December 7th, 2015

Motueka shop and dine

When my sister recently travelled up from Christchurch to the Nelson/Tasman Region, I was able to show her something new. A rather gorgeous shopping and dining trio has been created at Church Lane, Motueka: – The French Store – Vintage Rose Fashion & Baby Rose Fashion – and the Church Lane Restaurant.

 

Church Lane Restaurant

 

Chandeliers and soft whites feature in all 3 buildings to create a calming ambiance. Someone here obviously has a vision for creating beautiful spaces. The tables are set well away from each other and the staff wear crisp white shirts and long black aprons to the ankle. The sister looks pleased….

Church Lane Restaurant Motueka

…let’s step outside to the large courtyard..

Church Lane Restaurant2

…this photo shows only a small part of a much larger area. I think it’ fair to say that most people we saw dining here had made an effort to dress up a little.  I really like that and although visitors to this country love our casual approach to dining, it’s nice to have somewhere special to celebrate a special occasion or a really long lunch.

Church Lane Restaurant3

Now let the shopping begin! The Women’s fashion at Vintage Rose Fashion is actually housed in a beautifully restored old Gothic church – very spacious. The clothes are incredibly feminine,colourful and rather unique. All items are grouped according to colour. The staff are also gorgeous and they look incredibly happy to be here.

Church Lane Fashion

Handbags, shoes and jewellery –  it’s a one-stop shopping experience (from here you can walk straight on through to Baby Rose Fashion).

Church Lane Vintage Rose

The French Store further down, lives up to it’s name with beautiful linens, and a surprisingly good range of gifts for men. No soap-in-a-rope here folks! Perhaps I’ll buy Michael that large compass with a handcrafted leather case.

 

Who would have thought this Motueka shop and dine experience could be found in an area known more for it’s fruit orchards and being the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Keep up the momentum guys.

 

Happy Travelling

 

Add a comment

November 13th, 2015

Facts about Credit Card charges and Travel Insurance

Facts about Credit Card charges and Travel Insurance – Those clever marketing people love giving free gifts.  And we, the consumers, love receiving them.  They’re designed to make us feel valued. But lets look at the facts around credit card charges and travel insurance. What we think may be a ‘freebie’, comes at a price to someone. Credit Card companies are a classic example of appearing to offer something for free. We get “gold” or “platinum” cards with added bonuses, air-points and, you guessed it, travel insurance! But you can bet if you’re paying for overseas goods/services by credit card, you’ll probably get the worse exchange rate. Its that additional exchange rate conversion fee. So far, you’ve paid 7-10% for your ‘free’ gift!

Credit Card Photo2

Facts about Credit Card charges and Travel Insurance

When it comes to Travel Insurance, we should all be cautious about how effectiveness credit card insurances are. First of all, how many of us believe that in an emergency, we’ll have direct contact with our credit card company? The truth is, most credit card companies outsource their travel insurance to third party insurers.

 

Is your travel insurance adequate?

When travelling overseas, it is crucial to have a solid and reliable travel insurance. Health issues and accidents can happen to anyone. And of course there’s the enormous cost of being repatriated home. We’ve all heard the endless stories about travellers suffering massive financial losses. And all because their travel insurance did not cover essential medical services. Here’s some interesting reading:

 

Facts about Travel Insurance

 

NZ Herald – Be cautious with credit card travel insurance

Stuff.co.nz – When good time turn bad

Traveller.com.au – Can you rely on credit card travel insurance?

 

Facts about Credit Card charges and Travel Insurance

How to choose Travel Insurance?

 

So how do you choose travel insurance with adequate coverage?  A great start is reading the fine print. I’m happy to part with a few hundred dollars by using my local health insurer (many of them do offer overseas travel insurance). It’s peace of mind, knowing I’ll receive full hospital and health coverage. Plus I’m covered for personal liabilities, cancellations, interruptions and luggage.

 

Facts about Credit Card charges and Travel Insurance

 

Do you have a different opinion and experience of travel insurance? Feel free to air your opinion in the comments field below. We’d love to hear about it!

 

2 Comments - add yours

October 20th, 2015

What to do in Waitomo

There are stunning regions in New Zealand which in tourism terms, could be described as ‘underdeveloped’. For serious travellers, that’s a good thing. It means you’ll be away from mass market tourism in the more populated hotspots. The beautiful rural ‘King Country’ has much to offer. Here’s just a few tips on what to do in Waitomo.

 

Waitomo Caves

There are a number of different caving tours from Spellbound, to Black-Water-Rafting to 4 or 7 hour Abseiling tours. Could you imagine yourself doing this?

Waitomo Cave Abseil2

 

Kawhia Beach

Fabulous scenery, dramatic black-iron sand beaches, fishing, boat trips & the amazing Hot Water Beach (Te Puia Hot Springs) on Kawhia’s Ocean Beach. Remember, go at low tide – you’ll get a spade to dig your own hot pool!

 

Lord of the Rings

The Hobbiton Village is nearby (1.5 hrs drive), but hidden away, is the less known Mangaotaki Valley site  no jostling for space here. There is a company aptly named ‘Hairy Feet Waitomo‘ tours. This is a small group tour and if you’re a Tolkien fan, you’ll love it.

Hairy Feet Tours2

 

Marokopa Falls

A 20-minute return walk to the spectacular 36-metre waterfall, 2 kilometres past the Piripiri Cave off State Highway 37. The Marokopa Falls is one of the most beautiful in the country. Don’t forget your camera!

Marokopa Falls2

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park – See New Zealand’s iconic kiwi birds, plus daily talks by the keeper and feeding displays (kiwi, kea & kaka, kakariki and longfin eels). Enjoy the great range of native birds & reptiles in a peaceful park setting.

Otorohanga Kiwi 2

 

Kamahi Cottage – Farmstay Accommodation

Waitomo has it’s own 5-star Farmstay located near the Waitomo Caves and the Village of Otorohanga. Liz and Evan run a farmstay style cottage in the Waikato area – rustic on the outside with soft comforts inside (a gourmet breakfast you’ll love). This was a great little find – a hidden gem owned by real New Zealanders in rural heartland.

Kamahi 5-star farmstay.3

 

Farm Tour

Evan from Kamahi cottage also takes visitors on a great scenic farm tour & drive through a family farm. ($50 per tour – subject to Evan’s availability). August to October are the months for new-born lambs.

Kamahi Cottage view2

 

Ed Hillary Walkway – Otorohanga

A ‘gallery’ of Kiwiana displays showcasing NZ’s popular culture, history, heroes and icons. A great free attraction right in Otorohanga’s main street.

 

Raglan

This charming seaside village is a famous hang-out for surfers and artist with a vibrant cafe scene. Classic NZ lifestyle.

 

 

These are just some of the ‘highlights’ for the Waitomo Caves area and the wider King Country. Staying a few days is highly recommended. You’ll be wowed by the beautiful North Island landscape, plus you’ll get plenty of space to enjoy some very special moments.

Happy Travelling!

Add a comment

October 13th, 2015

Rotorua Canopy Tours

As a honeymooner to New Zealand, you’re bound to find yourself jumping (willingly) out of a plane or off a bridge. And there’s every chance you’ll go on a guided tour to see cute little blue penguins. Or maybe you’ll be after the whole combo – adventure, fun and a nature experience. Rotorua Canopy Tours provide all three of these fun activies.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Rotorua Canopy Tours

 

Check-in takes place at the Canopy Tour base in Rotorua’s city centre. First of all, everyone gets an iPad to type in their details, including medical conditions and curiously enough, if you have a fear of heights. I was impressed with the iPads – its such an efficient way to gather important details as a precaution before the tour actually begins.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Next up, you’ll be driven in a modern van to an original nature forest in the Department of Conservation park. Now it’s rather chilly in the forest so do dress warmly. During our first few metres stroll into the forest, guides, Shane and Scott discussed the different tree species – many of them Rimu (NZ Red Pine).

Zip-lining in New Zealand

We arrived at the first platform to be surrounded by the forest canopy and the purest oxygen.

Canopy Tour platform

The guides are meticulous in explaining every aspect of the equipment we’re about to use, but it’s also a fun exercise. On this tour, group interaction is encouraged. Having fun with fellow travellers really does promote trust and friendship. I also like that each tour party is a comfortable size with a mere 10 people, Based on my weight, I  was fitted with a harness and given the Smile-of-Bravery award. Convincing isn’t it!

Canopy Tours Harness

Ok folks, here we go…lights, camera, action!!

Canopy Tour jump

As well as an educational walk in the forest, this tour provided the adrenaline rush of zip-lining between the trees. Rotorua Canopy Tours is such a cool concept to get people a little out of their comfort zone. And it provides a heightened awareness of nature’s challenges when it comes to conservation.

Canopy Tours conservation

I’m stunned to hear that each day, 70,000 birds are killed in New Zealand by stoats, rats and ferrets. Every day! So the conservation philosophy of Rotorua Canopy Tours is to use traps to combat some of this carnage. It gives our New Zealand birds, especially endemic species, a chance to survive.

Canopy Tours Stoat traps

There are 6 zip lines and two bridges to cross during the journey, which generally takes about 3 hours. The longest zip line is an enormous 220 metres. This map should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect:

Canopy Tours Map2

This experience is closest I’ve experienced of flying like a bird through the forest canopy. Naturally, there’s a lot of shrieking going on from individuals, but in a happy way.  Nothing wrong at all in letting the kid out to play every now and then.

Canopy Tour fun

Happy travelling!

1 Comment - add yours

October 11th, 2015

White Island helicopter tour

In the ‘land of the long White Cloud’, New Zealand’s most active marine volcanic, is hard to beat. White Island is located in the North Island offshore from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. There are 2 ways of getting there. One is by an 80-min boat ride one-way from Whakatane. The other is by helicopter only a 35 min fly from Rotorua. Today, I chose the latter. And I guarantee, you’ll never regret doing a White Island helicopter tour. Volcanic Air Safaris have been operating for years and they offer a range of experiences.

White Island Oct

White Island by Helicopter

With 3 other travellers, I boarded the Volcanic Air Safari Squirrel helicopter. Our pilot, Chris, swept us away, flying smoothly over farmland and the Pacific Ocean to the centre of White Island, which is about 1 kilometre in diameter. Honestly, you feel as though you’ve just landed on Mars!

White Island landing

Exploring White Island

The terrain here is such a contrast to the rest of New Zealand. No lush greenery, just rocks, steam, sulphur and other mineral sediments. Chris handed out helmets and a breathing mask. We were about to discover how important these items are. With sound procedures, there was absolutely no question mark over our safety

White Island helmets

The helmets and masks are just a precaution and a good sign that security is paramount to the Volcanic Air Safari team.

White Island helmets2

As I expected, the smell of rotten eggs was everywhere. But the visual impact was far greater as we viewed rocks and cliffs created approximately 150-200,000 years ago. The scientists calculate that 16,000 years ago, a ‘double crater’ blew up again and that accounts for the island’s current shape.

White Island helicopter tour

White Island helicopter tour  – White Island Crater Lake

We entered the crater lake area which was filled to the brim with highly toxic “mineral water”…basically acid and deadly serious stuff. We stayed a respectful distance from the edge. I have to say, the smell was almost unbearable here.  We immediately found our gas masks very useful! What a relief it was when we put them on.

White Island helicopter tour

Next came the something really fascinating. We were led to the most active area where huge amounts of yellow sulphur material and blow holes belched surrounded us .

White Island Sulphur rock

This sulphur was and is widely used for fertiliser, gun power and medicine. And this is the very reason why business ventures originally came to White Island to mine the mineral. Those workers had up to 2 months on the island and all supplies, including drinking water, had to be brought in. White Island was not such a fun place in those days.

White Island sulphurM

White Island helicopter tour – Factory Site

Near the end of the tour, we were shown around around the former (and last remaining) factory site, which was abandoned about 1934.

White Island factory site

Expect the Unexpected!

On our flight back to Rotorua, we spotted what we thought was a large group of fish. Chris took the helicopter down for a closer look. These “large fish” were actually 25 Orca Whales! Wow, what a sight. We kept some distance away, as there were a number of calves with their mothers. We also spotted 5 massive male Orcas. Sorry Folks, I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but in the excitement of the moment, I forgot to take photos. Sometimes you have to put your camera away and be in ‘real time’. Seen it, admired it and forever in my memory – this day has been special.

Happy travelling!

 

Add a comment