Free Travel Newsletter : September 2012
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Jeanette Stoll, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning "Kiwi Country New Zealand DVD".
Whether you want to go by boat, by foot, by train or by road – there is a trip to suit every taste and every budget this season. We've picked out a few holiday destinations for your New Zealand spring break, plus great ideas for family days out and free fun!
- Spring Breaks - Weekends Away
- A Great Walk... By Canoe
- Off the Beaten Track to... Driving Creek Railway
- Family Fun Days and Holidays
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Spring Breaks – Weekends Away
Celebrate spring with a weekend away – pack up the car, the kids or just your bag! Accommodation, transport and activities can all be booked online at NZTG: choose your destination and book your accommodation first, then your transport - from there it can all fall into place. Look out for 'weekend specials' offered by many accommodation providers that can include: free transfers, complimentary breakfasts, flowers or champagne and discounted tours.
Here are some suggestions for North and South Island weekend getaways:
- Coromandel Peninsula – Retreat to the rugged and mysterious Coromandel and enjoy the beaches, fishing, walking, spa and sightseeing opportunities.
- Taranaki – Try a river cruise, snowboarding and skiing, mountain climbing or simply discover the soulful beauty of Mt Taranaki.
- Waiheke Island – 35 minutes from Auckland, this tropical paradise offers fine walking trails, top-class wineries and white sand beaches.
- Wellington – Fill up your weekend break in the city with shopping, a visit to Te Papa, the theatre, fine dining and a trip to the wineries of the Wairarapa.
- Hanmer Springs – Relax in the mountains with a hot pool, spa treatment or revitalise with mountain biking, horse-riding and quad biking adventure.
- Dunedin – Step back in time with a stay at Lanarch Castle, visit the albatross colony, chocolate factory, Speights brewery and relax at St Clair Beach and Hot Salt Water Pool.
- Wanaka – Relax, fish or cruise on the lake and enjoy the mountain scenery or visit one of the many cafes and restaurants in this lovely alpine town.
- West Coast – Travel by the Tranz-Alpine train from the east to the west coasts, follow the famous 'Coast Road' and visit Punakaiki, the famous Pancake Rocks.
Quick Tips for Planning Your Weekends Away
- See if you can leave on Friday afternoon to make the most of your weekend.
- Work out how much time you want to spend travelling – don't head too far away.
- Book accommodation and arrange transport as soon as you can.
- Travel light so your packing is quick and easy.
- If your weekend away is to mark a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, romantic getaway), phone ahead to your accommodation providers and ask them to provide a bottle of champagne, flowers or chocolate on arrival.
A Great Walk... By Canoe
If you want to complete all of New Zealand's 9 Great Walks, you'll end up swapping your boots for paddles on the Whanganui Journey in the central North Island. Although categorised as a Great Walk, this journey is in fact a canoe trip down the beautiful, majestic and hugely atmospheric, Whanganui River. The route is 145 kilometres long and it usually takes 5 days to complete, although you can do a shorter version in 3 days.
The area is rich in history: Te Atihaunui, a Paparangi people, settled the valley in 1100AD cultivating the rivers' terraces and building weirs along the river channels. Early missionaries used the river in the 1840s. As you undertake the journey, you may feel yourself stepping (or paddling) back in time – the quiet of the forest is punctuated only by the sound of water and bird calls (pigeons, fantails, robins and tomtits).
The accommodation en route is a combination of huts and campsites and a particularly interesting sleeping hut at the Tieke marae. If local Māori are staying there, you may have the chance to participate in a traditional welcome ceremony.
If you are not much of a paddler, don't worry, as this journey can be undertaken with no previous canoeing experience. Canoes can be hired at the start of your journey in Taumarunui and your gear can easily be stashed in water-proof barrels. We recommend keeping an eye on the weather for river levels and taking plenty of warm, fast-drying clothing and insect repellent. It's a wonderful experience for canoeists and hikers alike. View more about the Whanganui Journey Great Walk.
Off the Beaten Track to... Driving Creek Railway
The Driving Creek Railway is New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway and although slightly off the beaten track - three kilometres from Coromandel township on the North Island – Coromandel is three hours drive from Auckland - it is popular with visitors so bookings are advised for the one hour return journey. The train takes its passengers through native kauri forest and visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the island-studded Hauraki Gulf...(more)
Family Fun Days and Holidays
Having a fun, low-cost (or free) day out with the children is just so easy in New Zealand – you are simply spoilt for choice, so you may have to do some cherry picking. New Zealand Tourism Guide has a dedicated section for families to browse which includes details on activities such as ice-skating, movies, nature and wildlife parks, playgrounds and mazes, theme and adventure parks, water fun and lots more.
What's more, for visitors staying for longer holidays, there are plenty of learning and educational opportunities for all the family. Highlights which will help the children fill their holiday journals to overflowing include:
- Taking a virtual journey through space in a state-of-the-art planetarium (Wellington)
- Finding out whether they can become Air Force pilots on a special Air Force Adventure (Christchurch)
- Riding on a steam train to a gold claim and panning for gold (South Island West Coast)
- Learning about Māori culture the fun way with a feast and a chance to meet Māori warriors (Rotorua)
Remember to save entrance tickets, take plenty of photographs, buy some postcards and cool souvenirs to show everyone back home!
Top Tip for School Holidays
Many 'educational' attractions run special holiday programmes for local and visiting children. Check to see what's available and book as soon as you can to secure a place. View school holiday dates in New Zealand.
New Zealand Fast Facts
Mt Taranaki is a volcano on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. It is 2,518 metres high and is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world. Due to its resemblance to Mt Fuji, Taranaki was used as a location in the 2003 film, The Last Samurai.
Mt Taranaki offers unique opportunities for walking/hiking, photography and skiing (seasons and conditions allowing).