttle bus from Gibbston Valley back to your starting point. Choose between standard or electric bikes. The Kawarau River Bungy is also en-route so why not include a bungy jump in your day!

Queenstown

Arrowtown Miles Holden

Make sure to add the Queenstown to your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one area not to be missed. Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park NZ: Key things to see & do

When I think of a holiday to New Zealand, I am not picturing a city escape (sorry Auckland), but rather…spending my time enjoying such stunning natural surrounds as found in the Abel Tasman National Park. Situated on the northern tip of the South Island, this region enjoys a mild climate, plenty of golden sand beaches, turquoise waters, lush native bush, and easy access from both the North Island Ferry Terminal and nearby Nelson Airport.

No Ubers or Didi to be found here…. instead picture a water taxi and a beach picnic. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Abel Tasman National Park

Split Apple Rock Beach in Abel Tasman, South Island New Zealand

At 22,000 hectares the Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park. It is also the only coastal national park. The Māori people lived along this coast for over 500 years, gathering food from the sea and forest. Today, we can walk in their footsteps and experience the breathtaking beauty of this much-loved park.

Abel Tasman National Park

Nelson, New Zealand Close-Up of Iconic Papa and Rangi Sculpture at Arts Unique, next to the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s 9 great walks. The Track hugs the gorgeous coastline, and rewards walkers with magnificent views. Soak up this iconic track by doing a half-day, full day or 3-5 day walk on this 60km coastline stretch.  If a walking adventure is not your thing, then take to the water on a kayak to explore the multitude of bays, inlets and picturesque beach stretches that make it the premier kayaking destination it is. For those of us that like to take it easy, then the water taxi is definetly the way to go. There are 6 coastal points the water taxi can drop you off or collect you after a day exploring the bays or walking part of the track.

Abel Tasman National Park

Fresh River Stream at Wanui Falls in the Mountains of Abel Tasman National Park

Further afield, combine your Abel Tasman visit with some great places close by such as Nelson, an artistic paradise, and of course the Marlborough wine region, NZ’s flagship wine destination. Perhaps stay in a cottage on a vineyard for a few days R&R after your coastal walk?

Here are some of the key things to do:

Abel Tasman Coastal Track:  The highlights include the golden sand beaches, Cleopatra’s pool which is a natural rock pool with a moss-lined water slide. Walk the 47m suspension bridge with views of the beautiful inlet to Falls River. The Coastal Track has tent-camping sites and Department of Conservation huts dotted regularly along its entire length. Bookings are essential for overnight stays. You can choose to walk independently or with a tour provider who can offer a combination of walking and kayaking. For more information please click here

Abel Tasman National Park

A Swinging Rope Bridge in the Abel Tasman National Park

Kayak: You can rent your own kayak and explore under your own steam. Alternatively, book a guided trip which allows you to tap into the knowledge of an experienced local guide and expert kayak instructor. Make sure to visit the seal sanctuary and Split Apple Rock.

Abel Tasman National Park

Kayaking Split Apple Rock

Water Taxi: The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one-way, so for those of us that don’t like back-tracking a water taxi is a perfect way to enjoy the Abel Tasman from a different perspective and return to your starting point. If you are short on time, the water taxi is a great option to get out to a bay for a shorter walk, swim at a secluded beach, enjoy a picnic lunch and back again in a day.

Abel Tasman National Park

Kayak in crystal clear waters, in Abel Tasman National Park

Make sure to add the Abel Tasman National Park region to your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one area not to be missed. Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park New Zealand: An insider’s guide

Tongariro National Park is a 4.5-hour drive south of Auckland. It is located deep in the centre of the North Island New Zealand. Why bother to go there? Tongariro National Park is part of the North Island’s Central Plateau and is New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognizes the park’s important Maori culture and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

The park has three active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings” films) and Ruapehu with its ski slopes. All three volcanoes are very much alive, with Mount Tongariro erupting as recently as August 2012.

Expect a diverse landscape of steaming craters, old lava flows and thermal lakes. The mountains of this national park have deep spiritual significance for the Maori people. The lower slopes of the mountains are blanketed with forest where alpine herbs, tussocks and low-growing shrubs provide a habitat for many native birds. In summer, at Whakapapa, you can catch scenic chairlift rides and do a guided hike to Ruapehu’s Crater Lake.

 

Tongariro National Park

Active volcano cone of Mount Ngauruhoe as seen from Mount Tongariro in Tongariro National Park, North Island of New Zealand”

So, for all you outdoor nature buffs out there, make sure Tongariro National Park is on your hit-list. It’s just south of Great Lake Taupo and Rotorua. A must-do is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and for those not game for a full day-hike there are shorter walks to enjoy. Plenty of activities on offer and some great lodges to stay in make this a perfect 2+ night stay.  Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing:

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is regarded as the best one-day hike in New Zealand and is considered to be in the top 10 one day hikes in the world! Allow 7-8 hours and expect to see spectacular volcanic terrain sights as well as cold mountain springs, possible lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald coloured lakes and magnificent views. This is a must-see and a truly memorable experience. The freedom hiking season runs from October to May

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Taranaki Falls:

Take a 2-hour return walk from within the Tongariro National Park through beech forest to view one of the most impressive and beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand

Tongariro National Park

Taranaki Fall at Tongariro National park, New Zealand

White-water Rafting:

Have some fun with either a half or full-day white-water rafting adventure on Tongariro River. Expect lots of laughs and crystal-clear waters surrounded by native bush. Fun for the whole family!

Tongariro National Park

Fly-Fishing:

Turangi is the trout fly-fishing capital of New Zealand and only 10 minutes’ drive from Tongariro National Park. Turangi offers a unique experience for all fisherman, beginner or seasoned. Visit the feisty Tongariro rivers and fight your own brown or rainbow trout during their annual migration or test your skills in the smaller local wild streams or on Lake Taupo itself

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is a must-visit destination for those of us that enjoy pristine nature and the great outdoors. Ask us to include Tongariro National Park in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands North Island NZ: Top 5 things to do

The Bay of Islands is a 3-hour drive north of Auckland in the North Island, New Zealand.  It is a top New Zealand holiday destination and stunningly scenic! Being an archipelago, it is known for all things aquatic…with over 140 islands to explore there is a wide range of marine and nature-based activities to choose from.

The Bay of Islands is also the home to Waitangi, the birthplace of New Zealand. The Bay of Islands is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and the indigenous Maori people in 1840.

So, for all you marine & history buffs out there, make sure the Bay of Islands is on your hit-list. It’s a great first stop on your North Island drive circuit. Apart from Waitangi & the archipelago there are some great towns to explore in their own right. Kerikeri has a horticultural and vineyard bent, and Paihia is the main hub and gateway to the Bay of Islands. Across the Bay from Paihia is the attractive seaside town of Russell which has many bars and restaurants along its foreshore. A great place to relax and watch the sun set! This region has so many activities on offer you can easily spend 3+ nights. Expect many iconic New Zealand experiences!

Bay of islands

Russell, Bay of Islands

Here are some of the key things to do:

Boat Tour: 

Make sure to explore the Bay of Islands archipelago by taking a cruise. Explore all the highlights which will include the Hole-in-the-Rock and Urupukapuka Island. Enjoy beautiful scenery, pristine beaches and most likely some dolphins showing off! A great day out.

Bay of Islands

Bay cruise Bay of Islands

Waitangi Treaty Grounds:

Walk in the footsteps of the people who changed history. Discover the momentous events that shaped New Zealand at the Museum of Waitangi. Enjoy a guided tour and witness spellbinding cultural performances to learn more about Maori culture. It’s fascinating!

Bay of Islands

Meeting House, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Rainbow Falls:

A waterfall near Kerikeri. A 27-metre spectacular drop with only a 5-minute trek to view makes it a must-see!

Waipoua Forest:

This is a highlight for nature lovers. 2 hours to the west of Paihia, it is well worth the trip. Waipoua Forest is the largest tract of native forest remaining in New Zealand. Plenty of short or longer walks which wind through stands of tall Kauri, Rimu & northern Rata towering trees.

Bay of Islands

Waipoua Forest, Northland

Action Options:

For more action you are spoilt for choice. The main contenders are swimming with dolphins, kayaking and diving. Other options include: Sailing, fishing, cycling, parasailing and of course, golf.

Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is a must-visit destination with beautiful coastlines and famous for its beaches, boating & ocean activities. Ask us to include the Bay of Islands in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…