Friday, July 30, 2010

Skiing adventure begins at night

Kate Midena, July 27, 2010 11:40AM

IT'S more exhilarating than day skiing, cheaper and no one will be able see your mistakes.

Night skiing is back for the 2010 snow season at several top Australian and New Zealand ski resorts.

Held several times a week in resorts such as Perisher, Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Coronet Peak - night skiing is a unique way to experience the slopes with many benefits.

Night passes are cheaper than day session and there are usually less people on the slopes.

All the normal safety precautions for skiing are still taken at night, with instructors and first aid people present on the slopes. Resort lifts are still in operation, and high intensity lamps light the designated run areas.

Australia's longest beginner run, Wombat's Ramble, has opened for night skiing for the first time this year at Falls Creek. The run is lined with high voltage green-friendly lights, and their snowmaking system means there will always be plenty of snow lining the slopes.

"It's a whole different atmosphere at night - skiing under the stars then enjoying music and hot mulled wine on the deck - it's very special, Coronet Peak ski manager, Hamish McCrostie, said.

Children who want to experience night skiing are also catered for, with Mt Hotham offering supervised night skiing for teenagers, while Smiggin Holes has organised night skiing and fireworks on Zoe's ski carpet.

The only thing to remember when skiing of an evening is to dress warmly - it gets at least ten degrees colder as soon as the sun goes down.

Family: Bridge swing was 'disaster waiting to happen'

ublished: 6:50PM Thursday July 29, 2010
Source: ONE News

The safety of New Zealand's adventure tourism industry has come under the spotlight after the sentencing of a bridge swing operator.
Alastair McWhannell must serve 400 hours of community service and pay $10,000 to the family of Catherine Peters who was killed after plunging 20 metres off Ballance Bridge in a bridge swing activity near Woodville.
The Peters family used to call themselves the "awesome foursome" and told the court today that life was not the same as a trio.

"We still have to learn to live without our treasured Catherine," her father, Bosco Peters, said.
The 18-year-old was part of a group participating in a bridge swing activity.
A rope meant to keep her secure as she jumped from the bridge was found to be too long and not tied to rigging correctly, and she died of her injuries in hospital hours later.
"One could say it was not really an accident, but a disaster waiting to happen," Bosco said.
Almost 18 months on, the grief was clearly etched on her parents' faces.
During harrowing victim impact statements they described sleepless nights and excruciating sadness.
"We do not want a single other family to go through a nightmare like this," Bosco said.
The family was upset McWhannell had not accepted full responsibility.
In court today Bosco said New Zealand's "she'll be right" mentality meant the adventure tourism industry works without simple checks that could have saved Catherine's life.
The judge agreed, and said it was remarkable such a high-risk operation was without regulation.
Two years ago, the Prime Minister called for an adventure tourism review after a British tourist drowned while riverboarding.

The report is currently before Minister Kate Wilkinson and looks into making improvements.
But despite the Peters' loss, they said they were still the awesome foursome "even though we physically don't have four people".

"Catherine is still there in the way that she has influenced and changed us and made us who we are," her brother Jonathan said.
McWhannell will face more charges over the accident from the Department of Labour.
Watch video new here

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Zealand's top ten adventure activities for thrill seekers

By Carol Driver

Unlike many countries, New Zealand comes alive in the winter, which for the southern hemisphere kicks off this month. In fact, the country thrives on it. Rugged mountain landscapes become off-piste playgrounds, sky-reflecting lakes turn into jet-boat racetracks while ice-blue glaciers open up for exhilarating exploration.

The Kiwis have made it possible to jump, drive, slide, roll, fly or hike through pretty much any part of the country’s terrain – making it a winter wonderland for adrenaline seekers.

Here, Carol Driver explores the top ten adventure activities the North and South Islands have to offer.

North Island

Into the abyss: The Ruakuri cave was formed 30 million years ago

Black Abyss caving, Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo

Leave your nerves above ground before abseiling 37 metres into a cylindrical hole small enough that you can touch the edge with your feet.

This is the breathtaking beginning to the five-hour underground Black Abyss tour at Ruakuri Cave exploring a secret world which was hidden beneath the sea 30 million years ago.

With two guides and a group of up to 12, you’ll zip-wire, leap, tube, squeeze and wade your way through ice-cold water during this thrilling adventure, stopping along the way to take in the glorious sight of glow-worms.

The grand finale to this daring escapade is climbing two fairly small but powerful waterfalls as you make your way to the surface of Waitomo Forest and the end of this unforgettable journey.

Book from £94pp with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co

Auckland Bridge Climb, Auckland

Up in the clouds: The Auckland bridge climb is an exhilirating experience

If you’ve ever fancied throwing yourself off a bridge and being able to live to tell the tale – here’s your chance. The Auckland Bridge Climb & Bungy affords its brave victims stunning panorama as you weave your way 67 metres above the glistening waters of the Waitemata Harbour.

The one-and-a-half hour climb may seem like a feat within itself but adrenaline bunnies will be rewarded when they plummet the 40 metres through the air from the ‘bungy pod’.

The ultimate way to get your kicks while enjoying some of the best views of the City of Sails.

From £84 visit

White water rafting, River Valley, Taihape

New Zealand has some of the best white water rafting in the world

This is a white-knuckle ride along one of NZ’s most frantic rivers. Get ready to face powerful rapids, broken water and large drops as you snake along this Grade-5 adventure.

There are 10 major Grade 4-5 (the most extreme) foamy rapids on this scenic 12km run which is nestled in the heart of the countryside.

However, it’s an activity for team-players only - you’ll be relying on your group to paddle hard when told and to hold on even harder when instructed – you really don’t want to be going overboard in these conditions!

If you do want to get even wetter, you can jump from a designated cliff edge – but, be warned, the water is ice cold in winter – before tackling the biggest rapid of all. This is a heart-in-your-mouth adrenaline activity.

From £75

South Island

Nevis Arc swing, Nevis Canyon, Queenstown

Flying through the air with the greatest of ease has never been so terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

The Nevis Arc is the world’s highest swing and will give you such a rush of adrenaline that you won’t be able to sleep for a week.

Decide whether to travel 40, 80 or the exhilarating 120 metres as you power through the air, suspended 153 metres above the rugged Doolan’s Creek in Nevis Canyon - a 40-minute ride from Queenstown.

Go with a friend or go solo – but this mind-blowing ride takes guts, as you have to pull the release yourself. Not for the faint hearted.

Prices from £63pp visit

Ledge Bungy jump, Queenstown

Taking the plunge: The Queenstown bungy jump is not for the faint hearted

So you’ve done a bungy jump before and now you’re looking to take things to the next level? How about jumping from a ‘runway’ backwards and flipping 400 metres into the darkness by trying the Ledge Bungy at night?

At 400 metres above Queenstown, you’ll have the stars for company as you ride the gondola to the Skyline Complex to the platform which is cantilevered out from the cliff face.

Choose from a body harness or ankle tie for the bungy of your choice.
Then, take a deep breath, glance at the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range, then confront your darkest fears…

£65 Visit

Franz Josef glacier hike, Franz Josef

Have you dreamed of being an intrepid explorer? Discovering parts of the world previously untouched? Well, this experience doesn’t quite promise that. But after a day climbing the Franz Josef glacier, you will feel an overwhelming sense of achievement.

Here you can have two types of adventure. A heli-hike will take in scenery you couldn’t possibly witness any other way. You’ll land high up on the glacier for a two-hour tour among the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs.

For the hardcore, opt for the full day hike. Equipped with crampons, you’ll feel like a true adventurer as you trek deep into the heart of the ice-blue glacier.

In five hours, you will slide through ice caves, shuffle down near vertical ice walls – and enjoy lunch while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Heli-hike from £180, full-day climb from £74 visit

Skydive Lake Wanaka, Wanaka

It’s not just the spectacular scenery that motivates people to jump from a plane at 15,000ft.

But with a flight that takes in views of Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring - the country’s highest snow-capped mountains – this is arguably the best place in NZ to do it.

You’ll be distracted by the stunning glaciers, river valleys and glistening lakes as your plane takes you over Lake Wanaka.

You won’t need any previous experience as you’ll be attached to a qualified guide.
Then it’s time to jump, falling for 60 seconds through the air – at about 200kmph.
Before you know it, the parachute has opened and you’ll be gliding peacefully back down to earth.

From £180 visit

Jetboating, Buller Gorge, Westport

Near death experience or thrill of a lifetime? Jet boating promises to get as close to the action as possible

Powered by twin V8 engines and boasting more than 820 horse power, hold on to your hat while this dynamic jetboat zips across the Buller River for more than an hour.

You’ll be taken closer than ever before to rock walls and craggy overhangs at terrifying speeds over sometimes just centimetres of crystal-clear water.

The experienced guide is fun and informative – offering an insight into the river’s historic and geological features as you cover some 45km.

Listen to him, but don’t be caught off-guard for the 360-degree ‘Hamilton’ spins that will leave you unsure of where you began and where you’re heading.

From £36 per adult visit

JAG Air aerobatics flight, Queenstown Airport, Queenstown

Gain a new perspective on life as you loop-the-loop, twist, turn and feel G forces unlike ever before as you spin while zooming along at more than 300kmph.

Strapped inside this specialist aerobatics aircraft, the Pitts Special, you’ll soar along the ridges of The Remarkables towards Kinston and over Lake Wakatipu.

Although it’s not for the faint-hearted, you’ll be in safe hands for this exhilarating 20-minute journey as at the controls is an ex-fighter pilot with nine years’ experience.

If you’ve seen the Red Bull Air Race on TV, you know what you’re in for – the ride of your life.

From £132pp visit

Extreme Flying Fox, Mokai Gravity Canyon, Taihape

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Flying Fox is a ride for kids – there’s nothing childish about this extreme version.

Reaching permanent-smile-inducing speeds of up to 160kmph, you’ll have little time to catch your breath as you’re launched into Gravity Canyon from 175 metres above ground.

The stunning view of the frothing river and jagged mountains will be a blur as you descend the one-kilometre zip line while strapped into a harness.

Take the death-defying plunge alone or with friends – just make sure you wear the goggles provided to avoid ended up with bugs in your eyes.

From £55 visit

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 10 Places to Visit in New Zealand

New Zealand has so many outstanding places to visit that it is difficult to choose among them. We know that your vacation time is both brief and valuable. Our recommendations for the best places to visit will help you find the right place for your vacation in New Zealand.

Be sure to note that the period of the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere is the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. During our summer, the Kiwis are experiencing winter. So if you want to ski in Queenstown, July and August can be the heart of the season. If you are not a skier, don't let the concept of winter stop you from taking your summer vacation in New Zealand, since the snow usually stays at the higher elevations.

A trip to New Zealand should cover the country's two major islands, known simply as the North Island and the South Island. Both islands are interesting, but we recommend that you spend the majority of your time on the South Island, which, in our opinion, is pretty close to paradise.

1. Fiordland National Park

This park is part of the South Westland World Heritage area and is New Zealand's largest national park and one of the largest in the world. The scenery in Fiordland is nothing short of stunning, with deep fiords, steep mountains, raging waterfalls, and lush rain forests.

Fiordland is also home to Milford Sound described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ and Doubtful Sound which many say is even more spectacular. Another major attraction are the spectacular walks including the world famous Routeburn and Milford, the latter being billed as the finest walk in the world in the early twentieth century by London Spectator in England.

In addition there is the mighty Sutherland Falls which is one of thousands of waterfalls in the park, and one of the highest in the world, amazing diving, dolphins, seals, and rare bird life. If all this doesn't convince you to visit, then there is also Mitre Peak a mountain that rises to the staggering height of 1 mile straight out of the ocean. Fiordland is however one of the wettest places on earth and when it rains, thousands of waterfalls put on quite a show. (Imagine countless raging waterfalls side by side thundering into the salt water of the sea.)
Mitre Peak Mountain

On a fine day the landscape is so other worldy that you would think that you were in the movie Lord of the Rings, which is no exaggeration given that much of the movie was filmed here.
Fiordland is situated in the Southland region.
Milford Sound has been rated the number one travel destination in the world as voted by users of Tripadvisor. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World, and it is currently in the final list for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Beautiful Milford sound view

Milford Sound is located in Fiordland National Park. It was incorrectly named a sound, as it is a fiord. A fiord is a valley which has been inundated by the sea, as the result of glaciers eroding the valley floor in the past, below todays sea level.
Milford Sound is the most accessable of 14 fiords and arguably the most spectacular, although many think that Doubtful Sound is even better. It is certainly much bigger, but is harder to reach.
Boat trips on Milford Sound take you out to the Tasman Sea and back. The trip passes many spectacular waterfalls falling from huge cliffs. The boat gets close enough to some waterfalls allowing you to hold a cup in the air to collect what is known as the worlds cleanest water. Seals can be seen sunbathing on the rocks and dolphins often ride the wake of cruise boats that travel through here.
Milford Sound is certainly a visible spectacular work of nature but what is not obvious is what lies beneath the water. The first few feet of water in the fiord is darker fresh water which is runoff from the melting snow on the mountains that flows through lush rainforest and down the steep cliffs into the fiord. Below that layer of fresh water is the salt water of the Tasman Sea. This unique combination of fresh and salt water tricks deep sea plants in to growing closer to the surface than otherwise and this provides divers are rare opportunity to see them. Divers can also be rewarded with a rare black coral that is unique to this area.

2. Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest National Park, but contains the sunniest climate together with the best coastal scenery in the country. The Park is famous for the many superb white sandy beaches and coves that look out onto the clear waters of the Tasman Sea. Beyond the beaches, the park is covered in lush rain forest and Manuka, which is a type of tea tree. The Abel Tasman walk is a great way to see this park, it takes 3-5 days to complete. Sea Taxis are also available and can drop you off at any number of beaches within the park. This gives you the complete freedom to do a full or partial trek, or alternatively you can spend your time just relaxing on the beaches of your choice.
Kayaking at Abel Tasman

Kayaking is a popular alternative way to see this superb park as you have access to all the beaches, including those that the walk misses out on.

3. Queenstown

Queenstown sited on the shore of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, is surrounded by the luscious beauty of a mountain chain known as the Remarkables. The town is the focal point for a large and diverse recreational area. Queenstown is a place where you can "sit and think" or participate in various outdoor activities, some of them quite unique. The shopping is OK but limited and cultural attractions are sparse.

Queenstown, New Zealand

For action adventure and scenery Queenstown has it all. This beautiful lake side town is surrounded by mountains and is one of New Zealands premier tourist destinations. It is the home of bungee jumping and jet boating which are both New Zealand inventions. Other action activities include parapenting and white water rafting. Queenstown is also one of the Southern Hemispheres premier skiing destinations and enables skiers from around the world to ski during the Northern Hemisphere's summer. If you are not an adrenaline junkie then Queenstown is still a must see, even if it is to just admire the spectacular mountain scenery while enjoying the many cafes, restaurants, and shops on offer.

Adrenaline rush - Bungy jumping

The 'Adventure Capital of the World' is a reputation well earned. Queenstown is the home of adventure in New Zealand. We have everything that the adventure seeker could ever want - you can bungy jump with the world's original bungy company AJ Hackett Bungy, tandem skydive with NZone 'The Ultimate Jump', go white water rafting with Challenge Rafts or jet boating with Shotover Jet. Or you can combine the excitement with Queenstown Combos.
Queenstown is a 'Natural Theme Park', such are the seemingly endless array of adventure activities and leisure holiday options to choose from. The spectacular geography of the region creates a special atmosphere and unique setting that has made this town famous the world over. As well as the many adventure activities on offer, Queenstown is also home to Lord of The Rings, filmed amid the mountains, lakes, rivers and forests and is the gateway to Milford Sound, Fiordland.

4. Rotorua 

Rotorua is famous for its volcanic activity. The area contains many Geothermal Reserves such as Waimangu, Waiotapu and Whakarewarewa, which are all situated in beautiful natural surroundings. All these reserves have great examples of geysers, boiling pools, hot springs, boiling mud and volcanic terraces and craters. Rotorua also has many beautiful lakes to swim in and plenty of native bush for trekking. Mt Tarawera is also close by and there are tours by 4WD that take you up to the top of this volcano. The view is spectacular and you also have the opportunity to walk down into the crater. Rotorua is also a great area to learn about Maori Culture.
Rotorua is situated in the Bay of Plenty region.

5. Bay of Islands

The subtropical Bay of Islands is the finest maritime park in New Zealand. There are about 150 islands to explore with many superb beaches and secluded bays. The park has an abundance of marine life, including Marlin, Whales, Penguins and Dolphins. The Bay attracts many people the world over including fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts and of course tourist who just want to enjoy the subtropical climate and swim in some of the best beaches in New Zealand.
The Bay of Islands is situated in the Northland region.

Bay of island view

6. Mt Cook

Mt Cook and surrounding area is an alpine park that is part of the South Westland World Heritage area. Mt Cook is Australasia's highest mountain and Mt Tasman and Mt Sefton the 2 neigbouring mountains come in at 2nd and 3rd respectively. Mt Cook National Park also has the worlds longest ski run, down the Tasman Glacier. The park doesn't contain many trees or plants, it is best described as a snow covered rocky environment. However Lupins grow well in the mountain soil and these plants come in every colour imaginable which this gives this harsh environment a more gentle and picturesque look. The main accommodation here is the Hermitage Hotel and is also the main departure point to the many scenic walks and Guided Treks in this park.
The Ball Pass is a challenging 3-day alpine crossing of the Mount Cook Range and allows close views of New Zealand's highest mountains. Anyone attempting the crossing without a guide needs to be an experienced mountaineer. There are other walks for those without mountaineering experience or the chance to take a helicopter or plane ride to the top of the Tasman Glacier and back.
Mt Cook National Park is situated in the Canterbury region.
Mt Cook National Park

7. Westland National Park

This National Park is part of the South Westland World Heritage area and is famous for its 2 glaciers, Franz Joseph Glacier and Fox Glacier. These glaciers are unique as they are the closest to the coastline of any glacier in the world outside of the polar regions, which means that they are not only accessible but the climate is much warmer compared to other glacial sites in the world. The park is also covered in a lush ancient rain forest and is backed by steep cliffs and mountains. It seems like a contradiction when viewing the glaciers from a rain forest, and it is this phenomenon that makes this area unique. The rugged coastline is only a drive away and there are some great views of the glaciers and mountains reflecting in some of the lakes in the area. Westland National Park also has many activities on offer such as a trek up one of the glaciers or a helicopter ride up to the top of the Southern Alps and back. If you want nature and spectacular scenery, and you don't mind rain then Westland National Park is a must see.
Westland National Park is situated in the Westcoast region.
Westland National Park

8. The Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is a World Heritage Park and one of the oldest National Parks in the world. The park contains 3 active volcanos that are situated in a desert like landscape. The area gets regular snowfalls in the winter as it is situated at high altitude. Mt Ruapehu is the largest volcano and home to most of the ski fields in the North Island. However this volcano erupts regularly and last erupted as recently as 1995 and 1996. Another volcano, Mt Ngauruhoe is right next to Ruapehu.
Mt. Ruapehu Ski field
The Tongariro Crossing is a tough one day walk that comes recommended, and shows off the best that this park has on offer. National Geographic has classed it as one of the top 10 one day walks in the world.
The Tongariro National Park is situated in the Taupo region.
The Tongariro National Park
The Tongariro National Park

9. Coromandel Peninsula 

This area is blessed with a superb climate and contains some of New Zealand's most scenic beaches and coastline. There is even a thermal beach here called Hot Water Beach, which has volcanic heat rising through the ground. All you have to do is dig a hole in the sand and wait for it to fill up with water, and presto, you have your own spa pool. Inland this area is covered with extinct volcanos which provide many good views. These volcanic cones and the surrounding area are covered in temperate rain forest, so the terrain is ideal for tramping (trekking). The forests contain the tallest fern trees in the world, some reaching heights of 20 metres or more. The abundance of fern species in the Coromandel gives the area a subtropical look and feel.
The Coromandel Peninsula is situated in the Coromandel region.
Coromandel Peninsula

10. Kaikoura 

Situated on the East Coast of New Zealand's South Island is the seaside town of Kaikoura which overlooks majestic mountains which are snow capped for many months of the year. In the waters off the coast an abundantly rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds exists. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where whales can be seen all year round. In addition, dolphin swimming, seal swimming, fishing, diving, shark diving, and a large number of both land and water based activities are available.
Kaikoura is situated in the Canterbury region.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amazing Cape Reinga, New Zealand

We finally visited Cape Reinga for almost two years of stay in New Zealand. Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of the North Island and one of New Zealand beautiful place to visit. It is where you can witness the breathtaking view of two vast expanses of water, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, crashing together as they meet below the Cape Reinga lighthouse.
Cape Reinga lighthouse

Cape Reinga lighthouse and signage showing distance from other countries

Amazing scenic view of Cape Reinga

We chose to travel with our own vehicle to really enjoy the scenery along the way. We depart from North shore, Auckland at 4:00am Saturday and arrived in Kaitaia at 8:00am for breakfast and had some rest, we also book for accommodation for the night stay. 

 Showing walk trail going to lighthouse
Cape Reinga Trail

 Cape Reinga lighthouse where you can witness the Tasman sea and Pacific ocean collides.

Our first destination was the famous Ancient Kauri Kingdom where you can find Ancient Kauri wood dated at more than 45,000 years old. It predates the migration of Neanderthal man and was already buried in swamps more than 25,000 years before the onset of the last Ice Age.
Ancient Kauri is the oldest workable wood in the world. 

Ancient Kauri is considered worldwide a valued heirloom connecting us by its beauty and ancient history.


Ancient Kauri Stump Couch


Then we stop over at Ninety Mile Beach to have a good view of long stretch of the beach. Here you have option to take the beach route but your car must be a 4 wheel drive otherwise you will get stuck on quick sand.

Ninety Mile Beach, New Zealand
Showing the long stretch of Ninety mile beach. Truly fantastic!

Our next destination was the giant sand dunes or sand safari where you can do sand surfing or just enjoy the hot hot sand and just be feet.

Amazing God's creation

We climb up to the peak, it's really exhausting but the experience of nature is truly great.

Sand Safari, New Zealand

3:00pm Saturday, we went back to Kaitaia to stay overnight at Northern hotel. The place is lovely and the host is really friendly.  We had some wine and loads of beer.


 10:00am Sunday, we checkout at the hotel and head to Bay of Islands for a swim and enjoy the wonderful beach.

Bay of Island
Bay of Island

The Bay Of Islands in New Zealand boasts a unique coastline sheltering over 150 small islands in its arms.

The Bay of Islands is a haven for water sport enthusiasts who can enjoy the calm blue waters of the bay. There are a lot of water-based activities on offer, including kayaking, swimming with dolphins, game fishing and boating. Several coastal paths line the bay, and visitors can enjoy the tranquillity of the area and the stunning views. Often whales and dolphins can be seen in the bay, so cameras are a recommendation. There are many photographic opportunities in the Bay of Islands, including the nearby Haruru waterfalls which was our next destination.

Haruru Falls

We end up our adventure here in Haruru where I jumped over a 5 storey building...nah.. just kidding.
The two day trip is pretty tiring however the experience is really realy great. 

Just 2 days when your out for nature is PRICELESS!!

P.S. Please check my other blog on the blog list on the right side of the page. I have a lot of little things to share with you all. Enjoy and God Bless us all.