The Paradox of Choice OVERCOMING HOLIDAY PARALYSIS IN 6 EASY STEPS
Raising Travel Junkies The Weird and Wonderful World of Crazy
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Contents HOUSE OF TRAVEL CONTRIBUTORS
Editor JODINE SMALL Writers ANNA SARJEANT & DAVID AGNEW Designers SARAH LOUGHRAN & STEPHANIE BENNETT Australia & South Pacific SHARMA SMITH North America GABRIELLE BROWN Asia PAULA WATSON UK & Europe ANNE GRAHAM Touring DAVID BEATTIE Long Haul SHELLEY ADKINS Printer WEBSTAR
4 The Paradox of Choice 6 The Weird and Wonderful World of Crazy
2017 Hot List 9 Louisana on a Plate 10 USA by Playlist 12 Jewels of Southern Europe 14 London Dates! Blindin' Mate 16 Myth Busting Newcastle
Raising Travel Junkies TERMS AND CONDITIONS GENERAL CONDITIONS: Prices are correct as at 23 September 2016 – costs may vary due to subsequent tax surcharge increases, currency exchange rates and/ or unforeseen circumstances. Valid for new bookings only as specified or sold out. For travel commenced and completed as specified. Min/max stays apply. Prices are per person share twin in NZ dollars subject to availability at time of booking, based on payment by cash or cheque. Booking deposits and payment requirements may apply. Bedding configurations may vary. Credit card fees will apply. Some closeouts apply. For travel outside the dates specified, ask your local House of Travel consultant. Amendment and cancellation fees apply. Accommodation ratings are based on House of Travel ratings and are a guide only to the overall quality of the property. Flights are additional unless specified otherwise. Ask us about the best available flights to your chosen destination. Further terms and conditions may apply. See www.houseoftravel.co.nz/inspire for more details. INSIGHT: 21 days Majesty of the Rockies and Alaskan Cruise tour. From $9045 per person. Prices are based on a 10 September 2017 departure. CONTIKI: European Escapade tour. From $3977 per person with early payment discount: book and pay in full before 15 December 2016 and save up to 10%. From $4339 per person for all bookings made after this date. The early payment deal can be withdrawn at any time. All deals are valid until 15 December 2016.
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20 Malaysia with the Mob. A Dad's Guide 22 Discovering the World's Oldest Rainforest 24 Fiji for Big Kids
Coach Like a Pro 27 The Coach Coach 28 The Art of Stylish Touring 29 2017 Top Tour Picks 30 Local Flavour. Touring Europe with Trafalgar
Ocean Air and Salty Hair 32 King of the Castle 34 Niue Giants
The Paradox of Choice “I’m going to spin a globe, point my finger and wherever it lands, that is where I’ll travel.”
A good idea in theory, but what happens when the first spin lands on the Sahara Desert, the second on Chernobyl and two hours later you’ve also disregarded Antarctica, Siberia and every tribal village of The Yanomami. Your dreams of spontaneous decision-making are all but caput.
The problem with making decisions is that we’re all limited by too much choice. But that’s a contradiction right? Perhaps not. As westerners we live in a world of unfathomable choice. And choices present us with an inescapable necessity to make decisions. And whereas choice was once considered the very epitome of freedom, we now find ourselves paralysed by it; the saturation of choice overwhelms us. A concept that’s widely acknowledged as ‘The Paradox of Choice’. According to American psychologist and author of The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, this abundance of choice is a waste of our time. Quite literally. We are wasting too much time trying to make decisions. Consider your local supermarket, where entire aisles are dedicated to nothing but the toothbrush. Do your molars require the soft bristle, or a hard one? Perhaps you need the brand that removes coffee stains? Speaking of which, how’s that working out for you? Unless you’re in France, the humble coffee can no longer be consumed unless it’s clearly specified if you want trim, soy, half strength, twice as hot or twice as large. Oh and do you want your froth in the shape of a silver fern, or a dancing, flute tooting leprechaun? "Mon dieu!" (exclaim the French) we’ve all gone mad.
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As westerners we live in a world of unfathomable choice.
And while you dither between your commodities and your coffees, you’re also expected to pick your next holiday destination. From a planet that boasts 196 countries, over 4000 separate cities and so many beaches we lost count somewhere around 3000. Seriously, even Google can’t hazard a guess. As for Jeeves? He gave up and dismissed himself sometime in the mid noughties. Exhausted much? Because we are. Let’s forget the toothbrush; buy the one that complements your bath towel. Take your coffee black and ditch the froth. And let’s narrow down your holiday destination in these five easy steps: 1. Identify your goal What do you really want? The question is simple but the answer’s far harder. Take the time to dissect it like you would a university essay paper. Reflect on past holidays, if there was one you particularly enjoyed, why was that? Similarly, if there’s a trip you rarely reminisce about, what was its downfall? Take away all limitations such as money,
time off and logistics. Then work backwards. Of course you’re going to have to compromise, we can’t all choose to holiday on-board a 400 million dollar yacht, but once you’ve identified your love for the Mediterranean coastline, maybe your goal will be a Croatian cruise. 2. Talk it out Don’t presume you have to make a decision by yourself. HOT travel consultants are travellers foremost, agents second. Pop in and chew their ears off. Talk about your travel ideas, discuss your holiday ideals, and even your fears if you’re considering somewhere unknown. It helps to get other people’s perspectives, especially when they’ve previously made similar decisions themselves. Of course our consultants want to tell you about HOT’s latest deals, but they also want to tell you about the time they found fake Raybans in Andorra, in a really cool market, for less than 10 euros. It’s your ideas and our knowledge – put them together and you’re in decision-making heaven. 3. Swap impulse for intelligence The decision to travel is usually impulsive, i.e. my boss is a plonker, I’m moving to the Maldives! However, a wellplanned (and dare we say, cautious) approach is wiser when choosing the destination. An intelligent decision stays in consciousness for a while, so spend a few days, weeks or months doing your research. Get online, download apps, read travel blogs and put your HOT consultant on speed dial. Need to know if the kids are going to get WiFi in the Yasawas? Give them a call every time you have a question.
4. Evaluate the pros and the cons Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to snore, we know it’s boringly obvious, but we stand by it nevertheless. Write down a list of pros and cons for every destination you’re considering. A visual tally will help your brain process the variables. You might think you want to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with your best mate Benny, until your cons list highlights Benny's irritating sniff, his poor hygiene and the unbearable snoring. Similarly, another trip to Fiji might seem overdone, but when the pros include dad’s heightened mood and the complimentary kids’ club, suddenly your decision seems obvious. 5. Eliminate choices by setting standards One of the positives from having endless choice, is that it reduces the obligation to ‘make do’. Gone are the days when St Moritz had only one restaurant, and if you didn’t like salty sausage and cheese fondue, you’d go hungry until home time. Now’s the time to think about exactly what you do want and exactly what you don’t. And then stick to it. That could be a budget you refuse to go over (or even under), hotels that are no further than 20 minutes from the airport and beds with a minimum 400 thread count. Egyptian cotton no less. It’s all about eliminating the compromises: if the hotel has to have a swimming pool as well as a beach, well then, it has to have a swimming pool as well as a beach. Simple. If you follow all of the above and still find yourself in a conundrum, stick to pointing fingers at spinning globes. With a bit of luck you’ll land on the Gold Coast. At the exact location of our top selling hotel.
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The Weird and Wonderful World of Crazy From digital wizardry to quirky ideas, the downright brilliant and the totally bizarre, it’s a weird old world we live in, one that is best experienced first-hand.
The annual No Pants Subway Ride It’ll get you arrested in Russia, there was an attempted ban in Latvia, in New York you'll be amongst 4,000 like-minded friends and in Australia, well at least your nether regions won't get cold. The Annual No Pants Subway Ride is exactly that; the one day commuters travel to work without pants. From its 2002 inception, when seven guy mates thought it would be comical to ride the subway without trousers, it’s now a hugely successful event. Organised by Improv Everywhere, a New York based comedy collective well-known for their unexpected public performances. Dozens of cities, from Tokyo to Jerusalem partake in this leg (and cheek) baring spectacle. Staged one day in winter, expect to see a fair few goose pimples gracing the limbs of its participants; pasty white pins are complemented with scarfs, gloves and a down jacket. As with all international events, there are strict rules. Aside from the obvious (willing to take pants off on subway), revellers must avoid all acknowledgement of fellow flashers, and they must be able to keep a straight face.
The International Festival of Worm Charming As with most Great British oddities, this curious pastime started in the pub. Legend has it that festival creator (and worm charming master), Dave Kelland, was walking home after a night of ale and anecdotes, only to suddenly find himself in need of 'the john'. As he relieved himself (on the grass, possibly the neighbour’s lawn) Dave noted something quite peculiar was unravelling before him. Worms were rising in their droves, writhing and wriggling like Egyptian charmed snakes from the soil. Ah, thought David, there's a competition to be made out of this. And there was. Three decades later, the International Festival of Worm Charming is an annual all-day event held in Devon. When it’s time to ‘worm up’, competitors grab a one metre patch of grass and spend the next 15 minutes doing all they can to entice the worms out of the ground, without the aid of digging or forking. Or urinating, we should add. That over, everyone piles into the pub to celebrate with a pint of beer and a bacon bap.
A colossal tomato fight La Tomatina is the world's largest tomato fight. A festival held in the small Spanish town of Buñol, it’s been an annual event since 1945, but the reason behind its induction remains unknown. Some residents argue it was started by debaucherous teenage boys, others state it was the consequence of an overturned lorry. Either way, while the rest of Europe was in the midst of war, Buñol was enduring an epic battle of its own; a tomato one. The festival doesn’t officially start until a hock of ham has been successfully retrieved from the top of a two-storey wooden pole (yes you did read that correctly, and no we have no idea why) but by 11am the mayhem begins either way. Military style trucks dump 100,000 tonnes of ripened tomatoes into the narrow streets and water cannons signal the commencement of the fight. Then an hour of sloppy tomato throwing ensues - squelching, squashing, hurling and launching. The only rule is that you must squish before you throw. Scheduled for the last Wednesday of August, goggle-up and get lobbing.
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Vomiting dim sum Don’t play with your food! And stop flicking your peas around your plate. If you’re bored of killjoy dining etiquette, hop on a plane to Hong Kong. In this Asian city there’s a phenomenon called vomiting dim sum and it thoroughly encourages food play. Based on a character invented by Japanese company, Sanrio (creators of Hello Kitty) dim sum buns are crafted to resemble the face of Gudetama, a 'despondent egg yolk' who has lost his mojo for life. Gudemata’s official Twitter account explains that he goes through “trouble and murmur every day”, notably an unhealthy amount of puking and pooing. In Hong Kong, Gudetama-inspired dumplings are filled with custard cream and designed to be penetrated with chopsticks. Once a hole is made, the filling dribbles out, and depending on where you choose to probe your utensil, the dumpling will either vomit or poop. It might not be pretty, but it’s highly addictive; once you plop you just can’t stop.
Speakeasy with suds There’s a laundromat in Manchester where you’re more likely to get a dirty martini than squeaky clean gruds. That’s because The Washhouse is not a laundromat. The Washhouse is a top secret drinking den - a modern day speakeasy, with a false shopfront and hidden doors. Submerged somewhere in Shudehill, a borough of Manchester, there exists a leather adorned bar with dim lights and a DJ spinning deep house beats. Punters pass through a giant washing machine door, complete with pink bra, but you won’t be admitted unless you book. Ring prior and leave an answer phone message claiming that you have items of clothing (people) you’d like to wash and a preferred time to visit. They’ll ring you back in the next day or so. Also, they might not. If you’re washing needs are met, you’ll walk into a tiny mock laundrette, past a solemn looking man who’s possibly the bouncer (he smells of fabric conditioner) and into a sneaky bar with table service, cocktails and a very elite crowd.
The mother of all Swiss Army Knives Since 1890, the Swiss Army Knife has been an inspired gadget in the lives of all travellers; that panicked realisation when your bottle of Shiraz is sealed with a cork, need we say more? Its point of difference is its nifty size and agile design, of which both manufacturers, Victorinox and Wenger, have perfected. But now Wenger have decided to up the ante - to absolute ginormous proportions. The Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant is an 87 multi-tooled beast; a colossal 23cm wide and as tall as your average tramping boot. It weighs close to 1kg and boasts a repertoire similar to that of an aircraft mechanic. Forget extracting a splinter, this thing could extract an SAS soldier from behind enemy lines. With a shotgun choke tube, a micro scraper (curved as well as straight, obviously) and a shortix laboratory key (yup, we have no idea what that does either), the list of everyday essentials has grown somewhat since the 19th century. As has the price tag. Looking to sex-up your pocket tool? The Knife Giant will set you back a cool US$1300.
E VERYO NE'S IDEA OF A G R EAT HOLIDAY EXPERI E NCE I S D I FFE R ENT. THAT'S WHY WE B ELIEVE T HE B EST HOLIDAYS A RE C REATED TOGETHER . BR IN G YOUR IDEAS IN TO A LOCA L STO RE O R CAL L U S ON 0800 7 13 7 15 A N D WE WILL HELP YOU CRE AT E A N ADV E NTU RE YOU WIL L N EVER F ORG ET. PHOTO: Old father wormcharming, International Festival of Worm Charming, UK
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2017 Hot List Want to know what's top of the travel agenda for 2017? We scoured the globe in our oven mitts, just to find the next big thing on the market. Careful, this list's so hot it'll scald you. LOUISIANA ON A PLATE USA BY PLAYLIST JEWELS OF SOUTHERN EUROPE LONDON DATES! BLINDIN’ MATE MYTH BUSTING NEWCASTLE
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If it's not high in sugar, high in fat and high in finger-licking flavour, then it's sure as hell not Louisianan. Welcome to the Deep South state where calorie loaded recipes are shaped by history and ancestral hand-me-downs; century old secrets and grandma’s scribbles. Ditch the diet and unbuckle your belt, these dishes are worth expanding your waistline for.
Breakfast / GRITS
check the calendar. Crawfish season spans from March
heritage, appearing on tables across the Louisiana state
For those of us who weren’t born in one of the five states
to June, making the infamous crawfish boil a spring-
for centuries, on both the tables of the poor as well as
that make up America’s Deep South, the idea of break-
time ritual. This is a hands in, tails off kind of occasion;
the wealthy. Described as a stew and best served with
fast grits probably conjures the image of rock salt and
ditch the utensils and prepare to get your digits dirty.
rice, gumbo is thinner than its Jambalayan relative but a robust little number nevertheless.
stones. Something that will de-ice the road rather than
Plump crustaceans are boiled in a huge metal pot of
banish your hunger. To the contrary, grits could be de-
seasoned water, then served with sweetcorn and pota-
scribed as a pale cousin of polenta, made from dried
toes, across long tables lined with sheets of newspaper.
Dessert / CALAS FRIED RICE FRITTERS
and mature corn kernels, crushed into smaller gran-
Wash it down with a frosted beer and lick your fingers
So your dietician’s already screaming and now your
ules. Thick and surprisingly creamy, they’re drowned
dentist’s crying too. The desserts in Louisiana are the
in cheese, loaded with butter and topped with any sin of your own liking - sausage, bacon, a fried egg. But this is Louisiana, so make it a shrimp.
Dinner / GUMBO
most delicious teeth rotters in the USA. Calas fried rice fritters are an almost forgotten Deep South treat, with a
Look into your bowl of piping hot gumbo and the histo-
history that dates back to Africa and roots in Louisiana
ry of Southern food will unfold before you. From its de-
since 1880. Puffy, sweet and a little bit crisp, they’re
Lunch / CRAWFISH BOIL
fining characteristics deriving from traditional French
made from a fritter mix, combined with cooked rice,
How do you know if it’s crawfish season in Louisiana?
techniques to its West African base and okra thicken-
flour, sugar and spices. And then they’re deep fried. A
Easy, you’ll see just as many signs for freshly boiled
ing, it’s probably far older than its Cajun spices indi-
golden nugget that fell off the radar for a while, the ca-
shellfish as you will Taco Bell. Alternatively you can
cate. As with many Southern recipes, gumbo has a rich
las’ comeback has been understandably well received.
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USA by Playlist Play the moments and pause the memories. Rewind the highlights and put the best bits on repeat. Discover music's past and present in the USA; your musical pilgrimage to the very heart of jazz, pop and rock n’ roll.
NIRVANA: SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
ELVIS PRESLEY: JAILHOUSE ROCK
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
Rock n’ Roll
Location: Seattle • United States
Location: Memphis • United States
Location: New Orleans • United States
It’s the city where Kurt Cobain was born and grunge was forged; the place that gave the world both brilliant music and beautiful melancholy. Seattle has been dishing out alternative rock and its complementary blue torn jeans since 1990, and it still hosts some of the most influential musical hangouts in the States. The Crocodile, a club in the neighbourhood of Belltown, has welcomed the talents of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and REM, and continues to invite the up-and-comers, lead acts and legendary greats. If you want to stand in the very spot Nirvana debuted ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, head to The OK Hotel. It’s now an apartment block, but a gallery in the lobby is open to the public on the first Thursday of every month. And if it’s the death of band members that intrigues, Cobain shot himself in the greenhouse inside his Seattle home at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard East. The greenhouse has gone and the house is heavily gated, but you can pay your respects at the nearby Viretta Park, with its memorial Cobain bench – notably estranged, shabby and covered in song lyrics.
As the widely accepted birthplace of rock n roll, Memphis If New Orleans was a person, it’d be your mad uncle Jack has a compelling argument for its self-appointed title. - the one with a pocketful of tricks and a colourful past. Many game-changing industry leaders such as Johnny Our point? New Orleans is a batty but spellbinding mix Cash, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and of course, the infa- of tap dancing kids and gypsies reading tarot cards, timemous Elvis Presley debuted their songs here. Sun Studio is worn buildings and jazz played by buskers - on pavements, where The King recorded his first record and is now littered in clubs and on every gas lamp street corner. If you’re with nostalgic memorabilia, including a microphone once after a quintessential back alley jazz club, the Candlelight touched by the superstar himself. Then there’s the 14-acre Lounge is an unassuming diamond in the unassuming estate that Presley bought in 1957, AKA Graceland. Self- rough. Located in Tremé (the birthplace of jazz), the exteguided tours lead through the musician’s undeniably garish rior is rundown at best, the chairs are scruffy and the tables abode, from the shag carpeted walls of the ‘Jungle Room’ were probably once new. But it’s the sights, sounds and to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis is now buried. For smells that you come for; the in-house Tremé Brass Band musicians that are still strumming a beat, Beale Street is and the big pots of red beans and rice, it’s absolutely New the former playground of singers and temptresses; booz- Orleans. And when you’re done dancing in backstreet jazz ers, brothels and above all, mayhem. A feisty ambience still dives, enjoy something a little more modern at Frenchmen hangs heavy in the air, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. Try Street in Marigny. Home to live music, bars, pubs, clubs B.B King’s very own Blues Club for house bands and hedo- and eateries, this flashy entertainment district boasts 20+ nism; soak up the big crowds, loud applause and sling back establishments all spilling into the street. a Motown Margarita - or three.
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BILL WITHERS: AIN’T NO SUNSHINE
VARIOUS ARTISTS: COACHELLA VALLEY 2016
DOLLY PARTON: JOLENE
Location: Chicago • United States
Location: Coachella Valley • United States
Location: Nashville • United States
Sure, the blues get bluer the further south you travel. It was, when all said and done, the Mississippi Delta and all those who hitchhiked along it that brought the art form north. But Chicago, in all its mid-western glory, will always be a blues town. With streets that rumble with the midnight happenings of underground bars and the sound of a sax hovering in the air, Chicago is the city that’s defined by the blues, but with far fewer tourists than its Mississippian cousin. You could easily stumble across any number of ‘worried notes’ on your exploration of the city, but B.L.U.E.S. bar on Halsted Street, quite literally spells it out for you. Step inside and you’ll fall down the rabbit’s warren into a world of traditional tunes, a cosy ambience and an intimacy you only get in sullen dives. The venue is bijou, the beer’s basic and the food is an afterthought, but this is old school blues at its most authentic. With local talent sitting both on and off the stage, B.L.U.E.S blurs the distinction between performer and audience, so huddle up and sing out your cynicism together.
Well regarded as the holy grail of music festivals, Coachella Ah come on now little lady, ain’t we all know you love a is one monster of a three day event. From the 40˚C heat, to little country! And if it isn’t for the enticing dulcet tones of flat dry desert, constant sweat and fedora hats, it’s not for a Southern drawl, you should visit Nashville for its supreme the faint-hearted; if you can cope with the remoteness of music history, notably country music. The former home of Coachella Valley, the swathes of people, sleep deprivation Dolly and the hangout of Elvis, even Bob Dylan recorded a and a distinct lack of hydration then buckle in and hold on few records in this city. Expand your knowledge and appretight. For the most part, attendees frequent Coachella for ciation for a boot tapping melody at the Country Music Hall the music, but also the opportunity to share the very same of Fame and Museum. It’ll take you back to the very roots desert dirt with a plethora of A-list celebrities. As well as of this musical genre via interactive exhibits and a shiny high rollin’ superstars, you’re also in the realm of unprece- Cadillac once owned by Elvis. From here you can book a dented musical talent; ask anyone about Daft Punk’s 2006 tour of RCA Studio B, the famous rec room where Presley performance, widely considered the best set of all time, and recorded over 200 songs, along with Roy Orbison, Dolly they’ll go glassy eyed. World-class artists pair their perfor- Parton and Eddy Arnold. Honky Tonk Highway is lined mances with big announcements such as worldwide tours with atmospheric bars but there are always hoards, so if and new albums, and then of course, there are the surprise you’re after something a little more bespoke, suss out a stage appearances. Is that Rihanna about to shimmy on ‘writers night’ in a local café. These are open-mic nights of stage next to Calvin Harris? Potentially. Anything goes at sorts; you’ll be treated to a stellar lineup of songwriters and Coachella. Anything except a Daft Punk repeat… but we songstresses, established artists and nervous auditionees. can all live in hope.
IF T R AVELLIN G TO T HE U SA I S M U S I C TO YOU R E A RS, CO M E A ND CH AT TO O NE O F OUR EX P ERTS OR LEA RN M O RE A BOU T W H AT ’S O N O F F E R AT W W W. H OT.CO. NZ /U SA
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Jewels of Southern Europe A jewel, by its very definition is precious, and Southern Europe is simply that; the jewel of the south. With hundreds of sun-soaked haunts and thousands of glistening landmarks, it’s polished to perfection and eternally beautiful. Spain
GO NOW. BEFORE THE CROWDS CATCH UP
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Wine, tapas and double kisses, if you’re going to learn a Spanish phrase, make sure it’s ‘una mas’ and ask for more of these. Then, do as the Spaniards do, and be spontaneous. It’s summer. The heat is balmy and the nights are light, the sun doesn’t even set until ten. And neither should you. Streets from small villages to feisty cities are alive with chatter. Children play in the plazas and bars are packed with friends ordering another bottle of the ‘three euro red’. Barmaids deliver beers with fresh bowls of olives, traditional aioli and toast – tapas are almost always served (complimentary) with a drink, especially in the south. Meet, greet and enjoy your two kisses (in Spain it's known as dos besos) with the locals. Get acquainted with a tinto de verano; a far less fancy version of sangria and take ‘no way José’ out of your vocabulary. It’s summer, this is Spain and you can sleep when you’re muerto.
Montenegro. You think you don’t know it but you do. A Mediterranean beauty wedged between its larger Balkan brothers, it’s the realm of coastal cities and red roofed houses; tiny churches on their own private islands and cathedral spires that poke the mountainside. Scenery you already love, but perhaps couldn’t place. Montenegro so often slips under the radar and stays, maybe purposely, well out of sight. From fjords that will render you speechless to the second deepest canyon on earth, this fascinating landscape remains under explored. And under exploited. Kotor Bay splits east and west, with flamboyant monasteries and elegant mosques enjoying a dalliance within one another's presence. There’s 300km of unspoilt coastline and even in summer, when the entire country is drenched in Mediterranean sunshine, there’s a distinct lack of cruise ships dropping off their sightseers.
You’ve heard Croatia's star attraction is Dubrovnik. A walled, cobblestone town clinging to the Dalmatian coastline. The editorials gush over its dazzling shoreline and striking medieval architecture, including its charming red-tiled roofs. They’ll tell you to explore the seashore by kayak and to take a boat to islets that litter the shoreline, and sure, you’d be a fool to ignore their advice, but many argue Croatia’s premier showpiece lies elsewhere. And that’d be in the kitchen. From grilled sardines and jet black risotto to a mid-morning meal known as marenda (when you'll dine on a platter of artisan meat and cheese) Croatia is a gourmand’s dream in an idyllic setting. Italian influence is rife, from the handmade fuzi pasta to a national obsession with coffee - and due to a cold northerly wind (perfect for drying meat) some of the most sought after prosciutto in the world. The views from the table are profound, but it’s what’s on your plate that will really impress.
FIVE EMIRATES A380 FLIGHTS TO DUBAI AND BEYOND DAILY
From 31 October our A380 service from Christchurch via Sydney and Auckland direct to Dubai replaces the current B777 aircraft.
THE VERY DEFINITION OF ROMANTIC
Greece’s beauty lies in its simplicity. From a dazzling coastline which is nothing more than azure water met by angel sand, to a simple platter of feta and figs, it’s the fuss free nature of this nation that makes it so attractive. Timeless and scenic, the villages are beautiful, purely because of the white or brightly coloured houses that decorate the cliffs. The inhabitants are gorgeous just because they smile. Food is exceptional, yet uncomplicated; is there anything more delicious than fresh tomatoes, a shake of salt and a drizzle of oil? Observe the Greek people and you’ll notice life pleasures are just as straightforward. Meeting family and spending a day by the ocean, watching their children swim in the naturally calm bays, daily siestas for the parents. Can we argue that Greece’s many ancient remains are also simplistic? Probably not. Millennia-old architecture and lasting legacies of ingenuity. Simply phenomenal perhaps.
Malta makes you feel good. Fact. Whether it’s the 300 days "What is your name?” (said name-ay) is asked with signature of annual sunshine, a diving scene which is considered the rhythmic vowels. And whatever you say, whether it's Maria best in Europe, or the rows of brightly painted balconies in its or Marmaduke, they'll tell you it's the most beautiful name capital of Valletta, Malta looks as attractive in the flesh as it’s they've ever heard. Such is the charm of an Italian. From the described in all the hearsay. An archipelago found just south Firenze market vendors, who sweet talk their way into your of Sicily, sun and sea are dished out generously, but so are the purse (quite literally, good luck telling those dark brown eyes stunning historic artefacts. With a 7000-year history, temples you don't want an Italian handbag) to Verona, and the very that pre-date the Pyramids and some of the oldest stone build- balcony that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Italy is ings in the world, the density of historic sites is so great, that romantic. Sunsets are watched from Piazzale Michelangelo; Malta almost creaks under the weight of its own antiques. The the square on a hill with sweeping views across Florence. architecture is profound; crumbling to the point of no return or Mornings are spent in chaotic café bars, sipping 'un caffè' meticulously restored, it’s all beautiful. And that’s just what lies and flirting with the idea of moving to Milan. Fall in love with above. Step into Malta’s dazzling water and discover a golden Michelangelo’s impressive skillset, lock lips with a towering seabed scattered with shipwrecks, some of which have been gelato and then embrace your love/hate relationship with sitting silently since World War II. carbs. Pizza and pasta are friends, not foes. And anyway, Italians love a temperamental affair of the heart, that’s why they’re always shouting and/or kissing in the street.
PHOTO: Kastelorizo Island, Greece
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London Dates! Blindin’ Mate If you’re planning a romantic summer in London next year, but would rather avoid the costly addition of a wingman, then you’ve come to the right place. These six dates will take you and your beloved through an unforgettable array of starlit skies, protruding nose sculptures and vision-impaired groping. Did we mention unicorn poop?
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Dine in the Dark
Snuggle in a Toilet
DANS LE NOIR
LADIES & GENTLEMEN BAR
In what might be the ideal date if you and your partner can’t stand the sight of one another, Dans le Noir is a concept restaurant in London’s Islington. The theme being that you dine in complete darkness. This somewhat daunting experience commences in a fully lit bar area, where you’ll select from one of four colour-coded and highly ambiguous menus: red (meat), blue (fish), green (vegetarian) and white (chef’s choice). Diners are then served by a team of visually impaired staff in a pitch black dining room. With sight removed, your other senses (notably taste) are heightened, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Never considered yourself a groper? You will after this. We predict you’ll manhandle your waitress at least twice, probably when they’re attempting to guide you to the bathroom. At the table, you’ll have absolutely no idea if your date, in an attempt to place fork and food somewhere near their mouth, flicked a lump of buttery cod into your wine glass. The likelihood is they did, along with several peas and a wayward bean. And don’t even think about using your phone light; mobiles are confiscated at the bar.
Call them quirky (and don't worry, they've been called far worse) the Brits go gaga for a public toilet. Not to sit and relieve themselves in the conventional manner, but rather, for beverages, banter and a damn good beat. Ladies & Gentlemen is a Kentish Town bar found in a former underground toilet. A cosy disused lavatory that’s now a well frequented drinking hole, some would argue there’s little difference between the two; good facilities, nice aesthetics and a decent perch to park your derriere. Long gone are the wash basins, now there’s a bijou bar and a refined drinks menu to impress the London elite. This former WC is resolutely slick and dishes up a sophisticated assortment of cocktails to match. Try the Guinness Flip: Hennessy VS, chocolate liqueur, maple syrup, bitters, Guinness and an entire egg. Or the Rhubarb and Custard, served in its very own custard tin. As if things could get any more surreal, there's also a selection of secondhand books. Why don't you read a chapter of Mills & Boon to your better half? Over the old cisterns that once led to a bidet. It’s the very definition of romantic.
Watch a Movie Outdoors
Slum it with Champagne
CEREAL KILLER CAFE
It doesn’t matter if you take a lavish picnic or a pack of Pringles, if you’re watching an outdoor film at Somerset House, you’ll feel every inch the aristocrat. So pretend your Prosecco is Dom Pérignon and raise your pinkie to the sky. Throughout the summer outdoor cinemas pop up across the capital, but nowhere quite as grand as Somerset House. This Neoclassical building with a 1776 birthdate is situated on the south side of the Strand and overlooks the River Thames. Come August, it plays host to Film 4's annual Summer Screen event, welcoming guests to watch a bevvy of screenings under the blanket of a starlit sky. Spend a balmy summer’s evening in a beautiful courtyard, with rugs, picnics and beanbags (or whatever else you can carry on the underground). From red carpet premieres, to iconic hits and timeless masterpieces, the film reel doesn’t stop turning for 14 consecutive nights, but we can’t guarantee the same can be said for the notorious UK rain. Pray for a cloudless night, or at the very least pack a two-person poncho. Well organised types buy their tickets as soon as they go on sale in May. It might seem early but this epic date night is always a sell-out.
The experts keep telling us that the secret to a happy relationship is trust and communication. Codswallop. It’s most definitely breakfast cereal. Which is why the Cereal Killer Café has made it onto our HOT list. Two of these seriously cool breakfast cafes are in London's funkiest burbs and only serve cereal. Packed to the rafters with 120 varieties, some of which the proprietors have to go on a waiting list to stock, nostalgic 80s décor and if you descend on the Camden branch, beds you’re encouraged to climb into, it’s gimmicky but it’s glorious. Certain cereals are imported from worldwide destinations, such as chocolate Oreo O’s which only exist in South Korea. Pick one and then pimp it out with 13 different milks and 20 additional toppings. This is not the time to choose Weetbix; show your partner you’re a breakfasting badass and order a cereal cocktail. Unicorn Poop delivers a deliciously sugary assault of Ricicles, party rings, fluff, marshmallows and hundreds and thousands. We have no proof that cereal is an aphrodisiac, but for the sake of this article, let’s say it’s up there with oysters and chili peppers.
Once upon a time, Boris Johnson (the former mayor of London) was a popular man. This isn’t the time to mention Brexit, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about Boris’ bikes. Officially named Santander Cycles, this public bicycle hire scheme was launched during Boris’ reign and makes for an easy and economical means to get around the city.You can hire a bike from as little as £2; you’ll get the first 30 minutes for free, and then it’s just £2 for every additional half hour. Simply go to any docking station (they’re red) and use your bank card to get started. There’s no need to book and you can return your bike to any dock across the capital. Take your wheels for a ‘landmark crawl’ – hitting one famed monument after the next, from Nelson’s Column to The Gherkin. And if you’re down Soho way, look out for ‘the seven noses of Soho’. Created in 1997 by artist Rick Buckley, he attached 35 reproductions of his own nose to random buildings; protruding from walls and hanging from the exterior walls of the National Gallery and Tate Britain. Today only about ten survive – go forth and find them.
What can you do when one half of your dating duo enjoys the finer things in life, and the other half can’t stray too far from UFC? Oh no, here comes that ugly word… compromise! Fortunately a super casual hangout known as Bubbledogs only serves two things: sparkling wine and hot dogs. With 20 types of dog to tempt even the most lacklustre date-attendees, and a medley of bubbles for the discerning palette, it’s the perfect balance of highbrow and laid back. The décor is typical of London’s coolest dining joints — exposed brick walls and quirky picture frames, it's casual enough to slip into after day's sightseeing. Once inside, choose your dog and pick a Champagne. The Mac Daddy, which adds creamy mac n cheese to your frankfurter is an all-time London fave, while those who like continental should try Fernando; the dog from Spain. Wait staff are on-hand to explain the different Champagnes, and we’re sure they won’t mind a request for a ‘doggy bag’ for your hotdog. Perfect to resume later, when you’re back to vegging-out in front of the TV.
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Myth Busting Newcastle Think you know Newcastle? Think again. While it might not be the most sought after destination in New South Wales, itâ€™s the dark horse that always exceeds expectations. Here we address every preconception about Australiaâ€™s most underrated city.
PHOTO: Nobbys Beach and Lighthouse, Newcastle, NSW
“THE BEACHES ARE BETTER IN SYDNEY” THAT'S WHAT THEY THINK!: Newcastle’s beaches are as beautiful as Sydney’s, and better still, the swarms of beach-goers are all but airbrushed out.
“YOU WON’T GET A DECENT MEAL” NONSENSE!: Gastronomical surprises exist on
and smell the salty ocean air. Newcastle has more stretches of glorious beach than you could shake your fancy jandals at, so embark on a ‘beach crawl’ and hop from one sun-drenched patch of sand to the next. Bathers Way is one of the most scenic ways to soak up glittering sea views and spans from the lighthouse at Nobbys Head to Merewether. Hire a bike from Spinway, Newcastle’s automated bike rental service, and cycle the 5km coastal pathway via several idyllic beaches. Once the mid-afternoon sun cools, ditch the bike and hop onto the Newcastle Memorial Walk. Connected by a stairway (hence the bike drop), this clifftop stroll features a 160 metre clifftop bridge lined with the silhouettes of steel soldiers. Installed to commemorate the centenary of Anzac, this impressive overpass also affords stunning 360 degree views of the city, its adjacent coastline and dramatic crashing waves.
“IT'S AUSTRALIA’S SECOND OLDEST CITY” TRUE: Newcastle was an 'accidental find' by Lieutenant John Shortland in 1797, just nine years after Sydney. History abounds. Is there anything more invigorating than an early morning swim - the sun rising over a watery horizon and the smell of the ocean flooding your nostrils? As much as Newcastle’s easygoing charm invites visitors to simply chill, some things are definitely worth getting up for. An early morning dip at the Newcastle Ocean Baths is one of them. Dating as far back as 1922, the restored Art Deco pavillion on the shores of Newcastle Beach envelopes an enormous saltwater swimming pool; basked in sun and thrashed by Tasman waves. Open year round and free to the public, there are well maintained changing facilities and warm showers, with 50 metre lanes for Olympic wannabes and a quieter, shallow paddle pool for parents with pint-sized tykes. Forty lengths after sunrise, once you’re sitting poolside, sipping a coffee and reading the paper, you’ll realise you’ve been transported to a bygone era. When leisurely pastimes were as simple as early swims and morning sunshine.
FALSE: There’s plenty, and you can thank a man called Marcus Westbury.
every corner and gourmet is on the rise. Newy’s chefs can dish out a taste sensation to rival the best of them.
From Bar Beach, which is fully patrolled and perfect for families, to Merewether, where world-champion surfer Mark Richards first learnt to surf, if you thought this city was all concrete and coal, wake up
“THERE'S LITTLE TO DO”
In coastal cities where the bohemian vibe is as vivid as Newcastle’s, the surf might be strong but you can bet your bottom dollar the coffee’s even stronger. If there’s one characteristic all beach flanking towns possess, it’s indie-cool coffee shops. Newcastle is little different; each day brings the fresh aroma of ground coffee and eggs benny wafting down its streets. And when the locals whisper of lip-smacking buttermilk pancakes and the best smashed avos in the state, they’re probably gushing about One Penny Black. Just ten steps down the road from Stu McDonald’s dazzling street artwork, this dark and mysterious coffee shop invites punters inside for great food and double shot coffees (because that's standard good café behaviour). Cosy and verging quite nicely on cramped, brush shoulders with surfers fresh out of the sea, lycra-clad joggers and dog walkers already caked in sand.
“IT’S NOTHING BUT A STEEL CITY” BOSH!: Newcastle boasts one of the most diverse art scenes in the country. Newcastle’s transformation from a former steel city to bristling art hub is a result of its new-age beatnik thinkers. Hipsters, for want of a better word. These liberalists shunned the Sydney rat race and fostered a thriving community of artists, free-thinkers and super cool creatives. As a result, the city’s calendar is rich in diverse art events. The much celebrated This Is Not Art festival, better known as TiNA, brings together the ideas of less mainstream artists, from writers to painters, comedians and musicians. Held every year over the October long weekend, it’s a collaboration with four sub-festivals, including the National Young Writer's Festival, Critical Animals, Electrofringe and Crack Theatre Festival. The creatives flock to the city, bringing with them an eclectic body of work. It’s experimental, it’s irregular, but there are plenty of artisans to admire and workshops to attend. As laid-back as it is learned, attendees fill their days with equal parts discussion and equal parts beach - a frosted beer never far from hand.
Not so many years back, Newcastle’s Downtown was derelict. Over 150 empty storefronts stood desperate and destitute. Then Marcus Westbury, a festival director and proud Newcastle man, conjured a cunning plan: borrow the empty storefronts and invite fledgling designers to use the stores for free, or at least until they could afford to pay rent. It worked. Downtown is now a vibrant art district, and Westbury is commonly acknowledged as the community's saving grace. Success stories aside, Newcastle boasts many gorgeous pockets of inspiring shops and niche boutiques. From indie designers to hidden enclaves, there’s a shop selling every slice of oddity you could wish for. From the Vintage Grocery Store Museum which replicates an old general store, to the bric-a-brac must-haves discovered on Darby Street, you’ll find a never-ending collection of cool clothes and beautiful antiques. But the gold medal for retro splendour goes to Strip of a Lifetime, a bespoke vintage hire shop and art gallery. Worth a look, if only for the original 1960s photo-booth, which is in perfect working order.
“IT’S PRETTY RELAXED FOR A CITY” ABSOLUTELY: Far removed from the chaos of most cities, Newcastle boasts a small town vibe with big ambition. This city's charms are its sun, surf and total sedateness. At day’s end, why do anything more strenuous than happy hour cocktails followed by fish and chips? Load up on the city’s infectious laid-back ambience; lap up the coastal air and do as the locals do: chill out. It’s basically medicine. Speaking of which, so are cocktails. If you’re looking for refreshment, Newcastle takes the agony out of feeling parched. From former banks transformed into little French establishments, to seductive lounge-chair basements, there are bars and beach-tickling pubs, not-so-secret speakeasies and every other type of drinking hole to satisfy. And when the time comes, descend on Scotties' fish and chip shop. Foremost a restaurant, the simple aesthetics spill onto the street, with coloured lightbulbs sprinkled in the trees and waves crashing spectacularly in the distance. Pull up a pew and order battered fish; the side of fat golden fries are obligatory.
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HERE? or HERE?
Time to rest and connect onboard air-conditioned coaches, complete with free Wi-Fi#.
Time to take your mind off the nitty-gritty – hotels are pre-selected, pre-booked and included.
Time to get amongst it and explore your destination with included sightseeing.
Time filling up the tank. Time spent looking at a map. Time getting lost and missing the attractions. Time planning and booking. Time figuring out how much to tip. Time finding a hotel. Or time to enjoy your stress-free holiday?
the next you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the views, and you’ll be refreshed and ready for new thrills the moment you touch down in the next town.
Book a coach tour and rest assured that your time will be spent well. Your accommodation, your transport and your guided sightseeing to all the main attractions are included in the tour. And while you’re on the road from one destination to
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*Terms & Conditions: Price and availability correct as of 21/9/16 and will be confirmed at time of reservation. Prices shown are based on per person, twin share including applicable 10% earlybird discount. 10% discount applies to new 2017 Globus tour bookings made and deposited between 14/09/16 – 29/11/16. A non-transferable non-refundable deposit of $250 per person/per tour is required within 7 days (or by 29/11/16; whichever comes first) to secure reservation. Not combinable with any other offer except for Save 5% Second Tour discount and/or Save 5% Repeat Traveller (Journeys Club) discount (standard conditions apply). All discounts are based on land-only portion of core tour on twin share price, not including extra night accommodations, extensions, taxes/fees, tips and supplements/reductions. Offer reliant on space availability. Offer can be withdrawn or amended at any time without notice. Full cancellation penalties will apply. Additional restrictions may apply. For full terms & conditions refer to the 2017 Globus brochures or visit globustours.co.nz. #Free wi-fi where service is available. Note: No wi-fi service is available in South America.
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Raising Travel Junkies The world is now so accessible, travelling with your family has never been easier. So pop your baby in a backpack and watch them blossom into a fullyfledged travel junkie. MALAYSIA WITH THE MOB. A DAD’S GUIDE DISCOVERING THE WORLD'S OLDEST RAINFOREST FIJI FOR BIG KIDS
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Malaysia with the Mob. A Dad’s Guide Gold Coast, been there, done that. Fiji, tick. Disneyland? Kids too short, US Dollar too strong. Adults must travel so where to next then? The itch to travel wasn’t going to take care of itself so where to go with one six year old and two four year olds? Was it going to be a holiday and is it ours or theirs? Lessons learned from the past told us that the best laid plans for that relaxing family getaway will collapse in a crying (and whinging) heap if the children are treated as excess baggage. So, was the answer to make it about them then? Was the reverse psychology going to work? We knew little about Malaysia except it was where Matchbox cars were made. It was affordable, hot all year, rainy in the west from April to October and in the east during the Kiwi summer. It would be similar to Thailand without Nepalese suit salesmen pedalling tuxedos to the kids. There was much to get excited about and the kids were sold on Legoland, Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur and the unfulfilled promise of ice blocks, daily. As paying adults we had a minor say and Malaysian food held considerable appeal, surprising as it was in actuality that satay sticks weren’t on every street corner. It would become apparent mobile phone parts and reversing cameras were easier to get our hands on. Before leaving New Zealand, we’d prepared for the worst case. We were duly warned by friends and family of the 12 hour flight like we hadn’t checked the map. We knew the shorter flights to Australia and Fiji were the logical choice for the more logical people among us and we couldn’t upgrade and leave them in economy. We cushioned our midnight flight from Auckland with a two hour stay at The Emperor Lounge and the $120 outlay was money well spent to feed and quench the family, sit in comfort but importantly, occupy the kids with cartoons. It was a heads-up play and the right
PHOTO: Long-tailed Macaques, Malaysia
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way to kick off the adventure. Ultimately, there was some turbulence on the flight but nothing to do with atmospheric conditions or the Air New Zealand pilot. To avoid constant badgering over Legoland we didn’t wait long to get there after arriving in Singapore and crossing the Malaysian border into Johor Bahru. It was very warm but the kids were rookies and charged off, demanding the life-saving park stroller within minutes. instantly upon entering, the kids were in heaven but what resonated with this former Lego architect was the detail the theme park had gone to and how the atmosphere was perfect and impeccably…Lego. The CRAGLE had been utilised everywhere. A staged scene of a Lego car crash with characters arguing in front of a Lego cameraman was unusually comforting and human. Meanwhile, kids rode in large Lego cars, boats, planes with an interactive and physically exhausting Lego fire to put out before lunchtime. At the end of two days the adult consensus was, the park was cheerfully a ‘beginners’ theme park and served its purpose perfectly with enough thrills next door at the water park to satisfy older kids and parents. Unfortunately, the upcoming 4D Ninjago attraction was three months shy of our visit. If Legoland was for beginners then Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur was for theme park surfers looking for the next big wave. With fierce independence, Sunway Lagoon does its own thing. All housed in a meteor crater landscape, the diversity of rides and features look like the eccentric owner was in competition with the late Michael Jackson for the best personal amusement park.
Highlights for the kids, ironically the adventure parks weren’t the main adventure and the elementary facets of daily life in Malaysia become the experience that will hopefully live long in the children even if they don’t remember. The cultural shock of foreign toilets and their nuances may be something we block out but the simple learnings that the world talks differently, eats differently and dresses differently will hold their worldly imaginations in good stead. With our own fierce independence we took it a step further and self-drove our way to Kuala Lumpur as a way to see the countryside. The dual purpose was to also make a pit stop at Malacca, renowned for its history of marauders during the days of spice trading which thanks to the pioneering Portuguese, can now be found at your supermarket. While the historic and colourful Malaccan lanes and alleys could barely fit a car, the Malaysian roads were smooth, straight and safe; the right lane on the highway however, wasn’t for 1300cc Toyotas. It soon became apparent how easy and economic it was to get around KL with three kids and the car was ditched. By immaculate design, the last five nights on the island of Langkawi was mum and dad’s time at the resort. The kids had had their fun. A cross between Rarotonga and Thailand struck us in the first moments
as a ring road around the island passes beaches and bays and locals’ humble houses with the tied up family cow keeping the berm trimmed. The stares of loitering monkeys burn a hole in the car window. We wanted this exotic element for the kids who knew the animals at Auckland Zoo by first name. Not your everyday resort, Berjaya Langkawi wanted to be different and it pulled it off. Like a courtesy fruit basket of mango and starfruit, Macaque monkeys welcome you to your room and look at you like you owe them something – not ‘you may have something’ – to eat. They almost expect a percentage of your personal wealth but their sheer presence provides a point of wonderment and interest each and every day and reaffirms you are in their forest. Squirrels scuttle along the chalet rooftops, flying lemurs or ‘Colugos’ glide from one tree to another and metre long lizards stroll the tarmac like they’re on their way to the shops for milk or insects. For the kids, the memories will be etched and they already want to go back to see the monkeys.
David Agnew Sport’s journalist, travel enthusiast and devoted father of 3.
T RAV E L L I NG W I T H T H E W H O L E FAM ILY TAK ES P L AN N IN G . D O N' T WAST E P RECI OU S H OU RS T RO L L I NG T H ROUG H THE IN TER N ET WHEN WE CAN DO IT F O R YOU. CA L L U S O N 08 00 7 1 3 7 1 5 O R BRI NG YOUR IDEAS IN TO A LOCAL STOR E & WE W I L L H E L P YOU G ET THER E.
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Discovering the World’s Oldest Rainforest Many of us could be forgiven for thinking that we would have to travel to South America to discover the ancient forests of the world but factoid - the Amazon is estimated to be around 55 million years old, whereas the Daintree in Tropical North Queensland is estimated to be around 135 million. It is the world’s last remaining example of warm, moist rainforest from the time of the Gondwanaland supercontinent, and the perfect place for any adventure-seeking family to escape the next NZ winter. The Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics which is known famously for being where forest meets ocean. A diverse landscape of unique plants, stunning coastlines, freshwater rivers and thriving wildlife. For the family, there’s a nice balance of touristy and not-so-touristy adventures to indulge in, the difficulty is choosing, as there is a lot on offer.
How to get there Head to Cape Tribulation which is a two hour drive from Port Douglas, a car ferry runs regularly across the river and once you’re over, most attractions can be found on the main road. There are options to stay locally or if you prefer to base yourself in one of the amazing resorts closer to town, then the QT in Port Douglas is superb.
Best time to go
Our Daintree Top 5
June-August. Humidity is lower and nights are cooler. If you can sneak away outside of school holidays then August would be the sweet spot.
1/ THE DAINTREE DISCOVERY CENTRE
Climate Hot, humid summers (December-February) and mild, dry winters (June-August). The average temperature ranges between 17°C and 29°C.
Why we love it The perfect blend of adventure, education and wow factor for all family members. For those raising screenagers in the city, this is your chance to get them off the grid. Google can’t save you now honey, learn how to read a map!
R AI S ING THE NEXT DAVID AT T EN BOROUG H? CA LL U S O N 08 00 7 1 3 7 1 5 O R BR I NG YOU R IDEAS IN TO A LOCA L STOR E & WE W I L L H E L P YOU CRE AT E A N ADVENTU RE THEY W ILL N EVER F ORG ET.
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Just across the river, it’s the perfect place to start your appreciation of just how amazing the Daintree is. There are audio guides available for both adults and children. Plus there’s something quite cool about telling your kids they are standing where dinosaurs once roamed.
2/ OCEAN SAFARI One of the best ways to experience the reef and get up close with an abundance of tropical fish, eagle rays, starfish and sea turtles. Ocean Safari offer both morning and afternoon excursions for small groups of around 25 people; catering for families with littlies as young as two. It’s only a 25 minute boat ride out to sea and they have great coffee!
HOT Tips 1. Get there early
Head down a side road and drive quietly - it’s your best chance to see a Cassowary in its natural habitat.
2. Get a map
There is no phone reception, so get a map from the local store and enjoy a digital detox!
3. Allow extra time
Don’t under estimate the length of Cape Tribulation Road. It is longer than you think and it pays to allow extra time to get to your excursions on time.
4. Try the local food
It’s organic, free-range and delicious!
5. Prepare for rain
You are in a rainforest.
6. Don't swim at the beach
The beaches look beautiful but there are plenty of freshwater options that are croc-free.
7. Wear mosquito repellent Because, mosquitos.
8. Minimise your footprint
Take all rubbish with you and stick to the tracks.
3/ JUNGLE SURFING Zip-lining through the forest canopy is freakin’ awesome. Not only do you get to see the forest from above but it’s safe for everyone from 3 to 103 years old. The whole family can have fun (including mum) although she will be having a wee panic attack watching her precious babies dangling their arms and legs from their harnesses. “Look mamma, no hands!”
4/ SWIMMING HOLE & MASON’S FOR LUNCH Crocodiles are salt water creatures, so anyone up in Cape Trib will tell you that you are as mad as a cut snake to swim at the beach, but madder still if you don’t experience the natural beauty of the fresh water Swimming Hole. Nearby, Mason’s Café is the best place
to encourage your kids to get a bit adventurous with their taste buds, serving local delicacies like wild boar, camel, kangaroo, emu and of course, crocs. NOM.
5/ AFTERNOON TEA ABOARD THE M.V. MATILDA Sit back and relax with a wine and a snack whilst a qualified botanist takes you nature spotting through the mangroves. Crocodiles will warm up on the river banks during the day, so get on the water before sunset and you’ll have more chance of spotting one. If you miss out, Jessie the owner is raising a baby crocodile and stroking his soft underbelly is truly something special.
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Fiji for Big Kids Kids’ clubs, nannies and child-friendly pools, Fiji is an ideal destination for young families. But what if you have older critters in your clan? Youngsters that crave less hand-holding and more independence. The Yasawa Islands, in Fiji’s north-west, are perfect for families with older offspring. It all depends on what type of teenager you have…
The show off SNORKEL WITH SHARKS For bragging rights to last an entire school term, snorkelling with Fiji’s ocean predators is an experience any fearless fledgling will love. Underwater shark encounters at both Kuata and Waya Island bring snorkellers face-to-face with both the whitetip reef shark and the blacktip reef shark; species that can reach lengths greater than 1.5 metres. Naturally inquisitive, these surprisingly graceful creatures are born entertainers, inviting swimmers into their natural habitat like gracious hosts; human hearts pounding while they encircle their guests. The water is unlikely to reach depths greater than six metres, allowing novice snorkellers to hover on the surface, while those with confidence can duck dive to get a closer look. Expert guides are on-hand for safety briefings and to share their knowledge about these amazing creatures, their habitats and behaviour. Visible year-round, but less frequently during the mating season, enlist with the resort and tours will be organised from there. So easy a teenager could do it. Well, that is the point.
The nature lover SNORKEL WITH MANTA RAYS Manta rays, probably much like your growing offspring, are greedy. Consuming more food than comprehendible, they hoover plankton off the seabed like they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Between May and October, manta rays make a beeline for the feeding channel between Drawaqa and Nanuya Balavu Island, because it’s here they find the most magnificent banquet of plankton. Mouths gaping, they glide on manta cruise control; effortlessly gobbling microscopic organisms as they navigate the ocean floor. Mantaray Island Resort lies close to this channel and offers one of the most unique snorkelling experiences in the Pacific. When mantas are sighted, the sound of the lali (traditional drum) echoes across the beach, as loud as war cry, and signals guests to jump aboard the boats. Then it’s snorkels on, GoPros at the ready. With wing spans reaching up to six metres, and a mesmerising elegance, observing these enormous manta rays is almost hypnotic. They are far from
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intimidating, notably because their tails don’t have a sting, but also because they’re incredibly graceful. Snorkelling in their presence is the perfect choice if your nature-loving children also thrive in water.
The ambitious learner LEARN TO DIVE If your brood are always ticking off achievements, chances are they have diving on the to-do list. Where better to master the skill than Fiji? The water is teeming with tropical marine life and the visibility reaches up to 40 metres. Better still, the Yasawa Islands possess a remoteness that makes the water feel even more isolated and exotic. Introductory dives incorporate shallow dives in depths no more than nine metres, utilising Fiji’s tranquil environment to learn how to use the gear, equalise ears and breathe. Added reassurance comes in the form of a Fijian dive instructor. Arguably the friendliest people in the world, fears are easily put to rest with wide smiles and encouraging instructions. For something a little more challenging, open water courses take 3-4 days and the theory can be completed online beforehand, granting participants more time in the water rather than the classroom. Fear not, any moans about the compulsory theory will be forgotten as soon as flippers hit the water. The Yasawas boast some of the most colourful reef ecosystems on the planet, including 1,200 fish groups, hard coral and turtles. Once acquainted with a world that exists beneath the blue, we doubt your offspring will ever want to surface.
The adventurist SPELUNKING SAWA-I-LAU CAVES Adventurists with an active imagination will travel far further than Fiji in the famed Sawa-i-lau Caves. An ancient limestone formation, carved by waves and crafted into a chamber of vertical walls and turquoise water, they’re often described as the ‘heart of the Yasawas’. And yet, with a little fanciful thinking, you could easily be in a world of unknown coordinates. The caves themselves are hidden within an attractive little island and the outer chasm is a tall atrium accessed via a small stairwell. Sunlight pours through a hole in the
ceiling and the inviting water is a dreamlike shade of azure blue. For those with incredible courage (and possibly the older siblings in the group) there’s a secondary, more hidden cavern entered via an underwater tunnel. In here it’s dark, not completely black but eerie nevertheless. It's a dive into the unknown; a leap of faith into a chamber of secrets and stories, but a definite must-do for any budding adventurist. Narnia it is not, but with rocky curtains and swim-through tunnels, these enchanting caves are incredibly other-worldly.
The non-stop Instagrammer HIKING Snap-happy photographers are in their element in the Yasawas. Picture-perfect palm trees lollop over ice white sand and perennially blue shorelines. But the Insta-worthy shots aren’t solely limited to the beach. In Wayasewa, an island on the southern tip of the archipelago, the skyline is punctured by the towering twin peaks of Vatusawalo and Vatuvula, the latter offering unmatched views across Viti Levu, the Yasawas and the Mamanuca Islands. A guided hike, which takes approximately one hour, lends itself to sweeping panoramas across the South Pacific, while the summit affords breathtaking views of vast ocean, golden beaches and marshmallow clouds suspended just inches above the horizon. Ascend before dawn and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. From Vatuvula you can descend into Waya, an islet connected to Wayasewa by a sand spit exposed at low tide. As well as unbelievably photogenic beaches, Waya has four coastline villages all connected by striking walking trails. Between the tropical vistas and smiling Fijian faces, your kid will have enough envy-inducing images to keep their Insta followers happy until the next holiday.
PHOTO CREDIT: Blue Lagoon Cruises H OUS E OF T R AVE L
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Coach Like a Pro Make your next trip a guided holiday. With the help of tour experts, you'll find unique sights and secret places. You'll never get lost and you'll never be alone. THE COACH COACH THE ART OF STYLISH TOURING 2017 TOP TOUR PICKS LOCAL FLAVOUR. TOURING EUROPE WITH TRAFALGAR
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The Coach Coach Contemplating a guided tour? This is the only cheat sheet you'll need. Consider us your mentor: The Coach Coach. For the smoothest, most seamless trip possible, follow our tips and heed our advice. Where to sit
What to eat
What to avoid
Strike up a conversation with your driver or tour director and start asking questions about the journey ahead. If you know the road’s going to be hugging glorious coastline for six hours, find out which side the ocean will be sitting and position yourself accordingly. Similarly, they might divulge that although the sea will flank the right, startling mountainside floods the left, and then you can choose your preference. For comfort, sitting somewhere in the middle of the coach will ensure you are seated between the wheels and less likely to feel the jerks and jumps. It’s also quicker to board and disembark if you’re closer to the doors than right at the back. If you’re after front row tickets, there’s nothing better than sitting upfront and behind the driver.
Firstly, never skip meals before getting on your coach for the day; you might not know when your next pit stop’s occurring and an empty stomach can lead to hanger. Load up on breakfast items, or take a few snacks to sustain you until lunch. Avoid anything too salty or sugary, this is not the time to be dehydrated, or so wired up you want to run up and down the aisle performing gymnastic tricks. And if you only heed one piece of advice from this entire article, be it this; bananas, like egg sandwiches, are the biggest no-no of coach travel. Don’t do it.
As well as the person with a banana, you might want to avoid all service stations. Save for the toilet, spend your money elsewhere. Items are thrice the price when bought from the side of a motorway. Avoid taking a huge backpack on-board, which will only get in the way. All you really need is your wallet, a gadget to play with (or book if you're old school) a neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs. Avoid taking a gallon of water, or you’ll quite literally be spending a penny at every stop, but stay hydrated. Look for drinks that replenish electrolytes. That's your Gatorades, Powerades or if you want less sugar (clearly you read tip three) drink coconut water.
What to wear Much like a plane, shoes that slip on and off make for a more comfortable journey. Jandals can be popped beneath the seat and then easily slipped back on when you get off to soak up the sights. You’ll also want to dress in layers. New Zealand isn’t the only country that has temperamental weather. Sometimes the sun will ceaselessly pelt through the window and then you’ll alight and the clouds will swoop in and coax out your goosebumps. You may never win the war on temperature, but you can prepare for it.
What to take on-board It’s crazy we know, but in some countries (notably European ones) they still like to charge you for a tinkle. Don’t get caught short if there isn’t a toilet on your coach and pop a few local coins in your pocket. A handful of change is also helpful in countries not as familiar with EFTPOS as we are in NZ. Ear plugs will help you sleep if you like to use the coach as a secondary bed. Absorbing the sights outside the window isn’t for everyone, you might like to have a daily siesta. Wet wipes are especially useful when you wake up from a snooze drooling all down your chin, and a pair of bed socks will ensure you have a snuggly snooze in the first place.
What else? There are a few additional hacks that will make your road trip even more comfortable. Firstly, take your phone charger on board. Most modern coaches are now fitted with the kit to charge as you travel. Also, ask about WiFi, most coaches now offer the data, and a few hours on the road provides a good opportunity to post envy-inducing Snapchats and Insta pics. With high paced tours, you might be on the coach for up to ten hours per day, so add a few stretches into your journey. Every hour or so, stand up and lunge it out.
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The Art of Stylish Touring Lynne Fookes and her husband Tim have travelled with Insight Tours four times over six years, their last trip being the Majesty of the Rockies & Alaskan Cruise – Luxury Gold Tour. So what is it about Insight that keeps this duo coming back for more? What were your main reasons for picking this particular trip? A number of things, but notably the length of time away. We also liked the places visited in both Canada and Alaska, the periods spent at each place and the ability to add on an Alaskan cruise.
What were the highlights? Vancouver city itself, Butchart Gardens in Victoria, the overall Rockies’ landscape and the lakes were just amazing. Seeing the wildlife in their natural habitat was incredible; we actually saw a bear eating for his upcoming winter. The overnight stay at Emerald Lake in Canada’s Yoho National Park was a treat for both its landscape and accommodation.
What was the best thing you saw, did or partook in? Butchart Gardens was a definite highlight. As part of the Insight tour we were able to enjoy breakfast at the gardens, and we were the first group to go in that morning.
What surprised you the most about this tour? The variation in both the locations and accommodation was brilliant. For example, one night we stayed at the Sparkling Hills Resort in Vernon, another time we stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel in the pretty resort town of Banff. We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity.
PHOTO: Brown Bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska
What did you enjoy the most? Everything! Locations, accommodation and stunning views from our room each night. The dining choices we were given in Banff were amazing. A bonus with Insight is that the buses have WiFi, which is brilliant for keeping in touch with family back at home.
What advice would you give anyone thinking about a similar trip? Go for it! This one’s a good length of time to be on tour, with lots of free time. Sometimes you’ll have the entire day to yourselves. It’s the perfect balance of organised travel and freedom to do as you please.
Who do you think would enjoy this kind of tour the most? We think it would suit a very broad range of ages. We had passengers in their early 40s, all the way up to their early 80s on tour with us, and they all enjoyed the experience.
What was it about this tour that made you want to book another? Insight’s excellent service and organisation. Their Tour Directors are organised, knowledgeable and very personable; people who make your entire journey enjoyable. This tour was our fourth with Insight and we would not hesitate to go with them again.
Can you provide one coach travel hack/piece of advice for a seamless journey? Each day the Tour Director would provide times and places for the journey the following day. Take a photo on your phone and then you’ve got a reference for later. Make sure (if time permits) that you travel to the starting point of your tour a day or so earlier to get over jet lag; you’ll be rested, refreshed, and above-all, ready! We’ve found this most helpful in the past. Vancouver was a beautiful city to wander around for a day or two.
INSIGHT’S 21 DAY MAJESTY OF THE ROCKIES AND ALASKAN CRUISE STARTS FROM $9045 PER PERSON FOR 2017 DEPARTURES. WE CAN TALK YOU THROUGH T H E RAN G E OF PAC K AG ES ON OFFER , C OM E SEE US IN-STORE, CALL US ON 0800 7 13 7 15 OR VISIT W W W. H OT.C O.N Z
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2017 Top Tour Picks Most of us dream of travelling the world, but few of us know how to do it with convenience and ease. Fortunately, these three tour groups have created itineraries that do just that.
European Escapade IN THREE(ISH) WORDS Europe on a plate.
GOOD FOR Travellers who want to see and do it all.
IN A NUTSHELL A jam-packed 25 day itinerary discovering the best of Western Europe. Witness the huge contrast between major cities while making new friends and exploring hidden nooks.
IF YOU LIKE FOMO-inducing Instagram moments…
Perfect Tasmania IN THREE(ISH) WORDS Fun, knowledgeable and authentic.
GOOD FOR Getting immersed in landscape, history and culture with the help of an incredibly knowledgeable Travel Director.
Sights & Sounds of the South IN THREE(ISH) WORDS Renowned US music.
GOOD FOR Music buffs, foodies and those wanting to experience a different area of America.
IN A NUTSHELL IN A NUTSHELL Discover why Tasmania is renowned for its scenery, wildlife and gourmet food and wine. Visit MONA, hike Cradle Mountain National Park, find a Tasmanian devil or simply feed your hankering for great cheese and wine, this trip’s as versatile as it is varied.
An introduction to Southern USA, discovering the region’s influential music scene, its history and its icons. By day, visit RCA Studio B and go behind-the-scenes at Churchill Downs. By night, fill your beakers with whiskey and moonshine.
IF YOU LIKE THEN YOU’LL LOVE All the major cities like Barcelona, Vienna, Amsterdam and Florence, as well as Contiki’s 16th century Châteaux in the Beaûjolais wine region.
STANDOUT MOMENT The Swiss Alps from your bedroom window. In Lauterbrunnen, Contiki's very own Swiss chalet boasts a waterfall literally on the doorstep. You can use it to shower, or simply as a stunning backdrop while you destroy yet another bar of Swiss chocolate.
PRICE RANGE 25 days from NZ $3977 per person (early payment discount before 15 December 2016).
IF YOU LIKE Delicious wine…
THEN YOU’LL LOVE THEN YOU’LL LOVE Day seven when you’ll visit Tamar Valley for a ‘You’re Invited’ lunch at Josef Chromy's 1880s homestead vineyard. The botrytis Riesling is a must-try.
Pack lightly. And don’t fret if you forget an essential. Europe is the realm of H&M - AKA cheap clobber.
Admiring Wineglass Bay on a four hour cruise of the Freycinet Peninsula. As one of the world’s top ten beaches, this naturally spectacular crescent boasts white sand, emerald sea and a background of pink and grey granite peaks.
Reserved seats at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry; Nashville's weekly country-music stage concert. With roots dating as far back as 1925, it's the show credited with putting the music genre on the map.
PRICE RANGE 10 days from NZ $4059 per person twin share (based on 20 May-23 Sep 2017 departures).
12 days from NZ $5395 per person.
HOT TIP HOT TIP Utilise your Travel Director and ask questions! They’re experts in several subjects, including Tassie’s history, economy, flora and fauna.
PHOTO: Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Day two’s included visit to Graceland; Elvis Presley’s former mansion and Meditation Garden where he’s buried, along with family members.
STANDOUT MOMENT STANDOUT MOMENT
PRICE RANGE HOT TIP
Set aside some time to explore your Nashville accommodation, the famous Opryland Hotel. It boasts nine acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls, shops and restaurants.
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Local Flavour. Touring Europe with Trafalgar In August 2015 Robyn and Kelly Donnelly embarked on Trafalgar's ‘Traditional Europe’ trip. Visiting 10 countries and 29 cities over 18 days. Here Robyn explains what made the journey so special; the drawcards, surprises and highlights.
What were your main reasons for picking this particular trip? With limited time and a long bucket list of Europe cities that we were keen to visit, this itinerary ticked all the boxes. We were especially keen on visiting Engelberg, Venice and Rome which were featured on the trip. Plus we were keen on having a few two-night stays, so that we weren't too rushed and could fully explore each destination.
location. They were very knoweledgable and provided lots of valuable information. We saw the iconic sights such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower and Cologne Cathedral but were also able to get to the heart of each destination.
Who do you think would enjoy this kind of trip the most? This is the ideal trip for those eager to explore all corners of Europe. Whilst perfect for
What were the trip’s highlights?
all ages, ample doses of energy are recommended owing to the fairly fast-paced itinerary.
Everything in Rome wowed us; the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel. We even enjoyed an underground Rome dinner and then found ourselves right outside the Colosseum at night. Cruising around Venice on a private launch was spectacular and we loved that we stayed right in the heart of the city, while the free day and night spent in Nice allowed us to wander its beautiful streets with fellow travellers.
Did this trip make you want to book another Trafalgar tour? Absolutely. Not only was everything incredibly well organised but we discovered some real gems which we wouldn't have otherwise experienced. Being at the front of queues, plus sitting high-up allowed us to get some stunning views, especially through the Apennine hills of Italy and the Alpine views of Switzerland.
What surprised you the most about this trip? The ease of getting to all the places without lugging bags not only made the entire holiday surprisingly easy, it was also a treat. We were amazed at how well we got on with the other Trafalgar travellers. Despite arriving as complete strangers, we left as great friends, having shared some truly amazing moments.
What advice would you give anyone thinking about a similar trip?
What did you enjoy the most?
We thought we might only do half the optional extras, but once we started the tour we realised it would be crazy to not do them all. We were so glad we did.
It’s the perfect way of exploring Europe in a short time frame and a great way of making great friends at the same time.
Can you provide any tips for those considering a Trafalgar journey? Travelling with Trafalgar removed all the stresses and strains from getting from A to B, and having a Travel Director with us meant we really got the most out of each
If your idea of a great holiday is hanging out with the locals, then talk to us about a guided holiday with Trafalgar. They’ve been making friends around the globe for over 70 years. C OME S EE US I N-STO RE , CA L L U S O N 08 00 7 1 3 7 1 5 O R V I S I T W W W. H OT.CO.N Z
PHOTO: Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Ocean Air and Salty Hair One foot in the sand, the other in the sea. If you’re happiest by the coast and live for the ocean, well then, grab your togs and dive straight in. KING OF THE CASTLE NIUE GIANTS
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King of the Castle Just 25 minutes north of Newcastle is Port Stephens, well known for its epic sand dunes and legendary sand surfing. If you want to know what to expect, take it from someone who’s experienced it. Three days after sand surfing Port Stephen’s infamous sand dunes and I’m still plucking sand grains from unsavoury places. Don’t grimace, you’re not the one still finding half a beach in your briefs. My ears alone have taken hostage of enough granules to fill a sandbox, my fingernails resemble the Sahara.
Stockton Beach. That’s the culprit. This long stretch of shoreline, correctly known as the Worimi Conservation Lands, covers an area of over 4,200 hectares, is 1km wide, 32km long and by the look (and feel) of things, most of it has now taken occupancy in my orifices.
Fears aside, the guys managed to dispel my quad bike qualms and I attempted to carve up the sand like an aggressive boy racer in a Pulsar. I did notice the kids in the pack (7 year olds and over are welcome) rode smaller, less powerful 90cc quads. I thought I might suggest to a daredevil nine year old that we should swap, but it was too late, we were already in formation; single file and skimming across the sand dunes like a snake. Maybe it was the curve upon curve of silky golden sand, or the shimmering caramel cliffs and never-ending sand shelves, but it didn’t take long for my jitters to completely disappear.
As well as gargantuan proportions, Stockton Beach also boasts gargantuan sand dunes; the largest moving sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. And due to its strong Aboriginal heritage (the traditional owners being the Worimi people) the landscape is also littered with an extraordinary number of cultural sites, such as burial grounds, campsites and middens. I know all this because the guys at Sand Dune Adventures told me during our briefing. I was listening intently because, before trying our hand at sand surfing, we were going to ride quad bikes across the desert-like plains. Having once quite spectacularly taken a moped ‘off-road’ (and down an embankment and into a bush) I was nervous. Big grunty machines aren’t exactly my forte, and here I was about to straddle a quad bike.
Twenty minutes later and sand dunes the size of houses came crashing into our viewpoint. Some of these giants reach heights of up to 40 metres. We hopped off the quads and stood before them - in total awe and mild trepidation; much like Hillary did at the base of Everest, I suspect. From small hills to gigantic folds, power it to the top and you can glide all the way back down on a sand board; surfing the dunes like a desert Kelly Slater. You ‘can’, most people did, but I did not. At some point I forgot to listen to our instructors explain the basics of sand boarding. My mind had drifted (much like the sand) to other things. And hummers. Mostly the hummers. Consequently, I descended those dunes like your grandma at Christmas, after one too many sherries and far too much figgy pudding.
I’d just like to add a side note here. Sand Dune Adventures also offer hummer tours. Burly military-style SWAT vans accommodating a maximum of 12 guests and built for a battering. They’re indestructible. You could probably roll a hummer down several embankments and still resurface, Chuck Norris-style, with little more than a sore finger. I contemplate asking if they'll let me take that option instead. Turns out, they already have a driver and passengers have to sit in the back - well away from the steering wheel.
Apparently, the best way to control your descent is to use your hands to steer and slow down, but mostly it’s just a case of give it your best shot and see what happens. I enjoyed high speeds, wind-whipped ears and numerous rolls in the sand at the bottom. Sand slapped my face and I ate at least half the beach. It was terrific. If ever you want to relive the jubilation of being a kid let loose in the playground, this is it. Stockton Beach and its notorious sand dunes are slides on steroids; worth every grain of uncomfortable sand found three days later. In your pants, ears, nails, nostrils, scalp... Well, you get the point.
What else, Port Stephens? This place has got more than just sand, that’s for sure.
1. Whale watching
Humpback whales move north to their breeding grounds from mid-May to early September. Then, from mid-September and throughout October they return south with new born calves. The most beautiful location to spot these incredible creatures is Tomaree National Park. Alternatively, book a whale watching cruise.
2. Dolphin watching
Maybe you like your water creatures a little smaller and somewhat cheekier? Over 140 bottlenose dolphins call Port Stephens home and they’re all show offs. Take a cruise and watch the acrobatic show. You're advised to clap, these guys respond well to applause.
3. Beach activities
With 26 golden beaches, Port Stephens is replete with unspoilt shoreline. Take a stroll along Shoal Bay at sunset, kayak with dolphins at Nelson Bay or fine tune your surf skills at One Mile Beach. Snorkel off the coast or go parasailing for a bird's eye view from above.
4. Eat well
From a sea that’s abundant in hand shucked oysters and seafood, to a land that fosters avocados, figs, grapes, hops and macadamia nuts; culinary treats are everywhere. Dine at one of the many establishments with spectacular waterfront vistas, or pop into Murray's Craft Brewing Co. for a taste, it’s one of Australia's leading craft beer brewers.
5. Stride out
Walk to Tomaree Head Summit for breath-taking lookout views over Port Stephens. Or saunter around the lower slopes of Tomaree Head, admiring the 1941 World War II Gun emplacements.
J UST UN DER T HR EE HOURS BY CA R F RO M SYD NE Y, P O RT ST E P H E NS I S YOU R G O L D E N E SCAP E ON THE C OAST. GREAT DEAL S AVA ILA B LE R IG HT N OW AT YOU R LO CA L H OU S E O F T RAV E L STO RE , CA L L U S O N 08 00 7 13 7 15 OR VISIT WWW.HOT.C O.N Z
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Niue Giants Niue is one of the world’s smallest independent nations, and yet it’s home to some of the planet’s most gargantuan inhabitants. If you thought giants were the product of children’s tales, Niue might just surprise you. Humungous humpback whales The first thing you need to know about humpback whales is not that they’re huge, but that they love to sing. Being up to 15 metres in length and weighing between 25 and 40 tons, they can certainly belt out a melody. Actually, it’s more like an anthem. On any whale diving excursion this is one way you’ll know if there’s a giant in the vicinity, because when a whale bursts into song, such is the magnitude of their voice, your lungs will rattle in your chest. In Niue, the whale season runs from July to October, with August and September offering the best opportunity to interact with one of the world’s largest mammals. With water visibility as clear as it is, swimming amongst these majestic behemoths offers a clarity you won’t find elsewhere. There are rules to ensure swimmers stay at least 200 metres away, but humpbacks are curious by nature, so if you get lucky and they approach of their own accord, revel in the experience and enjoy their titanic presence. As with all animal encounters, sightings are never
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guaranteed, but with a bit of good luck, their bellows will sing out from beneath the water - and when they do, grab your flippers and get ready to sing along.
Giant swaggering crabs Unfortunately not all giants are as beautiful as the humpback whale. Niue’s gigantic coconut crab is such an unusual looking character, it’s hard not to stare. There’s nothing tiddly about these imposing crustaceans; as wide as your outstretched arms, these Niuean delicacies can occasionally be seen swaggering along the road, heaving their gigantic 4kg bodies from cave to crevice. Better known as uga, coconut crabs may be unconventional, but they’re one of the most prized foods in the South Pacific and absolutely delicious to eat. Niue is one of the few islands with a sustainable amount in the jungle, and hunting the famed uga is a popular Niue pastime; one that requires great skill, patience and a decent-sized machete. Take a tour and you’ll observe the locals lay white coconut
meat as bait, returning a few days later (this time at night) to catch the uga while they feast on the flesh, on what is otherwise known as the crab’s last supper. The uga are then caught and stuffed into sacks. It’s forbidden to hunt harvesting females or ugas under the legal size, but if you have the nerves to grab a large one, hook your two fingers over the top and your thumb over the bottom, a guide will then help you hoist the monster into a bag and you can heave him all the way home.
Mammoth Talava Arches Stand beneath the great Arches of Talava and you will feel like a mere speck in a land of weather-beaten giants. So vast are these natural formations that even Captain Cook noted their enormity. Located in the northern part of the island, Talava Arches are a series of caves and naturally created limestone arches. They’re the result of rain, wind and sea water - because when these three unite, immense crevasses are crafted from nature’s very own toolbox. Accessed via a
Stand beneath the great Arches of Talava and you will feel like a mere speck in a land of weatherbeaten giants. challenging 20 minute walk through dense rainforest, a labyrinth of fossilised coral leads to a system of high-ceiling caves dripping with stalactites. Then come the colossal limestone arches, bathed in colour and swathed in fascinating textures. Visit the arches at low tide and your wanderings will be less hindered by the sea. In the calm part of Talava Arch, it’s also possible to swim and snorkel, or simply chase the scuttling crayfish. Or venture next door to nearby Matapa Chasm. Best described as a narrow gorge, Matapa hosts a striking natural swimming pool and an array of exotic coloured fish.
limestone caves, the abyss beneath is much the same - and punctured with holes. Much like exploring submerged cathedrals, the swimthroughs feel like an aquatic exploration of a forgotten city. With windows, spires and canyons on a scale that is unbelievably dramatic, down here you are little more than a tadpole in an ocean of kingdoms. Water clarity is sensational because the island is an upraised coral atoll and its limestone acts as a natural water filter. As a result, visibility can reach up to 100 meters and rarely drops below 30 – a diver’s dream.
Enormous underwater cathedrals
Larger than life locals
Some have described Niue’s diving panorama as gigantic Swiss cheese. Perplexing at first, once you consider the underwater topography reads like a dictionary excerpt for the letter C: chasms, caves, caverns, coves, canyons, chimneys and channels, you’ll realise it’s an apt definition. And as much as the island’s above-water landscape is littered with
Willy's Washaway Cafe, is neither grand nor giant. If anything, it's rather average sized. What isn't average (by any stretch of the imagination) is Willy himself. A simply marvellous character, Willy is larger than life. He owns (and built) the café himself, but he also takes people crab hunting, fishing and caving. In his spare time he's a baker as well as the local mechanic. And between jobs he entertains the punters with
his big personality and even bigger smile. Willy’s a busy man so the Washaway Café at Avetele beach is only open Sundays. The burgers are almost as legendary as Willy, while the bar, which works like an honesty box whereby you serve yourself, adds a relaxed vibe to an already laid-back establishment. Throughout Niue, the locals, much like Willy, are about as friendly as you could hope for; they offer huge smiles and even bigger hearts, their generosity knows no limits. Friendly greetings are the norm and big waves at passers-by are as commonplace as catching the enormous uga. NIUE IS THE ISLAND OF ENORMOUS SURPRISES, AND GIANTS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING. IF YOU TOO WANT TO EXPLORE THE UNEXPECTED, VISIT YOUR LOCAL HOT STORE, CALL US ON 0800 713 715 OR CHECK OUT WWW.HOT.CO.NZ
PHOTOS LEFT: Humpback Whale RIGHT: Arches of Talava, Niue
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