Free Travel Newsletter : February 2016
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Andy Diamond, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning a "Kiwi Country New Zealand" DVD.
The merry month of March provides visitors and locals alike with some great comedy festivals promising an abundance of belly laughs – especially 'down south'. But we have also picked out some great walking and snorkelling destinations in the North and South Islands for those looking for more active experiences amidst some of our most beautiful scenery.
Read more about:
- Go Media Comedy Carnival
- Dunedin Fringe Festival
- Manawatu Walking Festival 2016
- Go See... Castle Hill, Canterbury
- 10 Top Snorkelling Destinations
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Go Media Comedy Carnival
Date: 15 March - 2 April
Don't miss it! The Go Media Comedy Carnival is an exciting new festival of comedy acts and performances happening right in the comedy capital of the south, Christchurch. The Go Media Comedy Carnival presents a three week program packed full of new and established acts with plenty of laughs and giggles to go round. The line-up includes over 40 performers including Cori Gonzalez-Macuer (star of What We do in the Shadows), Gish (an absolute Kiwi icon) and the headline act, all the way from Australia, comedy rock band The Axis of Awesome!
Visit the Comedy Carnival Facebook page for the latest information.
And for those of you who are wondering what happened to Jordan's beard, check out this awesome Youtube clip!
Dunedin Fringe Festival
Date: 2 - 13 March
Since its debut in 2000, the Dunedin Fringe Festival has been bringing high quality, contemporary art and performance to the people of Dunedin. With over 70 events, this is set to be the biggest festival in recent years. You will find a wide range of shows, including comedy, theatre, dance, music and everything in between.
The Fringe is meant to make you giggle, make you gasp, make you cry and make you think - there really is something for everyone, so get out there and make Dunedin Fringe, YOUR Fringe.
Check out the website for details of what's on.
Manawatu Walking Festival 2016
Location: Manawatu area
Date: 18 - 20 March
The Manawatu Walking Festival is focused on bringing together walkers and hikers to experience the variety of great walks in the Manawatu. This festival has walks for all ages and fitness levels, with plenty of options to choose from including the iconic Manawatu Gorge Track through native bush, a twilight beach walk where you can get sand between your toes and an urban art and sculpture walk to soak up the City culture. There is even a vineyard tour with tasting and a farm walk thrown in for good measure.
Hosting this festival is a wide range of experts ranging from tramping guides and historians through to storytellers, nature experts, experienced walkers and photographers. This festival will also be connecting walkers with hosts (guides) of similar interests – all of whom are wanting to share their knowledge to help enhance walking experiences in Manawatu.
Visit the Manawatu Walking Festival website for more information. (Bookings are essential).
Go See... Castle Hill, Canterbury
Castle Hill is a location on the Great Alpine Highway (Highway 73) in Canterbury on the South Island. It is located between Darfield and Arthur's Pass. Castle Hill is private property and located within the Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area. The hill was so named because of the imposing array of limestone boulders in the area reminiscent of an old, run-down stone castle.
The huge limestone boulders once provided shelter for Maori food gathering and greenstone parties. Its name Kura Tawhiti means 'the treasure from a distant land' in reference to kumara (sweet potato) which was cultivated in Castle Hill and regarded as a precious food source.
There's an easy flat walking track up to the boulders, then then you can make your way through the maze of rocks into the centre. There's an energy here that is almost tangible; and recognised in 2002 by the Dalai Lama, when he christened Castle Hill as a "Spiritual Centre of the Universe".
Castle Hill and nearby Flock Hill are widely considered to be the epitome of the South Island's rock climbing scene, where on any given day one can find rock climbers bouldering* the unique limestone outcroppings (suitable for expert climbers).
The area has grown in popularity with visitors as nearby Flock Hill station was used for the filming of the climactic battle scenes of the 2005 movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
- Where to go: Castle Hill, Great Alpine Highway, Canterbury
- When to go: All year round
Find out more about Canterbury's highlights.
10 Top Snorkelling Destinations
Despite our lack of tropical reefs and warm waters (wetsuits are widely available to buy or hire though!) snorkelling in New Zealand is a fun, low-cost activity that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Many of the top snorkelling destinations are just off-shore making access easy too. Check out our pick of 10 top places to go snorkelling:
- Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, Coromandel - Whilst the cathedral-like arch gives the whole area an air of grandeur, the beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore - a perfect place for a family picnic and fin-swim.
- Cavalli Islands, Matauri Bay, Bay of Islands - Lying about 30km of Kerikeri these islands offer peaceful snorkelling. They are also popular with divers as the famous Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior, lies on the seafloor between the Cavalli Islands and Matauri Bay.
- Goat Island, Warkworth - Near the township of Leigh, 92km from Auckland, shallow waters offer safe snorkelling for all the family and entrance to the reserve is free. Gear is available for hire from local dive and snorkel operators.
- Kapiti Marine Reserve, Kapiti (near Wellington) - On the mainland side of the reserve, snorkellers can explore sponge gardens and seaweed beds and perhaps see reef fish such as the blue moki, kingfish and various rays.
- Rikoriko Cave, Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka Coast, Northland - This wonderful snorkelling spot lies within the world's largest sea cave. Rikoriko means waning light or dancing light in Maori due to the patterns made by sunlight reflecting on the cave ceiling. Visibility can be up to 45 metres.
- Taputeranga Marine Reserve, Wellington - Just 6km from the city centre, there are plenty of beaches and rocky shores to explore at low tide. The Island Bay Snorkel Trail is an ideal place to investigate the marine life in the reserve. It is conveniently located just a few minutes' walk from the last Island Bay bus stop.
- Whale Bay, Tutukaka Coast, Northland - Walking access to this idyllic white sand, bush-fringed beach is only from either the car park on Matapouri Road (30 mins round trip), or via Matapouri Bay (40 mins one way). But it's worth the walk, great for snorkelling with basic toilets on site.
- Kaikoura, Canterbury - Visit the small coastal town of Kaikoura and take the opportunity to snorkel with the world's smallest dolphins, Hector's Dolphins or playful fur seals.
- Long Island - Kokomohua Marine Reserve, Marlborough - This is a lovely escape from it all - relax on a sandy beach, explore rocky reefs and admire the distinctive landscapes of the Marlborough Sounds. Bring your mask and snorkel to explore the rocks close to shore.
- Tonga Island Marine Reserve, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson - There are numerous locations within the national park to enjoy snorkelling, but some of the best is among the rocks between Tonga Quarry and Foul Point.
Snorkelling Destinations on the North Island
Snorkelling Destinations on the South Island
Share Your Taste Sensation
If you have enjoyed snorkelling at a specific location, let other NZTG readers know about it – send details of your experience to the newsletter editor.
New Zealand Fast Facts
*Bouldering is a form of rock climbing performed without the use of ropes or harnesses. It can be done without any equipment, but most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Bouldering hurdles are usually less than 6 metres tall. The sport originated as a method of training for roped climbs and mountaineering – bouldering enabled climbers to practice specific moves at a safe distance from the ground.