Articles posted in the "Adventure" category

Renting a campervan and travelling around New Zealand is an excellent way to get to those “out of the way” places while still retaining some special home comforts: proper bed,  hot shower, chilled drinks, and power for your ipod!

Sometimes, though, getting to the end of the road isn’t enough of an adventure . . . sometimes you want to keep exploring.  This is where cycling bridges the gap.

New Zealand is on its’ way to creating one of the largest networks of cycleways in the world. For those who are interested, bringing a bike (or renting one while you are here) is the perfect companion to a campervan rental.

First, the campervan provides you with a secure base from which to ride one of the hundreds of developed trails around the country. Second, cycling gives you the opportunity to stretch out and experience New Zealand’s beauty close-up and personal.

So where can you ride? New Zealand roads are notoriously winding and narrow. Fortunately,  hundreds of kilometres of developed cycle trails exist around the country. Trails range from leisurely one hour loop trails to 3-4 day cross country adventures. Rotorua and Queenstown are excellent places to ride. Outside these more developed riding centres, many communities have invested in their own trails, giving cyclists the opportunity to get an ‘insiders view’ into some of New Zealand’s most untouched wilderness and rural environments.

Where can you find information about riding? Most communities of 4000 citizens or more will have an official information centre, or “i-Site”. These centres provide extensive infomration about the local region as well as activites within the area. If they do not have a dedicated cycling trails, they will certainly be able to offer advice on where to ride a bike. Towns without information centres will invariably have a garage/petrol station or local shop where you can ask locals about things to do in the area. Alternatively, for those keen on cycling their way around the country, visit the NZbybike link to find out more about some of the country’s network of cycle trails.

Where can you rent a bike? Most larger centres, and some more popular small ones, will have bike shops with rental bikes. Depending on the type of cycling you want to do, shop experts will offer advice on the type of bike to hire, as well as trip plans. Highway/road cycling is recommended for those with signficant road riding experience; however mountain biking is well suited to any age and ability. Some campervan rental companies are now offering hire bikes as part of their ‘optional’ menu.

When planning your trip to New Zealand, consider using a bike as a secondary means of transport. Not only will it keep you fit along your journey, it is an excellent way to discover more of what the country has to offer.

Happy Riding!

A Weekend Getaway on the Bay of Plenty Coast

Lori Keller

December 3, 2013

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Sometimes a great weekend getaway is as good as a week away. If that getaway takes me to a beautiful, out-of-the -way place, even better.

Such was the case last weekend.

After packing a small amount of fishing gear, and a chilly bin of food and drink, we headed out from Rotorua toward the Bay of Plenty coastline.  A scenic 45 minute drive along Lake Rotorua and the surrounding hillside saw us arrive at the relaxed seaside village of Maketu. It was early afternoon, and the locals were out enjoying the sun, making the most of the early summer conditions.  The tide was on the rise, and as the afternoon wore on, the surf club car park began to fill as more and more surfers arrived to make the most of the 4-5ft waves.

Maketu
Maketu
Courtesy of Western Bay of Plenty District Council

I am not a Bay of Plenty local, but the greetings and welcomes we received  from residents certainly made us feel like we were long-standing members of the community. A truly wonderful experience. As the waves began to mellow at Maketu, we drove over the hill to another seaside village, Pukehina, to try our hand at surf-casting. As daylight faded, we had yet to catch ourselves any of the early season snapper or kawahai that we had hoped would be on our dinner menu. As we packed our gear back intothe van, with hearts a little forlorn, two local fishermen parked up alongside us.

“No Luck?” one asked, leaning across from the the passenger seat.

“Nope, nothing . . .” I replied.

“Do you like flounder?” the other asked.

“Yes, love it, ” I replied, “But we don’t have our flounder net with us. Shame.” I answered back.

“No, I mean, do you WANT some flounder?” the driver replied.

“Really?” I was stunned.

“Yeah, we caught heaps yesterday . . . my wife is sick of eating them. I’ll go home and get you some . . . ” And with that, they were off down the road.

They returned 15 minutes later with 3 flounder and a piece of paper with their contact details for the next time we visited.

With dinner sorted, we headed back to the campsite. We made a meal fresh Waihi Bay flounder, salad, a cool ginger beer, and a warm fuzzy feeling that this weekend was one of the best weekends we had had for a long, long, time.

Thanks to everyone we met last weekend. You’ve made this summer one of the best already.

Sunset at the end of a Great Day
 

I lived in Queenstown for several years, and it remains one of my favourite places in the world. Ever. When talking to people about the Southern Lakes, I often hear, “It’s too busy” or “It’s too commercialized”. Sure, Queenstown is busy, and there are a lot of people that visit every year. But, by taking the road less travelled, you can escape the crowds and have a whole mountain or valley to yourself with a little lateral thinking. Here are some of my favourite places to visit when I’m there.

Queenstown – Special spots to visit around Lake Wakatipu

12 mile deltaQueenstown, with a permanent population of just over 13,000, is the adventure tourism capital of New Zealand. Full of activity operators offering jet-boating, bungy jumping, canyon swinging, and of course skiing, the number and scale of the possibilities can be overwhelming. Just 20 years ago, Queenstown was a one supermarket, four pub town. Now, it is home to world class resorts, restaurants, golf courses, and of course, the home of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Yet, in spite of the hype, there are many secret gems to this adventurers’ playground.

1. Camping

  • 12 Mile Delta Campground: Along the road to Glenorchy, some 20km west of Queenstown, you will find 12 Mile Delta Campground. Operated by the Department of Conservation (DOC) , the campground has water, basic toilets, and a picnic area. Cost per person is $6 per night. Located on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, it is an excellent campground for those seeking a little solitude. Getting there early will likely give you a lakeside site.
  • Moke Lake Campground: Still revered by locals as  one of their favourite day getaways. 10km west of town (on the road to Glenorchy) you will see the Moke Lake Road sign. Turn onto the road and drive a further 7km inland until you reach the lake. Note: the road is unpaved and very dusty in summer. Respect others and drive at low speed. Once at the lake, enjoy a spot of trout fishing and swimming (in season) or take a walk on the Moke Lake Loop track (3 hours return).
  • Kinloch Campground: Located on the opposite side of the lake from Glenorchy, on the road to the Routeburn track, KinlochCamground is a little used gem of the Dart River Valley.

 

2. Day Walks

  • Mt Crichton Look Track: Historic and scenic, the Mt Crichton track is adjacent to the 12 Mile Delta Campground turnoff. Be sure to take the side track to Sam Summers Hut for a look into gold mining history.
  • 12 Mile Delta to Bob’s Cove Track : A great walk for those spending the night at 12 Mile Delta Campground. A pleasant lakeside stroll perfect for all ages.
  • Ben Lomond Track: Ben Lomond is the mountain located beyond the  top of the Queenstown gondola. Reaching the top is a 3-4 hour steady uphill climb, but the views from the top are stellar. Depeding on the snow level, you may be able to reach the summit of Ben Lomond in the winter. Speak to the Queenstown Information Centre staff to see if it’s possible. You can make your journey shorter by using the gondola to complete the first third of the journey.
  • Queenstown Gardens: You won’t have the place to yourself, but the Queenstown Gardens is a very special spot in downtown Queenstown.  Pack a lunch and take a couple of hours of hours to enjoy the loveliness of this town icon.

3. Parking:

Parking, particularly for larger campervans, can be a bit tricky in Queenstown . If you’re heading to town for the day, try to get there early. There is 2-3 hour free parking along the waterfront, and all day free parking at the Fernhill Road roundabout (as you head toward Glenorchy). Other good parking places are along Gorge Road (there is limited street parking, but there are 2 large pay per hour parks close to town) and along the lakeside beside the Frankton Arm Walkway.

Enjoy your trip to the Southern Lakes, and don’t forget, Queentown can be yours alone with a little forward planning.

Happy Campervaning.

Winter is here and so are some of NZ’s Best Events

While New Zealand is host to some of the Southern Hemisphere’s best skiing & boarding, there a few lesser known cold weather events and activities that you might like to experience.

Matariki  – Māori New Year

22 June – 2 July, 2013

Join in the celebration of Māori New Year or Matariki during winter. Matariki is the most important of  traditional of Maori celebrations, and is celebrated for up to a month in different locations around the country. The focus of the event is to reflect on the past year, give thanks for the blessings and lessons learned and to welcome new life and new beginnings in the upcoming year. Celebrations are marked by food sharing, cultural performances and activities, concerts, arts & craft workshops and excellent hospitality. Ask at your local information centre for Matariki events in the region that you are visiting.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

21 – 30 June, 2013

If you happen to be in the South Island the end of June, make sure you head to the alpine resort of Queenstown to take part in one of the country’s biggest festivals. This 10-day celebration is gaining a reputation as the southern hemisphere’s most iconic winter festival – and it gets better every year. A well-established event, the Winter Festival is in its 39th year and the program this year includes some great music, comedy, food & wine, as well the iconic on-snow antics.

Waipu in Tartan – Northland

29 June – 4 July, 2013

Wanting to connect with your Celtic heritage? Well, you’re in luck! Located in Waipu, just 90 minutes north of Auckland, the Waipu in Tartan event showcases a vast array of Celtic charms. From whisky tasting at the jail museum, the music of a Highland band, clan dinners, Highland dancing competitions, a men in kilts rugby challenge and ‘Grand Finale Ball’. The local butcher will be offering tastings of Haggis and shops will be rewarding tartan wearing customers with gifts of free shortbread . . . get your tartans and head north for a wee bit of fun!

 

Cadbury Chocolate Carnival – Dunedin

20 – 26 July, 2013

If you are a lover of chocolate, you won’t want to miss the Cadbury Chocolate Carvival, located in New Zelanad’s lovely southern city, Dunedin. Loaded with lots of family-friendly events and the enticement of chocolately rewards, the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival is sure to please all members of the family. With most everything chocolate themed – chocolate arts and crafts, chocolate factory tours, chocolate food classes and competitions, chocolate facials – you’ll want to skip lunch and dinner to enjoy the sweet treats on offer. Highlight of the event: the annual Jaffa Race down Balwdin Street – the world’s steepest street.

 

The Food Show – Auckland

1 – 4 August, 2013

Designed for foodies everywhere, The Auckland Food Show is a true mid-winter feast. One of the country’s most exciting food, wine & beer expos, The Food Show features the latest trends, taste treats, fresh flavours and new ideas brought to you by a collection of celebrity chefs. With live cooking demonstrations by Peter Gordon, Sean Connolly, and Simon Gault in a series of intimate, exclusive classes, you’ll want to register in advance for your seat in New Zealand’s ‘Best of Masterclass’ for masterchefs . . .just like you.

 

Taranaki International Festival of the Arts

15 August – 1 September, 2013

Held every second winter, you won’t want to miss out on the premier festival of dance, music, theatre, comedy, visual arts, community and literary events. This year, the headline event is the breath-taking Canadian avant-garde circus TRACES – featured in Time magazine’s 2011 ‘Top 10 Plays and Musicals’ and acclaimed as a high-flying, astonishing spectacle. Plan your holiday around this event and take home memories of a lifetime!

 

These are just a few of the better and lesser known events that are coming to a region near you this winter. Take time to travel around and experience the most of what this great country has to offer.

 

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