Glaciers in New Zealand
Maori children
Northland, New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Sound
Routeburn Track
Boating in Taupo
Tongariro, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand

Free Travel Newsletter : January 2014

Written by Steph Kendall

Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.

Lucky Subscriber

Congratulations to Robert Knapp, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning "Kiwi Country New Zealand DVD".

There's never a post-Christmas slumber in New Zealand, which celebrates the New Year with a staggering array of festivals and events. We've picked out just a few to whet your appetite for laughter, entertainment, music, rugby, wine and food. We've also highlighted some amazing places to visit including the best dive site in the country and ten of our top retreats scaling the heights of luxury to simple, spiritual living.

Find out about:


World Buskers Festival, Christchurch, 16th – 26th January

World Buskers Festival, Christchurch

The 2014 Buskers Festival promises to carry on the tradition of this popular event by offering a programme of events that showcases the very best of the best. Fifty-five amazing street performers, comedians, fringe artists, musicians and visual artists are destined to leave audiences mesmerised and in awe.

Whether you're a fan of highly skilled acrobatics, hoola-hoopers, trapeze artists, musicians, dancers, circus and vaudeville skits, burlesque or you're simply out for a good belly laugh – it's all in the 2014 festival.

Beautiful Hagley Park once again becomes 'Busker Park' with over 500 hours of circus, street and comedy shows. With strictly-for-adults shows at the Casino and the Tip Top Buskers Kid Pitch in the Botanic Gardens, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

View more on the Buskers Festival website.

Parachute Music Festival, Hamilton, 24th – 26th January

Parachute Music Festival

The Parachute Music Festival, "the happiest little festival on earth" has become an icon of the Kiwi summer drawing crowds of over 25,000 to Hamilton. Over 150 local and international acts gather to perform across six stages, offering everything from hip hop and pop to electronic and alternative-country. The drug and alcohol-free event promotes Christian values, with performers challenging and inspiring audiences through their music.

The festival hosts a giant tent-city in a fun and welcoming environment and also offers a wide variety of off-stage entertainment, from amusement rides and a skate park to markets and seminars.

Find out more at the Parachute Music Festival website.

Hertz Rugby Sevens, Wellington, 7th – 8th February

Hertz Rugby Sevens

The Hertz Sevens is the fourth leg in the HSBC Sevens World Series and features teams representing 16 countries from all over the world in a two day action packed tournament.

Each year 35,000 fans flock to the kiwi capital but not just for the rugby. The tournament is known just as much for its party atmosphere and fancy dress. The streets of Wellington become a carnival of colour as groups flock to the streets dressed as superheroes, robbers, pirates and ninjas, before heading to Westpac Stadium to cheer on their team.

Find out more at the Sevens website.

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival, Renwick, 8th February

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival is New Zealand's original and longest running wine festival held in a world-renowned wine producing region. Festival goers get the opportunity to sample a unique selection of world-class wines and delicious local cuisine all in the heart of one of Marlborough's oldest and most picturesque vineyards – Brancott Vineyard.

There are wine tutorials and the popular Fashion in the Vines competitions. The successful Culinary Pavilion will host celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations. Day long entertainment, from a full brass band to kiwi classics cap this unique vineyard festival.

View more on the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival website.

Go See... the Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Magical, mythical and mysterious – but revealed by mudstone erosion. The Moeraki Boulders are a cluster of large spherical boulders explained by local Maori legends as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.

Hugely popular with tourists, the boulders are enormously photogenic and fun to stand on! The larger Moeraki boulders are roughly 3 metres in diameter and weigh several tones, whilst the smaller boulders are the size of over-inflated footballs.

(Across the bay in the sleepy fishing of Moeraki, you'll find Fleurs Place – a favourite with foodies from all over the world. Want some fresh fish? Fishing boats land their catches right into Fleur's restaurant.)

Where to go: Koekohe Beach, Otago, South Island
How to get there: The boulders are about 40km (approx 30 minutes' drive) south of Oamuru - follow State Highway 1 towards Hampden. The boulders are an approximately 75km (one hour drive) north of Dunedin on State Highway 1.
When to go: Anytime (sunset for some golden photo opportunities)

10 Top Retreats

We've picked out ten inspirational places in New Zealand known for being some of the most beautiful and memorable retreats in the world. Our choice encompasses lodges and retreats known for their sheer luxury or for programmes and experiences focussing around wellness, beauty, golf, fly fishing, yoga, dining, cooking tuition and spa treatments. (Prices range from thousands to hundreds of dollars per night).

Kauri Cliffs
  1. Huka Lodge, Taupo, North Island
    Founded in the 1920s, this is an iconic New Zealand retreat sought by discerning travellers (Queen Elizabeth II to Bill Gates to Peter Jackson) – guests enjoy a riverside location, manicured grounds, swimming pool, pétanque, croquet, tennis courts, nightly cocktails, five-course dinners and cooking lessons from the lodge's executive chef.
  2. Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay, Northland, Northland Island
    This luxury lodge is one of the most awarded luxury boutique golf and spa resort hotels in the country. Guests enjoy 6,000 acres including secluded beaches, infinity pool, tennis courts, gym, spa with sauna, jacuzzi and lap pool. Its cliff top par 72 PGA championship golf course was designed and built by David Harman.
  3. Mahamudra Centre, Colville, Coromandel, North Island
    A Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre on 8 acres in the peaceful Colville Valley in the Coromandel region. The centre provides a tranquil, relaxing environment for individual or group retreats with a regular programme of Buddhist teachings and meditations with visiting lamas and teachers. Accommodations are in camping grounds, dormitories or self-contained cabins.
  4. Solace Wellness Retreat, Whitford, Auckland, North Island
    Supportive health professionals teach, guide and help restore and rejuvenate the very essence of your being. Explore new activities, nourish your body and nurture your spirit and enjoy superb facilities, delicious cuisine, luxury accommodation and wellness programmes that include yoga, life coaching, healing sessions, spa treatments, outdoor activities and focused workshops.
  5. Solscape, Raglan, North Island
    Solscape is a place to breakaway for relaxation and rejuvenation with a venue space for meetings, workshops, retreats and holistic well-being programmes, plus weekend stand-up-and-surf package and a week-long surf camp. Features include earth oven, yoga classes, massage therapy, adobe earth domes, eco baches, tipi retreat, recycled railway carriage and caboose accommodation. Great for friends and family groups.
  6. Spa di Vine, Waimauku, Auckland, North Island
    Indulge in some pampering with or without the girls. This boutique spa offers relaxing and nurturing spa treatments for the face and body, including Vine Therapy treatments, in a purpose built stone mansion offering private and elegant surroundings for a small number of guests at any one time.
  7. Wharekauhau Lodge, Palliser Bay, Wairarapa, North Island
    Established as a sheep station in the 1840s, the estate includes lake-speckled forests to verdant pastures, and the windswept coastline of Palliser Bay. Head out hiking, or sign up for mountain biking, horseback riding, ATV quad bike adventures, clay target shooting, archery or swimming.
  8. Anahata Yoga Retreat, Golden Bay, South Island
    The only integral residential yoga retreat in New Zealand is located on top of a mountain and offers glorious views of the ocean, Farewell Spit and green valleys. Retreats, personal sessions and daily activities are offered year-round, with the focus on Satyananda yoga. Lodging options include shared rooms, a private straw bale round house and campsites. All meals are organic and vegetarian sourced locally or picked fresh from the garden.
  9. Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, South Island
    Sweeping vistas can be enjoyed from each suite and villa. The panoramas continue throughout the property, from the main lodge area to the spa and gym, infinity pool and acres of secluded grounds. Activities include white water rafting, paragliding, bungy jumping, jet boating, heli-skiing, hiking, horse riding, wineries and scenic flights.
  10. Otahuna Lodge, Canterbury, South Island
    Set in pastoral surroundings, this Victorian mansion offers its guests a unique sense of wonder and discovery. New Zealand's largest private historic residence has been revitalised with luxury accommodation, glorious gardens and sophisticated cuisine.

Share Your Experience

If you have visited some wonderful New Zealand retreats during your stay, let other NZTG readers know about them. Send details of your experiences to the newsletter editor.

Off the Beaten Track to... Volkner Rocks

Volkner Rocks

The Volkner Rocks are three volcanic rock stacks attached to White Island (an active volcano) by a submarine ridge known as the Whakaari High. They rise 112 m above sea level in a stark and forbidding group. Beneath the water they are colourful and prolific. The Rocks are an un-missable attraction for divers and fans of snorkelling as they form one of the best dive sites in the country... (more)


New Zealand Fast Facts

Country singing star, Keith Lionel Urban was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, son of Marienne and Bob Urban, who moved to Australia was Urban was aged two. Urban has released nine albums, charted 29 singles on the US country charts (15 reached number one). He is also known for his roles as a coach on the Australian version of the singing competition The Voice, and as a judge on American Idol. Since 2006, he has been married to actress Nicole Kidman.

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New Zealand Coach Tours

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The largest range of escorted & small group tours

Boutique touring itineraries designed for you

Specialist NZ Tours

Boutique touring itineraries - designed for you

New Zealand self-drive tours

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Explore NZ on a custom self-drive package holiday

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Cross Cook Strait and enjoy Kiwi hospitality.

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