5 Things to do an see between Christchurch and Dunedin

5 Things to do an see between Christchurch and Dunedin

The journey between Christchurch and Dunedin is long but there is plenty to do en-route. The journey takes about 4 and a half hours but it is longer if you stop on the way. These are my Top 5 things to see between Christchurch and Dunedin.

Timaru Gardens

Timaru is a great stopping off point between Christchurch and Dunedin. We ate in a nice cafe on Stafford Street – the only place open on a bank holiday. One of the points mentioned in the Rough Guide was Timaru Gardens. These botanical gardens are splendidly maintained, with a good few walks around a lake and tree lined hillocks.  There are also some roses to be seen during the summer months and Timaru also has an annual rose festival. It is certainly worth stopping in Timaru for these gardens – great for stretching the legs en-route to Dunedin.


Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki Boulders are located about 76km north of Dunedin. These huge spherical stones are located on a stretch of Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast. These large boulders are what are known as septarian concretions exposed through shore-line erosion. They originally formed as ancient sea-floor sediments during the early Paleocene, over 60 million years ago. They are amazing to see and worth visiting – best though if the tide is out!


Accommodation in Dunedin: 315 Euro Hotel, Dunedin

The drive between Christchurch and Dunedin is long so once you arrive in Dunedin, you may need accommodation. The 315 Euro Hotel is a nice hotel located up a laneway, so might be hard to find. The check-in was handled very well and we checked into a studio room which was nice, bright and airy. It included facilities such as hairdryer, tea coffee facilities, and a small kitchen area. There was lots of space in room and it had Sky TV which was nice. Other facilites in the complex included a sitting area just inside the main doors and a laundry (handy when travelling). The only negative is that the curtains in the room could be a bit thicker!

Link: http://www.eurodunedin.co.nz/


Monarch Wildlife Cruises – Peninsula Cruise

On the drive between Christchurch and Dunedin you will see lots of birds and wildlife. One of the best ways to see of the Otago Peninsula and it’s wildlife is by taking a cruise on the Otago Harbour. We went with Monarch Cruises – located on the wharf just behind the chinese Gardens in Dunedin. This Wildlife Cruise includes the spectacular Taiaroa Head and a scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour. You should also pay the extra few dollars for the guided tour of the award-winning Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve, Penguin Place. Worth Doing !

Link : http://www.wildlife.co.nz/


Chinese Gardens Dunedin

The Chinese Gardens in Dunedin are of an authentic Chinese design and was built by the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust has built the Garden and upon its completion, handed over to Dunedin City Council.  The Garden is an example of a late Ming, early Ching Dynasty Scholar’s Garden, surrounded by a four metre perimeter wall and features a lake with traditional walkways and stonework. The design of the Chinese Garden was laid out to use authentic Chinese materials and was built by a team of craftsmen from Shanghai. Hand-made wooden buildings, hand-made tiles, lattice-work and hand-finished granite paving stones adorn these authentic exquisite gardens. The Chinese Gardens are open from 10 am to 5 pm, 7 days per week and 7pm to 9pm on Wednesdays.

Link : http://www.dunedinchinesegarden.com/

The Beautiful Timaru Gardens

The Beautiful Timaru Gardens between Christchurch and Dunedin

Demand for luxury shows no signs of stopping in Australia

Demand for luxury shows no signs of stopping in Australia

In the face of economic doom and gloom, it seems luxury accommodation options in Australia are on the up. With several newly-opened hotels doing booming business and more luxury lodges and hotels planned for this year, I’ve taken a look at what visitors down under can look forward to in 2011.

A major part of the success of the Australian hotel trade is the lengths that it will go to in order to provide truly experiential luxury holidays to upmarket clientele. Secluded luxury lodges and private island accommodation is on the increase as hoteliers realise that what their clients want is a unique vacation experience, away from the crowds and large hotel resorts.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable Australian holiday off the beaten track, then private lodges are the way to go. They’re popping up all over the country, with the most sought after in 2010 being Sal Salis at Ningaloo Reef on the Western Australian coast, the Hayman Island private island resort in Whitsundays and Saffire, the new lodge on the Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania.

Those looking for something more traditional will find no shortage of uber-luxury accommodation options either. Major openings in 2010 included the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast, the Pinctada Cable Beach resort on Broome, the Chateau Elan at The Vintage in Hunter Valley and the six boutique Art Hotels in Melbourne. Each Art Hotel is themed around the work of a different Australian artist, and they’ve been creating quite a stir.

Looking ahead to 2011, visitors to Sydney can look forward to the much-anticipated opening of the Park8 on Castlereagh Street. Part of the 8Hotels boutique mini-chain that includes the Kirketon and Diamant, Park8 is located in the old Central Park Hotel, just a block away from the beautiful Hyde Park. Expect loft-style living, minimalist décor, the latest technology and the last word in luxury city accommodation. With just 36 rooms in Park8, each and every one of them has been lovingly designed to appeal to luxury holidaymakers.

If you’re planning a luxury getaway down under and you’re looking for low cost flights to offset the high cost hotel bill, the internet’s the best place to search for travel bargains. Try flight specialist sites like DialAFlight for up-to-the-minute deals on flights to Sydney, Melbourne and other major Australian cities.Advertismen-Feature

Dordogne, France ever popular as a Holiday Destination

Dordogne, France ever popular as a Holiday Destination

The Dordogne region, in the south of France is ever popular with holidaymakers from UK and Ireland. Even the French love to holiday in the region, full of outdoor pursuits such as cycling, canoeing, and country walks. If you have ever considered renting a self catering holiday home or gite in the Dordogne region, you will know that there are many luxury holiday homes in the Dordogne region. There is so much to do here you simply need to find some good French accommodation. The traditional French Gite is one of my favourite styles of accommodation. Imagine cooking up a French coq-au-vin with fresh warm baguette on a self catering holiday in the south of France. Sounds amazing…

Dordogne, France ever popular as a Holiday DestinationMost luxury self catering holiday homes in France come with a swimming pool and other luxury features, such as microwaves, laundry facilities and even games rooms which can make your holiday more enjoyable and somewhat a home, away from home.

One company Sarlat Holiday Homes run by a lovely Irish woman called Bernadette, offers you luxury holiday home rentals in the Dordogne (Sarlat/Vitrac) regions of France. Easy to book and so easy to find, these luxury cottages and holiday homes are at the top end.

When you rent a holiday home from Sarlat Holiday Homes  you are in direct contact with the owners of the property, so you can be ensured that we will want to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.The Dordogne is one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful areas of France

The Dordogne is one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful areas of France. By booking a reputable holiday home / villa company you yourself can best enjoy what the region has to offer and your self-catering holiday villa can be a home away from home, with memories to last a lifetime.

Click here to visit the Sarlat Holiday Homes website.

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

Wellington to Lake Taupo. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Wellington to Lake Taupo. Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Going to New Zealand? This rough and brief travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See traveling between Wellington and Lake Taupo in New Zealand.  Continuing on from Wellington on our way to Lake Taupo we were traveling along the N1 on the North Island of New Zealand visiting small towns such as Foxton, Bulls, Taihape on the way to Lake Taupo where we had already booked accommodation.

Driving in New Zealand - Amazing Scenery on the N1 New Zealand Roads

The first town we reached was Foxton. This is off the main road, but the guide book said it was a lovely town so we decided to take a look. Foxton is like a step back in time, not in a bad way or behind the times, rather Foxton has manged to keep the old town look and feel in a nice way.

Foxton New Zealand

Windmill and Tram in Foxton, New Zealand

The main feature is the Windmill which was brought over from Holland, bit by bit and build by people who had never built a windmill before – by reviewing the plans for the structure. There are horse drawn tram rides, an electric trolleybus, old style streets – I was told there are plans to make Foxton a hub of activity with kayaking, walks and other things to do. We enjoyed about 2 hours here before getting back on the road, taking a nice coffee and snack in the cafe near the Windmill.

From here we traveled back on the N1 again and on passing through a town called Bulls we just had to stop and take some photos. The shops are all BULL Oriented, e.g. the local realtor / estate agent has “live-a-bull” as his tag line, the town hall centre has “soci-a-bull”, and so on to Taihape where we had decided to take lunch.

The town of Bulls, New Zealand

Fun signs in the town of Bulls, New Zealand

Taihape is another very nice town, almost like small town America, worth taking an hour or so to enjoy, plenty of nice cafes to take a snack in.

The town of Taihape, New Zealand

The town of Taihape, New Zealand

On the last leg to Lake Taupo, back onto the N1 we go via the desert road, part of which is a military area, with an amazing landscape.

As soon as you see Lake Taupo for the first time you will have a few opportunities to stop into the left and enjoy many of the viewing areas, with incredible vistas of the lake. I’m sure there have been an accident or two with drivers looking at the nice view and not the road. Its still another good hours drive to Lake Taupo – so far its been about 6 hours since leaving Wellington.

Lake Taupo Viewing Point, New-Zealand

Lake Taupo, Viewing Point with Snow-Storm moving in

After about 45 minutes we enter into Taupo and arrive at the Millennium Hotel which sits on the waterfront with amazing views of the lake. The Millennium Hotel also has a really nice outdoor heated pool, no problems using it in winter as it is quite warm. The restaurant there is very nice and we enjoyed a buffet there on arrival – only $39NZ per person which was very reasonable.

New-Zealand Lake Taupo with Mountain Snow

Lake Taupo with the Mountains covered in Snow.

We later found out that the desert road was blocked by snow and we made it to Lake Taupo with 4 or 5  hours to spare before the snow trapped people on the desert road.

Lake Taupo – To Be Continued … ( Lake Trip to Maori Carvings & Craters of the Moon… )