February 8th, 2016

Waitangi Day New Zealand

Each year around 6th February, New Zealanders are treated to a long weekend which means we get Monday off. Along with the barbies and the family picnics, each region holds Waitangi Day Celebrations with public events and cultural acknowledgement of New Zealand’s most historic document Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi.

Waitangi Day Waka2

As we walked from the Nelson Harbour out to Tahunanui Beach today, it struck me as to how much we’re all in this together. We passed a number of fellow New Zealanders who smiled and said “hello”to us. No doubt some of these people held differing political opinions to our own, but our commonality as New Zealanders was enough on this day.

Waitangi Day people

Where else in the world do we have so much freedom to be our individual selves? I love the fact that as a female, I can get into my ‘togs’ (swimwear) without fear of harassment and join other happy families. And we can openly criticize those that govern us, without fear of reprisal.

Waitangi Day Beach

We’re a nation of adventurers – we’ll give anything a go. That’s why we’re often the first in the world to take on a new idea or trend. In other countries, banking transactions can take days or even weeks! Our banking systems are so advanced, transfers happen in one day.

Waitangi Day Paddleboard

We don’t have to travel far in this country to have unobstructed views of the the land where we can look for miles and not see any cars, hear the drone of lawnmowers or a stereo at full blast.

Rob Roy Walk swing bridge

I grew up listening to the evening chorus of cicadas, Tuis and Bellbirds. They lulled me to sleep and when we head off for a break, they still do. There’s a lot to celebrate here folks.

Queen Charlotte Walk Ships Cove

Happy travelling.

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February 2nd, 2016

Clothes for New Zealand glacier walks

Clothes for New Zealand glacier walks should be chosen with care. For a lot of travellers going down the West Coast of the South Island to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, landing and walking on a glacier, is a must-do, but it’s usually only the guides that wear the shorts!

Clothes for New Zealand glacier walks

 

Glacier experiences

 

Generally visitors will either do a standard helicopter flight into the ‘Neve’ at around 2500 metre with an ice landing (for about 5-10 minutes) or they’ll join a guided walk with two short helicopter flights. This is called heli hike and generally takes about 2 hours on the ice. On this heli hiking option walkers need to prepare their clothing well.

Glacier helicopter landing

Clothes for New Zealand glacier walks

 

Temperatures and weather conditions on a glacier in New Zealand can change rapidly. At any given time the sun may be shining and when the strong sunlight reflects off the ice, you’ll get hot and sweaty. At this stage, you might even be happy to walk on the glacier in a t-shirt! But the minute the sun goes, the temperature plummets and it’s like standing on top of a fridge. And if you’re moving around (say waiting for your helicopter to arrive) it can get extremely cold…fast. The perfect solution is the ‘onion’ clothing system – peeling on and off clothing.

helihike Tasman Glacier2

The ‘onion’ clothing system

Using the “onion” method requires that you wear layers of clothing that can easily be peeled off (e.g. t-shirt, sweater, rain jacket, hat, hand-gloves and sunglasses. Jeans are not recommended – if the cotton gets wet or damp, you’ll start sweating. Non-cotton trousers such as Hiking trousers, are the best.

 

Other essentials on a New Zealand glacier

Sunblock is essential and sunglasses are a must-have. The location alpine guide operator will provide you with a walking stick, sturdy mountain boots, crampons and a couple of socks (yes you should use two pairs of socks to prevent blisters!). If you don’t have a good rain jacket, use one of the operator’s “yellows”. The saying goes, “there is no bad weather, only bad equipment and clothing”. Listen to your alpine guides and enjoy yourselves.

 

Happy Travelling.

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January 14th, 2016

Kaikoura Whale Country

For most of us in the tourism industry, the season has been mad! We need a quick break for a couple of days so we’re heading to Kaikoura. I never tire of that first glimpse of the Kaikoura Coast – beautiful green sea in the foreground and the deeper blue beyond where the whales roam.

Kaikoura sea2

It’s always an added bonus to arrive at your destination on a gorgeous summer’s day. Here’a a quiet, reflective moment when the last of the cobwebs are blown away.

Kaikoura Michael sea

We’ve noticed a trend with some high-end travellers to New Zealand of mixing and matching their accommodation. So rather than staying in premium lodges for their entire stay, they’re happy to include unique cottage stays where privacy and peace is pretty much guaranteed.  Here’s Kincaid Cottage in Kaikoura:

Kinkaid Cottage2

And it’s love at first sight!. Views of sheep-grazing pasture complete with a vegetable garden for guests to use….

Kincaid Cottage sheep

….and straight ahead, the beautiful Kaikoura Ranges that look spectacular in all 4 seasons.

Kinkaid Cottage views

I’m amazed by the generosity of the host who has provided freshly-laid eggs from the ‘Spice Girls’ (yes, that’s what the hens are called), freshly cut herbs and a fantastic range of basic pantry items. But it’s the flowers in every room of the cottage, that as a girly girl, I appreciate so much.

Kinkaid Cottage flowers

Super-king bed presented with care…

Kincaid Cottage bed

…now if I can just drag Michael away from his work which began 5 mins after we arrived..

Kincaid cottage Michael

…we’ll hop into the car, head into town pass the promenade, to the Coastal walk carpark. We’re doing a loop up around the hills then and as the tide’s going out, we’ll return via the beach below. Look at moi!

Kaikoura Pam

Going back down through the rocky shoreline reveals quite a few seals at close proximity. Remembering the rule of not getting too close or blocking their escape route, we return the friendly wave before passing on.

Kaikoura seal2

It’s only when you stop, that the exhaustion of the last few months really begin to seep in.  Can’t believe we collapsed into bed at 10.00pm  – no counting sheep tonight!

 

Happy Travelling.

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January 11th, 2016

How technology enhances travel

Remember the old days of travel? You went to a travel agency, looked at pretty brochures, chose a ‘package’, then crammed all the paperwork into your suitcase. Travel has become easier with the internet, ‘cloud’ and smart travel apps. We love them!

 

What has changed in travel?

The speed of making decisions and travel arrangement on the spot. We hear from hosts that travellers making a booking outside their property (via smart phone booking app) and walk in the next minute!

The choices in travel services is much larger. Even tiny travel operators can advertise their services to a worldwide audience. Those sometimes selecting the right one can be a challenge.

Social media is huge and news travels fast in this day and age. Travellers can express their opinions freely. Again, this can be sometime unfair and misleading.

 

How is technology helpful for travel?

  • Instant communication between people e.g. text messages, reminders etc.
  • the smart phone with travel booking apps, to maps, reviews etc.
  • no more paper! Download details into your phone or tablet or the latest travel apps.

 

Our favourite travel apps

 

TripCase – we love this travel planning and organising tool! You can start planning at home on your desktop and have all your travel details such as dates, reservation numbers and weather forecast, on your smart phone at your very finger tips. Flight delays while travelling? No problem, the new ETA is automatically updated and uploaded to the Tripcase. With Tripcase, we can upload our clients travel data out of our system in a matter of seconds. Guess what… most of our clients want it!

the tripcase app is technology helpful for travel

Booking.com – this booking engine has come a long way and is extremely easy to use either on your desktop, tablet or smart phone. They mainly list motel, hotels and motorcamps, and the selections are good. Not so good at making a lot of sense on a good travel itinerary where locations, distances and experiences actually need to work.

 

 

Air New Zealand app – you can order your latte in the Koru lounge or book your next flight through this smart app. I think for a small airline, Air NZ have always been at the top of their game with technology.

 

Thrifty Rental Car app – this is a classic example of a New Zealand operator going the extra mile by having petrol stations, food places and major sightseeing highlights listed on an app.

 

What is your favourite travel app? Please use the comments and us know!

 

Coromandel lookout

Wherever we go next with travel technology, let’s hope we still enjoy the basics in exploring the world, meeting new people, experiencing the unique.

Milford Sound Mariner2

Happy travelling!

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January 4th, 2016

Clothing for travel New Zealand

New Zealand weather – what to expect

 

New Zealand weather is famously subject to change within a matter of hours or less. We’re located between the Antarctic and the Equator and surrounded by vast oceans. A steady continental climate does not apply here. Unsettled weather does not usually stay for too long and that’s good news. In fact, you can have rain in the morning…

Michael with umbrella - Clothing for travel in New Zealand

…and a warm sunny afternoon. Four season in one day folks!

Abel Tasman kayaking at nice weather conditions

 

Weather in different locations in New Zealand

 

Where you’re located in New Zealand, will also play a big part. The far north of the North Island has subtropical weather during summer….

Weather in different locations in New Zealand - Coromandel lookout

….while the inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F). But generally we don’t have extremes. This is great for travelling! The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south.

Queenstown aerial view from Skyline gondola

January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) and in winter between 10-15ºC (50-60°F). See more details on the weather and season in New Zealand. Hey, it’s a good idea is to talk to your accommodation hosts on the local weather conditions. Or check out Metservice.com,  their 3 and 5 days forecasts are very helpful, especially if you have outdoor activity planned.

 

West Coast Waterfall2

 

What clothing should I pack for New Zealand?

 

I always tell my clients to prepare for all weather conditions. Stick with the “onion system” i.e. 2-3 layers of clothing, you can peel off. See visuals here.

Dress for New Zealand - what clothing to pack for travelling

Essential is a good rain jacket, a quality fleece beneath and a polypro or merino shirt. The good old ‘Swanndri’ is a great standby for Kiwi blokes. If you intend to hike/tramp, strong comfortable footwear is essential! If you need anything while in NZ just pop into a Kathmandu or MacPac shop. They’re the outdoor specialist.

Shorts, good walking shoes and a warm jacket are always good

 

When is formal dress expected?

 

We’re pretty casual about dressing informally for restaurants and cafes. We make exceptions for weddings or an ‘occasion’. A smart standard will be required for more upmarket restaurants, shows and casinos. Pam, our resident blogger, insisted on this photo as proof that she can ditch the t-shirts and elastic waist trousers for a bit of ‘glam’.

Pam is dressing up for a formal occasion

Happy Travelling.

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