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 (theglobeandmail.com - 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 Slate.com

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 http://www.festivalofflowers.co.nz 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 http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/pacific/new-zealand/