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Peru’s Inca Trail


Waitomo Underground California Wine Country Silversea Discovery




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y, California flying Hawaiian Airlines!

Let’s Travel Magazine, along with Anaheim/OC Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hawaiian Airlines, are offering one lucky family of 4 the trip of a lifetime. • • • • • • • • • • • •

2 x Return economy airfares flying Hawaiian Airlines* 6 nights accommodation for 4 at Anaheim’s Anabella Hotel* 2 nights accommodation for 4 at the Disneyland Resort 4 x Disneyland Resort 3 day Park Hopper passes 4 x passes to Knott’s Berry Farm 4 x passes to Universal Studios Hollywood 4 x passes to San Diego SeaWorld 4 x passes to Legoland/Sea Life Aquarium 4 x passes to The Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament 4 x 5 day Anaheim Resort Transportation passes 4 x Catalina Express passes (including transfers to and from their terminal with Karmel Shuttle) Airport Transfers thanks to Karmel Shuttle

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te Anaheim e Competition


Let’s Travel: is published by L T Publishing Limited PO Box 55199, EastRidge, Auckland 1146. New Zealand Ph: + 64 9 521 4879 Editor-In-Chief: Gary Dickson Mob: + 64 21 523 421 Editor at Large: Shane Boocock Mob: + 64 21 142 7040 Editor at Large Gayle Dickson Mob: + 64 21 281 7699


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Peru’s Inca Trail Waitomo Underground California Wine Country Silversea Discovery $9.95 inc GST


To enquire about permission to copy cuttings for internal management and information purposes please contact the PMCA, Ipayroll House, 93 Boulcott Street, Wellington, phone (04) 498 4488, email Copyright – L T Publishing Limited. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form by any means (graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, information retrieval systems or otherwise) without the express prior written permission of L T Publishing Limited. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Let’s Travel or L T Publishing Limited. The publisher accepts no responsibility whatsoever.


ISSN Number 1176 – 4619


Contributors: Shane Boocock, Pam Corkery, Gary Dickson, Gayle Dickson, Rod Eime, Jacqui Gibson, Liz Light, Kelly Lynch, Nigel Pilkington, Paul Rush and Natalie Tambolash



Design and Production: Element Design Limited Ph: + 64 9 636 0558


was reminded a couple of weeks ago, all too vividly I might add, just how short life is. How quickly it can be taken away and how we must all live life to the fullest. A very dear industry colleague of mine succumbed to the Big C…after a very brief illness thank goodness. The news hastened me to redo my Bucket List and I have already started working on what it is I want from however many seconds, days, weeks, months and years I have (hopefully) got left on this glorious planet. Being the Editor of a travel magazine certainly will help achieve some of these but the list also consists of a few smaller, personal milestones. Stay tuned!!! In the first issue for 2015 we have some fantastic locations to showcase to you.... our loyal and avid readers. Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji and The Solomons top the list for Pacific Island sunseekers, whilst Peru, Austria and Oman will satisfy the appetite for the slightly more adventurous amongst you. We also showcase two of the world’s best cruise lines… Cunard and Silversea. Wherever it is you choose to go this year, do it in the best style you can afford. Enjoy it! Go with the flow and remember…you can’t take it with you.



Sales and Marketing: Gary Dickson Mob: + 64 21 523 421

from the editor


Cover Image: Richard I'Anson

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

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For more information visit, call 0800 500 146 or see your local travel agent Conditions: Prices are per person twin share, land only and include 5% Let’s Travel discount. Valid on Australia Guided Holiday bookings that are deposited and paid in full by 1 June 2015. Tours valid for travel 1 April 2015 - 31 March 2016. This offer is exclusive to Let’s Travel readers only. Please quote LET’S TRAVEL when booking. Offer not valid in conjunction with any other special or discount and is subject to availability and seasonal surcharge at time of booking. For new bookings only. AAT10893



Bringing Australia & New Zealand to life

contents 26

NEW ZEALAND 14 Waitomo 42 Christchurch 100 Queenstown AUSTRALIA 6 Tasmania 62 Sydney PACIFIC ISLANDS 22 Fiji 76 Samoa


84 Tahiti 98 Coconuts Resort 102 Solomon Islands U.S.A. 18 California 92 San Francisco


94 North Dakota 108 Hawai’i


ASIA 10 India 30 Bali 34 Thailand 72 Malaysia 80 Thailand BEYOND 26 Peru 38 England


50 Oman 58 Switzerland 66 Austria



88 Antarctica OTHERS 46 Cunard Cruising 54 Silversea Cruises 70 Etihad Airways 106 Solomon Airlines REGULARS 37 Industry Traveller 105 Giveaways 112 New Products

Explore lush rainforests or tee off on a world-class golf course. Whether you’re going white water rafting or unwinding with spectacular snorkelling and a quiet swim, it’s all here. In Fiji, you just do what makes you happy.

Destination ➜ Tasmania, Australia

Hobart’s Culinary Harvest AUSTRALIA | TASMANIA

By Shane Boocock


Pennicott Tours


he birthplace of Hollywood actor, Errol Flynn, Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city and Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney. Well-known for it’s stunning Mt. Wellington backdrop and it’s location on the Derwent River, Hobart is also an entrée to the cuisine of this region. From stylish cafes and wineries, award winning restaurants offering fine dining experiences to the buzzing waterfront docks alive with fishmongers selling the freshest seafood straight from the Southern Ocean, a place where couples and families can often be seen eating fish and chips from a paper bag – wandering along down almost any lane, street or wharf whether it is on leisure or during a business trip, I found Hobart delivers it all on a plate.

On the menu during my first full day in Tasmania was a trip on the Derwent River with Pennicott Tours on their Seafood Seduction excursion. In their flash new 11.5 m twin outboard custom-built boat they had scheduled a lunch stop in the sheltered waters of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel, which surrounds part of Bruny Island. The cuisine served up was a movable feast of seafood, as Kate, one of the crew, donned a wetsuit while we were anchored, returning with sea urchins and abalone. Earlier on the trip we had visited a salmon farm and then hauled in oysters which were shucked right then and there, fresh crayfish was cooked on the spot and added to a plate with salmon cooked three ways with all the trimmings – WOW…what a way to start a day!


Pennicott Tours


The previous night I dined at Mures Upper Deck Restaurant. It’s the flagship of a group of companies that was founded by George & Jill Mure over forty years ago. With an international reputation for Tasmania’s world-class seafood, Upper Deck is considered one of Hobart’s ultimate seafood experiences. They are unique as they catch their own fish and prepare all on-site. They still remain a family owned Tasmanian business with staff who have a passion for seafood, from their deckhands through to the Sommelier and Executive Chef, who takes a fresh approach to à la carte dining. I started with an entrée of Australian whitebait followed by a line caught blue eye trevalla served with tasty scallops, herb duchess potatoes, buttered asparagus, baby spinach and a béarnaise sauce. They also feature an exclusively Tasmanian Wine List featuring wines from a diverse range of regions across the island state. Smolt is a restaurant with a big reputation among Hobart diners. It is tucked away in Salamanca Square in one of the newer buildings amidst the old sandstone architecture of the mid-1800s. It’s what I’d class as a modern eatery, embracing the trend towards smaller dishes and share plates. The menu takes its cues from Spain and Italy, reinventing Australian dishes with a Latin flavour. At our table of four we all ordered the same - an oyster plate – a selection of dressed and natural Tasmanian oysters, accompanied by a bottle of Bruny Island 2013 Unwooded Chardonnay. The main course was split evenly with two diners ordering grilled Tasmanian venison, seasonal fruit puree, quinoa, spiced cauliflower and almond salad, creamed garlic, and the other two plumping for grilled tassal salmon, freekah, faro and du puy lentil braise, chimichurri, chorizo and herb salad. Our host had already ordered a bottle of Rêveur 2011 Pinot Noir. I’m unsure what everybody else chose for dessert but I opted for fragrant crème catalan with chocolate truffles – a stunning presentation and meal.


Mures Upperdeck Restaurant

facts The author was hosted in Tasmania by Business Events Australia and Business Events Tasmania to showcase the cuisine and attractions that Tasmania offers both leisure and business travellers. Getting there: Air New Zealand fly daily to either Melbourne or Sydney. Their partner airline Virgin Australia offer onward flights to Hobart via both cities. There are also daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.


Tourism Australia ➜


Business Events Australia ➜ Discover Tasmania ➜ Business Events Tasmania ➜ Restaurants & seafood: Pennicott Tours ➜ Mures Upper Deck Restaurant ➜

Smolt ➜ Monty’s on Montpelier ➜ The Mill on Morrison ➜ Ethos Eat & drink ➜ Peppermint Bay Restaurant ➜

Monty's on Montpelier

Monty's on Montpelier

Monty’s on Montpelier: Only a block from Salamanca Place, Monty’s is situated at the top of Montpelier Retreat. The cottage style building dates back to the 1890s and features a number of small intimate rooms with open fireplaces. The team at Monty’s serve contemporary cuisine matched with fresh local produce alongside a wine list showcasing, what else, but the best Tasmanian wines. For starters we ordered 12 Bruny Island Pacific oysters, then my friend chose the ocean trout, smoked Spring Bay mussels, capsicums and saffron potatoes. However I chose the Dutch cream potato, leek and Heidi tilsit pie, beetroot, spring garlic with a brown butter crumble. For dessert we both agreed on Beurre Bosc tart tatin, brown butter ice cream and salted caramel, with candied violets.

The Mill on Morrison: Not far from the waterfront I found this unassuming restaurant and wine bar. It’s a tapas bar serving a range of small bites on platters from $20, $30 or $40 a person. They also offer a selection of meats cooked on the chargrill. My friend and I again ordered six pacific oysters each followed by the $40 platter apiece. To compliment the cuisine the restaurant offers great cocktails and a range of craft beers, but we opted for a bottle of Tasmanian Freycinet 2013 chardonnay. There is also an outdoor terrace and it’s often abuzz with live music and a great atmosphere that will lure you in off the street especially on weekends.

Peppermint Bay Restaurant: On this journey you can be assured of a relaxing, rejuvenating and rewarding day discovering some of Hobart’s hidden secrets on board the luxurious 23m catamaran with lunch included. The Peppermint Bay Cruise takes in the harbour, the River Derwent and the magnificent waters of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel. Lunch is at Peppermint Bay with commanding views across the channel and north to Mt. Wellington. I started with chargrilled octopus with smoked paprika followed by Cape Grim eye fillet skewer with a porcini mushroom dressing. The meal was accompanied by a bottle of Icon chardonnay from the Coal River Valley region of Tasmania. Nestled on four acres against a backdrop of the lush rolling hills of the Huon region, this award-winning restaurant sits comfortably amid green lawns and shading trees, the ideal venue for a family outing, a quiet lunch, wedding or corporate event. Whether you are visiting Tasmania on a family vacation or for a business events experience unlike any other in the world, one thing is for certain, Hobart offers some world class venues and restaurants within 30 minutes of downtown with some outstanding food and beverage experiences. Tasmanian providers are today considered innovative, resourceful and creative with produce taken from an enviroment that is extremely beautiful and special. Remember the adage of the four Ps: People, Place, Produce and Proximity – this is what makes Tasmania unique.


Mill on Morrison


Ethos Eat Drink: Entering Ethos is through a former 1820s stableyard and the carriageway of the Old Hobart Hotel, that’s alive with vegetable boxes and greenery. Once inside the restaurant oozes character and charm in a quirky sort of way. The owners have taken a modern approach to delivering Tasmanian produce, minimally and cleanly with a range of set menus for dinner. They take you through a progressive meal comprising and showcasing the best of the seasonal, small batch offerings that have arrived at Ethos the same day. First you’re given a simple list of ingredients. The only decision you need to make is whether you’d like six or eight courses and whether you’d like them to match a small pour of wine before each course (in our case we chose the eight course plus wine match) providing the provenance of the bottle and the reason it pairs well with the dish. It’s all quite unique.

Ethos Eat Drink

Peppermint Bay Squid


Destination ➜ India


Old Delhi; colourful, crowded and exotic Words and images by Liz Light


handni Chowk, the main street of Old Delhi, is bright and busy with carefully displayed squeezed-together stalls chock-a-block with walkers, rickshaws, bicycles, auto-rickshaws, cows and the occasional brave car. Street sellers crowd the pavement and road. Women sit surrounded by kitchen utensils. Shawl sellers and blanket vendors jigsaw themselves between others specialising in plastic ware, stainless steel cutlery and winter jerseys. Between the crowds and bustle Harry, my guide, points out heritage buildings; Moghul merchants’ mansions now divided into many apartments, an art-deco picture theatre, the Victorian town hall, a 400-year-old mosque and an elegant Sikh temple. Some of the buildings date back to the late 1600’s when Shah Jahan, the ruler of India, built his great Red Fort on the edge of the nearby Yamuna River, deemed this to be the new capital city and established Chandni Chowk next to it. But heritage buildings, though they are exotic and varied, are out-dazzled by the activities on the streets. Behind the crowded road there is a labyrinth of back alleys. Harry takes me down silk-sari alley, which is barely wide enough for two people to pass but, here, small neon-lit shops are crowded with women considering saris. Customers sit in huddles cross-legged on the floor while assistants unfurl six-metre lengths of shimmering colour. The salesman moves the sari sensually, like a breath of breeze or an elegant woman walking…tempting…tempting. An adjoining lane sells sewing notions; brocade edging, myriads of different sizes, colours and weaves, some with real gold and silver thread interwoven. Mysteriously for me but normal for him, a man sits cross-legged on a counter surrounded by doll-like figures of gods dressed in fancy clothes.


Glittering Dariba Kalan Road, the jewellery bazaar, joins Chandni Chowk. It has over 700 jewellery shops and is the biggest jewellery market in Asia with silver, gold, diamonds, pearls, costume jewellery and, of course, millions of bunches of bangles. There are so many ways to spend money here. Wedding paraphernalia lane is around a corner. Kiwi weddings are costly, stressful and full of expectation but they are colourless shadows of Indian weddings, which have numerous ceremonies, go on for days and require lots of stuff. Decorative invitations, a couple of elaborate outfits for the groom including bejewelled turbans, and even more outfits for the bride who will have jewellery dripping from fingers, toes, nose and ears. This lane morphs into selling religious accoutrements including many Hindu gods of different shapes, sizes and colours, garlands of flowers - real and fake - loads of incense and shelves of different incense-burning devices. Every Hindu home has a temple area, a sacred place to pray, to make requests and to give thanks for wishes granted, and these temple areas need special things. It’s fascinating and frantic, and feels like shopping on steroids…my energy levels are flagging. There is nothing like a cup of chai to buoy-up a wilting walker. In his little cubbyhole, in a bend in the lane, the chai seller is busy. Pots of brew bubble on gas rings, spices are added just-so, there is a large lid-covered vat of milk with a pitcher on top. I drink my hot, sweet, rich, fragrant chai from a tiny hand-turned pottery cup. One usually throws these on the ground - dust to dust – but I keep mine as a souvenir. We walk past vegetable sellers and a sleek fat cow, wearing a marigold garland, munching a bunch of spinach. I give it a pat on the rump. There is a tiny mill that noisily grinds rice and wheat so flour can be fresh daily, a tiny temple, and my nose leads me to Paratha Wali Gali, an area where restaurants specialise in parathas. Parathas are large rounds of stuffed unleavened flat bread shallow-fried in ghee on a sizzling pan and served hot. The usual stuffing is potatoes, cottage cheese and spices but here there are 20 choices. My favourite is from the sweet selection; dried fruits with spices, yum. The lane looped back to Chandni Chowk as we continue along its jam-packed footpaths, until we reach the spice bazaar. The bouquet of cloves and aniseed is intense, then my eyes sting with dust from chillies, sacks of which we squeeze between. Most of the shops are wholesalers, selling by the kilo, with sacks of spices, nuts, dried fruit, grains and salts open at the top and neatly rolled down showing the products. An arched alley leads up steep dark stairs in the heart of the spice market. The building was once a spacious four-storied Victorian hospital built around a large courtyard but, filled in like a beehive, it’s evolved to become spice shops and homes for thousands of folk. On the upper floors the access verandas have been incorporated into home-spaces, so we weave our way through kitchens where women are cooking, past people doing laundry and through groups of men chatting.



Red Fort


On the roof we duck under drying laundry, around water tanks and past boys flying kites. We look over rooftops down into a hive of cubist houses all melded together. Some have swing chairs and pot plants on roof-top patios, old folk sit in the sun, girls comb out long hair and men in their undies lather up and bath from buckets. One can’t visit Old Delhi without visiting the Red Fort, its focal point, so we back-track along Chandni Chowk to its massive ochre ramparts. There is a queue of Indian tourists waiting to visit this magnificent heritage creation but it moves quickly and soon we enter the three-storey gate and walk through a long, dark, covered bazaar, lined with arched cells where vendors sell Indian art and souvenirs under dazzling lights. The bazaar opens into an octagonal area a kilometre long and half as wide. Built by Shah Jahan, in 1648, the fort included all the trappings a Mogul emperor needed. We walk through pleasure gardens, past fountains that once spouted rose water, past a lofty stone hall where the emperor sat in a marble throne and around an elegantly arched stage where musicians played at parties. The most beautiful building, among many, is the Diwan-I-Khas, a cool marble pavilion with pillars embellished with amber, jade and gold. The Persian inscription on the wall translates into, “If there be paradise on earth, it is this, oh, it is this, oh, it is this”. And it is still, for some, paradise for a day. There are crowds of happy people delighting in their country’s grand past; villages on tour, extended families, courting couples and school groups. People shuffle in and out of ancient buildings, sit on the lawn, walk around the fort in orderly lines and take pictures of each other and group selfies. Everyone is in their best, brightest going-out clothes and the women are a kaleidoscope of shimmering, moving colour. A day is seldom more extraordinary than this; I glimpse Shah Jahan’s paradise, walk through streets and alleys that are still akin to the world of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, drink creamy spicy chai and sample heavenly parathas. Crowded, colourful and buzzing with life, I’m fascinated and charmed by the hectic, strange, medieval ambience of Old Delhi.

Getting there: Singapore Airlines flies from Auckland to Singapore and on to Delhi every day. ➜ Stay in central Delhi: Lots of options on ➜ (India’s answer to Stay at Delhi Airport: Many flights to NZ and Australia leave early in the morning so better to stay the last night at Delhi airport. Hotel Ibis Delhi Airport has the best swimming pool and most comfortable beds in all India. ➜

Organise it: Indian Legends Holidays, based in Delhi, found my wonderful guide Harry and organised my limited time in both Delhi and Varanasi beautifully. Superb service and reasonably priced. ➜

Exotic Holidays can tailor-make a reasonably priced India programme for you including flights to and from India and internal flights. Rahul, who owns the company, is a Kiwi. He knows what New Zealanders enjoy and is also widely networked in India. ➜

When: October through to March…the other six months of the year are way too hot ➜

Travel with the award-winning Team, specialising in India - we know India like our backyard.

Witness the stunning cornucopi breathtaking natural beauty an Glimpse the Maharajas amids charm of an Indian village or

Witness the stunning cornucopia of spectacular landscapes, magnificent historical sites, breathtaking natural beauty and colourful people with a rich 4000 years of culture. Glimpse the Maharajas amidst the ambience of majestic forts and palaces, enjoy the charm of an Indian village or marvel looking at the greatest symbol of love

Tel: 09 410 5060 0508 EXOTIC (0508 396842

Travel with the award-winning Te


Destination ➜ Waitomo, New Zealand


Voices of the underworld By Paul Rush Images courtesy of THL Ruakuri Cave


The High Viewing Platform over the main stream gives us a view of black water rafters deep down in the narrow canyon, gliding through the inky blackness of the Huhunui River on rubber inner tubes. Steel gantries suspended on wire cables lead us to Rimrock Junction and on to the shimmering lights of the Glowworm Colony. The ghostly bioluminescence of a humble gnat larva, called Arachnocampa Luminosa (glowworm), is created by concentrating phosphorescence on a tiny portion of its body. The lingering light lures insects into its larder through a curtain of sticky threads. After feeding ravenously the adult gnats emerge to mate, lay eggs and die within three days – an ignominious end for a tiny superstar. A young bird hunter discovered the original cave entrance by chance over 400 years ago. He was attacked by a pack of wild dogs living in the cave - hence the name Ruakuri (Rua - den, Kuri - dogs). Later Maori inhabitants used the cave entry portal as a burial site, so it is now a sacred place (waahi tapu). The burial site is some distance from the new entrance. The cave is part of a unique karst limestone landscape that was formed under the sea from the solid remains of countless millions of marine creatures around 30 million years ago. Rainwater and carbon dioxide have combined to form a weak carbonic acid, which has seeped through fractures and slowly sculpted streams, sinkholes, springs, arches and fluted rock outcrops. Beneath Waitomo’s lush green pastures are hundreds of kilometres of labyrinthine tunnels and chambers in a veritable lost world that has only partially been explored. No one really knows what lies beneath. As our group continues through the cave I become aware of a distant rumbling sound. This alien realm holds secrets and in these partial blackout conditions one’s imagination can take hold. Am I hearing the muffled voices



single drop of acidic water is falling fifteen metres every few seconds, resonating eerily within the cylindrical shaft as it strikes a large block of limestone. This intermittent sound of dripping water is all I can hear as I cautiously make my way down into a dark labyrinth. Otherwise all is deathly silent in the black void. I am descending into the Ruakuri Cave, 2 km southwest of Waitomo’s main glowworm cave, embarking on a spiritual journey deep into the underworld. That continuous drop of water falling down through the centre of the spiral staircase that provides access to the cave can be explained in scientific terms and in ancient Maori symbolism. Water is the sky element coming from Rangi, the Sky Father, falling as rain, passing through the forest of Tane and penetrating porous limestone rock into the underground realm of Papatuenuku, the Earth Mother. Laying a hand on the cool smooth surface of the limestone boulder I make a symbolic connection with the ethereal world below. A guide then leads our small group into the Drum Entrance airlock tunnel and a whole new dimension. This world was opened up by dedicated workers with a passion for caving. It’s the sort of passion that drives people to labour for hours in a veritable mud bath, perspiring in wetsuits and laying a bank of forty-four gallon drums in the entrance to ensure they had a safe exit route during the pathway construction phase. Drum Passage provides a visual feast of curious crystalline shapes. Cave coral, slender straws, flowstone, rimstone and columns are revealed by the guide’s spotlight. We squeeze past two impressive stalactites, which carry $10,000 price tags. This penalty would have been imposed on the operators if stalactites had been damaged during development - none were.



of long departed ancestors buried in the cave, the low growl of a pack of wild dogs or perhaps the distant thunder of a hidden waterfall? John Ash, a geology consultant for Tourism Holdings Limited tells us ‘quite a few people have had interesting experiences in the cave - it certainly has a ‘presence’ and mana (authority) that is palpable.’ One incident was reported when electricians were repairing lights in the cave. They heard footsteps and decided to be ‘Smart Alecks’ and hide in a cleft. The steps went right past them and faded but they saw no one. The ‘sparkies’ turned very pale and made straight for the exit. The Cave Manager tells me that Ruakuri Cave is a mysterious place and sensitive people do pick up inexplicable vibrations and sense the ‘presence’ of the cave. ‘Streams and waterfalls reverberate through the caverns and people imagine they hear voices at times.’ The second half of the underground journey includes a short side path to view ‘The Pretties,’ a miniature gallery of flowstone, stalactite straws and other delicate sparkling formations. The dark corners of the cathedral-like Holden’s Cavern are a suitable place to linger and test the sounds of vast echo chambers. The long narrow passage of the Ghost Walk is where the imagination can easily conjure up visions of ‘what lies beneath’ or ‘watches from above,’ in the depths of this timeless world. At first I can hear the soft whisper of rushing water in the distance but as we proceed the sound grows into an ominous roar akin to the booming of an aircraft engine on takeoff. People of all ages and all physical fitness levels can have the experience of entering this underworld universe. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the mystery and intrigue of this legendary cave as the experience of Maori mana comes through strongly.


Times: Tours depart daily at hourly intervals from 9.00am to 3.30pm Duration: Approximately two hours (1 hr 30 mins underground) Departure Point: Tours depart from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. 585 Waitomo Caves Road, Waitomo Caves, SH37 What to Bring: Comfortable walking shoes and a warm jacket Special Note: Photography and video are permitted in selected areas. Ruakuri Cave is fully wheelchair accessible. ➜

Our guide advises us ‘to let the cave speak for itself’. To me it speaks eloquently of mystery, timelessness and the secrets of an unknown but palpable spiritual presence. It is truly a fairytale world of spirals and speleothems, stalactites, old fossils and young glowworm superstars. These lively luminaries continue to draw flying insects and human travellers into their lair. Long may they reign in the wondrous world that lies beneath.

Tourism Authority of Thailand, 137 Sunnybrae Road, Glenfield, Auckland. P: + 64 9 444 2298 W:

Destination ➜ California, U.S.A

Chasing the Grape – California Style U.S.A. | CALIFORNIA

By Nigel Pilkington


Napa Valley


ine tourism in California is as sophisticated and casual as the vineyards themselves. You can choose from self-drive with B&B stays, to the tour bus/larger group option, to private helicopters moving you around selected centres and vineyards. In fact you can say its planes, trains and automobiles. Yes, there is even a luxury train or two that “commutes” north from San Francisco to the wine country around Sonoma and the Napa Valley. Whatever style you choose, and it really depends on the depth of one’s wallet, you will find the Wine Country of Northern California a fascinating mix of history, styles and personalities. We chose a one day small group tour (max 13) from San Francisco that concentrated on two boutique wineries in Sonoma and the larger more commercial Domaine Chandon in the neighbouring Napa Valley.

As luck would have it we picked Halloween AND the same day the San Francisco Giants baseball team held their victory parade through the streets of San Francisco – it was a good day to head for the hills and away from the million plus crowd. Despite the rain that every local was celebrating, given it was the first in over four months, it certainly didn’t dampen our day! Recognised as the birthplace of California’s wine industry, the Sonoma Valley is home to 183-year-old vines with 400 plus wineries, 100 plus organic farms and miles of beautiful Pacific Coast. It is a mere 45 minute drive north of the city centre via the Golden Gate Bridge. So from hotel to first tasting it is really an hour, allowing for one or two other pickups. Given it was 10am when we arrived one has to take the first sip with the mind-set of a connoisseur rather than a bunch of people hanging out for an early morning tipple!



Cline Cellars

First stop was a family owned winery, Viansa Winery & Marketplace, set on a hilltop at the entrance to the Sonoma Valley. Established in 1989, by members of the Sebastiani family, one of Sonoma’s earliest Italian winemakers, they produce a range of California favourites including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and of course the famed Zinfandel, alongside traditional Italian varietals Barbera, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. The winery offers a range of tasting options; we chose the six glass option – three white and three red – to ensure we got the widest possible selection of their wines. Of course every winemaker in California will tell you the story of the California chardonnay that beat the top French chardonnays in a blind tasting run by the French. In fact the story has spawned books as well as a movie and has entered folklore and they tell it with quite a reverence and a dry smile. The California chardonnay to my very bucolic pallet is more like New Zealand’s Marlborough chardonnays rather than the more “up front” Hawke’s Bay ones – many California chardonnays are unoaked and interestingly they still stick with corks rather than screw tops and are very surprised to learn that most top quality New Zealand wines have migrated to screw top. They still fear the supposed low quality label attached to screw top wine. Viansa also includes a fabulous deli with a huge range of Italian style delicacies through to locally made chocolates and olive oils – a lovely way to enjoy the wine is to take part in a wine matching session where these goodies and the wines are a match in heaven. Back on the road and it’s literally three minutes to the next port of call - Cline Cellars, a family-owned vineyard and winery in the Carneros region of Sonoma County. This family owned and run business is situated on an historic 350-acre estate where they produce Single Vineyard, Sonoma County, Ancient Vine and California wines. Varietals include Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cline also specialises in Zinfandel and popular Rhône style wines like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, as well as Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The beauty of this place is the wine tasting takes place in the barrel room where you are surrounded by oak barrels and the quiet hum of a busy vineyard. Again there are a range of tasting options available and as before we took the three white-three red option including a fabulously blended red called Cashmere. Cashmere is a very flavourful, smooth wine made up of 53% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah and 22% Grenache Oakley and Sonoma vineyards. The Cline family produce this wine as a special project whereby a percentage of sales goes to breast cancer research in an active partnership with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. To date over USD$270,000 has been donated which is a very clever way of supporting such a worthwhile cause. After all this “tippling” one starts to need food and it’s a short drive to the historic little town of Sonoma for lunch. Sonoma, with a history of habitation going back over 12,000 years, is also home to the last (1824) and most northerly



link in a chain of 21 Spanish missions built in California by Franciscan padres. The town is full of history, galleries, wine shops and restaurants and is a delight to explore and a great place to base oneself for a longer stay in Wine Country. The drive east over the gentle rolling hills to the Napa Valley is a mixture of vineyards, lifestyle blocks and farmlets surrounded by trees and orchards. A pretty area and one that is growing in popularity with San Franciscans looking to escape the city and the land and house prices reflect this with historic homes on small holdings fetching well over the US$1 million mark. Our stop in the Napa is at the Domaine Chandon winery, the first winery to be established in the United States by a French wine and spirits producer and it is now America’s leading sparkling wine producer. Domaine Chandon’s largest vineyard holding is in Carneros, a region renowned for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay because of the cooling influences of the nearby San Pablo Bay. A pioneer in the region, Domaine Chandon has been farming its 800 acres for over 30 years. They also own vineyards surrounding the winery on the property and on the slopes of Mt. Veeder. This is not a boutique winery – it is a large commercial venture producing a wide range of sparkling and still wines at volumes to allow US wide sales. The winery is fully set up for the tasting and dining crowd and has its own restaurant – étoile. The tour and tasting includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery where we are shown how the étoile wines are crafted from vineyard to bottle and then aged sur lie. It’s then through to a tasting of the prestige étoile wines, finishing with a taste of the étoile Tête de Cuvée, Chandon’s top California produced sparkling wine. Pity the poor person who mentions the word Champagne! It’s all Méthode Traditionelle and Cuvée darlings! The C word, we are told, is reserved for the region in France!

Domaine Chandon


Personally I prefer the smaller family/boutique vineyards where you get the change to talk to those who have their hands in the soil and spend sleepless nights worrying about their grapes. Don’t get me wrong, Domaine Chandon is a great place with a fantastic range of bubbles but to me its commercial feel somehow takes the art out of it. But don’t despair the Napa, like Sonoma, has hundreds of hidden gems with food and eateries to match. Our one mistake – we should have made it a two day tour!

Destination ➜ Fiji


New Fiji Shark Dive Experience operated exclusively by Beqa Lagoon Resort



eqa Lagoon Resort has commenced operating a new Shark Dive and Big Fish Encounter exclusively for guests staying at the luxurious Fiji Islands property. The dive site known as The Cathedral is just a short 30 minute boat trip from the Beqa Lagoon Resort. Operating twice a week, the dive trip, hosted by an experienced marine biologist, will allow up to 16 divers at a time to dive with rare aquatic species including Tiger, Bull and other shark species along with notable large fish such as Giant Trevally. Beqa Lagoon Resort General Manager, Graeme Back says, “It’s a unique opportunity for divers to swim with Tiger Sharks only available at just a very few places in the world. The significant number of Tiger Sharks visiting The Cathedral site places this encounter as one of the

top locations worldwide for observing them in their natural habitat. Discussions with the local Beqa Island communities have commenced, with the aim is to secure Marine Protected Area status for this site.” Located 35 minutes from Pacific Harbour by boat, Beqa Lagoon Resort operates 25 bures, including deluxe beachfront bures and two-bedroom villas suitable for families. The international standard property operates a world-class dive centre with specialised PADI courses and has Nitrox blending facilities. Beqa Lagoon Resort is known as the home of the legendary Fire Walkers and is considered the ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’. E:



Intercontinental Fiji



nterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa provides guests with an outer Island experience on the mainland. Located 45 minutes from Nadi International Airport and nestled amongst 35 acres of lush tropical grounds the resort is on one of the world’s best beaches. Featuring 5 restaurants and bars, a serene spa, 18-hole championship golf course, 4 pools, kids club, wedding chapel and conference facilities, the property offers a range of facilities welcoming guests of all ages. With 271 superbly appointed spacious rooms and contemporary suites, the resort design is inspired by the traditional ‘Fijian outer island’ village. Signature to the resort and available in every room are the Cleopatra-style bath tubs for two and the day beds which are located on your private balcony or terrace. InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is the only 5 star luxury resort on Natadola Bay and defines all that an exclusive luxury retreat should be.  Club InterContinental, set high on the hill with sweeping panoramic views of Natadola Bay, is a celebration of style where seasoned travellers are treated to an elevated standard of hospitality through luxurious accommodations and personalised services. Ensuring that every stay is an enriching experience, Club InterContinental offers exclusive privileges and innovative brand facilities such as the private pool, Club Lounge and butler service.  Navo Restaurant is the adults’ only signature restaurant and offers discerning guests an elegant and intimate dining experience. Featuring contemporary cuisine inspired by the sea and an extensive range of new and old world wines, guests will be indulged with a sensational culinary

journey and excellent service to make their experience an exceptional and memorable one to share with friends or with that special someone.  Navo Restaurant now also offers an adults’ only intimate breakfast experience for guests to enjoy in an elegant setting with the scenic views of Natadola Bay. Indulge in an exquisite and leisurely breakfast in a stress free environment to start the day. Maro Road, Natadola Bay E: T: +679 673 3300



32nd Musket Cove Regatta September 2015



osted by the Musket Cove Yacht Club and Musket Cove Island Resort & Marina, the world famous Musket Cove Regatta will run from 11th to the 16th of September 2015 and is a must for every yacht cruising Fiji’s magnificent waters. Musket Cove is well known for its sheltered yacht club, marina berths, moorings and cruising grounds and regularly attracts cruising and racing yachtsmen and women from all over our beautiful, big blue planet. Landlubbers are of course welcome to join the merrymaking with some great value accommodation packages available, or come out for the day aboard Malolo Cat IV, which leaves Denarau Marina 4 times daily. The program is simple…sail by day and party by night at the iconic recently refurbished MCYC Island Bar.

There is a modest entry fee of $50 adults and half priced children, which includes opening night cocktails and welcome dinner, grand finale prize giving cocktail party, gourmet buffet dinner and all race entries. There’s something for everyone - the famous fancy dress pirate’s day to Beachcomber Island (grab your eye patch and Jolly Roger!) Hobiecat racing, the Musket Olympics, party nights and BBQ’s at the MCYC island bar…and other fun events. For some great sailing the Annual Round Malololai Race provides thrills and great sights for both casual and serious sailors and onlookers. Be here to enjoy! Marina and moorings spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. T: + 679 865 4437 E:



Talanoa Treks


iji is better known for its beautiful coastlines and reefs but if you venture away from the coast you will be rewarded with dramatic peaks, pristine forests, sparkling rivers, remote villages and unique history in Fiji’s beautiful interior. Talanoa Treks is Fiji’s only dedicated hiking company, and by experiencing Fiji on foot and taking time out, you’ll have the opportunity to see the vibrant traditional culture that runs deep within Fijian society. They offer flexible multi-day hiking itineraries with walks ranging in distance each day from just a few kilometres to 21km. And if you are keen to see Fiji’s islands from some amazing vantage points they have several climbs, including Fiji’s highest mountain, known as Tomaniivi, and imaginatively named Mt. Victoria by the British. Talanoa Treks follow old paths that connected villages long before the arrival of the dirt roads, and they are often still used to get to fishing spots or small, subsistence farms. Nights are spent either in villages or in locally managed


lodges and your luggage joins you each night leaving you free to enjoy the environment with just a day pack. Talanoa means to tell stories or to chat and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk to your hosts about the history of the areas that you walk through. As part of a Talanoa Treks trip you’ll be providing a supplementary source of income to remote, largely subsistence agricultural village communities in Fiji’s interior, in the form of payments made to guides, for food and accommodation, as well as contributions to village development funds. If you want to escape Fiji’s beach tourist scene and experience life as it is lived in Fiji’s interior a trip with Talanoa Treks is a great way to do it. You can join a pre-scheduled trip, meeting other hikers as part of your trip or book an exclusive trip for your group. T: +679 9472732 E:


Destination ➜ Peru

In the Hands of the Gods


Words and images by Shane Boocock


1. Preparation: Start well in advance by getting your body/muscles in shape with either a cardiovascular workout program and a hiking regime starting months before you depart. On the trail you’ll average 10-15 km a day – you’ll need to pace yourself, it’s not a race. Even in a city like Cusco at over 3,000 m expect to walk about 10 km a day when wandering the streets or sightseeing.

3. Pack lightly: There is a weight restriction for the porters of just 7 kg including your sleeping bag and down jacket on the Inca Trail. Make sure your own daypack can also carry upwards of 10-12 kg, so pack well. Even in winter sunscreen, lip balm, mosquito repellent and hats should be an essential part of your daypack along with waterproof clothing (Gortex type jacket), cameras, extra batteries, small first aid kit and snacks etc. 4. Acclimatisation and First Aid: Some people adapt better than others, so carry altitude pills with you, as even the fittest and youngest of people can become ill once they get over 2,000 m. A small first aid kit with Band-Aids for sore feet, painkillers for your knees and your back are also recommended. Bring along plenty of electrolytes to add to your water bottle, so as to keep your energy levels high and try and drink at least three litres of fluid a day. 5. On the Trail: The Inca Trail is very dusty, so have good cover protection for your camera lens, as lenses are prone to jamming. Carry extra batteries in your daypack as well as additional memory disks. Also waterproof gaiters are something I always wear as they keep socks dry and dust and stones out of my boots. Buy the best boots that money can buy and wear them in well. Finally buy good hiking socks that wick-away perspiration and reduce friction, also coating your feet with a little talcum powder is an old tried and tested trick for reducing the chance of getting blisters. 6. Tent tips: It gets cold camping at altitude so have a warm nighttime outfit to sleep in. Another idea is to place what you’ll wear next to your skin once you are on the trail (gloves, beanie, socks, thermals) in your sleeping bag at night, they will then be nice and warm in the morning. A flashlight or headlamp is essential for finding tent items and nighttime visits to the toilet. Filling your water carrying utensil with hot water and placing it in your sleeping bag just as you are about to retire acts as a good hot water bottle.


2. Hygiene: This is vitally important both on and off the trail, so always wash you hands before a meal, use a hand sanitiser gel or wipes. Also choose carefully the restaurants you eat at, especially the night prior to your Inca Trail trip – five out of 12 people on our trip became ill on the day the trip commenced, most probably caused by food poisoning.



t the head of the trail Admil began by explaining what we should expect after four days of hiking. “Most people visit Machu Picchu travelling by train there and back but they are not going to experience it the same as us – the moment you finally arrive at ‘Intipunka,’ the Sun Gate is unbelievable. It will be the best experience of your life.” The Inca Trail is impossible to describe but, unlike any similar place in the world, I could tell that much. The vegetation along the trail between thatched huts is lush and luxurious with tree ferns, tiny orchids, and other unknown (to me) plants. Beyond that lay the witchery jungle, a tangle of ferns, vines, spiny cacti and impregnable undergrowth rising into a hardy, high elevation forest. In parts of that undergrowth is hidden the ruined masonry of a bygone era, where a race of people laid the foundations for a empire, the Inca Empire…which barely lasted 100 years.   The Inca Trail is government controlled and only 500 permits per day are allowed for the approximately 200 trekkers and 300 porters and guides that are required. The trail starts in the village of Piscacucho (KM82), at an altitude of 2,667 m. At first the path winds under poplars in a fertile valley of white cornfields (good for making corn beer) and red maize parallel to the roaring, foaming, glistening rapids of the Urubamba River. Above the gorge granite cliffs and towering tree-lined mountains rise into the clouds on both sides and high above that great battlements of glacial ice carve a path off snow covered peaks. At the beginning of the day it was obvious a few of our group had contracted stomach bugs of some sort – gastro grumbles strike many travellers in South America. In my case on leaving Cusco I came down with a virus that had my stomach doing somersaults, either shivering or sweating like I was in a sauna and accompanied by two days of frequent toilet visits. During the first hour on the trail Lia was vomiting and her dad, Gary, felt a little queasy, Garrick also looked pale and weak and Kerri was going downhill fast with similar symptoms. It was not the best start to a high altitude, hiking trip. By lunchtime we were in the shadow of the Inca ruins known as Pattallaqta, strategically built at an altitude of 2,840 m on the oxbow bend of the Cusichaka River. Lia immediately lay down in the shade of the lunch tent obviously very ill with Kerri and Garrick both looking ill. After consultation, it was decided that Kia and Gary should return to the hotel in Ollyantaytambo and head back to Cusco to get treatment – Admil, our guide, knew it was the only option as withdrawal from the trek in the next few days would be almost impossible. By late afternoon we arrived at our first campground at 2,980 m, Wayllabamba (meaning ‘Grassy Plain’). Immediately Kerri, who was by now really unwell, went to her tent. Garrick tried to take some soup and then also retired feeling queasy. Resting up was what they needed most. Day two would turn out to be our longest and hardest day with a required altitude gain of more than 1,200 m. We began hiking steadily uphill along the dusty track, as my

Essential Tips for Hiking Peru’s Inca Trail



heart pounded against my chest in the rarified air. After a gain of 700 m in just over two and a half hours, we arrived at Llulluchapampa, our lunch spot at 3,680 m with amazing views back down all the steps and steep path to the valley floor below. Above us we could see the saddle and the highest point of the trek at 4,215 m, yet another 500 m or more to climb with an even steeper ascent. However with time on our hands we ate a leisurely lunch and then started our almost perpendicular, step-by-step slog to the top. The weather then turned unpleasant with dark clouds enveloping the mountain summits on either side of the path with a cold biting wind forcing each of us to add more layers of clothing and winter jackets. Feeling fit and full of energy I trekked with two of the teenagers in our group, Tom and Emily. As we reached the saddle, clouds drifted in and around us, obscuring the peaks but not the valley way below. We were now at Warmiwañiusca, (colloquially known as ‘Dead Woman’s

Pass’). At 4,215 m my lungs were taking in just 60 percent of the oxygen available at sea level. Such are the effects at altitude. As the last of our group arrived it started raining and the temperatures plummeted to near freezing with zero visibility. However, the day’s hiking had not ended yet as we now had to descend a steep 600 m to our campsite for the night at Pacaymayo (interpreted as the ‘Hidden River’) down at 3,600 m. It was now raining heavily and misty clouds obscured every viewpoint. In the campground that evening we huddled around the table in the dining tent cocooned in thermals and down jackets as we ate spicy beef noodle soup, vegetables wrapped in a hot chicken roll served with rice and for dessert a liquid chocolate pudding. Thankfully the people in our group who had been unwell were now at the table regaining their strength. Before we left Pacaymayo, Admil called over Maxi – short for Maximilian. Maxi was 60 years old and had been a porter on the Inca Trail for 35 years. He stood maybe five feet tall and wore traditional porters’ off-white canvas pants. His face had trail-dust encrusted creases and his smile lit up the day. Admil said to him, “Shane is a famous writer and he will make you famous as a Yama Sati.” Maxi laughed out loud as did all the other porters as I repeated the words Yami Sati. It was then that Admil divulged what it meant, “the man who has sex with llamas”. I told Maxi I was a similar age and in Spanish he said back to me, “Yes, but you don’t carry 25 kg on your back in the mountains every day.” Which was very true. Maxi then said to Admil, “that if he was Yami Sati then I must be ‘Cuchi Sati’…”the man who has sex with pigs”. Again there was a huge round of laughter and then Maxi, grinning from ear to ear, and I had our picture taken together. Our destination on our third day was Phuyupatamarka, our final campground at 3,620 m, one that Admil had said would be, “possibly the best campsite in Peru”. An hour into our walking routine we came upon another ‘tambo’ called Runkuraqay at 3,780m, laid out in the shape of an oval. This small Inca ruin had both a watchtower and storehouse for Inca runners who ran the Inca Trail with messages for the Sayaomara – the Inca nobility. These rest houses are located about every 7-10 km apart. The larger

facts: Shane Boocock travelled on the Inca Trail courtesy of World Expeditions. For more information about their, ‘Best of Peru and Bolivia’ and other worldwide tour programs visit: ➜ Lan operates direct daily flights to Santiago and onward connecting flights to Peru. W:

and more elaborate ruins on the Inca Trail were administrative centres usually spaced anywhere from 25 km to 60 km apart. It started raining again as we climbed another 45 minute to the top of the second pass, Abra de Runkuraqay at just under 4,000m. At last we were walking along the original trail of the Incas with the stonework, for the most part exactly as it would have been over 500 years ago. All afternoon it rained and by the time we had reached our third campsite at Phuyupatamarka (literally transcribed as ‘Place Over the Clouds’) at 3,570 m, we simply could not see a thing – no valleys, mountains or peaks – everything was immersed in cloud. With no respite, it continued raining through dinner and all night long. Our final day was a 5.30 am wake-up call in case the clouds lifted and we might get to see what lay below and what rose above us. Fifteen minutes later Admil rattled into life as he could see the upper clouds on the mountains lifting like the veil over a beautiful woman’s face. Quickly we raced above our tent site to a high point as the snow-capped peaks became bathed in the first mornings glow as the sun hit the roof of the world.

We had maybe 10 minutes where the clouds above our heads opened up, yet the clouds at our feet blanketed the land and the fabled city of Machu Picchu far below. We sat on the pinnacle of Inca supremacy, the trail to our side once the route of Inca runners who would have witnessed a similar sight. Now we had 360-degree views of snow-capped mountains and unclimbed towering peaks, lush vegetation and impenetrable forests.  It was a sight worth all the high elevation trekking we had experienced. We quickly broke camp heading down through a dense, fog-like cloud forest full of hanging mosses, rare orchids and tree ferns, down thousands of steps until finally we could hear the Urubamba River way below us. We were still on the original Inca-made trail; a masterpiece in craftsmanship even 500 years after it was conceived. In total the Incas built a highly advanced network of nearly 40,000 km of trails to connect the distant corners of their vast empire that stretched from Quito in Ecuador down to Santiago in Chile and east to Mendoza in Argentina.   Admil took us to one last Inca ruin…that the Spanish never discovered – Wiñay Wayna (the name in Quechua means ‘Forever Young’) at 2,690 m. It was only discovered in 1945 over 30 years after Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu – the ruins at Wiñay Wayna were the only Inca ruins he missed uncovering. On the last climb of the day we finally walked through Intipunka, the Sun Gate and saw our first view of Machu Picchu…it’s a view I will never forget. Everything Admil had described and more was laid out in front of us – we had succeeded in hiking a 44 kilometre section of the Inca Trail and the final awe-inspiring reward was undeniably worth every footprint left behind.


I tried out a great new App in Peru called TripRider. It’s a smart travel notebook for organising, managing, sharing and keeping trip details in one place. Designed for iPhones and iPads by travellers for travellers, it’s easy to use and works offline. It’s what you might call the Swiss Army knife of travel apps. Lite version is Free. Full version is US $4.99 ➜


For lightweight sturdy travelling cases look at the new range of American Tourister products that are available in New Zealand at all Briscoes retail stores: ➜ or ➜

Destination ➜ Bali

Triple Dipping


By Gayle Dickson




ali is a unique island that offers diversity, and with two properties on the Island, Anantara does the same. My first stop was their Uluwatu property, officially called the Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa, situated south of the airport on majestic cliffs. The luxurious suites, penthouses and pool villas actually cascade down the cliff face, and all offer exquisite views over the Indian Ocean. My suite was on the same level as reception and I was completely blown away by the spacious interior that encompassed over 100 square metres. The cool marble floor led the eye from the entry past the living and bedroom area to the pool and ocean. The furnishings and décor were contemporary yet neutral, designed to contrast with the sparkling blue waters and lush greenery beyond. The floor-to-ceiling windows ensured the view was visible from either the sofa or bed. That said, the rain shower in the bathroom also afforded a view, as did the large soaking tub on the terrace. While the resort boasts a fabulous pool, I have to admit to never even getting my toes wet there. I didn’t need to venture further than my deck to enjoy a refreshing swim. I did, however, enjoy some divine meals at the restaurant alongside. Splash offers a mix of Asian and European cuisine and, on the night I dined there, a sumptuous seafood BBQ. I can honestly say that it’s not every day you get to see such an array of fish and shellfish lined up unless you’re in a fish market. The cocktail menu is legendary with a few signature options concocted by their mixologist. Breakfast is served at 360 Restaurant, the highest point of the property offering incredible 360 degree views.

The spa, too, is worth at least one visit – I personally believe you can never have enough downtime when on holiday and try to book at least one treatment every day, especially in Bali where they’re so reasonably priced compared to Western standards. At Anantara Spa the highly trained therapists adapt the treatments to each guest’s needs and mood while paying tribute to wellness secrets from across Asia. They also offer hair treatments, as well as mani and pedi options. Pass the time by partaking in a Balinese cooking class, visit the nearby Impossible Beach or the serenely stunning Uluwatu Temple. Other classes on offer include Balinese dancing and ceramics. The staff will assist you with outside tours so that you can get a glimpse of village life, take in the bird life, enjoy a round of golf, sail away into the sunset or do a spot of shopping in Nusa Dua. Surfers will love the location with over 20 top quality breaks nearby, including the world famous Padang Padang – boards are complimentary and lessons can be provided. With so much on offer, is it any wonder that I chose to triple dip in my private deck pool, soaking tub and rainwater shower rather than venturing to the resort pool?







LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines form LATAM Airlines Group which serves over 130 destinations in 22 countries. LAN Airlines flies seven times per week direct from Auckland to Santiago, Chile. From Santiago LAN and TAM offer connections to more than 115 destinations within South America. CONTACT US:

LAN 0800 451 373

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Rod Eime ©


Destination ➜ Chiang Rai, Thailand

By Rod Eime


ou can’t get much further north in Northern Thailand than Chiang Rai. In fact, the former capital of the Mangrai Dynasty was founded in the mid-13th Century and wasn’t always part of Thailand. The city on the banks of the Mae Kok River (a tributary of the Mekong) was ruled by Burma for many years and only became a proper part of Siam (Thailand) less than 100 years ago. Chiang Rai is, unsurprisingly, one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Thailand and is populated by hill tribe people such as the Karen, Akha, Lisu, Meo and Hmong. More recently, Chinese immigrants have also made this idyllic location home. One of the most famous legends from Chiang Rai is the story of the Emerald Buddha. Currently housed in its namesake temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the mysterious idol has only resided in the modern capital for a little more than two centuries, having been set in place in the Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram in 1784. The legend begins more than 2,000 years ago in ancient India where the exquisite, 760mm tall figurine was fashioned. After a tortuous journey through Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos, it was reputedly hidden away inside the walls of a temple in Chiang Rai until an earthquake revealed its hiding place in 1434. Because it was green and its discoverers were likely overtaken with excitement, the Buddha was declared to be of emerald. It is actually made of the substantially less valuable material…green jasper. Nonetheless, the much revered statue was liberated and continued its divine journey.

Vanessa Gregory ©


Thailand’s Northern Star

Up Among the Hill Tribes Seasoned farang (white) adventurer, Stu Lloyd, heads up country for a rare cultural experience. Colour! You have never seen anything like this in your life. Reds and blues and purples and oranges and greens: a spectral riot, a jubilee, dazzling in the hazy highland sun. We are in Doi Laan (doi being the northern Thai word for mountain) to attend an annual cultural festival of the Lisu hill tribe people, at the invitation of the Lisu. Once out-of-bounds to foreigners, the Lisu have cautiously relaxed these restrictions and now ‘farangs’ may be invited to attend. The Lisu originated somewhere near Tibet and most are domiciled in Yunnan, although a few filtered down to Burma and Thailand over the centuries.


Vanessa Gregory ©


John Borthwick ©

Chiang Rai has flourished despite the loss of this holy talisman, perhaps a result of having protected it for so long and the monsoonal climate keeps the city and its 70,000 inhabitants warm and the soil fertile. The wider district is home to some 200,000 people, part of the province with more than 1 million. In town, visitors will want to see Wat Phra Kaew, the former home to the original Emerald Buddha and now the site of a Chinese copy. That may sound a bit cheap, but a skilled Chinese artisan did fashion an (almost) identical replica of the original two millennia old icon and in 1990 it was placed where it is believed the genuine article once stood. If you miss that, then Wat Phra Singh houses another reproduction that will satisfy most inquiries. If you are one of the many elephant lovers who find their way to Thailand, then Chiang Rai will not disappoint. The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation works with the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort and the Four Seasons Tented Camp to provide an authentic and immersive experience for guests who want a truly up-closeand-personal elephant encounter.


facts: Elephants: ➜ Stay: Anantara Golden Triangle ➜

Find more activities and adventures in Chiang Rai at ➜

John Borthwick ©

Stu Lloyd ©


”This festival is a good chance for the whole Lisu in Thailand to meet, a once-yearly meeting point, they choose this month because of the school holiday so all the students can join the festival,” the charming university worker tells me. Somewhere between 500 and 750 (plus about five farang guests including us) have descended on this otherwise sparse village amid dramatic mountains, valleys and lakes about an hour southwest of Chiang Rai. Every spare bit of floor of Doi Laan’s homes, shacks and mud huts is occupied by guests. You can tell the ones who’ve come back from the ‘big smoke’ of Chiang Mai…they’re the ones sporting dyed Korean-style hair-dos and cellphones.
The centrepiece of imparting Lisu history is song with dancing going all night for three or more nights, but this is no Full Moon Rave. To the untrained eye (mine) it looks like Ring-aring-a-Rosie. “It is the way to respect the holy tree,” explains Mimi over the rather discordant rasp of the fulu bamboo flutes. But before you go wading into the mosh-pit with abandon, it pays to know the strict rules of the game. “Any man can hold the woman’s hand unless she is the man’s relative or cousin or the same last name. It is forbidden to hold the relative’s hand…it is taboo. If it is necessary then women or men must have something like a handkerchief to block the hand so that their hands will not directly touch each other. During the dance, only men can ask women to hold their hand or to join the dance. Except if that woman is a bit drunk or wanted to make a joke to some men,” laughs Mimi with her trademark glowing smile. Indeed, corn whisky has a lot to answer for. It is served up in liberal lashings. Not too dissimilar to the worst Scotch you ever tasted, but with a burnt earthy aftertaste. Flushed cheeks radiate in the late afternoon sun. Mimi ushers us into her parents’ house (which doubles as the village clinic), where we sit on tiny wooden stools raised just inches above the dirt floor. The meal is stunning, a mixture of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, all courtesy of the jungle. “We don’t go to market for anything except sometimes meat,” declares Mimi proudly. Chickens tiptoe gingerly through the house. Pot-bellied pigs bask in the sunny pen outside. She is momentarily distracted by a call on her mobile phone. The only other modern intrusion here seems to be Crocs-style shoes. I spy several fluorescent pairs competing for visual attention with the rest of the blinding outfits. Jing jing! (Yes, it’s true!)
But no garment is richer than the hats called U-thue, garnished with a thousand or more red strings and beads. Imagine Liberace in a Foreign Legionnaire’s cap and you get the idea. “It is more like fashion now with all the colour; in the past we use the knitting wool. The strings hanging down are to please the spirit, and the spirit likes to see the colour. It is springtime for the Lisu so the spirit would love it and be happy to see spring as well.” It is a real privilege to experience this cultural life from the inside as we have. But just one marketing suggestion if I may: add some snappy break beats to the raspy music and package this festival as a…wait for it…Fulu Moon Party!

For my sins I am: I am currently in my dream job – Regional Director for Tourism Fiji in New Zealand, connecting kiwis with the happiest place on earth (Editor: Wayne is actually living the life as the acting Chief Executive of Tourism Fiji based in Nadi until the new CEO starts in 2015) How old were you when you got your first passport, and where did you travel to in order to “break it in”? I was 14 years old and attending Pukekohe High School. We had an amazing school orchestra and we travelled to Fiji (surprise, surprise) where we played at schools right around Viti Levu. I still have memories of this trip – we left Auckland on an Air NZ DC8 How many countries have you travelled to? Too many to remember – with a long career in the travel industry there have been lots of fantastic famils and holidays. I’m currently working through my 4th passport and trying to record places and dates from the stamps My favourite offshore destination is…and why? Apart from Fiji, I have a few favourites. I love the Australian Outback, particularly the north of W.A., as it is so diverse and untouched. I also fell in love (again) with Vietnam this year…the gentle people and the delicate amazing food made for a beautiful journey. Hanoi is an amazing city…I could easily live there My favourite local destination is … and why? I love both the Hawke’s Bay, for its wonderful wine and food experiences, and also Wanganui for its unique and fascinating art scene. Go to the next Artists Open Studios Weekend & you’ll be amazed My favourite dining experience (anywhere in the world) is: Local Hanoi restaurants…if you’ve been to a few good ones you’ll know why

My favourite kind of holiday is (beach, adventure, shopping etc): I’m an active relaxer so I need it all – on the beach or by a pool + out and about experiencing new things + bit of shopping + great food experiences What’s the one thing you can’t/won’t travel without? My partner – too many solo trips in the past, which were fun when I was young, but it’s great to share the experiences now What’s your best packing tip? Start packing a few days before you go then toss half it out just before you leave the house for the airport What’s your best travel tip: Go with the flow Do you dress comfortably or stylishly for long-haul trips? Depends which end of the plane I’m sitting, but generally I go for comfortable – I always seem to be able to spill food on something new I’m wearing If WE were paying, tell us about your perfect holiday: WOW! OK…it’s a combination of all my favourite cities I’ve so far been to, as I love revisiting - from Auckland to Hanoi to Istanbul to Cape Town to Paris to Edinburgh to London to Dublin to San Francisco to Hilo to Auckland…plus I’d add some places still on my bucket list like India, Egypt, Crete, Italy (can't believe I’ve still not been to Italy) What’s your best travel memory? Swimming with the Whale Sharks off Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia Anything “hilarious” ever happened to you while travelling? There’s always something memorable to come with for the dinner party stories and of course they always get exaggerated after the 4th telling Where to next? Drive from Vancouver to San Francisco via Seattle and a few National Parks enroute


Name: Wayne Deed


Industry Traveller

Destination ➜ Birmingham, England

Birmingham – What to Expect during the 2015 Rugby World Cup BEYOND | ENGLAND

Words and images by Shane Boocock




Aston Villa

Destination Profile: With time on your hands, explore some the city’s diverse quarters – from shopping and business to creative and artistic – and everything in between. Head out from the retail heaven that is the city centre to the sophisticated tree-lined squares and canal side stylish bars and glam restaurants of Brindleplace, or the creatively cool Digbeth and Eastside, the artistic hub of the city. Birmingham also boasts the famous Balti Triangle, home to spectacular Asian fashion and mouth-watering curries. Finally the historic Jewellery Quarter is where over 40% of British jewellery is created. International Connectivity: Located right in the heart of England, Birmingham Airport welcomes more than 50 airlines from over 100 destinations. It’s home to plenty of low cost carriers so there are great money-saving deals to grab. Located next to the M42 motorway and mainline rail network it couldn’t be better connected. Domestic Connectivity: Rail: There are three city centre rail stations providing fast and frequent connections to both local and national destinations. New Street Station is at the hub of the National Rail network with fast and frequent services to London’s Euston station and other major towns and cities across the UK. Train services to and from London’s Marylebone station are served by Moor Street Station, located near the Bullring. Road: Set at the heart of the UK motorway network, it’s linked by the M5, M6, M40 and M42 while the A34 and A38 further add to your options and the M1 is less than 30 minutes away. The M6 Toll Road adds another choice (while also helping to keep through traffic away from city centre at peak times). Coach: All coach services call at Digbeth Coach Station, just a few minutes from the city centre. National Express links Birmingham to 1,200 destinations in mainland Britain. There’s also an hourly service to and from London Victoria station and great links to airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, East Midlands, Stansted and Luton.


Sporting Prowess - Football and Cricket: Aston Villa: Take a stadium tour of Villa Park, one of the Rugby World Cup venues and home to Premier League club Aston Villa, one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888. Celebrity fans include Prince William, Tom Hanks and British Prime Minister David Cameron. A ‘behind the scenes’ tour includes a visit to the first-team dressing room and a chance to sit in the dugouts pitch side. West Bromwich Albion: West Bromwich, just eight kilometres from Birmingham is the town famous for its football club. The club was founded in 1878 and in 1888 it became one of the 12 founder members of the Football League. The club became Football League Champions in 2008, winning automatic promotion to the Premier League. Albion were based in and around the centre of West Bromwich during their formative years, but moved further out of the town in 1900 when they switched to their current ground, The Hawthorns, the highest football ground (above sea level) in the country. Edgbaston Cricket Ground: Cricket was first mentioned in Birmingham in the mid-18th century when the landlord of the Bell Inn, adjacent to the present day Smallbrook Queensway, advertised for matches for his team. Formed in 1882 the club has historic associations with Birmingham. The nearest main-line railway stations, situated approximately three kilometres from the ground are Birmingham’s New Street and Snow Hill.

his issue, in our build up to the Rugby World Cup, we look at Birmingham, which will play host to the South Africa v Samoa game on September 26th 2015 as well as Australia v Play-off Winner on September 27th 2015 at Villa Park, home of Aston Villa Football Club. The last time a rugby game was ever played at Villa Park was an All Blacks game on 30 December 1953, Midlands XV vs. New Zealand (All Blacks’ Tour of Britain). The score was Midlands 18 - All Blacks 30. Throughout the six-week tournament Birmingham will be alive with the Rugby Union spirit! Aston Villa is traditionally one of the oldest, most successful football clubs in history and for the first time they are transforming themselves into the perfect rugby stadium for the cup.  Aston Villa is located just outside of Birmingham’s city centre, but don’t worry it is very easy to get to by rail and road! To ensure you make the most of your trip, Birmingham will be celebrating before and after all matches, at a fan park in the city and in bars and pubs.


Picturesque Countryside: Some of the best ‘Shire’s of England’ are just a days drive away from the bright lights of Birmingham. Take time to explore some of the most interesting and idyllic areas that England has to offer. Whether it’s a following your taste buds, or your passion for history, there’s plenty to see and do on a day trip out of the city. Take in the Black Country – cradle of the Industrial Revolution, or Herefordshire famous for farm-fresh food and cider. Shropshire has beautiful landscapes and medieval markets…or wander the land of Shakespeare in Warwickshire. Other visitors may prefer the world-renowned potteries in Staffordshire or the stunning cathedrals and idyllic market towns in Worcestershire.


Food: Michelin starred restaurants, stylish eateries, world cuisine, street dining, farmers markets, sweet delights, locally sourced produce – lick your lips and get stuck in. There are restaurants galore in the heart of Birmingham, however if you really want to experience the cultural diversity of the city head out on a tour of the famous Balti Triangle, an area of Balti houses clustered along Ladypool Road, Stoney Lane and Stratford Road, to the south of city centre and meet some of the Asian families who have settled here and set up their home and business; join an Alternative Tour (minimum eight people) to the area and enjoy one of the city’s famous Balti (curry) restaurants and watch the chefs in action, before sampling one of the famous dishes yourself.

Top Visitor Attractions: Cadbury Bournville Factory: In the suburb of Bournville; the home to Cadbury chocolate for over 100 years, visitors can explore the history of chocolate, enjoy free samples and learn more about this fascinating company and the ‘workers’ village’ its founders created. Balti Restaurant

Aston Hall

Enjoy a Beer or Cocktail: A vibrant mix of bars and pubs, from pre-clubbing hot spots to student nights and cocktail chic, Birmingham and the region has a glass to fit any hand. A good start to a pub-crawl in Birmingham is to sample the Eat Me Drink Me Gin & Food in the Victorian Gin Parlour at the Jekyll and Hyde pub. Climb the staircase and be transported back to the decadent Victorian Era. Unique to the Midlands the Victorian inspired Gin Parlour is the ideal setting for any number of occasions. After visiting the Jekyll and Hyde, wander into any number of other great pubs and city centre bars, including The Wellington, The Lost & Found, The Victoria and The Old Joint Stock. Shopping: A visit to Birmingham won’t be complete until you’ve shopped in and around the Bullring. Birmingham is a shopper’s paradise. Whether you seek head-turning chic or eye-catching value it’s all here. From Harvey Nichols to Selfridges, to the welcoming mix of shopping centres, historic markets or the world-famous Jewellery Quarter, the shops in Birmingham offer you everything you could ever want in attractive and compact spaces.

Hire car arrangements were courtesy of Driveaway Holidays, for more information on UK hire car options and insurance please go to: Visit Birmingham ➜ Aston Villa Stadium Tour ➜ West Bromwich Albion ➜ Edgbaston Stadium ➜ Aston Hall ➜ Sarehole Mill ➜ Cadbury Bournville ➜ Alternative Tours of the Balti Triangle ➜ Jekyll and Hyde Pub ➜ National Express ➜ Staying Cool Apartments – Rotunda ➜ The author was hosted in England courtesy of Visit England ➜

Birmingham’s outdoor and indoor Bull Ring markets see over six million shoppers pop along every year to buy everything from bras to bananas. Six days a week, 140 stallholders are up with the lark to offer great deals. The Indoor Market is famous for its selection of fresh meats, fish and produce, giving supermarkets a run for their money for choice, price and atmosphere. Warwick Castle: See the past come alive at Warwick Castle, where you can immerse yourself in a thousand years of jaw-dropping history - come rain or shine. The castle promises an experience where ancient myths and spellbinding tales will set your imagination alight and your hair on end.

Rugby World Cup 2015. England. 11 host cities, 48 matches, 20 nations, over 44 days. September 18 - October 31, 2015

Visit England and be part of the game.


Aston Hall: One of England’s finest Jacobean mansions, built by Sir Thomas Holte, a Warwickshire landowner, between 1618-1635, Aston Hall holds a central place in Birmingham’s history. The house boasts some fine interiors including early 17th century plasterwork, woodcarving and chimney-pieces. Room displays and exhibits are from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Popular with families they have a full programme of events, activities and trails throughout the season. Admission charges apply to the hall only…garden, grounds and shop facilities are free to all visitors.



Tolkien’s Original Middle Earth: JRR (Ronald) Tolkien was born in South Africa, but after moving to England with his family spent his formative years in Britain’s second city – and many of the local landmarks including Sarehole Mill, Moseley Bog and Perott’s Folly (one of the ‘Two Towers’) helped shape his imagination and ideas for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Soak up the atmosphere of these unique sites. The films may have been made in New Zealand, but the books were born in Birmingham.


Destination ➜ Christchurch, New Zealand


Welcome (back) to Christchurch By Paul Rush Images courtesy of Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism


hristchurch has always been a desirable place to visit and it still is, as it re-emerges from the ‘quake rubble’ with a breathtaking spirit of resilience and resolve. The city embraces life with a rich diversity of art, culture, cuisine and a gracious lifestyle. The Lonely Planet has named Christchurch as one of the top places to visit as it demonstrates remarkable Kiwi ingenuity and inventiveness in its redevelopment phase. Through adversity comes

strength and Cantabrians have that in spades. The city is constantly changing; the grand old Isaac Theatre Royal is back, The Colombo food hub is burgeoning (look for Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar) and Victoria Precinct is alive with bars and eateries (look for Harlequin Public House and Tony Astel’s four top-line restaurants).This ‘Garden City’ on the rise has something for everybody to enjoy. There’s a host of free or low cost activities and attractions that the whole family can enjoy, including the ten detailed here.

with elegant swans and perennials dip their foliage into tranquil reflective pools in the beautiful Water Gardens. ➜

2. CHRISTCHURCH BOTANIC GARDENS Flower Power in the City Enjoy a relaxing morning taking in the many delights and leafy grandeur of the Botanic Gardens. This magnificent 30-hectare spread of walking tracks, majestic trees, sweeping lawns, feature gardens and woodland was founded in 1863 with the planting of an English oak tree. From that small beginning, this green oasis has grown into one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants in New Zealand. Victoria and Albert Lakes are dotted


1. PUNTING ON THE AVON Drifting and Dreaming Step aboard a classic English punt at the historic Antigua Boat Shed on the Avon River and experience life the way it should be – relaxed, tranquil and thoroughly enjoyable. Sink back into the plush velvet cushions as your skilful Edwardian punter transports you back to an elegant era. Drift silently in and out of the shadow of overhanging willows, while listening to the commentary and taking in the sights. There’s also an option to take a punt ride from the Worcester Street Bridge upstream into the rebuild zone, which gives a dramatic insight into the changing face of the city centre. ➜

3. MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Southern Treasure Trove Stroll down Worcester Street towards the Botanic Gardens and an exquisitely detailed historic stone building will soon come into view. The Canterbury Museum houses some of the finest cultural and natural collections in the country. There are fine exhibits devoted to the Moa-hunter Maori and their descendents, as well as Asia arts, European settlement, Antarctic discovery and native flora and fauna. The Robert McDougall Art Gallery boasts two distinctive Auguste Rodin sculptures, displays of local Canterbury artists and collections from The Netherlands, France, Italy and Britain. ➜




4. RE:START SHOPPING MALL New Beginnings For a shopping experience like no other, come to the City Mall in Cashel Street where you’ll find a Lego-like aggregation of brightly coloured shipping containers housing over 40 retail businesses anchored by Ballantyne’s department store. The steel containers come in vivid lime green, tomato red and sky blue and create a cool, funky city environment. The retailers who took the gamble with this first initiative in the Christchurch ‘Pop Up City’ concept are well pleased with the rewarding result. ➜

5. RICCARTON FARMERS MARKET For Goodness Sake Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm there is a perfect opportunity to meet a host of dedicated local growers, bakers, wine makers, brewers, butchers and farmers and sample their products. This foodie’s paradise is held in an idyllic setting beside Riccarton House complete with live music, a mouth-watering array of fresh produce, shady trees and friendly ducks. Come with a hearty appetite and enjoy freshly-squeezed orange juice, fair trade organic coffee, hot pastries, pies, fresh bread, honey, olive oil and chocolate. ➜

6. HAGLEY PARK Green amidst the Grey Meander alongside the Avon River on a pleasant Christchurch morning and before you know it you’ll be drawn by the allure of Hagley Park. Long avenues of mature trees lead on to shaded pathways bordered by manicured shrubs and flower beds. This sprawling 165-hectare expanse of wide-open spaces and mature woodland was created in 1855 and named after the country estate of Lord Lyttelton who became chairman of the Canterbury Association in 1850. Car parks are available in Riccarton Avenue, Rolleston Avenue and Armagh Street. ➜

Riccarton Farmers Market


7. SUMNER BEACH Picnic and Promenade It’s worth the drive to Sumner just to breathe in the fresh sea air as you promenade along the beautiful old-fashioned Esplanade, with its wonderfully laid-back village atmosphere. You can sit back and gaze at the confluence of the Avon and Heathcote rivers, where currents swirl mesmerisingly around the shallow bar, see the surfers riding high on a curling wave or simply watch the world go by while eating an ice cream or the best fish and chips in town. ➜

8. CHRISTCHURCH GAP FILLERS Pop Up Pleasures The ingenuity and resourcefulness of Cantabrians is second to none and new surprises have been popping up every day in this remarkable city on the rebound. With many vacant commercial sites sitting unutilised, the locals have conceived quirky and whimsical pop-up facilities. Favourite ones are the: Think Differently book exchange in the disused fridge, an Astroturf mini football ground and Dance-O-Mat music area in Hereford Street. Smash Palace Bar is based in old buses, Revival Bar is built from demolition timber and the Bealey Avenue Thai Takeaways resides in a shipping container. ➜

9. VISIT LYTTELTON Enter Another World Take a 20-minute drive through the tunnel and you arrive at another world; a colourful, compact town with colonial building facades and a working port. On the verdant hillsides are multiple levels of Victorian cottages clinging to the steep terrain. Thousands of sunlit diamonds appear to sparkle on the smooth surface of the serene harbour. Gap fillers and pop-up facilities are raising spirits as the recovery proceeds with treasure hunts, walking festivals and ‘time bank’ reciprocal support. The town’s original festive atmosphere and bohemian vibe is slowly returning. ➜

10. WOOLSTON SHOPPING EMPORIUM Victorian Chic The historic Woolston Tannery has been given a new lease of life as the Boutique Shopping Emporium. Owner, Alasdair Cassels, has designed the two hectare site as an authentic Victorian-style arcade with over 30 boutique fashion shops, theatres, art studios and creative spaces for innovative business people. The steel-framed atrium soars up to old-world skylights connecting the past to the future, and providing the ambience of an exciting overseas arcade. ➜


Royalty on the high seas


Cunard Line will be firmly in the spotlight this year as the cruise line sails into the history books with a show-stopping array of celebrations (in May) to mark its 175th anniversary.




nce again, New Zealand and Australia will provide a stage for the famous line, with its spectacular flagship Queen Mary 2 set to return down under in March during her world voyage for an encore Royal Circumnavigation of New Zealand, following her first journey around the nation in 2013. Before her departure, the liner will join with Queen Victoria on Sydney Harbour on March 12 for a spectacular rendezvous – their first meeting in Australia. Queen Mary 2 will then sail on her 13-night circumnavigation calling at Milford Sound, Akaroa, Wellington, Auckland and the Bay of Islands. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria will also sail to our shores making her maiden call to Akaroa (for Christchurch) on March 17, as well as calls to Wellington and Auckland during the month. The visits follow on from Queen Elizabeth’s North Island call in late February. Another highlight of this year’s world voyages will be a special visit by Queen Elizabeth to the waters off the Gallipoli Peninsula on April 24, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the WWI campaign. The 2015 world voyage program is a fitting start to Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebrations, given the cruise line invented world cruising in 1922 when Laconia set off on the first ever circumnavigation by a passenger ship. Cunard has since undertaken more world voyages than any other line.




The 175th celebrations will officially begin in Cunard’s homeport of Southampton on May 3, when the three Queens sail into the port together and depart later that day in formation – the first time that Queen Mary 2 will lead the fleet out of Southampton in daylight. Queen Victoria will then depart on a seven-night “Lusitania Remembered” voyage in honour of the Cunard flagship which was torpedoed off Ireland in 1915 while sailing from New York to Liverpool. All Queen Victoria passengers will be invited to attend a special service at Cobh on May 7, 2015, 100 years to the day since Lusitania was lost. Later in the month, to salute Cunard’s “spiritual home” of Liverpool, where the company was founded and the company’s Head Office remained for 128 years until 1967, the fleet will take part in an historic three-day event from May 24th to 26th. Queen Mary 2 will arrive in Liverpool on Sunday May 24 and make her first ever overnight stay in the city, berthed in sight of the Cunard Building, which forms one third of the World-Heritage-listed ‘Three Graces’ on the Pier Head. The following morning Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will sail into the city and for a time all three ships will line up on the Mersey in a spectacle that is expected to draw huge crowds.

The anniversary program also includes a special transatlantic voyage for Cunard’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, which will see the ocean liner sail from Liverpool on July 4, 2015, following in the wake of Britannia which left the city 175 years earlier to the day on the first regularly-scheduled service across the Atlantic. This will also be the first time since January 1968 that a Cunard ship has departed from Liverpool for America. The history making will continue in 2016 with Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria set to return to our shores in February and March. Following calls to Auckland and Akaroa and scenic cruising through Fiordland, Queen Victoria will sail to Australia to undertake her first roundtrip cruise from Sydney. The eight-night voyage will cruise from Sydney to Hobart and Melbourne and will also feature Cunard’s maiden call to South Australia’s stunning Kangaroo Island, before returning to Sydney. New Zealanders will be able to sail from Auckland on Queen Victoria on February 23, 2016 and explore the South Island before enjoying the historic roundtrip cruise from Sydney. Queen Mary 2’s journey will also bring her to New Zealand in March 2016 with visits to the Bay of Islands, Auckland and Wellington before she heads to Australia. ➜

DID YOU KNOW? Melbourne was the capital city of Australia for 26 years before the current national capital, Canberra, was built.

Melbourne skyline, Victoria, Australia

A DAY IN THE lIFE... Of a business event in Melbourne

Melbourne, an ever-changing city with surprises around every corner was voted the World’s Most Liveable City for the fourth year in a row in 2014, and it doesn’t take long for visitors to understand why. Just one day at a business event in Melbourne could give you a taste of everything for which the city is famous, including its hidden laneways, art and culture, major events, and progressive dining scene.

7:30 - BREAKFAST It’s no secret that Melbournians are passionate about their coffee, and for this reason there is no shortage of cafes and restaurants serving up a fresh brew and breakfast. Located in South Yarra, the award-winning owners of Lucky Penny are set on celebrating fine local produce; while Terra Rosa offers modern Australian with an Italian twist in the historic Swiss House building.

9:00 - BUSINESS With more than 50 years’ experience, Peter Rowland Catering consistently reaches new heights in quality, innovation and customer satisfaction. Unique venues are a given, such as Flemington - The Event Centre. Meet up to 1,500 guests here before a private tour of the racecourse, home of the famous Melbourne Cup Carnival. Meanwhile, Melbourne Museum’s award-winning design showcases an innovative combination of space, texture and shapes; from soaring glass walls to bold, bright columns, the Museum is a perfect venue for events of up to 200 guests.

12:30 - LUNCH Ascend to level 55 of Melbourne’s Rialto building to

Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde, an awardwinning restaurant with capacity for up to 160 guests, which boasts three Good Food Guide chef’s hats. Look out over the city as you enjoy a long and lingering feast or a quick working lunch. Alternatively, Melbourne’s newest riverside dining precinct, South Wharf Promenade offers a variety of venues for groups large and small, such as the Spanish themed Bohemian and the Australian BBQ inspired Meat Market South Wharf.

14:00 - SIGHTSEEING Queen Victoria Markets are often referred to as the heart and soul of Melbourne. This historic landmark spanning two city blocks is great to stroll through at leisure or with a local guide to help you shop for local gourmet produce, cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. Then hit the footpaths on two wheels with Segway Tours Australia, offering groups an interactive and social experience while taking in all that Melbourne has to offer.

18:00 - SUNSET DRINKS As the sun sets into the horizon, enjoy the view from the best seat in the house - Melbourne Star’s Observation Wheel. Match the vibrant colours of the sunset with a glass of pinot noir, rosé or chardonnay, complemented by chocolate dipped strawberries as you circle the city skyline.

19:30 - DINNER Not only is it home to major sporting events and concerts, Etihad Stadium is an impressive venue for a gala dinner or cocktail event. Its unrivalled location, dining options, and event spaces accommodate functions ranging from 20 to 3,000



guests. For a gala dinner in a spectacular venue that is unmatched in historical charm or elegant grandeur, the Plaza Ballroom in the heart of the city showcases the lively theatre culture of Melbourne. Catering for 200 to 1,200 guests, this venue offers a superb sensory experience with dining options crafted by award-winning chefs.

22.00 - DRINKS Before turning in for the evening Melbournians are known to ascend stairs and elevators to drink among the clouds. Rooftop bars offer great views of the city and are especially popular during summer. Palmz at the Carlton is one secluded hideaway where tropical flora juxtaposes with the city skyline.

23:00 - SLEEP Crown Towers, with its prime Southbank location, offers a welcoming and opulent escape from the buzzing city life outside. Wind down from your busy day in a contemporary yet lavish room that showcases the unparalleled luxury of the Crown brand. Alternatively, settle in at The Langham Melbourne to experience that home away from home feeling. Take in the panoramic views of the sparking city skyline as you drift off to sleep in your Blissful Bed.

Start planning now Find more itineraries and pitching resources at Or contact Chris Ingram, Partnership Manager at Tourism Australia (+64 9 915 2878) for more information.

Destination ➜ Muscat, Oman

The Chedi Muscat


By Gayle Dickson



his has to be one of the most spectacularly romantic properties I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. You’ll be swept into Arabian luxury from the moment your chauffeured limousine pulls up at reception. Once inside, it’s as though you’ve stepped into a Bedouin tent…a very luxurious one, granted.

Lush, sweeping lawns dotted with lines of majestic palms lay sprawled between the low-rise whitewashed buildings that are home to the various restaurants and bars. No matter where you wander on the spacious grounds, water is a key element – babbling fountains regally guard the courtyard ponds, large urns softly spout, and vast



swimming pools abound. In fact, the hotel boasts what is considered to be the longest pool in the entire region – and it’s only one of three! At first glimpse, you might be forgiven for thinking you’re in Bali. White walls, dark stained timber, shutters – there’s a definite similarity of other hotels within the GHM

group. Omani influences are everywhere though, from the artwork that liberally dots itself around in the shape of sculptures and historical pieces to the soaring Islamic arches that are a standout feature. The accommodation is sublime, with nothing lacking, and everything on hand.



Enormous beds are bedecked in ultrafine linens, TV’s and entertainment systems are the latest designs, and the bathrooms are graced with thick white towels and pampering amenities. My Club Suite had a private balcony and a very spacious lounge area, and the ensuite boasted an oversized sunken tub. While there are various restaurants to choose from, most couples and smaller groups were spotted dining privately in a multitude of mini courtyards, poolside under the palms, beachside, or even in a quiet corner of the verdant lawns. The nightly torches and candles softly illuminated their faces, failing miserably to hide their pleasure at being in such incredible surroundings. While there are 158 guestrooms and villas, space and privacy abound. It never once felt crowded. From the doormen and porters to the wait staff and housekeeping, service was exemplary! This is definitely one for the bucket list, especially with the range of activities and adventures right on your doorstep. Muscat City offers divine shopping and world-class dining, there’s the Gulf of Oman to explore on a range of boats and, if you’re up for a little more adventure, head to the desert and visit Bedouins, make for the mountains and hike to your heart’s content, swim in a wadi, visit a market – the list goes on!

facts: ➜ ➜ ➜ ➜


Destination ➜ Sub-Antarctic Islands, New Zealand


Cruising in a Pelagic Wonderland Words and images by Shane Boocock



e’re bird people,” said Penny sitting next to me at the first nights briefing, “from England.” Penny was from Sussex in the UK with her husband Peter, and she was excited to meet some of her fellow passengers on board. “This is my first time on Silversea, but don’t they make you feel special. We’re already meeting a lot of like-minded couples who also love all the bird life. Peter has a yacht so we see a lot of UK bird life but it was the chance to see some rare species of birds that enticed us on this cruise.” During the briefing it became obvious that bird watching was going to be a major focus on this particular cruise – nature tourism it seems is alive and well. New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands offer the richest pelagic eco-system in the Southern Ocean. The list of birds is staggering – 126 species, including 40 seabirds, of which five breed nowhere else in the world. The islands are home to 10 of the 21 species of albatross and six of the 17 species of penguins. Looking around the Explorer Lounge I could see that the majority of passengers had long since passed middle age, but their enthusiasm for adventure was bubbling as much as the champagne being served. Like Penny, it was also my first time on an expedition cruise and I was also experiencing good first time impressions. It became clear during the first night at sea that there is a huge difference between a large ocean going cruise ship with thousands of cabins and passengers and the Silversea expedition ship such as the one I was on. I’d departed from Auckland on a 14 day Silversea cruise aboard Silver Discovery, a perfect sized expedition ship of 102.9 m in length and 15.4 m in width with just five decks. There were 60 suites with a capacity of 120 guests and a crew of just over 100 personnel. Each suite has a queen size bed, marble bathroom, personal butler service and a refrigerator stocked with your drink preferences including champagne on request – now this is what I call a hard life. Leah from the Philippines was my cabin attendant, who greeted me each day with hello Mr. Shane as she came to make up my room. All Silversea cruises offer a butler service as well and my butler was Georgin, from Mumbai in India. He was fascinated that I was a writer working every morning in my cabin, unless there was an activity taking place. After a lumpy, rolling first night at sea we dropped anchor at White Island. About 70% of this volcano lies under the sea as it’s part of a mountain that rises up over 1,600 m above the seafloor, making it the largest in New Zealand. It was then on to Napier for some sightseeing before sailing overnight and the next day southeast to reach the Chatham Islands, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 680 km southeast of mainland New Zealand. It consists of 10 islands within a 40 km radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island…total population of about 600 people. In the Southern Ocean it can be almost guaranteed in advance that the weather will turn from a bright sunny flat calm morning to swells that can rise as high as four to five metres and upwards of eight metres, which is what we encountered between the Chatham and Bounty Islands. It slowly started getting bumpy during dinner and by the




middle of the night it had changed to big swells that sent the ship rolling from side to side with solid bangs as the bow smashed into big waves sending a shudder through the ship. I recall thinking to myself it’s called an, ‘expedition’ for a good reason, right! Unlike the sheep and cattle grazing farmland which dominates the Chatham Islands, the Antipodes Islands are inhospitable volcanic islands in sub-Antarctic waters to the south of, but still territorially part of, New Zealand. The islands lie 860 km southeast of Stewart Island. They consist of a main island of 20 km2 surrounded by a series of small offshore islands and rocks. The islands are steep! Cliffs and rocky reefs line the majority of the coasts. The highest point, in the north of the main island is Mount Galloway at 366 m, which also forms part of the group’s most recent volcanic activity. The islands are a significant breeding site for several species of seabirds such as the southern brown rockhopper, Erect-crested penguins, Antipodean, black browned, light-mantled and white-capped albatross, and the northern giant, grey and white chinned petrels. Passengers on board the Silver Discovery consisted mainly of couples, well-travelled, yet still pushing the boundaries of adventure with some aged into their 70s. From what I observed, most of them were up to it. As long as they could negotiate the metal steps off the lower back deck into and out of a Zodiac and walk tracks of between



The writer was hosted by Silversea Cruises who offer a range of cruises worldwide on seven different vessels (three of which are expedition ships) from short journeys of up to seven days to 22+ days at sea. ➜


three to six kilometres then the regions sub-Antarctic birdlife, wildlife and mammal life was very accessible to them. Weather is a factor in the ‘roaring forties’ and ‘furious fifties,’ and the window of opportunity to visit these remote islands is limited to only about 1,000 visitors a year over the summer months. Getting up close is the name of the game here, so it’s not unusual to have a bull sea lion sitting in front of you sprawled on the track on Campbell Island or a nesting, royal southern albatross within a metre of your camera lens. Referred to as cold, cloudy, wet and windy, the mean average temperature on Campbell Island rarely rises above 12 degrees Celsius - the coldest of all the sub-Antarctic islands. This is the place where you’ll find the world’s remotest tree, a solitary 100-year-old Sitka spruce. The next nearest tree is over 222 km away on the Auckland islands. Campbell Island is also home to the rarest duck in the world, the Campbell Island Teal. What makes Campbell Island special is that it’s the single most important island in the world for the royal southern albatross as 99% of them breed on this remote dot in the Southern Ocean. At the last count in 2008 they recorded only 7,800 breeding pairs. It’s hard to imagine this region of the sub-Antarctic in the early 1800’s when master mariners ventured here in atrocious conditions in their quest for whale oil and seal skins, killing them almost to the point of extinction. Not surprisingly the islands are littered with shipwrecks and tales of castaway whalers, sailors living off the land and sea until a vessel returned back the following season. Patrick, a writer and reviewer of firearms, and Felicia were from Ann Arbor, Michigan on their first Silversea cruise. Early in 2014 they had been on an Antarctic cruise, “We just said what the heck, it’s all or nothing, let’s do it again. I figured my knees are aging faster than the rest of my body and it gets harder every year, especially if hiking is involved, so we are trying to do all the trips we can before I can’t walk further than my garage,” said Felicia. It was a similar story from many of the passengers, with roughly 50% returning guests. Dennis and Becky were from St. George in Utah. “When we sold our business in Salt Lake City we retired to St. George; I’m so glad to be away from the snow,” said Becky. “This is our eighth cruise but the first on a Silversea expedition ship. We are coming around to the fact that cruise ships with 300 people or less is much more intimate and enjoyable than the huge liners we’ve travelled on in the past.” After a six-kilometre hike across Campbell Island we returned to the Silver Discovery. It would be another overnight journey to the Auckland Islands and in particular, Enderby Island where a 12 km walk would be part of our visit with the chance to see yellow-eyed penguins. As we dropped anchor in the morning the sun was shinning, the temperature was about 12 degrees and there was little wind. Another adventure was awaiting my fellow ‘get-up and go’ wanderers and myself as we cruised through this pelagic wonderland. As someone at the bar remarked the previous night – if 60 is the new 40, then 70 must be the new 50 – I wasn’t about to argue with that.

Destination ➜ Switzerland


Ten Great Reasons to Visit Zurich


Words and images by Shane Boocock



veryone usually identifies Switzerland with their bitter-sweet chocolates, exclusive watches, functional Swiss army knives, the Swiss Alps and of course the legend of William Tell. Yet each city in Switzerland has its own heritage and distinctive feel to it, albeit many of these cities sit beside a stunning alpine lake (there are over 7,000 lakes bigger than 500m2) or at the foot of an alpine mountain, in some cases both. The city of Zurich certainly seems to have a sprinkling of all things Swiss, so here are the best reasons to visit Zurich, a city of 1.2 million inhabitants. Bahnhofstrasse: It’s hard to overlook Zurich without mentioning the shopping that is available in Bahnhofstrasse. A century and a half ago this area of Zurich would have housed a large moat that protected the city; today it houses a world famous shopping mile, a 1.4 kilometre long avenue that is home to expensive department stores, trendy brand labels, fashionable boutiques and top-end jewellers. The closer to the lake you venture the more exclusive the shops become with the centrepiece and heart of Bahnhofstrasse being the Paradeplatz, surrounded by big banks and the Confiserie Sprungli.



Museums and Culture: Zurich, a small place with a big name, is one of the world’s greatest cultural capitals. Over 50 museums (most of them free) are located in the city and nearby, as well as more than a hundred galleries dotted about for visitors to enjoy. On top of your ‘must visit list’ is the Swiss National Museum. Built like a fairytale castle it houses some of Switzerland’s most important and largest collection of historically and culturally interesting objects. For Modern Art enthusiasts visit the Kunsthaus, which is home to a collection of Zurich’s own impressive art collection as well as Switzerland’s most significant art collections.


Luxury Hotel Cuisine: If you prefer the stylish ambience of grand hotels then Zurich can deliver gastronomic delights alongside buckets of ice-chilled champagne all day long. Choose some fine dining in the Dolder Grand Hotel with stunning views over the city, or dine in the heart of downtown at the Pavillion of the Baur au Lac Hotel close to the lake. Otherwise just wait to be served fresh oysters and lobster in the Hotel St. Gotthard. Alternatively enjoy a romantic meal in the Rotisserie inside the Storchen Hotel or splash out on the haute cuisine of the Mesa, or the creative cuisine served up at Didi’s Frieden.


Accommodation Options ➜

As of 1 January 2015, the Swiss Travel Pass will offer new validity dates of three, four, eight and 15 days. The Pass will continue to grant users unlimited travel on all public transportation and access to 480 museums across the country in more than 75 towns and cities. The Pass will now also be printable from home. The old Swiss Flexi Pass has been renamed the Swiss Travel Pass Flex, which is the best option for visitors seeking flexible travel dates. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex will offer unlimited travel on all public transport on any three, four, eight or 15 selected days within one month. For more information on the Swiss Travel Passes visit: ➜ and ➜


The author travelled to and was hosted in Switzerland courtesy of Switzerland Tourism ➜

Walking Old Town: This is an area where traditional crafts and newer trends come together, where handicrafts, antiques, book and flower shops sit side by side with trendy stores and expensive jewellery shops. Together with restaurants they add to all the picturesque alleyways, which are the outstanding feature of Old Town, a place you can walk, wander and people watch all day. Hiking, Biking and Tobogganing: Zurich lies on the shores of Lake Zurich and alongside the Lummat and Shil Rivers. It is also surrounded by mountains including the Uetliberg, from the top of which you can escape the bustle of downtown, a place where visitors gain panoramic views of the city, lakes and as far as the Alps. In summer the Uetliberg is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers, where in winter some of the same paths are transformed into exciting toboggan runs.

Lake Cruise and Riverside Promenades: For tourists a cruise on the lake is a must, as it is relatively inexpensive and for 90 minutes it offers a chance to relax and kick back as you observe the lovely lakeside villages and houses. To appreciate the city from another angle indulge in a river boat cruise, as they take you on a historic water-level view of the houses, churches and historic buildings that line the riverbanks of Zurich. Nature au Natural: Zurich is blessed with an abundant oasis of green space such as woods, parks as well as the famous Zurich Zoo. Besides the 4,000 animals, the zoo houses the Masoala Rain Forest, comparable to the jungle experience one might expect in Madagascar. Temperatures here range from 20 to 30 degrees all year round, with the humidity at a constant 80 percent. The city also boasts a Botanical Garden with around 9,000 different species of plants, of which many are in bloom at any time of year. Lastly, as we mentioned previously, don’t forget to take the train up to the top of Uetliberg for wonderful views and superb hiking opportunities in a pristine environment. Churches: It seems like there are churches dotted all over this city, so lets start with St Peters Church which boasts the largest clock tower in Europe – from most vantage points it rises towards the sky. Then there is Fraumunster Church, Prediger Church, Liebfrauen Church and the Wasser Church, which is not far from the double-towered Gross Munster.


Restaurants and Bars: Zurich now has many trendy districts that deliver restaurant and bar scenes to suit all tastes. Close to the Bahnhofstrasse there is the renowned Kaufleuten and the Iroquois is another popular meeting place in the Seefeld district. However, you don’t need to stray too far from the Niederdorf Strasse district of Old Town to appreciate all the restaurants and bars that fill every nook and cranny of the main thoughfare and the small side alleys that spread like tentacles in all directions. Pick a spot, pull up a chair and dine with the locals and watch the world pass you by – it’s one of the best experiences in Zurich.

Destination ➜ Sydney, Australia

Girls’ Weekend in Sydney


By Gayle Dickson



t’s just across the ditch, easily accessible and yes, Sydney offers up a range of great options for girls travelling solo or in a group. I checked into the QT Hotel in Market Street for my four day trip, the central location proving an absolute bonus to the funky décor and upbeat atmosphere. Spreading across the historic Gowings and State Theatre buildings, this boutique hotel offers a blend of Art Deco and Gothic as well as contemporary décor and architecture. It’s quirky, fitting into the existing infrastructure. The ground floor, for instance, is where you’ll find Parlour Lane Roasters, while the reception is one floor up. None of the 200 guest rooms are identical, yet all feature luxurious bedding, free wifi, large walk-in showers and other luxury touches. My room boasted a magnificent rough textured oval bath to soak in, while some have circular ones – all are oversized. The bathrobes are decadently thick.



If you prefer to dine in, Gowings Bar & Grill will satisfy your appetite needs in a European style brasserie with an industrial feel while the specially curated wine list is a veritable who’s-who of exciting wines from around the world. Heading out to eat or party is easy – you can walk to quite a few really good establishments, or take a taxi slightly further afield. Shared dining is huge in Sydney right now, and you’ll often see groups order shared platters rather than individual meals. While you can try to get a table at the likes of Otto, Marque or Quay, I discovered that there’s fun and delicious flavours to be had in the most unlikely of places. Take The Rook, for example – located at 56 York Street, don’t look for a flashy sign, neon lights or tables. You have to take the elevator to the floor marked R, standing for Roof. With no advertising or promotion, this place is popular thanks to the funky rooftop setting and menu, which includes lobster, in just about every form, and burgers. Just

down the road is another gem. The Cuban Place at 125 York Street offers live music and salsa dancing on certain nights, and a dining and cocktail menu with a distinctive Latin flair. No girly trip would be the same without a healthy dose of shopping, and Market Street places you smack in the centre of some of Sydney’s finest with Pitt Street, Queen Victoria Building, Westfield Sydney and the Strand Arcade within a stone’s throw.



You’ll find department stores like Myers and David Jones, high-end labels such as Prada, Versace, Gucci and Chanel, as well as jewellery, shoes and art all within a few blocks. Take a taxi or bus to Paddington for designer shopping and the Saturday market, head to Mosman for sophisticated shopping and antique shops, or venture to Surry Hills for a dash of wining and dining in gastro pubs and funky bars. For vintage fashion, head straight to Newton. There’s a ton of culture to be discovered in Sydney. The Art Gallery of NSW is currently running Pop to Popism exhibition featuring some 200 works from the likes of Warhol and Lichtenstein, but you’ll have to be quick to see this. Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art you can take in the Chuck Close exhibition, an insight to the art world that I never expected to experience yet thoroughly enjoyed! Their exhibitions are constantly changing so be sure to check out their websites. Right next door is the State Theatre where you can enjoy performances such as Michael Palin live on stage, the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, and acts such as Nana Mouskouri and Counting Crows. Talk a walk with your camera and enjoy the Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens. If you’re stuck for inspiration, I suggest you contact the husband and wife team at My Sydney Detour. Richard and Bérangère have acquired a classic EH Holden that has been beautifully restored to original condition, with mod cons such as air conditioning added. Their standard itineraries range from a 3-hour highlights of Sydney package to an 8-hour premium and are ideal for up to three passengers. Richard will collect you at your hotel and then show you a side to Sydney you’d never have imagined possible. I was booked to do a shopping

trip with him, but by the time my tour date arrived, I was shopped out. No worries – he literally changed tack and showed me Sydney from a local’s point of view, not breaking a sweat in the process. We spent the hours checking out suburbs where the “other half” live, discovering his favourite beaches (some public yet oh so private that only those who live nearby know of them!), enjoying a lunch in a Bondi that isn’t anything like the beachfront mayhem most of us know, and generally having a blast. All in all, having visited Sydney a number of times purely for business reasons, I discovered a side to this city that truly impressed. As a girly destination, I found it safe and easy to get around. I’m definitely going back for more – I just have to convince hubby to agree!

facts: Information: ➜ ➜ Art Gallery of NSW: ➜ Museum of Contemporary Art: ➜ My Sydney Detour: ➜ QT Hotel Sydney: ➜ State Theatre: ➜ The Rook: ➜ The Cuban Place: ➜

Destination ➜ Queenstown, New Zealand

property. Located on the sparkling shores of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu, the luxury hotel was presented the award at a glamourous black tie gala ceremony held in Kitzbühel, Austria, the home of the World Ski Awards.  Widely considered ‘the Oscars of the travel industry’, the World Ski Awards is the sister organisation of the World Travel Awards, currently celebrating its 21st anniversary and acknowledges exceptional success in the ski tourism industry. Eichardt’s Private Hotel owner, Andrew Cox, said the internationally-recognised award was an exceptional honour and reward for their commitment to excellence.      “We are truly honoured to be recognised by our industry peers, along with the public, as the best ski boutique hotel in the world. Eichardt’s is a special property with an obvious affinity with the ski community. We’re proud our dedication to providing top service to our discerning guests - both on and off piste - has been recognised.” Eichardt’s Private Hotel General Manager, James Cavanagh, adds, “We are humbled to have won New Zealand’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel for a second consecutive year. The team can all take a bow in delivering unprecedented levels of service across all facets of our suite, apartment, private residence, bar and parlour offerings.”  


“Queenstown is undoubtedly one of the top ski destinations in the world, and the team has done well to create an inimitable experience for this market, whether it be heli-skiing, guided night skis or a full package concierge service complete with gourmet picnic.” World Ski Awards Managing Director, Sion Rapson, launched the World Ski Awards in 2013 with the aim to drive up standards within the ski industry and reward the organisations that are leaders in their field. “Ski tourism creates a dynamic division in the global travel and tourism marketplace. The World Ski Awards was established in response to overwhelming demand from the ski industry for a programme that was fair and transparent.”

facts: Eichardt’s is located at 2 Marine Parade, in the centre of the township and 8km from Queenstown airport. Airlines including Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar fly direct to Queenstown from major ports in Australia and New Zealand. Eichardt’s accommodation starts from NZ$1,250 per night for one-bedroom apartments and NZ$1,700 for Hotel suites. P: + 64 3 441 0450 E: ➜


ichardt’s Private Hotel continues its gold rush, taking out the distinguished title of New Zealand’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel at the annual World Ski Awards, the third gong in as many months for the



Eichardt’s Private Hotel

Destination ➜ Austria

Learning to see…again


By Natalie Tambolash



’m a driver. Give me any car at any time of day and I will happily drive anywhere for as long as you want. From a one minute trip down to the local dairy, to hours across the countryside of Croatia. I drive. That’s how I travel, that’s how I’ve seen Europe. Through the windows of a car, watching the world pass by, often at speed, with either a glazed look in my eye or a “What was that?” bemused expression. I am sure many have “seen” the world this way too. Be it a car, train or bus, the goal is to reach the end destination and brag about how much we had seen in the shortest space of time. But do we actually “see” it? This time round I chose to cycle and took my mum as my cycle companion. Two drivers that last cycled back in school days, far too many years ago to recall. One that has arthritic knees and is terrified of cars and people being on the road

and one that has done spin classes led by a NZ Triathlete, but has otherwise limited cycle experience. The chosen journey was the Blue Danube Cycle, an 8 day self-guided cycle from Passau in Germany, to the beautiful city of Vienna. Five solid days of riding with a total distance of around 300kms! The appeal was the thought of cycling along the Danube. I was captivated by the romance of the Danube. I think of swans, waltzes, music, and of course blue when I think of Europe’s 2nd longest river. Along the way, I discovered the Danube is not always blue, and there is so much more that meets the eye. The journey begins in the historic city of Passau. A beautiful city that sits on the edge of the Danube, Inn and Ilz Rivers, where the historic old town is overlooked by the vast fort up on the hill offering sweeping views across the city. It is well worth the short walk…up a steep hill. Passau



is a Bishops town, and this is reflected in the amount of church history and museums, but it offers so much more, such as the absolutely amazing little Italian restaurant, Bilancia D’Oro, which sets up outside tables by the main fountain in the town square and offers the most amazingly fresh salmon with vegetable salad and salsa verde. Fresh… flavourful…and authentic. A hidden little gem. Bikes are collected from the bike depot in Passau, which for non-cyclists is a little daunting as your first ride is on main roads. You are soon through the old city and onto the banks of the Danube for the first section of the cycle though. The legs at this point are a little wobbly, the bike has a bit of a zig-zag, the heart is racing, the eyes are focused yet you can’t help but already be captivated by the river. Large, powerful, beautiful – you breathe out and relax. Over the next five days, we follow this vast and majestic

river. Most of the journey is on flat, paved paths which we are very grateful for. The journey over the bridges and into the small, picturesque villages, sometimes involves a bit of grunting, sweat, leg power or simply getting off your bike and giving it a bit of a push. We are not professionals after all…and we have the time. Apart from a given end point each day, being self-guided and not knowing what each day will bring is exciting. It’s a sense of freedom. The days on the ride that were colder were enjoyed by more frequent stops for hot chocolates and coffees in cafés and local bars along the path, or stops at the local bakeries to enjoy strudel or other such delicious pastries. The days that were stunning and warm were enjoyed on the riverbank watching other cyclists, admiring the flowers in the local farms and gardens and just enjoying life in that moment.



How fast or how slow you go is in your hands. As you cycle, you are greeted by other riders enjoying their rides, deer bounding past you across the path and into the forest, white swans on the banks of the Danube, gracefully floating past unfazed as you stop to take a photo. Old gothic churches with the most interesting cemeteries, fresh flowers growing wild in fields, vineyards or farms with vines and crops ready to start another year and ruins of what once were castles up on the hills.

Surrounding us each day of our journey was a rich history of kings and their dynasty. The Habsburgs owned this land and we certainly ate like kings. Produce around Austria is fresh, flavourful and hearty. Yes, there are the traditional yeast breads, dumplings, potatoes and schnitzel meals to be seen but if you truly want an experience, order the fresh wild garlic soup or the traditional goulash. As you ride through the Wachau Valley, taste the local wines, the sweet yet potent fruit liquors and of course, chocolate and


chocolate coated fruits of which the apricots are simply delicious. A stop at the famous Domane Wachau allows you to pick up your complimentary bottle of Wachau Valley wine to savour and take home, or open up at the end of a long cycle day. The Danube is filled with history. The stunning city of Linz with its music and art as well as being a shopping mecca with the Linzer Landstrasse being one of the most-frequented shopping streets in Austria, (attractions in Linz are not open on Monday…so bare that in mind). Melk is home of the famous Benedictine Monastery. Durnstein is the heart of the Wachau and a wonderful little town for exploring and sampling the produce. Krems – well, I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity of trying a poppyseed icecream. Divine!!!! The end of the course, on this cycle, is in the magnificent city of Vienna filled with so many palaces, museums, concerts, crypts and markets. In hindsight, an extra day in Passau, Linz and 2-4 days extra in Vienna would have been ideal. Cycling to travel is ‘seeing’. You view things that previously flashed past you. You become aware of your surroundings and open your eyes to the smallest of details. You learn that it’s actually ok to not follow a schedule but rather your own beat. To take time out. To stop and sip a coffee. To go through that barricade warning you to stop as opposed to riding on the congested road. You learn to embrace nature and what it throws at you. To communicate with people without technology, even though you are not speaking the same language. That it’s ok to get lost along the way and ask for directions. And yes, you learn to put your foot down following the cycle path signs even though your cycle partner disagrees. I will always love to drive….but I love that I have found a new way to see.

Luxury Flying


By Gayle Dickson



ong haul travel is the bane of a travel writer’s existence. For the most part, we simply endure the endless sitting around airports on crummy chairs, eating grotty food, and fidgeting uncomfortably in squashed economy seating that leaves a permanent dent on the backside…and then you get an upgrade! On a recent trip to Oman, I did just that, scoring an upgrade from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways. Forget the duty free shopping at Sydney – the Business Lounge had me enthralled, from the courteous service to the cuisine and drinks on offer. I didn’t budge until my

flight was called – and even that was a novelty. No queuing with the masses – you were ushered onto the plane after everyone else was seated so that you weren’t jostled or ogled at as you sipped your champers. The seat? Aah…bliss. There was plenty of storage nearby which alleviated the need to constantly jump up and venture into the overhead lockers. I loved the onboard mood lighting and the fully flat beds, complete with good-sized pillows and a luxurious comforter. In the First Suites, you can personalise the mood lighting. Noise cancelling headsets are a bonus and feature across all cabins. There’s around 750 hours



of on-demand entertainment and news updates, as well as various connection ports if you need to remain connected. Food & Beverage managers recruited from the world’s finest restaurants impeccably presented the delicious cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs. Not sure which boutique wine to have with that succulent lobster? They’ll know! I loved that I could order a soothing hot chocolate before bedtime and then a kick-start coffee when I awoke. I also loved that dining was on-demand rather than at set times, and that there was a choice of menu items for all the courses as well as lighter snacks. Families are well catered for onboard with the Flying

Nanny service. They’ll help you get the kids settled in for bed, keep them entertained and allow you to enjoy a meal in relative peace. The inflight entertainment system also provides hours of kid-specific games, movies and television shows, while teenagers have access to music and films. Baby food and fun children’s meals can be requested Once you’ve experienced the Business Class check in and inflight service of Etihad Airways, you’ll never look back, and you’ll certainly never want to fly economy again! I dread to think how pampered I’d feel if I was ever fortunate enough to experience their First or, heaven forbid, have time onboard in The Residence! ➜

Destination ➜ Malaysia

Something Majestic


Words and images by Rod Eime





“I enjoyed walking around appreciating the small details of the building, its style and architecture,” he said, “we wanted to maintain the look and feel of the place, at the same time, give it a new life.” The hybrid neo-classical/art deco Majestic has been through several incarnations in its 80 years, not all of them happy. In its heyday, during the 1930s, the hotel catered to European guests and local well-to-do with traditions like the ‘Tea Dance’ and ‘Dinner Dance’. Even the rooftop garden had a dance floor with seating for 350 guests. Modern inclusions such as hot and cold water, showers and full sanitation were firsts for the fledgling Malayan hospitality industry. But like so much of SE Asia, World War II changed everything. The grand hotels like Hong Kong’s Peninsula and Singapore’s Raffles were all commandeered by the Japanese conquerors as military headquarters. So too The Majestic and it housed the Imperial Army until war’s end. Room 48 is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Japanese officer who committed ritual suicide upon learning of Japan’s surrender.

dare not move. My head rests reassuringly against the leather restraint while, out of the corner of my eye, I can see the blade being sharpened to a samurai keenness. Then, with a deftness reserved for practiced executioners, the lethal instrument is applied to my throat and drawn upward in a slick motion that removes only the offending follicles. But Aras, my expert swordsman, is no Sweeney Todd. There’s no blood…no serenades to homicide. This is an entirely urbane experience and I’m revelling in it. “I learned my craft in Iran,” confides Aras with textbookperfect English, “then I worked in London before coming out to Asia - and here I am.” The Truefitt & Hill salon under the spa in the newly restored and re-opened Majestic Hotel is just a part of the total renaissance experience offered at this delightfully retro hotel. Butlers, barbers, barmen and chauffeurs make up the complement of staff at your beck-and-call when staying in one of the 47 classic colonial-style suites in the ‘Majestic Wing’. But the reborn hotel is not just about nostalgia and pre-war throwbacks to empire. It’s a clever mix of old and new, with 300 modern rooms in a totally new-build section, The Tower Wing, which looms above the august whitewashed walls of the original structure that first opened its doors on the 15th of August 1932. Supervising the renovation of the old building was a labour of love for architect Zaidan Tahir, a graduate of Texas Tech University, who was tasked by YTL Hotels to bring it back to its former glory. Tahir has worked with YTL on other restoration projects in the Cameron Highlands and Malacca. Coincidently, Tahir had fond memories of this iconic landmark from his college days when it housed the National Art Gallery.



In 1945, The Majestic resumed duties as a lavish hotel, but struggled to reclaim its place as KL’s pinnacle of style and grandeur. But perhaps it was the fact that the rooftop bar was used by the founders of UMNO to plan their independence from Great Britain that assisted its preservation. By 1957, when the newly independent Malaysia came into being, The Majestic was past its prime and falling into disrepair. In 1977, it was almost lost for all time when a 22-storey high rise was planned for the site but, to their eternal credit, the government stepped in and acquired the building in 1983, fixing it with a preservation order. But by New Year 1983, the last melancholy guests were checking out and The Majestic became the National Art Gallery until 1998. For the next ten years, YTL Hotels negotiated with the government and eventually received approval to redevelop it under strict observance to heritage conditions. A new art gallery was built and The Majestic began its return to glory, reopening in December 2012. A justifiably proud Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping, MD of the YTL corporation, said at the reopening “It is a great honour to have been given the responsibility of restoring this national heritage to its former glory. We have painstakingly revived the exquisite neoclassical features in the Majestic Wing, the pièce de résistance of the hotel. Our efforts have since earned the new Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur a coveted listing in The Leading Hotels of the World, the only hotel in Malaysia to have such an illustrious distinction and putting it in the company of hotels such as The Ritz in London and Le Bristol in Paris.” Today the Majestic Wing is a marvellous tribute to the decadent ‘30s lifestyle and the jazz era. A talented jazz band entertains in the lobby, their swinging tunes entertaining guests all the way from the Tea Lounge, past the bar and into the Colonial Café, where sumptuous high teas are served.

Near the original, hilltop entrance is the Majestic Spa, beneath which Aras and his gentleman’s sanctuary reside. In The Bar, you’ll find Johnny, a true barman’s barman. He knows every cocktail ever devised and can match you to one of his titillating concoctions in a blink. Mine is a whiskey sour, “classic and reliable”, Johnny tells me and I’m not about to correct him. Gentlemen may partake in cigars while playing billiards and sipping fine single malts. The only concession to contemporary values being they may now do so in the company of ladies. Before I turn in for the night, I put my shoes out for a polish, hang a shirt to be pressed and send my breakfast order down to Lynn, the impeccably stylish assistant manager, who supervises all aspects of the Majestic Wing. I could have my butler run a bath or turn my quilt should I desire it, but I’m content with a wake-up call and English breakfast in my adjoining parlour before tackling the rigours of KL’s retail domain. And that reminds me…I’ll need a chauffeur for that.


Reservations for The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur can be made on the site at or P: + 603 2785 8000 The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. See

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Destination ➜ Samoa


By Gayle Dickson



f you’re after total relaxation and a getaway from it all kind of holiday, Samoa may be your mana from heaven. A few short hours after leaving the hustle and bustle of Auckland, you’ll find yourself unwinding far quicker than you’d ever imagined possible. Let’s set a few things straight first. While you can have your drinks served poolside, and while there are incredibly romantic resorts that have perfected the art of service, this isn’t Vegas or Dubai. Life is simple in Samoa, and that’s exactly what makes it so utterly perfect. You won’t be whisked to your hotel in a limo – in fact, you won’t be whisked anywhere, as things happen at a much slower pace in Samoa. Yes, your fruity cocktail may take a little longer to arrive, but that’s because it’s being

hand mixed from freshly sourced ingredients. No, there are no nightclubs or casinos, and there’s definitely no high end shopping. What you will discover from the moment those aircraft doors open, and you descend onto the tarmac in an envelope of tropical warmth, is an all-pervasive calm. While things happen, they happen on “island time”, a phrase you’ll come to love and no doubt yearn for once you leave these shores for everyday life as you know it. The island of Upolu offers a range of accommodation, from decadent resorts that wrap you in air conditioned luxury to Robinson Crusoe type getaways in beachside huts called fales (fah-lays) where tropical breezes fan your skin.


When it comes to exploring, you can either hire a car or use the resort shuttles. We recommend the car, as it allows you total freedom to linger longer at majestic spots such as Togigogiga Waterfall where colourful gardens lead you along a path to cascading waterfalls and a magical swimming spot. You can spend quite a few hours at To Sua Ocean Trench near the village of Lotofoga, where ocean water flows into a cave-like basin. Swim in the big hole itself, picnic on the lawns and take in the views from a cliff top location. Do drive slowly – there aren’t many cars in Samoa and, especially near villages, you’ll find more people, dogs and pigs than you will wheeled transportation. The interior of Upolu is more rugged than the coastline, with dense vegetation. There are numerous hikes and trails that generally lead to a waterfall at some point. The cuisine relies mostly on what can be grown on the islands or fished from the oceans. Seafood features heavily and is exquisitely fresh, as is the freshest of fruits and vegetables. Awaken early enough at your resort, and you’re likely to witness locals pulling themselves up the tall palm trees to reach the coconuts that will later feature on your drink or lunch menu. Make sure you try the taro chips that are often served in place of french fries! The ocean obviously plays a big role in life on Upolu and there’s every opportunity to indulge yourself. The snorkelling and diving are world-class, the game fishing is exciting, and watersports like paddle boarding, kayaking and surfing abound. Churches can be found in every village and it’s a must-do to experience a Sunday service. You’ll be welcomed with open arms while heavenly voices carry across the tropical air as these humble people give thanks for a life that’s more blessed than we urbanites care to admit.


facts: Information: Samoa Tourism Authority,



There are a number of airlines flying into Samoa - Gayle flew with Virgin Samoa in their Premium Economy seats, ➜

Villages dot the landscape and, so long as you ask permission, the villagers don’t mind you wandering through. You may even find yourself invited to share an ava, a local concoction brewed from the root of the kava plant. When packing your bags for your Samoan holiday be sure to include good walking shoes, sunscreen and at least a couple of books. If you have to take the cellphone or laptop, don’t be surprised if you don’t use them – and, if you do, be prepared for fairly high data charges. It’s best to leave them turned off, remove your wristwatch and just enjoy the peace and solitude. Once bitten by the island time bug, you’ll wonder how you’ll ever go back to the rat race or, indeed, if you actually want to. Samoa truly is a place to escape it all!

Destination ➜ Indonesia

Australian mixologist, Mark Ward, of Hugo’s and the creator of Regal Rogue Vermouth will concoct his signature cocktails blended with unique local ingredients. Indonesia has long been positioned as the ‘spa and wellness capital of Asia’ and, in direct keeping with that stance, BASK Resort Gili Meno’s facilities will also offer a state of the art spa and wellness centre combining the very best of treatments and services including massage and local therapies.  For those interested in more active pursuits, the resort can provide its guests with access to a variety of activities ranging from diving, golf, surfing and snorkelling to kayaking, paddle boarding and hiking to name but a few.  Key to the environmental angle and adhering strongly to their dedication to sustainable living, the new resort will feature a recycling program, no-plastic policy, a water treatment plant and composting system.  BASK Resort Gili Meno also aims to minimise its ecological footprint through the establishment of a carbon neutral program, helping to preserve the beauty that Gili Meno provides.  The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air - lying off the northwest coast of Lombok.  Easily accessible by international airports on Bali and Lombok, fast-boat ferries and private speed boat charters, the islands have seen a steady increase in tourists seeking adventure and looking for an idyllic alternative to neighbouring, over-developed, and very heavily-trafficked Bali.  Local authorities and land owners have endeavoured to preserve the region’s natural splendour through conservation efforts including the Gili Eco Trust as well as keeping the island free from motorised vehicles.  The self-proclaimed ‘turtle capital of the world’, the Gili Islands are renowned for their rich marine life with the region’s diving heralded as a must-do experience. ➜



eralding a new era for Indonesian tourism and taking the destination’s eco-luxury resort offering to levels previously unseen, BASK Resort Gili Meno is a new beach club and villa-resort concept set to open on the island of Gili Meno in early 2016.  The first eco-resort property of its type in the region, BASK Resort Gili Meno is being developed by a strong team of Australian industry-leading creators led by entrepreneur Greg Meyer.  Mr. Meyer has been joined in the enterprise by award winning creative director, George Gorrow, and architect, Gary Fell, whose combined highly visual and very creative handiwork is playing a major role in the interior and exterior design of the resort.  Located on Gili Meno Island, off the coast of Lombok, BASK Resort Gili Meno will feature 81 individual villas totalling 98 rooms in studio, loft, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suite layouts.  Local thatched roof, bamboo-framed fishing villas serve as inspiration for the resort’s architectural design while flat garden roofs, textured concrete and sleek wooden finishes combine to form an aesthetic that is both contemporary and authentic.   Situated on 300 metres of private, white-sand beach on Gili Meno’s west-facing shore, the resort blueprint also features a wide range of facilities.  These include a beach club offering a panoramic beachfront and lakeside views from its infinity pool deck while the indoor cocktail lounge and beach bar will serve locally sourced organic food and beverages including a raw beer designed to tempt even the most health-conscious drinker.  Adding even more Australian flavour to the overall concept, the restaurant’s menu of Indonesian-influenced Asian and Western cuisine will be designed by Chef Dan Moran of Sydney’s iconic Rockpool Bar and Grill while


BASK Resort Gili Meno

Destination ➜ Bangkok, Thailand

Anantara Bangkok Riverside


By Pam Corkery



he outside of the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort is kind of deceptive. It’s flash enough but no more so than any hotel that’s part of an upmarket chain. But this property is like the Tardis in Dr Who. It’s way larger and more impressive on the inside. As the charming concierge tells me, Anantara means “without end”. Given my sense of direction that was fairly well how my days there would roll. The resort is spread over eleven acres of lush grounds edging the banks of the Chao Phraya River. More than four-hundred rooms, a hundred of them suites; a world festival of restaurants, a totally indulgent spa, an ubergenerous outdoor pool and jacuzzi, terraces and beautifully tended foliage.

I regularly got lost going from my room to breakfast beside the river at the sumptuous Market restaurant, but my direction-challenged journeys became part of the fun, and added a piquancy to my appetite. I’m not a fan of western-influenced hotels. They make me claustrophobic with their layout based on maxi-prisons. Corridor after corridor with luxury cells to the right and left. Not here. There was always an open space to one side; a tropical shrubbery, an art installation of a huge fish, or a massive Zen garden - my favourite. And I got to make lots of holiday friends with staff who recognised the bewildered Kiwi woman covering old ground and quietly cursing. They were always willing to play the game of turning every interaction into an opportunity for joy



and laughter, as we did extravagant charades of the words “river” and “hunger” plus the rotating finger to the brain region – the international signal for crazy. It is truly astonishing that this laid back retreat is smack in the centre of one the world’s paciest cities, a location that nicely covered my desired Bangkok food groups: serenity and pampering, thrills and shopping. I had committed to shopping. Don’t mock me, it’s Bangkok and the end of my Thailand holiday. There were t-shirt knock-offs to buy for family, a fake Rolex that still does its job of telling the time accurately, extra luggage, of course, and some ill-advised fashion purchases. The excitement and retail components are less than half an hour away from the Anantara Riverside, twenty minutes

of which was sightseeing from the complimentary ferry that crossed the Chao Phraya River every 30-minutes, then the smooth operation of the Skytrain. While there is Siam Square and the Central World Plaza, I prefer the style, as well as the price, of the legendary MBK. There’s none of the too-cool-for-school sneering that emanates like steam from the staff at the likes of Gucci, Prada and Tiffanys. At the half-market, half-mall MBK everyone knows what the game is, and a straightforward battle brings satisfaction. Even if you don’t always win. Compared with shopping at Beijing’s Silk and Pearl markets, Bangkok traders are like personal shoppers. There’s no abuse or physical contact. Bonus.



It’s exhausting though, even for the truly driven on a time trial. There would always come a time when the shopping wall was hit. A short hobble and I was back at the Skytrain. Sometimes, I would jump on a Tuk Tuk so I could have an unhealthy ciggie, I know, while dodging traffic and praying. You know you’re alive when that trip ends. Back at the Anantara, knowing front of house staff recognised my face as the model for the famous painting The Scream, and would sort me a foot massage. Relieved of bags, a hostess would take me down a winding path through a mini-forest to the home of all goodness, the Spa. A cup of spicy tea, my feet bathed, massaged and reconnected with the rest of my body, and I would be calm and feeding fish in a pond nearby. Bread was left for that purpose and the fish knew it. God knows what breed they were but the water would frenzy up like a school of piranha in a movie. Then on to my dinner. Life was tough. My final indicator of good service came with the urgent and firm belief that I couldn’t return home to my bloke without a hair-cut and colour. This is high wire stuff. My hair is curly, without the added degree of difficulty of a new hair colour. Even the front of house super-management team fretted. A slew of women from back of office came to help. They all had dead straight hair which matched their deadly serious faces, listening to my plan. A few even tried to talk me out of such a perilous act on the eve of my return home. Dammit, I was doing it. With my note and using hand-signals and braille my hairdresser, a self-described lady-boy, and I crossed our fingers and worked as a team. No English but lots of laughs. It was done. I wasn’t sure of the result. I never am. I wanted assurance. I would skype home. I tried to sneak through the foyer on my return but some secret sign must have happened. My hair-advisor women, and the concierge, were all over me, examining the cut and colour. There was applause. ➜

SAMOA, COME ON OVER. Discover the ‘beach fales’ which are idyllic beach huts often nestled right on the sands of the lagoon. A bit like camping, but leave your tent at home. These can cost as little as NZ$80 per couple, per day inclusive of breakfast and dinner. What are you waiting for New Zealand there’s no time like the present to plan your next vacation. A Samoan holiday, what a present that would be... HOLIDAY THE SAMOAN WAY.

Destination ➜ Tahiti


A Unique View of the Islands of Tahiti



n French, and thus in the Islands of Tahiti, the word ‘pension’ can mean a guesthouse but the following definition also applies: ‘a reasonably priced, comfortable bungalow for rent, usually run by a family, containing a bathroom and often a small kitchen, along with sleeping accommodation for 2-3 people’. If the place is advertised as, ‘pension complet’ it is one which provides bed and all meals; if it is a ‘demi-pension’, this means it includes bed, breakfast and lunch or dinner. Throughout the Islands of Tahiti the sign ‘pension’ is ubiquitous. For example on Tahiti’s near-neighbour, the lovely island of Moorea, there are more than 20 pensions; on the Tuamotuan island of Rangiroa, which has a population of only 3,000 there are 19. Why is this type of visitor accommodation so popular? Pensions offer visitors a very different holiday experience to that of a resort hotel. Pension accommodation is not only much more reasonably priced than a large hotel, it also

Nuku Hiva


provides a great opportunity for visitors to meet the local families who run the establishment. In a Tahitian pension guests dine communally, enjoying the cuisine prepared by the host family and at the same time getting to know them. There is none of the formality and exclusiveness which can be experienced in a large hotel. Tahiti and her 118 islands consist of five archipelagos, scattered over four million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, an area equal to the size of Europe. The five archipelagos are: the Society Islands, which include Tahiti, the Tuamotu Islands, The Gambier Group, the Austral Islands and the Marquesas Islands. These islands represent virtually all geographical types, from the classic ‘high’ islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea to the seventy-six atolls of the Tuamotu group, to the raised coral atolls of the Australs and the gigantic plateaux and ravines of the Marquesas Islands. All these islands are volcanic in origin and all enjoy the constant high temperatures of the tropics. Although they are widely dispersed – the Marquesas, for example, are 1,400km from Tahiti – most of the inhabited islands are connected by a modern, efficient domestic air service, bringing them within easy reach of the main island. Even the far-flung Marquesas are only four hours’ flying time from Tahiti…and throughout all these many beautiful islands, pension accommodation is widely available.


its charm even stronger. From Taipivai valley to Hatiheu Bay, from Anaho to Hakaui waterfall (the second highest waterfall in the world), the traveller is invited to admire cultural and natural wonders. The Marquesans are said to be among the finest craftsmen throughout French Polynesia: large and fine carvings, beautiful tattoos, surprising pieces of jewellery: all witness to the renewed cultural talent of these people


If God had a “big house” symbolising the Marquesas Islands, the largest of them, Nuku Hiva, would represent the top of the framework. The vertiginous volcanic peaks and amazing slopes blend with the blue of the Pacific Ocean. A special universe opens its doors. The starting point of your adventure is Taiohae, the archipelago’s regional capital, opening at the end of a large bay holding the same name. Outstanding landscape, an incredible archaeological history, great stories and a rich culture are all to be discovered alongside a friendly population. 3 good reasons to stay in Nuku Hiva A show of culture and Nature Framed by looming cliffs, the coasts are a mix of black sand beaches and paradise like bays. Among the lush rainforest, where thousands of pre-European remnants lie, one will discover wild horses, goats and boars. Nature is raw and

Following Melville’s track in Taipivai Valley This is the story of a sailor who was attempting to flee a boat, a boat he detested. He secretly disembarked on a hard, impenetrable island. He wandered around alone but was soon welcomed by the Taipi clan. However, he was afraid they were cannibals. Not only did they treat him well (nor eat him!) but they also allowed him, as the first European ever, to discover their unknown and untouched community. The year was 1842. The man was Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick). Nowadays, following his footsteps is a mystical pilgrimage as the valley hosts hundreds of remnants (tiki, petroglyphs) in a timeless atmosphere. Incredible dives Although Nuku Hiva is not thought to be a great scuba diving destination, it is in fact very thrilling! In the open ocean, encounter an abundance of manta rays, eagle rays, sharks of various species and sizes, jackfish, tuna, dolphins and swordfish. A pod of several hundred melon-head dolphins live close to the coast and can be frequently encountered.

Hiva Oa According to legend, Hiva Oa is the main beam of God’s “big house”. Nowadays, it is commonly named the “Garden of the Marquesas” thanks to its fertile and lush land. The island features endless untouched nature: green, invading and bright. Roads and houses are hardly seen. The island’s rugged landscapes blend sharp ridges. Peaks and valleys scattered with archeological sites and ruins, boast home to the largest tiki statues of French Polynesia. Hiva Oa is lined with black sand beaches and sharp cliffs diving into the Pacific Ocean.

Tiki Island Hiva Oa is worth visiting for its various archaeological sites such as Meae in Puamau, hosting the largest tiki statue of the Islands of Tahiti. Takaii (2.43m) is a one-of-a-kind smiling statue, hidden in lush vegetation. Petroglyphs, such as the female travel Chief’s polished stone mirror, are in the surrounding area. In Taaoa lies a huge cult area featuring lithic structures and tiki statues nicely blending within the untouched and primitive nature around them: giant banyan trees, breadfruit trees, coconut and papaya trees. Endless hiking and riding opportunities Whether it is hiking, horseback riding or on a 4WD ride, explore the pristine and breathtaking landscapes of Hiva Oa featuring waterfalls, peaks, fording and crossing rivers… 320km2 of amazing enjoyment for nature lovers.


3 good reasons to choose Hiva Oa Gauguin and Brel’s memories In 1901, Paul Gauguin and later in 1975, Jacques Brel, both came to Hiva Oa in a quest of what could be referred to as personal inner peace. Nobody knows if they ever found it but every morning, as the sun rises, the light over the island is breathtakingly pure, so pure that one feels part of eternity. This is an unspeakable feeling that every traveller will experience. Walking these same artistic footsteps involves visiting their graves at the Calvaire cemetery where they both rest facing Taaoa’s bay under the sweet fragrance of frangipani trees. Then visit the replica of Gauguin’s “Maison du Jouir” and the small museum dedicated to the painter and his house. While he lived in the Marquesas, he painted some of his most famous artwork, sourcing inspiration through the islands’ every day life but also legends and old religious traditions representing imaginary scences


The island’s main village, Atuona, is nestled at the end of Taaoa bay and is overlooked by the highest mountains (Mount Temetiu – 1,276m and Mount Feani – 1,026m). This is also the place where two famous artists chose to live their lives: the French painter Paul Gauguin and the French poet, singer and actor Jacques Brel.

Destination ➜ Antarctica


See Ice at Altitude Images and story by Rod Eime


here’s history and grandeur aplenty way above Antarctica. Roderick Eime, takes to the wing for a rare perspective of the southernmost continent. “The panorama was magnificent – the jagged mountains of black and green rock and glittering snow slopes of Trinity (peninsula) towering besides, above us the clear sky, below us blue-black water and icebergs – everything frozen and still, black and blue-black and black-green and glittering white”…Captain Sir George Hubert Wilkins (1888 – 1958) Rod Eime ©




These words could have been uttered by any modern airborne explorer of the Antarctic, flying low over the frozen wilderness of the great southern land. For decades now, explorers and scientists have been flying to Antarctica on resupply missions, remote field studies and even aerial mapping. Any reader could be forgiven for thinking these observations came from one of these recent flights aboard a turboprop C-130 Hercules or 747, but no. In 1928, an almost forgotten Adelaide-born explorer and aviator, Sir Hubert Wilkins, made these remarks as he and pilot Ben Eielson created history. They were the first to successfully deploy an aircraft in Antarctica, narrowly pipping the glory-seeking US Admiral Richard Byrd, and made numerous important discoveries including determining that Graham Land (the Antarctic Peninsula) was not an island, but attached to the vast southern continent. Sure, visitors to Deception Island off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula can visit the site of Wilkins’s runway where these historymaking flights took place and try to imagine the raw conditions under which then state-of-the-art explorations were taking place. Today, modern adventure seekers can now get aboard a specially chartered Qantas 747 and gaze longingly down on these same icy wastes laid out before them. Millionaire publisher, Randolph Hearst, paid Wilkins $25,000 for the story – more than $330,000 in today’s money. For as little as AU$1,200, you can experience something similar, flying aboard a giant Boeing 747 chartered especially for the purpose by Melbourne travel entrepreneur, Phil Asker. You’ll enjoy many luxuries only dreamed of by pioneering aviators like pressurised cabins, meal service, flushing toilets and a myriad safety and state-of-the-art navigational aids.



Phil and the Captain’s Choice team operate a specially formed business unit for these trips called, predictably enough, Antarctica Flights. Since 1994, and beginning with just one experimental charter, the concept has taken off like wildfire with five departures now offered, one each from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. The Sydney New Year’s Eve departure, complete with jazz band, is certainly the pick of the pack. Melbourne has the privilege this year. In the early days of aerial exploration, these risky expeditions were fraught with all manner of dangers. Now, with modern satellite navigation, radar and jet-powered aircraft, the most dangerous thing you will do is take a taxi to the airport. Despite several well-publicised events, air travel is still among the safest forms of transport anywhere – significantly less hazardous than crossing the road or riding a bicycle. Our journey began, not in some windswept hut on a foreboding, snow encrusted shore, but in the Qantas Club lounge toasting our imminent adventure over the frozen continent, the planet’s coldest and driest landscape bar none. The 12-hour, 10,000km return journey spends a generous three to four hours over the Ross Sea region, an area seldom visited by tourists of any sort, air or seaborne. The first glimpses of this frozen land are heralded by increasingly dense formations of ice. Starting with solitary icebergs slowly migrating north toward oblivion, these are followed by motley fleets of floating ice. Some ‘vessels’ just large enough to transport a few penguins while others deserve their own postcode. Our first much anticipated sighting of land consists of a few scattered peaks of raw and hostile rock jutting through a dense low cloud cover indicating the Admiralty, Transantarctic and Queen Maud Mountains which form a high barrier to the west of the giant Ross Ice Shelf. As we fly further inland toward the South Pole, the cloud cover slowly abates revealing massive glaciers extruding out from between the mountains toward the sea. Somewhere

beneath us is Cape Adare, the famous landing and jumping off point for so many Antarctic missions of the early 20th Century. This is the domain of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and we try – hopelessly – to imagine what it must have been like to haul sledges and packs over the murderous crevasses and treacherous icefields as these men fought the elements and their own wills in the quest for the South Pole. We sit transfixed at our windows watching the rolling panorama beneath us. Some ogle the massive and unimaginable geological formations, others ponder the travails of these early explorers, while the rest dream and conjure shapes within the patterns of sea ice, like gigantic frosted water lilies on a pond that stretches to forever. A sea that many, including the multinational Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, believe should become a protected reserve. Others, including New Zealand, want to expand commercial fishing into the region. Why? Because the huge, 500 million sq. km. Ross Sea basin contains one of the last relatively undisturbed, unpolluted and unexploited oceanic regions. Valuable toothfish populations and 95 other profitable species may extend under the vast permanent sheet hundreds of metres thick. At least 10 mammal species, half a dozen species of birds and over 1,000 invertebrate species also exist in the immediate area. In 2007, a monster 500kg squid was captured in the Ross Sea. Makes you wonder what else lurks in those mysterious depths. In a fitting departure, we overfly several of the bases that dot the shore including the expansive McMurdo US base and its attendant airfield, scraped out on the ice with at least three C-130 Hercules and other aircraft ready for action. NZ’s Scott Base is nearby and rather insignificant by comparison. A telling reminder that, despite the isolation, man’s hand is poised to make another critical decision about the future of this highly sensitive and most beautiful part of our planet. ➜

ANTARCTICA BY AIR The Highest New Year’s Celebration in the World!

It’s one minute to midnight on the last day of the year over the world’s last great wilderness. Although it’s the dead of night, the light dazzles bright as a star. You savour this moment to yourself, knowing you’re among the first people in the world to welcome the New Year.

Starting from AUD $1,199 per person in Economy Class Centre.

Join us from Melbourne New Years Eve 31 Dec 2015

Register your interest for our upcoming 2016 season.

Antarctica… it’s closer than you think.

Freecall 0800 000 766

Destination ➜ San Francisco, U.S.A

In the heart of San Francisco


By Nigel Pilkington



nion Square is said to be the Heart of San Francisco and not just in a geographical sense. Tucked in the North West corner is a heart shaped sculpture dedicated by “crooner” Tony Bennett to his famous song “I left my heart in San Francisco” and it forms part of the annual public art installation started in 2004 by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation for the purpose of fundraising. Less than a heartbeat away from Union Square is the Handlery Union Square Hotel. A beautiful 4-star property, the Handlery is a favourite with Australians and New Zealanders visiting the city for business or leisure. A 4th generation family owned hotel, they pride themselves on ensuring their guests have a great experience by offering comfortable rooms and suites, a warm atmosphere and personal service.

Jon Handlery (the current GM/owner) is a frequent visitor to Australia and New Zealand so knows how Aussies and Kiwis think and what they are looking for in a hotel stay. And it’s not just the longevity of the owners – talk with the front office staff and you’ll discover that many have been with the hotel for over 20 years – in my mind a testament to solid management and the “family” feel to the place. In terms of what you can expect, the hotel offers two distinct areas of accommodation, the Historic Section and the Premier Section. The charming Historic Section rooms feature the original Victorian construction while the premium rooms boast city or courtyard pool views, many with balconies and include everything featured in the Historic Section. Some of the comments, on websites such as Trip Advisor, talk about noisy rooms in the historic section. We stayed in a beautiful front corner historic room overlooking



the street with views down to Union Square. Our first night was not only Halloween but also the day San Francisco celebrated their beloved Giants baseball team winning the World Series. Nearly 1 million people packed the city to watch the parade and carry on the celebrations well into the night. So when I say there was a little noise that certainly didn’t disrupt our sleep…these website comments must be read with caution. If you are a light sleeper or are uncomfortable with any level of noise – just book a premier room towards the back of the hotel and all will be solved. Our room was generous in size and extremely comfortable and this was matched by the efficiency of the staff throughout the hotel. The hotel also offers complimentary wireless internet throughout the hotel – this was excellent and very fast – we had no problems downloading and actioning emails as well as searching

websites for things to do. And for those who are guilty after eating too much there is a complimentary on site fitness centre and outdoor heated pool. Me? No. I headed for The Daily Grill located just off the lobby. A favourite with locals as well as hotel guests, this timeless American restaurant is renowned for great American food and lavish desserts. In terms of the surrounding area? Ladies - it’s a two minute walk to Macy’s, MAC and Sephora and five to the large Westfield Mall with top brands and great restaurants. Guys - carry the bags and you’ll then get time off for good behaviour to saviour the cities great golf courses, harbour, bars etc. which can be accessed by the famed cable car or BART transport system available from Union Square. Overall – a fabulous location, comfortable rooms, fantastic staff – the heart of San Francisco starts at the Handlery. ➜

Destination ➜ North Dakota, U.S.A


Past and Present on the Northern Plains of North Dakota Words and images by Kelly Lynch



rivate Aaron meets us outside the commissary at Fort Abraham Lincoln. He tells how he is one of 450 soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry sent here by congress to safeguard the North Pacific Railway. It’s suffered attacks from Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors fighting to retain not only their land, but also buffalo - their main source of food and clothing. The first commander is Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and we’re told the year is 1875, nine months before his death at Little Bighorn. He lives here with his dedicated wife Elizabeth (Libbie) and a household of servants in an elegant, two-storey Victorian home that lies on the green acres ahead.


The fort is a ten minute drive from the nearby town of Mandan and linked by the Missouri River to Bismarck, North Dakota’s state capital. In the northern plains North Dakota is one of the least populated states in America, renowned for its friendly folk harvesting under a mammoth, blue summer sky and its harsh, hibernating minus 30 degree winters. Aaron addresses us like we are expected guests of the Custers staying for the customary four-month period. We’ll spend our days hunting and reading, entertained by music, card games, snooker and theatre. Aaron never gives up the theatrics on our living history walking tour, as he shows us around the homestead built in fine timber of butternut, maple and walnut.



Private Aaron

In the dining room the table is set for dinner; due to remoteness it was never known when visitors would arrive. Deer head hunting trophies fixed high on the walls denote George’s favorite pursuit. In the guest rooms “thunder jugs”, for ablutions, are hidden under the beds; not to worry we’re told, they’ll be cleared and cleaned by servants each morning. The thimble-sized bathtub is luxury in comparison to the only other option taken by soldiers – a swim in the Missouri River. The homestead was modern for its time, only it’s a surprise to learn it isn’t the original. After Custer’s death the fort remained for about 15 years until it was picked apart piece by piece by the settlers to construct their own homes. Aaron says,

‘The original house still exists, only its all over Mandan.” The fort and surrounding area is known today as Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, and twenty-five years ago the buildings that existed were rebuilt from army blue prints and photographs. For authenticity all the original materials, wood, period furniture and décor were sourced. Also within the park is On-A-Slant Village, the original site where the Mandan people, an agricultural Indian tribe, lived between 1650 and 1750. Its name derives from the sloping terrain and historians say about 86 earth lodges once existed there. Five have been re-created and stepping inside each one activates an audio recording giving an account of how Mandan people lived and their customs.



When early European American explorers, Lewis and Clark, traversed the area in 1804 they noted the village was empty. Winter approaching they set up camp just west of the desolate area and it’s there they met Sakakawea, a Shoshone Indian girl, a teenage wife to a French fur trapper. Her baby bundled on her back she joined the expedition across the Rockies as an interpreter and guide. A statue of her carrying her baby shines in the sun outside Bismarck’s newly expanded Heritage Centre. It sits near the towering 21 storey State Capitol Building, which has paramount views across Bismarck’s pretty tree lined streets. Inside, the Heritage Centre skillfully tells tales of times when North Dakota was ruled by dinosaurs and creatures from the ice age…behind one glass case is a mummified Edmontosaurus, a duck-billed dinosaur. It teaches about the history of North American Indians and Sakakawea’s bravery in assisting Lewis and Clark through the territory and negotiations other Indians wouldn’t dare enter into. But there’s no better place to learn about First Nations people than by feeling the throbbing beat of drums and pounding feet vibrate the firm dry ground at Bismarck’s Powwow. An annual event held at the United Tribes Technical College, for four days the arena is a swirling mass of colliding colours and movement as competition for the best dancer heats up. Each day begins with a prayer before ‘The Grand Entry’…an open free-for-all dance. All age groups, including tots, join the circle, some strut, others prance like a bird; dancers imitate the spirit of an article or animal - a bear, an eagle or wheat blowing in the wind. In all their finery some are just happy to walk and chat to friends. It is only when the dancers are still and I’m up close I fully appreciate the intricate detailing in each dress. Traditional dresses made of elk hide have customised bustles while modern jingle dresses have 365 (one for each day of the year) twisted metal caps sewn into the satin material. Moccasins are colourfully patterned in hand sewn beads and some outfits have adopted elements of cowboy attire. Competitors have come from all over the USA and Canada to dance from their hearts. Their footwork in unison with the beat of the drums will win them the category title. The smell of slow roasted beef and deep-fried chips wafts across from the food tents and caravans that form an outer circle around the arena. It’s a relaxed A&P style vibe as folk wander around buying food and crafts; the most popular purchase is a heavily iced drink of ‘hand twisted’ lemonade. At one table a queue of people wait for Butch Thunder Hawk to autograph their purchased artwork. A member of Standing Rock, he’s highly respected, working at the United Tribes Technical College for over forty years teaching tribal arts and culture. His drawings are of wildlife, people and horses. Some of it is ledger art, inspired by the drawings of his ancestors, Lakota Sioux warriors of the 1880s. In 1876, a few days after the battle at Little Bighorn a book of 77 coloured drawings by various warrior artists was found inside a nearby funerary lodge. They depicted battle and hunting scenes drawn on old ledger book paper, giving insight into their lives prior to being confined to reservations and offer another side to Custer’s story. Butch Thunder Hawk has

revived this style of art. Bismarck is a place of living history, while it unlocks the key to transport you back in time to its many historical events, at the Powwow it’s also easy to feel part of the present. The organisers work hard to unite and inspire North American Indians through their own people, their revered athletes, teachers and mentors. All the while providing a cultural feast that awakens and heightens all my sensors.


Air New Zealand flies double daily to Los Angeles from Auckland with Economy, Economy Skycouch, Premium Economy and Business Premier seating available. ➜ Casual family friendly accommodation is at The Best Western Ramkota, Bismarck, it has an indoor pool and slide: ➜ For a very comfortable stay in the city centre there’s the Radisson Bismarck: ➜ Check out North Dakota at: ➜ The United Tribes International Powwow in Bismarck is always held at the end of summer, the first Thursday through to Sunday following the US Labour Day weekend. ➜ Fort Abraham Lincoln Sate Park ➜ Aimed at New Zealanders visiting the region ➜ has a wealth of information. Kelly Lynch was assisted by Air New Zealand and North Dakota tourism

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Destination ➜ Samoa

Returning Nuts By Gayle Dickson



t had been way too many years since hubby and I took the kids to Samoa, and I couldn’t wait to get back there to experience another visit to Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa. The kids were rather sore at me for not taking them along, as they’d so loved their time there. The intervening years had been hard for the management and staff, having to just about completely rebuild the resort after the devastating tsunami. I’m generally fearful of returning to a treasured locale after a rebuild or refurb – all

too often things are never the same. In this instance, I’m pleased to report that not only are things much the same, they’re slightly improved. You know…those little glitches in infrastructure that management are all too aware of, but never quite get attended to? Well, they were all taken care of. I think what I found most pleasing of all on this return trip was the staff retention. Because so many of the staff are local villagers, many of the same faces were serving my drinks and food, carrying my bags and checking me in.


Coconuts lies on Upolu’s southern coastline and is one of the few spots where you can enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets. It’s also the only resort in Samoa to offer overwater bungalows. I was fortunate enough to stay in one of these overwater jewels on both visits. This time around, they were new, larger and there were now more of them. The beds are raised so that you look over the living area to the sparkling waters through oversized windows…and the bath just cries out for a long soak and a glass of something special shared with someone special! The large sun decks feature loungers and comfy outdoor seating accessed by full sized sliding glass doors. I loved that there were insect screens on all the doors and louvred windows as it meant I could turn off the air conditioning, throw open all the doors and windows, and sleep with the tropical breezes wafting over me. This also allowed me to drift off to the sound of the water slopping against the pylons below. In fact, it was so peaceful, that I often heard fish slapping, both day and night. There are no phones or televisions in the rooms and I loved that. I also loved the various opportunities to spy the fish below with a glass floor panel even appearing in the loo! There is a fridge, and the complimentary mini bar is restocked daily with house wine, local beer and cold soft drinks. If you can’t get into one of the overwater fales, there are the Coco Suites that feature a bedroom, sitting room and sunken bath with waterfall lava rock shower, or the Treehouse Junior Suites with bamboo four-poster beds and two-person baths with views. The Beach Fales feature open-air bathrooms with lava rock walls, thatched roofs and come in one or two bedroom options, while the Royal Beach Fales are spacious villas that can interconnect to accommodate up to ten. The onsite spa was a treat and the new shop stocks a fantastic range of local wares for that perfect personal

momento or gift. The Gecko-shaped swimming pool is popular with all the guests, especially since there’s a swim-up bar. Just a few steps away is the all-day restaurant offering one of the most extensive menus we’ve seen anywhere – a broad range of local and international dishes to suit every palette. There’s a library of reading material and you’re invited to leave your completed books behind rather than lug them home with you. Like me, many others fall in love with the relaxed atmosphere at Coconuts with a high percentage returning time and again. These return visitors are affectionately called “Returning Nuts” by the staff, and I’m pleased to say that I’m very definitely one of them! ➜

Destination ➜ Queenstown, New Zealand


Best of the Best The luxurious spa at Queenstown’s five-star Millbrook Resort has been named the best of the best, taking out the coveted title of ‘New Zealand’s Leading Spa Resort’ at the World Travel Awards.



nown the world over as one of the most picturesque resorts in the world, Millbrook is no stranger to winning awards, having garnered multiple accolades over the years for its five-star luxury accommodation, world-class 27-hole golf course and restaurants. And it continues to lead the way by shrugging off stiff national competition to be named as New Zealand’s Leading Spa Resort. The World Travel Awards, celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry, with half a million votes cast annually by travel professionals and high-end travellers. Nestled in a blend of luxury and nature, The Spa at Millbrook prides itself on pampering, soothing and rejuvenating all guests during their stay, delivering only the finest, most energising experience. Staying at Millbrook is like immersing yourself in another world - guests can step out of their hotel room, stylish apartment or fairway home right on to the golf course. It’s an easy stroll down to The Spa at Millbrook for a treatment to soothe away the stresses of busy lives. Spa Manager, Vicky Bate, said it was “a huge privilege” to win the award.

“We’re delighted to have received such recognition and are very thankful for the support that’s been demonstrated for this major award,” she said. “Winning this award is an absolute honour and I want to thank the Millbrook Spa team for their dedication and commitment in ensuring our guests experience the magic that Millbrook offers. “Millbrook prides itself on providing spa guests with the finest in service, ambience and innovation, ensuring a memorable and rewarding experience. Our aim is always for each and every spa guest to leave Millbrook feeling very special indeed. “The World Travel Awards recognise the very ‘best of the best’ in quality and service, so to win this and be acknowledged as the best in New Zealand is a tremendous achievement for the team.” World Travel Awards President and founder, Graham Cooke, said it was with “tremendous pride” that the trophy for New Zealand’s Leading Spa Resort had been presented to Millbrook Resort. “This is the fourth consecutive year the property has been recognised by the voters, suggesting the resort continues to be a shining example to its competitors in the region,” he said. ➜


Destination ➜ Solomon Islands


War heritage in the Solomons By Jacqui Gibson


uture president of America, John F. Kennedy, nearly lost his life there…at the tender age of 26. Approximately 30,000 Japanese and 7,000 US troops died in battle there. History books tell us 338 Kiwis fighting for the Royal New Zealand Air Force never came home from there. The Solomon Islands between 1942 and 1945 was a bloody theatre of war, as Allied troops sought to force the Japanese from their Pacific base. Today, Guadalcanal has more war sites and relics than any other island in the Pacific, with the Solomon Islands an increasingly popular destination for war heritage buffs. In August this year, the Solomons will host tourists from around the world to commemorate the anniversary of the ‘Solomon Islands Campaign’. August 7, 2015 will mark 73 years since the US made its first ground offensive against the occupying Japanese in a 20-month war eventually fought on land, on sea and in the air. Here are our top 5 picks of the sites and relics most worth seeing.


SEE IT. TOUCH IT. WALK AMONGST IT Vilu War Museum – Guadalcanal Located 50 kilometres from Honiara, this popular outdoor museum features an extensive range of WWII relics. You can see everything from an F4F Wildcat, an F4U Corsair through to Japanese tanks, submarine parts and a 500-kilogram bomb. Enclosed in a manicured garden of coconut and banana palms and mahogany and pine trees, the Vilu War Museum provides an opportunity to walk among and touch actual remnants of the war. Host, Anderson Dua, curator since 1967, knows every museum piece like the back of his hand and will happily answer your questions and tell you what he knows. For Kiwi history buffs, here’s where you’ll find a plaque commemorating the Royal


DIVE IT! Toa Maru – Gizo An almost intact 140m-long Japanese transport ship located about 20 minutes by boat from Gizo, the main hub of the Western Province. Lying on its starboard side, the wreckage still features a wide range of artifacts from sake bottles and medical supplies to bombs and a motorbike. It’s located near an extensive coral garden and divers can take a look inside the vessel to see the workshop, crew quarters and dining area. Contact Dive Gizo for more information at


TOP FIVE PICKS: WWII HERITAGE SITES AND RELICS In the Solomons, you can have your WWII heritage a multitude of ways. You can dive it. There are underwater wrecks everywhere just waiting to be explored. You can walk amongst it. You’ll find the remnants of US Sherman tanks and aircraft, as well as Japanese freighter ships and anti-craft guns in the jungle, in backyards, and on the side of the road. There’s WWII heritage in places to eat and in the stories of the people you meet. It’s everywhere. What are you waiting for? If war heritage is your thing, then the Solomon Islands are the perfect destination for getting amongst it.


New Zealand Air Force’s contribution to the war. Contact the Solomon Islands Tourism Bureau to find out more about the museum, at ➜


COMMEMORATE IT Solomons Peace Memorial Park, Honiara Built by Japanese war veterans in 1981 to commemorate people who died in the WWII campaign, the Solomons Peace Memorial Park is about 3.5km from the capital, Honiara. The park features a stone monument and paved square, surrounded by red hibiscus and white frangipani, the Japanese national colours. Further south, you can walk to the summit of Mt. Austen (410m), a former Japanese observation point. There’s a plaque that explains the strategic importance of Mt. Austen during WWII. For more on the memorial park, visit Solomon Islands Tourism at ➜ EAT, DRINK AND SOCIALISE IN IT PT109 Restaurant – Gizo PT109 is a harbourside restaurant in Gizo, the main town of the Western Province, named after John F. Kennedy’s patrol boat that sunk off Gizo in 1943. A relaxed open air café and bar serving up simple food and plenty of references to America’s 35th president who, as a 26-year-old naval officer, was ambushed by Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The story goes that the Japanese destroyer rammed into Kennedy’s boat ripping a hole in its side, throwing Kennedy and most of his 13 men into the water. Two men were killed, with another seriously injured. Kennedy and the survivors swam to an island and were eventually rescued days later by two (now famous but sadly deceased) Solomon Islanders…Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa. MEET LOCALS CONNECTED TO IT Tetere Beach WWII Museum, Guadalcanal There are many local people in the Solomons with a direct connection to the war through relatives or historic events that happened in nearby villages. Sammy Basoe’e, owner and curator of the open-air museum at Tetere Beach, is case and point. Sammy’s museum features rows of abandoned amphibious landing vehicles, which provide him with the perfect platform for telling you about his extraordinary grandfather, Sir Jacob Vouza…the man considered to be the Solomon Islands’ greatest war hero. Vouza acted as chief scout for the US Marines. At one point, he was captured by the Japanese but managed to escape torture to send out a warning to the US, helping them achieve an important victory at the Battle of Tenaru. In Honiara, there is a large memorial in Sir Jacob’s honour. If you visit Sammy, don’t forget to ask him to explain, in detail, his grandfather’s incredible escape. It’s a story of unimaginable endurance and bravery. 2015 TOURS If you’re heading to the Solomons this August for the WWII anniversary commemorations, you might want to check out these tour operators. All three are part of the Solomon Island Tourism Bureau’s official programme. Travel Solomons (local operator) ➜ Mat McLauchlan battlefields tours (Australian operator) ➜

Valor Tours (Californian operator) ➜

5 x Elle Sarongs Designer Vikki Scotts’ glamorous 55-piece resort wear line includes these exotic sarongs in a fabulous array of colours for casual but stunning poolside or beachside chic. Check out her kaftans, tunics, shoes and accessories, too!

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3 x Urban Chef prize packs Look no further for instant flavour! The new Urban Chef by Kato range offers tangy, spicy, citrus-tastic mayos and relishes that you’ll want to use at every meal. Available from good supermarkets and speciality food stores nationwide.


12 x OPI Passport to Colour mini collection JR/Duty Free have opened an OPI Nail Bar at Auckland International Airport where you can enjoy 100 different colours during your Express Manicure or a quick Shape & Polish, as well as shopping for exclusive travel sets such as this one.

1 x Höpt Soda 4 pack Start the New Year the clean way, with a fresh bottle of chilled Höpt Soda, specially blended from hop extracts with half the sugar of soft drinks. Flavours include: salted lychee, pear & basil, watermelon & mint, elderberry & herb.

To enter simply email the product as the subject line with your name and contact details to If you prefer post, pop your details and the product name onto an envelope or the back of a postcard (hopefully from a wonderfully scenic location somewhere in the Pacific) and send it to: Giveaways, PO Box 55-199, Eastridge 1146. Entries must be received by no later than 15 March 2015.



The ‘Best little airline in the Pacific’



olomon Airlines, the national airline of the Solomon Islands, and the ‘best little airline in the Pacific’, proudly celebrated 52 years of service in October 2014. Along with many of the South Pacific nations’ airlines operating across the region, the carrier has come a very long way from its humble beginnings in 1962. That was when Australian aviation pioneer, Laurie Crowley, spotting an opportunity to operate an air service between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, commenced a charter operation between the two countries flying a six-seater Piper Aztec. Originally operating under a ‘Megapode Airlines’ call sign, the name taken from an indigenous Solomon Islands species of chicken-like birds, the carrier’s title name was changed to Solomon Islands Airlines in 1968. Now headed by CEO and very hands on first-class pilot, Captain Ron Sumsum, whose voice can often be heard giving in-flight information from the flight deck to passengers on board the Airbus A-320 flagship, the airline is now known as Solomon Airlines following a major rebranding and the introduction of a new livery in 2011.

➜ ➜


the new site’s key attributes lies in its ability to be fully accessed from any desktop PC, laptop, iPad or smart phone, unlike other online service-based websites dependent on apps or specialised mobile websites. In addition to the website, a new highly streamlined online ‘Flex-Pricer’ booking functionality providing numerous advantages for passengers has also been introduced. Schedule wise, Solomon Airlines has recently made it far easier for Australians and New Zealanders to connect to the Solomon Islands with the release of its new Northern Winter timetable. Effective 17 November 2014, the new timetable means passengers travelling to Brisbane from Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville, Perth and ex-Auckland now have plenty of time to make seamless north-bound connections to Honiara and beyond via direct connection on to the airline’s extensive domestic network. Discussions are currently taking place with key interline partners for enhanced cooperation. Perhaps the most significant of the many milestones realised in 2014 came when Solomon Airlines earned a highly esteemed Operational Safety Audit Certification (IOSA). From the perspective of aviation safety the implications this key world standard safety accreditation have for Solomon Airlines are seen as playing a key role in the airline achieving a long held ambition of full International Air Travel Association (IATA) membership. The carrier also works closely with the Solomon Island Visitors Bureau (SIVB), the two parties formalising a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at boosting the destination’s overseas profile and increasing international visitation numbers particularly from New Zealand.


Today Solomon Airlines operates its regular international Airbus A320 services from Honiara to Brisbane, Vanuatu and Fiji. Solomon Airlines also provides a vital domestic air lifeline for some 500,000 Solomon Islanders living in the archipelago of some 900 islands as well as ease of access for the 25,000 international visitors the Solomon Islands attracts every year. This extensive domestic network is operated by Dash 8-102s between the nation’s capital of Honiara, Seghe, Munda, Gizo, Kira Kira and Santa Cruz while Twin Otters and Islanders operate to all other ports. But without doubt, the pride of the fleet is the sleek Airbus A-320 configured to 16 Executive Business Class seats and 120 in economy class with all passengers benefiting from full in flight service including meals, beverages and entertainment. Open to all passengers, the airline’s ‘Belama Club’ membership offers several incentives. These range from priority check-in and express clearance in Brisbane to additional baggage allowances, preferential seating and exclusive access to the ‘Belama Club Lounge’ at Honiara International Airport. And, as an added bonus for its ‘Belama Plus’ members, guest access to Air New Zealand’s ‘Koru Club’ lounge in Brisbane International Airport as well as those who purchase a full business class seat. But, while huge strides have taken place on the airlines in-flight capability and keeping its customers happy in the air, major operational developments have also taken place on the ground. On the online front, Solomon Airlines has embraced the latest IT and this year became one of the first international carriers to employ state of the art online customer service technology with the launch of a newly revamped website. Developed by New Zealand-based tourism marketing and website development company, Tomahawk, one of

Destination ➜ Hawai'i, U.S.A


Hawaiian Airlines’ ultimate insider’s guide to Hawai’i shopping


Mapuana Faulkner is a flight attendant at Hawaiian Airlines and has been flying with Hawaii’s largest and longest serving airline for 17 years. Born and raised in the Ka’u district of Hawai’i Island, she currently resides in Kailua with her husband and two children on the windward side of Oahu. An avid shopper and fashion enthusiast, she shares her top tips for shopping in Hawai’i.


Best gift to buy from Hawai’i? Kona coffee is a great gift to take home from Hawai’i because it’s the only coffee grown in the whole of the US. There are more than 700 farms in the Hawaiian Islands that grow specialty coffee, and it travels well too. Alternatively, something hand crafted from Martin and MacArthur is also a hit. From beautiful wooden watches to leather bags, the Hawaii-only brand has been crafting custom made heirloom quality Koa wood furniture and Hawaiian gifts since 1961.


Any tips for navigating the Ala Moana Shopping Mall? If you’re short on time, which stores would you recommend checking out? Ala Moana Center is known as the world’s largest outdoor shopping centre and it’s best to get there by bus, trolley or taxi to avoid the headache of circling around for a car park as it’s packed by noon. Grabbing a map before you start your shopping is also key! Here is where you’ll find amazing shopping thanks to a raft of brands you won’t find in New Zealand. Macy’s, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret and Sephora are just some of the highlights. To top it off, Hawai’i enjoys one of the lowest sales taxes in the US, just 4.712%. Best places for bargains and pre-Christmas sales? Holiday shopping deals in Waikiki start on Black Friday (28 November) at many retail stores in Hawai’i. The Royal Hawaiian Centre posts their deals on their website, so it’s good to have a look for participating stores and exclusive deals. Waikele Premium Outlets are also great for grabbing bargains on luxury brands like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and more. The outlets are open until 9.00pm so you don’t have to skip a day at the beach to fit in some shopping.

Where are the best shopping areas that tourists aren’t likely to know about, the best spots where locals shop? There are very cute boutiques exclusive to Hawai’i in Downtown Honolulu and also Kailua. These showcase the talented designers that we have living in the islands, and some of my favourites are Olive in Kailua, The Fighting Eel and Roberta Oaks in Downtown Honolulu.

Great markets to visit for local produce and authentic arts and crafts? Oahu has dozens of farmers’ markets held several times a week and Kapiolani Community College’s (KCC) Saturday Farmers’ Market is the largest. I love the locally grown products including Kahuku corn, delicious Waialua chocolate and Waimanalo greens. If you’re looking for something smaller, Blaisdell Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Mililani Farmers’ Market on Sundays are great too.


Best place to get a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage after a hard day’s shopping? I highly recommend Lomi Lomi Hana Lima, a small healing center and spa located in Kailua. This spa was made famous by President Barrack Obama’s frequent visits when vacationing in Kailua with his family.


A must-buy in Hawai’i that you can’t find anywhere else? A dress or shirt from Sig Zane Designs is a must buy as his designs are very modern and use native Hawaiian plants and natural elements as foundations for his design prints. Products are available for purchase at, but there are more designs and sizes available in his store located in Hilo on Hawai’I Island. Top 3 things to purchase in Hawaii? Food! Hawai’i is a melting pot of many cultures from countries surrounding the Pacific resulting in unique foods such as manapua (steamed bun filled with pork or chicken) and spam

musubi (grilled slice of Spam on a block of steamed white rice and rolled in nori) just to name a couple. We also have world famous macadamias which are delicious natural or covered in chocolate. Plus they make a great gift to take home. This one’s for the girls – makeup. Premium brands like M.A.C Cosmetics, Smashbox, Clinique and NARS are significantly cheaper in Hawai’i than New Zealand. Let the sales staff in Sephora make you over for free and go home with the goodies that will help you recreate the look. Finally, a Lauhala hat or feather lei intricately crafted by locals are another must buy in Hawai’i. Yes, they are quintessentially Hawaiian but you’ll want a reminder of your tropical escape when you’re back home. These wearable art pieces can be found at craft fairs throughout the islands at stores such as Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii at Ward Centre.

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Hawai‘i inspired meals

Entertainment, blanket & pillow


Miranda Brown’s kaftans are the perfect go-to clothing item for travelling. While browsing the site, check out her soft furnishings, art prints and wooden birds.


VitalZing’s new range of supercharged waters gives you amazing combinations of vitamins. The unique BlastMax™ cap stores the ingredients till you’re ready to release them. Travellers will love their handbag friendly WaterDrops in a range of flavours.

The Freedom Project Travel is Wilko Van de Kamp’s account of how he has explored the world and flown for free while finding freedom and happiness.

Anatomicals’ Passion Fruit Hand Soap invites you to get your hands dirty as often as possible so that you can enjoy the hygienic fruity benefits. From selected supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.

Enjoy a boost of pure hydration with Neutrogena Hydro Boost™, their first line to contain highly purified hyaluronic acid that can absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The innovative Progressive Release System ensures moisture is continually released over time, hydrating for a full 24 hours.

Skin Technology Insect Repellent offers up to 8 hours of protection thanks to the active ingredient Picardin, a non-toxic alternative to repellents that use Deet. According to WHO, Picardin demonstrates excellent repellent properties and it’s their repellent of choice for Malaria prevention.

Bayer’s Bepanthen Scar aids healing to reduce the appearance of scars. B5 minimises redness and itching while a silicone gel forms a protective barrier to lock in moisture. The in-built massage roller helps to break down excess collagen. From pharmacies nationwide.

The Naked Collection from Herbal Essences will leave you with pleasurably soft hair with an exhilarating scent. Free from silicone, parabens and dye, there are three conditioner and shampoo sets – Shine, Volume and Moisture.

Go Vege-Glucosamine Plus aids in joint health and mobility, assisting in the repair of natural cartilage in easy-to-take 2-a-day capsules.

Lifestream Nature’s Multi is a blend of highly concentrated superfoods formulated for maximum absorption. 100% natural, vegetarian and free of additives and fillers.

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Ancient paths T he su lta n ate of om a n Beauty has an address

Discover a place where the traditions of an ancient land and its people merge seamlessly with modern times. Explore the best-kept secrets of Arabia, less than an hour’s flight from Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

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Let's Travel Feb Mar 2015  

This issue of Let's Travel has features on Waitomo, Christchurch and Queenstown in New Zealand, as well as Tasmania and Sydney in Australia....

Let's Travel Feb Mar 2015  

This issue of Let's Travel has features on Waitomo, Christchurch and Queenstown in New Zealand, as well as Tasmania and Sydney in Australia....