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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Christchurch and Canterbury road travelling

Comfortable driving distances from the Alps to the ocean allow you the flexibility to pack more into your New Zealand holiday. Take a leisurely road trip (rental vehicles are available, but advance booking is recommended) and experience the true diversity of this amazing region.

Your first stop will be the vibrant city of Christchurch. Drive down tree-lined avenues to the city centre. It’s only 18 minutes from the airport. Immerse yourself in the city’s cultural heart with neo-Gothic buildings and an impressive art gallery.

Discover unique hideaway alleys, home to high-end boutiques and a myriad of cafes and bars. Meander through the botanic gardens, savour the sunset from a hillside vantage point, take in live theatre or enjoy a romantic hot air balloon flight.

Rustic Sight

Banks Peninsula is one of the region’s many unspoilt treasures and is a great day trip, easily accessible from Christchurch. Rugged cliffs and bright blue waters shape the port town of Lyttelton, with steep and narrow streets, historic cottages and an eclectic array of cafes and bars.

On the other side of the peninsula is Akaroa – one of the South Island’s oldest towns. This French and British settlement is nestled in an ancient flooded volcano, with well-preserved buildings and amazing wildlife. It’s a great holiday spot for both locals and visitors. There are activities to suit everyone, be it enjoying the vista from a local waterfront cafĂ©, swimming with the tiny Hectors Dolphins or exploring the harbour on sea kayak. For a nice treat, pick up some local fish and chips and spend an afternoon at the beach.
Vineyards And More

For a great short drive north of Christchurch, take the Alpine Pacific Triangle touring route, home to the vineyards of Waipara, the natural wonderlands of Kaikoura and the therapeutic waters of Hanmer Springs.

The Waipara Valley boasts many notable vineyards including award-winning Pegasus Bay and Daniel Schuster - the views alone make them well worth a visit.

Kaikoura has a vast array of wildlife, from dusky dolphins to giant sperm whales and playful fur seals. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is the perfect place to de-stress and unwind. With its therapeutic waters and state of the art spa facilities – it is a true relaxing experience.
Going South

In the south is the ultimate sports playground districts of Geraldine, Timaru, Methven and Ashburton, a haven for lovers of the outdoors with fly fishing, mountain biking, golf, jet boating, four wheel driving, white water rafting, skiing and much more on offer.

For those who prefer the finer things in life – cafes, gourmet food outlets, five-star luxury lodges and quality arts & crafts combine to make the perfect holiday break!

The highlight of your visit will be New Zealand’s highest peak — Aoraki Mount Cook — standing at 3,754m above the 27 other peaks in the Southern Alps. Experience a guided walk on the 27km Tasman Glacier, or take in the beauty of the glacier from the air and if you’re really lucky, experience a glacier landing. This is not for the faint hearted!

With so many things to see and do in Christchurch and Canterbury, your only worry will be finding the time to fit everything in!

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Holiday travel- Mauritius, Paradise on Earth

Mauritius is famous throughout the world for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, golf courses, fishing and as the perfect venue for weddings and holidays. IF there is heaven on Earth, Mauritius fits the bill. It is an oasis of peace and tranquility where you will enjoy a multitude of colours and tastes while treating yourself to the finest food, music and miles of turquoise sea.

You will be assured of warm personal attention wherever you go on this gem of an island, situated in the Indian Ocean, 2,400km off the southeast coast of Africa. The island, of volcanic origin, is mostly surrounded by coral reefs.

Here, time stands still as you put yourselves in the hands of experts who will work magic in bringing you to another level of peace and relaxation.

There is never a dull moment as there is plenty for you to do — from deep sea fishing, golfing, shopping, deer hunting, land and sea safari, sightseeing to visiting historical sites, extinct volcanic craters and the unique seven-coloured earth in Charmarel.

If you love fishing, you will find the oceans filled with various species, including marlins, wahoo, sailfish, yellow fin tuna and dorado.

With ocean depths of more than 70 metres, Mauritius has hosted prestigious fishing competitions like the Marlin World Cup in December.

For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, you must make it a point to visit the enchanting spas on the island. The island offers an assortment of wedding and honeymoon packages. Couples do not have to lift a finger as experts help them to organise every detail of the wedding ceremony. They can spend their special moments under the blue skies or have an intimate, private occasion indoors.

If golfing makes your vacation perfect, then prepare to tee off in an absolutely stunning setting at the Le Paradis at Le Morne, the two 18-hole golf courses at Belle Mare Plage hotel, the One&Only Le Touessrok Golf Course or the Chateau du Golf at Bel Ombre.

The most spectacular is probably the One&Only Le Touessrok Golf Course which is located on its very own tropical island at Iles aux Cerfs, fringed by white sands with a backdrop of green mountains. All the 18-hole golf courses have views of the ocean, while there are nine lakes in all, with a number of holes requiring tee shots across sea inlets to the fairways.

For shopping, check out “tourists only” duty-free shops where passports and air tickets must be shown. Here, prices are very reasonable and you can get a variety of items, including models of old ships, textiles, branded shirts, trousers, suits and dresses and diamonds from Africa set in Mauritius.

Basketwork, embroidery, pottery and recycled glass are also available. Have some space in your baggage for chillies and other types of spices and pickles and the famous Mauritian Vanilla Tea.

Having good food and wine is a must, too. Among the popular restaurants are the La Bonne Marmit, Black Steer and Le Cafe Du Vieux Conseil in Port Louis.

Other favourite spots on the island include the Grand Bay which is a shopping and leisure paradise where you can experience the undersea walk and get onboard the Blue Safari Submarine. Mauritians head for the Grand Bay when they want a fun-filled night out at restaurants, bars and discos.

The wonderful Pereybere public beach is also popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs, while other hot spots include the Balaclava Ruins.

The Triolet Shivala, which is the longest village on the island, and the Pamplemousses Gardens are where you can discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees and colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Apart from being a world-renowned leisure destination for the rich and famous, Mauritius is fast becoming an important business hub in the Indian Ocean and a gateway to Africa and Europe.

Hotels on the island include the Movenpick Resort and Spa, Hilton Mauritius, Le Merville Beach Hotel, The Residence, Legends, Sugar Beach, Le Coco Beach, The Indian Resort, La Plantation, The Veranda Hotel and Beau Rivage. All hotels and resorts offer free water sports facilities, except for motorised sports.

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Holiday Travel - MACAU Tiny colony big in history

MACAU, the tiny former Portuguese colony is big in tourist attractions. Within a short distance, you can see unique East meets West architectural heritage spanning more than 400 years. The region is the oldest, largest and best preserved historical centre of both Eastern and Western architecture in China today. Macau is located on the southeast coast of China to the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. Bordering on Guangdong Province, it is 60km from Hong Kong and 145km from the city of Guangzhou.

Taoist temples from the Ming Dynasty stand near Baroque churches from the 18th century. Then, there are hilltop fortresses from the 17th century, classic China Coast shophouses, the oldest European theatres in Asia and the first Western-style lighthouse as well as colonial palaces and Chinese courtyards.

Place of A Ma

The Historical Centre of Macau is an urban area centred around the old city with eight squares: Barra, Lilau, St Augustine, Senado, Cathedral, St Dominic, Company of Jesus and Camoes. There are also 22 historical buildings, including the A-Ma Temple, the Moorish Barracks and St Lawrence’s Church. The list includes not only China’s oldest surviving church and fortress but also residences of wealthy merchants of the Qing Dynasty.

Macau in the old days was known as Ou Mun, or “trading gate”, because of its location at the mouth of the Pearl River downstream from Guangzhou (Canton). During ancient times, the port city was part of the Silk Road with ships loading here with silk for Rome.

Guangzhou prospered from seaborne business and it welcomed merchants from all over, including Portuguese merchant explorers who reached Ou Mun in the 1550s. The locals then also referred to Ou Mun as A Ma Gao, which means “place of A Ma”, in honour of the Goddess of Seafarers, whose temple stood at the entrance to the sheltered inner harbour. The Portuguese adopted the name A Ma Gao, which was gradually changed to Macau with the permission of Guangdong’s mandarins.

Tourist Attractions

In December 1999, Macau became the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It has over the years developed industries making textiles, electronics and toys, as well as building up a world-class tourist industry with a wide choice of hotels, resorts, sports facilities, restaurants and casinos.

Other than appreciating its heritage, tourists to Macau can go on a culinary journey to sample unique Macanese dishes — a result of the combination of Chinese specialties with influences from other parts of the world — as well as Portuguese, Japanese, African and other cuisine. There are also trails for outdoor adventure and numerous entertainment and recreational attractions.

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Holiday Travel -Explore New Zealand on wheels

ONE of the best ways to experience New Zealand is by driving around. It is easy and you get to enjoy breathtaking landscapes at your leisure. You also get to stop and take as many pictures as you like, enjoy a picnic or stay longer at places you wish to explore.

New Zealand’s touring routes are generally of a high standard. All roads, including those in rural locations, are signposted. Just remember to drive on the left side of the road!

Auckland – 30 Minutes To Anywhere. Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands.

Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping, and you’re beginning to get a picture of how Auckland is like. In just 30 minutes, you can be almost anywhere... sailing to an island, trekking through a rainforest, picnicking on a volcano, sampling wines at a vineyard or wandering on a wild, black sand surf beach.

Auckland is on four touring routes — Twin Coast Discovery, Pacific Coast Highway, Thermal Explorer and the Great New Zealand Touring Route.
Spirit Of The Earth In Rotorua -To get to Rotorua, you can rent a car from Auckland’s international airport (three hours’ drive). Advance vehicle rental booking is strongly suggested. Other transportation alternatives are domestic flights and by bus.

Rotorua is the spiritual home to the Maori of Te Arawa. Here you will experience Earth’s natural forces, bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and hot water beaches.

Many of the district’s attractions are based around Rotorua’s two greatest assets: geothermal activity and lakes. Just minutes from the city centre, you’ll see geysers of hissing, steaming, scalding water roar from deep within the Earth’s crust and hurl spray 100ft into the air. Pools of bubbling mud pop and belch like pots of porridge.

Rotorua’s awesome natural setting provides thrills and adventure that will take you right to the brink. Here, you can run, slip or slide down the slope of an extinct volcano. Race along huge tracks down a mountainside or take a more scenic route.

Throw yourself from bungy towers, Rotorua style. Hurl yourself down white water rapids by raft or sledge, and try out the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the southern hemisphere.

Must Stops
  • Rainbow Springs Nature Park with lush native plants and trees.
  • Kiwi Encounter hatchery and nursery. When kiwis are mature enough, they are returned to the wild in the areas they came from.
  • The Agrodome sheep and cattle farm offers you the chance to experience farming and get close to sheep, goats and cattle. Don’t miss the world famous Sheep Show.
  • The Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is the most colourful and diverse geothermal experience in New Zealand. Unique features include naturally coloured hot and cold pools, the world-famous Champagne Pool that occupies a wide explosion crater, bubbling mud, steaming ground, expansive vistas, huge volcanic craters and sinter terrace formations. The Lady Knox Geyser erupts daily at 10.15am.
  • Hells Gate is Rotorua’s fiercest thermal area and largest active mud volcano. See boiling whirlpool, largest hot waterfalls in southern hemisphere, naturally hot mineral foot pools, water and steam vent geysers, hot spraying pools and more.
  • Polynesia Spa is recognised by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller’s magazine (2004-2007) as one of the top 10 Medical/Thermal Spas in the world. Choose from its 26 mineral bathing pools and an extensive range of spa therapies.
New Zealand has four seasons: autumn 10oC from March to May; winter 9oC from June to August; spring 12oC from September to November; and summer 14oC from December to February.

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Holiday Travel - Wild side Down Under-South Australia

If you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors, then South Australia is where you want to go for your next vacation

YOU’VE not really seen the great outdoors until you’ve been to South Australia. From the botanic gardens in Adelaide to the national parks and forests throughout the territory, South Australia is one of the few places where you can swim with wild sea lions and dolphins and see native wildlife in its natural habitat. Here are few ideas on where to experience the best of nature and wildlife encounters in South Australia, all within an hour’s drive from the city.

IN THE CITY: The wildlife experience starts right in the heart of the city at the Adelaide Zoo by the River Torrens. Just 15 minutes from there is Beachside Glenelg, home to bottlenose dolphins.
ADELAIDE HILLS: In 20 minutes, you can be in the bushland of the Adelaide Hills, cuddling koalas and feeding kangaroos in Cleland Wildlife Park, or taking a tour of Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary.
FLEURIEU PENINSULA: Go bird-watching on a Coorong cruise, catch a glimpse of the fairy penguin parade every night on Granite Island and don’t miss the Nocturnal House in Urimbirra Wildlife Park, where you can see some of Australia’s interesting night creatures at feed and play. From May to Oct, visit the SA Whale Centre to see Southern Right Whales.
KANGAROO ISLAND: Roam with 600 sea lions on Seal Bay, Watch New Zealand fur seals basking at Admirals Arch. View the feeding of pelicans daily at Kingscote Wharf, pose for photos against Remarkable Rocks and surf the sand dunes of Little Sahara. Swim with dolphins up close and visit a seal colony. Observe seabirds at work and marine creatures like the Leafy Sea Dragon in their natural environment. Try snorkelling or take a walk on a remote beach or just sit back and relax.

OUTBACK: Discover Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world which produces most of the world’s opals. Many people there live underground to escape high summer temperatures in summer. There is an underground church, underground hotels and a golf course without a blade of grass. Go on a tour of underground homes and opal mines, an art gallery and potteries. Nearby, discover great landscapes like the Breakaways, Moon Plains and the longest fence in the world – the 5,300 kilometre Dog Fence that was built to protect sheep from the dingo, Australia’s native dog.

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