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Old January 28th, 2012, 09:47 PM   #261
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Peter Jackson's movies will boost tourism

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Hobbiton, New Zealand by Rob & Jules, on Flickr


Peter Jackson's upcoming two-part blockbuster movies based on JRR Tolkien's book The Hobbit will bring precious windfalls for Kiwi tourism operators. With the release of part one – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – still 11 months away, international media heavyweights such as USA Today are already pushing New Zealand as a leading entertainment tourism destination. The American newspaper rates filming locations including the Waikato town of Matamata – widely known as Hobbiton since the release of Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy opener, The Fellowship of the Ring, in 2001 – and Queenstown's lakes region as must-sees. Matamata Piako deputy mayor Jan Barnes described the growing global hype as "very positive".

The Lord of the Rings films had resulted in more than 20,000 people a year visiting the region for Tolkien-related tourism. USA Today recently wrote of Matamata: "There's a Welcome to Hobbiton sign and a statue of Gollum on the main drag. Wizards routinely show up and nobody bats an eye." The newspaper, which has a daily circulation of more than 1.7 million, also wrote glowingly of Tolkien tourism attractions that take in shooting locations in the Queenstown lakes region and the surrounding Southern Alps. Amanda Gatward-Ferguson, director of Queenstown-based Nomad Safaris, said the pending release of the first The Hobbit movie would be great for business. The company runs two different Lord of the Rings tours, offering punters the chance to visit shooting locations in either the Wakatipu Basin or Glenorchy.

"It [The Hobbit] has revived a lot of interest," Gatward-Ferguson said. "Yes, everybody is excited about it. But we have always seen a lot of media interest ... there has always been interest in The Lord of the Rings. It never died like people thought it would. "It [overseas interest] is definitely helping tourism." Tourism New Zealand public affairs general manager Suzanne Carter has said The Hobbit would provide a great opportunity to promote the country "in a unique way and to raise awareness of New Zealand as a visitor destination". "As with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tourism New Zealand will be looking at every opportunity to leverage the profile of The Hobbit to promote New Zealand." Carter said.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 06:38 AM   #262
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Hollywood director James Cameron has bought two Wairarapa farms and intends to move to the area with his family. Cameron, whose films include Titanic, Avatar and the first two Terminator movies, has bought the blocks totalling 1066ha Western Lake Road, in south Wairarapa, Overseas Investment Office records show. He bought 817.75ha from Pounui Holdings Ltd, owned by William and Annette Shaw, and a further 248.94ha from the Rob and Heather McCreary Trust, whose trustees are listed as Allan Walter Newman, Heather Marion McCreary and Thomas Rob McCreary. "James F Cameron and his family intend to reside indefinitely in New Zealand and are acquiring the property to reside on and operate as a working farm,'' the records of each property said. It was not known how much Cameron paid for the properties.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 12:13 AM   #263
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Auckland: Sightseeing by ferry

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31 JUL 11 15 °C by Urban+Explorer, on Flickr

West Harbour

Harbours, harbours everywhere. Despite living in Auckland for two-thirds of my life, I had no idea that there was a West Harbour ferry service. A somewhat bemused daughter was told: "We're off on an adventure" and we set out to downtown Auckland in search of Pier 3C. Armed with to-die-for ice creams from Valentinos, we wandered on to the floating pontoon to await our boat. "It's teensy," my daughter laughed when the ferry appeared, looking like a toy boat beneath the cruise liner docked at Princes Wharf. However, it was not as teensy as I expected. People were loading bicycles on to the ferry, which opened a whole new world of possibilities to me. I've often wanted to cycle the back roads of Riverhead, Helensville and surrounding areas but have felt it's just too far to go. Not, however, if you start at West Harbour. I've never seen the Chelsea Sugar Works or the cliffs and bush of Chatswood from the water and we ducked from side to side of the ferry to see which suburbs we could recognise. Another realm of possibility struck me fair and square between the eyes when we finally glided into our berth at Westpark Marina - why not catch a ferry to dine on the waterfront in another part of the city? At West Harbour, the Marina Restaurant & Bar has a great-sounding brunch/lunch menu and Acoustic Sundays on the deck from 1pm-4.30pm.

Half Moon Bay

The ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Half Moon Bay skirts Auckland's scenic eastern sea front, passing the bays from Okahu to St Heliers. It then turns into the Tamaki Estuary, docking at the Half Moon Bay Marina. The 500-berth marina is beautiful, but not a tourist destination in its own right. Thanks, however, to a fine new boardwalk, it is an easy amble from the marina to Bucklands Beach, which screams out for children, togs, ice cream and picnics. The entrance to the walkway is slightly hidden at the southeastern end of the marina, where it ducks behind the boatyards, before crossing the mudflats as it winds its way to the southern end of Bucklands Beach. From there, it's a 10-minute walk north/northeast to the centre. The energetic can continue walking to Musick Point at the end of the peninsula. There are two options for a caffeine break. Either stop at the basic Portacabin Oceans cafe at the marina, or hold on to that craving until you get to Bucklands Beach, where two cafes and the Barracuda Restaurant are within metres of each other.

Pine Harbour

My apologies to the good folk of Pine Harbour but it was only when I started riding Auckland's lesser-known ferries that I realised that Pine Harbour and Gulf Harbour weren't the same place. Other Aucklanders I quizzed were equally stumped. For the record, it's at Beachlands, out east. I should have known about Pine Harbour. It's an oasis of civilisation. The Pine Harbour Fresh Market offers French breads and pastries straight from the oven, charcuterie, fromage, fresh fish, quality produce, and much more at market prices. The market runs every Saturday, rain or shine. For other times, two eateries are at the marina itself: The Jolly Roger Pub and Pepperjacks Cafe, which has a children's play area and kids' menu. Buses meet the ferries and will take you five minutes up the road to the entrance of the Omana Regional Park or 10 minutes to nearby Maraetai. Sadly, the ferries only run on weekdays, although a weekday school holiday visit is possible.

Gulf Harbour

At Whangaparaoa's eastern end is the furthest of Auckland's mainland commuter wharves. It's popular with boaties and golf enthusiasts alike as two golf courses are within walking distance of the marina. Unlike some of the commuter services, the weekend service runs at more civilised hours than the weekday because the 360 Discovery Cruises Tiri Tiri Matangi service from Auckland also offers fares to and from Gulf Harbour. Energetic visitors would be advised to bring a bicycle with them to Gulf Harbour and cycle to the newly reopened Shakespear Regional Park, which is less than 5km away. Less intrepid visitors can have brunch or lunch at Ripples Cafe at the marina and marvel at the stingrays and other sea life going about their business in the crystal-clear waters. The trip to Auckland takes 50 minutes, which as a fellow passenger pointed out is faster than driving and, at $28.10 return for an adult, stacks up quite well against the cost of fuel for using a car. The route gives a grandstand view of Auckland's northern bays and, as we rounded North Head, a reminder of just how beautiful Devonport and its surrounding suburbs are from the water.

Birkenhead | Northcore Point

The commuter wharves at Birkenhead and Northcote Pt are both well located for tourists. It is possible also to catch a ferry to one and walk or cycle to the other for the return. Talking cafes first, both have some good eateries nearby. Sausalito Cafe next to the Bridgeway Cinema is a favourite, The Engine Room across the road is renowned as one of Auckland's best, and the little Cafe Bonjour at 143 Queen St offers authentic pastries. Nearer to the Birkenhead Wharf is the Hinemoa Street Organic Cafe. The other thing to do is to walk up from Northcote Pt through Little Shoal Bay Reserve and Le Roys Bush, then down to Hinemoa Park, where you catch a return ferry from the Birkenhead wharf.

Torpedo Bay

As a local I was surprised to find that Discovery 360 runs a hop-on, hop-off service which, for $11 return, drops off passengers three times a day at Torpedo Bay, the trendy end of Devonport. The return trip is on any Fullers Ferry leaving the Devonport wharf, 15 minutes' walk back along the waterfront. At the Torpedo Bay wharf is the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum and the Torpedo Bay Cafe, one of the few absolute waterfront cafes on the North Shore. It's a hop, skip and a jump from the wharf to walk up historic North Head, where you can explore its tunnels and marvel at the view. If you can find it, a hidden walkway runs around the base of North Head, entered through a tunnel from the Torpedo Bay end. This track offers, in the writer's opinion, the most picturesque few hundred metres of coastal walkway within the city limits of Auckland. To get there, turn right at the entrance on Takarunga Road, and skirt the perimeter fence before dropping down through a tunnel to the walkway. It finishes at the southern end of Cheltenham Beach.

Stanley Point | Devonport | Bayswater

Devonport's tourism charms are well known. Nearby are two of Auckland's lesser-known ferry wharves: Stanley Bay and Bayswater. There isn't much to do or see at Stanley Bay, except for swim out to the pontoon, wander over to the navy's Ngataringa Sports Complex or meander along Calliope Rd to central Devonport. A day-trip to Bayswater, however, could include a windsurfing lesson at Bayswater Wind Sports, which is just outside the ferry terminal. Or, like many of these wharves, it is possible to do a spot of fishing. The annual Tom Tiddler Kids' Fishing Competition at Bayswater is hugely popular.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 09:33 AM   #264
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Year ends with international visitor numbers hitting 2.6M

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CHRISTCHURCH 23 JAN 11 by Urban+Explorer, on Flickr

A record number of overseas visitors arriving in December ended the 2011 year in growth and resulted in the first full year of visitor arrivals topping 2.6 million, signaling a good start to the summer, says Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler. Arrivals for the month were 364,165, up 5.4 per cent on the same period last year. Holiday arrivals were up 2,100 and arrivals for conferences and conventions up 1,200. Statistics New Zealand’s International Travel and Migration figures show 2.6 million visitors came to New Zealand in 2011, up three percent on the previous year.

Mr Bowler says while most operators will reflect on 2011 as a very tough period, the figures show that New Zealand held its own in what was a year of contrast. “The highs were really high for some operators, with the Rugby World Cup 2011 providing a needed boost, but the lows mostly over the first half of the year were extremely low. “These figures show just how resilient the sector is and to end the year in growth is an excellent outcome. “Over the course of the year, total stay days increased 2.2 per cent to 51.6M and holiday stay days were only slightly down -0.9 per cent.

“Australian arrivals were up in December by 6.7 per cent. As our largest market this translates into significant numbers. United States was also back in growth for the month at two per cent improvement. “Growth out of Asia continued in December with Malaysia (up 1,200 arrivals, +31.8 per cent), China (up 4,200 arrivals, +29.9 per cent) and Singapore (up 1,700 arrivals, +26.3 percent) all continuing with double digit growth against the same month last year. “We are also starting to see positive signs out of the Korean market with total arrivals up 2.7 per cent this month and holiday arrivals up 11.8 per cent after a very weak year since the February Christchurch earthquake. “As 2012 gets into full swing, we’re expecting to see continued strong performances from Australia and most parts of Asia. The USA and Europe continue to be challenging markets for New Zealand, but they remain vitally important and high on our marketing priorities.”
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Old February 4th, 2012, 08:57 PM   #265
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Bali is Air New Zealand’s newest international route

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Air New Zealand 77W Business Premier Cabin by lindsay.gardiner, on Flickr

Kiwis will now be able to fly non-stop to the popular holiday destination of Bali with the launch of Air New Zealand’s new twice weekly service between Auckland and Denpasar Airport. The Boeing 767-300 service will operate seasonally over the peak demand period of June to October, but has the potential to operate year round if there’s sufficient demand. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe says Bali is already a popular destination for Kiwis and the non-stop service will now make it even more accessible. “Our flight time of eight and a half hours is a significant improvement on the indirect services offered by competitors that can involve long layovers and a total journey time of at least 14 and sometimes more than 24 hours.”

“We’ll be offering our flexible and popular ‘Seats to Suit’ fare structure on the Bali route with great pricing and arrival and departure times to be announced closer to the on-sale date of 23 February,” Mr Fyfe says. “Bali has a stable tropical climate and great value food and accommodation, making it a really affordable way for New Zealanders to enjoy a resort style holiday in Asia at a fraction of the price of other destinations.” The inaugural flight will depart on Wednesday June 20, subject to government and regulatory approvals. The Boeing 767-300 has 24 Business Class and 204 Economy Class seats. Bali is a great addition to Air New Zealand’s portfolio of island destinations which includes Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Norfolk Island, Niue and Honolulu. Air New Zealand last operated services between Auckland to Bali in the 1990s using a Boeing 767-200 aircraft.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 09:02 AM   #266
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Tripadvisor's Top 10 Destinations in the South Pacific 2011:

1. Sydney
2. Queenstown, New Zealand
3. Melbourne
4. Perth
5. Byron Bay
6. Cairns
7. Auckland, New Zealand
8. Milford Sound, New Zealand
9. Papeete, French Polynesia
10. Christchurch, New Zealand
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Old February 7th, 2012, 11:03 PM   #267
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New Zealand is a hot Destination for 2012


The tiny little nation at the bottom of the world, New Zealand, is set to become very big in the international tourism scene in the coming year. With excellent tourism numbers throughout 2011 and the recent Rugby World Cup, the strong tourism drive towards the Land of the Long White Cloud will help the country grow and recover from the recent series of violent earthquakes in Christchurch.

2011 Tourist Numbers Were Strong
By the end of the year 2011, the tourism numbers visiting New Zealand were very strong. A record number of visitors arrived in December which ended the year 2011 very well and resulted in the first year where visitors topped 2.6 million. The totals for December were up 5.4 percent from the same period last year. Australian arrivals, which are the largest visitor market for New Zealand, were up 6.7 percent. These numbers show that the country is recovering well and since December is only the beginning of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere this is only the start of the peak tourist season in New Zealand.

Rugby World Cup Showcased New Zealand’s Beauty
The Rugby World Cup was held last year and this enormous worldwide sporting event brought 133,000 visitors to New Zealand in September and October. Many UK visitors travelled to the island nation to participate in the event. With the international coverage of the tournament being shown to a viewing audience in over 230 countries, the Rugby World cup displayed the beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes and culture to potential visitors all over the world.

New Zealand Wins Several Travel Awards
Throughout the year 2011 New Zealand has won several travel awards which have confirmed its desirability as a friendly, hot, and popular tourist destination. The country has been named in the “Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2012” by travel guide authority Lonely Planet as well as being voted the “Best Eco-Tourism Destination” at the World Traveller tourism awards which were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Southern Lakes region on the South Island was named in the “Best in Travel 2012” issue of Lonely Planet, ranked and #8 and praised for its year round activities and absolutely gorgeous scenery.
Kaikoura, which is the whale watching capital of New Zealand’s South Island, was the very first destination in the entire world to ever achieve the gold standard in the global green benchmark for sustainability. It was awarded a Gold Community certification by the organization Green Globe.
According to the FutureBrand Country Brand Index, New Zealand has ranked as the world’s third strongest country brand. Also, many Kiwis have received accolades and been recognized as the best in the world in their field, such as wine-makers, tourism operators, artists, designers, authors, film-makers, and sports people.
In October of 2011, a survey by UK newspaper The Telegraph found that readers named New Zealand as their second favourite destination in the world. New Zealand has won many awards, but it seems to have also won the hearts of any travellers who set foot on its shores.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 11:22 PM   #268
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So many places, so little time ... and nowhere near enough money. But that's never stopped me working on my bucket list, which is probably longer now than it was when I started this job. I suspect a lot of people have the same attitude and that's why the first edition of Patricia Schultz's 1,000 Places To See Before You Die - a sort of giant bucket list of amazing places around the world - was an unexpected best-seller back in 2003. Copies flew off the shelves so quickly the New Zealand release had to be postponed. And - the ultimate compliment - it spawned a host of imitations.

The newly-published second edition (Workman Publishing, $49.99) has even more places to see. Schultz says that in the intervening eight years she found 200 more treasures that had to be added. She squeezed them in by merging several of her original 1000. Of course that doesn't make it any easier to decide where to go first. So, to give readers a starting point for their own bucket lists, Schultz has kindly come up with her 10 favourite places:


Italy

Just about anywhere in Italy does it for me, says Schultz. I even like it in the off-season. Venice is magical and immersed in mist in January, and the time-locked hilltowns of Tuscany are the locals' once more, after the crowds leave in autumn. Florence and Rome brim with world-class art museums, and grand piazzas rimmed with medieval and Renaissance palazzos will make your head swim. But sometimes just an idyllic hour spent in an outdoor cafe (Rome's Piazza Navona is a favourite choice) promises an unforgettable parade of Fellini-esque characters to accompany your cappuccino.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Unassuming Laos is one of Southeast Asia's less-visited corners, but those who do come make a beeline for Luang Prabang (City of the Buddha of Peace) at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers in the mountainous north. The sleepy former capital is home to hundreds of saffron-clad monks who inhabit its more than 30 pagoda-like temples, and throughout town a languid air of serenity mingles with a new-found sense of stylishness. Of the growing number of chic hotels, many are housed in refurbished French-colonial buildings, and outdoor restaurants offer mouth-watering fusion dishes.

Sing Sing Festival, Papua New Guinea

The Stone Age collides with the 21st century when hundreds of tribes come from all over the Highlands - some of them travelling for days by flat-bed truck, bus and on foot - to this August festival in Mt Hagen to compete in song, dance and costume contests. Noses are pierced with wild boar tusks and faces are painted in primary colours, while feathers from the island's rich bird life decorate elaborate head-dresses or wigs made from human hair.

Bhutan

Slightly larger than Switzerland and 70 per cent covered by forest, this little-visited Himalayan Buddhist kingdom has a young, very cool (and much-loved) king, a people who do not know what the words greed or discontent mean, not a single stop light and a pristine countryside dissected by a single serpentine road that runs from west to east. Attending any of the sacred festivals is a wonderful way to glimpse the rich heritage of the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

The African safari can be special anywhere. But Botswana's inland Okavango Delta, where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari Desert, has been called "the world's largest oasis". It boasts a unique ecosystem that is a magnet for wildlife. As a local brochure puts it: "If you see 10 per cent of what sees you, it's an exceptional day." Glide through a labyrinth of papyrus-fringed waterways in the traditional mokoro dugout canoe or explore the islands and islets by Jeep, on foot ... or by elephant.

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Milford Sound is the attention-getter of the 15 fjords that make up this massive park of incredible beauty, but my Kiwi friends said not to miss Doubtful Sound ... and now I know why. Doubtful is less-known outside of the country, much larger and, with less buzz and tourism, seems even more remote and magical. When our boat turned off the engines, we were enveloped in a primeval silence and a palpable sense of mystery. The experience took my breath away.


Bora Bora, Tahiti

James Michener called it "the South Pacific at its unforgettable best", and I concur. For Americans, it feels like the other side of the world and remains a dream for most, who settle for more convenient Caribbean island substitutes. Little in the world can match the lagoon's palette of blues and greens, the underwater traffic of fish, and blackfin lagoon sharks hand-fed for curious divers.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The 360-degree view from atop Corcovado where you stand beneath the outstretched hands of the 40m Christ statue may well be the most inspiring urban view I have ever seen. With 70km of gorgeous beach fringing Guanabara Bay, cariocas - the residents of Rio - call it "the Marvellous City", and it is just that. It's no surprise that Rio also hosts some of the world's wildest parties, including Carnival and the annual New Year's Eve bash on Copacabana Beach that attracts close to a million revellers.

New York City, USA

Skyscrapers loom above canyon-like streets where more than eight million residents, drawn from every corner of the globe, go about their daily business. The profusion of museums, restaurants and cultural life is second-to-none. New Yorkers take advantage of a plethora of free events (opera in Central Park, big band dance-offs at Lincoln Center, films under the stars in Bryant Park) that make this otherwise pricey metropolis manageable and a joy 24/7. New York is my hometown, so you'll have to excuse me if I sound biased.

Monument Valley, Arizona and Utah, USA

The Four Corners region of America's southwest is the very embodiment of the Old West. Much of it is protected as national or state parks, and entire swathes are still owned and lived on by native American tribes. A single 30km dirt road runs through the national park - a barren plain punctuated by towering red-rock formations with names such as Totem Pole and The Mittens, which stood in as backdrops for countless John Wayne western classics.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 09:00 PM   #269
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Lake Wanaka named in world's best ski towns

The picturesque resort town of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand's Southern Alps has been named as one of the top 25 ski towns in the world by the prestigious National Geographic Magazine. Tipped as best for "skiers and snowboarders from the Northern Hemisphere who just can't let go when winter slips way", Lake Wanaka is the only town in the Southern Hemisphere to feature in the list and shares the top 25 with such iconic destinations as Aspen in Colorado USA, Zermatt in Switzerland and Chamonix in France. When choosing the top 25 ski towns, National Geographic researchers were seeking the classic ski town with excellent skiing and snowboarding that attracts people from all over the world, combined with an inviting community featuring ski heritage, amenities and culture. Seen as quickly developing a reputation as one of the world's premier adventure towns, Lake Wanaka gets the most snow in New Zealand, with over 4metres (160in) in an average season.

Lake Wanaka's Treble Cone has more snow and skiable terrain than any other South Island resort, Snow Park NZ boasts a world-class terrain park, and all surrounded by stunning, Lord of the Rings-style alpine scenery. James Helmore, general manager of Lake Wanaka Tourism, said appearing in such a respected list further cemented Lake Wanaka's position as New Zealand's leading ski destination. 'We have four ski areas within half an hour's drive and a further two within an hour, providing the most varied and extensive terrain in Australasia," he said. "Combine this with the region's spectacular scenery and the largest heliskiing area outside of North America and it's easy to see why the world's skiers and boarders would come here!" Lake Wanaka features the ski areas of Treble Cone, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Park NZ and the cross-country ski area, Snow Farm. Off-snow activities include mountain biking, climbing, jet boating, 4WD and wine tasting at one of the region's many vineyards. The vibrant lakeside town includes a host of bars, restaurants and cafes along with a wide variety of accommodation from backpackers to luxury lodges.

Best For: Skiing and snowboarding addicts from the Northern Hemisphere who just can’t let go when winter slips away. Quickly developing a reputation as one of the world’s premier adventure towns, Wanaka sits on the shores of sprawling Lake Wanaka amid New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Surrounded by rugged, Lord of the Rings-style alpine scenery, the tranquil town of 5,000 is peppered with hostels, cafes, pubs, and small, luxury eco-lodges. As is customary in New Zealand ski towns, there’s no skiing right there, but four ski areas are within a 40-minute drive, including one, Snow Park NZ—teenage boys with pants that need to be pulled up, take note—that is essentially one big world-class terrain park.

Treble Cone, 35 minutes from town, is the best and closest, with more snow and skiable terrain than any other South Island resort. In typical New Zealand style, the entire ski area is above tree line. It’s also steep, offering intermediates an array of plummeting, groomed runs but limiting the options for beginners. Almost half of the runs are rated expert, and the in-bounds, backcountry-style terrain—a collection of wide-open bowls, chutes, and ridges—is what makes the area sing. Cardrona Alpine Resort, a 40-minute drive south, has more beginner terrain, a quality ski school, and on-mountain lodging.

Though New Zealand isn’t blessed by the powder gods the way, say, Japan and the American Rockies are, Wanaka gets the most snow in the country, with just over 200 inches in an average year. Seasons are reversed here in the Southern Hemisphere—Wanaka’s ski season runs from June through October—making it an excellent choice for “summer” skiing and snowboarding.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 09:45 PM   #270
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Auckland Airport is flying high

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If you haven't passed through Auckland Airport's international terminal recently you might be surprised at a few changes. New shops, duty free and catering facilities, a strong Kiwi flavour along the concourses, bold new designs, an increased choice of nearby hotels and even new parking deals and services to soothe the weary and delight the excited. The airport is even now operating its own lounge for the first time, marketing it to paying passengers and airlines that don't have lounge facilities. The changes are the public manifestation of a significant shift in management thinking at Auckland International Airport, where the principle of constant improvement is being applied and retail is being diversified along principles chief executive Simon Moutter describes as "good, better, best".

Making improvements that really deliver for customers is about focusing on what you can control. At airports that means "non-border issues", functions controlled by management, not Customs. Moutter brought a management philosophy called Six Sigma with him when he arrived from Telecom to take the top job at the airport in 2008. He combines that with "Lean" principles developed in manufacturing by Toyota. The approach is applied across processes so all employees are working towards a single set of goals. The result is streamlined departures and arrivals for passengers and a good experience that has earned the airport international accolades. This year it was named among the best airports in the world in the annual Skytrax World Airport Awards, placing eighth. More importantly for Moutter, it retained its title as the best airport in the Australia/Pacific region.

Auckland Airport can't impress in such competitions with scale or ground-breaking architecture, but it can do service and offer choice, Moutter said. Now, non-border processes account for just three to four minutes on departure, and under 10 minutes on arrival. Passenger's time is used as a proxy for value in his team's thinking and planning that has reduced process costs as well. But passenger experience is key, also making it easier for Australians to take short breaks in New Zealand. As for "good, better, best", Moutter said that's a High Street retail concept about meeting the full range of customer requirements. The airport is striving to offer goods and services at affordable prices comparable to those in the city centre, he said. In each category the aim is to provide a good option for budget-conscious travellers, a better option for those seeking it, and a best option to satisfy the luxury segment.

Some examples. Three years ago the airport offered daily and long-term parking rates. Now it offers Park and Ride services and long-term and short-term services at different levels. Online bookings have helped deliver significant uptake from travellers, he said. Just last week, Auckland Airport opened New Zealand's first on-airport campervan facility for the "self-drive" holiday market, a conveniently located place to rest up and relax before beginning journeys around New Zealand. The two hotels on offer, both operated by Accor, may be matched with another soon. The current Formule 1 is the "good" category while the Novotel is the "best". Whatever the third is, it will have to fill out the "better" category. "A few years ago it was a bit more vanilla," Moutter said.

New Zealand brands (such as Icebreaker and Mac's) and Kiwi themes are in evidence in the departure and arrivals area and behind the Customs barrier. There is also more seating and spaces to stretch out. And, if you are not a frequent flyer or don't have access to lounge facilities, you can pay $55 ($49 online) to relax, drink, eat and shower in the new Emperor lounge. Meanwhile, at the domestic terminal, things are a bit more fraught. Moutter said discussions are already under way with airlines about a replacement facility. While much talk has been about a second runway, solving "sub-optimal" domestic terminal performance is more pressing he said, conceding Wellington provides a superior domestic experience. Moutter is engaged by the government's ambition to create a hub in Auckland for traffic between South America and Asia. "It has interesting potential for NZ Inc," he said.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 11:10 PM   #271
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Sky Towers' elevator on world's best list

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30 JUL 10 13°C by Urban+Explorer, on Flickr

The Auckland Sky Tower's elevator has been named one of the world's impressive elevators by a popular international travel blog. Ryan Murphy, of Budget Travel, compiled a list of the "12 elevators you need to see to believe" for CNN's website. He described the Auckland landmark's 40-second ride to the tower's observation level as "magical". "The glass-fronted elevators have views of the harbour and Auckland's cityscape, as well as the green countryside unfurling like a quilt in the far distance. "If you can tear your eyes away from the view out the sides, look down through the glass floor for the extra thrill of seeing the ground speed away from you - and come rushing back towards you on the descent." The SkyTower had some stiff competition.

Also included in the list was an elevator inside an aquarium, a rotating boat lift and Europe's highest exterior elevator. The AquaDom resides in the lobby of Berlin's Radisson Blu Hotel and rises through the hollow centre of a cylindrical, 25m tall aquarium giving visitors a panorama of tropical sea life. Meanwhile, the rocket-like Hammetschwand Lift in Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, "offers far more colorful vistas than anything you could find in the emptiness of outer space," Mr Murphy said. The elevator was opened in 1905 and the 152m, 48-second ride is still the tallest outdoor lift in Europe. Not to be out-done, the Falkirk Wheel in Falkirk, Scotland, is a lift for boats which links two canals whose "inconvenient, lock-ridden connection had been severed nearly 70 years earlier".
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Old February 13th, 2012, 09:56 PM   #272
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Auckland secures 10 per cent increase in visitor nights

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25 JAN 12 24°C ST HELIERS by Urban+Explorer, on Flickr

Auckland has capped off an impressive year of strong visitation with a 10 per cent annual increase in guest nights, against an overall national decline of 07 per cent. According to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand Auckland secured 6.26 million guest nights in 2011 and enjoyed the largest annual rise of any region in the country. Auckland also led the way with its monthly result of a 12 per cent increase in guest nights for December 2011. Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Ltd (ATEED) Manager Tourism Jason Hill says it is excellent to see this strong year-on-year growth. “For the last two years Auckland has shown near-continuous improvement in visitor numbers. Rugby World Cup was an obvious driver for visitation last year, but it is heartening to see the strong numbers through into December,” he says.

For the year end December 2011 Auckland’s international guest nights jumped 11 per cent and domestically they were up 9 per cent. Mayor Len Brown endorsed the new ten year Auckland Visitor Plan last December and says these figures are a good start for growing the visitor economy. “These results bode well for realising the targets in Auckland’s Visitor Plan, which aims to grow the visitor economy by 5.5 per cent per annum, and also help make our city a better place to live as well as a better place to visit,” he says. Tourism is big business in Auckland, generating in excess of $3 billion of GDP per annum and supporting more than 50,000 full time jobs.
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Old February 14th, 2012, 03:26 AM   #273
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Queenstown: the Adventure Capital of the World

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Shadow Basin Lookout by JarvisKP, on Flickr

It’s like a dream come true. My dawn charter flight makes its final approach into Queenstown Airport which has just been voted among the best approaches in the world. This spectacular New Zealand resort is the adventure capital of the world and I am blown away by the summer scenery. It’s no wonder Queenstown with its magnificent scenery and high octane activities is ranked eighth on Lonely Planet's list of top 10 places in the world to visit this year. Queenstown is no longer just a winter skiing destination. It offers fuel-injected fun all summer long. My limousine arrives at St Moritz, the hotel with the best five star views in town. The lake view suite has spectacular views.

I stroll into town for the best biggest breakfast at Fergburgers Cafe. Just ask for the fluffer. Next on the list: a thrilling Kawarau jet boat ride which hits speeds over 90kmph and does 360 degree spins producing squeals of fun from others in the boat. Boat driver Kevin tells me Kawarau is the longest running commercial jet boat company in the world. They leave on the hour from the wharf right by town. It gets even better. Guide Pete Hitchman takes me into the bush on one of his You vs Wild survival tours, based along the lines of the Bear Grills tv programme. On the Sam Summers track, Pete teaches how to survive. He shows how to make an aspirin from a tree, which plants can be safely eaten, and what plant to use as an antiseptic and how to filter water. He lights a fire, by friction with a shoe lace. It feels great being outdoors enjoying nature in the wild.

I’m exhausted. Back in town I sip a latte outside Vudu Cafe and watch a stream of paragliders float off gondola hill. I glance up the gondola and decide to hire a bike and hit the forest tracks in the high-octane new mountain bike park from the gondola back in to town. It’s a big adrenalin-buzz; so steep – even on the beginners green track - but exciting. By afternoon’s end I soak in a hot tub at St Moritz. This is the best place in the world right now. This adrenalin-junkie, sexy, love-making capital of the world is so seductive for activity-lovers who embrace the staggering beauty of this wild destination. Refreshed, I wander down to Steamer Wharf to eat at Wai restaurant for yummy whitebait and salmon, washed down by a buttery Spy Valley chardonnay. Superb hostess Katie suggests going to the sub-zero ice bar for a drink, or possibly a trip on the steam ship Earnslaw which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.

Around the waterfront, couples stroll arm in arm; girls in bikinis and guys in baggy shorts get the last of the sun on the lakeside beach. The setting sun casts a rosy tint over the rugged Remarkables . This picture-postcard resort destination is a Mecca for people with a lust for high-octane excitement. At dusk I unwind with a back massage at Sofitel. They were named last year by Travel and Leisure magazine as having the best spa in the world. Michelle is an outstanding massage expert and worked on all my bumps and bruises from a gloriously hectic day. Tired but inspired, I plod back to my fabulous St Moritz suite, flop onto the bed and ponder my potential conquests for the next day. Who knows what I will get into: skydiving, paragliding, rafting, hang gliding, bungy jumping, canyoning, horse trekking, mountain biking, water skiing, sailing, deer hunting, canoeing, mountain climbing, kayaking, fly fishing, ice skating, luge and river surfing.
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Old February 14th, 2012, 10:58 PM   #274
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I love this new campaign by Air New Zealand (hosted by Rhys Darby from "Flight of the Conchords" fame) which targets ignorant Australians


The Europhile Aussie





The Bali Aussie





The Hipster Aussie





The Aussie Aussie - Aussie

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Old February 14th, 2012, 11:47 PM   #275
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Visitor arrivals and expenditure increase in 2011

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Moeraki Boulders at Sunrise, Otago, South Island, New Zealand by Ilya Genkin, on Flickr

International visitor arrivals and expenditure both increased in 2011, boosted by Rugby World Cup 2011 and the growing number of travellers coming here to visit friends and relatives, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand says. In the year ending December 2011, international visitors to New Zealand were 2.601 million, up 3% on 2010 and the first time annual arrivals have exceeded 2.6 million. During the same period visitor expenditure reached $5.763 billion, up 3% on 2010. The increase in expenditure was largely attributable to RWC 2011, which pumped around $390 million into the economy, says TIA Chief Executive Tim Cossar. “Given the challenging trading conditions for tourism businesses in 2011, the increase in visitor arrivals and expenditure is a good result for the industry,” says Mr Cossar. He cautions, however, that New Zealand needs to do more to increase its share of higher-spending holidaymakers

“The 2.601 million visitor arrivals last year included 1.216 million holidaymakers, an increase of just 0.3% on 2010. At the same time we saw the number of travellers coming here to visit friends and relatives increase by 7.1% to almost 834,000.” “While we welcome all visitors and the contribution they make to the economy, those that come here to visit friends and relatives generally spend less on things like accommodation, eating out, transport and activities than those who come for a holiday.” Mr Cossar says the increase in arrivals visiting friends and relatives (VFR) was particularly noticeable in the Australian market, New Zealand’s largest visitor market. “The number of VFR Australians travelling to New Zealand in 2011 was up 8.6% on 2010. At the same time the number of Australians coming here on holiday declined 1%.”

He says Australian visitor arrivals were boosted by RWC 2011. The UK market, which has been in decline in recent years due to ongoing economic difficulties in that market and added costs in long-haul travel, also showed growth during RWC 2011. Increased air capacity helped see Chinese visitor arrivals reach just over 145,000 in 2011, up 18.6% on 2010. Expenditure from this market was a record $457 million, and has now overtaken the USA as New Zealand’s third largest spending visitor market. The introduction of new air services also supported strong growth in visitor arrivals from Malaysia and Singapore. “Rugby World Cup aside, 2011 was a challenging year for many tourism operators. However, the growth in visitor arrivals and visitor expenditure allows for some guarded optimism for the year ahead,” Mr Cossar says. “It’s important to build on that growth, and as an industry, continue to look for new ways to increase the number of higher-spending holiday makers travelling to New Zealand.”
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Old February 15th, 2012, 09:47 PM   #276
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Rotorua Shows Huge Growth as a Conference Destination

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The Rotorua Convention Bureau is thrilled with the latest Convention Activity Survey (CAS) results which show huge growth in multi-day conferences and delegate days in 2011. The CAS results show Rotorua secured 297 multi-day conferences in the year to December 2011, which was 28 more conferences than the previous year equating to 10.4% growth for the region compared to a decline of 20.8% in the CAS benchmark. More than 40,000 delegates attended Rotorua’s 297 multi-day conferences. The delegates collectively stayed almost 140,000 delegate days in Rotorua and are estimated to have spent $60 million in the region.

Rotorua's market share of domestic delegate days spent in the 10 New Zealand CAS regions has increased from 12% to 20% over the previous year and from 2% to 17% for Australian delegates. Australian delegate days spent in Rotorua have increased from fewer than 2000 days a year ago to more than 10,000 in the most recent year. Rotorua Convention Bureau manager Denise Siviter says when Rotorua first went into the Australian conference market with business development manager Debbie Gee, Rotorua had no profile and no history, but with a lot of hard work the Australian market has come ahead in leaps and bounds.

“These results are clearly a reflection of the work that Debbie has done in the Australian conference market, boosted by the support of local industry. “Rotorua Convention Bureau and industry have formed strong relationships with key people in Australia by working together to encourage business to come across this side of the Tasman.” Siviter says MEETINGS 2011 (New Zealand's only national conference and incentive trade show) was held in Rotorua for the first time last June and it has also helped to raise the profile of Rotorua’s conference and incentive industry.

She says MEETINGS showed delegates how easy it is to run a professional and successful event in a compact city like Rotorua, with many people seeing the city in a fresh new light. She hopes the success of MEETINGS will help Rotorua to continue to grow in the future. “These results are a great start to the year and the Rotorua Convention Bureau look forward to another successful year in 2012,” says Siviter.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 09:26 PM   #277
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Emperor Lounge launched at Auckland Airport

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Auckland Airport by Kaell116, on Flickr

Auckland Airport has opened New Zealand's first premium lounge facility that caters for all international travellers regardless of the airline they are flying with. The new Emperor Lounge at Auckland Airport provides choice for passengers who don’t have an airline lounge membership but would like to access a premium lounge facility. “The Emperor Lounge is the next step in building upon our award-winning reputation for delivering the best facilities and options for travellers in Australasia,” says Jackie Neville, Manager, Passenger Product for Auckland Airport. “The Emperor Lounge is designed to provide passengers travelling internationally, either on departure or while in transit, the choice to relax in style before they fly. The lounge has all the services and conveniences of a regular travel lounge and is conveniently located close to other airline lounges and the retail area.”

The lounge features freshly-made light meals (including halal) and snacks, complimentary drinks including wine, beer, coffee and a range of teas, shower and bathroom facilities for those looking to refresh, and whether traveling for business or pleasure, guests are invited to make use of the complimentary Wi-Fi access or secluded study areas. The Emperor Lounge was designed by Stephenson & Turner Architects. The space is an adaptation of a former airline lounge facility. The lounge is also used by international airlines that don’t have a dedicated on-site lounge but who want to offer this service to their business class passengers. Malaysia Airlines, for example, currently uses the lounge for their premium customers.

Entry to the Emperor Lounge can be pre-booked online at wwwaucklandairport.co.nz from $49 per person, and opening hours are 6:00am – 11:00pm.

Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport has been voted the best airport in the Australia Pacific region for the third year running, and has improved its top 10 placing in the best airports in the world over this time – moving from 10th to 9th to 8th place.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 06:55 PM   #278
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Some of the most magnificent photos from New Zealand; well done, SYDNEY
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Old February 19th, 2012, 02:54 PM   #279
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Quote:
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Queenstown: the Adventure Capital of the World

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Shadow Basin Lookout by JarvisKP, on Flickr
breath taking....
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Old February 19th, 2012, 11:11 PM   #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christos-greece View Post
Some of the most magnificent photos from New Zealand; well done, SYDNEY
Thanks CG, that is very kind of you


Quote:
Originally Posted by Linguine View Post
breath taking....
Cheers mate, photographs can't capture the true beauty of the area, it is something that you have to experience
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