Free Travel Newsletter : May 2013
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Debbie Rizor, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning "Kiwi Country New Zealand DVD".
Swing into New Zealand's winter with all your senses racing - head to the mountains before the snow starts, enjoy Maori New Year celebrations, party and play at New Zealand's biggest winter party, swing on the world's biggest swing... and come down back to earth again with a long, relaxing soak in a natural hot pool.
- American Express Queenstown Winter Festival, 21st - 30th June
- Matariki, (Nationwide) 22nd June - 22nd July
- The World's Biggest Swing
- 10 Top Hot Pools and Spas
- Off the Beaten Track to... Crucible Lake
- Send a Postcard... No Stamps Required
- New Zealand Fast Facts
American Express Queenstown Winter Festival, 21st - 30th June
The Queenstown Winter Festival is New Zealand's biggest winter party. Featuring everything from ice skating to all-star snowboarding and dog derbies, this event climaxes with a Mardi Gras spectacular.
The festival focuses on entertainment for all ages with activities both up on the ski field and down in the town. Famous in New Zealand as one of the country's best winter celebrations, the Queenstown Winter Festival is a great way to party and play in an exciting and fun-packed winter atmosphere.
Find out more at www.winterfestival.co.nz.
Matariki (Nationwide), 22nd June - 22nd July
When the Matariki star cluster rises into the skies of New Zealand, it signals a month-long celebration across New Zealand for the Maori New Year. It's a time to give thanks to the land, sea and sky and for communities to farewell the year gone and turn to the future.
Centres around the country celebrate with music performances, Kapa Haka, theatre, dance, astronomy, storytelling and lantern parades. You can find information about Matariki celebrations in visitor information offices, libraries and in the local press as you travel through New Zealand. Here are a few options:
- Auckland - Matariki Festival in Auckland will see the city come alive with live music performances, Kapa Haka, theatre, poetry, family events, dance and art.
- Wellington - Te Papa, Wellington's famous museum, hosts Matariki celebrations with a 25-day programme that includes concerts, astronomy sessions and talks.
- Dunedin - On the South Island, the Puaka Matariki Festival is held in Dunedin from 16th June to 8th July, with celebrations and events including storytelling, whānau 'have a go' sessions, lantern parades, contemporary dance and a midwinter carnival.
It's a great time to join in the celebrations, get to know some friendly locals and learn about New Zealand's fascinating Maori heritage.
The World's Biggest Swing
Not for the feint-hearted, the Nevis Swing is not simply the biggest Queenstown Swing. It is not merely the biggest New Zealand Swing. This is biggest swing in the whole world!
After being lifted out above the launch deck, suspended 160 metres above a canyon floor, you are suddenly released and find yourself rushing towards the other side of the valley at 120 kilometres per hour. Upside down, backwards, in a pair – there are numerous choices as to how you go – and the Hackett guys at the top are great at persuading reluctant swingers they can do it! The Swing is owned by A J Hackett the company who first brought commercial bungy jumping to New Zealand.
(Australian viewers of the Biggest Loser will have recently seen competitors in their 'Fears Week' take on the swing.)
Find out more about the world's biggest swing.
10 Top Hot Pools and Spas
New Zealand is located on the edge of two massive tectonic plates of the Earth's crust and has a large amount of geothermal activity. This means there are many hot pools to enjoy after a long hard day of adventure and travel. Pools range from small spa-type natural mineral pools to large thermally heated swimming pool complexes. We've picked out ten of the best - seven hot pools in the North Island and three in the South Island - for you to visit. There's no doubt, you'll find more en route:
- Hawke's Bay (East Coast, North Island) - The Morere Hot Springs are a tranquil haven where the mineralised waters are said to be amongst the most rejuvenating and unique in the world.
- Matamata (Waikato, North Island) - World famous in Matamata, the Opal Hot Springs and Holiday Park has a large outdoor pool as well as several private pools (including one in a bush/river setting) in breathtaking Waikato farmland. A golf course is right next door or you can catch the bus tour from the town to the Lord of the Rings' Hobbiton movie set.
- Northland (Northland, North Island) - Ngawha hot pools offer a variety of mud pools from boiling hot to tepid. The muddy sediment on the bottom should be rubbed on your body (don't be scared) and left to dry for a natural body mask. If you're heading north, Ngawha, just out of Kaikohe, is a must visit. Best enjoyed at dawn and twilight. The establishment is very low key and the pools are rustic, square holes, lined with ancient timbers and etched with the several generations' worth of graffiti.
- Rotorua (Bay of Plenty, North Island) - Overlooking Lake Rotorua, the Lake Spa is Polynesian Spa's deluxe hot mineral bathing and relaxation area. Enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36°C to 42°C). You will be surrounded by revitalizing native New Zealand flora, natural rocks, the sound of two waterfalls and a grotto.
- Taupo (Waikato, North Island) - Come and enjoy personal luxury at Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs Spa, where your body will be rejuvenated and your spirits uplifted by the hot waters of Onekeneke. Pamper yourself with one of our many treatments! And bring the kids too – the hot pools, dragon slide and water playground will keep them busy for hours.
- Waitakaruru (Auckland, North Island) - A favourite since pre-European times, Miranda Hot Springs is just a 45 minute drive from Auckland. There are three pools: a children's pool, a main pool (the largest in the southern hemisphere) and an adults-only pool with 60s retro charm. There are also four private spa pools. Great fish'n'chips at Kaiaua are a mere skip up the road.
- Waiwera (Auckland, North Island) - With 22 pools, eight water slides, movies, adult-only pools and plenty of picnic spots, the Waiwera Thermal Resort and Spa resort is great for the whole family. There is also a spa and wellness centre and accommodation packages available.
- Lake Tekapo (Canterbury, South Island) - Tekapo Springs is a must experience destination for travellers on the South Island featuring a range of hot pools, day spa, tube park (snow tubing in winter and New Zealand's first summer tube operates over the warmer months), outdoor skating rink and a licensed cafe. The facility overlooks beautiful Lake Tekapo with magnificent views.
- Hanmer Springs (Canterbury, South Island) - Since 1859 the thermal pools of Hanmer Springs have attracted visitors seeking to relax, unwind and ease their aches and pains in the soothing mineral waters. Just 90 minutes from Christchurch, the mineral springs are in the heart of the alpine village of Hanmer Springs. A health and beauty spa is also on site.
- Queenstown (Otago, South Island) - The Onsen Hot Pools are Queenstown's only private indoor/outdoor hot pools, high on the cliffs overlooking the Shotover River canyon. You can immerse yourself in the views, the pure waters, and the fresh mountain air.
Share Your Experience
If you enjoyed relaxing in hot pools at a particular location, why not let other NZTG readers know about it. Simply send details of your experience to the newsletter editor.
Off the Beaten Track to... Crucible Lake
The Mt Aspiring National Park is the least developed and third largest of New Zealand's 14 national parks. This month's off the beaten track destination is truly one that most visitors to New Zealand won't see - the stunning iceberg-studded Crucible Lake, which can be reached during a four day hike that's suitable for experienced hikers only...(more)
Send a Postcard... No Stamps Required
Once you've seen it, let the folks back home know about it with an 'e-postcard'. You don't need any stamps, simply choose the postcard you want to send from our page and you can send it online for free! The postcards feature famous New Zealand activities, landscapes and culture.
Visit New Zealand Tourism Guide's postcards.
New Zealand Fast Facts
The Queen's Official Birthday (the UK's Queen Elizabeth II) is the day on which the birthday of the monarch of Commonwealth realms is officially celebrated in those countries. In New Zealand, the holiday is the first Monday in June and is a public holiday. Celebrations are mainly official, including the Queen's Birthday Honours list and military ceremonies. The idea of renaming the Queen's birthday weekend to Hillary weekend after Sir Edmund Hillary (the first person to ascend Mount Everest) was raised in 2009. (In the UK, the Queen's Birthday is not a public holiday!)