Free Travel Newsletter : December 2013
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Brett Smith, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning "Kiwi Country New Zealand DVD".
For one of the busiest months of the New Zealand summer, we're talking Santas and sand - with two wonderful displays creating some festive cheer, some of the best beaches in New Zealand and great concert and events taking us into the New Year. We've also got the perfect solution to combat Christmas over-indulgence - a short walk or jog along the infamous Baldwin Street (the steepest street in the world).
Find out about:
- Santa Wonderlands, Waiuku & Christchurch – up to 24th December
- Run Away to the Circus, South Island - Summer 2013/14
- Raggamuffin 2014, Rotorua, 31st Jan – 1st Feb
- Go See... Baldwin Street
- 10 Top Beaches
- Off the Beaten Track to.... Castlepoint
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Santa Wonderlands, Waiuku & Christchurch – up to 24th December
Two delightful Santa displays help to create additional festive cheer for locals and visitors alike in Waiuku and Christchurch this year.
Waiuku – This winter wonderland is just 50 minutes drive from Auckland. Catch the Glenbrook Vintage Train to 'Santa's Wonderland'. The moment you enter, you will be enthralled as you wind your way past a Snow Cave into a snow listening to Santa singing as you get a glimpse to the huge variety of animated Santas and 'All things Christmas' set in a Christmas Wonderland.
There are many delightful Santas up to their antics as they come to life to perform a song, dance or a cheeky trick at a clap of a hand. They tell stories, climb ladders, belly dance and much more that has every one in stitches. An amazing show of Christmas fun and laughter.
Christchurch – At the Southwest Baptist Church in central Christchurch, animated displays will leave the children gasping with delight. Toys, nativity scenes, the 'North Pole' toy factory (Santa and his elves packing toys) and musical puppets and displays - all have helped to make this Christmas Grotto a Christchurch tradition. Over 5,000 people took a look last year….
- Find out more about the Waiuku Santa Wonderland at the Waiuku Christmas Display website.
- Find out more about the Christchurch Christmas Grotto at The Christmas Grotto website.
Run Away to the Circus, South Island - Summer 2013/14
Zirka Circus is visiting all main centres from Blenheim to Invercargill, including West Coast and Central Regions. Zirka Circus's third tour starts where the second show left off with even more death defying acrobatics than before, more incredible group acts, more individual brilliance, and more ridiculous clowns...Whether you like action packed daredevil acts, or beautiful, balletic and poetic acts, there is something for everyone in this new show.
Find out more at the Zirka Circus website.
Raggamuffin 2014, Rotorua, 31st Jan – 1st Feb
Fans of reggae and great music will love the two-day reggae festival, Raggamuffin 2014 which takes place in Rotorua at the end of January. Common Kings (US) have joined the line-up, along with New Zealand acts Ardijah, Aotearoa Reggae All Stars, Majic, Lion Rockers Hi-Fi plus the winners of the 2013 Smokefree Pacifica Beats competition, Strangely Arousing.
A strong line-up of DJ acts has also been confirmed for Raggamuffin 2014 including Che Fu, King Kapisi, DJ Sirvere, DJ Poroufessor, DJ Art, DJ Locksteady, Sgt Benji, Ben Sifty Goodness, Deach, DJ Masive, DJ Jayrasik, and DJ Infared.
Find out more at the Ragamuffin website.
Go See... Baldwin Street
Why not stretch your legs and take a walk (or run) up the steepest street in the world….Baldwin Street in Dunedin is considered the world's steepest residential street. Just under 350 metres long, at its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86. That is, for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the elevation changes by 1 metre.
You may want to warm up before your ascent and cool down when you've finished – Baldwin Street is tough on the legs. Alternatively, just watch a whole lot of chocolates roll your way...
Cadbury Jaffa Race – Join thousands of spectators at the iconic event of the Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. Watch 25,000 Cadbury Giant Jaffas scramble down Baldwin Street and stare in awe as they come bouncing toward you, hurtling on their exhilarating high-speed journey.
Baldwin Street Gutbuster – Every September thousands of people turn up to take part in the Baldwin Street Gutbuster started by the local athletics club. They encourage competitors to battle it out in two different races to see who can race up and back down the world's steepest hill in record time. The record was last set in 1994 and only took one minute and 56 seconds.
Where to go: Baldwin Street, Dunedin, South Island
How to get there: From the city centre, head 2km north up Great King St to where the road branches sharp left to Timaru. Get in the right-hand lane and continue straight ahead. This becomes North Rd, and Baldwin St is on the right after 1km. Alternatively, grab a Normanby bus at the Octagon and ask the driver.
When to go: Anytime. There is no cost to run up and down...
Top 10 Beaches
With over 15,000km of coastline, New Zealand has plenty of beaches for visitors to choose from. We've selected ten top beaches – some of which are quiet and secluded even at the height of summer. New Zealanders love their beaches, so if you are travelling around be aware that during the Christmas summer holidays, some beaches get very busy.
- Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson (South Island)
Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in South Island beaches due to its golden sand, high number of sunshine hours and proximity to the Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri is the destination of choice for many Cantabrians during the summer holidays. Penguins, seals and dolphins are common, so make sure your camera batteries are fully charged.
- Whale Bay, Raglan (North Island)
Just five minutes' drive south of Raglan, this beach is world-renowned for its surf. It is a great place to learn, but without guidance, best left to more experienced surfers. The laid back vibe is enhanced by organic food shops and restaurants, eco-resorts and massage studios.
- Onetangi Bay, Waiheke Island (North Island)
A stretch of golden sand and a view for miles out to sea - what more could you ask for? This lovely beach is one of many on Waiheke Island, an easy ferry ride from Auckland City. After time on the beach, visit one of the island's many wineries for lunch and a taste of world-class wines.
- Karekare Beach, Piha (North Island)
Easily accessible from Auckland, Karekare was immortalised in Jane Campion's 1993 film, The Piano. Black sand stretches as far as the eye can see, the beach is isolated and wild and the water can be extremely rough. It's much quieter than nearby Piha. (It has an annual beach race day in early April).
- Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula (North Island)
This beach is very popular with visitors who want to dig into the sand and create their very own hot water spa. Take care to check the time of the tides before you visit. The best spots for digging are nearer the rocks and where you see steam rising from the open sea at high tide.
- New Chums Beach, Coromandel Peninsula (North Island)
Another beach on the Coromandel Peninsula makes our top ten as it is one of the last undeveloped beaches in New Zealand. It's a little harder to get to than most, but that adds to its appeal (a 40 minute walk and a wade). You'll find large pohutukawa trees and native bush set against a sweep of white sand described as 'pristine' and 'breath taking.'
- Mission Bay, Auckland (North Island)
This city beach with its golden sands, promenade and park offers perfect respite from the urban jungle and offers opportunities for jogging, walking, cycling, rollerblading, sailing, kayaking or enjoying the vibrant beach café culture.
- Ninety Miles Beach, Northland (North Island)
Not quite 90 miles long at 88km (60 miles), this beach is famous for its beautiful white sands and desert-like dunes. At the tip of the beach, the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. Enjoy sand surfing, quad biking and 4WD tours.
- Allans Beach, Dunedin (South Island)
A remote and often overlooked beach on the Otago Peninsula, Allans Beach is home to yellow-eyed penguins who return to their colony in the cliffs. You may also see seals and sea lions. A great beach for marine wildlife enthusiasts.
- Gillespies Beach, West Coast (South Island)
This mostly empty pebble beach is at the foot of the South Alps offering dramatic views to the Fox Glacier. This off the beaten track beach is found at the end of six miles of gravel road – a great place to walk for hours and enjoy the sunset.
- Bethells Beach, Auckland
- Koekohe Beach (Moeraki Boulders), North Otago
- Manu Bay, Raglan
- Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
- Ocean Beach, Mount Maunganui
- Ohope Beach, Whakatane
- Piha Beach, Auckland
- Wainui Beach, Gisborne
- Whangamata Beach, Whangamata
Share Your Experience
If you enjoyed some great New Zealand water sport locations during your stay, let other NZTG readers know about it. Send details of your experience to the newsletter editor.
Off the Beaten Track to... Castlepoint
This stunning location can be found one hour's drive from Masterton on the east coast of the Wairarapa, a region on the North Island famous for its wineries. Castlepoint is home to a lighthouse that sits upon Castle Rock overlooking sand dunes and a reef enclosing a beautiful blue-green lagoon. One of the windiest and most photogenic places in the country... (more)
New Zealand Fast Facts
When you are travelling or hiking through the Southern Alps, pack your bags and rucksacks carefully. Keas – the world's only alpine parrot and so-called 'clowns of the mountain' – are curious, cheeky and intelligent and often try to open, chew or make off with vehicle parts or luggage. Keas are easily identified, standing about 48 cm high, they are mostly olive-green with brilliant orange under their wings and have large, narrow, curved, grey-brown upper beaks.