January 4th, 2016

Clothing for travel through New Zealand

New Zealand weather – what to expect

 

Clothing for travel through New Zealand should be chosen to cope with unpredictable weather patterns. 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 doesn’t usually stay for too long. In fact, you can have rain in the morning…

Michael with umbrella - Clothing for travel in New Zealand

…and a warm sunny afternoon. You might get 4 seasons in one day!

Abel Tasman kayaking at nice weather conditions

 

Weather in different locations in New Zealand

 

Where you’re located in New Zealand, will 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). The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. But generally we don’t extremes and this is great for travelling!

Queenstown aerial view from Skyline gondola

January and February are the warmest months and July is the coldest month. 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. It’s always good idea is ask your accommodation hosts about the local weather or  check out Metservice.com.  The Metservice 5 days forecasts are very helpful, especially if you have outdoor activities planned.

 

West Coast Waterfall2

 

What clothing should I pack for New Zealand?

 

So 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

The Essentials – Clothing for travel through New Zealand

Essential on the list is a good rain jacket, a quality fleece beneath and a polypro or merino shirt. The good old ‘Swanndri’ has always been popular with 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 clothing specialists.

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 my using 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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December 27th, 2015

A New Zealand summer

Hey folks, we’re well and truly into the hazy days of a New Zealand summer! It’s time to relax among the vines and enjoy vineyard lunches. And in the Nelson/Tasman region, you’re never to far from these. Orchards and vineyards are part of the landscape.

Vineyard lunch1

The Boxing Day sales are chocka full of people spending up again so soon after Christmas. “Hey guys”, I want to say, “pack a picnic lunch, grab your kids and head down to the most beautiful ocean views imaginable”. A great family treat is fishing down on the wharf. There’s always something going on down here with container ships coming and going and yacht races hold a special fascination.

Container ship

As the morning wears on, the kids begin to grizzle, so luckily there’s always the iconic “Mr Whippy” to put a smile back on their little faces. This little kid might miss out.

Miss Whippy

But this big kid always gets his ice-cream in record time.

Mr Whippy Truck

‘Mr Whippy does a roaring trade in the summer, as do the Paddle Boarding companies.  This is a great way of being interactive with the water and it’s a pretty safe option for older kids and adults when the weather is calm.

Paddleboarding2

But the coolest thing about paddle boarding is often that unexpected encounter. On Christmas day, these guys had the ultimate experience being checked out by curious Orcas feeding on stingrays. We saw this happen from the wharf and it was an amazing sight.

Orca Encounter2

There’s always that moment when we retreat from the growing crowd of holidaymakers and make our way back to the Nelson centre. We love this walk along the beautiful and tranquil Mitai River. A New Zealand summer in this region is more of a Mediterranean climate with fresh mornings but beautiful dry sunny days.

Mitai river walk2

When you’re travelling through New Zealand, there’s always a park bench or table placed thoughtfully placed for a brief sit-down. These seats and tables are often dedicated to the memory of someone who loved the area when they were alive. This is Michael’s favourite, just an hour and half away at beautiful St Arnaud.

St Arnaud Nelson Lakes Michael sitting

So it’s back to Tahunanui Beach to catch a sunbeam before heading back to the office.

Tahunanui Beach3

 

Happy Travelling!

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December 17th, 2015

Maori cultural tours in New Zealand

Lets face it, international travellers visiting New Zealand are here for the beautiful scenery and outdoor adventure. But many are also interested in the Maori cultural tours in New Zealand. As New Zealand Travel agents, we often get asked where can I find a Maori Cultural tour in New Zealand”? But what does that actually mean and how important is authenticity? Here’s an overview of different Maori culture experiences within the key regions visitors will most likely visit.

Maori Tour Kaikoura Sculpture2

Maori culture experiences in Kaikoura

 

Bay of Islands -Waitangi Treaty Grounds

If you’re time-short, we’d recommend the 50-min guided tour at Waitangi. We did this tour recently and enjoyed viewing the historical treasures at Waitangi. There’s also an an interesting commentary on the history of the Treaty. Many of the guides descend from signatories to the Treaty and that’s pretty. If you’re really time-strapped, there is a 35 min cultural performance, or you can combine the two. Also available is an evening Hangi and concert combo. View more details here.

 

Waipoua Kauri Forest

The Waipoua Maori tour is a different type of experience again. It focuses on the spiritual environment of the Waipoua Forest and it’s giant Kauri Trees. Believe me, these trees are giants! On selected tours, local guides lead you on a journey to discover nature’s evolutionary process. There is also a mythological interpretation of the forest from a Maori perspective. A twilight tour is available, although not suitable for infants. Good walking shoes are recommended. View more details here. View more details here

 

Auckland – War Memorial Museum

In my opinion, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a must-see and not only for it’s neoclassical architecture.

Auckland War Memorial Museum2

It’s here you’ll see a the largest and most impressive collection of Maori treasures in the world! The entire Ground Floor is devoted to Maori history. You could spend hours on this level alone. Its incredibly atmospheric.

 

Rotorua – Mitai Tours & Cultural show

Although a large group tour, the Mitai tours are very popular and will introduce you to a spiritual and authentic journey into Maori culture where you’ll be treated to an authentic Hangi dinner and a cultural evening show. 

Maori cultural tours in New Zealand

If you wish to extend your cultural experience, we recommend the Ohinemutu Tour which takes place in the late afternoon, before the Mitai tour. The Ohinemutu Tour is a guided walk through an historic Maori Village along the lakeside. View more details here.

 

 

Hawke’s Bay – visit local Marae with a private tour

Long Island Tours NZ provides 2 Maori tours – a group tour and a private tour. Accompanied by a Maori guide, visitors get to meet the Ngati Kahungunu people who will tell their stories of myths and legends. Visitors will receive a Maori welcome (Powhiri) onto the marae. The 2nd option is a private tour designed according to the visitors special cultural interests. After a spiritual welcome, you’ll get to speak directly with Maori and enjoy their music and sense of fun. On this tour you will gain a deeper understanding of the strong connection Maori have to the land and and their whakapapa (lineage). View more details here.

 

Whakatane – Mataatua Maori Marae Experience

The Mataatua Maori Marae experience is an interactive tour that begins by introducing Maori protocol in a welcoming environment.

Marae small tour

For 2 hours visitors get to use all senses, a definite highlight being an incredible atmospheric digital light-show in the meeting house which incorporates history, architecture, and technology. A Hangi option is also available.View more details here.

 

Kaikoura Maori Tours

This is a family operated small group tour with ‘heart’. It has an interactive element and it’s a lot of fun.

Maori Tour Kaikoura History lesson

The tour includes a comfortable drive to and around historical Maori locations, a spine-tingling welcome overlooking a beautiful Kaikoura vista, an introduction to flax weaving and a forest tour and commentary on traditional Maori medicine. A definite highlight is the generous refreshment stop at a private house with Maori hosts. It’s heart-warming stuff with plenty of song. View more details here.

 

Christchurch

Ko Tane is the South Island’s only Maori cultural performance and Hangi.  On this tour, visitors will get a unique snapshot into the way of life of the South Island Ngai Tahu Maori people before the arrival of the Europeans. This is an interactive tour where men are invited to join the haka and the women, the poi dance. One of the tour options includes a hangi. View more details here.

 

 

Queenstown

Kiwi Haka Queenstown  consists of a Maori Cultural Show performed  at the top of the gondola overlooking Queenstown. You’ll be taken on a journey of mythical legends and given a brief view into a world of Maori spirituality and history as  shown through traditional song & dance, haka and poi display. View more details here.

 

 

Important to know!:

If you’re looking for more truly authentic Maori Cultural tours in New Zealand,  with a private guide, the prices will be significantly higher than the tours providing a ‘taster’ for the mass market. An in-depth Maori experience often takes place at smaller local Maraes found throughout New Zealand. Often your accommodation hosts will be able to point them out and get you access to the tribe and one of its representatives to arrange a more traditional and personalised experience.

 

Happy travelling!

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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

 

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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!

 

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