July 21st, 2017

Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand

Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand  is very much a Kiwi ‘thing’.  In fact, the Jet Engine was invented right here in New Zealand by a local Christchurch man, Sir William Hamilton. He knew it was not possible to use propeller drive boats in our great South Island rivers – the water is often only an inch or two deep. So the Jet Engine was born!


Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand – Advantages of a Jet Boat

Jet boats are highly maneuverable. Its hard to equal the thrill of reversing at top speed and then stopping within a boat length. This maneuver is known as a “crash stop”. The well known Hamilton turn or “jet spin” is a high-speed maneuver. It involves cutting the engine throttle, steering sharply, then opening the throttle again. The boat then spins quickly around omitting a huge spray of water. No time to catch your breath here folks!


Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand

For visitors to New Zealand there are a number of Jet boating options. However, bear in mind there are 2 key differences.


a) The first option is the one I like to refer to as the ‘fast and furious’. The jet boat speeds through narrow gorges and delivers a total ‘adrenaline rush’


b) the second option is the ‘classic river journey’. Jet boating on wide river valleys surrounded by stunning native landscape such as mountain, rain forest or grassland. Option b) is found mainly in the South Island.


‘Fast and Furious’ Jet boating options New Zealand


Hukafalls Jet Boating Taupo, Central North Island – Hukafalls Jet Boating is located in Wairakei Park, Taupo –in the Central North Island, ten minutes north of Taupo and 45 minutes South of Rotorua. Exhilaration galore is pretty much guaranteed. But at the same time, you get to enjoy views of the spectacular Huka Falls.  By the way, is this is happening at 80km per hour – cap it all off with a jaw-dropping 360 degree spin!


Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand


Shotover Jet Queenstown – Shotover Jet is the only Jetboat company operating in the Shotover River canyon. For pure adrenaline , this iconic Queenstown attraction is the ultimate jet boat experience. Powerful jet boats are dwarfed by the towering Shotover Canyon walls. And great skill is need to negotiate rocky outcrops,crags and boulders. But, don’t worry, these guys have it in spades.



‘Classic River Journey’ Jet boating options


Whanganui River Bridge to nowhere –  This is a 30km (1 hour) trip upstream in the Whanganui River, Central North Island.  The native bush on either side of the Whanganui River is so lush, you can smell the moisture. There’s a variety of amazing scenery throughout this jet boat trip – deep gorges covered with ferns, caves and rapids.  Continuing on deeper into this wilderness area and you’ll arrive at the Mangapurua Landing.



Wanaka River Journeys – There is a spiritual element to this jet boat tour. The braided Matukituki River changes constantly. Fed by glaciers and surrounded by the peaks of Mount Aspiring national Park, the Matukituki river is one of New Zealand’s most pristine jet boating rivers. The landscape is really magical.  But what I really enjoyed about this trip, was hearing the stories of the the land and the people. See travel blog on this trip.

Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand


Siberia Wilderness Adventure Makaroa, South Island – The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park. It starts with a scenic flight, followed by a bush and valley walk. It ends with a jetboat ride in the Wilkin Valley. And if you love the feeling of complete isolation, you’ll love it.



Dart River Jet Queenstown – Dart River Safaris takes you into the very heart of a world heritage area. And for nature lovers, this tour is such a thrill. First, you’ll be jet boated into the pristine wilderness. Travel up a stunning aquamarine “braided” glacial river, beneath magnificent snow capped peaks mountains. Next there’s a refreshing short walk amongst ancient beech forest.  Finally, just kick back to enjoy a back-road coach journey through fantastic scenery where several Lord of the Rings films were shot. Its one of those great combo tours with variety plus. Allow 6 hours return. Read another travel blog on this trip.


Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand


Waiatoto River Safari South Westland – This jet boat tour is unique in that it is  the world’s first and only sea-to-mountain eco-jet boat adventure. Explore the remote Te Wahipounamu, the South-West New Zealand world heritage area. This Premier Jet boat tour of 2.25 hours, includes an optional bush walk. There’s no better recommendation than from Lonely Planet.


Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand


Wairaurahiri Jet Lake Hauroko Fiordland – Wairaurahiri Jet is located in a very remote area of New Zealand and covers 94 Kms of jet boating into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. Travelling across Lake Hauroko and down to the rugged southern Waitutu coast via the wild Wairaurahiri River – this is an exhilarating day in the great outdoors. Read another blog on this trip.



White Heron Nature Safari Westland – View the majestic Kotuku (White Heron), the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill), Kawapaka (Little Black Shag) and other Bird life – all in their natural environment within the Waitangiroto nature Reserve.


This small group tour is suitable for those people with a genuine love and respect for birdlife. The jet boat ride is very gentle and only takes 20 minutes each way. After landing at the jetty, take a short boardwalk (500m) through native bush to the viewing platform. You’re able to quietly observe these beautiful herons for 30-40 minutes. It is a privilege to see these creatures in their natural habitat and for me, it was quite a spiritual experience. Read another blog on this trip.


Summary on Jet boating options in New Zealand


Most visitors to New Zealand include a jet boating option in their itinerary.  I guarantee, you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable option for Jet Boating Tours North and South Island New Zealand. If you’re lucky, you might even make a friend or two among the locals.  We love our piece of paradise and enjoy showing it off.


Happy travelling!


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June 28th, 2017

Travel times and distances in New Zealand

When looking on a world map to check out New Zealand, the ‘land of the Kiwis’ seems so tiny. It looks so easy to navigate this little country in a matter of days. But this perception is so very wrong!  Our big Australian neighbour calculates distances in the thousand kilometers (or miles). In New Zealand its more in the hundreds. But the key difference is that New Zealand has a) lots of hills and mountain ranges and b) very few highways.  So its very important to factor in travel times and distances in New Zealand to make an itinerary work!


In fact our max. speed limit is 100 km/h (approx. 60 miles/h)  – and that’s everywhere (note: this is currently being reviewed to 110 km/h for some parts of the road network).


Travel time and distances are grossly underestimated

Based on incorrect assumptions, international travellers often plan their New Zealand holiday with insufficient time. Travel time and distances in New Zealand are grossly underestimated. It often turns out visitors spend more time on the road than they initially bargained for. Local New Zealanders frequently use domestic flights to cover those long distances, especially between the North & South Island. This saves not only time, but also money. If you book airfares in advance, they become quite affordable.  And if you compare it with other modes of travel like ferry crossings plus the price of petrol, airfares compare very well.



Travel distance and time calculators for New Zealand

There are a number of online calculators available online. They are good and give a first impression on these subjects. The key issue is time (not the distance). Generally speaking, when travelling with a rental car, calculate on 80 km/h on average. And with a motorhome, calculate on 60 km/h. There is always a hill, windy road or a truck you have to pass. You really don’t want to do more then 250-300 kilometres (165 – 200 miles) on the road per day. Believe me, this will get very tiring and dangerous. Also, you want to have plenty of time to ‘stop and go’ at view points, scenic walks and guided tours. Rushing through New Zealand is not a good idea!


Key recommendations for time-short travellers

Very few travellers to New Zealand have more then 2-3 weeks to cover all of New Zealand. Within this time frame we recommend this:


> use 1/3 of your time in the North Island and 2/3 in the South Island
> use a one-way rental – say between Auckland and Rotorua
> then take a domestic flight to one of the key airport in the South Island
> pick-up another rental car at the airport and continue your journey


By international standards, New Zealand airports are much smaller and that makes check-in and luggage procedure much shorter and really easy. Air New Zealand is a well regarded local carrier.


Happy travelling!



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June 15th, 2017

Favourite Nelson Day Walks

Nelson is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. There are many lovely hills around, so you’ll get fantastic views on a day or half day walk. Favourite Nelson day walks are high on our list, as we live here. And gosh, there are some lovely options! All in all there are about 56 Nelson walks (see Nelson Council website). But here’s just a few favourite Nelson day walks.


Favourite Nelson Day Walks

The Centre of New Zealand – Nelson Central, 30-40 minutes

There are a couple of entries for this walk that you can choose from. Either walk from the Botanical Gardens Reserve or from opposite Founders Park in Atawhai Drive. Both options are quite steep in parts and I can guarantee they’ll get your heart-rate going.  It’s often what you see on the way that really enhances a walk like this.  Sheep (and sometimes goats) grazing peacefully alongside. As you draw close to the top of this walk, remember to take the track to the left (the Kauri Track). That track will lead to the summit of the Centre of New Zealand.

The Centre of New Zealand

At the summit there is a newish platform built from where you can absorb the views from the seats around the platform. And behind you, well let’s just say it’s so worth the effort folks.


Bridges Walk – Nelson Central, 40-60 minutes

To the left of you is the Trafalgar Street Bridge and this is where you can walk alongside the river to Collingwood Street. Turn left, and cross the Collingwood Street Bridge. Turn hard right from the bridge into Shakespeare Walk and follow the river – this is such a great spot for a summer picnic. The Nelson Council have kindly provided picnic tables and benches for this very reason.

Bridges Walk

Cross the river again at the Riverside footbridge. Turn left and walk by the Riverside Pool.  This is where you follow the beautiful Maitai Walkway. At Bridge Street leave the walkway to cross over the Normanby Bridge. This is a very calming walk with the Matai River gently flowing beside you.  http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-central-walks/2-bridges-walk/

Mitai Walkway and Lower Botanics – Nelson Central, 40-60 minutes

Take a stroll along the Maitai River path to Collingwood Street and continue along until you come to the Nile Street Bridge. From then on, an arrow will guide  you under the bridge and then up the stairs. Continue the track along to Clouston’s Bridge (on Nile Street). Walk across across the bridge and turn right to Maitai Valley Road. Follow for about 40 metres and turn left at the letterboxes. Follow the track and signposts to the playing field. Go up the track and to the left. You’ll love the native trees – brachyglottis, mahoe, lancewoods, titoki, matai and kahikatea. http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-central-walks/8-maitai-walkway-and-lower-botanics/

Tahunanui Beach Walk – Nelson Central, 30-60 minutes

This beach is very safe and its a great place to spend a few hours just chilling. We usually walk it in the earlier part of the morning, especially summer.

Tahunanui Beach Walk

This is an easy stroll for most fitness levels. And it’s so easy to find from the main road going out towards Richmond. I love this beach. It has the most friendly family atmosphere and it really is a joyful place to be. Although it does get very busy. See what a difference a few hours can make…



Grampians Walkway – Nelson South, 45-70 minutes

This is quite a challenging walk as the track is steep pretty much all the way up. Start at the corner of Brougham and Collingwood streets or from the centre of town walk via Selwyn Place and Collingwood Street. About half way up the street move over to the left and you’ll see an easier route up some steps. At the top of Collingwood Street there is a map of the Grampians – there are numerous tracks to follow and you could spend hours walking all of them. http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-south-walks/38-grampians-walkway/

Grampians Walkway


Cable Bay Walk – Nelson North Coast, 3-4 hours one way

On a clear day, this untouched spot is a very popular with locals and visitors. The beach is beautiful, although it is a stony beach more suited to kayaking. The walkway between the Glen and Cable Bay has wonderful rural views of tussock and a beautiful beach cove.

Cable Bay Walk

Be warned, parts of this walk are steep steep and sturdy shoes are an absolute must. Some of this is private land with stock grazing so dogs must be left at home. But the rural aspect of this walk is a great attraction for kids who may have never seen a sheep grazing in the open. Remember to use the tiles and not farm gates and stick to the tracks.


These are our favourite Nelson day walks. There are so many more to be experienced in the Tasman District.  Just gives you an idea as to why we love living in this region.

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May 30th, 2017

Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui

Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui are still hidden secret places in Northland yet to be discovered by a lot of visitors. We travelled here in late Autumn, but pretty much all year round, these areas remain free from hordes of tourists found in other regions.


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – accommodation

Coopers Beach in Doubtless Bay is about 50 or so minutes drive from Kerikeri. So if you’re based in the Bay of Islands, this is a great day trip. But if you want to stay longer, (believe me, you will) there are good accommodation options. We visited Beach Lodge Holiday Apartments and I can tell you, its not always about the building. Yes, the apartments are very nice and probably have the best views in Coopers Beach.

Doubtless Bay - Coopers Beach - Mangonui - Northland

But its the owner of Beach Lodge, Margaret Morrison, who is the major drawcard. I know this is a hackneyed phrase, but people really do arrive at Beach Lodge as strangers and leave as friends. And they keep returning time and time again – to the place and the person.

After a sumptuous lunch with Margaret, who until today had never met us, we left thankful that New Zealand has such wonderful hosts. The gratitude continued on this beautiful beach in peak traffic hour.


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – White Sand Beaches

Doubtless Bay - Coopers Beach - Mangonui - Northland

There’s more to Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui than meets the eye. The little fishing settlement just a few kilometres from Beach Lodge is a lovely spot to relax. Here, we chilled out to the sound of lapping water and fish n chips down by the wharf.


If you’re staying around here and you’re looking for an exhilarating and interactive experience, I think a quad bike tour would be just the thing. Henderson Bay Rentals are much more than their name and website would suggest. Malcolm and his wife, Robyn, cater for small groups of up 10 people


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – Activities

Malcolm had been highly recommended by other operators, so we were delighted to actually meet him over a cuppa. Henderson Bay Rentals run an extremely safe operation with Malcolm always at the helm. They offer a number of options, one of them being the Great Exhibition Bay tour. Who couldn’t enjoy zooming along endless white sandy beaches! Alternative, there’s the wild 90 Mile Beach or the coral sands of Henderson Bay to explore. As for me, right now I’m just enjoying a pleasant late Autumn sun on my back.



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May 23rd, 2017

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails. Since the introduction of dedicated cycle trails, cycling has become very popular in New Zealand. E-bikes have become especially popular with the lifestyle crowd, so I thought, I’d give it a go as well! View some South Island travel itineraries.


Travelling New Zealand regions by e-bike


Getting prepared for the e-bike cycle trip from Nelson

Now e-bikes are still quite expensive to buy, so a I thought it would be a good first experience to rent one from a local cycle rental supplier in Nelson. This cost me NZ$99 per day (plus added NZ$3 insurance, just to cover any damage). It’s incredibly simple to use and I took to it like a duck to water! My e-bike cycle had nine gears, plus three levels of ‘e-power’ –  ‘Eco’ / ‘Medium’ / ‘Full Power’.  Everything is included in the rental – helmet, bike packs, security log, maps, repair kit plus a mobile phone back up number. The Nelson operator also does one-way rentals to Mapua and transfers back (or the other ways around). Another option is also to sail back to Nelson. Such choices!

Cycling to Richmond on the Tasman Rail Trail

After a slow start heading out of the inner city of Nelson I approached the Tasman Rail Trail – and it started uphill! Well, there was no stopping me. I switched to the Eco setting and glided effortlessly up the hill. Michael was in awe. He says that in all the 15 years of cycling together, this was definitely a first. It was also the silence – no complaining at all. When I overtook him, he began to suspect I’d switched the setting to ‘high’ – his word against mine! View some South Island travel itineraries.


Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails


From Richmond toward Rabbit Island

The cycle trails in the Nelson-Tasman region are often quite flat, which makes it a great cycling region. We enjoy stunning weather but sometimes biking can be challenging in a head wind, especially for lower fitness levels.  In this respect, the e-bike opened up a whole new world to me.

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails

I met an elderly gentleman, who’d just bought himself a new e-bike. He was now able to enjoy day trips with his whole extended family and guess what, he was leading the pack.  No one needs to miss out. We stopped for a quick breather. It seemed as though the whole region was at the Jellyfish Cafe in Mapua that day.

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails – Bespoke tours


The owner-operated ‘Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours’ offer bespoke tours. Rather than you having to collect the bike from a shop, they’ll actually deliver the bike to you. They don’t integrate groups, so its just you and your chosen itinerary to enjoy to your heart’s content. Remember, we have some great vineyards around here.

Bespoke cycling tours in Nelson/Tasman

Flexibility is the key here – you can be self-guided, guided and opt to have vehicle support along the way.  These guys are keen cyclists themselves so guess what they do on their days off?



Owners, Nicki and Lisa, are also keen triathletes and their knowledge of the region and bikes are legendary.  We have also used their bespoke service and loved the security of knowing they were never too far away. I loved their beautiful e-bike pictured to the left in the photo below. Their high quality trail bikes are designed for comfort and performance on the trails and back roads. Besides all that, they’re just such lovely people to deal with.

I completed a 40km trip on an eBike. I hadn’t biked for over a year and it was a breeze. Honestly, I can’t imagine how I ever managed the hillier parts before. New Zealand now has a sophisticated network of Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails and its such a great way to see the country. View some South Island travel itineraries.


Happy travelling!

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