NORAD Santa Tracker – Track Santa on Christmas Eve

NORAD Santa Tracker allows you to Track Santa on Christmas Eve.

This is an excellent website … sorry Santa Tracker … if you want to see where Santa is on Christmas Eve. You get a count down to Christmas and you can go back each day to receive updates from Santa and the North Pole.

On Christmas Eve you can get a Live Positioning Location of Santa’s Location around the world as he delivers presents … probably by some sort of Santa UFO.

You can even track Santa on Google Earth

Click the link below to visit the Santa Tracker
NORAD Santa Tracker

Lake Taupo to Rotorua. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go

Lake Taupo to Rotorua. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go

This post is a continuation of the review of my recent trip to New Zealand and includes details of Lake Taupo on the route to Rotorua, including Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go and where to eat along the way.

While we were staying at Lake Taupo, we decided to take the boat ride on the lake to go and see the Maori carvings at Mine Bay which are only accessible by water. The day was windy and the lake was rough, and our boat, “The Ernest Kemp”, was very small but warm and comfortable. It didn’t help that the Captain of the vessel kept referring to us as ‘brave souls’, which was not appreciated – but the dark humour after a while took our minds off the waves on the lake. After about 50 minutes of very rough water we arrive at the carvings which were very impressive.

Lake Taupo Maoir Rock Carvings

Lake Taupo Maoir Rock Carvings

Moving on from Lake Taupo we were told of major waterfalls only 2 minutes north on the N1 (to the right), and was only a 5 minute further drive. This was of course, Huka Falls. These rapids were amazing (see below) – roaring waters cascading down a narrow channel. resulting in a huge waterfall.  At Huka Falls, the Waikato River which is usually about 100m across, is squeezed through a 20m wide gorge and over a 20m drop. Every second over 200,000 litres of water gushes down through the gorge and shoots out over Huka Falls by about 8 metres.

Huka Falls, Just outside Taupo, New Zealand

Huka Falls, Just outside Taupo

Having left the falls we were driving north once again on the N1 and I spotted “Craters of the Moon – 500m on left” and decided to give it a go. These were well worth stopping for. It is a spot where the earths crust is so thin, you get bubbling mud, steam vents and a landscape which Sméagol from Lord of the Rings would be at home in.

Craters of the Moon, Thermal landscape outside Taupo, NZ

Craters of the Moon

Back on the road again we were heading for Rotorua on the N1 – note there are not many places to stop for food or sightseeing between the two locations. We were lucky to find a BP station near Kinleith, to refuel the car and ourselves.

Theres not much between the two locations and we reached Rotorua in decent time and checked into the Copthorne Hotel which had great views of Lake Rotorua and the Polynesian Spa. The one thing you will notice in Rotorua is the smell of sulphur in the air. Now, its not as bad as I had expected, but it is noticeable. Some people describe it as a rotten egg smell but I don’t think the smell was that bad.

View from the Copthorne Hotel, Rotorua

View from the Copthorne Hotel, Rotorua

Having not had much food consulted the guide book and headed for the ‘Pig and Whistle’ which used to be a police station but is now a gastropub. The food was very good, atmosphere was not great as it was very quiet with only 8 or 9 other tables full.

Next morning we tried to go to the Polynesian Spa but that’s when the smell was too much for us. Apparently at certain times the smell is worse than others. Instead we decided to take a trip on the old paddleboat which was docked on the lake. It was a very enjoyable one hour trip around the lake with history and other details being announced over the speakers onboard. Te and coffee was also free on the ship.

After that we headed to Whakarewarewa reserve which is a Maori town, and they show you around the town, the geysers, the hot pools and give you an insight into the history of the area. Whakarewarewa, “The Thermal Village”, is an area not to be missed in Rotorua as it shows history combined with how these people are living today in an area where the earths crust is so thin, you can feel it by sitting on the ground. Whakarewarewa is definitely worth seeing. You also get to see a Haka and get your photo taken doing it – I’m not uploading my photo of this however!

Whakarewarewa Village

Whakarewarewa Village

Later that evening we attended a Hangi (Hang-yee) which is the Maori feast at the Mitai Maori Cultural Experience. The food is cooked by the Mitai tribe, underground as is the tradition, using the thermal heat from the earth. Before the meal there is a cultural show, including songs, dance and another Haka. A really good evening and one of the best tour-dinner-show combos I have been on, apparently the Mitai experience is the best in the area. There is a night safari after the meal and you have a chance to see glow worms (at least we would have if some little runt didn’t keep turning on his flash light) and you get to see a Kiwi closeup.

Rotorua is a lovely place, with lovely people … a bit smelly due to the sulphur in the air (not as bad as I expected) … but there is plenty to do in a 2-3 day stay.

Next stop Bay of Islands….

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Stop Those Lost Luggage Blues

Stop Those Lost Luggage Blues

It has never been more important to have good travel insurance for you and your luggage when you go abroad. Recent statistics from the European Commission reveal that, on average, one piece of luggage is lost for every 64 passengers who travel by air.

Although the airlines themselves often provide a certain amount of compensation in the event of baggage loss, they can only reimburse you for lost items in your luggage for which you have receipts, and then only up to a maximum of £800 if your baggage is lost for longer than 21 days. When the suitcase first goes missing, some airlines will provide you with around £50 to cover essentials. However, if you have your luggage insured, you can expect a bigger payout, with fewer hassles.

Unfortunately, the recent financial crisis has led many customers to take cost-cutting measures, and some savvy customers have noticed that you can save money on your travel insurance by adding luggage insurance cover to your home contents insurance policy.

Many home insurance policies include cover for your possessions when they are out of the home. In fact, some home insurance policies provide more comprehensive cover in the event of the loss of luggage than is offered as standard with most travel insurance policies. Customers can save often save up to 25% off their travel insurance bills by opting to exclude personal belongings and baggage cover.

However, the section of a home contents insurance policy that covers personal possessions outside of the home is usually a cost option with most policies, and may work out more expensive than dedicated travel insurance. Be aware that no two home contents insurance policies are the same – you should always check the small print of your policy to see if you are adequately covered before opting to exclude anything from your travel insurance cover.

Of course, many travellers may not even be aware or may have forgotten that they’ve included   when taking out travel insurance. Check your paperwork thoroughly in order to avoid paying for the same cover twice – but make sure you are covered.

Use a reputable firm for your holiday cover. Take a look at the Santander website for some useful information and online quotes for travel insurance.Advertisment-Feature fro Travel Insurance