Domestic Travel

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A day on the TranzAlpine

<p><em>Justine Tyerman survives a tornado on the TranzAlpine ...  </em></p> <p>The excitement was at fever pitch as the passengers filed into the spacious carriages of the TranzAlpine train and found their seats beside the huge panoramic windows. On the dot of 8.15am on a bright, cloudless, spring morning, the train glided smoothly out of the station.</p> <p>The twin diesel locomotives pulling the 10 or so carriages quickly gathered speed as we whizzed through suburban and industrial Christchurch at the start of our five-hour journey from the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of the South Island to the West Coast town of Greymouth on the Tasman Sea. </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821376/the-diesel-locomotive-one-of-two-that-pull-the-tranzalpine.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/0b27eb4ddbc4431c8b1b75f7ae69ec34" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The diesel locomotive, one of two, that pull the TranzAlpine.</em></p> <p>Most of the passengers were contented to sit in their comfortable seats watching the ever-changing landscape flicker by but I joined a handful of hardy, puffer-jacket-clad photographers who braved the blustery, dusty and decidedly chilly conditions in the open-air observation car at the rear of the train.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821375/open-air-viewing-carriage.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8ac591c42fb54b13bfc28f2f49b40f5b" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Justine wearing many layers in the open-air viewing carriage.</em></p> <p>The lack of windows certainly enabled photos to be taken without the impediment of reflective glass but the constant rocking and rolling motion resulted in more than a few blurry shots and random views of my boots and the ceiling. Navigating my way around a forest of selfie sticks without being clonked on the head was another challenge. </p> <p>A veteran of many train trips overseas, this was my first such journey in New Zealand and as one of the few Kiwis onboard, I felt inordinately proud of my own land. </p> <p>The grass on the Canterbury Plains seemed greener than ever and the lambs even more frolicksome. There were squeals of delight as foals, calves, alpacas and fawns came briefly into view looking impossibly cute in paddocks alongside the train. Were they placed there deliberately to enchant the passengers? If so, it worked.</p> <p>Giant irrigation lines, some up to a kilometre long, stood ready to pour water onto the pastures as soon as the summer heat set in.</p> <p>The Main Divide was visible in the distance, a seemingly impenetrable fortress of mountains. We’ve travelled to the West Coast via Arthur’s Pass by road a number of times, but after the rural town of Springfield, the TranzAlpine took a completely different route, leaving me feeling quite disorientated.</p> <p>As the train approached the foothills of the Southern Alps, the stunning aqua-turquoise Waimakariri River came into view to a chorus of ‘wows’ and a frantic scramble for cameras by the overseas passengers.</p> <p>The train climbed high above the Waimakariri, crossing the river on steel girder viaducts so high I felt dizzy looking down into the gorge. There are 15 short tunnels and four viaducts, including the 72-metre-high Staircase Viaduct, as the TranzAlpine ascends the Torlesse Range</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821379/waimakariri-river.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e34def7056e541e1a4e8389c4a308e79" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Waimakariri River far below as the train crosses a viaduct.</em></p> <p>The landscape changed again as the train wound its way along the broad upland plains of Craigieburn where the braids of the Waimakariri spread across a wide silver shingle river bed. The alps, so distant at the start, were now almost close enough to touch.</p> <p>The black-green forested lower reaches of the mountains were a startling contrast to the snowy white peaks and pinnacles above. Lake Pearson sparkled in the spring sunshine and the golden tussocks, tossed by the breeze as the train sped by, were vibrant and glossy. The summit of Mt Bisner looked as though it had been freshly iced, the snow cover was so deep and smooth.</p> <p>I’d like to have leapt off the train to watch as it crossed the iconic, often-photographed long, low bridge over the glacier-fed Waimakariri, heading towards Arthur’s Pass. It’s such a dramatic sight as it spans the river against the spectacular backdrop of the alps.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821373/arthurs-pass.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/4098f785d5474ae0bcd26a369a4390d1" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Stunning mountain scenery as the train approaches Arthur's Pass.</em></p> <p>The TranzAlpine stops briefly at the village of Arthur’s Pass (740m above sea level), a popular hub for serious climbers, hikers, snow sports enthusiasts and nature-lovers. Last time I visited, it was snowing heavily, and the mountain tops were shrouded in mist but on this occasion, the little settlement was basking in the warm sunshine under a cloudless, blue sky.</p> <p>A handful of fit-looking trampers disembarked at the pass, laden with heavy packs and climbing boots, no doubt heading into the mountainous national park to engage in rugged outdoor activities. I was sorely tempted to join them.</p> <p>The hiking and climbing trails there are epic. There’s also a backcountry ski field nearby, Temple Basin, where I skied in my younger days. The field is largely unchanged today with ungroomed slopes, three rope tows and a cosy lodge.</p> <p>The timely appearance of a couple of kea, New Zealand’s comical alpine parrot, created a frenzy of selfie sticks among the overseas passengers. Little did they know how mischievous these entertaining birds can be. Many a sandwich has been tweaked out of my hand by a sly kea. They’re also particularly partial to the rubber on windscreen wipers and ski racks.</p> <p>The next phase of the trip took us through the 8.5km Otira Tunnel under the Southern Alps, the backbone of the South Island. The tunnel, completed in 1923, was the final stage of the TranzAlpine railway which began in the 1880s. When it opened, it was the longest rail tunnel in the British Empire and one of the longest in the world.</p> <p>The outdoor viewing carriage and café car were closed as a safety precaution as the train slowly descended from the pass at a steep gradient of 1:33. I wish I’d made it to the café beforehand because the tunnel was the only time during the five-hour trip that I could prise my eyes away from the stunning scenery.</p> <p>Emerging from darkness into light, we found ourselves in a different world. The West Coast never fails to intrigue with its misty rainforests and snow-capped mountains. The train travelled alongside the Otira, Taramakau, Arnold and Grey Rivers as we made our way towards the Tasman Sea, trundling through towns with colourful pasts that sprang up overnight in the gold rush of the 1860s, and other settlements associated with timber milling, coal mining, the Cobb and Co stagecoach and the construction of the road, railway and tunnel.</p> <p>As we passed through Otira, population 45, I happened to be taking a rare break from the viewing car, sitting in my luxurious seat listening to the excellent commentary. Former railway-workers’ houses were lined up neatly along the roadside. They were a hardy lot to live and work in a region with five metres of rain a year and only a few hours of sunshine in the winter.</p> <p>I chuckled as I heard about the ingenious way the local policeman dealt with thefts of coal from the railyards at Otira. He devised small explosives, painted them black, hid them among the coal bins at the station, and when a chimney blew up, he went to the house and arrested the culprits, no doubt caught black-handed.</p> <p>That was the only disadvantage of the perfect weather. I missed 95 percent of the commentary because I was outside in the viewing car most of the time.</p> <p>We skirted lovely Lake Brunner, tranquil and sombre under the slate sky, and the village of Moana with its quaint Kiwi baches. The previous summer we had camped there and spotted the rare whio or blue duck in a tributary. The fishing and walking trails are outstanding, well worth a stopover. You can catch the TranzAlpine on to Greymouth or back to Christchurch the next day … or whenever you are ready.</p> <p>The terrain opens out from Lake Brunner and after a sharp left turn at Stillwater, the train travels along the Grey River into Greymouth … just in time for the lunch I missed while ogling the scenery.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821378/the-tranzalpine-at-greymouth-railway-station.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3479a08c4e88490294860dedbd919226" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The TranzAlpine at Greymouth Railway Station.</em></p> <p>Far from grey, the West Coast’s largest city was bathed in sunshine so after a quick snack and a cool beer at the historic Speight’s Ale House, I strolled along the river bank walkway making mental notes of future hikes and bike trips. I stopped at a beautiful riverside memorial to pay tribute to the coal miners who have lost their lives in a series of disasters in the region: 1896, Brunner mine, 65 dead; 1926, Dobson mine, nine dead; 1967, Strongman mine, 19 dead; 2010, Pike River mine, 29 dead. I vividly remember the Pike River tragedy which is still fresh in the minds of all West Coasters.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7821377/the-memorial-at-greymouth-to-the-coal-miners-who-lost-their-lives-in-mines-on-the-west-coast.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b416da7e6e784df5852bb52897a42098" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The memorial at Greymouth to the coal miners who lost their lives in mines on the West Coast.</em></p> <p>A plaque near the train station tells the story of the 1864 goldrush which attracted 29,000 miners to the region and saw three million ounces of gold extracted.</p> <p>The text also reminds New Zealanders:</p> <p><em>“Our gold financed this country’s growth. Westland’s coal fired the furnaces that industrialised New Zealand and our timber helped build the nation.”</em></p> <p>Greymouth is an ideal place to purchase pounamu, also known as New Zealand jade or greenstone. Found in many places on the West Coast, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site known in Maori as <span>Te </span><em>Wahipounamu, the Place of Greenstone, it is t</em>reasured for its spiritual significance, strength, durability and beauty.</p> <p>Most of my fellow passengers headed off to explore the magnificent West Coast glaciers and beaches while I reboarded the TranzAlpine an hour later for what I expected to be a slightly more relaxed return trip seated in my comfy armchair.</p> <p>But the landscape, transformed by the long shadows of late afternoon and a dazzling sunset in the evening, demanded that I return to the viewing car for another blustery episode, dashing from one side to the other to get the best views. But this time I was almost alone, thanks to the near-zero wind chill.</p> <p>And I did find time for a pinot noir with tasty lamb shanks for dinner.</p> <p>My husband, who met me at the station, expressed surprise at my red cheeks, dishevelled appearance, double puffer jackets, gloves and woolly hat, assuming I’d spent the day in the lap of luxury sipping bubbly and dining on fine food while languidly gazing at the scenery through the panoramic windows.</p> <p>“You look like you’ve been in a tornado,” he said.</p> <p>“Yes, nine or 10 hours standing in an outside carriage of a train travelling at around 100km per hour can have that effect,” I replied.</p> <p>“No seats left inside then?” he asked.</p> <p>“Plenty … comfy, warm, luxurious, big panoramic windows, great commentary.”</p> <p>He just shook his head …</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of Rail Plus international rail specialists, and Great Journeys of New Zealand.</em><em> </em></p> <p><strong>FACTBOX:</strong></p> <ul> <ul> <li><em>The TranzAlpine scenic train trip is a daily return service in New Zealand’s South Island between Christchurch on the East Coast and Greymouth on the West Coast, or vice versa, covering a distance of 223 kilometres in just under five hours.</em></li> <li><em>Visit <span><a href="https://www.railplus.co.nz/new-zealand-by-rail/tranzalpine/prices-book.htm">www.railplus.co.nz/new-zealand-by-rail/tranzalpine/prices-book.htm</a></span></em></li> <li><em>for more information on this and other epic train adventures around the world, or phone 09 377 5420</em></li> <li><em>A veteran of many rail journeys organised through Rail Plus, I’ve also travelled on the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/what-it-s-like-travelling-across-australia-on-board-the-indian-pacific">Indian Pacific</a>; the <a href="http://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/on-the-unesco-world-heritage-bernina-express-from-switzerland-to-italy">Bernina Express</a>, the Golden Pass and Jungfraujoch.</em></li> <li><em>Rail Plus has a </em><span>dedicated</span><em> team of experts to advise you on Great Train Journeys all around the world including the famous Orient Express. </em></li> <li><em>The magnificent <a href="https://www.railplus.com.au/canada-by-rail/independent-packages/snow-train-to-the-rockies/prices-info.htm">Snow Train to the Rockies</a> is next on my list. </em></li> </ul> </ul> <p> </p>

Domestic Travel

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan touch down in Sydney

<p>The long-awaited moment is finally here as Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex have landed in Sydney for their Australian tour.</p> <p>The couple travelled with Australian airline Qantas instead of British Airways as previously predicted. The flight touched down around 7am at Sydney International Airport.</p> <p>Surrounded by security personnel and their entourage, the royals still found the time to give a smile in the direction of fans, media and countless waiting cameras.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7821329/capture.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c4fe2065a2364f0e899c2adcc19d18cd" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Photo credit: <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-15/prince-harry-meghan-royal-tour-begins-in-sydney/10376108"><em>ABC News</em></a></p> <p>Their large entourage is said to comprise of 10 staff members, a hairdresser and press secretaries.</p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/royals/prince-harry-and-meghan-arrive-in-sydney/news-story/23300d87611204a8c1772635a9ce45ea">news.com.au</a></em>, it is said that Meghan has invited her best friend and stylist, Jessica Mulroney, along with her husband Ben to help her with the styling of her outfits in an “unofficial” capacity.</p> <p>After leaving the airport, the Duke and Duchess made their way down to the Admiralty House in Kirribilli.</p> <p>The tour consists of visiting locations in Australia such as Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo and Fraser Island, while also visiting other countries that are a part of the Commonwealth, which includes Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.</p> <p>While they are here specifically for the Invictus Games, the royals will also take part in events surrounding mental health, farm visits and public picnics.</p> <p>Their official duties won’t start until tomorrow, giving them one day to wind down.</p> <p>The two will start off by spending time with the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife, Lady Cosgrove, where they will be joined by representatives from the Invictus Games. Afterwards, they plan to visit Taronga Zoo to meet two baby koalas.</p> <p>Heading to Dubbo in NSW on Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess want to “see first-hand the hardships local farmers are facing by visiting local property” and also want to take part in a public picnic.</p> <p>On Friday, eager fans will be able to catch Harry and Meghan at Bondi Beach in Sydney where they will be promoting the awareness of mental health. And afterwards they will be seen climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to raise the Invictus Games flag.</p> <p>They will also be visiting Melbourne and Cockatoo Island before departing for the South Pacific.</p>

Domestic Travel

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At the source of history: Dart River, Aspiring National Park

<p>My fingers traced the cool contours of the mauri pounamu touchstone. The massive chunk of pounamu (jade), centrepiece at the Dart River Jet visitor centre in Glenorchy, was alternately smooth and rough in texture.</p> <p>His name was Te Matua o Manatu meaning "precious reminder from the throat of the reclining giant, Te Koroka". He stood on a pathway where ancient Maori once trekked, searching for pounamu.</p> <p>Eight hundred years ago, Maori were the only people here – first the Waiaha tribe, then Ngati Mamoe and now Ngai Tahu. It was here that Maori first discovered the home of the pounamu giant, Te Koroka. High in the mountains, they found him resting with a seam of pounamu tumbling from his gaping mouth. The giant became famed throughout the whole country for his pounamu, treasured equally for its utility and its pearly allure.</p> <p>Trade, economy and culture were built around this precious resource. Then with the arrival of Europeans some 200 years ago, Maori lost their connection to Te Koroka. When the first European explorers encountered these shores, they too heard tales of the celebrated source of pounamu at the head of Lake Whakatipu-wai-maori (Lake Wakatipu.)</p> <p>Preserved in memory, song and oral tradition, the exact location was unclear until the pounamu taonga (treasure) was rediscovered on Pekerakitahi (Mt Earnslaw) in 1970. This sacred pristine source of pounamu is now fiercely protected by the Ngai Tahu tribe as the tangata whenua (people of the land), and the state. He is a lasting remnant of ages past, one that evokes the spirits of the ancestors, the first people to travel these ancient pounamu trails.</p> <p>The throb of the Hamilton jet engines in the distance disturbed my contemplation and brought me tumbling back to the present. We were about to set off on an expedition up the Te Awa Whakatipu (the Dart River), in Te Wahipounamu, a Unesco World Heritage Area. The day ahead would be richer armed with my knowledge of Te Koroka and Te Matua o Manatu.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">  <img src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/n/s/u/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Take a jet boat ride to the heart of the Mount Aspiring National Park." class="photoborder"/></p> <p align="center"><em>Take a jet boat ride to the heart of the Mount Aspiring National Park. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>After a quiet start to the day, the high-octane exhilaration of the jetboat ride set my heart pounding and pulse racing. I sat on the edge of my seat, enthralled as our jetboat driver Daniel took us ever deeper into the Aspiring National Park and the southern reaches of the Main Divide, weaving our way up strands of the braided river at the foot of tall mountains named after Greek gods - Pluto, Nox, Amphion, Chaos, Poseidon.</p> <p>The beautiful silvery face of Pekerakitahi was wet with tears of melting snow. My eyes searched the mountain and clear waters of the Dart, hoping for a glimpse of pounamu. I convinced myself I could see the elusive green stone.</p> <p>I was high on negative ions, intoxicated with the sweet taste of the air, the shock of the ice-cold spray whenever Daniel performed one of his heart-stopping 360s, the dazzling turquoise waters of the Rockburn Chasm where a giant's sword had sliced a deep gash in the side of a mountain, and the throaty roar of the twin Hamilton jet engines.</p> <p>Encircled by craggy peaks with gleaming glaciers and wispy waterfalls, I wanted to speed onwards to the head waters of the Dart but after 90 minutes of pure adrenalin, we were off-loaded on the side of the river with our Ultimate Nature Experience guide Pam. As the boats thundered away, disappearing in a plume of spray, I was momentarily stunned by the sudden silence and abrupt change of pace.</p> <p align="center"><img src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/d/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Take a Dart River Funyak through the Rockburn Chasm." class="photoborder"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Take a Dart River Funyak through the Rockburn Chasm. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>We followed Pam up a shingle bank and entered another world, a forest wilderness with no tracks or signposts. The bright sunlight, towering mountains and silver river were replaced by the tall, gaunt trees and diffuse, mottled light of the beech forest where the only sounds were bird calls, gurgling streams, and the muted footfall of boots on the spongy leaf-litter carpet. </p> <p>Pam knew the forest like the back of her hand, retracing the steps of early saw millers and prospectors. She led us along the route of a tramway built in the 1920s to transport logs out of the forest for the construction of bridges, buildings and car and bus bodies. A wheel and some rusty kerosene tins were all that remained of what was once a busy thoroughfare.</p> <p>We also came across the debris of a gelignite explosion where a hopeful prospector had blasted away a cliff face in the 1950s in hope of finding tungsten, the metallic element of scheelite, an ore in demand during both World Wars and the Korean War for its metal-hardening properties. His identity is a well-kept secret because there are family members still living at Glenorchy, Pam said.</p> <p>Our lunch venue was sublime. Sitting on a log in the warm winter sunshine, munching hearty sandwiches by the remote Sylvan Lake in the company of cheeky South Island robins as far superior to any fancy gourmet cafe.</p> <p align="center"><img src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="A South Island robin stops by our lunch spot at Lake Sylvan." class="photoborder"/></p> <p align="center"><em>A South Island robin stops by our lunch spot at Lake Sylvan. Image credit: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>It was a day of extreme contrasts – the mauri pounamu touchstone grounded me in history. Daniel and his twin Hamiltons administered a hefty shot of adrenalin while the majestic glacier-gouged mountains enthralled me. The peace and solitude of the beech forest soothed me and the simple picnic lunch beside a pristine alpine lake delighted me.</p> <p>Late afternoon, Pam drove us back along the magnificent 46km lakeside road to Queenstown, rated one of the top ten scenic drives in the world by Conde Naste and Lonely Planet.</p> <p>The mountains were under a cloud shroud when we drove to Glenorchy early in the morning but they were dazzlingly clear on our return trip. Tourists on the road that day got a bonus – there were two of everything, mountains upright in their usual position and upside down in the looking-glass lake. It made my Kiwi heart soar with pride.</p> <p align="center"><img src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/9/j/m/0/f/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.19jhxq.png/1454620665260.jpg" alt="Sunshine peaks through as we make our way along an avenue of native red beech trees." class="photoborder"/></p> <p align="center"><em>Sunshine peaks through as we make our way along an avenue of native red beech trees. Image credit: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p><strong>Fact box:</strong></p> <p><em>Getting there: Air New Zealand</em></p> <p><em>Staying there: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz/" target="_blank">crowneplazaqueenstown</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>* Dart River Jet, the only operator on the Dart River, and Guided Walks New Zealand, the only company permitted access to the Ultimate Nature Experience wilderness area, are both owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism. </em></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><em>* The Ultimate Nature Experience is a flexible 4 to 7km easy to moderate hike on unformed trails. Transport departs from Queenstown at 8am with pick-ups from all Queenstown accommodation.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Ngai Tahu Tourism. </em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stuff.co.nz</strong></span>.</a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Men in high heels: Tramping The Remarkables

<p>My husband has never worn high heels before. He's always been extremely scathing about such silly footwear but on this occasion he thought they were practical and even enhanced his performance. Besides, the other two burly men in our party had donned high heels too so he would have felt left out without them. </p> <p>We were hiking uphill with snowshoes strapped to our tramping boots. Our feet were at a 90-degree angle to the slope thanks to a clever device which lifted the heels of our boots off the frame to the height of a reasonable stiletto.</p> <p>However, there was no mincing or prancing along in these high heels – the technique required a firm, deliberate stride engaging the rows of metal spikes on the soles into the hard-packed snow on the Remarkables. </p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/b/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="Lunch was simple but delicious." width="600" height="NaN" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Lunch was simple but delicious. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>The snowshoes were lightweight, high-tech models, much more streamlined than the cumbersome ones we had experimented with in Europe earlier in the year.</p> <p>The spikes ensured there was no slippage and with the addition of two height-adjustable walking poles, I felt entirely secure even negotiating quite steep slopes. A quick flick of the cleat engaged the high heel and saved our leg muscles.</p> <p>"Your calves will thank you for it later," said our guide, Shaun, who was practically sprinting up the slope despite carrying a full pack with lunch and snacks for our party of five,  along with a spade and other emergency equipment.Once into the rhythm of the snowshoes, which took all of 20 seconds to master, I forgot about them. It was just like ordinary hiking but with a footprint the size of Sasquatch. </p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/f/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="The secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>The secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>With every step the sound of the chairlifts, skiers and snowboarders faded and the grandeur of the mountainscape and the Wakatipu Basin unfolded. In a region where even superlatives fall woefully short, it's one of the most awe-inspiring of panoramas.</p> <p>Once we reached the remote, high-altitude Lake Alta cirque, the silence was sublime. The dead flat, smooth surface of the snow was the only indication there was a lake there at all. Shaun got out his spade and dug down through half a metre of snow to prove it . . . and to reassure us the ice was safe to walk on. With visions of cracking ice and plunging into frozen water, I had a strong urge to skirt around the lake edge but Shaun was one of those veteran outdoor Kiwi blokes who inspired total confidence. Still, I felt like a brave intrepid explorer setting off after him into the white wilderness. I expected to see wolves appear at any minute from behind the rocks.</p> <p>Our lunch spot was a rocky promontory just below the jagged jet black sawteeth of the Remarkables range, the reverse side of the iconic view you can see from Queenstown.</p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/k/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="'High heels' engaged, heading straight uphill on the Remarkables." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>'High heels' engaged, heading straight uphill on the Remarkables. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>Bathed in winter sunshine, we looked down on our tracks across the frozen teardrop lake as we munched on huge wedges of pumpkin bread sandwiches stuffed with chicken, brie, salad and relish. Simple fare but delicious.The only sounds were the whoops of exhilaration from an occasional extreme skier or snowboarder plummeting down the narrow chutes above us. And the squawks of the kea, the cheeky mountain parrot with its lethal hooked beak and vivid red plumage on the underside of the wings. </p> <p>One of our Aussie companions was a bright spark marketing man. As we chatted over lunch, he decided snowshoeing was a clumsy term so he came up with sniking - snow hiking – with a nod to Nike as a company that might like to rebrand the sport. My contribution was shnoeing. Not quite as marketable.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/8/4/d/z/e/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.183tm8.png/1447969994454.jpg" alt="The view from a lookout on the Remarkables." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>The view from a lookout on the Remarkables. Image credit: Nigel Kerr</em></p> <p>On the way down the mountain, we visited a secret snow cave where groups take shelter when the weather turns nasty or have lunch if it's too cold outside. Dug out under a huge jutting rock, it would hold eight to 10 people in cosy comfort. </p> <p>Shaun tailors the degree of difficulty of the expedition to suit the fitness of the group with some overseas visitors opting for a short play around in the snow and a photo opportunity and others climbing as far as the South Wye Saddle at 1950 metres.</p> <p>Ours was a serious workout. We covered about 6-8km with a climb of 300-400m  reaching an elevation of 1900m at the Grand Couloir, a gully between Double and Single Cone, the latter being the highest point on the Remarkables Range at 2319m.</p> <p>The snowshoe concept appealed to the greenie in me. In a tourist town famous for its expensive, high-octane adventures, it's the ultimate accessible low-risk activity. Apart from the 35-minute van trip from Queenstown, there is no artificial means of propulsion. And you don't have to be a finely-tuned athlete or even particularly well co-ordinated to master the technique. The prerequisites are two functioning legs with feet attached, mild to moderate fitness depending on the steepness of the gradient you opt for, and the taste for a gentle, scenic adventure in the Great Outdoors.</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of Ngai Tahu Tourism who own NZ Snowshoe. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.ngaitahutourism.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.ngaitahutourism.co.nz</a></strong></span>; <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.snowshoeing.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.snowshoeing.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><em>The writer flew Air NZ from Auckland to Queenstown return. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.airnewzealand.co.nz</a></strong></span>  and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queenstown <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.crowneplazaqueenstown.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why Fiordland National Park is a must-visit

<p>I've always been a bit of a greenie but a recent wilderness experience in Fiordland National Park transformed me from a wishy-washy pale granny smith to a radiant evangelical emerald.</p> <p>I have tramped in many a New Zealand native forest, always appreciating the beauty and serenity of the pristine environment but oblivious to the genius of my surroundings, the intelligence of nature.</p> <p>However last month we had the benefit of a wilderness guide on the Hollyford Track whose knowledge of things green — and many other things — was encyclopaedic.</p> <p>It was a subtle change rather than a Road-to-Damascus epiphany-type moment and I only became aware of it when I next set foot in a forest and began to wax eloquent about the tiny umbrella moss that carpets the floor of the forest.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978275/363/11962363.jpg"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Even the little umbrella moss has an important role to play. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>My friends of many years looked bemused as I knelt on the squidgy, damp ground and began caressing the bright green moss, talking reverently about the clever little plant whose job it is to protect the forest floor.</p> <p>They rolled their eyes and carried on hiking as I took close-up photos of my diminutive friends, remembering how I came across our Hollyford guide Graeme Scott in a similar pose, apparently worshipping small green plants at the foot of a tree in deepest Fiordland. </p> <p>This was his favourite part of the track, he said, a place where his "two best friends" reside — a pair of ferns that have adapted perfectly to their environment.</p> <p>I found myself entranced by the delicate filmy fern with its translucent fronds and the ingenious kidney fern which cups and tilts its "leaves" to channel rain water to its root system.</p> <p>Our guide's passion was so infectious, I developed a new reverence for "plant intelligence"... and so the process of my viridescence began.</p> <p>I loved Graeme's analogy of the forest being constructed like a house with all the components designed to make a comfy, safe environment for its inhabitants.</p> <p>Ancient large conifers provide the roof or canopy to protect against rain and wind erosion, beneath which are kamahi that further disperse the rain, then a layer of tree ferns, followed by shrubs like pittosporum, coprosma and ground ferns, and finally mosses which form the carpet, binding the ground together.</p> <p>These are the "furnishings of the forest". Each plant has an intelligent way of protecting the layer beneath. Even the smallest component like the little umbrella moss has a part to play.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978129/301/11962301.jpg"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The protective layers of the native lowland temperate rain forest. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>When a tree falls over, fern life rushes to shelter the carpet. Everything works in synergy — maintaining balance.</p> <p>Fungi also have a special role, cleaning up dead trees, sucking the nutrients out of the limbs until they drop off. Early Maori used them as their "Little Lucifers", taking smouldering fungi in a basket from one campsite to the next.</p> <p>Later in the day I spotted a lancewood and found myself parroting on again about the juvenile and adult forms of the tree and how it had adapted to protect itself from the eating habits of the moa.</p> <p>I seemed to lack Graeme's gravitas and authority as my friends were highly sceptical at my pontifications, especially the link to a large flightless bird, extinct since the mid-1400s.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978387/384/11962384.jpg"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Guide Graeme Scott beside an ancient rimu tree. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>I ploughed on, talking to myself about this fascinating tree and the way it avoided predation — in the juvenile stage, the lancewood has long thin leaves like spiked sword blades which were inedible to the moa but it changes form radically in the mature stage, growing foliage when it is tall enough to be beyond the reach of its predator. In the Chathams where there were no moa, there is no juvenile form of the lancewood. That proved the theory as far as I was concerned.</p> <p>My male friends showed a flicker of interest when I remembered something about a certain part of the lancewood having Viagra-like properties. I just couldn't recall which bit. I'll have to ask the oracle.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978590/443/11962443.jpg"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The lancewood tree has Viagra-like properties. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>Anyway, somewhere deep in the Fiordland forest, the pieces all fell into place — the intelligence of nature, the interconnectedness of all living things and how man can easily destroy the delicate balance that exists between such species as the rimu and the flightless kakapo, our critically-endangered native parrot. </p> <p>The kakapo is only fertile when the rimu tree seeds which is once every three or four years, depending on the warmth of the spring. In order to thrive, the chicks need to eat a staggering number of rimu fruit per day and yet our rimu are still not fully protected. There are only 126 kakapo left. </p> <p>The matai and miro are totally dependent on the kereru or native wood pigeon to disperse the seeds of the large plum-shaped fruit. Meddle with one and you risk losing the other. I hugged the pitted trunk of a venerable 200-300 year-old matai to show my solidarity with her... or him. Such co-dependency is both enthralling and terrifying.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1433978748/454/11962454.jpg"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Mt Madeline in the Darran Mountain Range. Photo: Ngai Tahu Tourism</em></p> <p>We heard about the war being waged in our forests. I knew we had a possum problem in New Zealand but was flabbergasted to hear there are 44 million of them and they consume 25 thousand tons of vegetation per day. The bushtail possum loves nothing better than to feast on the leaves of the southern rata and once a third of the foliage is gone, the tree dies.</p> <p>It was not all serious stuff though. We met some cross-dressing ferns (males that wear long brown skirts), learned how to determine the sex of rimu trees, and visited a few avian pubs, leafy establishments frequented by kereru who topple off their perches after over-indulging on the intoxicating fruit of the miro. The fruit tastes like turpentine so there were no volunteers to sample them.</p> <p>Next day, when he thought no one was looking, I saw one of my track-mates scrutinising the sharp barbs on the leaves of a lancewood with a puzzled look on his face... he walked away, shaking his head, much as the moa might have done.</p> <p>Ahh, the intelligence of nature.</p> <p><strong>Factbox:</strong> The Hollyford Track is an easy-paced, three-day/two-night all-inclusive guided wilderness experience from the mountains to the sea, along the glacier-hewn Hollyford Valley by foot, jet boat and finally helicopter to Milford Sound.</p> <p>The track is 56km long of which hikers walk 43km. The low-altitude, largely flat track begins 100km from Te Anau in beech and fern forest, descends to coastal podocarp forests and ends at the sand dunes of Martins Bay at the mouth of the valley.</p> <p>Expert guides, first-rate cuisine, comfortable private lodges, transport from Queenstown or Te Anau, day packs and rain jackets are included in the price.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Hikers carry a light pack with clothing and lunch on their first day and thereafter an even lighter day pack to hold wet weather gear and water.</p> <p>A maximum number of 16 guests provides for a personal experience.</p> <p><em>The author was a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.hollyfordtrack.com/" target="_blank">guest of Hollyford Track.</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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10 jaw-dropping pictures from Australia’s best drives

<p>With vast, expansive landscapes Australia is one of the best countries in the world to drive through. And many people would argue that driving is the best way to experience it!</p> <p>From the Great Ocean Road to the Indian Ocean Drive we’ve put together a series of pictures that represent the beauty of this sunburned country when travelling.</p> <p>To see the pictures, scroll through the gallery above. They correspond with the list below and provide an enthralling look at everything that’s beautiful about Australia.</p> <p><strong>1. The Great Ocean Road</strong> – One of the world’s most iconic drives, the Great Ocean Road takes you past the magical 12 Apostles, iconic beaches and gorgeous bushland.</p> <p><strong>2. Explorers Highway</strong> – The trip from Adelaide to Darwin is not for the faint of heart, but reveals the diversity of Australian scenery form the Barossa Valley to Alice Springs.</p> <p><strong>3. Pacific Coast Touring Route</strong> – This scenic drive from Sydney to Brisbane showcase the beauty of the Eastern states with sweeping beaches, sleepy villages and rainforests. </p> <p><strong>4. Red Centre Way</strong> – This drive through the heart of Australia’s spectacular red centre lets travellers experience ancient scenery, legendary gorges and red desert sands. </p> <p><strong>5. Indian Ocean Drive</strong> – Taking drivers on a captivating journey along Western Australia’s Coral Coast, this drive offers impossibly white beaches and salty fishing towns.</p> <p><strong>6. Gibb River Road</strong> – This challenging 660km dirt track runs through the wild heart of the Kimberley. The reward? Some of the most beautiful desert scenery in the world.</p> <p><strong>7. Trip to the Tip</strong> – Speaking to anyone with a sense of adventure, this road trip from Cairns to Cape York is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Australia’s north.</p> <p><strong>8. Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive</strong> – With a range of stopping points like Nowra, Eden and Phillip Island this drive encapsulates the benefits of taking a more scenic route.</p> <p><strong>9. Nature’s Way</strong> – There’s no better way to wine through the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park than this fully sealed road that showcase the Territory’s beauty.</p> <p><strong>10. Circle Tasmania</strong> – This circle of Australia’s southern-most state will leave you spellbound, from World-Heritage listed Cradle Mountain to Mount Field National Park.</p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><a href="/travel/domestic-travel/2016/04/what-to-do-tropical-north-queensland/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>8 things to do in Tropical North Queensland</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><a href="/travel/domestic-travel/2016/04/6-places-to-whale-watch-in-australia/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>6 places to go whale watching in Australia</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><a href="/travel/domestic-travel/2016/03/best-places-to-ski-in-new-south-wales/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>The best places to ski in New South Wales</strong></em></span></a></p>

Domestic Travel

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Freedom camping: Australia vs New Zealand

<p>Freedom campers in New Zealand may think they have it tough, but Tony Allsop reckons the Aussies have it even tougher.</p> <p>Born in Wellington in 1940, Allsop fell for the freedom camping lifestyle when he first moved to Australia at 19 and went on to carve out a career in writing and taking photos for caravan magazines on both sides of the ditch.</p> <p>Now retired and based in Queensland's Mackay, he still freedom camps regularly, but says the days of going walkabout (or driveabout) and expecting to be able to set up camp in a secluded spot in the wilds are long gone.</p> <p>"In New Zealand there are many free camping spots and councils even set up places for free campers. Here now, councils are making it illegal to camp unless you are completely self-sufficient, have holdings tanks for both grey and black water and there's a limit to how long you can stay."</p> <p>Many so-called free camping areas in Australia are now patrolled and have introduced fees "as the rubbish and toilet paper has become intolerable"</p> <p>"Rubbish left at sites is a big problem in Australia, whereas it was not so bad in New Zealand [on a recent trip]. Backpackers are often blamed in Australia and we have had some bad experiences here with them. Once, two of them high on drugs wanted to fight us at 1am."</p> <p>The costs associated with maintaining caravan parks have forced many to close or sell to developers, he said, pointing to the recent example of Discovery Parks buying the Top Parks brand. </p> <p>Allsop is a camper of the old-school variety, having spent his formative years travelling around the East Cape, Napier and other parts of the North Island with his camping-mad dad. He slept in an old army surplus pup tent alongside his parents' larger canvas one until the family upgraded to a comparatively flash plywood caravan with louvre windows when he was 10.  </p> <p>"Compared to these days it was all very primitive. Caravan parks just had toilets and showers - that was about all."</p> <p>On his first working holiday in Australia, he met three fellow Kiwis who were travelling around the country in an old Plymouth and even older Chrysler towing two caravans (old as well of course) and decided to join them. </p> <p>"Two of the guys had girlfriends travelling with them so I had to sleep in the Plymouth or cheap hotels."</p> <p>Despite the dodgy accommodation and poor state of state of the roads in Queensland at the time - most were dirt and some were little more than tracks - he was hooked. </p> <p>After two years back in Wellington, he moved to Brisbane permanently and married his girlfriend Denyse, a doctor who luckily happened to love camping just as much as he did. </p> <p>In 1974, the couple set off in their new two-door Ford Falcon on what was to become the first of several "round-Oz" trips. </p> <p>"We freedom camped a lot, sleeping in the car or beside it in sleeping bags on a deserted beach."</p> <p>They spent a year on the road, covering thousands of miles and picking up work whenever and wherever they needed it. </p> <p>"We met very little traffic and most roads were dirt. It was a real adventure in those days."</p> <p>While the couple now travel in relative luxury in a well-equipped modern caravan, they consider their second round-Oz trip in 1988  - in a 1986 Holden with a small off-road camper - as the greatest camping trip of their lives. </p> <p>"We stayed mainly off-road on this 10-month trip and saw very few people as caravans with all the ensuites, batteries and DC-DC chargers... We camped on wonderful isolated beaches, in national parks and the made the most of our small camper with no real amenities apart from those I put in ... We really felt like explorers as some places had seen no traffic for a long time."</p> <p>But while it might have been basic, their camper was still more or less self sufficient. Allsop had installed a battery under the seat - which they used to power two lights, one inside and one out - they used a black plastic bag left out in the sun as a shower and carried a gas stove, small fridge-freezer and port-a-loo. </p> <p>Returning home, the couple had an eight-year flirtation with boating before returning to their true love of caravanning. </p> <p>Allsop had begun freelancing for RV magazines when they set out on their third Australian tour in 2001, this time in a custom-built Roadstar caravan with low-power features which allowed them to stay off-road for a week without having to recharge their batteries. They had such a good time that they simply kept going - and going (they've only just settled down after 17 years of spending six months on the road). Denyse retired from medicine to help Allsop write, take photographs and shoot video and he says they "did very well". </p> <p>The couple enjoyed a mixture of freedom camping at staying at caravan parks. </p> <p>"Solitude, having a quiet beach or tropical forest to ourselves was wonderful and yet staying overnight sometimes in a van park was also good. The happy hours, community barbecues and companionship of other campers was very welcome in some van parks."</p> <p>These days, however, Allsop finds himself whether freedom camping in Australia has changed irrevocably - for the worse. </p> <p>The couple have had several bad experiences in freedom campsites near towns where "youths have run rampant on drugs and alcohol.</p> <p>"Nowadays we always make sure there are other campers there and try to get an off-road site by about midday, as they tend to become full in Australia by around 2pm."</p> <p>Some popular sites are crowded with more than 200 vehicles during high season and they are usually packed in like proverbial sardines.</p> <p>"You are parked as close as or closer to your neighbour than in a van park and on a dusty site. You also have no control over noisy neighbours. Apart from the cost, is it worth it?"</p> <p>Have you been freedom camping?</p> <p><em>Written by Lorna Thornber. First appeared on <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Te Ariki Nui: A luxury lodge in the remote wilderness of New Zealand’s Wanaka

<p><em>Justine Tyerman comes across a 'talking landscape' on the outskirts of Wanaka in the South Island of New Zealand </em></p> <p>I’ve made the pilgrimage to Wanaka hundreds of times since the days of my youth and we’ve always stayed within sight of the lake.</p> <p>The panorama of Lake Wanaka is without doubt magnificent but it’s a busy, bossy view which demands to be looked at all the time – jet boats, para-gliders, water skiers, kayakers, rowers and swimmers. The lake is seldom quiet and even when it is, it exerts a magnetic force that compels one to watch it. Hours can be lost just gazing at its changing moods from satin smooth to grey and stormy.</p> <p>But on this occasion, we needed a quiet hideaway to prepare for a family wedding, a place far enough away from the lake and the township to ensure privacy and deter well-meaning friends from ‘just popping in’. </p> <p>On the outskirts of town, we found Te Ariki Nui, an idyllic, peaceful rural retreat surrounded by the wild and rugged Central Otago landscape I’ve loved since my childhood days. Mountain ranges gouged by ancient glaciers, tussocks flattened by the wind and the snow, sweet-smelling pastel-hued lupins growing wild along the roadsides, sun-ripened sweet apricots and tart green gooseberries, lizards basking on the warm schist rocks, the shimmering dry heat of the Central Otago sun,  pink sunrises and golden sunsets, the long dark shadows cast by the late afternoon sun . . .</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Te-ariki-nui-wanaka-landscape.jpg" alt="Te Ariki Nui Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14499 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Te Ariki Nui sits light and low on the landscape, recessed into a shallow gully.</em></p> <p>We were only 10 minutes from Wanaka but Te Ariki Nui felt like a luxury lodge in a remote wilderness. Apart from invited guests, we saw no other human beings. Our only neighbours were the sociable alpacas in the paddock next door and a large family of bobtail rabbits. </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/wanaka-alpacas.jpg" alt="Alpacas in Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14502 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The alpacas feeling the chill after a mid-summer snow storm.</em></p> <p>Te Ariki Nui exceeded all our expectations. Designed by award-winning architect Paul Clarke and runner-up in the 2005 New Zealand Home &amp; Entertaining Home of the Year Award,it is the Wanaka home of New Zealand fashion icon Robyn Hall.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Te-ariki-nui-wanaka-hollow.jpg" alt="Te Ariki Nui Wanaka New Zealand, photo by Simon Darby" class="size-full wp-image-14498 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Te Ariki Nui is nestled in a hollow surrounded by 4 hectares of land on the outskirts of Wanaka.</em><br /><em> Image credit: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.wanakaphotography.co.nz/" target="_blank">Simon Darby Photography</a></strong></span></em></p> <p>The long, low concrete, glass and timber house sits quietly in its surroundings, allowing the landscape to take centre stage.</p> <p>I loved the simple, clean lines of the house – the dull sheen of the natural polished concrete floors, the warm glow of the tall beech doors and cabinetry against a predominantly white palette, the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and the minimal adornment.</p> <p>“The landscape does the talking,” as Hall says.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/te-ariki-nui-interior.jpg" alt="Te Ariki Nui Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14489 no-display lazyloaded appear"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The interior has minimal adornment allowing “the landscape to do the talking”, as the owner says.</em></p> <p>Four bedrooms and three bathrooms including a lovely detached, self-contained studio provided ample private space for eight of us while the large open-plan kitchen, dining and living area was perfect for family dinners and socialising.</p> <p>The kitchen was equipped with every imaginable high-end appliance and utensil along with a generous array of pantry essentials.</p> <p>The massive floor-to-ceiling glass walls on both sides of the house slid aside to unite inside and outside living areas. Double-glazing, underfloor heating and a raised gas fireplace in the lounge would make Te Ariki Nui super-cosy in winter.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/te-ariki-nui-living-area.jpg" alt="Te Ariki Nui Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14491 no-display lazyloaded appear"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The massive floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow the ultimate in inside-outside living. Image credit:  Simon Darby Photography</em></p> <p>The luxurious master bedroom at the far end of the house had an Agape tear-shaped bath by the window where you could bathe while communing with nature.</p> <p><em style="text-align: center;"> </em><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/te-ariki-nui-bathroom.jpg" alt="Te Ariki Nui Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14487 no-display appear lazyloaded" style="text-align: center;"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Agape tear-shaped bath by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bedroom. Image credit: Simon Darby Photography</em></p> <p>The bathrooms in the main part of the house featured glass-walled showers and unencumbered views of the landscape through full-height windows.</p> <p>An impressive gabion wall made with stones smoothed by the nearby Cardrona River provided a visual shield between the entrance pathway and the house. Rectangular steel inserts in the wall allowed light to filter into the hall and master bedroom without sacrificing privacy. </p> <p>A Jacuzzi in a sheltered courtyard offered hydro-therapy to soothe the nerves. It was quite surreal to soak in the pool surrounded by mid-summer snow on the peaks and ranges, the aftermath of an unseasonal ‘weather bomb’.</p> <p>Nearby, a table and chairs with a large shady umbrella was an ideal spot for alfresco dining.</p> <p>I liked to sit on the swing suspended from the terrace roof at the front of the house and watch the antics of the alpacas in the paddock next door. Hand-feeding the quizzical creatures provided a welcome distraction from wedding preparations.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/wanaka-new-zealand-alpaca.jpg" alt="Alpacas in Wanaka New Zealand" class="size-full wp-image-14503 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is it feeding time?</em></p> <p>I also loved exploring the stunning collection of sculpture Hall, an enthusiastic supporter of New Zealand art, had scattered around her 4-hectare property. Large sculptures were cleverly placed outside to catch the eye while smaller pieces quietly adorned the interior but did not challenge the dominant feature, the landscape . . . art framed by the windows.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/sculpture-axeman-hannah-kidd.jpg" alt="Axeman Sculpture by Hannah Kidd" class="size-full wp-image-14484 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The axeman in the orchard at Te Ariki Nui never quite managed to fell the tree. The sculpture is by New Zealander Hannah Kidd</em></p> <p>To the right of the house, Hall has planted an impressive orchard of fruit and nut trees including hazelnuts, plums, peaches, pears, nectarines, redcurrants, cherries, apricots and gooseberries. The trees have to struggle to survive so Central Otago fruit has an intensity of flavour like no other region.</p> <p>And beyond the artworks, orchard and alpacas, a spectacular 360-degree necklace of majestic mountains - Black Peak, the Buchanan Mountains, Mt Maude, Mt Iron, Mt Barker, the Cardrona Mt Pisa Ranges - encircled the house.</p> <p>We seldom ventured into town, which was hectic with mid-summer madness, but spent our time rebonding as a family after too long apart, entertaining guests who had travelled from afar and buzzing to and from the lakeside venue with checklists of things to be done for the marquee wedding. It was like constructing a small village in a bare paddock from scratch, bringing all the infrastructure onsite.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="NaN" src="https://travelmemo-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/wanaka-wedding-venue.jpg" alt="The Olive Grove wedding venue Lake Wanaka" class="size-full wp-image-14504 no-display appear lazyloaded"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Olive Grove wedding venue overlooking Lake Wanaka</em></p> <p>That’s when our friends at JUCY Rentals came to the party, literally. The vehicle rental agency had offered us a generous bulk deal so JUCYs were out in force, ferrying people and equipment to the venue. Our eight-seater JUCY wagon was invaluable as a people, drinks and flowers-mover.</p> <p>And at the end of a busy day, soaking in the spa pool under the stars at Te Ariki Nui, was a magical way to unwind. Lounging amid the bubbles with a glass of bubbles was sheer bliss.</p> <p>Te Ariki Nui certainly lived up to its name – translated from the Maori language, it means “Above all others”.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>FACTBOX</p> <p>*Te Ariki Nui is an ideal base for pre- and post-wedding events and holidays at any time of the year. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.tearikinui.nz/" target="_blank">www.tearikinui.nz/</a></strong></span></p> <p>*Pick up a JUCY Rental at Queenstown Airport and drive to Wanaka - 60 minutes over the Crown Range or 90 minutes via the Kawarau Gorge, both magnificent scenic experiences. The convenience of being able to pick up a vehicle at Queenstown Airport and drop it off in Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland makes JUCY a super-convenient choice for travellers arriving from overseas. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.jucy.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.jucy.co.nz</a></strong></span></p> <p>* Air New Zealand flies daily to Queenstown from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with connections available across the domestic network. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.airnewzealand.co.nz</a></strong></span></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with the permission of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://travelmemo.com/" target="_blank">Travelmemo.com</a></strong></span></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Up, up and away: Experiencing the magic of the Wairarapa Balloon Festival

<p>Peter King is at his happiest when he’s flying high above the wide Wairarapa valley. Not only is the vista beautiful from 5000ft, but the region’s geography and drainage winds, which typically run from north to south, make it a popular place to fly hot air balloons.</p> <p>“Hot air ballooning is all about manipulating air currents over the landscape,” says Peter. “After taking off and getting airborne, it’s about planning where you want to go by identifying and feeling the breezes on the way up. It’s a science to get it right and when you do, the feeling is just terrific. It’s peaceful and the vistas, especially in the Wairarapa, are amazing.”</p> <p>Peter’s foray into hot air ballooning began in the seventies when he flew with James Greig in one of the first three hot air balloons imported into New Zealand. One of them was later flown by Roland ‘Roly’ Parsons, the first and only man to cross the Cook Strait in a hot air balloon and the first man to pilot a balloon directly over the top of Mt Cook, in the Southern Alps.</p> <p>“I had my PPL (private pilot’s license) but quickly became captivated by the balloon and excited by the sport. At the time Bernina was sponsoring the sport in Europe and things were starting to happen here. We ended up buying the Bernina balloon previously owned by Jim Greig. and I guess you could say, we’ve never looked back.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/7816603/trust-house-night-glow_500x333.jpg" alt="Trust House Night Glow"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Trust House Night Glow sees tethered balloons lit up by colourful lights and against a musical backdrop.  </em></p> <p>Since then Peter, who runs Kings Woodworking Company in Carterton which makes bespoke timber benchtops for national distribution, has flown at locations all around New Zealand and also attended the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. He thrives on the camaraderie amongst the balloonists.</p> <p>“Because the wind dictates which direction you go, there is no set landing place’ so the ground crew are a vital component of a successful flight. They make sure that the landowner’s requirements are met &amp; there is a safe pack-up,” he says.</p> <p>“The other side of the sport I enjoy is going into local primary schools and opening up the envelope for kids and blowing air into it. They are genuinely amazed and ask such wonderful, crazy questions like ‘how does a pilot go toilet’?”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="499" height="665" src="/media/7816602/212_499x665.jpg" alt="212"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Resene Splash n Dash competition at Henley Lake in Masterton makes for a spectacular display. This Easter it is being held on Saturday, 31 March (7am – 9.30am weather conditions permitting).</em></p> <p>Peter is looking forward to flying his new 70000 cubic foot Boland balloon named “Snakeskin” at this year’s Wairarapa Balloon Festival being held over the long Easter Weekend. Amazingly, with American balloon maker, Brian Boland, who has operated Boland Balloons in Vermont since the 1980s, the whole balloon was sewed up in Pete’s lounge. The team, meticulously cut &amp; sewed the 170 panels that make up the envelope including the “snakeskin” panel the balloon is named for. The basket is made from plywood, aluminium and fabric upholstery. The whole aircraft has been fully checked by CAA and registered as a “homebuilt aircraft”. Pete will also wear his distinctive red and gold leather helmet with silver wings that was specially made for his 60th birthday by Carterton leather artist, Trevor Lamb.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="498" height="630" src="/media/7816601/image__498x630.jpg" alt="Image_ (56)"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>“Bud E Beaver” is one of three special shaped hot air balloons coming to the 2018 Wairarapa Balloon Festival, being held this Easter.</em></p> <p>Peter will join more than 20 other balloonists for the festival including his son Dan who will pilot a two person Boland with distinctive red and white stripes. In addition there will be three special-shaped balloons including “Bud E Beaver”, “Iwi the Kiwi” and “RAC Van” the latter which weighs in at 325kgs, is approximately 30m tall and has yellow flashing lights.</p> <p>“There will be five Boland hot air balloons flying in the Wairarapa Balloon Festival at Easter time. They are light balloons so the envelope does not have to be as big so it’s quick to inflate and pack up. We just enjoy the speed and it is as fast as the wind takes us.”</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><em><strong>The 2018 Wairarapa Balloon festival from Thursday, March 29 to Monday, April 2. Location details about morning balloon ascensions in Carterton, Greytown, Masterton and Martinborough; times for the burner parades and details on the Trust House Night Glow at Solway Showgrounds can be found on <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.nzballoons.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.nzballoons.co.nz</a></span>.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>For more information on what to do in the Wairarapa over Easter, including accommodation options, please visit <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://www.wairarapanz.com/" target="_blank">www.wairarapanz.com</a></span></strong></em></p>

Domestic Travel

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What to eat to stop mozzies from biting you

<p><em><strong>Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer and Principal Hospital Scientist at the University of Sydney, tells us what to eat to stop the mozzies from biting.</strong></em></p> <p>The warm weather is beckoning us into the backyard but pesky bloodsuckers are waiting. Insect repellents are <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-best-and-worst-ways-to-beat-mosquito-bites-70274" target="_blank">safe and effective</a></strong></span> but many people are reluctant to rub what they perceive to be smelly or sticky on their skin. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something you could eat or drink to protect yourself from mosquito bites?</p> <p>There are plenty of “mozzie busting” gadgets and gimmicks marketed as alternatives to topical formulations. From <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-do-wrist-bands-work-to-repel-mozzies-50186" target="_blank">wrist bands to smartphone apps</a></strong></span>, the range of products reflects the demand among the public for these products. Unfortunately, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://academic.oup.com/jinsectscience/article/2996380/Efficacy" target="_blank">few of these provide effective protection</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>We know <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-why-mosquitoes-seem-to-bite-some-people-more-36425" target="_blank">some people are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than others</a></strong></span>, with the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028991" target="_blank">bacteria on our skin</a></strong></span> playing a crucial role in our attractiveness to mosquitoes. Studies indicate <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122716" target="_blank">our parents are mostly to blame</a></strong></span>, not our diets.</p> <p>Many myths surround the food and drink that may keep mosquitoes at bay but, when it comes to the science behind these theories, it all becomes a bit too hard to swallow.</p> <p><strong>Cheers to mosquito-borne disease</strong></p> <p>Love a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/foreigners/2013/08/gin_and_tonic_kept_the_british_empire_healthy_the_drink_s_quinine_powder.html" target="_blank">gin and tonic</a></strong></span>? There was once a time you could sip your way out of a malaria-induced fever. It was more about the tonic than the gin. A key ingredient in tonic water is quinine. Derived from the bark of a cinchona tree, quinine had been identified as a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0141076816681421" target="_blank">treatment for malaria</a></strong></span> in the 1960s and although it’s currently not recommended as a first-line treatment, historically it was critically important in battling the parasites that cause malaria.</p> <p>It’s important to note that while it’s thought to be toxic to the parasites, there was no evidence it actually stopped mosquito bites. Also, modern tonic water <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonic_water" target="_blank">hardly contains any quinine</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>Booze and mosquito bites may actually make a good match. Studies in Africa have demonstrated <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0009546" target="_blank">drinking beer can make you more attractive to mosquitoes</a></strong></span>. After downing a few glasses of beer, volunteers were found to attract more mosquitoes than those drinking just water.</p> <p>Why? It didn’t seem to be due to body temperature or the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled. Perhaps mosquitoes are evolving to bite drunk people less able to swat the bloodsuckers away?</p> <p><strong>Snacking your way to a bite-free summer?</strong></p> <p>One of the most commonly suggested foods to eat to avoid mosquito bites is the humble banana. Problem is, it seems as many people think eating bananas will make you more attractive to mosquitoes than not! There <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.mosquitoreviews.com/bananas.html" target="_blank">isn’t the science to support either claim,</a></strong></span> but it’s unlikely eating bananas would substantially change the way mosquitoes pick you out from a crowd.</p> <p>If garlic can keep mythic blood suckers away, what about those buzzing about in real life? Nope. Our breath may smell a bit after a garlic-rich meal but a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0269-283X.2005.00544.x/full" target="_blank">study has shown it does nothing</a></strong></span> to lessen our attractiveness to mosquitoes. It may actually make us <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825135" target="_blank">more attractive to vampires, according to science</a></strong></span>!</p> <p><strong>Beating bloodsuckers with vitamin B?</strong></p> <p>Perhaps one of the most pervasive home remedies perceived to prevent mosquito bites is taking vitamin B. Anecdotal reports, and many personal testimonies, of the effectiveness of this approach abound, but there a few scientific investigations testing the claim.</p> <p>Studies dating back to the 1940s <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/100/2590/147.1" target="_blank">failed to provide proof</a></strong></span> of protection from mosquito bites after taking vitamin B. More recently, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16033124" target="_blank">a 2005 study</a></strong></span> showed there was no evidence it influenced the attraction of mosquitoes to human skin-derived chemicals from volunteers taking vitamin B supplements. There is simply no evidence taking vitamin B will offer any significant protection from mosquito bites.</p> <p>In reality, if there was even moderate scientific evidence that taking a vitamin supplement could prevent mosquito bites, our supermarket shelves would be full of “mosquito repellent pills”. It would be wonderful to be able to pop a pill a day to stop mosquito bites but we’re unlikely to have that luxury any time soon.</p> <p>In fact, products marketed as oral insect repellents are not recognised by <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=310.529" target="_blank">some government agencies</a></strong></span> given the lack of any compelling evidence to support the claims.</p> <p>Don’t use mosquito bite prevention as an excuse to boost your intake of vegemite either. It may be a <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/06/08/vegemite-what-it-is-ways-to-eat-it-and-why-its-so-good_a_21392025/" target="_blank">staple in most Australian households</a></strong></span>, but it won’t make our summer backyard activities any less bite-prone, no matter how much vitamin B it contains (or how much you spread on your toast).</p> <p>The reality is, if there was great science supporting any of these mosquito bite-blocking claims associated with food and drink, countless companies would be cashing in on selling “mosquito repellent vitamins” and I have little doubt topical insect repellents would disappear from our supermarket shelves. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.</p> <p>Do you think you’ll take these tips?</p> <p><em>Written by Cameron Webb. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.theconversation.com" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Conversation</span></strong></a>.<img width="1" height="1" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/87178/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation"/> </em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Family of seven lose $16,000 in Airbnb scam

<p><span>A family who paid $16,000 for an Airbnb rental are the latest victims of a fake listing.</span></p> <p><span>Police are investigating the scam but say their hands are tied as the family paid via an international bank transfer to a third party.</span></p> <p><span>The </span><em><span>New Zealand Herald</span></em><span> reported that the Spanish family is one of several victims who have lost large amounts of money through a scam which asks customers to stray from the usual Airbnb payment system.</span></p> <p><span>Amaia Ros, 19,  and her family are calling on Airbnb to improve host vetting after they realised they were scammed by a fake listing in Auckland.</span></p> <p><span>The family, who live in Barcelona, arrived in New Zealand in August for a short time to prepare for a long-term move.</span></p> <p><span>The family of seven had stayed in two rentals through Airbnb before finding out the third property was a scam.</span></p> <p><span>They had paid to stay in the fake listing from September 6 until the end of November – which amassed to a fee of $15,600.</span></p> <p><span>Her parents were “sad and worried” after the realisation of the scam set in, spending years of savings to visit New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>“Thankfully we have enough money to stay ... but imagine if this happens to a family that doesn’t have the money. We were thinking of going back to Spain because of this, but then we met very lovely people and the community that helped us,” Ros said.</span></p> <p><span>Quickly, a group of community members rallied to donate a discounted rental home with furniture organised by Harcourts agent Rachael Bridger.</span></p> <p><span>Various dinners were dropped off to the grateful family who have since returned to Spain.</span></p> <p><strong>How to avoid an Airbnb scam</strong></p> <p><span>Airbnb users pay for their stays up front through the website. If guests pay directly to third parties rather than through Airbnb, they violate the policy and are no longer eligible for refunds. Hosts and tenants both receive endorsements through reviews.</span></p> <p><span>A spokesman for Airbnb stood by the website’s security and said hosts had to provide their name, date of birth, photos, phone numbers and email addresses. The platform also uses predictive analytics to evaluate and stop suspicious activity.</span></p> <p><span>“When we detect potentially concerning behaviour our team takes a range of actions including removing a user from the platform entirely,” the spokesman said. “Building a safe, trusted community is our priority.”</span></p> <p><span>New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Consumer Protection manager Mark Hollingsworth said accommodation scams are becoming more sophisticated.</span></p> <p><span>“If a consumer communicates directly with an accommodation host or makes any payments outside of the Airbnb online payment platform, they are no longer protected by the site’s terms and conditions. If a consumer is encouraged to do this, it could be a scam.”</span></p>

Domestic Travel

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Rob Roy Glacier: Exploring a truly enchanted land

<p><em><strong>Travel writer Justine Tyerman is in love with a rugged Scot called Rob Roy…</strong></em></p> <p>Rob Roy Glacier is like a magnet to me. We’ve hiked the track in high summer under a sun-bleached sky, wearing only shorts and T-shirts - grateful for the dappled shade of the beech forest canopy; and in full winter tramping gear as fat snowflakes drift down from a low, slate-grey ceiling… hungry for glimpses of the glacier through wisps of mist and snow flurries. We have even trudged up the track in the rain, when tendril waterfalls join forces to become angry, swollen cataracts… such is the allure of the glacier.</p> <p>But our favourite time is when the valley is dressed in silver crystals after a June hoar frost and our boots crunch through stiff white tussock and over concrete moss. The river is ice-green foam and the spray freezes on our eyelashes and brows and transforms bearded men into Santa Clauses. Where the meagre early winter sunshine penetrates the steep-sided gorge, the air sparkles with dazzling diamond filaments and your breath becomes a visible thing, hanging in little puffy clouds like cartoon speech bubbles.</p> <p> When our girls and their holiday cousins were little, they believed they were in an enchanted land, and it was easy to keep them skipping and dancing up the steep track, eager to discover what magic lay around the next corner. They half expected to see Aslan and the White Witch.</p> <p>Icicle swords droop from overhanging rocks as if guarding fairy grottos below and small waterfalls and ponds are frozen in time. Common-place spider webs and ferns become works of art in silver filigree, demanding that we stop and stare in wonder. But we dare not linger for more than a few minutes for fear of freezing solid like the landscape… or victims of the White Witch.</p> <p>By early afternoon, the sun is brilliant against a sharp blue sky but there is no warmth where it touches and nothing thaws.</p> <p>You hear the rushing waters of the Rob Roy stream far below in a deep ravine long before you see the glacier-fed cascade. I listen intently, trying to put the sound into words. It’s the noisy hiss of static as you tune your radio, but with an underlying conversational gurgle, burble or chortle . . . and then a deafening booming roar as the gorge narrows and the water fights to be first through the gap in the rocks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="353" src="/media/7266668/1_500x353.jpg" alt="1 (72)"/></p> <p align="center"><em>Justine heading up the track in mid-summer. Image credit: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>As we climb higher, the glacier is visible in snatches through the forest canopy and flimsy waterfalls tumble in tiers from the mountain ridges. It becomes a game to trace and time a mass of spray from where it topples over the frozen ledge to the rocks far below. It is impossible to take in the full height of the mountains towering above unless you lie on your back on the ground.</p> <p>The last part of the track takes us over and around truck-sized boulders carelessly discarded by the glacier as it retreated up the mountain side to its present-day precarious home, clinging to a rock face below Rob Roy Peak. We are spellbound again as if it were our first not seventh or eighth trek to the lookout. Under a heavy mantle of snow, the cold blue gleam of the glacier face is blindingly bright… and mesmerisingly beautiful.</p> <p>In the spring or summer thaw, huge slabs of ice on the terminal face lose the fight against gravity and warming temperatures and thunder down the valley in a white cloud. ... an awesome sight, even from a safe vantage point.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="375" src="/media/7266667/in-text-two_500x375.jpg" alt="In Text Two."/></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>A kea or alpine parrot against the stunning backdrop of the Rob Roy Glacier. Image credit: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.ecowanaka.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.ecowanaka.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p>With our Leki hiking sticks, sturdy tramping boots, all-weather Goretex jackets and layers of fine merino and possum, high energy snacks, emergency survival gear and 4WD vehicle waiting at the carpark, we modern hikers are as safe and warm and well-prepared as we can be. I reflect back on an expedition made over 100 years ago by English explorer Maud Moreland who ventured up the Matukituki Valley in a horse-drawn dray and climbed up to the glacier in a long skirt and leather boots…long before DoC built a swing bridge over the river and cut a well-formed track around the cliff faces, slips and boulders.</p> <p>In 1908, she wrote:</p> <p><em>We were now at the entrance of a gorge that looked as if the mountains had been cleft by some terrific force: on one side they rose black and precipitous with trees clinging wherever they could find a little soil but generally they were sheer walls of rock. On our side the mountains were clothed to within a few hundred feet of the top with dense bush.</em></p> <p><em>Leaving the horses tied below we began a toilsome ascent through a belt of tutu – a stout herb growing as high as our shoulders. This bit was very steep, followed by a belt of fern, then across screeds of slate, shale and faces of bare rock with only cracks for footholds when we clung by our fingertips.</em></p> <p><em>The heat grew greater every moment and the glare from the rocks scorched us and made us terribly thirsty as we worked our way from gully to gully.</em></p> <p><em>After a tedious climb we at last saw the head of the gorge – a wonderful sight on which not many eyes have gazed. It is closed by a semi circle of cliffs, precipitous and black. And wedged as it were between three mountain peaks lies an enormous glacier. Not a long river of ice, but a mighty mass of ice, breaking off sharp at the top of the stupendous peaks.</em></p> <p>Maud gazed at the glacier one summer day over a century ago, as transfixed by the sight as we are today, searching for words to express the exquisite beauty and power of the vision before her. Our efforts seem trivial next to hers.</p> <p>Knees turn to jelly on the long trek back down to the car, the steep descent made even more treacherous as we walk forwards but look backwards for fear of missing a view we have not seen on the way up. The swing bridge over the Matukituki River seems higher and longer than earlier in the day as I contrive without success to cross it without the added excitement of friends (male) making it even swingier.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="499" height="665" src="/media/7266666/in-text-three_499x665.jpg" alt="In Text Three (2)"/></p> <p align="center"><em>Waterfalls cascade from the cliffs with Rob Roy Glacier in the background. Image credit: www.ecowanaka.co.nz</em></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Back at the carpark, the temperature is minus 3 and as we drive back to Wanaka in our cosy JUCY 4WD, the fast retreating sun stains the snowy mountain tops pink. We stop at a tiny pebbled beach near Glendu Bay and watch the shimmering pathway shrink to a sliver and disappear as the winter sun puts on a final dazzling display of crimson fire before sliding behind Mt Aspiring/Tititea.</p> <p>There is silence as we store the memories in a safe place . . .  until next time.</p> <p><em>The 10km track from the Raspberry Creek carpark to the Rob Roy Glacier lookout takes about 3-4 hours return. The glacier sits below the 2606m Rob Roy Peak named in early times after Scottish hero Rob Roy McGregor. It is said the figure of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Roy_MacGregor" target="_blank">McGregor</a></strong></span> showed on the rock and ice face of the mountain when seen from the Rob Roy Downs opposite the mouth of the Stream. The 50 - 60 minute, 54km drive to the start of the Rob Roy track is a highlight in its own right. The road skirts Lake Wanaka, passing by iconic Glendu Bay with postcard views of Mt Aspiring and the wispy waterfalls of Treble Cone. It follows the gin-clear Matukituki River up the valley, deep into the Mt Aspiring National Park, part of Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage site, known to the original Māori inhabitants as Te Wāi Pounamu - the greenstone waters.</em></p> <p><em>You can drive to the Raspberry Creek car park and hike to Rob Roy glacier independently or contact <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="/" target="_blank">Eco Wanaka Adventures</a></strong></span> for a great guided trek, including lunch and transport from Wanaka.</em></p> <p><em>Transport: JUCY Rentals: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.jucy.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.jucy.co.nz</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Accommodation: Love Home Swap: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.lovehomeswap.com/" target="_blank">www.lovehomeswap.com</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Hero image credit: <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.ecowanaka.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.ecowanaka.co.nz</a></strong></span><strong> </strong></em></p>

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"I thought the wings would tear off" – passenger recounts terrifying landing in NZ

<p><span>An Air New Zealand flight into Wellington on Monday had to make three attempts at landing in rapidly shifting winds, with passengers clinging to their seats.</span></p> <p><span>The flight from Auckland had to abort two landings before eventually touching down in the capital at 7.21pm, about 20 minutes behind schedule.</span></p> <p><span>The arrival left some passengers on the edge of their seats as the plane roared across the runway after landing.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Our <a href="https://twitter.com/FlyAirNZ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FlyAirNZ</a> pilot earned his stunt wings with tonight’s Wellington landing. Pulled up from the first attempt at house height. Abandoned the second as the wind chucked us about. Landed on the third go, then slammed the brakes so hard I thought the wings would tear off!</p> — Patrick Crewdson (@PatrickCrewdson) <a href="https://twitter.com/PatrickCrewdson/status/950257542986256384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 8, 2018</a></blockquote> <p style="text-align: center;"><span> </span></p> <p><span>"[The pilot] landed on the third go, then slammed the brakes so hard I thought the wings would tear off," </span><em><span>Stuff</span></em><span> editor Patrick Crewdson posted on Twitter.</span></p> <p><span>An Air New Zealand spokesman said the flight was never in danger, and speculation on social media that the plane landed with a strong tail wind behind it was inaccurate.</span></p> <p><span>"Due to the wind changing direction as NZ449 made its approach into Wellington Airport, the pilots made two attempts to land, followed by standard 'go-around' procedures, before landing without further incident," Andrew Brown said.</span></p> <p><span>The aircraft landed into a light headwind, and the braking was normal for the weather conditions at the time.</span></p> <p><span>Passengers gave a round of applause when the flight landed, and the pilot came out of the cockpit to thank them, Crewdson said.</span></p> <p><span>"I've had my fair share of bumpy landings in Wellington, but have never been more relieved to be safely on the ground."</span></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><span>A Wellington Airport spokeswoman said the airport was not aware of any significant weather conditions on Monday evening.</span></p> <p><span>Civil Aviation Authority corporate communications manager Mike Richards said there were no specific guidelines for landing in high winds.</span></p> <p><span>The decision was an operational one made by pilots, in conjunction with air traffic control.</span></p> <p><span>Airways senior communications adviser Isabelle Teresa said surface wind speeds were recorded for flights, but those would be different to winds the aircraft could experience on approach.</span></p> <p><em>Written by Damian George. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

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Can you spot the “extremely dangerous” venomous snake among the leaves?

<p><span>Internet users have been left baffled after only 17 out of 19,000 people can spot the venomous snake hidden in a photo..</span></p> <p><span>This picture was taken in Doreen, Victoria, and disguised in the surroundings is a venomous lowland copperhead snake.</span></p> <p><span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/SnakeHunterAus/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Victorian snake catcher Mark Pelley</strong></span></a> posted two images to Facebook, asking his followers to spot two venomous snakes.</span></p> <p><span>The first image was of the lowland copperhead snake, hidden on a fairly bare patch of land.</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><img width="498" height="280" src="/media/43894/1_498x280.jpg" alt="1 (32)"/><br /></span></p> <p><span>"If you get bitten by one it's still a life threatening emergency," Mark said.</span></p> <p><span>The second image posted by Mark contained a hidden eater brown in South Morang.</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><img width="498" height="280" src="/media/43895/2_498x280.jpg" alt="2 (23)"/><br /></span></p> <p><span>Mark said that only one person could point out the snake correctly.</span></p> <p><span>Mark doesn’t just post these photos as a fun game but tries to educate people through them.</span></p> <p><span>He told 7News Online, "Snakes are about but people don't notice them.”</span></p> <p><span>"If they were out to get people then there would be a lot more snake bites," he added.</span></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><span>Social media users highlighted just how difficult it was to spot the snakes.</span></p> <p><span>One Facebook user wrote, "Ok this is really bad I can never find them!"</span></p> <p><span>Another joked: "Join local snake catcher pages they said.... it'll help relieve your anxieties they said."</span></p> <p><span>"Um. I can't see either and would be bitten by both!"</span></p> <p><span>Can you spot the snakes?</span></p> <p><span>Scroll through the gallery to see where the snakes are hidden.</span></p> <p><span>Did you find them? Let us know in the comments below.</span></p> <p><em>Image credit: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SnakeHunterAus/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The Snake Hunter via Facebook</strong></span></a></em></p>

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Man’s anti-magpie helmet is absolute genius

<p>We’ve all been swooped by a magpie at one point or another, and while it can be a nerve-racking experience most of us just dust ourselves off and get on with our day.</p> <p>But not this man.</p> <p>Oncologist Dr Richard Osborne from Hervey Bay, Queensland, had been dealing with these birds for years before he woke up one day and said “enough is enough”, creating the genius helmet that’s turned him into an internet sensation.</p> <p>His simple anti-magpie helmet, that he’s shared on Facebook, combines a standard issue helmet with party poppers and a garden hose. Whenever Dr Osborne sees a magpie that looks like it’s going to swoop he simply blows into the nozzle.</p> <p>As you can see from the video below, it’s quite effective:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fml0-JanuGA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Dr Osbourne has since posted a better look at the helmet’s design on Facebook, with the caption, “Bring it on magpies”. You can tell that he means business.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Frichard.osborne.1069%2Fposts%2F10155769506635719&amp;width=500" width="500" height="626" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Interestingly, there’s been a marked increase in the rate of magpies attacking cyclists in recent months, with one hospital reporting 12 injuries in August.</p> <p>Do you have a tactic for avoiding swooping magpies? Let us know in the comments below. </p>

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Finding the best gin in New Zealand

<p><em><strong>Rachel Hall is at the leading edge of gin-making. Katie Farman meets the head distiller for premium New Zealand craft gin label Lighthouse Gin, days after filling the biggest order of her career.</strong></em></p> <p>It took Rachel Hall six months to fulfil an order of 17,500 bottles of Lighthouse Gin for a leading UK based client. It took three months of distilling the liquor every day - making a batch of 100L of overproof gin daily – and another three months to number each bottle and then apply by hand the distinctive red and white striped stickers that are inspired by the spectacular Cape Palliser Lighthouse on the southernmost tip of the North Island of New Zealand. All the while this was done whilst fulfilling standard orders for fans of the premium gin label made in Martinborough, a pretty wine village an hour’s drive or train ride from Wellington, and being “mum” to her two children.</p> <p>It was a crazy start to 2017 but the reward came in the positive reaction by thousands of new fans dotted all around the world.</p> <p>“People loved it. They absolutely loved our gin and the feedback and positive reaction we received just made my day,” says Rachel.</p> <p>Rachel is now the head distiller at Lighthouse Gin, since taking over the reins from founder Neil Catherall in 2014. Neil conceived the company with Wairarapa businessmen Andrew Wright and James Graham in 2005 with the view to create a truly authentic New Zealand gin made with native botanicals.</p> <p>During his years of research, Neil designed a 200 litre copper still from scratch and had it built by a local craftsmen before creating his botanical formula with pine and juniper berries; spices including coriander seeds from Central Otago, cinnamon quills, almonds, cassia bark, orris and liquorice root, and citrus including yen ben lemons and oranges from Gisborne and Kerikeri.</p> <p>Rounding out the recipe is pure water, which comes from a natural spring located at the base of the Rimutaka Ranges on the estate of Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge. Rachel uses one enormous container a week and makes the 100km round trip to collect it each time.</p> <p>The result, she says, is a gin that is pure and complex with citrus and herbal characteristics, a smooth finish and a lovely lingering flavour. Its great served the classic way with tonic and lime but also delicious in cocktails such as blending the gin with Elderflower tonic, Black Raspberry Liqueur and lemon juice.</p> <p>While Rachel is an expert on gin these days, it wasn’t always that way.</p> <p>In fact, the Wairarapa born and raised distiller, had dreams of becoming a butcher but as she got older changed her mind.</p> <p>“I knew I wanted to do something that wasn't ordinary or expected but I never really knew what that was until I found Lighthouse Gin,” she says.</p> <p>The introduction to Lighthouse Gin came through working for Andrew and Sue Wright, founding members of the label, at their previous businesses, Swingers Golf Driving Range, Mondo gift store and Mela juice. These were all located in nearby Greytown, which was just voted New Zealand’s most beautiful small town (population under 5000), where Lighthouse Gin was first based.</p> <p>“Whilst I was working in the Wright’s apple juice business Mela, the Wrights were setting up Lighthouse Gin so I began doing sales and marketing for them. But I just found the gin side of things so interesting that I kept asking Neil Catherall question after question. Lucky for me he was happy to answer them and then share his amazing distilling knowledge with me. I still pinch myself really … I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”</p> <p>The distillery is now based at Martinborough Vineyard, after Lighthouse Gin was bought by American Billionaire Bill Foley of Foley Family Wines who also own other properties in the Wairarapa including Wharekauhau Lodge where Prince William and Princess Katherine stayed during their 2014 New Zealand visit, and TK and Martinborough vineyards.</p> <p>The gin can be brought at either vineyard or in the village at the Martinborough Wine Merchants. In addition events are held during the summer which showcase Lighthouse Gin such as November’s Lighthouse Gin Cocktails, Canapes and Jazz Music evening at Martinborough Vineyard and the monthly Te Kairanga farmers market, which are held on the first Sunday of each month.</p> <p><em>For more information on Lighthouse Gin visit <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.lighthousegin.co.nz/" target="_blank">www.lighthousegin.co.nz</a></strong></span> or if you are visitingMartinborough this summer, then why not coincide it with one of the town’s popular events.</em></p> <p><strong>The New Zealand Cycle Classic</strong></p> <p>This five-stage elite international men’s road <a href="http://www.cycletournz.com" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>cycling race</strong></span></a> is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned stage race to be held in New Zealand in 2018.  Staged entirely in the Wairarapa from January 16 – 21, it will feature routes that showcase incredible scenery including stages which finish in the Martinborough Square. </p> <p><strong>The Martinborough Fairs</strong></p> <p>Held annually on the first Saturday of February and March, this fantastic <a href="http://www.martinboroughfair.org.nzwww.martinboroughfair.org.nz" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>summer market</strong></span></a> sees hundreds of stalls radiating out from the Martinborough Town Square. New Zealand made goods, arts and fresh food and produce are all available. </p> <p><strong>Round the Vines</strong></p> <p>Held each March this 10km or 21km <a href="http://www.roundthevines.org.nz" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>walking or running event</strong></span></a> sees entrants pass through quiet country roads and otherwise inaccessible vineyards. Themed drink stations throughout the event feature live music as well as samples of local wines for those who have a more relaxed approach to the day! This is a fundraiser for Martinborough School. </p> <p><strong>Jazz in Martinborough</strong></p> <p>Held each spring, this <a href="http://www.jazzinmartinborough.co.nz" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>three-day festival</strong></span></a> attracts jazz musicians from all over New Zealand and sees the village come alive Free gigs are played in the town’s cafes and restaurants while tickets events are performed daily.</p> <p><strong>Martinborough Charity Fun Ride</strong></p> <p>This fun <a href="http://www.mcfr.org.nz" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>road cycling event</strong></span></a> held each spring offers riders three distances of 48km, 67km and 115km taking in rural scenery, and passed vineyards and olive groves. Enjoy the best of local hospitality afterwards.</p> <p><strong>How to get there:</strong></p> <p>Martinborough is located at the lower right-hand corner of New Zealandʼs North Island. It is only an hour’s drive or train ride north-east of Wellington, which has daily domestic and international flights, and lies at the heart of the Classic NZ Wine Trail, a self-drive experience along SH2. There is a wide variety of accommodation nearby including luxury lodge Wharekauhau and 5 star hotels to motels and charming cottages. Martinborough is a short drive to the Wairarapa’s other townships of Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton.</p> <p><em>For more information visit</em> <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.wairarapanz.com/" target="_blank">www.wairarapanz.com</a></strong></span></p>

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Tourist finds blunder in famous NZ sign

<p>A town in New Zealand has been left embarrassed after a tourist noticed a few mistakes in a famous signpost.</p> <p>The town of Bluff in the South Island has a signpost that displays directions and distances to famous locations around the world including Sydney, Tokyo, New York, Wellington and the South Pole.</p> <p>However, a tourist from Scotland noticed a mistake with the popular tourist attraction as the signs for Wellington and Cape Reinga were pointing in the wrong direction.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img width="499" height="375" src="/media/43349/1_499x375.jpg" alt="1 (22)"/></p> <p>The tourist flagged the mistake with Invercargill City Council.</p> <p>“I’ve had a few comments from tourists who’ve worked it out and I’ve passed their comments on to the relevant authorities, but nothing seems to get done,” the tourist told <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/audio/tourist-calls-bluff-on-famous-signpost/" target="_blank">Newstalk ZB radio</a></strong></span>.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Since the tourist noticed the error, the council called in an expert who explained that not only were some of the signs pointing in the wrong direction, but some of the distances on the signs were also incorrect.</p> <p>The signpost, described as the town’s biggest tourist attraction, is now being fixed.</p> <p>Local mayor Tim Shadbolt said, “I think it’s something like 87,000 people go to that signpost every year.”</p> <p>Have you seen this famous signpost in Bluff, New Zealand? Tell us in the comments below. </p>

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