Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | August 25, 2010

Bridge climb & Bungy Jumping -Auckland, New Zealand

Thanks to Chris, who recently travelled on one of our study abroad tours, for sharing his Bungy Jumping off Auckland Harbour Bridge experience with us; and Chris, the photo looks like a dive to me!  –

“Bungy jumping is one way to get your adrenaline running.  I was filled with fear, yet excited to bungy jump.  Climbing up the Auckland Bridge seemed like an never ending process.  As we climbed, we just kept going up.  I was thinking, when are we going to stop!  As soon as I thought we were done, we had to climb up narrow stair to get to the bungy platform. I had to tip toe up because my whole foot would not fit on a stair.  That part was a little scary because if I lost my balance I would have fallen backwards onto others.  I figured people would be crying and not wanting to bungy jumping after standing on the ledge.  But that was not the case. My nerves were getting to me.  I tried not to think about it since some of the other students who went on the study abroad trip were bungy jumping after me. I didn’t want to freak them out.  My number was called. You definitely could tell the look of fear in my eyes.  I thought it was nerves, but it was fear.  Absolute fear, yet I kept telling myself I could do this…I did it about 7 years ago.  They strapped me into the bungy gear and I made sure it was tight. Everyone has asked me, “Aren’t you afraid the bungy rope is going to tear?”  I felt confident I was safe and secure. Plus there was a sign that no one has gotten hurt from bungy jumping at the Bridge.  I guess that made me feel somewhat safe.  Yet again, I thought maybe they just put that sign up…What if…nah! Well…then it was my turn.  I took small steps to the ledge, tried not to look down, and heard they count off 1…2…3…I was going to dive, but hell I just bent my knees and jumped off.  I did it!  I even almost touched the water…Some bungy jumpers actually went into the water.  It was super scary, but I SURVIVED!  Walking down the bridge was nothing after that!”

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Go Chris!

There he goes....

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Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | August 16, 2010

New Zealand -The Marlborough Wine Region

Off the top of my head, I believe there are 46 wineries forming the Marlborough wine trail. Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, with sunny days and cooler nights, the area mainly celebrates one varietal -Sauvignon Blanc. When we take tour groups into the South Island we always try to make time to stop -even briefly -to enjoy Marlborough’s  food specialities -especially seafood -matched with the local wines.

Today, I only want to tell you about one of the wineries, (and I’ve tried a few) -Hunter’s Wines.  Last month we took a tour group there for a very delicious lunch and equally delicious and very informative wine tasting. Jane Hunter is the ‘powerhouse’ behind the vineyard and her contribution was recognised in 1993 when she was awarded an OBE for service to the wine industry.

We arrived at Hunter’s Garden Cafe in the middle of a wet, cold winter blast and were welcomed into a cosy restaurant with a roaring fire complete with incumbent feline. The menu was one I had ‘designed’ with restauranteur Dietmar Schnarre to reflect the needs of my group, so I knew what to expect.  However, the quality and generosity of the meals surpassed my expectations, a reflection of the warmth of our welcome and a wonderful way to ‘introduce’ a New Zealand culinary experience. Here are a couple of photos we took that day –

Hunter's Wines

A tasting or 2!

Enjoying the food and the warmth!

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | August 10, 2010

Australia -Ayers Rock or Uluru

Ayers Rock is also known by its Aboriginal name ‘Uluru’. It is a sacred part of Aboriginal creation mythology, or dreamtime – reality being a dream. Uluru is considered one of the great wonders of the world and one of Australia’s most recognizable natural icons. Uluru is an inselberg, literally “island mountain”, an isolated remnant left after the slow erosion of an original mountain range. It is situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which is owned and run by the local Aboriginals. The local indigenous community request that visitors respect the sacred status of Uluru by not climbing the rock, as the climb crosses an important dreaming track. Neverthless, climbing Uluru is a popular attraction for a large fraction of the many tourists who visit it each year. A handhold makes the climb easier, but it is still quite a long and steep climb and many intended climbers give up partway up.  Kiwi Travel and Tours recently gained permission to take tour groups into the park,  and the experience of watching sunrise and sunset over Uluru was a visual treat -soft pastels, I had imagined it would be a more aggressive colour scheme.  We’d like to share some of our photos -you can also see Uluru’s neighbour Kata Tjuta in the distance.

This is the side of Uluru that people attempt to walk up

It's steeper than it looks!

Sunrise

It was worth the early rise!

These wander freely in the park

This family lived very near Kata Tjuta

 Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | July 13, 2010

New Zealand’s Mount Cook/Aoraki

I haven’t been slack in my blogging, just away with tour groups and about to disappear into the cold, crisp South Island with another one. As I sat infront of a roaring log fire in the Mountaineer’s cafe a few weeks back, and looked out on one of the most glorious views in the world, I took the time to contemplate that Mt Cook or Aoraki(Sky Piercer) seemed a bit lonely that day. True, I had dropped off 24 enthusiastic trampers at several of the walks/hikes before retiring to the cafe, and equally true that I was later joined by a lovely group of young travellers keen to share their argo trip to the Tasman Glacier with me. However, the truth is that many tours treat Aoraki as just a photo opportunity -a quick ‘snap’ on the way to other destinations.  And that’s a shame. If time allows we always try to include at least one night on the mountain for our groups. Not only is there a variety of walks catering for all fitness levels but there are over 300 species of plants to be found, including the famed Mount Cook lily – the largest buttercup in the world. Look out as well for the birdlife – but beware leaving your pack near keas (mountain parrots) -they steal anything and everything! There are two glaciers, Hooker and Tasman, and the effects of global warming has equipped them with their own terminal lakes, and warmer weather sees Tasman, especially, calving up a storm.  These lakes also provide unique opportunities to kayak or boat amongst the ‘icebergs’.  If you’re planning a trip downunder, make some time to enjoy Mt Cook -you won’t regret it. Here’s a few of my group enjoying their tramp along the Sealy Tarns Track.

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

The Sealy Tarns Track

Not even winter yet!

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | May 13, 2010

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

As already mentioned, Mike and I don’t only organise holidays and tours of New Zealand, we also take groups and book holidays for clients, to other regions of the South Pacific -such as Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu etc. Last week we made a ‘quality control’ visit to Aussie -driving from Adelaide via Uluru to Alice Springs, then flying to Sydney and home. Today, I want to mention Alice Springs Reptile Park and our visit there.

Australian snake

Nadia and her friend

I don’t like ANYTHING that slithers -this is one of the (many) reasons why I live in New Zealand -NO SNAKES!  From the outside, the Reptile Centre looks fairly uninspiring, indeed, we almost made the decision not to check it out. The truth is, that with so many ‘high-tech’ and ‘designer’ tourism facilities and attractions out there, it is very easy to overlook the Plain Janes.  That would have been a mistake for us and a mistake for you too, if you are looking for a very affordable and informative way to kill an hour in the Northern Territories.

They have a great collection of everything reptilian and snakey, and Nadia (shown in the photo) put on a wonderful ‘show’ for a group of us -to say nothing of trying her best to help the more phobic audience members (myself included). She was funny, informative, and made sure all willing participants got the chance to handle her python and lizard friends.

Both Mike and I enjoyed it very much -in a gross sort of way and although she didn’t succeed in getting any of those creepy crawlies near me-maybe next time Nadia!

Australian lizards

Now these are cute!

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | April 26, 2010

Bay of Islands -overnight cruise

Fullers has added an overnight cruise to their repertoire of Bay of Island experiences. Mike and I recently checked it out, along with a couple of younglings (well, 21 year olds!) so we could get their opinion.

Bay of Islands overnight cruise
Ipipiri -46 metre catamaran; 4 levels; 30 cabins with ensuites; bar, dining room and decks

After departure, Ipipiri cruised around some of the 144 islands that give the area its name, with the Captain pointing out local landmarks and backfilling some of the local history.  Then it was time to anchor off one of the islands for a couple of hours to partake of some off the complimentary activities available -kayaking, snorkelling, swimming, beach and nature walks. The staff were great -very helpful, and with a variety of ages and sizes on board, all were catered for.  However, although the kayaking was enjoyable, and the island lovely to walk around and bird spot, the younglings reported that the snorkeling tour was fairly uneventful with not a lot to see.

Bay of Islands kayaking
Mike showing off his kayaking prowess

However, all of us did enough exercise to justify hogging into the very yummy Kapiti cheese selection with pre-dinner drinks as the catamaran cruised into a sheltered cove for the night. A 3 course dinner followed -a choice of 2 plated entrees, buffet style mains and desserts.

After a restful nights sleep, we ate breakfast as the Captain continued his tour and commentary.  The Bay was looking beautiful and I felt myself relaxing into a semi-stupor -until the morning’s entertainment arrived -a pod of dolphins.  Ipiriri isn’t licensed to dolphin ‘chase’ but they can certainly allow the dolphins to find them -and the Captain made sure that we were given the opportunity to enjoy their antics.

Bay of Islands cruising
Looking at me looking at him!

 Ipipiri operates all year round, it departs Opua at 1.30pm and returns the next day at around 10.00am.  Passengers are transported by coach to and from Paihia.

Nicola
 
Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | April 18, 2010

Ziptrek -Queenstown

Queenstown has long been known as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand and, as the birth mother for bungy, deservedly so.  Like much of New Zealand, Queenstown holds all year round appeal -the lake, the mountains, the rivers and rapids, the great vineyards, all offer constant recreational activities whatever the season. One of the latest additions to this ever-growing list of things to enjoy in Queenstown is Ziptrek Ecotours.  When offered the chance to try it out, Mike didn’t hesitate -he’s piloted, parachuted, paraglided to name but a few -heights don’t worry him!  Ziptrek is basically a series of 4  flying foxes or ziplines. that travel tree observation  platform to tree observation platform, starting and ending at Bob’s Peak.  You’re harnessed in, and gravity takes care of the rest! You can move around at will within the harness, so if you want to ‘zip’ upside down, go for it. Each tour takes 2 hours and the accompanying guides provide ecological and environmental information about what you see around you.  Mike enjoyed it, the views were spectacular, and would recommend it as a great family activity (providing littlies are older than 7) but not for “adrenalin junkies”.  I think that’s fair enough, quite frankly there’s plenty of gut-wrenchingly scary stuff to do in and around Queenstown already and it’s nice that Ziptrek is there to provide adventure for the fainter hearted (or sensible depending on your POV).  The photo of the show-off is courtesy of the Ziptrek website .

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Ziptrek Ecotours Queenstown NZ 10

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | April 13, 2010

Hot Tubs Omarama

A few weeks ago Mike and I had the opportunity to try out Hot Tubs Omarama.  New Zealand is experiencing Autumn changes at the moment -still sunny days but cooling evenings. Omarama is midway between Mount Cook and Wanaka, deep in the heartland of the South Island’s Mackenzie country and world-famous as a gliding destination.  

Omarama Hot Tubs

Jan and Lance Thomas created this New Zealand version of a Japanese onsen, building 8 private hot tubs, 2 wellness pods and a sauna, set in beautifully landscaped grounds filled with New Zealand natives .  To be honest I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘soaking’ but Mike is, so I gave in and we agreed to give one of the private hot tubs a try after dinner. Lance led us down a path that wound its way through  mounds of carefully positioned rocks, boulders and plantings, to our tub, overlooking a small pond.  I really liked the fact that each tub is filled with fresh water -sourced from the nearby snow fields and glaciers – and cleaned and refilled after each use.  Used water is recycled, so no waste there! We were supplied with ice cold drinking water, shown how to control the temperature of the tub and left to it.  It was blissful, lying there, staring up at the darkening night sky. A perfect way to ease sore muscles, after tramping, skiing or any of the multitude of outdoor activities that New Zealand’s South Island is famous for. Although the landscaping is designed for visual privacy, just be aware that the main road runs adjacent and some of the tubs can be glimpsed from it -so if you are planning to skinny-dip -take a sarong while you climb in or risk hanging your bum out for the world to see!

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | April 13, 2010

Kia Ora and welcome to our blog

Kiwi Travel and Tours is a New Zealand based Tour Management Company that organises tours into and out of New Zealand and the South Pacific region.  We custom-build itineraries for all budgets, interests and sizes of groups, and manage every aspect of the tour using our own fleet of coaches.  We also like to share our local knowledge and booking services for self-drive holidaymakers and independent travellers. 

Mike and I are committed to making sure that our clients have the best possible travel experience with us.  We will be using this blog to share some of the places we visit and activities we try and we’d love to hear from you.

Nicola

http://www.kiwitravelandtours.com

Posted by: kiwitravelandtours | April 12, 2010

Hello world!

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