Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The New Zealand Trust of Conservation Volunteers wants you...

Here’s an opportunity for lovers of the outdoors to help save the environment and have fun at the same time. The New Zealand Trust of Conservation Volunteers are looking for people that are willing to rough it and get a bit dirty. Projects include hut and track maintainence, wildlife and habitat conservation, pest control, and tree planting.

Both New Zealanders and overseas visitors are encouraged to apply for the various projects listed on the website.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Aigantighe Art Museum

This little gem was found on a recent trip to Timaru, 2 hours south of Christchurch.
It is the South Island’s third largest public art museum and is home to an eclectic collection of works from sixteenth century to present day including New Zealand artists such as Goldie, McCahon, and Hodgkins.

The Edwardian House that holds this collection was built in 1908 by Alexander and Helen Grant, Scottish immigrants, as a retirement home. Aigantighe means ‘at home’ in Scottish Gaelic and is pronounced ‘egg and tie’. It was gifted to the city of Timaru and formally opened as an art gallery in 1956.

Beside the paintings and the architecture, another reason to visit Aigantighe is it’s thought provoking International Sculpture Garden.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shrek on ice

New Zealand’s most famous sheep, Shrek, got to spend his 10th birthday on one of the floating ice bergs the east coast of the South Island. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Shrek was shorn on the iceberg as part of a publicity stunt to promote NZ wool. more…

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Things about Christchurch

I just found this great site that will connect you with everything and anything about Christchurch. Perfect place for any visitor to Christchurch (or local) who needs to find out where things are and what’s happening. Check out Christchurch City Links.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dunedin Railway Station

This old-stone Flemish Renaissance-style railway station might just be the most photographed building in New Zealand. Once the country’s biggest and busiest railway station, it now services the Taieri Gorge Railway, a tourist venture. But its opulent architecture, Royal Doulton mosaic entrance floor and stained glassed windows of locomotives attracts hundreds of visitors daily To see why . DK Eyewitness Travel ranks it among the 200 must see places in the world, check out the photos at

Friday, November 03, 2006

Two New Books

Two new books worth reading

Jump start by AJ Hackett that tells all about the man who commercialized bungy jumping for the world.

A Journey through New Zealand Film by Ian Brodie - a movie themed travel book featuring maps and photos of locations of movies shot in New Zealand, plus interviews with top New Zealand directors

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel Town

More from my trip to Coromandel Peninsula. If you click on the photo, you will be able to see a montage (technology from of my visit to the Driving Creek Railway, located just outside Coromandel Town.

Purangi Estate Winery

I was in the Coromandel Peninsula awhile ago and found this gem of a winery. It might not look like much, but the wines are brilliant. I only wish I had bought more. The one bottle I bought, a 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, disappeared way too fast.
The Purangi Winery is located at 450 Purangi Road, Mercury Bay, Coromandel Peninsula.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Release of newest edition of Lonely Planet New Zealand

"The world's biggest film set is also the world's must-visit destination for the umpteenth year in a row," gushes the introduction. "No wonder the locals are smiling. They've long known they live in paradise and now everyone else does too." So begins the 13th edition of Lonely Planet New Zealand. The result of 5 writers on the road for 26 weeks, it offers a sometimes harsh but fair judging of all that New Zealand has to offer.

The authors praise New Zealand for it’s spectacular scenery, adrenalin pumping activities, music, wine and clean green image. The main cities fair well - Wellington is considered hip and energetic, Auckland cool, and Christchurch is seen as a thoroughly modern NZ city.

But some of the small towns are dismissed by the authors for being outdoor shopping malls (Cromwell), nondescript service hubs (Alexandra), fairly bleak (Ranfurly) and of little interest (Balclutha). Harsh judgements, I think, having visited many of the places myself. But it will give many of New Zealand’s small towns ‘food for thought’. If they are truly interested in attracting and then holding the attention of overseas visitors, they may need to work on and develop their appeal.

Lonely Planet guides have always been known for their honest appraisal of a place and this edition is no different. This honesty has only enhanced sales of its guidebook series. And the New Zealand editions are among Lonely Planet’s highest selling. It will be interesting to see if this edition maintains that honor.

New Zealand takes top billing

New Zealand is a star in Hollywood. Its spectacularly rugged and diverse scenery have provided the landscape for a number of Hollywood blockbuster. As a result, movie tourism has taken off in a big way. Following the release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, numerous tour companies and guide books were created specifically to provide fans with access to LOTR location sites. But even before New Zealand became the new Middle Earth, movie tourism existed in New Zealand.
Among the main locations are:

The Piano:
Karekare Beach, Auckland
Lord of the Rings:
Matamata - Hobbiton
Rangitikei River - River Anduin
The Volcanic Plateau - Mordor
Wellington - The Shire, Moria and Bree
Hutt Valley - Isengard, Rivendell, Minas Tirith, Minas Morgul
and Helm's Deep
Nelson - Dimrill Dale
Takaka - Chetwood Forest
Canterbury - Plains of Rohan
Mackenzie Basin - Pelennor Fields
Queenstown - Lothlorien
Southern Alps - Misty Mountains
Milford Sound - Fangorn Forest
Perfect Strangers:
Punakaiki Rocks, West Coast South Island
Whale Rider:
Whangara, the tiny village on the NI east coast
The Last Samurai:
The Worlds Fastest Indian:
Oreti Beach in the southlands of New Zealand
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
Flock Hill Station, near Oamaru
River Queen:
Whanganui River in Wanganui

Tourism New Zealand’s website provides more information on visiting the film
locations of
Lord of the Rings, River Queen, The World's Fastest Indian, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lonely Planet’s Code Green mentions New Zealand….

Two New Zealand businesses, Whale Watch Kaikoura and Footprints Waipoua, have been included in Lonely Planet’s Code Green, a guide to responsible travel experiences.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Travel articles about New Zealand

For those who enjoy reading travel articles as much as I do, here’s a few new ones I found:

Sunday Star Times The untamed waters of Fiordland by Yvonne Martin
NZ Life & Lesiure
Central Otago by Amy Kelly
Cuisine Magazine
Gourmet Goldmine by Lauraine Jacob

Monday, September 18, 2006

World Bra chain record not broken

And the saga continues. Wanakafest 2006’s attempt to beat the world bra chain record has failed. They did finish up with 5 km of bras, which by any standard is a whole lot of bras. But they were way off the record, which stands at 95 km, achieved earlier this year by the women of Cyprus (they too were raising money for breast cancer awareness.

While not breaking any records, the bra chain provided much entertainment and raised over $10,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Trust.

Local newspaper articles:

101 Must do’s for Kiwis

Just released by the NZ Automobile Association, this domestic tourism campaign aims to get more New Zealanders to stay home and travel their own country. Pick up a map at your local BP station and tick off your ‘have done’s’. An interactive campaign, the AA invites everyone to visit their site and vote on their top experiences. And for those who feel that something was missed out, you can submit your ‘102 must do’.

Earlier this month, another site ,
Nzlive, was launched by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. It provides a one stop site shop for listing of all New Zealand cultural events, festivals, and activities.

The Christchurch Press article Explore Godzone: Just do it …

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Krazy Kelvin’s Maori Blog

This looks like a promising site to learn more about Maori culture. Here’s a description of his blog
Haere Mai / Welcome, Even though I have maori blood in me, I am ashamed to say that I know very little about my maori background, so this is going to be a learning experience not only for me but for anyone who reads this blog. It is a culture within itself that is worth sharing - its people; its language; its food; its music & its heritage ! My thoughts & prayers are with you all. Arohanui ! Kakite !

Looking for good coffee?

If you’re travelling to Christchurch or Wellington and looking for coffee, then check out the New Zealand Coffee Review. It has a collection of cafĂ© reviews around the two cities (plus a few other places) that can give you idea of where to go. Don’t know who runs it, but you can write your own review if you want.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

WOW !! Fashion on display.

The annual Montana World of Wearable Arts Awards Show are being held in Wellington from 21 September to 1 October. This is not to be missed, as innovative and creative New Zealand artists and designers defy gravity, logic and conservative thought to produce eye opening and mind boggling creations.

Meanwhile, up in Auckland, the annual Air New Zealand Fashion Week runs from 19 to 22 September. Featuring the collections of leading New Zealand designers, the show is held at Auckland’s Viaduct Marine Harbor Village.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Eccentric New Zealand - Tirau

This sleepy town at the intersection of SH5 and SH1 between Hamilton and Rotorua has reinvented itself into the ‘corrugated town’. Shops and cafes line both sides of the highway, with corrugated appendages and designs.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Four luxury New Zealand lodges named in Hideaway Report

Andrew Harper’s latest Hideaway Report named 4 NZ lodges in his list of the 20 top Hideaways of the world. They were:

Taupo’s Huka Lodge at #4
Glenorchy’s Blanket Bay at #6
Northland’s Kauri Cliffs at #10
Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown at #17

Demise of the Bra Fence

What was once a novelty is now causing controversy with the Wanaka Community Board decreeing that the bra fence must be no more. And so the bras must go. But rather than just being thrown away, all bras will be put to good use, as part of an attempt to make the ‘Longest Bra Chain in the world’ to raise money for breast cancer research. As part of WanakaFest 2006, the Breast Cancer Research Trust is calling on women to send in their bras (and a gold coin donation) to help collect the 115,000 bras needed to break the world record.

Where these bras will end up after the festival is up in the air. The ‘bra fence’ will be gone. But there is still the sheep fence surrounding the property….

Imagine New Zealand

Great images of the untouched areas of New Zealand can be found at blogger Rhys Postlewaights' site

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Bra Fence

Most people come to New Zealand for the scenery, the wine, and the adrenalin pumping activities. But according to Edward Readicker-Henderson in his article ‘Uses for dirty Underwear’ (Perceptive Travel Magazine Sept 2006), the only thing he wanted to see was ’the bra fence’.

And he's not the only one. Apparently the Wanaka District authorites have had to spend thousands on road works to ensure the safety of passing motorists who stop to look and photograph this unique farm fence. To find out more about the 'bra fence' check out the Snow Farm website.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Want to spend the night in jail ?

Not something that appeals to most people, especially travellers. But if your visiting Christchurch, you might want to reconsider and check into the former Addington Prison. This 1876 prison has been been transformed into a new hotel called Jailhouse Accommodation.
The prison was closed in 1999 but a few of the cells have been left exactly as they were, complete with prison art on the walls, bunk beds and the basic steel toilet.
Located at 388 Lincoln Road, about 10 minutes from central city, the Jailhouse provides cheap, clean and safe accommodation.

Friday, August 11, 2006

May the art be with you

Turn heads and spark conversation wherever you travel around Australia ,New Zealand and Britain with a camper van rental from Wicked Campers or Escape Rentals. These uniquely painted campers, a movng collection of visual art and pop culture, are ideal for anyone looking for a unique travel experience with style and attitude. Whether you’re on a backpackers or flashpackers budget, these camper vans offer an entertaining alternative to run of the mill of car hire.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Searching for planets

Here’s an interesting fact. Approximately 150 extra-solar planets have been detected since 1995 and each one has involved New Zealand astronomers in the MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics) project. This project is based at Mt John Observatory at Lake Tekapo, three hours south of Christchurch.

Visitors to Tekapo can take a day or night tour of the facility through Earth and Sky Tours. Not only informative, the tours offer panoramic views of the Mackenzie Country. As the song goes, ‘on a clear day, you can see forever…'

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stonehenge, New Zealand

The world’s newest Stonehenge, opened in 2005, can be found in the Wairarapa hills of New Zealand. A full-scale adaptation of the original Salisbury Plains Stonehenge, it is located about an hours' drive from Wellington, the nation’s capital.

Stonehenge Aotearoa was built by the Phoenix Astronomical Society to help people rediscover the basics of astronomy. It is very much an interactive experience, with visitors allowed to stand amongst the pillars and learn about the stars in the sky.

This New Zealand henge incorporates Maori lore and marks the stars and constellations that Polynesian navigators followed on their voyages across the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Eight things you need to know about Gore…

1. Location - 2 hours drive from Queenstown, Gore appears to be a sleepy country town of 9,500.
2. Annual Country Music Festival and
Gold Guitar Awards every June.
3. Gore Historical Musuem features Gore’s colourful heritage, both Maori and European.
4. ‘Old Hokonui‘ whiskey and illicit stills, the result of 51 years of localised prohibition, has a legal home at the Hokonui Moonshine Musuem. The annual Moonshine Festival is held every February.
5. Art and Culture live at the Eastern Southland Art Gallery. Featuring a diverse collection of primarily New Zealand and Australian works such as Ralph Hotere and Hone Tuwhare, the gallery attracts thousands of art lovers from around New Zealand and the world.
6. Mandeville Airport, oldest in New Zealand, is home to
The Croydon Aircraft company who restore classic 1930s aircraft.
7. The Annual Hokonui Fashion Design Awards, every July, feature up and coming designers.
8. The Matuara River attracts international anglers wanting to try out one of the world’s best brown trout fishing rivers.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

48 hours: Furious Film Contest

New Zealand’s largest film-making competition is running this weekend. Now in its fifth year, this competition attracts people from all over New Zealand. Teams don’t know until the last minute what their film genre will be. They then have to write, produce, and edit a short film (3 to 7 minutes long) within the 48 hour timeframe. Check out the 2005 winning films at 48 hours. And look out for the 2006 live Grand Final 23rd June on C4 TV.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

NZ not for sale!

As seen in The Christchurch Press, May 14, 2006. It’s good to know that not every thing is for sale. Although, would have been interesting to see how much it would have gone for!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tiger Woods on holiday

It seems that Tiger has more on his mind than golf this week. In New Zealand for Steve Williams’s wedding, Tiger seems to have thrown away the golf clubs for stockcar racing in Huntly and bungee jumping in Queenstown. Tourism NZ should be happy with all the publicity this is generating in the news.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No Opportunity Wasted

Phil Keoghan, Kiwi boy made good and host of The Amazing Race, is in New Zealand this week looking for contestants for his new TV show called No Opportunity Wasted. This show, based on his book NOW, is seeking those who are ready to put it on the line for their dream. Between April 7 -17 Phil and his crew are travelling around New Zealand giving people the chance to audition. If chosen, you will be given the time (72 hours) and money to see is you can achieve your goal. Interested? Then check out the NOW website now.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Luxury Accommodation

Most luxurious stays in New Zealand (price per night):

Eric Watson’s Westbury Estate, Auckland: $2250 per bedroom / $6000 for house.
Eagles Nest, Russell, Bay of Islands: $900 to $12,000.
Blanket Bay, Queenstown: from $1290.
Kauri Cliffs, Northland: from $640.
Wharekauhau Lodge, Palliser Bay, Wellington: from $795 to $5775.
Huka Lodge, Taupo: from $860.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Speaking Kiwi

Seems that many visitors to New Zealand have difficulty understanding our version of the English language. Overheard at the local pub - “There’s big bickies renting out the bach complete with bomb and barbie’ which left a couple of American tourists scratching their heads. If you don't know what they meant, check out the Kiwi/American dictionary at

Friday, March 10, 2006

Why are there (almost) no Maori Restaurants

Food and travel go hand in hand for most travellers. Seeking out traditional and indigenous foods is part of the whole travel experience. But finding out about traditional maori foods appears to be difficult. And finding places to try maori cusine seems to be limited. My searches so far have uncovered that the traditional Maori hangi can be experienced as part of the Marae visit. But as for actual restaurants that serve up Maori cuisine, have only found one so far - Kai on the Bay in Wellington. But the search will continue - stay turned.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Island for sale

New Zealand got a mention in a recent Forbes article Most Expensive Private Islands 2006. Pakatoa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is 30 minutes from Auckland and is accessible by boat or plane. Asking price $35 million. Want to know more, check out Vladi Private Islands or Luxury Real Estate.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Movie Review: No.2

Went to see No.2 the other day. Written and directed by award-winning New Zealand playwright Toa Fraser, No.2 was winner of this year’s audience award at the Sundance Film Festival.

If people go to see No.2 for more amazing New Zealand scenery, they will be disappointed. The Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill does not have the same stunning landscape as, say, The Lord of the Rings. But what it does have is heart and plenty of it.

No. 2 features Ruby Dee as an elderly Fijian matriarch who demands that her grandchildren create a feast where she will name her successor. Full of drama, humour, and love, the film looks at what it takes to bring a broken family together.

The heat and vibrancy of the South Pacific are interspersed with the starkness of the city suburb as Nana’s family try to please an old woman’s crazy idea.

It might be small budget, but it is definitely worth seeing.

For up-to-date information on the New Zealand movie scene, check out the
film commission's website.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Farewell to the Godwits

This afternoon there was a special event held at the Avon-Heathcote Estuary in Christchurch to farewell the godwits. These North American birds fly here every September from Alaska (over 11000 kilometres away) and stay for the summer. Their departure during the month of March signals the end of summer in Christchurch.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Follow the Thread

Calls itself New Zealand’s fashion culture magazine and online store. If you’re interested in up and coming designers, fashion trends, reviews of funky places to eat and be seen, check out Thread, the Mag.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

NZ Life & Leisure Magazine

One of New Zealand’s newest magazines, NZ Life & Leisure features homegrown stories about talented Kiwis, as well as travel, food, arts, and culture. The website provides an archives of its previous 6 issues. Well worth a visit.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

It’s almost time for the annual Hokitika Wild Foods Festival. Now in its 16th year, it’s the place to go to try out authentic bushtucker. Each year, more and more delicacies are added to the lineup. Not having the most adventurous of palates, last time I was there (2004) I could only watch with fascination as intrepid souls swallowed crickets, punga slugs, huhu grubs and stinging nettle soup.

This years festival is on 11 March 2006 and tickets can be purchased online at the official website . Here’s a few article on the previous festivals to get your taste buds going .

Getting ready for the Hokitika Wildfoods festival ( XtraMsn),
Five go wild on the West Coast (Cusine Magazine)
The Call of the Wild Foods (NY Times)
Grubs Treat (The Spectator, 2002)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Movie Tourism

New Zealand is making a name for itself as a place to make great movies. As a result, films like ‘Whale Rider’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ have created a new form of tourism for New Zealand - movie tourism - spawning books and specialized tour companies. Check out Jim Eagles recent article in The New Zealand Herald ‘Land of the Silver Screen ’ to find out the locations of many of New Zealand’s best films.

Tourism New Zealand’s website provides more information on visiting the film locations of Lord of the Rings, River Queen, The World's Fastest Indian, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Recent New Zealand Travel Articles

On the Road Again (The Age - January 22, 2006) With the wind in her hair and her home on her back, Carol West set off on an unforgettable adventure around New Zealand.

Hobbit Free Auckland ( - January 28, 2006) Most travellers to New Zealand make a beeline right from the airport to Lord of the Rings landscapes. But it's a shame to give the country's cities a pass…

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Book of the Month: Kiwis Might Fly by Polly Evans

Having read a survey that ‘claimed the ordinary Kiwi bloke was about to turn up the toes of his gumboots…and move to the city', Polly Evans decided to take a motorbike trip around New Zealand to find out for herself if this was true. Her quest - to find out if the ordinary Kiwi bloke had all but disappeared ?

So it was with great interested that I started reading Kiwis Might Fly. Polly, it turns out, is quite adventurous. How many of us, after all, would attempt to ride a powerful (650 cc) motorcycle around an unfamiliar country after only a few lessons at home on a much smaller (125 cc) motorcycle. Not me!

Content to sit in my comfortable armchair, I followed Polly as she learned how to master the beast (motorcycle) and searched for nearly extinct Kiwi bloke. What evolves is a laid back, laugh out loud road trip through New Zealand’s cities and countryside.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Kawhia was home to Giant Penguin

A group of Hamilton schoolchildren on a fossil finding expedition have uncovered the remains of what may have been a Giant Penguin. The bones, thought to be 40 million years old, were found near Kawhia on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Great New Zealand Trek 2006

Ever dreamed of walking, cycling or riding a horse the length of New Zealand ? Not many people have. But for those of you with a thirst for the unique and with time and energy to spare, check out The Great New Zealand Trek.

Stage One begins on March 11 at northland‘s Cape Reinga, home to a solitary lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. From here, for 6 days, the trek will head south, arriving at Hokianga Harbour, Kohukohu on March 19th. That’s a distance of 250 kilometres or 40 plus kilometres a day.

The trek has been organized by Steve Old, the man behind the Great New Zealand Horse Rides (1996-2000) and horse coordinator for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Last Samurai.

Each year the trek will continue from where it finished the previous year. At this pace, Steve estimates it will take 12 years to complete the length of the country.

Any takers? According to the website that are still places available and late registrations will be accepted

Travel Article

New travel article on New Zealand (Girls Go Wild, Adventures in New Zealand by Elisabeth Eaves) can be found at

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Plans for whiskey distillery near Queenstown

Came across an article yesterday in The Press about Warren Preston’s plans for a $5 million boutique distillery to be built on the banks of the Kawarau River near Queenstown. It plans to be an all southern affair, with the barley grown throughout Otago and southland, distilled on site, and distributed through Preston’s Oamaru restaurant. This in turn, would allow for the development of a whiskey tourism business, offering tours, whisky appreciation and tastings. All this, of course, will take some years to develop.

This got me thinking. Does New Zealand have a whiskey tourism industry ? I know that there are a few boutique breweries around, but how many whiskey (or other spirits) distilleries are there in New Zealand. An internet search came up with a few surprises. Just down the road my home is Southern Grain Spirits, the ‘…only remaining distillery in Australasia making Gin using botanicals and original methods. Apparently tours are available Monday to Saturday between 10am and 8pm (bookings essential).

Then there’s 42 Below, distilling premium vodka and gin. First made in a Wellington garage (hence the name 42 below referring to the 42nd parallel below the equator), the company is the brainchild of Geoff Ross, who felt that pure spring water from Wellington’s Tararua ranges was the key to producing a superior vodka. He must have been onto something, with 42 Below winning metals internationally and becoming the vodka of choice at top bars throughout the United States.

Monday, February 13, 2006

National Geographic Traveler features New Zealand

Look out for the March issue of National Geographic Traveler, which is featuring an article on New Zealand called ‘Dreamland: 28 Ways New Zealand will Wow You.’ Basically an insiders guide to New Zealand, it focuses on New Zealand wine and food, products, music and locations through the eyes of the locals.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Christchurch is covered in flowers

The annual Festival of Flowers and Romance is on from 10 - 19th February. Check out for event information and times. Most displays and events are free.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Zealand No.2 in Lonely Planet Bluelist 06-07

The recently published Lonely Planet Bluelist 06-07 declared New Zealand as N0.2 best value destination. Check out other NZ bluelists at