Are you Ready for a Family Adventure in New Zealand?

December 7, 2012

If you are an adventurous, energetic and athletic family that loves to explore the outdoors and take in all that nature has to offer, this is the trip for you. This trip includes New Zealands only native forest zipline canopy tour, Hobbiton movie set, a tour the village movie set from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, visiting Waitomo Glowworm Caves as well as experiencing a Maori Village.  We can even add bungy jumping into the mix, if interested.

We can organize a car for part of your journey, then set up tours along the way.  I would suggest quaint hotels for your journey, then end at a fabulous resort for the last few nights.

Along the way, you will experience:

* Waitomo Glowworm Caves - Today see the Waitomo glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, which is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as expert guides provide informative commentary on ‘The Waitomo Glowworm Caves’ historical and geological significance.

* Tamaki Tours Hangi & Concert - This evening you will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Tamaki Tours for your evening’s Hangi and Concert excursion at a Maori Village.

* Te Puia 90 Minute Guided Tour - This geothermal valley is a special place, home to Te Arawa people for generations. The environment alone is of enormous geological significance, with thermal activity ranging from boiling mud to the world-famous 30-metre (100-foot) Pohutu geyser, erupting up to 20 times each day. Hot springs, boiling sulphurous pools, silica terraces and bubbling mud pools are among the natural wonders.

* Rainbow Springs - Breathe deeply, and take in the native bush, ferns, trees and plants that grow and flower all around you as you wander through the tree lined pathways at Rainbow Springs Nature Park. Enjoy the tranquillity of the crystal clear mineral water that flows tirelessly from the subterranean springs throughout the park, and marvel at the silent grace of the magnificent specimens of Rainbow, Brown and Tiger trout and feed them as they cruise the fern-fringed pools.

* The Agrodome Sheep Show is a one-hour performance where you will see nineteen sheep breeds introduced onto the stage, and be shown the art of sheep shearing, along with sheepdog demonstrations, cow milking, bottle feed lambs and an exciting sheep auction.

* Hobbiton Movie Set - tour the village movie set from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is situated on a working sheep and beef farm with scenic views across to the Kaimai Ranges.  The Hobbiton movie set has been returned to its natural state however, Hobbit holes and some structures from the film set are still present.  Your tour guide will escort you through the 10-acre site, recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created.

* Experience New Zealand’s only native forest zipline canopy tour - A 400 metre walk through native forest leads to the first launch platform where your guides familiarise you with the forest, birds and history of the area. You’ll experience trail walking, 10 platforms, 6 ziplines and 2 swing bridges mixing thrill and slow paced observation of the forest.

* Breathtaking Lake Taupo - The start of the Waikato River signals the proximity of a huge watery crater - Lake Taupo. Your drive winds along the shore of this extinct volcano before ascending the plateau to view the ominous snow-clad peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.  Continue along the desolate and barren Desert Road to windy Waiouru before dropping down into the farming community of Taihape.

* Fly from Wellington to Queenstown - From Wellington Airport fly across Cook Strait which divides New Zealand’s North Island from the South Island, before following the Southern Alps mountain range towards Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital.

* Milford Sound - Today you will undertake a scenic cruise day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is frequently referred to as the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World. The cruise is out to the open sea which takes you past towering Mitre Peak and the spectacular Bowen Falls.

* Safari Of The Scenes - When JRR Tolkien created Middle-Earth little did he know the magical landscapes of his imagination actually existed, 12,000 miles away from his homeland.

This morning you will be met at your accommodation for your 4WD sightseeing excursion.  It took Peter Jackson 10 years and millions of dollars to bring The Lord of the Rings to life on the big screen.  You can visit it today.

Many of the areas that the tour visits provide spectacular backdrops to much of the action in Peter Jackson’s “The Fellowship of the Rings”; The Ford at Bruinen, The Misty Mountains, Isengard and Lothlorien, better known as Skippers Canyon, Macetown and Paradise, to name a few.

* This holiday should be one for the family memory books - time to fly home and share all of your amazing stories with friends and family.

NOTE:  The best months to travel to New Zealand would be in the spring and fall.  Their winter is our summer so if you wanted to visit Queenstown for skiing, the optimal time is right around the 4th of July.

If you too want to plan an amazing trip, contact me, the Travel Gal at 800 644-6659 or email Teresa@Luxuryhideaways.net

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New Zealand - The South Island, Christchurch & Queenstown

July 10, 2010

The South Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most striking landscapes… perfect for outdoor adventures.

Christchurch, the “Garden City,” is also called the “most English city outside England.” The largest city on the South Island, it is filled with beautiful parks and gardens, through which the Avon River runs. Whale-watching, visiting the International Antarctic Centre, punting on the Avon, hot air ballooning, and wine tasting are some highlights of a visit to Christchurch.

Toward the center of the South Island, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Activities include jetboat rides, garden tours, lake cruises, helicopter flights, bungy jumping, golf, skiing, gondola rides, guided walks, fishing, skydiving, wine tasting, and much more. If there’s any outdoor activity you crave, chances are you can find it in Queenstown! By far the most popular activity is the trip to Milford Sound, including a launch cruise on this stunning fiord.

Dunedin, New Zealand’s oldest city, is located on the southern coast. It is home to Edwardian heritage buildings, museums, galleries, and New Zealand’s first university. The nearby Otago Peninsula is a haven for wildlife, including seals, dolphins, albatross, and penguins.

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New Zealand - The North Island, Auckland & Bay of Islands

July 10, 2010

The North Island is home to the international gateway, Auckland – a city located between two harbors and devoted to sailing culture. Auckland is a cosmopolitan city, with a population of over one million. It boasts a thriving cultural scene, with museums and galleries. The Auckland Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Maori artifacts.

In the far north, the Bay of Islands is home to uncrowded beaches, ancient kauri forests, and fruit-growing areas. It’s a great place for golf, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and dolphin watching. The region is also home to much of New Zealand’s colonial history, including the Waitangi Treaty House, location of the treaty between the British and the Maori — the country’s first settlers, Polynesians who arrived about a thousand years ago.

Rotorua, toward the center of the North Island, is an area steeped in Maori culture. Visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Centre, or take part in an evening “Hangi” (feast) with a traditional song and dance show. You can even visit a replica Maori village, to learn what life was like in New Zealand before the arrival of European settlers. The region’s active geothermal features include boiling mud pools, spouting geysers, and natural spa pools. Between Rotorua and Auckland are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, featuring yawning caverns filled with stalagtites and stalagmites, and an underground river lit only by the eerie glow of tiny creatures high above.

At the southern end of the North Island lies Wellington, capital of New Zealand. Here, you can visit the Parliament buildings, botanic gardens, or the acclaimed Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. With over 350 restaurants, bars, and cafés, Wellington has more dining choices per capita than New York City!

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New Zealand is a Great Destination for a Family Holiday

April 23, 2010

New Zealand’s parks and large areas of unspoilt wilderness are ideal places to expand your children’s appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors. Activities include horse riding, snow activities, whale watching, fruit picking and wildlife centres and zoos.

If you are visiting the larger centres, you will find a range of themed attractions including Rainbow’s End (Auckland), Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch). Te Papa, New Zealand’s interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Story Place, a haven for small children.

Most family restaurants have childrens’ menus and high chairs. Many cafes also have high chairs, and a toy basket to amuse babies and toddlers is becoming increasingly common in both cafes and shops. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks. Adventure playlands such as Chipmunks or Lollipop’s Playland are always popular with the very young - these can be found in most main centres.

Contact the Travel Gal at 800 644-6659 or

Teresa@LuxuryHideaways.net for a fabulous family holiday!

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Where are the Cook Islands?

May 20, 2009

Cook Island DancersThe Cook Islands are closely associated to New Zealand. Air New Zealand is the only air carrier that flies directly from the U.S. to the Cook Islands. As you will see below, the Cook Islands use the NZD as their currency.

Despite some 90,000 visitors a year to the capital island, Rarotonga, the Cook Islands are largely unspoiled by tourism. There are no high-rise hotels, only four beach buggies and very little hype. The Cook Islands offer a rare opportunity for an authentic island holiday.

There are a total of 15 islands in the heart of the South Pacific spread over 850,000 square miles with a population of approximately 15,000. The Islands most visited are Rarotonga and Aitutaki which are only 140 miles apart.

Cook Island History
Ru, from Tupua’i in French Polynesia, is believed to have landed on Aitutaki, and Tangiia, also from French Polynesia, is believed to have arrived on Rarotonga around 800 AD. Similarly, the northern islands were probably settled by expeditions from Samoa and Tonga.

Cook Island Climate
Cooled by the gentle breezes of the Pacific, the climate of these islands is sunny and pleasant. Roughly speaking, there are two seasons: from November through May the climate is hot and humid, and from June through October the climate is warm and dry. Most of the rain falls during the hot season, but there are also many lovely sunny days during these months, with refreshing trade-winds.

Cook Island Geography
The Cook Islands consists of two main groups, one in the north and one in the south. The southern group is nine “high” islands mainly of volcanic origin although some are virtually atolls. The majority of the population lives in the southern group. The northern group comprises six true atolls.

Cook Island Southern Group
Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manuae, Mauke, Mitiaro, Palmerston, Rarotonga (the capital island), Takutea.

Cook Island Northern Group
Manihiki, Nassau, Tongareva (Penrhyn) also known as Mangarongaro, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Suwarrow

Cook Island Time Zones
Rarotonga and Aitutaki are in the same time zone.

Cook Island Currency
New Zealand dollar.

Cook Island Language
English and Cook Island Maori.

Call the “Island Travel Gal” at 800 644-6659 or email teresa@luxuryhideaways.net

to secure your seats to the idyllic Cook Islands

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Cruising Aboard the M.Y. Galerna Thru Marlborough Sound, New Zealand

December 15, 2008

No wonder Marlborough is considered one of New Zealand’s finest cruising regions. Blessed with myriad crystal-clear, waterways, sheltered by towering, bush-clad hills, the Sounds’ countless bays, islands and beaches are all within easy reach of one of the New World’s most renowned wine regions.

Queen Charlotte Sound is the easternmost of the main sounds of the Marlborough Sounds, in New Zealand’s South Island. It is, like the other sounds, a drowned valley, and like the majority of its neighbours it runs southwest to northeast before joining Cook Strait.

At the head of the sound is the pretty town of Picton, a haven for yachtsmen with its large marina, and embarkation point for the ferries that ply Cook Strait between the North and South islands. Explore as little or as much as you like, knowing at day’s end your luxury yacht awaits. Relax and soothe any aches away in a hot bath and sauna before drinks and dinner.

Just minutes overland from Picton is the city of Blenheim, set amidst an exciting array of vineyards and wineries, each with its own distinctive style and character. Sample from the cellar door award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, among other varieties. Enjoy some of New Zealand’s best gourmet dining alfresco amongst the vines.

Cruise to the top of Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds, an area steeped in Maori history. Visit the historic town of Havelock, once a gold mining centre, today famous as the green-lipped mussel capital of the world. Watch the dolphins playing in the bow-waves and seals basking in the sun, as you sail through French Pass and circumnavigate Marlborough’s largest island, D’Urville.

Everything about cruising Marlborough aboard the M.Y. Galerna is a delight for the senses. On sea or land, whether you’re into relaxing, exploring, indulging or invigoration, every day brings a new adventure.

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New Zealand is a great destination for your family vacation

September 16, 2008

nz lambsNew Zealand is clean, safe, adventurous, educational and affordable - everything you need for a great family holiday.

You can be confident that New Zealand has a wide range of activities to keep your children happy. New Zealand’s parks and large areas of unspoilt wilderness are ideal places to expand your children’s appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors. Horse riding, snow activities, whale watching, fruit picking and wildlife centres and zoos are just some of the choices available.

If you are visiting the larger centres, you will find a range of themed attractions including Rainbow’s End (Auckland), Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch). Te Papa, New Zealand’s interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Story Place, a haven for small children.

Most family restaurants have childrens’ menus and high chairs. Many cafes also have high chairs, and a toy basket to amuse babies and toddlers is becoming increasingly common in both cafes and shops. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks. Adventure playlands such as Chipmunks or Lollipop’s Playland are always popular with the very young - these can be found in most main centres.

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So you’re thinking of visiting New Zealand?

May 31, 2008

Good for you! New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful, laid back, clean and friendly country in the world - so where to begin….I am assuming you have questions?

nz kayakWhen is the best time to visit New Zealand?

You can visit New Zealand at any time of the year. Summer and winter temperatures vary by only about 50ºF over most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal holiday destination all year round.

What’s the climate like?

New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. This means that the warmest months are December, January and February, while the coldest are in June, July and August. Don’t let cold months put you off - winters tend to be short and generally fairly mild.

What clothes should I take?

Dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and night-spots. Men are generally not expected to wear suits and ties, except in a few of the top formal bars and restaurants in major cities.

In summer a light jacket or sweater should be included in your luggage should the weather turn cooler or you visit the high country. You can expect some rain, so include a light waterproof jacket or coat. Pack warm winter clothing if visiting between May and September. Layer your clothing.

Do I need a passport or visa to enter New Zealand?

All visitors to New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date you intend to leave the country.

Most visitors who intend to stay for less than three months do not require a visa. If you want to stay longer than three months, or your country of origin does not have a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand, then you will need to apply for a Visitor’s Visa.

Can I use my credit cards/ATM cards in New Zealand?

All major international credit cards can be used in New Zealand and Travelers Checks are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores. If your credit card is encoded with a PIN number you will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs) situated at banks and shopping centers throughout the country.

Is Tipping Required?

No, tipping is not expected for any service in New Zealand. Although, if you feel you had exceptional service, a tip will be well received.

Are there any poisonous animals in New Zealand?

New Zealand has no snakes or dangerous wild animals, making it safe for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities.

Is it safe to drink the water in New Zealand?

New Zealand cities and towns have excellent water supplies and in all cases tap water is fresh and safe to drink. Water from rivers and lakes should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered before drinking to avoid stomach upsets.

What is the voltage of electricity supply in New Zealand? Do I need to take a converter?

Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz), although most hotels and motels provide 110 volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept flat three or two-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.

Where is the capital of New Zealand?

Wellington is the political, banking and financial centre for New Zealand. The Parliament building known as the ‘Beehive’ is one of the city’s top attractions. The National Archives, National Library and Old Government Buildings (the second largest wooden building in the world) are located nearby and are open to casual visitors free of charge.

nz sailingWhat is a ‘Kiwi’?

The kiwi, New Zealand’s national emblem, is a flightless bird with hair-like feathers and a long, slender bill which it uses to pull worms and insects out of the ground. Found only in New Zealand, it is active at night in the wilderness areas of the country. Be sure to visit one of the many kiwi houses where you can watch them under special ‘nocturnal’ lighting. New Zealanders often refer to themselves as Kiwis, and the term is also used as a short form for the famous kiwifruit. On the stock exchange, the New Zealand Dollar is also referred to as ‘the kiwi’.

For more travel info give us a call at 800 644-6659

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