Free Travel Newsletter : January 2016
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Caroline Miller, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning a "Kiwi Country New Zealand" DVD.
Celebrate the start of the year with a journey full of light and beautiful nights! Choose from two gorgeous lantern festivals that light two of New Zealand's city nights or head to more remote parts of the country to marvel at the natural wonders of the southern lights that transform the skies. And of course, don't forget to check out the bright lights, sights and bites in between...
Read more about:
- Auckland Lantern Festival
- Wairarapa Balloon Festival - Trust House Night Glow
- Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
- Go See... Aurora Australis, Stewart Island
- 10 Top NZ Munchies
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Auckland Lantern Festival
Location: Auckland Domain, Parnell
Date: 18 - 21 February
Be entertained and dazzled by more than 800 handmade Chinese lanterns, thrilling on-stage performances, traditional festivities, Chinese art and more – and there's a range of activities for all ages. Plus, it's free to attend!
- The spectacular illumination of over 800 handmade Chinese lanterns
- A street full of stalls selling delicious Asian delicacies and crafts
- Lantern making demonstrations
- Stunning on-stage performances of traditional and contemporary Chinese culture including martial arts, dance and live music from international performers
- Grand finale fireworks display
Visit the Auckland Council web page for more information.
There is also a Lantern Festival in Christchurch from 27-28 February in Hagley Park.
Wairarapa Balloon Festival - Trust House Night Glow
Location: Wairarapa region (various)
Date: 25 - 29 February
This is a great family fun event which features a big, brainy bird named Owlbert Eyenstein and a floating lighthouse all the way from the USA, who will be the stars of this summer's spectacular Wairarapa Balloon Festival.
You can welcome Owlbert and Flighthouse along with over 20 other hot air balloons during this five day region-wide event with competitions and sky high spectacles. The festival finishes with the dazzling spectacle of the Trust House Night Glow Show on Saturday 27th February (tickets need to be purchased for this event).
Check out the program on the Wairarapa Balloon Festival website.
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
Date: 12 March
The first Festival attracted a crowd of 1,800 and has grown ever since with attendance peaking at 22,500 before being capped at 10,000 in more recent years.
New wild foods are introduced every year, with the festival exhibiting an assortment of crazy and creative foods. Festival-goers have the opportunity to try crocodile bites, chicken feet, grasshoppers, colostrum cheesecake, mountain oysters and the infamous stallion protein shots. And for the foodies, who prefer less of a sting to the palate, there is marinated tuna, whitebait patties, smoked high country salmon and an assortment of game meat.
The Festival offers local community groups, individuals and businesses the opportunity to raise funds and profile their products which is an important part of the event. The roving entertainment, mingling amongst the crowd, and continuous stage performances enliven the Festival arena with bands, solo artists and comedy. Attendees can also experience cooking demonstrations with wild food chefs - there is something for everyone.
Visit the Wildfoods Festival website for more information.
Go See... Aurora Australis, Stewart Island
The aurora australis, also known as the Southern Lights, are one of the most spectacular sights in the Southern Hemisphere and travellers visiting New Zealand may see the spectacular light show in the sky from Stewart Island.
Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island (south of the South Island) and although accessible by air and sea, it is one of New Zealand's most remote destinations. Its relative isolation and extreme southern latitude make it an ideal spot for seeing the aurora australis. This is reflected in the island's Maori name - Rakiura - which translates to "the land of glowing skies."
To see the Southern Lights, travellers should head to Stewart Island between March and September. During the summer months - October through February in the Southern Hemisphere - the lights are often obscured by the longer periods of daylight.
Visitors to Stewart can maximize their chances of seeing the aurora australis by finding a spot with minimal light pollution from artificial sources, although the island's sparse population makes this a relatively easy task. Additionally, travellers should try to watch the lights on a clear, dark night, as clouds and moonlight can make it more difficult to see the stunning phenomenon.
- Where to go: Stewart Island (south of the South Island)
- How to get there: March to September
View more about visiting Stewart Island.
10 Top NZ Munchies
Although we've paid homage to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival this month, it's definitely not all huhu grubs in the rest of New Zealand. We've picked the yummiest top 10 munchies on our list, which we hope you will enjoy on your travels around our beautiful land - they include essential treats for the kids and essential treats for the adults too!
- Bluff Oysters - Travelling down to the small town of Bluff in Southland just for its oysters? What a great idea - aim to reach Bluff for May for the annual oyster festival – rich, succulent and intensely fishy – these oysters are considered to be the best on the planet!
- Cookie Time - This is no ordinary chocolate chip cookie - this cookie has a great story behind it too. A Kiwi story that began in the kitchen of a small flat in Christchurch in 1983 and a batch of cookies cooked up by 21 year old Michael Mayell. The cookies are delicious by the way, famed for the huge chunks of chocolate and melt in the mouth ingredients. Found in dairies across the country.
- Fish and chips - We know it, sometimes the tease is on us as it may sound a bit like 'fush 'n' chups', but no matter how you say it, we love it - particularly when eaten out of the paper, splashed with vinegar, sprinkled with salt and enjoyed next to the sea.
- Green-Lipped Mussels - (also known as the greenshell mussel). Fans of seafood are in for the biggest taste treat of their trip to New Zealand. This wonderful, plump and tasty species of mussel even lends a name to the The Mussel Pot café - in Havelock, Marlborough Sounds - stop there, you must.
- Hangi - If you're in the region of Rotorua, you're in the best spot for a hangi. This is a traditional Maori way of slow-cooking meat and vegetables in a "buried oven" of stones, mats and leaves. The food is cooked on top of the stones and has a rich, succulent flavour unlike any other.
- Lamingtons - A great excuse for morning or afternoon tea, a cup of tea with a lamington cake is a simple pleasure enjoyed by many New Zealanders. Lamingtons are small squares of sponge cake coated in chocolate or raspberry and sprinkles of coconut. Available just about everywhere!
- Marmite - It's true you either love it or hate it, this is a spread with a very distinctive flavor (think yeasty, tangy and a little bit spicy). Its fans would probably suggest a thin layer on toast or in lunchbox sandwiches. Worth a try or take some home as a souvenir or gift!
- Tuatua - A million years away from marmite, is tuatua, a species of edible clam endemic to New Zealand. It is found on all three of the main New Zealand islands, buried in fine clean sand on ocean beaches and is considered a delicacy, often made into fritters (omelettes) or boiled and served on the shell.
- Whitebait - This is most definitely considered to be a delicacy in New Zealand and is the most expensive fish (fish fry or very young fish) in the country. New Zealand whitebait are much smaller than Chinese or British whitebait at about 45mm in length. Again, they are often cooked in a fritter (omelette) seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper.
- Whittaker's Peanut Slab - These slabs of chocolate packed full of nuts make simply brilliant souvenirs (if you can resist them long enough to get them home). You'll see them in supermarkets and shops throughout the country – easily spotted due to the gold wrapping and chunky shape – the stuff of Wonka-heaven!
Share Your Taste Sensation
Pineapple lumps, TipTop ice-cream, kiwifruit, lamb, Pavlova, Manuka honey, ANZAC biscuits…hokey-pokey, we haven't shared all of our favourites yet! Guess you'll just have to look out for them. Keep us posted on what treats and delicacies have made your tastebuds water and what makes you think of New Zealand!
New Zealand Fast Facts
The huhu beetle (Prionoplus reticularis) is the largest endemic beetle found in New Zealand. Huhu is now often used as the name for all stages of life of the beetle, but traditionally huhu was the Māori name for the larval stage, which was also known as tunga rakau. The whitish larvae are up to 70mm long and normally feed on dead wood of conifers. They are edible and are said by some to taste like buttery chicken.