The city of Auckland is full of diversity and personality. It is also New Zealand's largest city with a population of nearly 1.5 million. If you're looking for somewhere exciting to go to on your next vacation, Auckland is the place to be.
Why do you ask? Below are some of the top reasons why you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent city.
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island is one of those places that stays with you once you’ve experienced it. And has you longing to come back for more.
Untamed, pristine wilderness. It’s simply stunning.
I know. I was here over twenty years ago and out of 40+ countries I’ve been to, to this day it remains as one of my top travel experiences. Ever. Can’t wait to get back.
Welcome to Tassie! Australia’s smallest state, it is often overlooked as a destination. It shouldn’t be, with so much to see, do, experience. It also boasts having the cleanest air on earth. That in of itself sounds especially inviting.
Here are my other top reasons why you should visit (not listed in any order of importance).
Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife (instead of the road).
Here are 7 incredible train adventures that can be taken on it's own or even better, woven into an existing itinerary. Whether you are starting or ending an Alaskan or European cruise, a Rhine River cruise, exploring Australia and New Zealand, taking in Machu Picchu or combined with a golf package, consider adding these journeys into your plans. They'll make an already great trip exceptional.
Courtesy of The Brando
The world is full of amazing destinations, amazing accommodations and amazing experiences that come along with them, by land and by sea. Here are 7 of my favorites:
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
Excerpt from the Ensemble October monthly magazine - written by Craig Tansley;
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - taken by Chris McLennan
Perhaps you’ve tasted a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Oyster Bay, but little else is known about the country’s wine throughout North America. While Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay hog the Australasian limelight, New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best wine in the world’s most unique vineyards. We share some of the secrets…
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
I love the ocean. I am fascinated by the creatures that call it home. I enjoy snorkeling, and someday I'll learn how to scuba dive to get an even closer look. As with many other places on this earth, some things you need to see with your own eyes. Pictures just don't do it justice.
Whakatane Ohope International Golf Club - photo courtesy of NZ Tourism - taken by Strike-Photography
Despite being a relatively small country (about the size of Oregon or Colorado), it's quite easy to spend months exploring New Zealand's north and south islands. So much to see, experiences to take in, food, wine and people to meet.
One special touring route is a drive down the beautiful east coast on New Zealand's Pacific Coast Highway. Check out this itinerary between Auckland and Napier.
Australia's largest state, WA for short, stretches over a third of the nation, borders two oceans and has more pristine beaches than any other state. And with only 10% of the nation's population, it is far less crowded than Australia's eastern states.
Nature and aquatic wildlife, pioneer history, Aboriginal Australia and food, wine and beer experiences are just a few reasons that attract visitors to WA.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism (Lake-Wakatipu Queenstown)
I know if you were to ask a Kiwi or folks who have experienced the wonderfulness of New Zealand, they would give way more reasons on why you'll fall in love with the country. Wonderful, proud, friendly people, stunning scenery, unique flora, fauna and wildlife, the land of Bilbo Baggins and the Shire, caves lit up by glow worms, delicious food and wine - these just a few.
Here are my top reasons:
New Zealand is blessed with numerous wine regions, on both the North and South Islands. Lucky for those living in or visiting Auckland, one is a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland - Waiheke Island.
With it's warm and dry weather, this 12 mile long island is a great spot to grow a variety of wines. Waiheke is home to 30+ boutique wineries and award winning wines, including Bordeaux style reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc), Syrah and even some Chardonnay.
Whether you are short on time or have a few days, Waiheke is well worth a visit.
All photos courtesy of Australia.com tourism board
I can't wait to meet these little fellas! They always look like they are smiling, and apparently love to take selfies with anyone who is game. How fun is that!
This is the quokka - the world's happiest animal!
About the size of a cat, quokkas are marsupials found only in Western Australia, almost exclusively on beautiful Rottnest Island, just off the coast from Perth.
I had the opportunity this week to learn more about New Zealand's Maori culture. A fascinating hour, well spent.
The speaker, a Maori himself, comes from a family with a long history of promoting this island nation. We were treated to a number of wonderful pictures, paintings and stories, including ones of his great grandmother dancing in New York City promoting New Zealand's culture. I wish I could share them here, but they were pictures from his own photo album.
Last week I shared the first part of our three week itinerary on the North Island. This week continues with the South Island portion of the itinerary.
We gave up our car in Wellington and hopped on the fast ferry which took us across the beautiful Cook Strait into Picton. Here we picked up another car and headed off to Nelson. We didn't include time to go into Abel Tasman Park, but Nelson is the perfect base for those who want to explore the park and boutique wineries in the area.
At a recent meeting we were asked to share our most favorite travel experience. Well, I certainly have been very fortunate with respects to travel, having been on numerous memorable trips to spots all around the world (six continents and counting!). So when it comes to a favorite, I have several, for very different reasons.
But when pushed to choose only one, I consistently come back to the same, one destination.
Photo courtesy of Australia Tourism; taken by Lincoln Fowler
The Whitsunday Islands are off the central coast of Queensland, an hour and a half flight from Brisbane and on the Great Barrier Reef. This group of 74 islands is often described as being synonymous with paradise, well deserved with its beautiful white and sunny beaches, incredible marine life, stunning coral reefs, great food, drink and luxury resorts. A perfect spot for a little (or a lot) of romance and down time!
If you love to walk uncrowded beaches, snorkel, dive, sail or just plain unwind and relax, the Whitsundays offer plenty of options for you.
Cairns is well known as one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef - a must see experience. But there are many more things to do in and near Cairns besides the reef. From stunning beaches to the hinterland area, centuries old rainforests and the city itself, Cairns offers a wide variety of adventures, culinary delights and relaxation options for all tastes. Check out the following top experiences and put them in your plans when visiting the area.
It's "Shark Week" again on the Discovery Channel! I can't say I watch all the shows. With titles like "Jaws of the Deep", "Air Jaws: Night Stalker", "Shark Bait" and "Deadliest Sharks", not sure how well I'd sleep after watching one of these episodes. But the intrigue is certainly there.
I do watch some, though, because I am fascinated by these creatures. Someday I'll check off that bucket list item of swimming with them. I got this idea in my head while in Tahiti a few years ago. The islands offer some fantastic opportunities to dive with sharks - black tipped reef sharks, lemon sharks - the "friendly" ones, mind you. Not like the big guy above.
I've not been to Uluru yet, but I have seen many pictures of this majestic desert landscape. I'm told that like may other places, there's just no replacement to seeing and "feeling" it in person. The area offers many memories of a lifetime, including spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Can you imagine watching them with this view of Uluru from your own exclusive hideaway? Breathtaking!
One of my all time favorite books is "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. Though not usually a reader of fantasy novels, something about Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Gandalf and The Shire always intrigued me. Seeing how popular both "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogies have been, I'm not alone in favoring these stories.
"Welcome to the Year of the Red Fire Monkey!
In Chinese astrology, each year is symbolized by one of twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) and one of five elements (metal, water, fire, wood or earth). The animal - element combination occurs every 60 years, and this year is the "Year of the Red Fire Monkey" (red for the color of fire).
Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is a celebration that lasts over a period of 16 days. The first day of the Chinese calendar in 2016 is Monday, February 8, and in 2017, New Year's will be celebrated on January 28, 2017. It's never too soon to start planning a trip to take in the Spring Festival experience next year!
It's a few days into 2016 and it's time to start planning your next adventures (if you haven't already started). So many ideas, so many places to explore and experience - the list is long!
By no means an inclusive list, check out these 52 inspirations to get your inner explorer "jump started".
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder