April 14th, 2016

Driving Nelson to Christchurch Inland Route

Today we’re driving Nelson to Christchurch Inland Route on a glorious Autumn morning. The Coastal Route may have better cafe options, but the inland route scenery is breathtaking and less travelled.

After Murchison

Driving to Springs Junction, the views constantly change. This one would have to be the day’s favourite:

Towards Lewis Pass

For me, Springs Junction is merely a petrol and toilet stop but if you’re desperately hungry, there is a ‘tearoom’. You might want to travel a bit further to the cafe at Maruia Springs. There is accommodation at Maruia Springs which has recently changed ownership and undergone refurbishment. Leaving the wide open spaces, we enter into a beautiful forest.

Maruia Springs Forest

This is the point where Michael becomes the passenger and I take over the driving (except that he never stops being the driver) I like the photo he took showing the milky green of the Maruia River.

Maruia River

The beauty of the Lewis Pass is especially gorgeous after a dusting of snow, however we’ll have to wait a few more months before it’s looking like this:

Lewis Pass2

Driving into the flatness of the Canterbury Plains, we head into the beautiful wine country of Waipara for lunch at the Nor’Wester Cafe at Amberley (a great choice with friendly staff and quality food). The Canterbury Plains are New Zealand’s largest area of flat land, with straight roads cutting across a patchwork of paddocks. Tonight we’re staying at the Hotel Montreal in Christchurch. Beautiful spacious Junior Suite and friendly, helpful housekeeping staff.

Hotel Montreal

Tomorrow marks the official commencement of a very significant birthday for moi! Queenstown here we come. Let the celebrations begin!

Happy Travelling.

 

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March 4th, 2016

Top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants

We do have our top favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, but when there’s a new kid on the block, we’ll be the first to try it. This little neighbourhood cafe is a real sweetie. Cafe 7010 on Collingwood Street is located opposite the Mitai River, just far enough from the central hub to enjoy a relaxing breather.

Cafe 7010

Our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants

Cafe 7010 has the feel of a neighbourhood ‘local’. The cabinet cafe food is not extensive, but the owner has made some clever choices. Good coffee.

Cafe 7010 coffee

Our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants

On a different level of our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, is the Cod & Lobster Brassiere located at the cathedral end of Trafalgar Street. It offers a full dining experience and as the name suggests, a great fish menu. You can also get lunch plus coffee and cake during the day.

Cod & Lobster

Our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants

Cod & Lobster Brassiere has a variety of outdoor seating perfect for the warm Nelson weather. The Trafalger Street side is ideal for people-watching.

Cod & Lobster2

We don’t often get the chance to chill out under a Nelson Sun. It’s turning out to be a very busy season, so it’s always nice to be welcomed back by staff at our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, who recognise loyal customers.

 

Happy Travelling

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February 22nd, 2016

New Zealand Tourist providers

As New Zealand Travel Agents, it’s been an incredibly busy season for us and also for the accommodation hosts and service providers in our network. Year after year, these dedicated people work long hours, especially in the mad peak season between December and February. Anyone who says it’s a lifestyle choice, has gotta be kidding!

Highs and Lows of being an accommodation provider

There are many highlights for these guys, but there are ‘lows’ as well. Imagine presenting a plush villa accommodation beautifully decorated for a Christmas straight out of a Dickens novel, your guests turn up, take one look and leave. Their kids don’t like it. It’s hard not to take it personally. But then we’ve had some accommodation hosts that had such fun with their fabulous guests, they really missed them when they leave.

New Zealand tourist providers going the extra mile

There’s a fantastic couple down in Christchurch who run a lovely B & B Lodge. They often arise at 4.00 am to prepare breakfast for guests with early morning flights. Sometimes, they need to stay up until 2.00am in the morning to receive their visitors from a late flight. Last year, this dedicated couple went on a 3-day break to Australia but saw nothing of the sights. Why? Because they slept for 3 days solid!

 

I love the hosts who will go the extra mile. We recently had customers at Ruby Bay in the Tasman. They arrived tired after a day on the road. The host drove them to their dinner in Mapua, then collected them after their meal. This added so much value to their overall New Zealand experience.

 

We recently sent a single lady from the States to stay at a property near Punakaiki. She didn’t have her own transport. How would she get from the Greymouth Railway Station to her accommodation. No worries, the owner and host of the property collected her and bought her back. The great thing for us, as travel agents, is being able to depend on our wonderful network in the industry. No challenge can be too big and it’s our job to find a solution. No matter how much you do for your customers, you’re only as good as your last effort.

 

When our hosts go the extra mile, we all win, honeymooners return with their children, then they return with their grandchildren Ultimately New Zealand wins! Lets hear it for the guides, the tour companies and accommodation providers of this beautiful little country!

 

Happy travelling

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February 8th, 2016

Waitangi Day celebrations in New Zealand

Each year around 6th February, we Kiwis get a public holiday to enjoy Waitangi Day celebrations in New Zealand. This means a long, relaxing weekend of barbecues, family picnics and calm weather. Each region pays special attention to cultural events acknowledging New Zealand’s most historic document Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi.

Waitangi Day Waka2

Waitangi Day celebrations in New Zealand

This is a day that we New Zealanders remember the spirit of being one nation. We all have differing political opinions, but our commonality as New Zealanders is enough for 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. We can openly criticize those that govern us without fear of reprisal.

Waitangi Day Beach

We’re a nation of adventurers and will 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

You don’t have to travel far in this country for unobstructed views of beaches, forests and mountains. There are many places where you won’t see another car for miles and the only sounds are those made by nature.

Rob Roy Walk swing bridge

I grew up listening to the evening chorus of cicadas, Tuis and Bellbirds. They lulled me to sleep and 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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