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The Coromandel Top 5 Things To Do

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The Coromandel Top 5 Things To Do

  The Coromandel region encompasses both the Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts, from Orere Point at the top of the Shorebird Coast to Orokawa Bay on the Eastern side and down to the Karangahake Gorge in the South.
1 - Cathedral Cove:
  Cathedral Cove is worth a visit at any time of year, with the cooler months delivering deserted sands and sheltered bays. Surrounded by high white cliffs, cut off from the rest of the world were it not for the occasional small boat from Ocean Leopard Tours or Glass Bottom Boat gliding close to shore, it’s easy to feel marooned in paradise.
  Cathedral Cove is a mini-world rich with nature, culture and colour. The calm azure waters of the Mercury Bay slide in and out of the Cathedral Arch, sculpting the volcanic coastline, creating blowholes and caves over time. The nature here is extraordinarily beautiful.
  The detours along the walkway offer more to witness and experience than simply taking the same trip back. The sculptural effect of the sandstone cliff-face at Stingray Bay is strangely alluring. Accessible only by kayak with Cathedral Cove Kayaks or on foot, this part of the Te-Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is a haven for stingrays.
  Gemstone Bay is another worthwhile detour on the walk to the cove. It is a snorkelling hotspot, with an official snorkel trail making it easy to discover the teeming wildlife beneath the surface at Te-Whanganui-A-Hei, especially with a guide from Cathedral Cove Dive and Snorkel.
2 - Hot Water Beach:
  Hot Water Beach is a NZ Must Do and one of its most dramatic places. Where surging waves meet hot sand underneath your bare feet at low tide, Hot Water Beach presents a landscape and an atmosphere like nowhere else. Popular for a patch of thermal water bubbling just beneath the surface of the sand, Hot Water Beach has achieved cult-like status as a worldwide wonder right here on The Coromandel.
  If low tide falls at sunrise, you can greet the day from the warmth of your own private pool dug in the sand on the shore of the mighty Pacific. Equally as magical under the vast night sky soaking in your homemade spa under the galaxy of stars overhead.
  Visitors flock to this quiet place two hours either side of low tide, but it is up to you how long to stay. An entire day will give you the opportunity to eat at ‘Hot Waves Cafe’ or ‘Hotties’. Wile away an afternoon browsing in Moko Artspace for Pacific style New Zealand art, craft and giftware. Finish your visit with fish and chips from the Hot Water Beach Top Ten Holiday Park, also a great place to relax.
3 - The Pinnacles:
  Climbing to the summit of The Pinnacles is something everyone should do at least once. As the highest point the Coromandel Range hikers are rewarded at The Pinnacles summit (759 m) with spectacular views of the bush, mountains and shining coastline of the eastern Coromandel. The track leaves from the end of the gravel road in the stunning Kauaeranga Valley, in the hills behind Thames.    It is a day hike for the reasonably fit, or you can overnight in The Pinnacles Hut (make sure you book a bed with DOC) to make a more leisurely adventure. Perhaps you will get up early to catch the spectacular sunrise from the summit, after a steady climb from the hut, steep in places, climbing ladders on the final stage of the ascent.
  The Kauaeranga really is ‘adventure valley’, with hikes, walks and mountain biking, horse riding trails, campsites, old kauri dams, swing bridges, waterfalls and verdant green forest. Sleeping God Canyon is the thrillseekers playground, but you do need to go there with guides from Canyonz. Adventurers will relish the 300m vertical descent of the canyon, abseiling, sliding and jumping down one of the most exciting and most challenging adventure playgrounds New Zealand.
4 - Karangahake Gorge:
  The dramatic landscape along the road from Paeroa to Waihi is revealed as the road winds through the rocky ravine of the spectacular Karangahake Gorge. There’s so much to see in this area that you can easily spend a day exploring. Many walks and gold relics to investigate here, there’s a good sign board at the main car park where you can also lock up your bikes (as it is on  the Hauraki Rail Trail).
  The Windows Walkway is discovered by crossing two old suspension bridges over the Ohinemuri and Lower Waitawheta Rivers. Climbing the stairs, through the abandoned buildings and machinery of the Talisman battery the track runs along the steep valley and into the old gold mining tunnels. The tunnel has four openings (windows) which look down on the spectacular river gorge far below.
  Further east in the gorge you will also discover the gushing staircase Owharoa Falls and a spooky 1,100-metre long railway tunnel (a torch is a good idea). The gorge can also be reached via vintage railway from Waihi to Waikino Station where there’s a great café and bike hire. The Bistro at the Falls Retreat and Karangahake Winery are both excellent stopping points for a relaxing lunch.
5 - Hauraki Rail Trail:
  Getting on your bike on the Hauraki Rail Trail is one of the best ways to get out and explore the southern part of The Coromandel. One of New Zealand’s easiest Great Rides, this trail follows old railway lines between historic gold towns, from the salt-licked Firth of Thames and verdant Hauraki Plains, to a rocky gorge strewn with relics of the gold mining era.
  The Hauraki Rail Trail is a perfect way to get off the beaten track and explore the hidden gems of the region. The beauty of this trail is its proximity to the many other attractions on The Coromandel, the fact that you can access most of it easily from the road, allowing transport flexibility and its Grade One status. Since its inception, the trail has added so much to a region known for its beaches by providing a relaxing way to experience local culture, heritage and cuisine.
  From start to finish, the Hauraki Rail Trail has 197km of riding, connecting Kaiaua on the Shorebird Coast with regional towns of Thames, Paeroa, Waihi and Te Aroha before heading south to Matamata. A multi-day cycle trip is definitely a good option for those with the time, but all these charming towns may be explored along the trail for a shorter ride.

Coromandel Town Chill Out

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Coromandel Town Chill Out

  Renowned for its natural beauty, mist overlaid forests and pristine golden beaches, the Coromandel is blessed with many natural wonders and hidden gems, making it an ideal place to slow down, relax and unwind. Framed by native Pohutukawa trees on the western side, beautiful white sandy beaches on the east and divided by ranges and steep gorges cloaked in native subtropical rainforest, the Coromandel’s 400 km of coastline also offers the visitor a truly distinctive mix of outdoor experiences.
  A favourite destination for residents of Auckland for generations, the northern part of the Coromandel Peninsula was always known for it’s remoteness but that changes in summer when tourists flock to historic Coromandel Town where campervans, motorbike riders and travellers lift this tranquil seaside town into a buzz-induced, wicked weekend destination where the pioneer spirit of the past still survives.
  After a visit in 1820 by the HMS Coromandel, which dropped anchor into what is now Coromandel Harbour to source Kauri spars, the name was bestowed on what became a town and the peninsula. The ship was actually named after the Coromandel Coast off Madras in India and for the hardwood Coromandel timber found there and in Sri Lanka.
  The discovery of gold by Charles Ring at Driving Creek in 1852 shook awake the sleepy timber settlement as thousands of miners soon descended into the region in search of their fortune. Today the town and surrounding area continues to flourish and grow richer while the main street still retains many historic old buildings, mining artifacts and feel-good atmosphere from that Victorian period.
  With its laid-back lifestyle, Coromandel attracts a slew of talented artists and craftspeople from around the country-inspired not only by the tranquil atmosphere, but also by the spectacular natural surroundings. Complementing this cottage industry is a growing number of highly recommended restaurants and cafes, as well as commercial mussel and oyster farms that supply local outlets and takeaways such as the Coromandel Smoking Company.
  If hiking is on your hit list, then Coromandel Town has a range of trails to explore with detailed maps available from the Information Centre in town. The longest trail is the Success Track, which has a walking time of 2.5 hours return. The Harray Track is listed as 70 minutes one-way. Other local but shorter tracks to consider are: The Kauri Block Track 45 minutes one-way, Long Bay Scenic Reserve and Kauri Grove Track 40 minutes return, Taumatawahine Reserve 20 minutes return and Gold Stamper Battery Track 15 minutes return.
  Besides coastal walkways, enjoy a swim, take a fishing trip, rent sea kayaks and be amazed at the seascapes and marine reserves, or back on land visit an artist’s studio or reflect on the heritage of the region in one of the town’s historic museums.
  The town is located just a two and a half hours scenic drive from Auckland, Hamilton or Tauranga. Alternatively take the stress out of driving and take a relaxed, scenic ferry journey from Auckland or Waiheke Island instead (seasonal). Options include the Weekender or the Wanderer, which incorporates the Coromandel Coastal Walkway Tour, a scenic trip to the tip of the peninsula, a three to four hour walk.

8 Great Reasons to Visit Coromandel Town:

1 - Coromandel Town offers beautiful scenery and restored heritage architecture stemming from the pioneering days of timber and gold. It’s also an easy place to get around with a wide array of modern shops and eateries and attractions with smiling, friendly locals offering great service and amenities.
2 - Cafes, Bars, Restaurants and Takeaways will entice any visitor with a variety of cuisine to choose from, such as locally smoked fish or mussel chowder. Maybe hook into some takeaway fish and chips or try some Coromandel-style Thai dishes; also don’t forget to grab a plate of good pub grub or experience a fine dining restaurant where your taste buds are sure to be tickled.
3 - Driving Creek Railway is just three kilometres north of the township. This is a remarkable train ride on a  world-class narrow gauge mountain railway passing through kauri forest that includes a number of great engineering marvels. The line climbs to the terminus named, the ‘Eyefull Tower’, which present some stunning panoramic views. www.dcrail.nz
4 - Fishing and Harbour Cruises are one of the best day’s out you’ll get with family and friends when visiting Coromandel Town. There are several choices for half-day or full day excursions that should fill the ice chest for the rest of your trip.
5 - Waiau Waterworks is 8.7 km out of town heading east on 309 Rd. This is a highly entertaining theme park where whimsical wonders are driven by the power of water. Just two kilometres further up the road visit the 1,200 year-old kauri tree grove. www.thewaterworks.co.nz
6 - Arts and Crafts are well represented around the Coromandel Town district, so make time to see some of the artist studios or the several craft shops and galleries for which the town is becoming increasingly recognised. The Coromandel Peninsula Craft Trail brochure has more information on each artist.
7 - Bush e Bikes is one way to discover Coromandel and the surrounding area on a quality e bike made in Europe. Both touring and multi purpose e bikes are available which feature a powerful mid-drive motor, which gives a normal bike feel. There are options for part day, day and multi day tours. www.bushebikes.co.nz
8 - CoroZip: experience a spectacular 18-minute train ride will take you up New Zealand’s only mountain railway to the start of your Ziplining experience. Your two friendly guides will then lead you along eight ziplines, which breath-taking native forest and across gullies and streams. www.dcrail.nz/corozip

5 Events & Festivals:

1 - ILLUME Coromandel Winter Festival of Light showcases the heritage and history of Coromandel Town. It’s a free family festival, with live music, audiovisual performances, street performers, streetlights and lanterns, as well as stalls with great food, fun and laughter. When: 25/26 September 2020.www.illumefest.co.nz
2 - The Keltic Fair is a fun, family filled day with over 300 stalls selling food, arts and crafts, with music and entertainment all day that attracts more than 15,000 visitors annually. When: 2 January 2021 from 9 am to 4 pm. www.kelticfair.co.nz
3 - The Coro Sonic Lab Summer Fest is back! Live music, BYO picnic, lawn games, dancing and good times. It’s a small boutique festival with an absolutely killer lineup of performers. Enjoy an afternoon of live music, play some games, sit back with a picnic and then dance into the night. When: January 2021.www.thecoromandel.com/explore
4 - The Coromandel Mussel Festival is where mussel favorites are served all day. On offer is mussel chowder, mussel fritters, mussels battered, mussels on the half shell and mussels steamed in sauces. Live music and entertainment. Craft beer is also brewed on site. When: February 2021. www.thecoromandel.com/events
5 - Coromandel Seafood Festival celebrates all that is great in the pristine waters of Coromandel Harbour, renowned for its mussel and oyster farms, which includes a fishing completion, oyster and mussel shucking, fish filleting, food demos, live bands and local cafés and restaurants showcasing seafood. When: May 2021. www.coromandeltown.co.nz/seafood-fest

Dining in Coromandel Town:

  Admirals Arms Hotel, 46 Wharf Road: Enjoy a relaxing dining experience with 180-degree views of the mountains and the sea. From bowls of fries to steak meals or steamed mussels, seafood chowder, fish and chips, fisherman’s basket, nachos, burgers and plenty more. Fully licensed serving lunch and evening meals including an outdoor beer garden with live music most Friday nights. www.admiralsarms.co.nz
  Driving Creek Railway Biscuit Café, 380 Driving Creek Road: Biscuit is a small café tucked away at the picturesque Driving Creek Railway & Potteries. They sell delicious fresh baking, Allpress coffee, organic ice creams and cold drinks. The perfect spot to grab a bite before jumping on the train, zip-lining or learning how to throw a clay pot of your own. There is recycling in a hot composter and they encourage bring your own cups. The cafe is a three-minute drive from town. Summer Hours 9 am 4 pm www.drivingcreekrailway.com
  Munchies Bakehouse, 92 Wharf Road: Fresh Bread, pies, cakes, croissants, filled rolls or a Cafe La La coffee. Gourmet filled rolls, croissants and Panini’s made to your taste. You can sit outside on the sunny picnic area or takeaway. The Bakehouse is happy to provide lunches for your fishing charter trip which you can pre-order the day before. P: 07 866 8554
  Mussel Kitchen, corner 309 Road and State Highway 25: This is one of the best places to sample Green Lipped Mussels in Coromandel, fresh from their own mussel farms. They offer a menu of inventive flavoursome mussel dishes and vegetarian options in an open garden bar or under shaded verandahs. Open 7 days from 10 am (summer only). www.musselkitchen.co.nz
  Peppertree Restaurant & Bar, 31 Kapanga Road: Majestically situated in the heart of Coromandel Township, relax in a sun-soaked courtyard or under shaded verandas in summer or choose a cozy table next to an open fire during winter. Specialising in fresh local seafood and award-winning modern Kiwi cuisine, enjoy a unique dining experience in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Fully licensed, open 7 days 10 am 9 pm. www.peppertreerestaurant.co.nz
  Star and Garter Hotel, 5 Kapanga Road: Inside this warm and friendly bar is where you get two restaurants for the price of one. You can choose from the menu of Peppertree Restaurant and have the dishes delivered to your table. They also offer a wide range of Monteiths beers on tap and a good wine list selection with both indoor and outdoor dining. www.starandgarter.co.nz
  Umu Cafe, 22 Wharf Road: This licensed restaurant and café offers a takeout, or eat in, with an ever changing menu of fresh local seafood, salads, pizzas, tasty steaks, Kiwi lamb, vegetarian meals and a delicious range of sweet and savoury cabinet food available. Licensed for beer and wine P: 07 866 8618
  Weta Café, 46 Kapanga Road: Situated on the village green across from the I-Site Centre, this is a lovely unique café hidden away from the main street in Coromandel Town. Food is very delicious with a ‘Build Your Own Sandwich’ option, steamed or grilled mussels, seafood chowder, salads, breakfasts and good coffee and takeaways. The staff are very friendly with its location right in the township with plenty of parking in the back car park. 8 am-3 pm, licensed for beer and wine, P: 07 866 7535 (closed Monday)
  Wharf Road Café, 24 Wharf Road: Wharf Road is an independently run daytime café in Coromandel Town. They serve vibrant, contemporary food for breakfast, brunch & lunch with delicious all-day breakfasts. The food at Wharf Road isn’t your usual NZ café food muffins, frittata and pies; they also offer a really good vegetarian menu and are exploring new flavour combinations and ‘raising the bar’ for food in the town. There is also front street tables or an outdoor back courtyard. Licensed for beer and wine, P: 07 866 7538, Open 8 am-3 pm
  For other options contact the Coromandel Information Centre, 60 Kapanga Road, P: 7 866 8598 Open 10 am.

The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre

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The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre

  Parnell is Auckland’s oldest suburb, filled with its tree-lined streets, well kept hedges and numerous Art Galleries, bordered by the Domain on one side and the ocean on the other. The Auckland War Memorial Museum and Holy Trinity Cathedral are both landmarks in Parnell and draw thousands every year, but there is another venue in Parnell which draws equally as many people to enjoy the best of Auckland hospitality … welcome to The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre.
  Founded by Norman Barry as the Barrycourt Motel & Tourists Flats, it originally consisted of a Bed & Breakfast occupying an early 1900’s homestead and adjacent tennis court, where the motel wing was established.
  The 1970s saw a neighbouring apartment block purchased where the property was upgraded into a 101 room hotel, adding in many amenities for guest convenience and for sustainability of the property. The original homestead, now a restaurant, was built up with purpose-built conference facilities added.
  Norman was very active in the hospitality industry and was a founding Director of Qualmark. He saw it important to foster new entrants into the market and provide mentorship.
  When Norman Barry passed away in 2007, he left the ownership of hotel in trust, that it could continue to operate and that it could keep ‘doing good’ in the community. The Norman Barry Foundation, a registered charitable trust, was established to do this work, the hotel also became a charity in its own right.
  The Directors and Trustees appointed sought to forge a new path ahead for the hotel and, whilst independent at the time, looked at joining a hotel chain in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, which had affected occupancies in hotels across the world. The Trustees decided to join Choice Hotels as a franchisee, which saw the property branded as Quality Hotel Barrycourt.
  An evolving landscape with new hotels coming in the lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup meant to remain competitive in the market, the hotel would need to undergo a significant multimillion-dollar renovation. This was one of the most significant projects ever undertaken at the property. Due to the many changes involved, rooms were totally transformed or in some cases reconfigured to better suit the evolving accommodation needs of guests.
  With work completed in 2012, there was a desire by the Directors to brand the property more to the area that it was based in, Parnell, Auckland. Quality Hotel Parnell as guests were already calling it, was decided.
  The boom of visitors to Auckland allowed the hotel to continue to grow and reinvest and more importantly give back to the community.
  Since 2015, more than $2.4 million in donations has been given. Donations ranging from several thousand to several hundred thousand have been given to named charities, medical and research organisations, the largest of which was to the Liggins Institute, part of the University of Auckland. The donations are an extension of Norman Barry’s generosity through his lifetime as he gave to causes important to him.
  One of the latest donations in 2020 was a car to Blind and Low Vision NZ (formerly The Blind Foundation) who are based locally in Parnell. Seeing where the donations do go and the work that can be done because of them, allows the hotel to communicate to guests that their support allowed that good work to happen.
  Delivering comfortable accommodation is one important aspect to the guest experience, value for the guest has always been at the forefront for the hotel. Free parking, seen now as a luxury in Auckland has always been complimentary, the daily national paper, guest Wi-Fi, satellite TV to name a few have been what guests have asked for and what the hotel offered.
  Work on improving a hotel was not an idle exercise and significant projects were still to come, air conditioning in guest rooms, an additional guest elevator, outdoor dining area for the restaurant to name a few. Twenty-five bathroom renovations have been completed to date, signalling the next area of reinvestment by the hotel.
  Whilst being part of a chain brought benefits over the years, the Directors and Trustees looked where they could deliver more value to guests and lessen overheads so more money could be reinvested and be given out in donations. The trustees of the Norman Barry Foundation decided not to renew its franchise agreement and to become an independent hotel. With six months until the exit date there was much to do with new systems to be selected and staff to be trained, new branding and smaller tasks like the ‘Do Not Disturb’ hangers all had to change. The staff worked diligently through this transition getting the new systems operational and working with local partners who could deliver the best service for the hotel.
  On March 5th 2020 the hotel became independent, and is now known as The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre.
  Centred around its world-class customer service, comfortable accommodation and its charitable status, The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre looks to stand apart in the Auckland hospitality market, doing more and giving back.
  Whilst not an official motto for the hotel, ‘Doing a world of good’ has been synonymous with the property for some time and epitomises what the hotel is about. The Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre has been welcoming guests from all walks of life for over 50 years and will continue to do so for the next 50.

Auckland Top 5 Things To

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Auckland Top 5 Things To

  Auckland is a vibrant multi-cultural region where world-class shopping and dining is never too far from beautiful islands, native bush and black-sand beaches.
  Discover one of Auckland’s many shopping precincts, taking your pick of global brands or local boutiques, then savour Auckland’s globally inspired local cuisine, award-winning wines and craft beer. Go whale watching, visit island bird sanctuaries, hike diverse regional parks or some of the region’s ancient volcanic cones; or stargaze on Great Barrier Island, an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
  A diverse region bursting with life and a recognised UNESCO City of Music, Auckland offers a host of cultural, creative and sporting events, festivals and theatre productions.
1 - The Ultimate Shopping Trip:
  If there is one place in NZ to go shopping, it’s hands-down, Auckland. You’ll find everything from top NZ fashion designers, art, homewares, electronics and international fashion labels that you’d usually find on a shopping trip to Sydney or Melbourne. Britomart, and soon to open.
  Commercial Bay, is a must stop on your shopping itinerary. Here you’ll find the latest collections from some of our top designers, including Karen Walker, Zambesi, Kate Sylvester and Trelise Cooper. You can also find local products from Great Barrier Island and shoes made of wool, thanks to Allbirds.
  A shopping trip isn’t complete without a wander down Ponsonby Road -stop in at designer homeware stores, boutiques and pick up artisan goods. If it’s an abundance of international fashion labels you’re after, you’ll find them in David Jones at Westfield Newmarket. You’ll want to allow enough time though, Westfield Newmarket has more than 230 stores alone, complete with rooftop dining.
2 - Diverse Food & Beverage:
  Auckland is one of the most diverse cities in the world and is home to more than 200 different ethnic groups, creating an exciting dining scene that is a melting pot of flavours and cuisines.
  The subtropical isthmus city sees fine dining sit harmoniously alongside contemporary fusion menus, craft beer breweries, Pasifika and Māori cuisine, as well as street food that rivals some of the most exciting menus in the world. Forget Italy, Greece, India and Thailand you can experience the flavours of these countries, and many more, right here in Auckland.
  Auckland truly is a food lover’s paradise surrounded by fertile land and rich waters it is home to world-class chefs, food producers and winemakers. Along with the city’s impressive range of restaurants, bars, cafes and markets, Auckland’s wine regions are a must for foodies too visit Waiheke, Matakana and Kumeu for some of the best wine in the country.
3 - Unwind On Great Barrier Island:
  The Hauraki Gulf is the ultimate marine playground and thanks to an array of ferries, water taxis, seaplanes and guided tours, most of them are accessible - even if you don’t have a boat.
  Great Barrier Island is the largest and most seaward island of the Hauraki Gulf islands, and a visit won’t disappoint. Getting there is all part of the adventure and the transport options are by sea or air.
  Great Barrier is an island made for nature lovers. Not only does it have an abundance of great walking tracks with spectacular landscapes and breathtaking views, but the beaches are plentiful and include a mix of sandy shores and secluded coves.
  Take a cosy dip in the natural hot springs. Kaitoke Hot Springs are the only undeveloped natural hot pools in the Auckland region and a leisurely 80-minute walk will take you there. Walk through glades of native nikau palms, over bridges and boardwalks with wetland and mountain views on your way.
  When the day fades, look up. The dazzling night sky is arguably the best in the world it’s the first island on the planet to receive the Dark Sky Sanctuary status, making it a dream for astro-enthusiasts.
4 - Waiheke Island:
  World class wines, pristine beaches, olive groves, walking tracks and art galleries, it’s easy to see why Waiheke is considered the jewel in the Hauraki Gulf’s crown. Although just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, you’ll feel like you’re a world away.
  With regular ferry sailings, Waiheke is the perfect place to escape for the day, or the weekend, with plenty of beautiful accommodation options to suite a wide range of budgets.
  Join a wine tour for tastings at some of the island’s 30 boutique wineries, swim at golden-sand beaches, soak up the scenery on the walking trails or indulge in fine food at an award-winning vineyard restaurant.
  If you’re after a little more adventurous, there are plenty of activities on offer; including, ziplining over native bush, horse riding, archery, laser clay-bird shooting, pottery lessons.
  You can even join a gin and tonic experience or try your hand at making your own unique perfume at The Botanical Distillery.
5 - Day Trip To Matakana:
  Enjoy idyllic coastal views and exotic white sandy beaches where you can surf, snorkel, dive, swim, kayak or paddleboard. Indulge in wine tasting and follow the boutique Matakana Wine Trail to sample the local cuisine at the Matakana Coast cafes, restaurants and markets. Take in the stunning walking tracks around the Matakana Coast, cycle trails, activities and attractions.
  One of Auckland’s three wine growing regions, Matakana is home to a number of superb boutique vineyards set amidst rolling green countryside, only an hours drive north of downtown Auckland.
  If you’re visiting on a Saturday morning, don’t miss the Matakana Farmers Markets. Pick up organic chocolate, homemade spreads, artisan cheeses, Italian meats and other gourmet goods. For another special foodie experience, go on New Zealand’s only oyster farm tour where you will learn how to shuck oysters on the Mahurangi Harbour.
  Matakana is also known for its thriving art scene. Revel in the Sculptureum where finely curated sculptures are set amidst tropical gardens, or walk the outdoor sculpture trail at Brick Bay Winery.
  Tāwharanui Regional Park, Goat Island and Leigh are just a stone’s throw away from Matakana village and offer spectacular coastal scenery and native bush walks.

Northland Top 5 Things To Do

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Northland Top 5 Things To Do

  Northland is a diverse region perfect for year-round travel thanks to its mild climate and wide range of activities suitable for every budget. Enjoy the relaxed pace of life and get away from it all, or fill your days with adventure and experience the stunning natural playground this region has to offer. Every area is steeped in history and culture take the time to connect and return home with more stories than just your own.
1 - Birthplace of the Nation:
  The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must-visit for every New Zealand and every visitor to our shores.
We may all know the Treaty of Waitangi, after all, there is a public holiday dedicated to it each year, but it’s the stories and the people that you really uncover when you visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
  The ticket price doesn’t just get you in to the grounds, it includes a guided tour (and not your regular scripted spiel), a cultural performance that makes your spine tingle and two museums that tap into your soul as they share with you the stories of the people behind the events. The newest museum, Te Rau Aroha, has only been open since February this year, and adds even more depth to an already rich cultural experience.
  The biggest mistake you can make when visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is not allowing yourself enough time. Factor in at least three hours to scratch the surface, if not a full day. There’s a café on site, and if prior commitments mean you have to leave before you cover everything, then rest assured, the pass is valid for two days.
2 - Dive the Poor Knights Islands:
  Jacques Costeau didn’t rate this as one of the Top 10 Dive Sites in the world for nothing. The islands are remnants of ancient volcanoes, carved into cliffs, tunnels and caves by the ocean.
  It’s been a marine reserve for close to 40 years, and the extensive marine life adds to the magical experience. Diving is the best way to experience this stunning location, but with crystal clear visibility thanks to its offshore location, snorkellers won’t miss out either.
  The underwater world is certainly special but so are the actual islands. They are nature reserves, home to many special and rare breeds of wildlife like the Buller’s Shearwater and the tuatara. The islands are also home to the world’s largest seacave Rikoriko cave famed not only for its size, but its impressive acoustics.
  You might be surprised to learn of all the musicians who have played inside. A trip to the Poor Knights Islands is a full day activity, and a world-class experience, and with a good wetsuit and decent seas, it’s an all year-round activity.
3 - Take a tour:
  Many of the landmarks in Northland are easily accessible and impressive to visit. But one thing many miss, are the stories that go with them. From the most iconic, to the little-known, every location in Northland has a story to tell, and likely someone to tell it.
  The forests are full of legends, telling stories of how Tane Mahuta created day, or how the kiwi lost its ability to fly. The landmarks, especially spectacular Cape Reinga are surrounded with spirituality and are significant not just for their beauty but their meaning.
  The battlegrounds and Tohu Whenua sites (and there are many) hold stories of bravery and togetherness. And the villages and towns all have their individual histories, built up to serve some purpose, existing now to fill another.
  There’s a tour in Northland to suit everyone, from wine tasting tours, to boat cruises, to forest and cave walks, to cycle trips. The way you discover the stories is up to you.
4 - Experience Northland hospitality:
  A subtropical climate, fertile soils and some great choices along the way have built Northland into a region with an abundance of fresh produce and goods. Dining ranges from honesty box fruit and vegetable stalls on the side of the road, to decadent multi-course meals at stunning restaurants; the trick is to try something at every level.
  Avocados, olives, kumara, citrus and macadamia are notable crops but at the numerous farmers markets you’ll find plenty more, from your everyday fruit and vege, to delicious chutneys and sauces, to honey, seafood, cheese, even freshly roasted coffee.
  But where would the food be without a tasty tipple. The first wine grapes in New Zealand were planted here over 200 years ago and warm summers result in some fantastic wines all over the region. Many of the wineries have tasting rooms and even on-site restaurants. If wine is not your style, there are also craft beer breweries and distilleries producing sought-after spirits. The choice is yours.
5 - Experience the Bay of Islands:
  The Bay of Islands meets the criteria for that South Pacific Island getaway, without the international flight. The best part is you can experience it however you like.
  If you’re after an active adventurefilled bucket-list kind of break then you’re spoilt for choice with skydiving, parasailing, mountain-biking and helicopter flights. If you prefer to lay back, lay low and indulge, then one of the luxury properties on the water’s edge is right for you. You can go a step further and even charter a yacht for a day.
  If you like a bit of history and education with your travels then the museums, historic sites and heritage properties are for you, including our first national capital in Russell.
  And last but not least, if you like to travel with a lighter footprint and a touch of education then there’s cycle trails, kayaking adventures, conservation tours and kiwi sanctuaries waiting for you.

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

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Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

  When at last it’s time to leave your home in the rear-view mirror, make your first travel trip a special one. How does 15 canvas safari tents hidden in nature and ringside seats to a UNESCO-ranked coral reef sound?
  Far flung and exclusive, yet teeming with creature comforts, sal salis is a well-kept, off-grid secret in the Western Australian coastal wilderness. Follow our itinerary to meet the largest fish in the world, while luxuriating in this true eco retreat.
Day One
  Board a two-hour Qantas flight from Perth to Learmonth Airport (Ed’s note: it’s the only carrier), ideally arriving early afternoon. The tarmac lies just out of Exmouth, the town at the tip of the peninsula that points to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast. Within its streets, emus have right of way, an indicator of both the eco-friendliness and character in these parts. You could hire a car, but trust us, once you arrive at Sal Salis, you won’t want to go anywhere. Instead, allow the team to whisk you from the airport to the dune-nestled site (it’s a 90-minute drive) or, better yet, take a scenic flight over Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef, setting the tone for this secluded getaway.
  Arrive in time to stroll along textured sand the reef is so close, at low tide you’ll spot coral and fish with only your ankles in the water. You might even be tempted to don a snorkel and mask; different creatures emerge as the day becomes long.
  By sunset, clink glasses and munch canapés at the recently rebuilt communal lodge, meeting other guests with whom you’ll later share a lantern-lit three-course dinner. Bed is only steps away: follow discreet, solar boardwalk lighting to your luxe safari tent.
Day Two
  Wake to the harmony of native birdsong and the gentle scratch of wallaby paws on your front deck. The marsupials often visit at daybreak to nibble on the surrounding vegetation.
  Today, you’ll come face to face with a whale shark, joining a day-trip charter boat (cost additional; from $509 per person) as it combs the Indian Ocean for these gentle giants, in tandem with spotter-planes overhead. The harmless creatures have a soft spot for Ningaloo; an estimated 300 to 500 whale sharks cluster there each year. Coasting just beneath the surface, the whale sharks hoover up plankton with their vacuum-like mouths. They generally arrive in March and stay until August, making way for the 40,000-strong humpback migration along Western Australia’s coastline.
  Onboard, snorkel gear, wetsuits and lifejackets are provided, along with enormous enthusiasm for the experience ahead. Be prepared for rapid water entry and expect to be so dumbfounded when you eyeball a whale shark that you’ll forget to swim alongside it. Paddle madly to catch up and then enjoy its fluid movements as you freestyle beside it.
  Returning to Sal Salis hopefully having also ticked off a manta ray sighting you’ll wash the salt away with a three-minute eco shower. Each tent is allocated 20 litres of water per person, per day, to minimise the camp’s environmental footprint. Use the organic shampoo and native herb soap supplied to support the retreat’s eco ethos. Later, fall into air-dried, organic cotton sheets and sleep soundly knowing five per cent of turnover goes towards the WA government’s conservation work in the Cape Range National Park.
Day Three
  Today is all about the luxury of doing little. With wi-fi and phone reception deliciously absent, grab a book from the lodge library and swing in your tent’s hammock as the breeze tickles your toes. As the day warms, take a slow float over the healthy reef ’s delights: more than 500 species of colourful fish dart between 250 coral species, while turtles and rays roam the shallows. Sal Salis has snorkelling gear on hand, and guides happily offer lessons and advice. It’s remarkable to wade only metres into the ocean before reaching the fringing reef no boat is required.
  After a long, lazy lunch of the resident chef ’s seasonal fare, top up your glass from the self-serve bar and pull out a board game. That and a bit more hammock time or maybe a guided hike, or kayak jaunt - will get you through to sunset drinks and then, another convivial, multi-course dinner.
  As you float to bed, look up: the night sky’s billions of stars are astonishingly radiant. Unobstructed by ambient light, the Milky Way beams with a clarity unseen in most parts of the world, leading the region to be declared a designated Dark Sky area. In April 2023, Sal Salis is in the path of a total solar eclipse, providing yet another reason to plan a trip.
Day Four
  As you wake to honey-hued scrub warmed by the rising sun, you’ll (only half) jokingly suggest selling the house so you can stay permanently. Pad down to the beach for a reviving morning swim, chased with your final open-air breakfast on the lodge deck. Leaving this dreamy destination will be heart-wrenching (we know firsthand), but with guest numbers strictly limited and the environment so carefully protected, you’ll find solace in the knowledge that it will be here for years to come.
Stop dreaming and book your 2021 Sal Salis  getaway. Visit salsalis.com.au

Benzie County's Crystal Lake

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Benzie County's Crystal Lake

A meditative morning paddle on Benzie County's Crystal Lake.
  The beach is awash in cool shadows. Tall white pines and ancient cedars cast giant patterns across the sand. Sunlight dances on the water. Morning is waking. 
  I slide my kayak into Crystal Lake and a chevron ripple flows behind me. I dip my paddle into the calm and pull. In moments, I leave the shady beach behind and slip into warm sunshine. Shades of blue stretch out before me: a robin’s egg sky, a lake, luminescent and reflective, a summer morning expanding. Gliding over the shallows, I see clouds of minnows. Spooked, they disappear like slippery ghosts, leaving only a maze of unwary snails along the sandy bottom.
  As I paddle, I create tiny whirlpools that propel me forward. Water runs off my paddle, a chain of water rings trails behind me, widening until they disappear. With each pull, I create my own pathway. I paddle to the drop-off where the water turns deep lapis blue. I peer over the edge. A few sunken logs encrusted with zebra mussels and seaweed lie on the bottom of the lake, the perfect cover for small fish. Even as the water deepens, I see Rock Bass weave in and out of weedy curtains far below. The water is so clear my eyes are fooled watery distances seem to shrink.
  A fellow voyager joins me. A big black dragonfly with gold-leaded wings catches a ride. Perhaps he likes the lime green color of my kayak, or maybe he just needs a rest. Together we glide through the water soaking up the morning sun. I paddle along the edge of the dark blue, tracing a wavy line of water where the lake bottom falls away. Now and then, a few ripples dimple the lake. The morning breathes. I paddle on.
  The rhythm of paddling focuses my attention. I feel the soothing pull of water, the warmth of the sun on my back, a sense of peace. Here, on the water, life is stripped bare and simple. So much falls away. Little puffs of white dot the sky. A seagull feather floats by. I look up and wonder about lost feathers and views from the sky, when high above me I see him. He dips his wing and descends, moving toward me with power and precision. I stop paddling. I’m still as a tree. Watching. Waiting. A bald eagle swoops down to the water, not 20 feet in front of me. His talons reach for a fish floating on the surface. Somehow, he misses. Flying above me, the eagle circles back and returns a second time. This time, his talons expertly encircle the fish. I can see water dripping off the fish as the eagle ascends higher and higher. I don’t move. I hardly breathe until the eagle crests a distant hill and soars out of sight.
  It all happens so quickly the giant shadow of his wings, the focus in his eyes, the swiftness of his flight. Yet in moments, this powerful bird is gone, beyond the lake, beyond the hills home to an aerie, high in the trees, where little eaglets are waiting to be fed. Slowly, I paddle back to the beach. The bow of my kayak creases the wet sand at the water’s edge. I pull my boat to higher ground. Cool sand squishes between my toes. I turn back toward the lake and see its restless spirit emerge. Tiny ripples grow. Real waves are just a breeze away. And already, my day is steeped in magic.

Quarantine rules vary as european flights restart

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Quarantine rules vary as european flights restart

As several European air carriers launch their initial post-COVID-19 lockdown services, there are still uncertainties for travellers as countries establish and revise their quarantine.
  The UK Government will enforce a two-week quarantine period for travellers arriving in the UK from June 8. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said on May 22 the move was necessary to “keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave’’ of infections. Passengers of all nationalities arriving in the UK by aircraft, ship or train, will have to provide the address of where they will remain for 14 days. Failure to complete the arrival documentation will attract a £100 fine, while those self-isolating in England could face a £1,000 penalty if they breach the 14-day quarantine. At the time of writing, the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had yet to announce the penalties they may impose.
  Arriving passengers will need to drive their own vehicles to their destination they cannot use public transport for 14 days and anyone who is unable to provide an address will have to stay in governmentarranged accommodation. The UK rules also stipulate that arriving travellers must not go to work, school or public areas. They can only have visitors if they are providing “essential support” and should not leave their accommodation go shopping including for food when they are  able to relyon others. The measures will be reviewed every three weeks to check if they are “effective and  necessary”.
  The only exceptions to the rules are: road haulage and freight workers; medical officials who are travelling to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic; seasonal agricultural workers who self-isolate at the property where they are employed and anyone arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The Government had previously said that the restrictions would not apply to travellers arriving from France, but that idea has been dropped and the French authorities has also introduced a reciprocal quarantine measure.
   The UK Government is still considering the possibility of introducing socalled “air bridges” which may allow unrestricted travel between countries with low coronavirus levels.
  As this edition went to press, from a UK travellers’ perspective, quarantine rules still apply in Australia, Canada, the UAE, New Zealand, Spain and Greece, but the latter two nations have announced  theirs will end on July 1. However, to date, Spain’s relaxation currently only applies to EU travellers and it is not yet clear if it will apply to UK citizens. The Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has said only tourists from countries with acceptably low rates of COVID-19 infection would be permitted, but no countries have yet been named. Up until May 15, all travellers arriving in Germany were required to undertake a 14-day quarantine but, since then, all arrivals from the EU, UK and Schengen Area have been exempt.
  Italy, which had one of the first and most stringent quarantines, announced it was cancelling its 14-day requirement from June 3. The United States still has only 13 airports accepting international flights.
  Reacting to the UK government’s quarantine announcement, the Airport Operators Association CEO, Karen Dee, said: “We are disappointed that the Government has decided to go ahead with a simplistic, blanket approach to quarantining all arrivals, without any consultation with industry. This threatens to have very serious economic and social consequences, not just in aviation but in all sectors relying on aviation connectivity, without resulting in notably better public health outcomes than a more targeted approach. This must be reviewed more frequently than every three weeks.
  “Airlines will be reluctant to fly if there is limited to no demand as a result of quarantine restrictions, hampering the travel of those key workers who have now been exempted.
  “As our neighbours and key trading partners move towards a science-led, risk-based approach, the UK should do so as soon as possible, or risk being left behind. “Industry proposals such as air bridges would facilitate travel from low-risk countries and protect the public from high-risk arrivals. This would enable the restart of aviation and support the UK’s economic recovery. Crucially, this also would give us time to get a testing regime in place for arriving passengers like Greece, Iceland and other countries are doing, as the next step to returning to a new normal. “In the meantime, the Chancellor [of the Exchequer] needs to provide further financial and business support to airports and travel operators to help the industry get through this prolonged period with limited to no revenue, and ensure the sector is ready to restart in support of the UK economic recovery.”
  Charlie Cornish, group CEO, MAG, said: “For as long as it lasts, a blanket quarantine policy will be a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries, with huge consequences for UK jobs and GDP.
  “By enabling people to travel between the UK and low-risk countries, the aviation industry can help lead the UK economy out of this crisis, just as it has in previous recessions. But for this to happen, the government must work quickly to create a smart and targeted approach that recognises that many countries are already low risk.
  “European countries are starting to open up, and some that are popular with British holidaymakers want to agree two-way arrangements with the UK to enable travel. Government has to take a risk-based approach to quarantine arrangements to enable air travel to restart and to allow British people to enjoy well-earned holidays in safe countries. At the same time this would help kick start UK tourism and hospitality industries, saving businesses and jobs.
  “A blanket quarantine will seriously jeopardise the long-term future of the sector and put tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic value, at risk.”
  Dale Keller, CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) UK, added: “The government needs to urgently bring forward plans to lift blanket travel restrictions through alternative risk-based measures that will enable airlines to restart safe and low-risk international travel. The restart and recovery of aviation is intrinsic to reviving the UK economy and only through implementing more targeted and internationally aligned measures can the UK reconnect to its global markets.”
  IATA had already urged governments to find alternatives to maintaining or introducing arrival quarantine measures as part of post pandemic travel restrictions before the UK’s announcement.
  Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, said the UK’s quarantine policy had “no credibility” while the representative body Airlines UK, said the move “would effectively kill off air travel”. Many others have questioned why a UK quarantine is necessary now, when none was enforced earlier in the crisis.