AA Directions Spring 2023

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Directions Ngā Ahunga ADVENTURES AWAIT From North to South BE IN TO WIN! $30K worth of prizes CITY COMMUTES Why e-scooters work aadirections.co.nz SPRING 2023 Being Alive


10-DAY DENALI: TOUR R8C 12 May 2024


Sea le roundtrip

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10-DAY DENALI: TOUR D0C 12 May - 8 Sep 2024


Vancouver to Fairbanks (Alaska)

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A deep inhale

On board a Heritage Expeditions’ cruise to New Zealand’s wildest islands provides many opportunities for breathing in the ocean air and beautiful surrounds.


Blue skies, finally

A trip to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast serves up pristine beaches, fresh seafood and what most Kiwis have longed for all year: a healthy dose of Vitamin D.




Living, well

We speak to survivors of life-changing situations, like the front-row experience of a volcanic eruption, being thrown out of the sea by a freak wind gust and spending a night lost in the bush. Then we take it to the next level, advocating ways to live well.

7 Chief Executive’s Message

9 Letters



Mechanical engineer Eva Hakansson shares what drives her to build electric motorcycles and race them to worldrecord-breaking speeds. Plus, we highlight upcoming events across the country and share the chance to win $30K worth of prizes, including an allinclusive, 12-day experience of New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands with Heritage Expeditions.



About town

An e-scooter commuter shares what makes his mode of transport so compelling.


Looking to the future

As New Zealand’s driving population ages, what's being done to support older drivers on our roads?

Beyond the usual

We visit a Waikato home with high ceilings, open living spaces and polished concrete floors – all specific requirements for its owners.


Feeling the pinch

The cost of food, fuel, rent and mortgage repayments have skyrocketed recently. How can we rein in our spending without sucking the joy out of life?




Spot check

With summer around the corner, a new AA Member Benefit promotes skin health with a significant discount offered on services at MoleMap.


Peace of mind

A suite of new AA Home services is available to homeowners, tenants, and those hunting for a new house or investment property.

5 SPRING 2023

It’s time to make sure your skin is in check!

Kiwis love spending time outdoors, but unfortunately our enviable lifestyle and exposure to the sun means we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

However, if detected early it’s almost always treatable.

AA Members get 20% off any MoleMap appointment.

Simply enter AA followed by your 16-digit AA Membership number when booking online.

*T&C’s apply. Can not be used in conjunction with other offers. Discount can be redeemed once per year. Cannot be used retrospectively. Find out more at aa.co.nz/molemap.

0800 665 362 | molemap.co.nz


SPRING IS HERE and as the season of new beginnings it’s often a time of transformation and reflection – both central themes at the AA in recent months.

Our plans to ensure we remain relevant and meaningful to our Members now and into the future, regardless of mobility choice, are shaping up well, and while we are future-focussed we also honoured our history by celebrating the AA’s 120th birthday in May.

A highlight was hearing the fond memories that you, our Members, kindly shared with us. There were many tales

of lost keys, flat tyres and roadside jump starts, often in the worst weather; I particularly enjoyed hearing about a call to an underground carpark for a car making ‘twang’ noises, which turned out to be the aerial hitting the roof rafters!

Congratulations also to our Members who won the prizes we had as part of our birthday celebrations. Along with 120 pairs of glasses from Specsavers, travel and entertainment bundles, a Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa package and prizes from Torpedo 7, Bay Audiology and AA Driving School were won.

We also took a trip down memory lane ourselves, hearing from some of our longest-serving team members. Paul, who has clocked up 38 years, remembered how when he first joined the AA team, Roadservice Officers were dispatched using a map pinned to the wall. Our longest serving team member, Glenice, who will soon mark 50 years, recalls manually updating Members’ addresses, a process that took two workers two to three months to complete.

It was particularly pleasing to see that while everyone had different memories of how the AA has evolved, they each agreed that what hasn’t changed is the commitment to providing a quality service to Members.

We are absolutely devoted to this, and while times change, rest assured, this will not. We are a Membership organisation and our Members will always be our first and foremost priority.

This includes advocating on your behalf, and over the past few months, we have been in the media discussing issues that you have told us are of concern, including road maintenance and transport costs. We also called on the Government to increase alcohol checkpoint numbers to help curb the number of drink-driving deaths which reached a ten-year peak last year.

With the General Election approaching we have also released our election calls, which are guided by AA Member surveys and detail what we think the priorities for transport should be, regardless of who ends up in power. See p.34 for a summary of these.

Much of the election debate looks set to be focused on the current economic environment, which continues to be challenging. Like many organisations, we have been impacted by rising costs and, for the first time in many years, implemented an increase to our Membership fees. We made every effort to keep this to a minimum, however it was ultimately necessary to ensure we cover our operating costs and maintain the quality and service our Members have come to expect from the AA.

Thank you for choosing to be an AA Member, we truly appreciate your continued support.



Kathryn Webster

Monica Tischler

Jo Percival


Julian Pettitt, Senior Designer at SCG



AA Directions, Level 16, AA Centre, 99 Albert St, Auckland Central PO Box 5, Auckland, 1140

Ph: 09 966 8800

Email: editor@aa.co.nz


027 563 0421 moira@gsjadvisory.com.au


Ph: 0800 500 444

ISSN 1171-0179

Published in print twice a year

Circulation 665,731

Readership AC Nielsen 829,000


PRINTED BY: Webstar, Auckland


Kia ora

Have you had a close call? Survived an experience that made you acutely aware of your mortality? Sometimes those moments define the rest of a person’s life. They go from merely surviving, to thriving; from just living to being fully alive. As well as acknowledging some of those survivors, we want to encourage everyone to avoid the trauma in the first place with tips on being safe in the water, in the bush, on the road. We also advocate for living as well as you possibly can. Grab life, we say, and thrive!



In a 27-year media career, Bay of Plenty resident Jamie Troughton has worked in television and print as a journalist, editor and photographer, covering everything from earthquakes and All Black tests to retirement village Olympics. As a freelancer, he never knows what will come up next but if it involves meeting interesting people, he's all in. His two photographic assignments in this issue – on p.21 and on p.67 – ticked the box.


NOTE: The views of contributing writers are not necessarily those of AA Directions or the AA. While AA Directions makes every effort to ensure that no misleading claims are made by advertisers, responsibility cannot be accepted by AA Directions or the AA for the failure of any product or service to give satisfaction. Inclusion of a product or service should not be construed as endorsement of it by AA Directions or by the Automobile Association.

In our digital Winter issue of AA Directions, we asked:


Allan has spent several decades in the road safety field. He is CEO of the New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants, has been responsible for the introduction of several advanced riding techniques and has written many riding skills books. He says you can always tell if it's an ex-motorcyclist that's driving a car; the road surface observation they learn in order to survive on a motorcycle means they don't hit potholes. Read his advice on avoiding a head-on crash on p.27.


As a Digital Marketing Specialist, Quinn’s work life is all about online strategy and engagement, crafting campaigns and ensuring the right messages go to the right AA Members. Her contribution to AA Directions is a significant one: making sure everyone receives it, whether that’s in print or in digital form. In her spare time, Quinn enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, delighting in diverse culinary creations from around the world.

Have you added home automation features to your home? This issue we ask: Do you avoid driving in situations that make you anxious such as at night, in bad weather or in heavy traffic? Go to aadirections.co.nz to have your say.

YES: 15% NO: 85%

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Photograph by Jessie Casson Design by Julian Pettitt


The power of youth

I enjoyed reading about young people in the first AA Directions digital issue (Winter, 2023). What an amazing group of kids! So focused and only just starting out. Thanks for portraying their achievements.

Highways and byways

Regarding the article about motorways bypassing small towns (AA Directions, Winter 2023). The upside of Transmission Gully is that it is much quicker and easier but the downside is that there is nowhere to get food or petrol for a long stretch of highway, especially when you come off the ferry and reach the motorway very quickly. It takes a lot more planning ahead.

Safe crossings

Some drivers don’t understand how pedestrian refuges work. I have had several experiences of drivers stopping for me when I have paused on a refuge halfway across the road, waiting for a gap to do the second stage of my crossing. How can we educate such road users on the difference between pedestrian crossings and pedestrian refuges?

Fair play

I understand that a large cost of fuel is taxes and levies including Road User Charges (RUC). Electric vehicles are not paying RUC, so every petrol vehicle is subsidising them, which is not fair. Why are electric vehicle drivers not paying their share? Plus they’re getting the hand-out the Government is giving rich people, encouraging them to buy EVs.

Future at risk

AA Directions’ Autumn edition had a photo of a flooded road and an article on cyclone Gabrielle. It is a very serious matter and we need to respond to the economic destruction from fire, floods, drought, gales and landslides because of the climate crisis. That crisis is caused by our increasing pollution of the air increasing atmospheric heating and causing circulation patterns to change. Knowing and understanding the problems, what sort of person goes on to cause more greenhouse gas production and ignore the future consequences?

More flatties

By coincidence to your article (AA Directions Autumn, 2023) about the condition of our roads, I went to have a tyre repaired due to a puncture for the second time in a month. The person repairing it told me that three years ago their firm carried out around 3,000 puncture repairs; two years ago it carried out 6,000 puncture repairs and last year it repaired 10,000 punctures. What accounts for this huge increase? Have other people noticed an increase in punctures?

Truck damage

Many of our roads were not built for big articulated trucks, a factor in the increasing cost of roading maintenance. The trucking industry has always argued that it pays more than its share of roading expenditure by way of Road User Charges. If costings were prepared for roading construction and maintenance excluding heavy trucks, then compare them with the actual costs of roading, the industry’s arguments may not stack up.

1.84 million AA Members

40+ exclusive AA Member Benefits

36 AA Centres around New Zealand

450,000 AA Roadservice jobs last year*

800 tonnes of scrap metal recycled by AA Battery Service last year*

*2021-2022 Financial Year

AA Directions' Spring and Autumn issues are printed and also delivered in digital format. The Winter and Summer issues are digital only. Follow AA Directions on Facebook or Instagram @aadirections We welcome feedback and views on articles in AA Directions and on any issues affecting motorists. Because of the volume of mail we receive, letters cannot be personally acknowledged. Only a selection can be published and they may be edited or abbreviated for print. WRITE TO: The Editor, AA Directions, PO Box 5, Auckland, 1140 or email editor@aa.co.nz. YOUR PRIVACY: This magazine
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administrative purposes and for the purpose of providing you with information relating to products and services from time to time. Where any Membership is an associate of another Membership, then products
services may be offered to both Members jointly or singly. We are always alert to opportunities for products or services to be made available as a benefit to Members, but if you prefer not to receive such personally addressed information, please write and tell us. The Association keeps a database of Members under its control and you have the right to see or correct any personal information that is held about you. If you wish to make an enquiry concerning a privacy issue, communicate with the Association Secretary, AA,

Eva Hakansson is a mechanical engineer based in Tokoroa, Waikato with a passion for building electric motorcycles from scratch and racing them to world-record-breaking speeds. In 2014, she became the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider, reaching 434km/h with her homebuilt bike, KillaJoule. Eva has since lost her record, but is determined to take it back and raise the bar to a whopping 600km/h. She spoke with Kathy Catton.

How did you get into racing electric motorcycles?

It’s a genetic disorder! My father was a champion Swedish motorcycle rider and builder in the 1960s. During the first oil crisis in the 1970s, he got into electric vehicles. My interest in lowemission vehicles was sparked at university. My father suggested converting a motorcycle to electric, and I was hooked! It became the first street-legal e-bike in Sweden. When I met my husband, Bill Dubé, he encouraged me to take my interest and skill to the next level. He is a talented electric drag bike builder and racer himself. We moved to New Zealand in 2017, a decision based mainly on Kiwis embracing a move to electric transportation, as well as it being a beautiful country.

You’ve recently returned from racing in Australia with your ‘Green Envy’ e-motorcycle. How was that? This was the very first race for my new electric motorcycle. Due to heavy rain, the four-and-a-half-day event at Dry Lake Racers Australia’s Annual Speed Week became just two and half days. And for us, that meant just four runs, as we were sharing the track time with 200 other entrants, all itching to make a record attempt. Because it is a new vehicle, I was required to start at a low speed of 200km/h and increase the speed in steps. Everything went to plan until the last day, when glitches appeared in the throttle, preventing me from giving it full power. We reached 301km/h, about halfway to our goal. But setting world speed records is a marathon, not a sprint. We are delighted with how things went. Our small but very talented team did a fabulous job; the conditions can be very harsh in the Australian Outback.

Can you say a bit more about Green Envy?

The Green Envy looks like a rocket or an aeroplane without wings. It has almost 1,000 horsepower, and you sit inside it. The concept is simple – battery, motor, and some power electronics – basically a giant cordless drill with wheels. It has four motors and four throttles, all mechanically connected. The battery is 400 volts and

20 kilowatt-hours. The battery weighs about 350kg, and the motors and motor controllers a combined 250kg. The entire vehicle is quite a beast at 1,200kg. Weight doesn’t really matter in land-speed racing; it is all about aerodynamics! The frame is high-strength steel for safety, and the outer shell combines aluminium, composites and 3D printing.

What drives your desire for racing?

It may be hard to believe, but for me, it’s not just about speed. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I love building and designing stuff. Speed is such a simple and beautiful metric that everybody can understand. My racing is the ultimate platform for showing that being eco-friendly is far from boring. I want people to know about sustainable technology, and speed is a great way to demonstrate the potential of battery power. And, I must admit, setting world records in a vehicle you built and ride yourself is certainly a high!

What’s your ultimate goal with racing?

To be the fastest. I have 16 speed records, some national, some international. The highlight was riding my original homebuilt electric motorcycle, KillaJoule, at 434km/h, in 2014. This gave me the title of the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider. I still think I can reach higher speeds, though. Especially with Green Envy, I have my eye on the overall motorcycle record. The current world record is 605km/h and is held by an internal combustion motorcycle. To take that with an electric motorcycle would be truly historic!

Why have you chosen land-speed racing?

I sometimes call myself the world’s fastest climate activist; I chose land-speed racing because speed makes headlines. It is a way to reach people that otherwise may not be interested in low-emission vehicles or anything related to the environment. By showing that electric vehicles are fast and sexy, I hope to change people’s minds. Another attractive feature is that land-speed racing is incredibly safe compared to

10 aadirections.co.nz COMP A SS

other kinds of world-class-level racing. Because there are no other competitors on the track, there isn’t anything to hit. Also, the organisers encourage innovative engineering. And safety is taken very seriously.

What projects are you working on right now?

Racing is expensive, so Bill and I have been looking for ways to fund our hobby. I used to teach engineering design at the University of Auckland, but the Covid lockdown in 2020 kickstarted our 3D printing business. We bought a large, old machine that used to make plastic drinking straws and we turned it into a machine for making 3D printing filament. KiwiFil was born! Being treehuggers at heart, we only make filament from bio-plastic and recycled plastic. Our new challenge is to find an efficient way to recycle discarded 3D prints back into new filament and to make a profit! It is far easier said than done, but we think we have figured it out.

What have been the keys to your success? Maybe it’s because I have two older brothers, six and eight years older than me, and I wanted to do whatever they were doing. I am determined, and I’m quite an impatient person, but tenacious

Amazing aerobatics

THE VETERAN FESTIVAL is finally back for 2023, having been postponed because of Cyclone Gabrielle earlier this year. Wings over Wairarapa will fly from November

at the same time. To be the best at anything, you must work on it daily. I call it the five-minute rule – you have to spend at least five minutes every day on your project. Five minutes will not give world records, of course, but five minutes often turns into 30 minutes, or an hour, or five hours, and that’s how you progress. In addition, you need to want it so badly that you never give up. Bill describes me as a Border Collie. If I am not constantly activated and stimulated, I start to chew on the furniture!

What observations do you have on New Zealand’s thirst for sustainability?

The path that New Zealand is taking with electric vehicles is great. It is a narrow country with a comprehensive charging network, making it an ideal place for electric vehicles. EVs are safe and comfortable, and with most electricity coming from renewable sources, they are a no-brainer. The country is still a high polluter, and we really need to revisit everything from our food production to waste handling, but we can certainly make a difference with electric vehicles. EVs can be fast and exciting; we just need people to discover they are also comfortable and economical.

Running for more than 20 years, Wings over Wairarapa is a favourite in the event calendar, drawing visitors from around Aotearoa and appealing to aircraft aficionados as much as curious families. Aircraft displays include vintage and military aircraft, jets, helicopters and jawdropping aerobatic antics.

The festival features one of largest flying collections of WWII aircraft in the world and brave souls can even book a joyride – or joyflight – in a P51 Mustang or an Avro Anson plane.

Back on the ground, the 2023 festival includes an all-new Take Flight Programme designed for kids. The interactive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education programme, includes activities that focus on aviation and aerospace with demonstrations from Nanogirl Labs, Waikato University faculty of engineering and House of Science Wairarapa, who will create hands-on science experiments for even the tiniest tamariki aged up to three years old.


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Wings over Wairarapa really does live up to its acronym. With stellar aircraft displays set against stunning scenery, you can’t help but say "WOW!"
24-26 at the Hood Aerodrome in Masterton with an extravaganza of aircraft set against the bucolic backdrop of the Wairarapa region.

Threads of aroha


beautifully bold art installation is making a journey across the country, first stop: Kirikiriroa

THE CROCHETED MEETING HOUSE, Wharenui Harikoa, has been lovingly handmade by artists lead by husband and wife Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole.

Funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has been secured to display Wharenui Harikoa in different sites across the country, starting with Hamilton’s Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, opening December 1.

Constructed using thousands of balls of wool which, unravelled, would roughly cover the distance from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to Taupō, the wharenui measures 9.5m long, 6m high and 5.5m wide. Its woven designs are based around the stories of Māori astronomy. It also emits a resounding vibration of love, Lissy says.

“That, in part, is because of its neon hues. But it’s also because of the amount of aroha that has gone into every single loop in the whare, from everyone who’s participated and helped put it together,” she says.

Lissy says her work resonates with various people from all walks of life, namely through igniting memories.

“As soon as people see the mahi, they can see it’s soft, inviting, and warm. They are taken to a safe and beautiful memory within themselves and all


barriers are dropped,” she says. “People who may be nervous about a wharenui or nervous about Māori spaces are not, when they see Wharenui Harikoa. There is an embracing feeling about it.”

Lissy says a lot of Māori people have become separated from their wharenui and their whenua (land). “There are loads of Māori who feel a sense of whakama (shame) about not knowing or understanding their background. I’ve certainly been there,” she says.

“This whole journey we are on is one of reclamation. The point of making it a touring wharenui is about bringing it to the people and making it a space for us, as Māori, to feel comfortable to come to; but also for non-Māori,” she says. “Because it’s not just Māori who are loving our work. It’s everybody – old, young, those with differing abilities.”

The pair aspires to take Wharenui Harikoa into schools and prisons, and also to work alongside other indigenous groups. They are developing an app to allow people to experience the wharenui digitally via their phone.

“There are many different intentions to Wharenui Harikoa but it is always about healing, love and dreaming,” Rudi says. lissycole.com

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Good for you!

Love poems to Moana Oceania

An art exhibition focusing on concerns for the ocean is on at the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa on Auckland’s waterfront.

FEATURING THE WORK of more than 40 artists, Always Song in the Water builds on the 2011 exhibition hosted at the museum, Kermadec – Nine Artists in the South Pacific, which toured nationally and internationally.

The new exhibition features many acclaimed artists who were involved in the 2011 exhibition including Robin White, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, John Pule, John Reynolds and Elizabeth Thomson. It is very timely as the world navigates climate change and ocean health.

New Zealand Maritime Museum’s Head of Collections, Darryl Pike, says: “Always Song in the Water captures the essence of Aotearoa’s connection to the

wider Pacific region, reflecting themes of oceans, voyages and conservation through a range of mediums, including paintings, photography, jewellery, poetry and dance.”

At the core of the exhibition – and its starting point – is Gregory O’Brien’s 2019 book, also titled Always Song in the Water The writer says he is immensely proud of his updated book:

“The new edition, like the exhibition, is a kind of love poem to Moana Oceania.”

Always Song in the Water is on until February 28, 2024. Entry is free with museum entry, and museum entry is free for Auckland residents.

When it comes to plastic recycling, AA Directions readers do the right thing. According to our annual readership report from media research company Nielsen, 71% of AA Directions readers ‘always make an effort to recycle plastic bags’ (Nielsen CMI April 2022-March 2023).

As you will be aware, the plastic wrap on the magazine is recyclable and AA Directions is part of the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme. This, together with AA Members making the effort to deliver soft plastics to recycling points, adds up to a win-win for the environment.

The number of recycling collection points is increasing, too. See recycling.kiwi.nz/ store-locator for details on which supermarkets and other stores accept soft plastics.

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A piece of wearable art worn by superstar Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala in New York is coming to Auckland this summer.

THE EXCLUSIVE EXHIBITION Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培 :时装之幻梦 opens at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on December 9 and will showcase more than 60 unique garments created by globally renowned Chinese fashion designer, Guo Pei, including the famous Yellow Queen gown worn by singersongwriter Rihanna.

Drawing on influences from around the world and using extraordinary fabrics and bejewelled embroidery, Guo Pei’s striking garments have adorned the political elite, royalty and celebrities. From billowing dresses decorated with intricate patterns to bodysuits evoking mythical creatures, Guo Pei’s creations demonstrate two decades of artistic output by a designer who takes inspiration from Imperial China, European art and the botanical world.

Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培 :时装之幻梦 is organised by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with support from the Asian Couture Federation. aucklandartgallery.com


Celebrate spring in Marlborough at the 30th anniversary of the Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough festival. Held in Blenheim from November 8-12, the festival showcases the best of the region’s fertile growing territories in all their floral abundance.

DREAMT UP BY GARDENERS for gardeners, the festival includes a range of full- and half-day tours of the region’s most stunning gardens, hands-on workshops

and, of course, a glamorous garden party featuring Marlborough’s famous wines.

From compact gardens to sprawling country estates, Rapaura Springs Garden

Marlborough covers all the botanical bases and the green-fingered can expand their horticultural knowledge at a range of workshops with expert gardeners.

A 2023 festival highlight includes UK duo Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld, aka The Land Gardeners, designers of wild and joyful gardens that are also productive and beautiful. The pair will provide the keynote talk on Friday evening as well as a soil health workshop and take a one-off, full-day garden tour and masterclass.

The festival wraps up with the STIHL Shop Garden Fete on November 12 at Churchill Glade in Blenheim’s Pollard Park. The Garden Fete is one of the region’s largest free community events where you can meander amongst artisan vendors and garden product stalls to stock up on supplies for your own home and garden. Visitors can also grab a bite from Eat Street, featuring a wide range of food stalls, and soak up the festival atmosphere and local music within a garden setting. gardenmarlborough.co.nz



We have some incredible reader prizes up for grabs in this issue. Whether you’re into an ocean adventure heading to some of the most remote islands in Aotearoa, a truly luxurious spa experience in Rotorua or would like to reset at a wellness retreat in Hawke’s Bay, read on to find out how you can be in to win!

A Rotorua luxury spa experience for two

Soak your troubles away at the luxurious new Wai Ariki day spa in Rotorua. The recently opened spa complex on the shores of Lake Rotorua is an indulgent sanctuary complete with geothermal bathing pools and multi-sensory therapy experiences.

Owned and operated by local iwi Ngāti Whakaue, Wai Ariki is focused on manaakitanga – the concept of offering a warm welcome to visitors. All of the experiences – from the sublime massage therapies to the bathing rituals – are founded on te ao Māori values, traditions and culture.

To make the most of your Rotorua experience, this prize also includes two nights accommodation for two people at the brand new Pullman Hotel in the heart of Rotorua.



Be in to win a Spa Sanctuary Retreat –Tānga Haumanu Takirua – for two people. The 225-minute experience includes sanctuary bathing, a private geothermal bath, a wellness massage, a glass of bubbles and a grazing platter for two in the relaxation lounge and complimentary gift. Plus two nights accommodation at Pullman Rotorua.

To enter, send your name and contact details to ‘Wai Ariki giveaway’, AA Directions , PO Box 5, Auckland 1140, or enter at our website – aadirections.co.nz by November 30, 2023. T&Cs apply. Please see aadirections.co.nz

A Cape South Wellness Retreat for two

Do you feel the need to rest and restore? Could you use some me-time, spent in a beautiful location? Spend a restorative weekend in Hawke’s Bay at a retreat hosted by wellness guide Kate McLeay at Cape South. Each retreat is a nourishing blend of relaxation, movement, meditation, delicious organic seasonal food and learning.

Over the retreat you will learn about holistic wellness and how to achieve more clarity, ease and enjoyment in life. capesouth.co.nz katemcleay.com

Be in to win a Cape South Luxury Wellness retreat for two people. The prize includes two nights accommodation twin share or in a double room at Cape South, all meals and the full wellness programme. The winner can choose their retreat from Cape South’s offerings, subject to availability.

To enter, send your name and contact details to ‘Cape South giveaway’, AA Directions , PO Box 5, Auckland 1140, or enter at our website – aadirections.co.nz by November 30, 2023. T&Cs apply. Please see aadirections.co.nz

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Find out more about the Wai Ariki experience on p.28 Find out more about the Cape South experience on p.29

A Heritage Expeditions voyage for two

Take the cruise of a lifetime with Heritage Expeditions. On board the Heritage Adventurer, you’ll set sail from Bluff to explore the wild Subantarctic Islands and Fiordland. The all-inclusive 12-day voyage will take you to the Campbell, Auckland and Snares Islands, travel to Stewart Island and then venture to Fiordland to explore Sounds only accessible by sea. You'll spot wildlife including sea lions, albatrosses, rare penguins and dolphins, see vegetation like no other in New Zealand and marvel at unique landscapes. The prize cruise is from December 20-31, so you’ll get to celebrate Christmas in a very special part of remotest New Zealand.


Be in to win a Beyond Fiordland: New Zealand's Wildest Islands cruise for two people with Heritage Expeditions, travelling in a Deck 4 Superior Stateroom. The prize is valued at $25,500. You must be available to travel between 20-31 December 2023.

To enter, send your name and contact details to ‘Heritage Expeditions Cruise’, AA Directions, PO Box 5, Auckland 1140, or enter at our website – aadirections.co.nz by 12 November 2023. T&Cs apply. Please see aadirections.co.nz

Find out more about the Heritage Expeditions experience on p. 48


How on earth can someone survive the frontrow experience of a volcanic eruption? Or being ripped out of the sea by a freak gust of wind? How about spending a night lost in the bush? We meet survivors and specialists in search and rescue and share advice on how to stay safe in the water, in the bush and on the road. Then we take it to the next level, advocating ways to live well.

day, and the pair were hiking up Mount Ruapehu. Like kids in a playground, they were excited to have the top of the mountain to themselves – encrusted in ice, 2,500m above sea level. In fading light, they decided to shelter for the night near the crater lake in Dome Shelter. They tucked themselves into their sleeping bags in minus 8°C conditions, tired but satisfied. Life was very good.

Around 8.20pm William heard a rumble, and the door of the tiny shelter suddenly blew open. He stood up to investigate. Mt Ruapehu was erupting, and a slurry of mud, rocks and water crashed into the cramped hut, submerging William’s legs and ripping flesh from his bones. Despite using ice axes and shovels, the pair couldn’t release William from the deluge. It soon became apparent that James – uninjured – would have to walk down the volcano to seek urgent help.

After an hour of running, James came across a snow groomer at Whakapapa Ski Field. From there, the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue team mounted a daring night-time rescue operation. By 1.30am help had arrived at the hut and William was on his way to Waikato Hospital.

This is just the start of William’s story. Doctors called his survival a miracle. He needed a series of operations to amputate his right leg, and then began the gruelling rehabilitation to walk again.

“I was one lucky kid,” William says. “Yes, I had wild thoughts going through my head at that moment on the volcano, but I somehow pushed aside those fears of never walking again, and slowly and surely I made my recovery.”

William Pike’s tenacious passion for life has helped him overcome enormous adversity and use it as a force for good. Kathy Catton finds out more.

ON THE FACE of it, William Pike is much like other New Zealand men in their late thirties. He likes tramping, fishing and keeping fit. He appreciates the value of good friends and enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

But William’s life has not been like most people’s. In September 2007, William, then aged 22, and his friend James Christie set off on a mountaineering trip that would change their lives forever. It was a bluebird

Maybe it was the intrinsic motivation and optimism he grew up with that helped him in those hours of clockwatching as he tried to stay awake on the mountain, awaiting his friend’s return. Or maybe it was just his ‘she’ll be right’ Kiwi mentality. “I had to come to terms with dying that night. I thought of my friends and family – that twisted my guts and I told myself not to give up.”

Growing up in Auckland, he describes himself as a shy lad and not particularly academically gifted. “The world was opened up to me as a teenager when I went on a week-long adventure with my outdoor education class in the Kaimanawa Forest Park. It was winter, and we were sleeping in wet tents but having a blast!”


In these moments William started to identify a value that would become a lifelong passion for him. “I realised I loved anything to do with the outdoors, and, at the same time, I was learning how to communicate, be a great problem solver and how to lead others.”

Looking back, William recognises it was these outdoor experiences that prepared him for what was to come.

“I just had to focus on tomorrow. It was my sheer bloody-mindedness and high level of fitness that kept me going after the accident,” he says. “My friends and family were also invaluable at this time. I was so lucky to have built relationships through my sports and outdoor adventures.”

William returned to full-time teaching two years after his accident. He worked with a Taupō school to create a youth development programme aimed at building life skills and positive youth experiences. “I had a vision but no idea how to fulfill it!”

After writing an article for the Education Gazette about his successes with the Taupō school programme, countless other schools started to ring William wanting the programme in their own school.

“My next massive leap of faith was to leave teaching and set up the William Pike Challenge,” William says. Having little business experience, it required a large step outside of his comfort zone. But the results have proven to be highly successful, with 108 schools participating in the programme in 2023 alone. Eleven years since starting, the William Pike Challenge has prepared thousands of children around Aotearoa for an exciting future and taught them that they can do anything they put their minds to.

“Through completing five outdoor activities, 20 hours of community service and 20 hours on their passion project, students develop confidence, resilience, critical thinking and goal setting,” William says. “We provide the schools with the support, resources and inspiration to make it happen.”

William’s message to young students is that one thing differentiates those who achieve success and those who don’t: “The key is to step outside your comfort zone,” William says.

As an in-demand keynote speaker, William embodies this determination to succeed without limits, using his accident as a force for good in the world.


19 SPRING 2023

WATER HAS FEATURED prominently in many pivotal moments of Nigel Marsden’s life.

The Mount Maunganui resident grew up next to some of New Zealand’s best beaches and went on to raise a family on an ocean-front property. He has forged careers and new ventures from waterbased activities and has travelled the globe pursuing a passion for water sports.

While many happy memories were made on and near the water, so too were some of Nigel’s darkest moments. In 2003 he nearly died while kite surfing when he was picked up by a freak gust of wind and pummelled against the side of his own house.

“Quite soon after the impact of the accident, I was in a dream-like state and had what felt like a very vivid dream of being in a river,” Nigel recalls. “I was being pulled into blackness, which felt like death and, first of all, I recall feeling content with that.”

It was subconsciously hearing the voice of his eldest daughter, aged ten at the time, that gave Nigel the strength to fight his way ‘upstream’. “I recall her telling me, ‘I’m not ready to have no daddy’. And that gave me the desire to fight the stream; I wanted to live. It was very, very powerful.”

The accident happened at the home he shared with his two young daughters, now aged 29 and 22, in the small coastal village of Pōhara, at the top of the South Island. One spring day, Nigel decided to go for a spin on his kiteboard. With a career running a sea kayak business, a fundamental part of Nigel’s job was analysing wind speeds but that day – during the Equinox season – he was caught out.

After about half an hour in the water, the wind was ironically too light, so Nigel decided to head back to shore. He doesn’t remember much of what happened next, only a “massive pulling feeling”

and hearing a nearby friend scream, as a strong and unexpected wind gust pulled his kite – and Nigel, who was still attached to it – through the air, over the beach and the esplanade reserve, over the trees on his front lawn and straight into the side of his house.

He slammed into the eaves of the house, fell onto a gate, and bounced onto the lawn – a total distance of approximately 70m. To have cleared the trees, Nigel estimates his height to have been over five metres and he hit his house at between 60 and 80km/h.

It was while lying lifeless on his lawn, with a multitude of injuries including fractures to his pelvis, shoulder, ribs, and punctures to his lung, not to mention concussion and shock, that Nigel’s daughter’s words came to him.

“It gave me a mission in life: I knew I wanted to help people. And I wanted to be there for my daughters. That’s how I was able to get to that light. That gave me the energy to choose life.”

Nigel, who went on to have two more children, doesn’t describe himself as a particularly spiritual person, but his near-death experience, accident and subsequent years of rehabilitation have been a gift. The experience gave him a renewed vigour for life. He’s also stuck to his word about helping people – by sharing his love for the ocean.

In 2022, he launched Ocean Swim Holidays with friend and fellow water enthusiast Steve Morris. Next year they will lead their inaugural swimming excursions to The Coromandel and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. The idea is to share and support ocean swimming adventures with safety equipment and guides, providing the chance to enjoy new territories, from a fish-eye perspective, with like-minded travellers.


Monica Tischler meets a man pulled back from death.
20 aadirections.co.nz

AS THE DAYLIGHT began to seep away Jacquie Walters realised she was in trouble.

It was Matariki weekend and Jacquie was visiting St Arnaud with her partner. They had just arrived from Nelson and she decided to go for a run, setting off from the motel at around 3.20pm.

“I told my partner where I might run in vague terms before I left, then saw a sign that said ‘Loop Track’ and thought that sounded perfect,” Jacquie says.

“I followed the first three signs and then got to a point at a creek where it wasn’t clear which direction the track went. The loop track was supposed take an hour for walkers and I figured I’d be faster running. I had reached the creek in 25 minutes and assumed I was about halfway, so thought it’d be quicker to keep going rather than turn around and go back.

Unfortunately, Jacquie had inadvertently found herself on another track leading up towards the St Arnaud ranges in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

“I was still on a track, but it was going uphill,” Jacquie explains. “The carpark was sort of uphill from the lake, so for a while I thought I was going in the right direction. When you’re pushing yourself on a run you get into that mindset of ‘I’ll just keep going and finish.’

“It got to the point where I realised I was running out of daylight. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get back as the type of terrain I’d been running on would be too dangerous if I couldn’t see properly.

“So I thought, ‘right that’s it – I’m going to have to stay in place until there’s enough light to get back.’”

Jacquie knew that the best thing to do if you’re lost is to stop. Staying in one place makes it easier for people to find you.

“She did the right thing,” concurs Aimee MacDonald, Group Support Officer for the Upper Tasman District Land Search and Rescue, whose team was involved in the search for Jacquie. “Realising she’d got into a precarious situation and just staying put is huge. A lot of people wouldn’t do that. They’d keep pushing on and that’s when they get themselves into real strife. For her to realise that she needed to hunker down for the night, going against all of her instincts to try and get home, is really remarkable.”

Surrounded by beech forest, with no branches or fern fronds to create a shelter, Jacquie realised she was in for a cold night.

“I knew the biggest risk was getting hypothermia,” she says. “I was wearing a long sleeve top and 3/4 leggings from Kmart – no merino or any specialist outdoor gear, it was just basic stuff. I had a bandana around my wrist that I use to wipe my forehead when I’m running. After a little while I realised that you lose a lot of heat from your head, so I put that on my head like a scarf, and it did actually help.”

Jacquie found a fallen branch from a beech tree which she dragged onto the path so that she wasn’t sitting on the wet ground and leaned back against a mossy bank. “I stayed there for 14 and a half hours. I didn’t stand up at all in that time.”

“The first thing I thought when I realised I couldn’t get back was ‘ you

stupid idiot!’” she laughs. “I berated myself for a while. And then I thought about the fact that I could quite easily die. I didn’t know what the weather was going to do or how cold I was going to get. I thought well, if you’re going to die then getting really cold and falling asleep is probably a good way to go.

“Then I thought, no, actually I’m going to get through this. I’ve got things I want to do. I’m getting married next year, I want to see what my children end up doing with their lives. So I became determined to make it through to the morning.

“I’m not an experienced tramper or a hardened outdoors type but I have a reasonable level of fitness – I’ve run a few marathons – so I know what it feels like to be uncomfortable and to carry on. Which was probably quite helpful. I actually felt good mentally – I didn’t panic or cry; I was OK.”

Overnight, Jacquie developed a routine of alternately rubbing each leg to keep herself awake and to retain her body heat. “I didn’t want to go to sleep because I wasn’t sure if I could distinguish between regular sleep and hypothermia sleep. I thought ‘if I’m feeling cold and I’m awake then that’s a good thing.’”

Back in St Arnaud, Jacquie’s partner had called 111 when she didn’t return from her run, which mobilised the team at Land Search and Rescue.

“Then an Information Management Team was set up, which is where a group of skilled personnel collate all of the information available to determine the search urgency,” Aimee MacDonald explains.

FEATURE 22 aadirections.co.nz
Jo Percival talks to Jacquie Walters about her experience of accidentally spending the night in the bush.

To establish how urgent a search is, the team weighs up factors like the person’s age and physical fitness, the predicted weather and the terrain.

“If it’s a really nice day and the person had good equipment and extra food, the urgency scale will be quite low. However, in Jacquie’s case as a trail runner only intending to be out for a short time with no food or warm gear and especially at that time of year, that progresses to a fairly high urgency,” Aimee says. “We activated field teams and a message went out to the wider group to see who was available from the pool of volunteers.”

Three separate Land Search and Rescue teams of volunteers were involved in the search for Jacquie, coming from Motueka, Nelson and Murchison. There were about 20 volunteers alongside 24 people from

the army, Police officers and dogs. The searchers were out until 2am and started looking again at first light at 7.30am.

“I could hear the helicopter during the night and I could hear the dogs,” Jacquie says. “I knew that people were looking for me.”

After her gruelling 14 hours in the beech forest, Jacquie waited until the sun had risen and she could safely make her way back down the track.

“In the morning when I stood up to leave I saw something on the track that

hadn’t been there the day before. I leaned over and touched it and it was ice. Afterwards I found out that it got down to 2ºC that night.

“It took me about two hours to walk back to the motel where I surprised everybody by just showing up!

“Getting lost in the bush is not an experience that I’d recommend. At all. I was very, very fortunate. Life is very precious and I’ve certainly learned that. I’m just so grateful to the people who went out of their way to help me.”

I didn’t know what the weather was going to do or how cold I was going to get. I thought well, if you’re going to die then getting really cold and falling asleep is probably a good way to go. JACQUIE WALTERS

Future proofing

Vanessa Trethewey meets a man making heroes of young New Zealanders.

WHEN IT COMES to the future, Steve Campbell reckons we’re in great hands.

As co-founder and CEO of New Zealand’s Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR), Steve and his team play a vital role in training tomorrow’s search and rescue heroes – and despite 15 years at the helm of YSAR, our young people continue to amaze him.

“The stereotype of teenagers being disengaged and unproductive couldn’t be further from the truth. They’re focused, determined, creative, courageous, honest, energetic, patient and caring,” Steve says.

“Not only do they hold an altruistic world view and want to give back to their communities, but as digital natives they’re well versed in using technology for innovation and complex problem solving, expanding possibilities for improving emergency response capabilities, and ultimately saving lives.”

The youth Steve is referring to are the 14- to 18-year olds who participate in YSAR’s three-year training programme, an 1,800 hour course that’s building the country’s next generation of Search and Rescue (SAR) and Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) practitioners. Through weekly two-hour classes and monthly weekend camping exercises, these adventure-loving teens gain the confidence and capabilities they’ll need to transition into the national community volunteer sector.

Since its launch in Tauranga in 2009, YSAR has gained significant traction. It now has established branches in Auckland, Waikato Central, Thames Coromandel and Wellington, and next year will expand its reach into Dunedin, Wakatipu, Christchurch and South Auckland, with a branch specialising in training Pasifika and Māori youth.

Young people from all walks of life are putting their hands up for YSAR –including those who’ve never had any outdoor experience – and currently there’s a 50/50 male-female split. The first step on the journey gets students comfortable in the outdoors with Level 1 teaching them about bushcraft and giving an overview of search and rescue operations. Level 2 training is focused on search and rescue and emergency management methodology and includes the special aspects of Lost Person Behaviour, the characteristics of the missing person, and how they interact with the environment in which they’re missing.

Meanwhile, leadership and management play a starring role at

“As a not-for-profit, we’re heavily reliant on volunteers at all levels of the organisation, and together we’re greater than the sum of our parts. Contributors to YSAR’s evolution recognise that success isn't about individual achievements, but the collective vision and collaboration of numerous hard-working individuals.”

YSAR instructors are a fantastic example, giving 600 hours of their time each year to empower students to ‘survive and thrive’

A passionate advocate for ‘lifelong volunteerism’, Steve understands the impact these volunteers have on those going through the programme.

“I believe volunteering plays a pivotal role in restoring balance and serves as an essential component of an ecosystem that

Level 3 with students running weekend camping exercises, just as they would in a real emergency. Students graduate with a Maritime VHF Radio Operator Certificate, their skipper certificate, outdoor first aid certificates, as well as Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) and Action Oriented Team Leader qualifications.

“Our students are incredible. We test them and push them to their limits, and they thrive. They soak up the institutional knowledge and experiences of our volunteer instructors like sponges. I don’t think they fully comprehend the impact the programme will have on them until much further down the track.”

While the students are the stars of the show, Steve says the volunteers who keep the programme running are the unsung heroes.

fosters sustainability. That’s what we’re instilling in our youth through YSAR.”

Its efforts are clearly paying off. As part of the programme, every YSAR branch offers its services to a local community group. Steve says the attendance rates at the community days confirms that young people are just as considerate as any generation.

“Our students feel proud to be aligned to the NZSAR sector,” he says. “They hold it up as a badge of honour.”

Around 500 students have graduated from YSAR since its inception and once it’s at full capacity it’ll be training 1,000 students each year. In a world where disasters seem to be on the rise, that’s good news for all of us.


FEATURE 24 aadirections.co.nz
Contributors to YSAR’s evolution recognise that success isn't about individual achievements, but the collective vision and collaboration of numerous hard-working individuals.

Check before you go. New Zealand's weather can be unpredictable, and conditions can change rapidly. Before heading out, look at the weather forecast for the area you plan to visit and be prepared for sudden changes.

Share your plans. Always let someone reliable know your intended route, destination and estimated return time. If you encounter any problems, this information will be invaluable for search and rescue efforts. Have emergency response procedures in your plan – make sure people know what to do if you don’t return on time.

Take essentials. Depending on your activity and location, this might include a personal locator beacon (PLB), map, compass, GPS device, first aid kit, head lamp, extra clothing (including a waterproof layer), plenty of water, and sufficient food. Don’t rely solely on your mobile phone as a PLB, even if it has emergency response capabilities. Know your limits. Consider the fitness levels of everyone in the party.

Be careful around rivers. Numerous trails in New Zealand involve river crossings and many critical incidents happen around water. If in flood, wait for the water to recede or consider an alternative route. Use sun protection. Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from sunburn and other sun-related health issues.

In case of emergency, dial 111. Police are the lead agency for Category 1 Search and Rescue in New Zealand and early notification is appreciated. Support local response organisations. They are volunteers and a monetary donation and a thank you goes a long way towards continuity of service. Your life – or the life of a family member or friend – may depend on them one day.


Kathy Catton looks at how to stay safe while having fun in, on or around water.

Hands down, we are a water-loving nation. New Zealand boasts 15,000km of coastline, almost 4,000 lakes (larger than one hectare) and 90% of us live within 40 minutes of a beach. But those crystal waters and bubbling surf can be a lethal place to play. In 2022, 94 people lost their lives to drowning – the most in a decade.

Before you go

“Any body of water can present risks – whether that’s a pool, lake, river or beach,” Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand, Daniel Gerrard, says. It’s about whānau starting with the basics. “From youngsters to adults and parents, it’s crucial to know how to float, tread water and where not to swim. We often think someone else is watching our children, but avoid making that assumption. Create a roster of who will be responsible for supervising your children and make sure that kids stay within arm’s reach.”

Take swimming lessons if you or your loved ones are not strong swimmers. Learning CPR and first aid skills is also advisable, as they can be lifesaving in emergencies. Make sure everyone in your group knows who to call in the event of an emergency (111 Police).

Daniel recognises that the cost of learning to swim may be difficult for some families. “Talk to your child’s primary school about Water Skills for Life, a national standard for aquatic education in New Zealand primary schools.”

If your children need beach education, the Junior Surf programmes run nationwide by Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) are a great place to start. National Lifesaving Manager at SLSNZ, Andy Kent, says, “our volunteer clubs run this programme every Sunday morning during summer, and we have a membership of over 10,000 children. It’s a great way to build fit and healthy kids who learn how to keep themselves and others safe.”

Check your equipment

For boaties, that means doing your pre-season maintenance. Head of Operations at Coastguard New Zealand, Rob McCaw, says these regular checks can prevent disaster. “The vast majority of the 3,500 callouts we receive each year are due to engine breakdowns, electrical faults and running out of gas. Most of these are preventable if thorough checks are made before getting on the water.”

It’s also worth educating yourself on water safety. Coastguard runs 20 programmes nationwide, including Day Skipper and Marine VHF Operator’s Certificate courses. Coastguard also delivers courses to underserviced communities. Its Folau Malu, Kia Maanu Kia Ora and Chinese programmes have all been well attended.

Research and choose safe locations

When choosing where to go, familiarise yourself with the conditions and review safety notices at each location. Find out what local signs and flags mean. Andy directs people towards safeswim.org.nz . The website, launched last year, gives up-to-the-minute information on swimming conditions and water quality at beaches nationwide. “We always advise beachgoers to swim between the red and yellow flags on patrolled beaches,”

Andy says. “We have over 4,300 volunteer surf lifeguards at 92 locations around the country. If you do choose to swim at an unpatrolled beach, know your limits and if in doubt, stay out. Trust your gut feeling.”

Be mindful of weather and tides

New Zealand’s weather can be unpredictable, and coastal areas are always susceptible to changing tides. Each beach has its own quirks, such as dangerous currents, strong winds, rips or rough waters, making swimming, boating and other water activities hazardous. Always prioritise your safety and reschedule or change your plans if the weather or tides are unfavourable.

According to Andy, rips are the biggest hazard on New Zealand beaches. As a moving current of water, they can cause people to panic and tire themselves if caught in one. Andy suggests applying the three Rs for survival. “Relax and float. Raise your hand to send for help. Ride the rip,” Andy says. “A rip may take you along the beach or out to sea, but generally it won’t take you kilometres off the beach.”

A lifejacket never ruined a day on the water!

Regardless of your swimming abilities, always wear a lifejacket when boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding and make sure it fits properly. It is also advisable to wear a wetsuit or rash guard to protect yourself from cold water, sunburn and potential abrasions.

Coastguard New Zealand and Water Safety New Zealand are advocating for national mandatory lifejacket legislation for those operating vessels six metres and under. The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade campaign is over a decade old, with two Coastguard vans travelling up and down the country delivering fit-for-purpose lifejackets at discounted prices. Last summer, the charity delivered almost 2,500 new lifejackets and took over 3,500 old or damaged lifejackets out of circulation.

The Water Safety Code’s rules to stay safe in the water

1. Be prepared: Learn to swim, set rules for safe play, know the weather and water conditions.

2. Watch out for yourself and others: Pay close attention to children in or near water. Swim with others and in areas where lifeguards are present.

3. Be aware of the dangers: Enter shallow and unknown water feet first and obey all safety signs and warning flags. Don’t swim after drinking alcohol.

4. Know your limits: Have fun but respect the water and your limits. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.


FEATURE 26 aadirections.co.nz

What to do when faced with a head-on collision, by Allan Kirk.

You are driving along when suddenly an oncoming car drifts into your lane. You are about to have a head-on collision! What would you do?

The average driver would answer: ‛Brake’.

Braking will scrub off some speed, meaning a head-on impact may be at 180km/h rather than 200km/h (i.e, the sum of the speeds of the two vehicles colliding). But, if you use a crash avoidance technique, that crash may never occur.

Such techniques need to be pre-planned. Pre-planning is a vital safety factor in a life-threatening crisis, like the routine taught to children if their clothing catches on fire – Stop, Drop and Roll.

Pre-planning works. Winging it in a crash situation rarely does. Head-on collisions mostly occur either because a car drifts into the wrong lane on a corner or an oncoming car on a straight moves into the other lane, sometimes because someone makes a poor passing decision. These latter crashes don’t usually involve last minute moves into the oncoming lane, but happen in the middle of the passing manoeuvre – when both drivers on collision course have had time to see each other and react.

The driver of the passing car doesn’t react because he or she is ‘committed’ to passing and doesn't have the mental control to abort the manoeuvre. The most mysterious thing at first glance is why the other driver doesn’t get out of the way.

The answer lies in a thing called ‘IQ Dump’. In a crisis, an unprepared brain doesn’t work too well. The enormity of the situation overwhelms it. Staring death in the grille, the brain can’t process all the information about the crash situation and order

the body to take the best remedial action. Instead, the driver’s brain works on instinct and, usually, simply tells its owner to stomp on the brakes.

Instinctive reactions can kill you. For example, throughout your driving lifetime you train yourself to stay on the sealed road surface and, thus, staying on the sealed surface becomes an instinctive reaction. Yet, in a head-on crash situation, your best chances come with moving off the sealed surface, out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. If you are driving on instinct, your brain won’t tell your arms to steer the car off the road and, at worst, into the ditch.

To beat these dangerous instincts, you have to seriously think about what you should do in a crash situation. That way you will have options available to use – and hugely increase your chances of coming out unharmed or, at least, alive.

Your chances of survival in a crash are directly related to whether you are wearing a seatbelt.

Your chances of survival on the road are directly proportional to how well and when you see hazards. The earlier you see a hazard, the more time you have to counter the problem and the easier it is to avoid an impact. But let’s say that, despite your great scanning, a car has drifted into your lane.

Do not swerve to the right unless you are absolutely certain you can pass that oncoming car while staying in your own lane. On a straight section of road, that is most unlikely. The dangers of trying to swerve right into the other lane are very real. Firstly, the oncoming vehicle may move back into its lane and a head-on collision will occur anyway. Secondly, by swerving right, you may miss hitting the oncoming one in your lane… but smash head-on into some law-abiding driver in their correct lane. Brake and move left towards the side of the road. (If your car has ABS, you will be able to maintain control of the steering. If not, resist the urge to stomp hard on the brake; instead, pump steadily). Do not brake completely to a stop. You may need to be able to swerve out of the way at the last moment should the oncoming vehicle swerve towards you.

Be prepared to move off the sealed surface to avoid a crash. Don’t make a sudden swerve off the road. This could cause you to lose control.

Make that move off the sealed surface a calculated move. Do not panic. On most roads there is room for a car to motor along the berm without going into the ditch. But, if you have to go into the ditch, do so. It is far safer to go into the ditch than to have a head-on impact with another vehicle.

As you move off the road and out of the path of the oncoming vehicle, ease up on the brakes so that your car doesn’t skid. This skid could cause you to lose control. Make any steering movements subtle.

Don’t look into the ditch or you may head into it. Look along the berm, where you want to go.

Once the oncoming car has passed you, make a gentle steering movement back onto the road. Don’t steer hard back onto the road unless you have no other option – faced with hitting a crash barrier, for example.

Once back on the road, pull over safely and stop to let your beating heart calm down. It's very important that you don’t drive on until you have calmed down, which may take a while.

You now have pre-planned reactions for avoiding a head-on collision on a straight road. Keep these in your brain and, heaven forbid, should the situation ever arise when you need them, they will be there for you to pluck out and use to survive.

This article was first published in AA Directions in 2007.


WAI ARIKI is the brand new luxury spa on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Developed by the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust of local iwi Ngāti Whakaue, Wai Ariki is one of just a few indigenous-owned spa operations in the world.

A world-class complex, Wai Ariki combines the healing properties of Rotorua’s geothermal waters with Ngāti Whakaue culture and manaakitanga (hospitality).

Our spa day begins as we’re ushered into an ambient, dark-stone-tiled changing room and presented with ubiquitous white robes, folded like origami. Then, we start our restorative journey – an immersive, beautifully curated, multi-sensory experience that takes us through elements of hot, cold, wet, dry… and mud.

The first phase is a shock to the system. We’re told to remove our robes and walk, one at a time, through Te Iringa – the cleansing waterfall designed to bless our bodies and our journey through Wai Ariki. As I walk through, five showers automatically start up – a warm spray, a cold fragrant mist that makes me shriek, a powerful two-pronged jet that feels like a massage and a final cold rinse. I emerge, surprised and invigorated, to move on to the next space – fire and ice.

Te Ahi Tupua means ‘the eternal flame.’ At Wai Ariki, this is an area dedicated to opposite ends of the temperature spectrum. Three different types of sauna line one wall, all set at different heats and with varying levels of humidity. One has walls stuffed with aromatic hay; our

favourite is designed for halotherapy, with a wall of glowing salt blocks. To offset the heat we’re encouraged to enter the Kaumanga Mātao – the fridgarium – and literally rub ourselves with crushed ice. The ensuing drench from a hanging bucket of ice-cold water takes my breath away.

Next we head to the pools. Set under the soaring arches of the wharenui-inspired building, the five geothermal pools overlook the Rotorua lakefront. We try them all –shifting between warm alkaline waters and the massaging jets of the hydrotherapy pool. We dip into the cold plunge pool then feel our skin tingle in the hot geothermal water afterwards. My favourite is the herb pool, with a mesmerising garden of native kawakawa and koromiko plants hanging from the ceiling.

Then, Hayley, our spa attendant escorts us through to get dirty. Papatūānuku is the Wai Ariki mud experience. The dollop of silky mud in a small metal bowl looks like chocolate mousse. “Don’t eat it though!” Hayley advises. Instead, we smear it onto our skin, caking our arms, legs, faces and reclining on the warm tiled loungers to let it dry. Once we’re covered in a fine crust we transition to the final phase of the journey a dark, steamy room with heated benches where we sit, reflect and then shower ourselves clean.

But wait, there’s more. Feeling simultaneously relaxed and invigorated we transition to the adjacent sanctuary space for even more indulgence. We slip

into the warm waters of another three geothermal pools including Tirotiro Whetū, the Sky Pool. Here, shallow water surrounds a tiled central island designed for visitors to lie and gaze at the stars. Or clouds, in our case.

We take a break from all the relaxation to share a grazing platter in the tranquil lounge, cocooned in our robes and snuggled under soft knitted blankets before the final phase of the Tānga Mākoa relaxation and tranquility experience – our spa treatments.

My massage begins with the softlyspoken therapist placing a piece of warm pounamu on my sternum and reciting a short karakia to invoke spiritual guidance. An hour passes in what feels like mere minutes and I’m greeted by a second facial therapist who slicks my skin with layers of fragrant balms, creams, serums and spritzes made from native botanicals. At some point I drift off and then startle awake, surprised to find myself still in the dim room filled with gentle te reo Māori melodies. We eventually emerge from the soothing sanctum, almost catatonic with relaxation – muscles loose, skin smoothed and our mauri (vital energy) well and truly replenished.


Be in to win a spa experience for two at Wai Ariki in Rotorua. See p.16 for details.

FEATURE 28 aadirections.co.nz
Jo Percival replenishes her wairua (spirit) at Wai Ariki in Rotorua.

CAPE SOUTH is an expansive red-roofed homestead nestled into the Waipuka Hills near Waimārama in Hawke’s Bay. It’s also the setting for luxurious wellness retreats designed to refresh, reassess and revitalise both body and mind.

I arrive with my friend Charlotte for our weekend retreat on a rare sunny winter afternoon. While the homestead has six spacious rooms, this retreat is just for the two of us, so host Cam McLeay shows us to our comfortable cottage adjacent to the main house.

Views stretch over rolling lawns dotted with giraffe sculptures to farmland and, in the distance, the vast blue ocean. We check out the permaculture vegetable gardens, lush with greenery even mid-winter and Cam hands us sprigs of mustard greens and bright purple borage flowers to taste. Just about everything served on site is grown in these gardens, he explains.

Back in the cottage we sit down with Kate McLeay, our wellbeing guide for the weekend, to go through an energy audit. Sipping cups of Ayurvedic tea, spiced with fennel, coriander and cumin seeds, Kate gets us to set our intentions for the weekend. We reflect on how we have been feeling recently and Kate talks us through the principles of the retreat. It’s about emptying the bucket, she says. For me, this relates to quitting coffee – discovering how I feel without caffeine and then making an informed decision about whether to re-integrate it into my life. Or not.

Kate is self-aware, self-deprecating. “I would definitely modify the way I speak

when working with a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers for instance!” she laughs. And she does work with Hawke’s Bay farmers, many of whom come to her in crisis, on the brink of burnout or breakdown. Her clientele is diverse –from affluent Havelock North women to gang members; corporate wellness coaching to working with people in prison. They all have something to learn, to gain, from her teaching. Accredited in yoga, breathwork, sleep coaching and mindfulness, amongst other things, Kate was formerly a school principal in Uganda and there’s still a hint of ‘no nonsense’ behind her warm personality.

But a Cape South retreat is all about free will. We won’t be forced to do anything we don’t want to, Kate explains. We should simply take what we need from what’s offered, finding the components that resonate with us. Kate tells us about people who’ve come on retreats and not left the cottage. Others are keen to participate in all of the activities, which is what Charlotte and I do.

We change into stretchy pants and reconvene in the yoga studio, all polished wooden floors, colourful bolsters and piles of handmade quilts and blankets. Kate leads us through a gentle Qi Gong practice, similar to Tai Chi. We scoop armfuls of energy from the earth, the sky, and feel ourselves moving purposefully. Our heart rates lower and we leave with a new sense of calm.

That evening Kate delivers dinner to the cottage. Soup. Thick with chunky

vegetables and served with a small side of whipped cashew ‘cheese’ and seedy crackers. If anyone had told me prior to this that I’d feel satiated by nothing more than porridge, a smoothie and a bowl of vegetable soup in a day I would have laughed in their face. But I find that I’m not hungry. It is eye-opening.

In the morning Kate guides us through a yoga practice with the sun warming our backs, then we sit on the veranda to eat densely nutritious porridge – packed with quinoa, chia seeds and nuts –homemade, of course.

We interrupt our calm relaxation with a shock, plunging into the beautiful but incredibly cold mineral pool. Set at just 10ºC, it’s colder than the sea at this time of year. Cam swims laps in it every morning to reap the many benefits of cold water therapy. Apparently the stress response that the cold causes in your body helps to build resilience so that you’re more capable of managing stress in your day-to-day life. I manage two immersions of increasing duration, scuttling back to the hot tub in between. But after my third dip, swimming a full length of the pool, the sunshine feels warm in comparison and we recline on poolside loungers in our togs to dry off, ignoring the fact that it’s winter.

On our last morning we meet Cam and Indi the dog for a steep but invigorating walk to the top of Waipuka Hill behind Cape South. We reach the ridge breathless both from exertion and from the incredible views down to Ocean Beach and across to Te Motu o Kura / Bare Island. On a flattish section of paddock, Cam, who is also a certified yoga instructor, takes us through a short practice. ‘Reaching for the heavens’ makes a lot more sense when we’re looking into an endless expanse of blue sky.

We leave Cape South with several takeaways. Not only a bright blue mermaid smoothie for lunch, but also a lot of learning. I’ve discovered how much of a sledgehammer coffee was for my adrenal system. Without it, I begin to appreciate the nuances of my natural energy peaks and troughs. And my sleep is dense and velvety every night. So I shall continue to be – for now at least – caffeine-free.

Jo Percival discovers that less is more at a Cape South Wellness Retreat.
Be in to win a two-night experience at Cape South Wellness Retreat. See p16 for details.
FEATURE 30 aadirections.co.nz

Monica Tischler embarks on a traditional Japanese practice to slow down and bathe in the benefits of nature.


Domain, Geoff Handsfield guides a group of people through a canopy of native trees and ferns, silhouetted against a starlit sky.

Eyes adjusting to the eerie darkness, Geoff invites the group to open their senses to the sights, smells, sounds and touch of the forest around us. The cool, damp air bites my cheeks and the throaty warbles of tūī soften from the treetops above, lulled by nightfall.

As we venture deeper through the network of trees, the babble of a stream drowns out the drum of vehicles on the nearby motorways and my heart jumps in delight as I discover the earthy embankments are imbedded with hundreds of glowworms. The healing benefits of nature begin to take hold as I feel the stresses of the outside world melt away with every step.

The guided forest immersion run by Geoff is based on a practice known as Forest Bathing, or Forest Therapy, a Westernised approach to the traditional Japanese ritual of shinrin yoku, which has been studied extensively for its beneficial physical and emotional effects.

The concept first came to light in the 1980s after many people in Japan began suffering chronic illnesses thought to be prompted by cityscapes and technologies rapidly taking over the natural environment. Researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to prove that time spent in nature is, indeed, good for us.

Geoff, a scientist and outdoors enthusiast himself, already understood some of these merits but deepened his knowledge during the Covid-19 lockdowns

in 2021 by training under the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and becoming a certified forest therapy guide.

His slow-paced walks are set in accessible environments and take place at either dawn, daytime or nightfall.

Through a series of invitations from Geoff, our group spends time both together and alone in the leafy darkness, coming together to share what we have learned.

The positive effects of nature are many. It promotes cardiovascular health, boosts the immune system, improves sleep and helps with anxiety and depression. It also increases self-esteem, empathy, kindness, compassion and appreciation for the world and ecosystems mastered by plants, fungi and insects.

Scientifically speaking, trees and plants emit chemicals known as phytoncides which promote overall health when inhaled or when present on our skin. The concept of bathing in the health-promoting elements of Mother Nature can be taken literally.

Our time forest bathing comes to an end over a cup of warm kawakawa tea, harvested and brewed by Geoff and enjoyed in a small, dimly lit clearing. We notice there is an extra mug: for the forest, Geoff says, as he pours the liquid into the earth, giving thanks for allowing us the time to bathe in its many benefits.

See forestbathingaotearoa.com or for forest bathing outside Auckland, see natureandforesttherapy.earth

*Terms and conditions apply. Available on rentals in participating New Zealand locations only. Offer excludes taxes, fees, optional products and services, fuel, battery charge, additional charges such as airport taxes and sundry fees and the GST that applies to these charges. This offer may not be combined with any other offer, discount promotion, special offer or coupon. Offer applies to all vehicle groups subject to availability. Visit hertz.co.nz/aa for full terms and conditions. Book Now at Hertz.co.nz/aa AA Members Exclusive Rental Offer Let’s go with confidence, with ease, and with all the details taken care of. Base Rate on New Zealand Hertz Car Rentals*

Wheel Love

“I’VE ONLY HAD the car for about six months. My husband found it on TradeMe. I’d wanted a Nash for years as a friend had one and I thought ‘oh, I quite like that!’

It’s a small car, so there’s only enough room for me and Vicki and the dogs – not our husbands! We’re going to sound like crazy twins but my dog’s name is Bobby and Vicki’s is Bob. We’re both always calling out ‘Bob!’ It’s a little bit nutty isn’t it? We only live two houses away from each other, too. Our poor

husbands, it’s quite horrendous for them, probably! That’s why finding the car was so cool – we thought ‘oh neat, this one is for us!’ They’ve got their V8s and Chevys but this is our little quirky one to go out in, together. It’s actually a bit of a handful to drive because it’s got a huge steering wheel. I’m a little person and I only just fit in it. You feel like a giant. The gears are quite tricky because it’s a column change. I’m quite confident in a car but it’s definitely a handful!”


AA election calls

The most pressing issues for transport and mobility that the Government should be tackling after the election.


E-scooter commuter

Could getting to and from work by an electric scooter be a viable option for you?


Twilight driving

The implications of New Zealand's aging driving population.

Sally Bridgman (pictured left) and her 1956 Nash Metropolitan, along with identical twin sister Vicki Turfrey and their dogs, Bob.


Matthew Tso makes a case for which transport issues should be prioritised by New Zealand’s leaders.

MOTORING 34 aadirections.co.nz

What issues will the Government be focusing on after the upcoming election? Where will the funding go, as whoever is in charge tries to make the country a better place?

The AA has created eight ‘election calls’, developed through analysis and research on transport issues, surveys of AA Members and perspectives from the 18 district councils of AA Member volunteers around the country.

Revive essential road maintenance

Make the road network resilient

Stop drunk and drugged drivers

Boost investment in electric vehicle chargers

Target cell phone use behind the wheel

Lift the safety of regional highways

Fund roads fairly

Show how transport emissions tax is meaningfully reducing transport emissions

Addressing these will, the Association believes, make a real difference by bringing efficiency, resilience and choice to the way we get around. They are affordable and achievable transport solutions which will make for safer, smoother and faster travel.

Those needing the most urgent attention are, in the AA’s reckoning, maintenance, resilience and tackling the issue of drivers under the influence.


The AA call: Increase road maintenance by at least $1.2 billion over the next three years, focused on foundation and resurfacing work.

Potholes and rough roads have been hitting the headlines and dissatisfaction with the quality of road surfaces grows. Road quality consistently features as participants’ biggest concern in AA Member surveys.

While recent funding increases for maintenance have been welcome, the actual works have been well behind target for decades. Meanwhile, the number of vehicle kilometres travelled has increased almost 16% in the last ten years and, at the same time, the cost of maintenance work has gone up by around 30%. In short, traffic and costs

have increased; we need maintenance funding to go up as well.

Funding uncertainty has also led to less confidence among roading contractors for investing in equipment and staff. Without a sustained commitment to properly maintaining roads, sufficient industry capacity to deliver the work will remain a problem.

The quality of a road’s surface has a real impact on safety. Even the best drivers risk losing control if the surface doesn’t provide good grip. Putting off maintenance can mean more potholes and greater longterm repair costs down the track.


The AA call: Improving the resilience of our road network needs to become an urgent ongoing priority. This means having a clear and fully-funded plan for improving the resilience of major roads most at risk or where the consequences of a road being impassable are most significant. It also means carefully considering opportunities to improve resilience when planning road construction, renewals and maintenance work.

In recent years roads in some parts of the country have been repaired only to fail again when the next flood comes along. It has become obvious that simply putting back what was there before is

Police, and alcohol testing numbers need to return to their previous high levels. Authorities need to monitor and follow up those who do not install an interlock so that all drivers sentenced to them actually end up with a device in their vehicle.

Three hundred and seventy-seven people died on New Zealand’s roads last year; drugs and alcohol played a part in just over half (192) of those fatalities.

In March this year, the Government and its policymakers scored an embarrassing own goal when they failed to introduce roadside oral drug tests under the Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Act when no test could be found that met the act’s strict margin of error guidelines. This despite oral tests being in use in many other countries. It is still unclear when quick saliva-based roadside drug tests will be introduced, but they are needed now.

Meanwhile, figures from the Ministry of Transport showed that New Zealand hit a ten-year high in 2022 for drink driving deaths, recording 111 fatalities from crashes involving a driver who was over the limit or refused to be tested. In 2013, 53 people died in similar circumstances. The number of alcohol tests being conducted have been well below the target of three million tests in recent years.

no longer the answer. Many of our most important roads are ill-equipped to cope with weather events or rising sea levels.

Restoring decent road connections to the regions and communities that were devastated by the recent weather events must be an immediate priority. But equally urgent is getting on with improving the resilience of our road network by identifying and protecting the highest risk highways for weatherrelated events, and identifying solutions should they become impassable.

Tackling driving under the influence

The AA call: Saliva-based roadside drug testing devices need to be introduced as soon as possible by

When fitted with an interlock device (most easily described as an in-car breathalyser) a vehicle will not start if alcohol is detected. They are an incredibly effective way of stopping drink drivers. The imposition of interlocks on drink drivers has been available to New Zealand courts since 2018, but AA analysis shows a large proportion of those who should get one are either not given a sentence mandating one be installed in their vehicle, or they are simply disobeying the sentence. In the case of the latter, authorities need to follow up to ensure compliance.

Large-scale testing of drivers for alcohol or drugs is critical in catching and deterring people from getting behind the wheel when they are impaired.

Road quality consistently features as participants’ biggest concern in AA Member surveys.

EASY l ctric

Efficiency, convenience and practicality compelled Blake, an inner-city Auckland resident, to opt for an e-scooter to commute.

He was looking for something that would get him to and from work in the city – a 3km round trip – quickly and easily. It also needed to be practical to charge and store in his city-fringe townhouse; he chose a foldable Xiaomi.

“One drawcard with an e-scooter is that it doesn’t take up as much space as a bike; it’s small and compact,” he says.

Another attraction was the fact an e-scooter allowed him to get home in as little as eight minutes – impressive, considering Auckland’s notorious commuter traffic woes – and an important factor for someone with a young family.

“The fact I can say ‘I’m on my way home’ and turn up so quickly thereafter is ridiculous, really. It’s particularly great if daycare calls; it’s good to be on hand.”

As e-scooters are not required to be registered in New Zealand it’s difficult to know exactly how big the rider population is, however it’s not hard to notice the growing numbers of people zipping around town on them.

Director of New Zealand retailer Freed and scooter enthusiast Jen Hobbs says the

benefits are many: they’re compact, quiet and fun. And privately-owned e-scooters are a welcome addition to Auckland roads for their positive contribution to issues around congestion and emissions.

“Commuting by e-scooter is so liberating that it can genuinely change your life,” Jen says. “But they’re not all play; more and more people are asking, could this work as a commute for me?”

Waka Kotahi is revising existing electric scooter regulations on the ins and outs of owning one, and where you can ride.

You can ride e-scooters almost anywhere: on footpaths, shared pathways and the road. It’s worth noting, Jen says, that dedicated cycle lanes are technically reserved for cyclists. “So, if you are using these, please ensure you give due consideration to all cyclists, as we are guests in their space.”

When on the road, you’re required to ride as near as practicable to the curb. However, this doesn’t mean you need to ride in the gutter, Jen says.

As it stands, e-scooters are legal in New Zealand and don’t require registration or a driver license to be ridden on the road. Waka Kotahi says they must be equipped with the same features as bicycles: lights, brakes, reflectors and a bell. Jen says that for some “completely mad reason” helmets are not yet legally required but, for obvious reasons, she strongly recommends wearing one.

“Don’t endanger yourself. Ride defensively and considerately and be aware of your surroundings. We recommend riders wear extra lights on the handlebar and helmet to maximise visibility for other road users.”

Give parked cars enough room to open a door and be prepared to stop to let traffic pass if that keeps you safe, Jen says. If you cannot ride safely on the road, use the pavement (speed limits on footpaths is 15km/h). “And you should

MOTORING 36 aadirections.co.nz
Commuting by e-scooter is so liberating that it can genuinely change your life, but they’re not all play; more and more people are asking, could this work as a commute for me?
A scooter commuter shares his story with Monica Tischler.

Safe charging

Lithium batteries are built with numerous safeguards in place and fires are rare, however they can combust because of damage or faults. Freed's Jen Hobbs says fire prevention is completely achievable and risk can be minimised by:

Not charging your e-scooter while you are sleeping and ideally charging away from sleeping areas. At the very least, don’t park-to-charge in a fire exit area. Not getting your e-scooter wet or leaving water sitting on it. Over time water can work its way past seals and get inside the battery cavity. Batteries have a sticker on them that turns red when exposed to water, which doesn’t mean the battery is damaged but is a warning.

Never charging a damaged battery. If your scooter is visibly damaged, has crashed or taken a big knock, or if you suspect it might have water inside, get it checked. Allowing time after a ride for things to cool before plugging your scooter in to charge.

Charging warm batteries can also shorten the life span. Avoiding using it at maximum speed for prolonged periods. Heat build-up can damage wiring insulation over time.

Checking your charger; it can get warm but should never get hot. Always using the correct charger. Using a different one is extremely risky.

Regular servicing. If you are using your e-scooter every day, it’s recommended to have it serviced every six months. Storing away from heat sources and avoid leaving it in direct sunlight. Batteries need to be kept cool.

See freedpev.co.nz or nzta.co.nz for more information.

only use pedestrian crossings if you dismount and walk your scooter across.”

The rules vary when it comes to taking e-scooters on public transport. Trains and ferries allow it, although some ferries are introducing limits, so it pays to check and be organised in advance. Currently, e-scooters are permitted on buses at the driver’s discretion.

Most of Blake’s commute is off-road which makes him feel safe on his journey, although he’s had a few scares and now knows to approach certain areas at a slower pace, namely carparks where vehicles could be entering and exiting quickly, and when riding past bus stops, where pedestrians are likely to step out onto footpaths.

“There’s always a lot going on around town. You can’t allow yourself to daydream; it’s the same as if you’re driving. The good thing about e-scooters is you can’t be tempted to use your phone at all. You wouldn’t want to lose focus, even for a second,” Blake says.

Blake’s e-scooter is limited to 25km/h which helps to reduce potential accidents; once at work, he can store it safely and securely in onsite facilities. When parked in a public space, there’s a mobile app that disables the scooter.

Blake says many employers now offer ‘end of trip facilities’ for staff that include

hair straighteners, blowdryers and hair products to incentivise commuting via alternative modes of transport.

“It’s a big selling point (for workers). You’d be mad to drive into Auckland central now; you can’t use half of Queen Street with all the roadworks and bus lanes and pedestrian-only areas.

“I know a lot of people at work who take their e-scooters on the ferry. They fold up and fit more easily on public transport or in a car than a bike does, so you could get picked up after work, or take it somewhere to go for a ride for fun,” he says.

We’ve got you

AA Roadservice offers support to AA Members should their personally-owned e-scooter run out of charge or face technical difficulties while out on a ride. AA Roadservice will cover the cost of an Uber or taxi to return you and your scooter home or to a place of repair or charge. Call 0800 500 222 or request help via the AA Roadservice app.

MOTORING 38 aadirections.co.nz
Director of New Zealand scooter retailer Freed, Jen Hobbs.

IAM RoadSmart has been promoting better driving and riding standards in New Zealand since 1959. With six regional branches across the North and South Islands, it is New Zealand’s longest running and largest independent ‘hands-on’ road safety charity.

Starting out as the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), the charity began life in the UK in 1956. Today, its aims are still the same – to reduce the number of avoidable traffic collisions on our roads and improve the nation’s overall driving and riding standard.

It does this through volunteer observers, each mentoring road users through to higher skill levels while bringing greater overall enjoyment to the driving and riding experience. Coaching skills and disciplines are based on, among other influences, the Roadcraft system – the UK’s Police handbook.

The concept centres on how drivers and riders approach situations and negotiate hazards in a flexible and methodical way that leaves nothing to chance. It uses the acronym IPSGA –Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Acceleration.

“I believe we are the country’s best kept secret,” IAM President Colin Gates says. “Our goal is for members to come out with us, enjoy the experience and benefit from one-on-one coaching, learning by example and discussion. The result? To significantly increase the probability of getting home safely and without incident.”

Observers, examiners, mentors, advocates, emergency services, professional drivers and professional instructors have all taken IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced courses. Many become volunteers themselves.

While closely aligned to the UK model, the New Zealand organisation is quintessentially Kiwi, and mindful of New Zealand’s variable conditions and Road Code. The Roadcraft system forms the basis of ACC’s Ride Forever programme for motorcyclists and in advanced form for the IAM Roadcraft mentoring programme for both car drivers and motorcyclists.

“New Zealand offers such a diverse range of vehicle types, road surfaces and shifting weather conditions, which can alter the situation more rapidly than in many other countries,” Colin says. “This is a particular concern for motorcycle riders, as any road you used last week may be different this week. We’ve all experienced roadworks, rainfall, wind, landslips, tar bleed, lack of road chippings, grip and potholes. Each contributes to a potential problem if not approached correctly. We heighten the ‘what if?’

“Everyone at IAM RoadSmart is a volunteer, giving up their time and sharing their expertise to help make our roads safer. The more people we can reach, the more people we can help, and the safer everyone will be.

“We want more drivers and riders, and we’re always looking for capable and enthusiastic volunteers, whether they are new

Ben Whittacker-Cook talks to a charity focused on improving driver skills.

to IAM RoadSmart NZ, or people who have been with us in the past and can renew their interest.”

With a new board in place since April 2023, IAM RoadSmart now welcomes members on restricted licences (subject to a competency assessment) – a key initiative in raising the general standards of driving and riding in New Zealand and encouraging younger membership.

“For younger drivers and riders, we are one of the very good organisations out there to work with because we look at road safety in a very practical way. We are not professional trainers, and we don’t teach those who can’t drive. We take those who can drive and assist them to develop their skills and hazard awareness to expedite their safety.

“There are many distractions on the roads today, so we’ve got to have our eyes wide open and, to quote Roadcraft, ‘ be aware of what can be seen, what can’t be seen and what can reasonably be expected.’ Developing better habits today and setting a great example will pay dividends, as every parent is already influencing the next generation of drivers,” Colin says.

IAM RoadSmart offers a no-obligation taster session. For information, see iamroadsmart.org.nz

Riding with insight

"I wanted to improve my riding and make myself safer because I want to ride my motorbike for as long as possible. IAM RoadSmart works through a process, connecting you with very experienced mentors and observers and bringing it all together in a rounded way through one-on-one training, which makes it so much easier when applying it on the road.

"In a short space of time, I found myself appreciating that there's a different way to approach my riding. IAMRS showed me valuable insights around better road positioning and heightened awareness of what's going on around me and this allowed me to make better decisions. It really lifted my game."


Peter King investigates issues around New Zealand’s ageing driving population.

Today, one in four licensed drivers are aged over 60. By 2028, one in four New Zealand drivers will be 65 years or older and, as health technology improves and more people live longer, that number will increase. In the not-too-distant future, a third of the population will be in the 60 to 90 age group.

Recognising the significance of this, the AA Research Foundation commissioned WSP Research to investigate the implications of having more older drivers on our roads. The research involved looking at existing statistics, surveying older drivers, examining the implications for infrastructure and talking to driver training experts about the problems older drivers face.

WSP Research Leader Bill Frith says the findings debunk the myth that older drivers are higher-risk drivers. In reality, he says, older drivers are involved in proportionally fewer crashes than middle-aged drivers. However, due to increased fragility, when they do crash they’re more likely to get hurt more than younger drivers.

“As the population ages, projections indicate a 33% increase in fatal and serious driver injuries by 2063,” Bill warns.

“To combat this, we must create a transport system that's more forgiving for older people, benefitting all drivers in the process.”

One source of concern is intersections.

“Older drivers are up to 2.5 times more likely than younger drivers to have fatal or serious crashes at intersections. Most of our roading infrastructure is designed for the quicker reactions of younger generations but, with an ageing population, it’s time to drive change on our roads,” Bill says.

The report recommends more roundabouts instead of traffic signals or signs, more warning signage of upcoming intersections, especially where lane choice is critical and better right-turn support.

As we age our eyes’ ability to see things under blue light reduces, so better lighting and road marking is needed. The report strongly recommends street lighting LEDs that emit less blue light and that only reflectorised signs and road markings be allowed. It says consideration should also be given to wider edge and centre lines to improve the amount of light reflected. All of this will add costs and need to be maintained but will help all drivers.

Older drivers may be less likely to crash than younger drivers but that’s partly because many restrict their driving to avoid situations which make them anxious. These include driving in busy traffic, higher speeds, heavy rain, driving at night, and driving when the sun is low creating glare.

MOTORING 40 aadirections.co.nz

And it’s not just physical conditions that are concerning older drivers; other drivers also play a part in making our roads unwelcoming for them. Bill says supporting older drivers and creating age-friendly driving environments will not only reduce older drivers’ anxiety but contribute to safer roads for everyone.

Perhaps one of the most difficult issues facing people as they age is transitioning to life without a car. The researchers surveyed more than 800 people who had taken part in the AA Senior Driving Programme, free for drivers aged over 74. It found only one in ten older people had planned to live without driving. Numerous studies have found that the period of early retirement is usually quite busy, with people travelling and becoming involved as consultants or volunteers. But as we age our mileage decreases; the study found 56% who stopped driving did so because of some sort of medical problem. The effect was clearly hard on mental health, as two in three of those who stopped found they had less engagement in social events and activities. One in three felt isolated.

Cycling as an alternative to driving is not widely considered a safe option. Among the survey respondents, only 3% chose to cycle after giving up driving.

Public transport also has its limits. Surveys by both Stats NZ and Research NZ have found almost a third of older people don’t feel safe waiting for public transport, females more than males, so they don’t use it. Once again older people’s suppressed needs can become less obvious to authorities due to their discretion. That said, the bus

was still more popular (28%) than dedicated shuttle services and paid driving companion services (16% each).

The way most people who have had to give up driving get around is by getting help from friends or family members. The study found 84% of older people relied on others for transport.

With almost a third of older drivers stopping or curtailing their driving due to anxiety, research partner AA Driving School was pleased to see the positive impact its Senior Driver programme had had. Some 68% said it had given them more confidence in their driving, 40% that their knowledge of road rules improved and 39% that their risk awareness increased. These sessions are fully tailored to the individual and strive to help support our Members to stay active and mobile into later life.

AA Driving School General Manager Roger Venn says: “With an ageing population in New Zealand, we’ll be continuing to look at ways we can further support our Members on their driving journey as they get older and look forward to investigating new avenues of support, driven by the findings from this report.”

AA Members aged over 74 years can have a free driver coaching session every two years. For more information and to book go to aa.co.nz/drivers

Older drivers may be less likely to crash than younger drivers but that’s partly because many restrict their driving to avoid situations which make them anxious.
AA Member discounts available when you provide your valid AA Membership number at the time of booking. Rental car offers exclude tax, fees, optional products and services. Terms and conditions apply for each travel offer. Visit the relevant Member Benefit Partner’s page via aa.co.nz/member-deals for more details. * Redeemable in a single fill up to a maximum of 50 litres. Save on your next trip! AA Members can enjoy special travel benefits. selected sailing and cruising experiences with Explore Group 10% OFF selected group tours and short breaks with Leisure Time Travel 10% OFF the base rate with Hertz car rentals in New Zealand, and a 12 cents per litre AA Smartfuel discount, on up to 50 litres* Exclusive 15% OFF the base rate with Thrifty car rentals in New Zealand, and a 20 cents per litre AA Smartfuel discount, on up to 50 litres* Exclusive 20% OFF the daily rate with GO Rentals car hire 15% OFF on selected accommodation worldwide with AA Traveller SAVE selected guided cycling and hiking tours with Adventure South NZ and walks with Great Walks of New Zealand 10% OFF the best available fare on Interislander 10% OFF the best daily price on Britz, Maui and Mighty campervan rentals 10% OFF the best available fare on scenic trains with Great Journeys New Zealand™ 10% OFF To find out more visit: aa.co.nz/member-deals

How much do drivers actually slow down for lower limits? Dylan Thomsen reports.

Whether it is lower limits around schools or shopping areas, on rural roads or state highways, 11,000km of roads have had speed limits reduced in the last few years. On current trends, about 30,000km of the 94,000km of all roads in New Zealand will have lower speed limits by the end of the decade, with many councils currently working on speed changes.

As these are the biggest changes in speed limits New Zealand has seen for a long time, the AA Research Foundation wanted to understand how drivers were adapting.

Researchers from Waikato University were commissioned to analyse real-world beforeand-after speeds on eight state highways that had limit reductions in 2020 or 2021. The project also involved simulator testing of people’s driving on higher-speed and urban roads that had had limits lowered recently.

“Lower speed limits are the main tool being used to try and achieve the Government’s targets for improving road safety. It’s well proven that even a small reduction in speed across large numbers of vehicles does see less harm from crashes,” AA Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer, Simon Douglas, says. “But one of the things we wanted to explore in this project was whether travel speeds actually changed following limits being reduced, if that happened over time and if results varied at different locations.”

Speed data from 30 sites on eight highways was analysed just before the lower limit was introduced, then at regular intervals for up to seven weeks after. Most stretches of road had gone from a 100km/h limit to 80km/h.

At 22 of the 30 locations, the average speeds of vehicles dropped almost immediately upon the limit changing and remained that way seven weeks on. Some locations had small drops in average speeds; other larger reductions (ranging from 1km/h to 8km/h)

However, eight of the 30 locations did not see speeds reduce. Two had no change and six had an increase – i.e. vehicles were driving faster on average seven weeks after the limit was reduced.

The table below shows results across the 30 locations the researchers monitored:

Average speeds seven weeks after limit dropped

At or below 80km/h 33% of locations

81-83km/h 27% of locations

84-86 km/h 23% of locations

87km/h+ 17% of locations

The researchers found that the physical features of the roads, such as how wide they were could explain some of the variations in speeds at different locations.

Professor Sam Charlton, who led the work, believes drivers’ habits on different types of roads are as important as the physical features of roads in influencing travel speeds.

“We saw speeds come down at many sites and it happened within a week from the limit lowering in many cases.

“That being said, even with the most generous of criteria for success, there were certain sites that did not see average speeds come down and at all locations there were still a significant number of drivers

travelling well above the new lower limits.

“When we drive a road all the time it can be hard to break old habits and we think this is responsible for much of what we saw in the data.”

From the AA’s perspective, the research appears to reinforce the view that more needs to be done than simply changing the signs on the side of the road to make limit changes effective.

While the limit was consistently 80km/h, there were substantial variations in speeds being travelled on different highways, and even at different locations on the same highway.

“Decisions around speed limits need to take into account the physical road environment and the habits drivers currently have, in terms of how fast they are used to travelling,” Simon says.

“Some roads are going to be a better natural fit for a lower limit, but on wider, straighter sections of highway, not so much.

“We also think the authorities could be doing a lot more to recognise that they are trying to change habits built over many decades around subconscious speed choices. They need to use different approaches with signage and road markings to keep reminding people what the limit is.”

Read the full results from project at aa.co.nz/about/aa-researchfoundation/programmes/ speed-limits/ 43 SPRING 2023 SPEED LIMITS



The Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric SUV that combines Mustang’s iconic performance and design with the benefits of electric power. With a striking exterior and a spacious, tech-forward cabin, it offers a thrilling driving experience. The Mach-E provides instant acceleration, a quiet ride, extended range and supports fast charging. Equipped with driverassistance features and advanced safety systems, it also provides a secure drive. Plus its spacious and comfortable cabin can accommodate five passengers with ample legroom and headroom for all occupants, ensuring a comfortable ride. The Mustang Mach-E RWD is available from $79,990 + ORC.


The new Volkswagen Amarok is a stylish ute that exudes a strong and commanding presence while emphasising its off-road capabilities. Aerodynamic lines flow seamlessly from the front to the rear, contributing to its dynamic appearance. It boasts a welldesigned interior, too, with a focus on comfort, functionality and modern technology. There is ample space for passengers and comfortable, supportive seats. The dashboard layout is intuitive and driver-centric; the premium sound system provides excellent audio quality. In terms of safety, the Amarok comes with advanced features such as multiple airbags, stability control, traction control, parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Available from $65,000 + ORC.


The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is an elegant sports sedan with graceful handling and impressive build quality. It’s a classic example of style meeting efficiency; the Ioniq 6 boasts a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.22, which pips the Tesla Model 3 which has a coefficient of 0.23. What this means is the battery range is extended through aerodynamics rather than larger batteries. It boasts many advanced safety features and is equipped with a high-tech infotainment system, featuring a large touchscreen display mounted on the centre console. The standard price for the Hyandai Ioniq 6 is from $79,990 for the 53kWh battery; the 77.4kWh is priced from $94,990.

44 aadirections.co.nz MOTORING


The Maserati Grecale is the type of car that just doesn’t catch attention on the road, it commands it. The exterior is a work of art, with a captivating and sporty design, embodying Maserati’s signature blend of luxury and performance. Not surprisingly, the interior is also high-end luxurious, with fine materials and stunning details evident in every corner. It's comfortable and spacious, too; front and rear seats have ample legroom and headroom. But performance is what this car will be bought for, and it doesn’t disappoint. Considering the price, that’s a very good thing; the Grecale starts at $120,000 + ORC.


Modern and eye-catching, the Škoda Enyaq is an impressive electric SUV, with a spacious and well-appointed interior and an electric powertrain that delivers smooth and powerful performance. It has a range of 532km and is packed with technology and safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. It also has a range of advanced driver assistance systems and a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The Škoda Enyaq starts at $79,990.


A striking exterior makeover is complemented by new battery technology that offers greater range from a single charge – what’s not to love? The MG is easy to drive thanks to its upright driving stance, has stylish faux leather seats, a very good wireless phone charger, panoramic glass roof and a lot of electric extras (seats, wing mirrors, etc). Added up, the MG package is well worth considering for those in the EV market. At $59,990 it qualifies for the full Clean Car Rebate, plus it has a WLTP-rated 440km of range. These two factors alone possibly make the MG the best bang-for-buck in this segment.

For full reviews of these models, see aa.co.nz/cars



Get advice from the experts. The AA Motoring Services team test-drives new models and makes of car. Their detailed, impartial reports are available at aa.co.nz/cars , along with ANCAP safety ratings.

Fuel economy ratings are available for these models. To compare fuel economy and safety ratings across other vehicles, go to rightcar.govt.nz



Discover the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites of New Zealand’s remote and wildlife-filled Subantarctic Campbell, Auckland and Snares Islands, the untamed wilderness of Fiordland’s ice-carved mountains, forests and fiords, and Stewart and Ulva Islands on this iconic 12-day Kiwi voyage. Celebrate Christmas in this very special part of remotest New Zealand, observe life at the New Zealand/Hooker’s Sea Lion colony on Enderby Island and wade through waist-deep fields of flowering megaherbs. Share in the magic of the rarely seen albatross ‘gamming’ courting ritual, observe the antics of Snares Crested Penguins navigating the treacherous Penguin Slide and more.


20 – 31 December 2023, Queenstown return From $12,750pp $9,765pp*

Deck 4 Superior Stateroom, twin share


• Pre cruise hotel night in Queenstown including dinner & breakfast

• All on board accommodation & meals

• House wine & beer with lunch & dinner

• All shore excursions^

• Pre & Post cruise transfers

• Lecture series by noted naturalists


Stewart Island

The Snares

Auckland Islands

Campbell Island

*T&Cs apply, new bookings only, excludes Landing Fees & Suite Deaks promotion. ^Excludes optional excursions.
© Luis Davilla © Doug Gimesy © Tonia Kraakman
AA DIRECTIONS EXCLUSIVE - SAVE 25% ON ALL BERTHS* WWW.HERITAGE–EXPEDITIONS.COM Freephone 0800 262 8873 info@heritage-expeditions.com
© Murray Potter
Queenstown Invercargill

Top Spot

Cool Wakushima represented New Zealand in snowboarding at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, competing in Slopestyle.

“I HAVE HAD a snowboard strapped on since I was about six years-old and heading down the hill with my brothers. I’m 21 now.

Growing up with my two brothers – one older and one younger – I feel like competing has always been part of my life. So, competing with snowboarding came pretty naturally!

I wasn’t actually interested in the gnarly tricks until I got a bit older. When I was 16 it hit me that I really wanted to learn the sport to make it my career. That’s when the competitions started to get fun.

I love the adrenaline that I get from trying new tricks. There are a lot of emotions that go into it and a lot of satisfaction that comes from landing a trick.

We chase winters with snowboarding. We have the season in New Zealand as a training block, and then most of the competitions run from October through to April in the Northern Hemisphere. I love travelling and it’s great that I get to do the two things that I love at the same time. I do miss summer, but I get a little bit of it. My family lives in New Zealand, but my relatives are still in Japan, so I get to visit them in May or June.

My favourite place in New Zealand is home – Queenstown. I grew up in Queenstown and whenever I’m in New Zealand I like to stay close to friends and family. Mum and I enjoy taking the dogs out for walks. There are a lot of walks with beautiful views here.”


One night only

Auckland city is an alluring escape for two young parents sans child.


Taking the time

A road trip from Christchurch to Akaroa provides the freedom to explore at leisure.


Hello, sunshine!

Blue skies are warmly welcomed on a trip to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

47 SPRING 2023


Kathryn Webster joins an extraordinary expedition to New Zealand’s wildest islands.

Before leaping into icy water, take a deep breath. The cold shock can cause a sharp, involuntary intake of air which, if you’re underwater, is problematic. I’m told this as I wait for my turn to take a polar plunge.

Earlier that day, the first day of the year, I was on the uppermost deck of Heritage Adventurer, holding my breath but not in relation to survival techniques; I was in awe. We had glided deep into the sheltered Carnley Harbour on the Auckland Islands and the serenity was absolute. Apart from a few playful seals, the bay was the epitome of calm and it was powerfully beautiful.

I was among 140 passengers sharing the 124m-long craft. Various open decks, a restaurant and lounge, a bar-style café,

a library, a pool and a sauna area meant there was plenty of space – it was never difficult to be alone and there was always something to do. Spending time on the bridge, connecting with other passengers over meals and soaking up insight from guest naturalists, botanists and historians became daily highlights.

But the topmost observation deck was one of my favourite places to be. Sometimes the bow would rise and drop dramatically and I’d stand with my feet splayed to balance, one hand on my hat. Such moments with a bit of wild in the weather were thrilling; the big Southern Ocean swell, the roar of the wind, the seascape endless and our sturdy, heroic ship riding through.

Down a couple of levels, the aft deck was where the photographers flocked,

their long lenses raised, bracing against the roll, chasing the dancing albatross, careening gulls and shearwaters in an endless game of ‘catch the action shot’.

Being anywhere onboard the ship was thrilling, even in our cosy cabin with its slightly vintage vibe and clever design, providing a place for everything. But most days involved at least one excursion off the ship. For these, biosecurity was a big deal. Before landing anywhere we had our gear inspected and when we came back onboard it was straight to the mud room to clean boots and brush grass seeds out of backpack pockets. This ritual spoke to the delicate and special environments we were visiting and reminded us that we were responsible for keeping them safe.

Conservation is at the heart of Heritage Expeditions. At every opportunity we

48 aadirections.co.nz TRAVELLER

learned about mistakes made and efforts to rectify them. Campbell Island, for example, had been farmed in the past and many decades later the damage is still being managed, with pest eradication an ongoing challenge.

Campbell Island, New Zealand’s southernmost Subantarctic territory, was our first stop, having sailed all night, all day and another night to get there from Bluff. This was the only time on the 12day journey I felt queasy and I admit I was ready to climb out of an inflatable Zodiac to the low tide of the island for a walk.

There were three options for excursions on the island; I opted for the track to Mt Honey, although several of us curved away before reaching the summit to sit on a ridge to watch Southern Royal albatross. A couple of extraordinary hours were spent watching the great birds land and take off to soar over our heads, tilting in the wind to show their glossy white bellies.

Plant life is strange on Campbell Island. Megaherbs are huge versions of common plants – they’re bold, bright, audacious. Around them, smaller feathery golden plants grew; others shone an almost lurid green. Some pebbly plants with tight formations and tiny flowers peeped through among

miniature orchids and daisies, easily missed. Spiky plants, wind-beaten and dense at knee height, created perfect shelter holes for sea lions.

We encountered three bolshy sea lions on the beach. An old, raggedy one just wanted a closer look but we heard the younger two had been challenging the Zodiac that arrived before us. Fortunately, our guides knew about dealing with grumpy animals and dive-bombing skua.

Heading north, we sailed up the eastern coast of Auckland Islands to Port Ross where we explored the site of Hardwicke, a failed British settlement. It was extraordinary to imagine the 200-odd people who came here in the 1850s expecting to find useable land in a hospitable climate. The settlement didn’t last long. Signs of a coastal pathway remain under gnarly, weatherworn rātā. We came across a handful of graves including that of a child whose gravestone was fashioned from a millstone; poignant considering the stone would have been bought from the other side of the world with flour making in mind. No chance. No wheat could grow here. No wheat, no flour, no child.

On the northern edge of Port Ross is pest-free Enderby Island. It was one of the journey highlights, as we spent most

of the day here and could wander and explore at our own pace.

Our Zodiacs beached at Sandy Bay. First, we walked to above the beach to watch – from a safe distance – an alarming New Zealand sea lion performance involving huge, scarred bulls defending their harems with furious displays of toothy violence. Females separated from their sisters were chased into the surf by gangs of young males; pups scurried awkwardly out of the way of their clumsy, hulking fathers.

1. The Heritage Adventurer in early morning light in Fiordland. 2. Close-up photography of megaherbs on Campbell Island. 3. From Mt Honey on Campbell Island looking south toward land that was once farmed. PHOTOGRAPH ®TBICKFORD PHOTOGRAPH ®HERITAGE EXPEDITIONS

To protect the vegetation a sturdy boardwalk has been built right across Enderby Island, leading us through low, hardy bush then over varied ground cover. Bellbirds, tomtits, pipits, and skylarks flitted about. On the far side of the island we came to dramatic exposed clifftops to look out over the endless ocean and be entertained by seabirds swooping in the wind. Light-mantled sooty albatross flew back and forth to nest in the cliffs; shags, giant petrels and dotterel zig-zagged across the view.

I walked back along the boardwalk alone, a steady wind muting voices, and spied Heritage Adventurer hanging offshore waiting for our return. It was one of many moments I had to pause and absorb, acknowledging how special the experience was. Remember this. Soak it in. Yellow-eyed penguins stopped me in my tracks. They were returning home

after a day’s fishing, trekking up the beach between me and the Zodiac; as instructed, I waited for them to scuttle and hop into the undergrowth before crossing their territory.

Encounters with endangered species were a daily occurrence. We spied rockhopper penguins; the cute ones with feathers sticking up in the eyebrow area, giving them a ‘mad professor’ vibe. They shuffled and readied themselves before leaping into the sea with great energy. Elsewhere we saw shag nests tucked onto unlikely ledges, wee chicks showing occasionally.

Once, our Zodiac swung into a cave that had collapsed long ago, creating an atrium of light, the ceiling of sky trimmed with trees towering inward, bird-filled and magical.

The closest Subantarctic islands to New Zealand are the Snares, called that because of the danger they once posed to sailing ships. Because they have the highest possible protection status, we didn’t land, but the Zodiacs took us close enough to see endemic Snares Crested penguins and fur seals playing in the kelp.

In Patterson Inlet on Stewart Island, the sea was calm, sparkling with

50 aadirections.co.nz TRAVELLER
We couldn’t get enough expert talks about the evolution of size-differentiated species, rising sea temperatures, the impact of fishing on native birds, endemic bird species, shipwrecks, heroic rescues at sea, meteorological missions…
1. Some passengers elected to hike high up on Campbell Island. 2. Auckland Islands are one of the main breeding sites for New Zealand sea lions. 3. Endangered rockhopper penguins also breed in the region. 4. A Heritage Zodiac explores a collapsed sea cave. 5. Southern Royal albatrosses on Campbell Island. PHOTOGRAPH ®HERITAGE EXPEDITIONS PHOTOGRAPH ©K.OVSYANIKOVA PHOTOGRAPH ©K.OVSYANIKOVA

morning sun. We were back in the 40 degrees, away from the tempestuous 50s. Here, there was less drama in the ocean, less tension in the line where sky meets sea. Stewart Island felt familiar; we were ‘back in New Zealand’.

While the ship restocked, we visited the bird sanctuary on Ulva Island before reacquainting ourselves with shops and roads and noisy human activity.

The final three days of the journey were spent in Fiordland, visiting pockets of the country only accessible by sea. Into Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, excursions delivered us to sites associated with Captain Cook’s 1773 voyage, places reeking of history.

On the second-to-last morning we slid into Milford Sound. It was dawn and the ship’s captain roused us over the PA system. We shifted from sleep to a dreamlike wakefulness in an unreal scene; an eerily calm, glass-like sea, the steep sides of land, waterfalls catching the light, clouds hovering and lifting and settling. Everyone witnessed this in silence.

I realised that anyone who didn’t thrill to early morning dolphin sightings

All aboard

The writer experienced Beyond Fiordland; New Zealand’s Wildest Islands 12-day journey to the Subantarctic Islands and Fiordland as a guest of Heritage Expeditions.

You, too, could be on your way!

AA Directions and Heritage Expeditions are offering the chance to win a place on an expedition departing Bluff in December 2023. See p.17 for details.

wouldn’t be on board, anyone who didn’t appreciate this special peace. If you’re not someone who gets excited about kelp gardens, megaherbs, penguins, jellyfish, sea lions, you’re not going to join this sort of adventure. We couldn’t get enough expert talks about the evolution of size-differentiated species, rising sea temperatures, the impact of fishing on native birds, endemic bird species, shipwrecks, heroic rescues at sea, meteorological missions…

It was heartening to hear from recipients of the True Young Adventurers scholarship who have their travel subsidised, encouraging ambassadors for the cause.

And we also appreciated hearing about Heritage Expeditions’ beginnings.

Founders Rodney and Shirley Russ made the connection between conservation and science, supporting research in vessels to Antarctica and north to the Pacific and beyond. That was in the 1980s. Their sons Aaron and Nathan run the company now; Aaron was our expedition leader.

He watched us take the polar plunge on New Year’s Day. The togged-up queue snaked out of the hold, past Aaron and down the gangway to a floating dive platform with safety-kitted sailors. The crew held each person steady as they readied to jump, then helped each person climb back in, quickly moving them in the direction of someone holding towels. Big smiles all round.

Take a deep breath before you jump! What a brilliant way to start the year.

51 SPRING 2023


Wellness is all about balance. It’s sweating out toxins in a sauna and then sipping pinot noir in a hot tub under the stars; it’s breathing fresh mountain air, strolling in nature and indulging in a decadent feast. All these things are good for your soul.

Mount Lyford in north Canterbury is home to a small ski field, serious mountain biking trails and Swiss chalets. Arriving at the remote village, at the end of a juddering gravel road, is like finding myself in another country where all the houses are built in the same inter-locking log cabin style.

As the sun creeps towards the periphery of the mountain valley I make myself at home in my glamping accommodation. Harakeke Huts are two tiny wooden cabins, just big enough to fit a queensized bed, with a separate building housing a kitchen, bathroom and dining space in between. The huts are so small it’s a bit like sleeping in a charming child’s playhouse – warm and snug.

Even warmer is the onsite sauna and cedar hot tub. Beads of perspiration trickle down my temples as I admire the view through the sauna’s perfectly placed window. Outside, the ribs of Mount Lyford are picked out against the last of the spring snow. Then, sauna-seared and inured to the chilly air, I sink into the hot tub, suspended foetus-like in warm water as a crisp breeze rustles through spiky kānuka branches and the full moon rises.

In the morning, everything is crunchy and sparkling with frost. Chimes of korimako ring across the the valley. The nearby duckpond steams in the sunshine. It’s a glorious day, and on the drive to Hanmer Springs the river gleams like bright mercury. Cotton wool tufts of clouds float at the feet of the soaring ranges.

I continue my immersion therapy by spending the day at the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools – a smorgasbord

52 aadirections.co.nz TRAVELLER
Jo Percival recalibrates in Canterbury’s Hurunui District.

of bathing experiences. Avoiding the colourful cacophony of the hydroslides I sink into the tranquil rainbow pool, wallow in the hot, silky water of the sulphur pools and get pummelled by jets in the aqua-therapy pool. The scurry between oases is brisk with goosebumps, followed by the ‘ahhhh’ of easing back into warm water. My fingers have morphed into prunes by the time I reluctantly towel myself off.

After a day of bathing, I begin the next with a wander along Hanmer Heritage Forest’s sculpture trail, finding delightful wooden artworks by Andrew Lyons hewn from redwood. Carved squirrels and eagles sit on log perches, a giant face peers from behind a tree trunk, a sculpted orangutan dangles casually by one arm.

The afternoon sees the weather change to drizzle and I happily head indoors to while away a few hours sampling the wares at Black Estate. The absence of the Waipara view is compensated by a seat next to a crackling fire and a giant black cat, Simon, lolling on a hearthside rug. Outside, huge frostbattling fans are dotted amongst the vines ready to protect the new vintage growth.

As per its name, everything in the dining room at Black Estate is painted in shades of noir, with blonde wood and a spray of spring blossoms breaking up the monochrome. I am well fed at my corner table; courses appear in a steady stream of deliciousness. As I eat, a break in the cloud reveals the full extent of the beautiful Waipara valley, with its patchwork of vineyards and dark rows of pine windbreaks lined up perpendicularly to the marching army of denuded vines.

At Georges Road Winery the Wine Pod is another small but perfectly formed cabin, self-contained and set literally amongst the winery’s riesling and syrah vines. Views stretch to the snowcapped peak of Mount Grey in the distance. After a brief rain shower, the vines glisten with jewel-like water drops. A sliver of sunset is visible between low cloud and the distant rolling ridge line. As the temperature drops, an eerie layer of mist creeps through the neighbouring paddock just above ground level, gradually concealing a mob of oblivious sheep.

Another evening, another hot tub. Outside the Wine Pod I climb into the bath-sized cedar tub topped to the brim with hot water. The evening is completely still – no wind, no lights, no traffic – just the white noise of the nearby Waipara River and

the amber, then silver-gold glow of a big moon intermittently appearing through the cloud. Amongst the vines, steam from the hot tub mingles with the creeping mist.

In the morning I head a little further up the Waipara River valley to find Iron Ridge Sculpture Park. Here, artist Raymond Herber has turned a disused lime quarry into a wonderland of gardens and sculptures. The original quarry buildings made of time-bleached timber loom over the steep driveway, but opposite the large, corrugated workshop the once barren site has been transformed. Poplars, kōwhai and cabbage trees sit alongside lawns and a large fish pond. The whole site is studded with artworks made from pale limestone and metal with varying degrees of whimsy. There are interactive selfpedal sculptures that activate fans or garden shears for a ‘DIY haircut’. Raymond’s elegantly curved metalwork contrasts with the rugged landscape and a full-size silver Clydesdale paws at the earth. I climb the steep path to the ridge next to a beautiful sculpture of a wind swept tree. I stop to breathe, to admire and soak some more – this time immersing myself in the stunning views of the spring green valley.

Clockwise from top left: A soak at the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools; Andrew Lyons' sculptures in Hanmer Springs Heritage Forest; Raymond Herber's Wind Swept Tree sculpture; a decadant lunch at Black Estate; Harakeke Huts at Mount Lyford.

We were only three kilometres away from home, yet it felt like we couldn’t be further from reality.

With our two-year-old son enjoying a holiday with his grandmother, my partner and I were revelling in a whole 24 hours to ourselves. It was the first night away for just the two of us since he was born, and likely to be the last for at least another two years as our family is about to expand.

And what better way to take a breather than in The Hotel Britomart? Nestled in Auckland’s vibrant Britomart Precinct, the hotel is a bold and beautiful landmark. And it’s completion in 2020 left the lightest of footprints. Going far beyond simply asking guests to reuse their towels, the hotel has been given a prestigious 5 Green Star Design rating, making it

New Zealand’s most eco-friendly hotel and somewhere the conscientious traveller can genuinely sleep easy.

We certainly did. In fact, the first thing we did after checking in was take a nap. In no way was this an indication of our lacklustre surroundings; our temporary neighbourhood was quite the opposite. We were just tired parents needing to refill our empty tanks before venturing into the world that evening.

Typical of Auckland’s ever-evolving weather, ominous grey clouds parted to reveal a perfectly arched rainbow, followed by blue skies and a sunset. We were on board an Auckland Harbour dinner cruise with Explore New Zealand, drinking in the mesmerising views of the city as the yacht pulled away from the Viaduct basin.

Monica Tischler enjoys a weekend in Auckland’s vibrant Britomart Precinct before welcoming a second baby.

The city’s iconic landmarks, from the Harbour Bridge to the Auckland Museum sitting stately in the distance, came to life under twinkling lights as night fell. We sailed past the port and the naval base in Devonport, swaying gently with the continuous motion of Waitematā Harbour, while sipping drinks from the bar and enjoying a meal prepared by one of the viaduct’s renowned chefs.

Back on land, we sought refuge from the sea breeze, heading to a best-kept secret at our hotel. Brick walls lined with layers of history make up The Libraries, a network of private rooms in the heritage Masonic and Buckland Buildings which once served as a cigarette factory and a tea, coffee and spice grocer. Today, the spaces hold treasures including artworks by Shane

Cotton and Ralph Hōtere, and historic stone artefacts once used by Māori to weigh down fishing nets. There’s also a tantalising selection of wine and a knowledgeable mixologist who constructs delightful mocktails.

For such a modern, state-of-the-art pocket of the city (with neighbourhood bars, intriguing eateries and high-end shopping at Tiffany & Co, Chanel and Maggie Marilyn, among others), the nine blocks of Britomart are steeped in history. The next morning, after a very civilised breakfast at Kingi restaurant, we set off to explore.

Pushbikes are available to hotel guests, but we opted to see the city by foot, amazed at how familiar territory can look so fresh through a child-free lens.

Most of where we walked was under water until the 1870s, when land around the port was reclaimed to service the rapidly growing city. Now, centuries later, it’s busier than ever – with Auckland Central train station and the new shopping and eating complex, Commercial Bay, nearby.

This land was gifted to Governor Hobson by a chief of Ngāti Whātua after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and it remains a treasure today with social sustainability being a key focus of Britomart Precinct. Supported by an art, culture and urban design programme with a strong focus on inclusion and diversity, the aim is to have the widest possible range of people feel welcome and stimulated here.

Environmental sustainability is another focus, with a collective commitment to rigorous measuring and managing the precinct’s buildings, continuously improving their green performance. The Hotel Britomart with its 99 rooms, handmade brick exterior and flush glazed windows echoes this ethos, with several key factors helping to maintain minimal energy use including lighting, low-flow water systems and lowor zero-emission materials and fabrics.

Ngāti Whātua’s gift was a very generous one that future generations will be sure to enjoy. Maybe even by our family of four in a couple of years’ time, when the next golden opportunity arises.

With thanks

The writer stayed courtesy of The Hotel Britomart, see thehotelbritomart.com and sailed with Explore New Zealand.

AA Members receive a 10% discount on selected cruising and sailing experiences in Auckland and the Bay of Islands, see exploregroup.co.nz for more.

This land was gifted to Governor Hobson by a chief of Ngāti Whātua after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and it remains a treasure today with social sustainability being a key focus of the Britomart Precinct.


Someone once said road trips are the equivalent of human wings. We’ll stop in places and learn the history, feel the ground and capture the spirit. Then fly away with our own stories living inside us.

Coming from Diamond Harbour just outside Christchurch, it seems like a luxury for my partner and I to create stories on this trip so close to home But at over 1,000 square kilometres, there’s plenty to see and do on Banks Peninsula with its three extinct volcanoes and rich forest and bird life.

Our warm glow is kindled at our first overnight stop on the outskirts of Christchurch. The Whare is set in the expanse of the Canterbury Plains between Halswell and Tai Tapu. It’s known as glamping but there’s far more glamour than camping here. There are many details to admire, including a toasty

fireplace, a peaceful garden and big skyscapes with lots of birds. It’s a special place suited to romance if that’s your thing; an entry from the visitor’s book tells us a couple even got engaged here.

Crisp air greets us the following morning as we get underway early for an enchanting drive to Little River. Nestled in a picturesque valley, the iconic Little River Gallery beckons. We browse the exhibits and the treasure trove of contemporary New Zealand art and crafts before enjoying a coffee and a slice of the Little River Café’s legendary homemade orange cake. The love of creativity and local craftsmanship permeates this artsy settlement, leaving us feeling inspired and connected.

Onwards to the solitude of Tumbledown and Magnet Bays, both on the southern side of Banks Peninsula. Tumbledown Bay is a sleepy, sandy

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Kathy Catton enjoys a leisurely road trip from Christchurch to Akaroa.

bay, while Magnet Bay is coveted by experienced surfers in summer for its long left-hand surf break producing a ‘fat but wally wave’, according to Surf Seeker NZ

We venture almost to the edge of the hills at the mouth of Akaroa Harbour before heading down into Wainui and around the coast to Akaroa. Without stopping, it’s only 90 minutes to Akaroa, but it’s taken us almost a full day to get here. It’s a place that encourages you to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Akaroa itself exudes an air of rustic chic, with its charming colonial architecture and romantic waterfront cafés. It is the only successful French settlement in New Zealand and was an attempt by the French to claim and colonise the whole of the South Island.

We rest our heads for the night at Newton Heights Bed and Breakfast. There’s something to be said for the traditional bed and breakfast arrangement: sharing kai and stories with locals. Connections are made, the handshakes and hugs are warm as we depart.

The next day we join a tour with Marie Haley of The Seventh Generation Tours. Marie is the great, great, greatgranddaughter of Étienne François LeLievre, one of the first French settlers to arrive here on the Comte de Paris ship in 1840. The tour she runs is a story of Māori and French history in Akaroa and Banks Peninsula.

As a seventh-generation local, Marie weaves her family history into our time together, deepening our understanding of New Zealand’s history and nature.

“I love to imagine how Akaroa looked through my ancestors’ eyes: wild, remote and crammed with birds and birdsong... an absolutely beautiful South Pacific paradise,” Marie says “Akaroa is home to five of the most important historic sites in New Zealand, including Ōnuku, where Te Tiriti o Waitangi was first signed in the South Island.”

After bidding adieu to Marie, we weave our way up the hillside to Hinewai Reserve. This ecological restoration project, started in 1987, occupies 1,570 hectares of native bush to the east of Akaroa. It’s a living example of how a native forest can be successfully restored with little human input. The gorse, a hated weed for farmers, is now tolerated at Hinewai as it serves as a canopy for the fledgling natives that can outgrow the gorse in due course. In just one generation it’s revived from cleared pasture to rich, quiet forest.

Marie’s guided tour to lesser-known outer bays, such as Goughs Bay and Otanerito Bay, gives us a new appreciation

Left: A short drive from Christchurch, Banks Peninsula has many bays to explore and views to photograph. Clockwise from above: the writer (left) with Marie Haley, local tour guide for The Seventh Generation Tours; Little River, a small settlement on the peninsula, is known for its arts and crafts; Akaroa's historic Daly's wharf.
Akaroa is home to five of the most important historic sites in New Zealand, including Ōnuku, where Te Tiriti o Waitangi was first signed in the South Island.

and wonder for the area, both past and present. There’s an uplifting community joie de vivre to this place, with a delightful mix of shimmering waters, hidden stories and expansive vistas.

Continuing to explore the township, we walk up the hill to The Giant’s House, otherwise known as the happiest garden on earth. To be honest, we were expecting something on the garish side as we arrived to a sea of signs the colour of bubble-gum. How wrong we were! Once inside, every piece of art is so lovingly put together that you can’t help feeling held by the artist, Josie Martin, who has entwined her unique garden mosaic art around the traditional 1880 house that is her home.

With a permanent population of just 750, the town could likely take out an award for the most restaurants and cafés per head of population. We enjoy some long lingering dinners at Ma Maison and HarBar, and The Common is a treat of a café, with owners having recently opened a gallery and cake shop next door. All of them are delightful.

The natural beauty of the place is all around us. And it’s quiet.

On our final night we drive a short way out of Akaroa to Takamatua. Our bed for the night is L’Abri – a picturesque bed and breakfast overlooking the harbour. More kai, stories and farewell hugs complete our séjour.

There’s still more to experience so we promise each other we’ll be back. Locals talk highly of the Akaroa’s Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run that drives tourists 120km in and out of ten bays from sea level to the crater rim delivering mail.

Then there’s dolphin and whale watching with Akaroa Dolphins and the chance to see penguins with Pōhatu Penguins – a family-run venture protecting korarā little blue penguins. There’s a biennial French Festival in October, and an Akaroa Music Festival held in January each year.

Our story cup is full and the memory bank is brimming. We’ve learnt more about Akaroa in three days than we have in years of living just a stone’s throw away.

Get great discounts on your next road trip, from rental cars to accommodation, at aatraveller.co.nz

Closewise from top left: Akaroa's waterfront invites visitors to pause and appreciate the peaceful nature of the harbour whilst keeping watch for resident dolphins; The Giant's House, a visitor drawcard for Akaroa, is a riot of colour with many elements of the playful garden made special with mosaic; three extinct volcanoes feature on Banks Peninsula and Akaroa Bay is one of several bays that sit on the crater edge. DIAMOND HARBOUR AKAROA Wainui Tumbledown Bay Little River Tai Tapu Hallswell Magnet Bay

Monica Tischler visits Ōtepoti Dunedin and discovers a charming mix of old and new.

With its exposed brickwork and lofty wooden beams, the historic Otago Steam Coffee Mills building hints of an interesting past.

Built in 1878 by coffee merchant Thomas Gregg, the warehouse became derelict in the 1970s before serving as a place for local bands including The Clean, The Chills and Netherworld Dancing Toys to practice.

And now? The converted boutique waterfront Thomas Gregg apartments are the perfect base for a weekend in Ōtepoti Dunedin; we are here to make memories with our toddler in tow.

It seems that Dunedin is constantly evolving and refereshing. We wander the southern central city, through the historic warehouse precinct and find ourselves on a self-guided street art trail, marvelling at vibrant and whimsical works dominating the sides of buildings. The murals – today we count 32 – are created by local and international artists and are progressively added to. A bare wall one day, a masterpiece the next.

An inconspicuous sign guides us down No Name Alley to Steamer Basin Brewery and Taproom where we

replenish ourselves with a beer tasting. After 20 years in Hong Kong and Sydney, the brewers returned to what they describe as one of the world’s best small cities to make seasonal beer, using fresh ingredients sourced from the Otago Farmers Market.

We discover some of these homegrown delicacies ourselves the following morning after a short walk to the iconic railway station where stallholders gather every Saturday. With its grandiose style and ornate embellishments, the station is one of the country’s most photographed

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buildings. Today, there are no cameras in sight as shoppers’ arms are instead laden with fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and huge bunches of peony roses.

We take our purchases to the Dunedin Botanic Garden for a morning picnic among leafy canopies and undergrowth bursting with full bloom rhododendrons. The internationally recognised gardens are a toddler’s paradise. The Children’s Play Trail comprises a playground, mini maze and complimentary seeds for duck feeding, while a bright blue miniature train circles the estate, offering rides for a small fee.

In search of more fun, we find exactly what we’re looking for at the Otago Museum and Tūhura Science Centre. What’s more, we’ve arrived at the most magical time of day.

Every morning inside the Tūhura Tropical Forest is the first flight butterfly release, when hundreds of newly emerged butterflies take their inaugural journey from the hatching space into the indoor forest. The delicate creatures – including one of the world’s largest butterflies, the blue morpho – have been transported from South America and Southeast Asia, tucked up safely in their chrysalises before their release in Australasia’s only three-tier live butterfly experience.

I’m reminded of the metamorphosis of these pretty insects when we visit the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery. Owner and operator Bruce Mahalski is an artist and avid collector of all things weird and wonderful, who always dreamt of working in a museum.So, he established his own at his central Dunedin home.

There’s much more to marvel at than skulls and preserved animals, including a photocopy of a first division winning Lotto ticket, smashed camera equipment from the 2021 Capital riots in Washington DC and a jar of butterflies found at the home of local woman Judy Egerton who was coined The Butterfly Lady for her work dedicated to breeding and studying monarchs.

‘Betty the Bedford’ and has expanded into two permanent spots, including the retro city diner serving delectable dishes and 50 ice cream flavours. It was tough work, but we whittled our choices down to four.

It’s the kind of weather where bluebird skies make the city’s Victorian and Edwardian architecture glow; the kind that sees more than 130,000 Instagram

Pangs of hunger lead us to nearby Patti’s and Cream, where we feast on cheeseburgers and ice cream, all flipped and scooped using fresh, local ingredients. Owner Olive Tabor’s venture began in a food truck named

posts captioned with the hashtag #DunnerStunner; the kind that calls for the beach. We decide on St Clair, with its shoreline edging the wild Pacific Ocean and a surf break considered New Zealand’s most consistent.

Every morning inside the Tūhura Tropical Forest is the first flight butterfly release, when hundreds of newly emerged butterflies take their inaugural journey from the hatching space into the indoor forest.
1. Dunedin is home to Gothic architecture like St Paul's Cathedral. 2. The converted boutique waterfront Thomas Gregg apartments. 3. Steamer Basin Brewery and Taproom down No Name Alley. 4. Beautiful landscaping in the Dunedin Botanic Garden. 5. Street art dominates buildings in the historic warehouse precinct. 6. St Clair clothing and homewares store Wander And Sons. 7. One of the hundreds of newly emerged butterflies in the Tūhura Science Centre. 8. The Dunedin Botanic Garden is a toddler's paradise.

Surfers carve the renowned waves while we trace the esplanade, browsing a homewares store where we gratefully read a sign on the door saying that sandy feet are welcome. The atmosphere of this laidback seaside suburb reminds me of somewhere you’d find across the ditch, especially when we reach St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool at the end of the beach, set into the rugged coast like the iconic Iceberg Pool at Sydney’s Bondi. We could have enjoyed a splash in the toddler pool, but instead opt to dip our toes in the tide. Later, inside Harbourside Grill within the historic Customhouse building on the city’s waterfront and opposite our temporary home, the restaurant’s stereo broadcasts the melody from another of Dunedin’s iconic bands. As the last of the day’s sunlight bounces off the Otago Harbour, Six60’s lyrics feel just right.

A word of thanks

The writer travelled courtesy of Enterprise Dunedin (see dunedinnz.com for more on the region) and Thrifty NZ. Travelling with children? Rental vehicles can be booked with a car seat fitted and ready to go on arrival. See thrifty.co.nz for more.

62 aadirections.co.nz TRAVELLER * Terms and conditions apply. Available on rentals in participating New Zealand locations only. Offer excludes taxes, fees, optional products and services, fuel, battery charge, additional charges such as airport taxes and sundry fees and the GST that applies to these charges. This offer may not be combined with any other offer, discount promotion, special offer or coupon. Offer applies to all vehicle groups subject to availability. Visit thrifty.co.nz/aa for full terms and conditions. **AA Smartfuel on up to 50 litres of fuel. T&C’s apply refer to AAsmartfuel.co.nz/terms AA Members Save an Exclusive 20% OFF the base rate*
1. The St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool at the end of the beach. 2. Retro city diner Patti’s and Cream. 3. All smiles aboard the flight from Auckland to Dunedin as adventures await.

Vitamin D-lightful

Jo Percival soaks up some much-needed rays on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

Anyone who lives in the North Island will attest that summer 2022-23 was a washout Literally. After months of dreary weather interspersed with floods and cyclones, I was afraid that my corpse-white skin might crumble to dust, vampire-like, when I stepped off the plane into a glorious day on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

But the glowing golden orb greets me like a long-lost friend. I turn my face to the blue, feeling the warmth on my cheeks as I rummage in my bag for my sunglasses.

My first stop is Mooloolaba, the coastal hub most famous for its prawns.

On a Trawler to Table experience with Creative Tours, we get an up-close perspective of the local seafood industry. But first, a small electric boat operated by Coastal Cruises takes us quietly around the Mooloolaba waterways, home to some of the most expensive real estate on the Sunshine Coast. Giant mansions dripping in ostentation sit haunch to haunch with Thunderbird-style lairs and replica heritage manors. All have jetties crowded with jet skis.

I trail my fingertips in the warm sea. Winter is the dry season here, so the water clarity is pristine and I can make

out dark shapes below, probably rocks, but remembering where I am I snatch my hand back thinking of sharks.

The Sunshine Coast is home to one of the biggest fishing fleets on the eastern coast of Australia. At the busy port there are more than 120 boats of varying sizes. Big trawlers and tuna long-liners that travel way offshore – nearly half the distance to New Zealand – sit next to small motorboats used for spearfishing.

Lots of boat types means lots of seafood variety. We step ashore to visit the Mooloolaba Fish Markets and marvel at the day’s catch. There are live crabs


and shellfish and piles and piles of prawns. I find myself starting to drool. Upstairs we’re treated to some of the succulent seafood – cracking open the pink crustaceans, turning our fingers orange and sticky. In Mooloolaba the prawn trawlers will go out for three weeks at a time, returning with thousands of 5kg cartons of prawns, all caught, cooked, packed and frozen on board.

Our platter of prawns is just an appetiser. The Trawler to Table tour finishes at another spot – at See Restaurant on Mooloolaba Wharf where we’re spoiled with an abundance of pescatarian delights. Oysters are followed by scallops, then small sweet

mussels, giant spanner crabs and a whole crispy snapper.

Later that afternoon the sweeping view of Mooloolaba Beach from the 15th floor of Newport Apartments is too tempting to resist. I pad barefoot through sand the consistency of high-grade flour to the warm froth of the waves. Families congregate in groups, tossing balls; impossibly svelte young women with toffee-coloured tans skip into the ocean. In the pastel-toned sunset, apartment blocks gleam like hammered sheets of gold.

The recently-opened Tank Riviera is an amalgamation of indulgent experiences. A day club set alongside the Mooloolah River, Tank includes a

luxurious day spa, a stylish restaurant, wellness-infused steam and sauna rooms, an optional champagne river cruise and the star attraction – six magnesium pools to really rid yourself of any residual stress.

I begin my Tank experience with a massage. My therapist is Jasmine, a fine-boned woman with a long black braid. Her delicate features bely the strength in her fingers which seek out all my knots of tension. Swaddled in a heap of warm white towels, my flesh is basted with lotions and kneaded like a piece of premium steak. Afterwards I pour my nearly liquefied body into my togs to join the other bathers lounging in the pools. Marble-tiled and varying in temperature, the six ‘tanks’ have carefully positioned umbrellas providing shade from the ubiquitous sunshine. The aesthetic is pure Mediterranean-style luxury –muted natural fabrics, cacti and palm fronds. The icing on the day’s layer cake of indulgence is lunch – a tapas-style degustation, seafood-focused of course, served on six round plates mirroring the nearby tanks.

Noosa is a 40-minute drive north of Mooloolaba. I arrive to find Hastings Street humming with people on a school holiday Monday. Families amble languidly in the warmth, sipping coffees, walking dogs, licking gelato. Behind the main drag, lined with tempting boutiques, lies Noosa Beach, golden and glistening. I scuff through sand so fine it

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1. The Sunshine Coast is home to one of the biggest fishing fleets on the eastern coast of Australia. 2. Famous Mooloolaba prawns. 3. The tranquil massage therapy room at Tank Riviera. 4. A seafood-focused lunch at Tank. 5. The decadent 'tank' mineral pools. 6. Another sunny day at Noosa's main beach. 7. Sunrise at Noosa Heads.

squeaks under foot and submerge myself in ocean green. The water is warmer than in a New Zealand summer.

To better understand the geography of Noosa Heads I take a cruisy cycling tour with Bike On. My guide, Isaac, is a quintessentially blond Australian youth, sunny of personality and tan. We explore Noosa Heads, skirting the edge of Noosa National Park and the Noosa River. Isaac swears there are koalas to be spotted in the gum trees here – he’s seen them himself – but mostly we see noisy crows, lorikeets and trees dripping in giant fruit bats. Our route leads us away from the tourist crowds, gliding along leafy paths on our exertion-free e-bikes and looping through luxe suburbia. This is Big Money territory. Isaac tells of one riverside property that bought the neighbouring section for $12 million just so they could have a back lawn. Alongside the river the pace is idle, the breeze refreshing, taking the edge off the bright sunshine.

For the afternoon I head further north and away from the coast to Habitat Noosa – a camping and glamping compound – to take a boat cruise through the Noosa everglades. One of just two everglade systems in the world, the serene waterways in Noosa are reached on the far side of Lake

Cootharaba, a shallow tidal lake that’s only knee-deep in the middle. Crew in waders manoeuvre the flat-bottomed boat out from the jetty and we navigate the choppy waters to the entrance of the everglades. Defined as an area of swampy grassland with slow-moving ground-fed water, the reality is far more picturesque. The stillness and the dark, oily tannins from the surrounding melaleuca trees create the perfect conditions for surreal reflections.

The sky, eucalyptus and gnarled limbs of fallen trees are mirrored in the dense, inky water almost more clearly than the actual view. It creates a strange impression of floating in between two worlds.

I make the most of my last morning in Noosa Heads with a sunrise stroll. Still feeling Jasmine’s thumbprints in my calves, I climb the coastal walkway around the headland to Boiling Pot Lookout alongside a throng of other walkers. The sunrise is a fluorescent magenta ball emerging from the cloudless horizon, beautiful enough to stop joggers in their tracks. I watch in awe, but even the locals seem to know how lucky they are to be here, snapping pictures on their phones, appreciating the warm morning, the dawning of yet another sunny day.

A word of thanks

The writer was a guest of Visit Sunshine Coast and Tourism Noosa. Air New Zealand operates seasonal direct flights from Auckland to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast between June and October each year.

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Behind the main drag, lined with tempting boutiques, lies Noosa Beach, golden and glistening.
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Home & Living

But wait, THERE’S MORE!

A family with particular requirements opens their Waikato home to Kathryn Webster.

IT’S NOT UNUSUAL to step into a home that’s been perfectly designed to suit all who live there. In this case, it’s a couple –Vanessa and Nick – their two children and a dog. But this house is special. While it’s based on the simple, clean-lined ‘modern barn’ concept with very high ceilings and open living spaces, it goes beyond the plan and beyond the usual.

Polished concrete floors in the living space were only minimally ground back

and have distinctive, cloud-like patterns within their shiny surface. A curved concrete wall has been left unpolished, evoking a slightly industrial edge – and the main bedroom, tucked behind that curved wall, doesn’t have a door.

In fact, there are few doors in this house and those are sliding doors or otherwise easily pushed open from a wheelchair; all the entrance ways from out to inside provide for wheels. The

kitchen spaces are a bit wider than average, the ensuite bathroom has chairheight cabinetry and a discreet grass ramp from the lawn to the wide covered barbecue deck allows for the chair, too. All elements accommodating Nick’s wheelchair are subtle and fit well with the stylishness of the family home. But what stands out more than anything ‘accessible’ is the home’s personality.

“It all started with that lightshade,” Vanessa explains, pointing to a light fitting hanging above one end of the kitchen island. The feature, known as Hey BonBon, informed her colour decisions throughout that room and into the rest of the home.

From a blue concrete bathroom basin, a theatre room painted top to toe in night-sky navy, soft-coloured furnishings and natural timber on walls, it’s a warm and comfortable palette that pulls the details together without being obsessively matchy-matchy.

Designing the interior was a job Vanessa took seriously and thoroughly enjoyed.

“I spent a long time visualising it and considering it. I wanted the house to have personality. The kitchen was the biggest thing for me, a lot of thought

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went into it,” she says. Although it was constructed for Nick to use comfortably, it works well for everyone.

Everything on the bottom level is wheelchair-friendly. When it was being built, Nick would test how the design would work to make sure of it.

“It’s subtle though – that was a major part of the design, to make it super functional but also be conscious of form and aesthetics.”

The kitchen is the hub of the house; it extends to a family living space with big, comfy sofas around a fireplace, a dining area with a large wooden table, huge windows and glass doors that slide away, removing the boundary between deck and indoors. Straight from the barbecue deck is the lawn, where huge deciduous trees frame a classic Waikato scene. The home is in a new suburb with dog-walking paths connecting the community, providing energy but maintaining privacy.

“It’s very peaceful,” Vanessa notes. “There is no noise or light pollution here.”

Perhaps surprisingly, considering the presence of a wheelchair in this family, there is an upstairs.

“The children were fascinated by stairs, as it wasn’t something they had lived with before,” Vanessa explains. And so, stairs they got. The second floor is a separate yet connected space, with a large mezzanine guest space looking down to the hub.

Teenager Jay’s bedroom is up there, too; a large, airy room with skylights and wood panels lining the steeply angled ceiling.

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But wait, there’s more. Behind a panel at the top of the stairs is a secret: a lightfilled art project room with a window seat framing the rural surrounds. Ten-yearold Indi was quite particular about it being a secret and was very involved in the planning of it. There is one more element to come; the plan is to connect it via ladder to Indi’s bedroom below. Accessible, stylish and fun. What more could a family want? A healthy home. It is well-served by underfloor heating and positioned to get the sun. Ambient temperatures are protected with double

glazing and insulation and quality curtains maintain the heat and provide acoustic control. Windows open wide, allowing the summer breeze through.

“The house has improved Nick’s health,” Vanessa confirms. “We knew it would be better because the house is new, but we didn’t realise how much it would help. Living in a dry, warm and healthy home has made a huge difference.

“I would urge anyone building to think about passive cooling and heating. Anyone living with a disability or asthma or an autoimmune issue – any long-term

condition that needs to be managed –your environment has a huge effect.”

Vanessa is quick to sing the praises of Bay of Plenty builders Kent Jarman and Matt Bambery who worked from plans drawn up by Red Architects in Hamilton. They had to deal with Covid interruptions but worked hard to ensure the home was right for everyone.

“They just made it happen,” Vanessa says. “We were blown away by their unbelievable workmanship and problem solving. The architect provided the recipe but the builders were the cooks and it’s an incredible meal we get to enjoy!”

Fair to say Vanessa’s input was also critical to getting it just right for her family. Carefully considering what would work best for them helped the project be such a success.

“It really feels like us,” she says.

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subscription to AA Home Response Plus gives you access to tradespeople 24/7, 365 days a year. Our tradespeople can help with a range of household emergencies and will aim to be there within the hour. To find out if AA Home Response is available in your area and for your type of home, go to aahome.co.nz , call 0800 AA Home or head to your nearest AA Centre.
I would urge anyone building to think about passive cooling and heating. Anyone living with a disability or asthma or an autoimmune issue – any long-term condition that needs to be managed – your environment has a huge effect.

DIY is in our DNA but that doesn’t mean we should. Vanessa Trethewey explains.

KIWIS ARE A NATION of do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts. For many of us there is nothing more satisfying than weekends spent tackling the latest home renovation project. Not only do we pride ourselves on our ‘number 8 wire’ mentality, but our national enthusiasm for DIY has spawned a booming home renovation industry, encompassing everything from reality TV shows through to flatpack kitchens and hardware megastores.

But not every DIY project is a great idea. Sure, do them right and they can save you money, but tackling a project beyond your skillset can result in an expensive headache. Or worse still, a serious injury. According

to ACC, nearly 20,000 people were injured in DIY accidents in New Zealand last year; helping them recover from those injuries cost the country $30 million.

While it is often tempting to do it yourself, some projects can be more challenging, more time-consuming, more expensive and far more dangerous than we anticipate. Sometimes the greatest DIY skill is knowing when to call in the professionals.

The Three ‘Ts’

If you are unsure whether or not to hire a pro, keep in mind the three Ts: time,

tools and talent. Do you have the time to research, shop and complete the project? Do you have the right tools? And are you confident you have the talent to complete the job satisfactorily and safely?

Sprucing up your interiors with a lick of paint or wallpaper, installing some shelves, doing some landscaping, or swapping outdated handles on your cabinetry are all low-risk, high-reward projects that many of us are likely capable of. But when it comes to structural alterations, electrical work, plumbing, drainlaying, gasfitting or anything to do with heights, it pays to leave it to the experts.

Call the experts

These projects are best left to those who know what they are doing:

1 Re-doing bathroom plumbing. Water and electricity can be a deadly combination, and when it comes to the bathroom, they are often in close proximity. Other than minor tasks like swapping out a leaky showerhead or fixing a running toilet, bathroom plumbing is best left to registered tradespeople.

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2 Removing walls. Some walls are load bearing; knock those ones out and you could put the structural integrity of your home – and the safety of those who live in it – at risk. At the very least, check with an expert before you start wielding that sledgehammer.

3 Painting the exterior of a house.

This is a massive job that can be extremely dangerous. Not only will you be working at a height, but if you’re repainting an older house, chances are there’ll be some carcinogenic lead-based paint lurking, too.

4 Drilling into walls without knowing what’s behind them. Hanging a wall cabinet might sound like a piece of cake, but if there are wires or pipes running along the back of your wall you could burst a pipe, cause a gas leak, or even electrocute yourself.

5 Replacing an old electric stove with a gas one. Sounds straightforward, but a large percentage of gas accidents occur as a direct result of incorrect assembly, connection or installation.

6 Removing insulation. Insulation in many older New Zealand homes contains asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in building materials from the 1940s to 1980s. It is made up of tiny fibres which, if inhaled, can cause several nasty cancers.

7 Cleaning gutters and trimming trees. Anything up a ladder comes with big risks. While it can be tempting to tackle these seemingly manageable tasks, it just takes one slip to have you and your whānau wishing you had left it to the experts.

8 Repairing a damaged roof. When you are working up high and on an angle, a dangerous and damaging fall is always possible.

Avoiding injury

It also pays to remember that lots of DIY projects involve heavy lifting; if you don’t know how to lift correctly, you could end up in a tonne of pain. Last year, back and spinal injuries were the most common of all DIY injuries, resulting in 3,557 ACC claims.

To tackle DIY and still stay safe, ACC advises:

Slow down and stop to assess the risks. Use all the recommended safety gear, such as closed shoes, protective eyewear and earmuffs. Make sure someone is supervising the kids; keep tools and sharp objects out of reach.

If you are getting up a ladder, ensure it is angled correctly and on a firm surface. Keep paints, sprays, chemicals and solvents with the lids on when you are not using them.

While it is often tempting to do it yourself, some projects can be more challenging, more time-consuming, more expensive and far more dangerous than we anticipate.

THERE ARE TWO telltale signs that you’re in the right place when reaching Downlights candlemaking HQ. The first is the sublime scents wafting from where the magic happens. The second is the raucous laughter from the team of four staff and four in training who make said magic happen.

It’s this sense of joy and vitality that candlemaker Jack Bird – Downlights’ first and longest-serving employee of four years – enjoys most about his work here.

“I just have so much fun,” he says. “And I always smell nice.”

It’s evident Jack – nicknamed ‘Jack the Minute Man’ for his ability to pour a candle a minute (sometimes up to 400 an hour) without any mess – finds an immense sense of purpose from his work. He smiles his way through the process, centring the candle wicks meticulously before pouring the hot, melted wax with a steady hand.

Observing his strong work ethic, it might seem as though Jack has always been calm and assured, but it wasn’t always like this for the 26-year-old.

He has a disability called Goldenhar syndrome and has struggled with the confidence to try new things and speak to new people. In fact, all employees of the luxury soy candle company and award-winning social enterprise are New Zealanders with Down syndrome or learning disabilities.

With an extensive career in manufacturing luxury candles through her company Illumina, founder and managing director Jennifer Del Bel was compelled to launch Downlights in 2018 after recognising the uniquely challenging workplace barriers for disabled people.

Jennifer is dedicated to creating employment and personal growth opportunities for people living with disabilities. She pays all staff a living wage and has adapted a business model designed and operated through the perspective of the disability sector to create an inclusive work environment for each member of the Downlights crew and their support teams.

“I don’t come from a lived experience, so I have to work with the families of my employees to get their perspective.

72 aadirections.co.nz
Monica Tischler meets the team of talented candlemakers behind Downlights – a luxury soy candle company with a difference.

That has really changed me as a person and both of my daughters, who have volunteered at Downlights,” Jennifer says. “My children have become completely different young women for working with the team here. They’ve learnt about some of the most important things in life, which includes an immense dedication and focus on work.”

And Jennifer’s biggest learning from working with the Downlights crew? The sheer resilience of her staff. She’s referring to how some employees –Jack included – travel up to two hours each day and independently navigate multiple public transport systems across Auckland, turning up to work on time and with a smile.

Employees come from two avenues –Recreate New Zealand’s MOXIE Mission, dedicated to giving young people with disabilities life changing experiences through Meaningful Opportunities Crossing Into Employment, and Pegasus, a special education unit of Auckland’s Pakuranga College.

Jennifer has developed the skills and confidence of her crew to a point where their work is comparable to non-disabled artisans, challenging any perceptions that the disabled workforce is only suitable for low-paid, unskilled work.

In fact, the Downlights range –comprising 19 fragrances developed by a fifth-generation French perfumer from the internationally famous Grasse perfumeries in Cote D’Azure – is arguably among the most luxurious products on the market.

Thirteen candle designs include a Lifelight emergency candle complete with matches for use in natural disasters, camping trips or power outages. And Downlights donate a portion of sales to New Zealand Red Cross, helping them support communities affected by disasters.

The Downlights Charitable Trust was established in 2020, providing a dollar from every candle sold to continue the work of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, Recreate NZ and Living Wage Aotearoa. To date, these organisations have collectively received more than $40,000 from candle sales.

But the Downlights flame hasn’t always burned so brightly. Multiple attempts to grow the business and purchase new equipment were frustrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Most people would probably have given up, but when I look at how much

effort Jack and the other employees have put into learning, their resilience has been what's kept me going,” she says.

That positivity has seen the business grow, slowly but surely, and enabled the latest purchase of ‘Walter the Wax Melter’ which has taken staff from pouring 200 candles a day to up to 400 an hour.

There are ranges of flameless diffusers and aroma stones, gift sets and seasonal Christmas edits sold online and at well-known stockists including Smith & Caughey’s in Auckland, plus an exclusive range has been developed in collaboration with Briscoes. Downlights has also launched a product featuring supplies for DIY candle making at home.

See downlightsnz.com for more.

AA Directions has ten candles from the Downlights Luxe range (RRP $59.95) to give away, in the French Pear fragrance. To enter, send your name and contact details to: AA Directions magazine, Downlights candles, PO BOX 5, Auckland 1011 or enter on our website at aadirections.co.nz before November 30, 2023.

73 SPRING 2023
1. Downlights candlemakers Alyssa (left) and James from Auckland's Pakuranga College Pegasus special education unit. 2. Founder and managing director Jennifer Del Bel (top left) and her team. 3. Emijoy from Pegasus. 4. Jack from Recreate New Zealand’s MOXIE Mission. 5. Kirsty (left) from Recreate, and Jennifer.

Budgeting 101


INSTEAD OF BOUNDING through 2023 with a skip in our stride, most New Zealanders are doing it tough, feeling the effects of inflation.

The increasing price of food is leading the charge. Up a whopping 12.5 percent in the year to June, it’s the highest food inflation rate since 1989. Add to that the high cost of rent and the gigantic increase in mortgage interest payments and it’s no wonder people are tightening their belts.

But how do you rein in your spending without sucking the joy out of life? Do you really have to forgo your daily latte or splashing out on the odd block of cheese? The only way to accurately answer these questions is to conduct a thorough and honest review of your finances. According to the experts, trawling through the last three months’ bank statements is the only way to get back into the financial driver’s seat.

Those bank statements will reveal a bunch of different things, but there’s only two you need to worry about: how much money is coming into the household (income) and how much is going out (spending). Spending less than you earn? Happy days! But if you’re spending more than you earn, it could be time to implement a ‘no frills’ budget.

Can you cut down to one car? If not, look for ways to minimise trips and avoid doubling up on shopping and school runs. Set yourself an entertainment budget and look for ways to maximise your enjoyment on the money you have. If you drink, include alcohol in your entertainment budget.

How can I earn more?

Wages, salaries and even the minimum wage, benefits and NZ Super are going up. If your income hasn’t risen, ask for a pay rise. If that fails, it might be time to start looking for a new job.

Basically, to make ends meet, budget-wise, you either need to spend less or earn more, says personal finance whiz, writer Diana Clement.

“I think a lot of money saving comes down to being mindful and navel gazing. Do you really need that widget you’re buying, or a haircut every six weeks? Why not try stretching it out by two to four weeks more each time. The sky isn’t going to fall in.”

These are some of Diana’s budgeting tips:

How can I spend less?

Reduce your food costs. Plan your meals and be mindful about the cost of ingredients you’re buying. Are they in season, do you need them, can they be substituted?

Prioritise your mortgage or rent payments above discretionary spending. Longer term, consider whether you could get a flatmate or live in a smaller home.

Be wary of remortgaging to pay for cars, holidays or consumer goods. Being honest with yourself can lead to considerable savings. Shop around once a year to see if there are better deals available for things like power, phone, internet and insurance. Are there ways to cut down your usage or can you move to a cheaper plan?

Clothes are wants not needs. If money is tight, make do with what you have or visit op shops or recycle boutiques.

Develop a side hustle – not only will it reduce the time you have available to spend money, it should bring in extra income. Boarders, international students, flatmates and travellers are a good source of extra income that is often tax-free. Consider renting a room out for a set period of time so that it’s not (overwhelmingly) forever. You won’t be the first family that’s made their children share to free up a spare room. Sell stuff! It’s a rare person who doesn’t buy things they don’t use. Go around your house and find items to sell on Trade Me or Facebook Marketplace.

Make sure you claim back tax credits on any eligible donations you’ve made. (And, by the way, this includes school donations.)

Sorted.co.nz has a great tool to make the budgeting process as painless as possible. Also check out keepthechange.co.nz for relatable, real-life lessons that’ll boost your money smarts and moneyhub.co.nz for guides, tools and free information. This is your financial HQ for everything from loans, investing and insurance through to financial independence and better living.

For free, personalised help with budgeting and debt management, check out moneytalks.co.nz. For practical tips join the Cheaper Living NZ Facebook Group, where members motivate, encourage and challenge each other to save, reduce debt and live more economically.

Trethewey looks at ways to cope financially as the cost of living hits a high.
aadirections.co.nz 74 HOME & LIVING
According to the experts, trawling through the last three months’ bank statements is the only way to get back into the financial driver’s seat.

Money matters

Sid Sahrawat is the owner and executive chef of Auckland restaurants Cassia, Sid at The French Café and KOL. We talked to Sid about the financial ups and downs of the restaurant business.

What are the key financial lessons you’ve learned from your years in the restaurant industry?

To be successful you need to be more than a chef; you must be able to manage a business and understand your break-even and cost of goods, especially with the slim margins we have in this industry. It is a lot of hard work, and you need both passion and business acumen to achieve longevity and profitability.

How has the restaurant industry influenced your personal relationship with money?

I don’t let money drive me but I let opportunities come to me that will ensure financial freedom and comfort. I believe the more you chase money the further it will get from you. But conversely, the more you follow your passion, and do it well, the more money will come to you because you are experiencing flow and joy.

Do you spend much on specialty or luxury ingredients for cooking at home?

On Sunday and Monday nights I am home with the family, so I like to eat more than a simple home-cooked meal after cooking all week for others. On these nights we will often go to the butcher and grab a good piece of steak or indulge with some premium ingredients like truffle and French cheese and a good bottle of wine.

Would you describe yourself as a spender or a saver? Spender for sure. I feel like when you work hard, if you can, you should enjoy the results of your work so that it pushes you to achieve more the next day and the day after that. In saying that, it doesn’t mean we don’t save or invest, but we don’t squirrel away every dollar for a rainy day and forget to spend on ourselves and our loved ones.

We work hard and I believe a portion of your income is meant to be spent and enjoyed. I know there are many who are not able to do this, so I feel grateful that we can spend on what many would view as luxuries.

What are you saving for?

A family holiday to Bali. Pre-pandemic you didn’t need to save as long for a holiday as flights were more affordable but now you do have to consciously save as mortgage rates are up and flights are more expensive.

What is the best financial advice you’ve ever received?

There is no excuse as a businessperson to not know how to manage your business. There are multiple resources and people

in your industry who will help you understand. If your business employs people, you have a responsibility to those staff to run your business well so they remain employed.

What key financial lessons do you want to teach your children? I want them to understand the importance of saving and investing and when and how to get into debt for the right reasons. We often discuss financial principles in the car so that they understand terms like fixed assets, depreciating assets and assets that appreciate. Both kids have their own bank accounts. Birthday money and money from chores goes into those so they have control over their own spending.

Finish this sentence: If money weren’t an issue I’d… ... be travelling around the world for a year at least. I want to travel to so many countries to experience the food and culture. Money would give me the luxury of taking the time to do so.

For the full story, see aadirections.co.nz

At Specsavers, AA Members get a free comprehensive eye test every two years, valued at $60. Just remember to bring your AA Membership card to your appointment to redeem. Book an appointment online today Yep! Get two complete pairs from $169, including single-vision lenses. One for home, one for the car. Too good Get two pairs from $169 In store for all prescriptions or online for +/- 6. Includes single-vision lenses. Other lens types and options available at extra cost. Final price is based on price of higher value pair and lens extras. Both pairs same person. Use with other offers restricted. Free eye test applies to comprehensive eye tests only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination, DL12 Eyesight Certificate and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Present your AA Membership card in store to redeem.

Nalini Dutt is the National Manager for AA Home. She reveals what she loves about her job and explains why AA Home is indispensable for homeowners.

NALINI HAS worked for the AA for four years, initially on the Membership and Brand team. In April of this year she took on the role as National Manager for wAA Home.

She describes AA Home as similar to AA Roadservice, but for houses. It was launched by the AA in 2018, expanding on the Association’s ethos of providing peace of mind with trusted, reliable service to people in their time of need. It is effectively a partnership for homeowners, acknowledging that homes are valuable in many senses of the word.

“Our homes are precious investments,” Nalini says. “When something goes wrong, you need to be able to act quickly to get that sorted. But AA Home is not just about providing prompt solutions in emergencies, it’s also about maintenance and helping homeowners stay ahead of issues.”

It’s this variety and the seemingly endless opportunities for developing AA Home that motivates Nalini.

“In my role as National Manager, I lead a team of ten people and I get to dive into a sea of responsibilities while working towards our goals of ensuring things run seamlessly, our customers are delighted and our business growth is unstoppable,” Nalini says.

“I'm driven by creating experiences that our Members and our customers will remember. That’s what makes being part of AA Home so fulfilling.”

Nalini has worn many different hats throughout her career, from marketing


and public relations to product management and strategy. “Back home in India I worked with big names like Volvo-Eicher, Hyundai and Yamaha,” Nalini explains. “It’s amazing how much you learn when you’re in the thick of a market that’s buzzing with possibilities.”

And possibilities are what excites Nalini most about AA Home, too. “Who wouldn’t be excited about exploring uncharted markets and planning for the future?” Nalini laughs. “It’s like being an explorer, armed with innovative product ideas and big-picture plans to set us up for success.

“What I really want people to understand about AA Home is that it’s more than just a service – it’s a genuine solution that makes homeowners’ lives easier,” Nalini says. “It’s the dependable partner you can trust, whether you’re dealing with a minor hiccup or a major home challenge.”

AA Home currently offers two services: AA Home Response and AA Home Book a Job. AA Home Response is there when you need immediate help: “It’s a safety net for unexpected situations – from leaks to electrical glitches – linking you to trusted tradespeople, available around the clock, who can quickly solve urgent problems,” Nalini explains.

AA Home Book a Job allows you to schedule a minor maintenance or home improvement task around your property. “From repairs to installations and inspections, we connect you with experts for quick and quality service,” Nalini says.

“Book a Job covers things like plumbing, electrical work, locksmith services, home inspections and air conditioning.

“In essence, AA Home is a reliable partner for homeowners. It's not just about fixing things when they break, it’s also about preventing issues from escalating in the first place.

“But what truly sets AA Home apart for me is not just the services,” Nalini continues. “It’s about peace of

mind and knowing that your home is in good hands; that there’s a team of professionals ready to step in and take care of things.”

As AA Home moves from strength to strength, the team is developing new services and initiatives. “We have just introduced a comprehensive home inspection service that will provide a thorough understanding of your home’s condition, helping you make informed decisions about maintenance and improvements,” Nalini says.

“We’re also stepping up our game with kitset assembly services. We understand that assembling furniture and other items can be daunting, but with our kitset

assembly you can expect convenience and expertise rolled into one.”

“While my role is a mix of many things, it’s the camaraderie and shared pursuit of excellence that really thrills me,” Nalini says. “We’re on a dynamic journey at AA Home, and let me tell you, it's a journey I'm proud to be on.”

To find out more about AA Home Response and AA Home Book a Job, go to aahome.co.nz , call 0800 AA Home (0800 224 6763) or visit your nearest AA Centre.

78 aadirections.co.nz MY AA
It's about peace of mind and knowing that your home is in good hands; that there's a team of professionals ready to step in and take care of things.

Skin health for Members

Just in time for summer, here is some very welcome news: A new Member Benefit has launched to encourage AA Members to look after their skin, with a significant discount offered on skin analysis services at MoleMap.

MOLEMAP CLINICS provide a diagnostic skin cancer detection service. They operate as a bridge between patients and dermatologists, with trained melanographers conducting initial head-to-toe assessments and collecting vital information that is then analysed by dermatologists.

One of MoleMap’s melanographers, Diana Raynes, explains what happens at an appointment. “We are looking for and assessing any irregular lesions. We’re looking for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and we also want to detect any pre-cancerous sun damage which can be easily treated in the early stages.”

The team uses specialist tools including dermascopic cameras which capture microscopic images of the skin. “The images allow us to see within the deep structures of the skin. We send those images to dermatologists, to assist with their diagnoses.”

MoleMap has recently developed an artificial intelligence (AI) assessment tool that very efficiently assesses irregular features in skin lesion images, not only alerting the team to

take a closer look but also providing patients with instant assurance or, in some cases, expediting urgent treatment. Called Kahu, after the native New Zealand falcon with excellent vision, the AI tool takes diagnosis to a new level.

“Being able to use AI to support what we do is a great step,” Diana says. She points out that MoleMap has been established for over 25 years and has the largest skin database in the world. “Because of that, we’ve been able to create an algorithm with high accuracy,” she says.

As well as the latest tools, high-end technology and decades of experience, MoleMap has another ace up its sleeve: access to dermatologists. It means that diagnostic reports to patients come directly from a specialist and if they need to follow up, they receive professional advice quickly.

MoleMap provides three main diagnostic services. A Skin Check is a 20-minute head-to-toe assessment, during which the melanographer will assess any lesions of concern. “If we find something, we take a body shot capturing the area of skin it is located on, as well as macroscopic and microscopic closeups that allow our dermatologists to diagnose and provide a recommendation for treatment when necessary.”

Skin Check+ is a 30-minute head-to-toe skin check and total body photography. During this session, a full record of the skin is captured by high-definition photography for comparison at the next appointment or when self-checking skin. This is used to track for changes, Diana explains: “These are uploaded onto a patient’s personal MoleMap account so that if, in a few months’ time, they see something new or concerning, they can log into their account and look back at their images to check if it was there before, if it’s new, or if something has changed. It’s helpful, too, because we capture areas that are hard to selfmonitor, such as the patient’s back.”

The Full Body MoleMap takes around 50 minutes and is ideal for people with what Diana terms ‘busy skins’ – or lots of moles. “In this appointment, you get the total body photography and comprehensive head-to-toe scanning, where we image every mole that meets certain clinical criteria. We then image and plot moles or spots with potential signs of skin cancer or that indicate a high risk of change.”

A Full Body MoleMap is appropriate for everyone, Diana believes. “In New Zealand, where we get a lot of sun, everyone should be checking their skin. We want to see everyone here!

“If we catch melanoma in its early stage, on the top level of skin, there is about 98% success rate. But melanoma is such an aggressive cancer and we have no way of knowing when we assess something on the top of the skin how deep it is, which is why it’s so important that we catch as much as we can in the early stages.”

MoleMap clinics are located throughout New Zealand, from Whangarei to Invercargill. AA Members can go online to make appointments and enter the promo code 'AA' followed by their Membership number, to receive a 20% discount on any of the diagnostic services. Members are also welcome to call MoleMap on 0800 665 362.

79 SPRING 2023 MY AA


The AA has noticed an increase in New Zealand driver licensing scams on social media and advises people to treat it with the same level of caution as they would behind the wheel at an intersection: stop, check your surroundings and only proceed if it’s safe.

GETTING A DRIVER’S licence is not an online process, nor is it ever obtained through social media. Fraudulent pages are attempting to trick customers into paying large sums of money for what it claims is a ‘valid’ New Zealand driver’s

licence, or by taking a person’s details from a fake online application process.

Drivers’ licence tests can be applied for and booked on the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website (nzta.govt.nz). It is a requirement to then

visit a licensing agent, such as an AA Centre for identity verification, a licence photo, signature, and an eye test. This can only be done in person.

Red flags to be aware of include any pages claiming affiliation with the AA, AA Driving School or Waka Kotahi

NZTA, use of stolen or copied branding images or pages offering licensing services through social media, text message or generic email accounts (for example Gmail accounts with ‘licence’, ‘AA’ or ‘NZTA’ in the address).

New Zealanders should also watch out for anyone offering to sell licence application forms; these forms are free at driver licensing agents or online.

For more about driver training and licensing see aa.co.nz/drivers

AA Auto Centres now service EVs

IT MIGHTN’T NEED fuel, but an EV requires regular care and attention just like any other vehicle to ensure it’s running in tip-top shape and is safe on our roads.

AA Auto Centres nationwide now offer a service especially for EVs, inspecting fluid in reduction drives and cooling systems, as well as checking the standard of the brakes, wiper blades, suspension joints and tyres.

Fully qualified mechanics can service any make or model EV with the latest equipment.

The AA recommends servicing your vehicle once to twice a year depending on its age and how often it’s used. Regular servicing can maximise the lifespan and value of your vehicle.

The EV service covers basic servicing for electric vehicles and is available to AA Members from $149.

80 aadirections.co.nz MY AA
aa.co.nz/cars and click ‘service
car’ to
find your nearest AA Centre
book a service.

More from AA Home

Homeowners, tenants and those hunting for a new house or investment property can have peace of mind with new nationwide building inspection services available through AA Home. coverage. Inspection reports are easily understandable, efficiently summarised and have a quick turnaround time.

THE LAUNCH OF pre-purchase and pre-sale building inspections, tenancy inspections, methamphetamine and asbestos testing in September 2023 are the latest inclusions to AA Home’s services. These complement the healthy home inspection service launched last year.

AA Home National Manager Nalini Dutt says the new services, run in partnership with Beta Group NZ, offer New Zealanders a comprehensive suite of building inspection options across the country.

“The AA is committed to going beyond our traditional offerings to enhance the lives of our Members and customers throughout their life journeys,” she says. “With the vision of extending the AA brand into the realm of homes, we seek to provide comprehensive and reliable services that cater to the various needs and concerns of homeowners.”

All property assessors hold full industry qualifications, are members of the Institute of Building Inspectors and carry full Professional Indemnity Insurance and Public Liability

Pre-purchase or pre-sale building inspections can help a buyer to feel confident with what they are purchasing and assist in the sale process by providing seller transparency to buyers. These reports are also often required by banks and insurance companies when purchasing a property. Reports by Beta Group NZ are readily accepted by banks and lending institutions.

Healthy home inspections identify aspects of your home that fail to meet the Healthy Homes Standards which outline specific and minimum compliances for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage and draught stopping in rental properties.

See aa.co.nz/home-services/book-a-job for more information on AA Home and to book services online.

81 SPRING 2023
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