6 Reasons to Visit New Zealand Every Year

One trip to see them all.

Have you ever seen the movie Lord of the Rings? The film was shot in one of the most picturesque countries in the world, New Zealand. And just like how the film has portrayed it, the country is charming, if not magical.

New Zealand’s unspoilt scenery, from its breathtaking glaciers, lush green forests, quaint rolling hills and crystal clear lakes has attracted millions of tourists. The country is also compact and easy to travel from its northern to southern islands thanks to budget ferries.

Renting a campervan or a motorhome is a great way to explore this small country. You can pick them up in two of New Zealand’s largest cities, Christchurch and Auckland.

Whether you have been to New Zealand multiple times or a would be first time visitor, here are six reasons why this place deserves to be on your bucket list:

  1. Hobbit Village

Relive the scenes from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the village of Matamata. Take photos of Bag End, home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. The hobbit-sized town also has 43 other hobbit holes; some of which you can enter.

Roam the area and you will notice some familiar places from the two films like the double arched bridge, the mill, and the infamous Party Tree. Run along the green pastures and rolling hills of The Shire.

Not far from Matamata to the east, lies Wairere Falls. Plunging at a stunning height of 153 metres, it is the highest waterfall in the North Island. Wairere also has a scenic walking track and a panoramic view of the Waikato plains and valley from its lookout.

Hobbiton_Village_New_Zealand

"Hobbiton" by Tom Hall available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom_hall_nz/15189132237 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Tom Hall

  1. Glacier Hikes

New Zealand is famous for its snow-capped mountains and glaciers, especially in Southern Alps in the South Island. Leave your footprints in the snow while you hike through many glacial patterns.

Choose between the equally famous neighbour glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef, both in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Leave your rented motorhome at one of the many campervan sites at the base of the mountain. Book a tour to one of these  informative guided helicopter walks.

Other things to do while in this area include riding cross-country in quad bikes, kayaking the mirror-like waters of the nearby glacial lake, and getting close with kiwis (the animal, not the people) at the Westcoast Wildlife Centre.

  1. Māori Culture

The Māori people is perhaps among  the most passionate in the world. Just listening to their “haka” war dance, popularised by the All Blacks Rugby team, lets out a fire inside your heart. The film, Whale Rider, has perfectly portrayed the life and traditions of this vital Kiwi tribe.

Nowhere in New Zealand can you experience Māori culture more genuinely than in Rotorua. The indigenous people of New Zealand are welcoming and gladly let visitors in their homes in the spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality).

Grab a seat as locals perform their evening cultural dances or join classes on how to carve and weave traditional Maui patterns. Satisfy your hunger with steamy hangi food that is slowly cooked through thermal heat.

Aside from the unique local culture, Rotorua is also a haven for adrenaline-pumping extreme sports. The surrounding lush green forest has trails perfect for all mountain bikers, rushing rivers draw many kayakers and river rafters, and bush walks are perfect for all-terrain bike rides.

Maori_Culture_New_Zealand

" Maori" by bradhoc available athttps://www.flickr.com/photos/bradhoc/9712285341 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY bradhoc

  1. Whale Watching

New Zealand is famous for its herds of sheep grazing on lush grasslands, but there is a rarely seen animal that swims in its waters- whales. Half of the world’s whale species like Blue whales, Humpback whales, Southern right whales (Tohora), Pilot whales and Sperm whales are in NZ.

The little seaside town of Kaikoura, 150 kilometres  of Christchurch, is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants.  Take a photo of them slapping their tails or spouting water through their blowholes.

Other places where you can catch a glimpse of whales are in Bay of Islands where there is a large population of bottlenose dolphins, Whakatane which has a sunny warm climate, and Hauraki Gulf where you can spot orca whales and Bryde’s whales.

5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Are you fond of stargazing? Now, imagine doing that inside a dark cave, and instead of stars you are looking at glowworms clinging on the roof.

Waitomo Glowworm Grotto in the Northern Island is probably the best memory you will have out of your journey in New Zealand. The cave is a quiet repose that brings a magical moment as if you are frozen in time as you gaze into the living lights.

For the more adventurous,  try the nearby Lost World cave tour where you get a chance to rappel 100 metres  down a cave wall, followed by a dry carving adventure. The cave has a mystical vibe because of an eerie mist amplified by the roar of the Mangapu river echoing throughout its cavern.

Waitomo_Glowworm_Caves_New_Zealand

"Glowworms catching food - 2012-01-28" by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner available athttps://www.flickr.com/photos/4nitsirk/6781019705 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Kristina D. C. Hoeppner

6. Marlborough Region

Toast a glass of exquisite wine as you explore the wine region of Marlborough. Close to eighty-percent of wine products in New Zealand is produced in this region including the renowned Sauvignon Blanc.

There is nothing like the seafood dining experience in one of the region’s restaurants and wineries. The regional dishes in Marlborough has components of honey, wild meat, oils and nuts produced from its

Aside from wine, the region is also famous for its historic sites and serene coastline. At Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, they show old plane models from the World War I and II era. Meanwhile, the sea-drowned valleys of Marlborough Sounds offer great kayaking experiences for beginners and pro paddlers.

 

These six things will surely make you want to go back to New Zealand every year. Hire a campervan or motorhome if you want to explore this wonderful country in an inexpensive and convenient way.

Things to do in Melbourne During Summer Season

You can joke about Melbourne’s weather all year round, but not during summer.

The world’s “most liveable city” can rival, if not surpass, the summer experience that other places in Australia has to offer. Melbourne’s magnificent landscape, hidden laneways, sporting grounds and pristine beaches are sure to captivate you.

Melbourne is also a great starting point for any road trip like the Great Ocean Road. Going around the city is easy, especially if you rent a motorhome or campervan that serves as your home on the road.

If you still do not have  the slightest idea what to do when you’re in Melbourne this summer, here are 10 things that will surely make your trip memorable:

1. Sip a Cup of Melbourne Coffee

Melburnians love their coffee, perhaps a bit more than everyone else. If you are a coffee lover yourself, Melbourne presents an opportunity to taste several coffee brews around the world. Simply head over to cafes like Breakfast Thieves, Chez Dre or Kettle Black to have a great breakfast with an equally great tasting cup of coffee.

Melbourne_Coffee

"Coffee time with a magic at St Ali South" by Katherine Lim available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ultrakml/10698833933 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Ful license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Katherine Lim

2. Tour the CBD via the Circle Tram

Riding Melbourne’s free tram is the most convenient way to explore the city’s business district. The tram also plays an audio commentary that discusses the details of city landmarks and its attractions like the Princess Theatre, Docklands, Melbourne Aquarium, City Museum and Parliament House. To ride in one, wait at any tram stop along the tracks and look for the City Circle sign.

3. Hang Out at the Summer Night Market

Spend your nights with tasty food and good drinks while watching splendid acts from street performers and musicians. Held every Wednesday night from November to March, the Summer Night Market gathers around 200 vendors that serve Middle Eastern, Spanish, Indian and Vietnamese food. Catch this feast of world flavours at Queen Victoria Market in Elizabeth Street.

4. Watch Films at The Moonlight Cinema

Watch a great movie under the night sky while picnicking in the grassy hillside of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Catch your favourite flicks from new releases, cult movies and even retro films. On some occasions, movie goers can also see a mass flight of bats. This year, tickets cost $14 for children and $19 for adults.

5. Catch a Game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

There is nothing like watching an exhilarating game of cricket or Australian footy. Buy a ticket for your favourite team’s game and cheer for them on the day of their match. MCG also hosts tours that introduce the stadium’s rich history and day-to-day operations. The “G” remains the largest stadium in Australia, with a seating capacity of 100,000.

Melbourne_Cricket_Ground

" CWC Aus v Eng at the MCG" by Tourism Victoria available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmelbourne/16545211875 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Tourism Victoria 

6. View the City at the Top of Eureka Tower

If you want to see Melbourne in its entirety, head over to Eureka Tower. On the 88th level is a viewing deck that gives you a bird’s eye view of the city. The highest building in the southern hemisphere,  its top ten floors is also plated in  24-karat gold. Tickets are sold at $19.50 for adults and $11.00 for children 4-16 years old. Kids under 4 years are free.

7. Picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens

You don’t have to leave Melbourne to experience nature. Head over to the Royal Botanic Gardens and immerse yourself in 38 hectares of landscaped gardens with a large collection of plants from around the world. The infamous Heritage Walk tour allows you to see the  Gardens through the eyes of its traditional Aboriginal inhabitants. Many of the plant species in the garden also have displays that provide information about them.

8. Swim at St. Kilda Beach

Summer is never complete until you have spent a few days at days at the beach. Just 6 kilometres from the city centre lies St. Kilda Beach which is popular for its sweeping views of Port Phillip. St. Kilda’s serene foreshore has an extensive network of boardwalks and paths ideal for walking, cycling, jogging and inline skating.

9. Take a Selfie at the Arty Alleyways

Melbourne is home to many artists and it is not only in galleries and exhibits that you can delight yourself in visual art. Just head over to one or two laneways in the main city grid and you will stumble upon some of the best street arts in the world. A galore of colourful murals, starting from Hosier Lane in the north, gives life to the once shortcut passages of the city.

Melbourne_Street_Art

"Melbourne street art." by Andrew available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/63168233@N06/7547584298 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Andrew

10. Visit the Animals in Melbourne Zoo

Get lost  in the wilderness of Melbourne Zoo. Just less than 4 kilometres  from the heart of the city, stands this wildlife sanctuary that is home to over 250 animal species. Come and see all your favourite animals from lions, tigers, elephants, orangutans and even Victoria’s iconic little penguins and Australian fur seals.

 
These are just a few of the activities you can do in Melbourne this summer. To fully enjoy your stay in this magnificent city, travel aboard a motorhome or campervan. This option is not only cheaper than staying in a hotel, it also gives you schedule flexibility.

How To Travel Queensland With A Baby (And Still Have Fun)

Can you still have your dream vacation even if your family just recently had a baby? The answer is a big yes.

Karen Edwards and her partner Shaun Bayes, together with their then 3-month old  baby, Esme, explored Australia, Asia and New Zealand for 10 months.

If they can do it, so can you.

If you are looking for an ideal year-round getaway, look no further than Queensland.  Its serene beaches like the Whitehaven’s, and laid-back lifestyle will surely ease the stress from your body.

The state has a compact land area which can be travelled aboard a motorhome with ease.

Here are some reminders that will help you in your travels around Queensland.

Travel While They are Young

The best time for your newborn to first experience the joys of travel is between the age of six months to one year. During this period, babies are actually much stronger than they look. They also weigh less at this point, making them easier to carry around.

Furthermore, babies have yet to develop preferences. For example, they don’t mind what food you give them. As long as your kids’ basic needs (food, sleep, play time and clean nappies) are being met, they are less likely to interrupt your travels.

Queensland_Baby

"Niall and Elissa" by furiousmadgeorge available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/8178823@N03/1383365407 under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY furiousmadgeorge

Vehicle Safety for Babies

Choosing the service of a motorhome or campervan hire in Sydney is one of the safest ways to go around Queensland when you are travelling with a baby. You can prepare your child’s food in the motorhome’s kitchen and have your baby sleep indoors anytime of the day.

One of the main challenges when travelling with your baby is securing him or her while your vehicle is on the road. Luckily, most motorhome rental companies provide baby seats to ensure the safety of their 6 months to 4-year old passengers.

For your baby’s safety, always check with the motorhome rental company if the particular unit you booked has baby seats. It may cost you extra for this safety feature, but it is a small price to pay for your peace of mind.

Here is a complete guide in choosing child restraints for your toddlers.

Things to Bring When You  Travel

Your baby’s needs may outweigh your own needs. Often, when a baby gets cranky or cries it only means that some of his or her needs (food, sleep, playtime, diaper change, etc.) are not being met.

Here is a list of things you should bring with you when you are going on a road trip with an infant:

  • Small toys and touch-and-feel books for entertainment
  • Extra clothes and nappies
  • Baby carrier to free your hands while moving around with your baby
  • Your baby’s favourite low-mess snacks or pureed food
  • Nappy rash cream and wipes for hygiene
  • First aid kit for emergencies
  • Formula milk, if you are not breastfeeding
  • Removable window shades to shield their eyes and skin from the sun
  • And of course, a CAMERA to capture those precious moments

Baby-Friendly Sites in Queensland

Contrary to popular belief, travelling with a baby will not significantly limit the places you can visit or the activities you can do. In Queensland, there are tons of travel destinations where families with toddlers can spend quality time together.

Below are a few baby-friendly activities you can do in Queensland:

  1. Hit the Sunshine Coast

Babies and the beach are a perfect match. Your little ones just love the feel of sand on their feet and to swim in the sea as much as you do. Drive your way into one of the magnificent beaches in the Sunshine Coast and splash around the refreshing waters with your tot. Minimise their exposure to the sun and avoid the hottest times of the day between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M.

Baby_in_Shunshine_Coast

"Luke Discovers the Beach" by Eduardo Merille available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/merille/3484294675 under a Creative Commons attribution. Full license available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ BY Eduardo Merille

  1. Picnic at one of Brisbane’s Parks

You don’t need to travel far from the capital to enjoy a piece of Queensland. Picnic in one of the lush green parks in Brisbane and let your child snooze under the shades of trees. Colmslie Beach Reserve, Kalinga Park and Roma Street Parklands are just a few of your options.

  1.     Meet and Greet the Koalas

Introduce your child to the importance of nature and wildlife as early as possible. The tranquil Daisy Hill Conservation Park has lush trees that provide sufficient amounts of  shade. Possums and wallabies can also be sighted once in awhile.

  1.   Frolic at the Carrara Market

Head to Queensland’s biggest market with your tot tucked in a baby carrier. The popular family destination has merry-go-rounds, pony rides, bazaars and face painters which you can check out on top of your shopping. Best of all, the market has free entrance and parking.

Carrying your Child Through Your Travels

Babywearing is perhaps the best way to carry your child as your family travels. This ingenious contraption allows you to move around while your baby stays close to you. Other benefits of this parenting activity are: less crying, breastfeeding, freeing your hands and a quiet bonding moment.

"309a" by Suzanne Shahar available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hugabub-babywearing/8137802777/ under a Creative Commons attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

"309a" by Suzanne Shahar available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hugabub-babywearing/8137802777/ under a Creative Commons attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ BY Suzanne Shahar

For a hassle-free babywearing experience, here are a few tips:

  • Practise wearing your child at home before your travel so your infant can get used to it.
  • Ensure your baby’s nasal airways aren’t blocked. Riding a bike or driving while wearing your baby is certainly a no-no.  
  • Be attentive and pay attention to your surroundings. Lastly, hydrate well. Babywearing can be a little hot, especially on hot days.

These are just some of the important points you should know when travelling around Queensland with a baby. To reduce the hassles of travelling with a baby, rent a motorhome. This vehicle will help you control your schedule and have enough room for everything your child needs when travelling.