If I’m under 21, can I still hire a campervan in Australia and New Zealand?

Australia and New Zealand are very popular destinations for backpackers, mostly European and American students having a gap year and working their way around Australia. In between jobs a popular way to get around is in a low budget campervan such as the Hippie Camper vehicles.

Hippie logo

Many of these backpackers are under 21 and they are always really pleased to find an option for campervan hire that not only suits their budget and their lifestyle, but also caters to drivers under 21.

Hippie Camper is the brand that Salamanda Travel can offer for drivers who are under 21 but over 18 in Australia and New Zealand. Hippie have a range of vehicles:

The Hippie Camper Deluxe (0-3 year old vehicle)

Hippie Deluxe lifestyle

The Hippie Camper Budget (3-5 year old vehicle)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Hippie Hitop (4-6 year old vehicle)

Hippie Hitop Lifestyle

And finally, the answers to a few FAQs we get asked regarding Hippie Camper vehicles:

Is there a minimum rental duration?

Yes, the minimum rental period is generally 7 days, but at peak periods longer minimum rentals may apply.

How old do I need to be to drive a Hippie vehicle?

Hippie Camper hires their campervans to drivers 18 years and over, as long as you have a valid full or green P Australian driver’s licence. If the licence is not in English you’ll need an international licence or a valid, certified translation into English. To find a translator in Australia go to the NAATI website here:

In New Zealand the NZ Transport Agency provides a list of approved translators here:

Do I have to pay a bond?

All Hippie Camper rentals require a payment of a bond on pickup. The bond payable will depend on the liability option selected and the age of the driver.

The lowest bond payable on Hippie vehicles is $100 for drivers over 21 and $250 for drivers between 18 and 20 years of age. Please also refer to our blog post on liability reduction options and please always call Salamanda Travel if you have any questions you’d like to ask in person.

Dreaming of Touring Canada in a RV? Check out these Earlybird specials!

Salamanda Travel is a preferred agent for Canadream, one of Canada’s premium RV and motorhome hire companies. We are currently taking bookings for the 2014 season, which typically starts in April and stretches through to October.

Emerald_Lake_panoramic,_Yukon,_CanadaCanadream have branch locations in the following cities in Canada and offer pickups in these cities:

  • Vancouver
  • Calgary
  • Whitehorse
  • Toronto
  • Montreal
  • Halifax
  • Edmonton

4096px-Vancouver_horizon_oct15One-way hires are available on request – ask us!

If you are dreaming of touring this amazing country with its vast and diverse landscapes, its exciting world cities and its vibrant culture we recommend checking out some information about travelling in Canada here.

Have we managed to get you interested in touring across Canada in a motorhome? OK, so now we’d like to let you know about some great specials available to those who book early for their 2014 trip in an RV or motorhome. To be eligible, you need to be travelling between 1 April and 31 October 2014.

Alberta_-_Lake_Louise_-_Lake_view_01If you’re an Earlybird and book your RV hire by 31 January 2014 you can choose two specials from the list, and if you book your motorhome holiday with us after January but before 31 March 2014 you can choose one from the list, which is set out below:

Special

savings in CA$

Details

One way special

$375

50% off one way fee for rentals between Vancouver, Calgary, Whitehorse, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. 14-night minimum applies.
Unlimited Kilometres(Book before 31 January 2014)

$812.50

50% off Unlimited Kilometer package. Purchase for $812.50 (half price). Maximum of 21 nights travel. Additional nights for $76.00 per night.
Unlimited Kilometres(Book before 31 March 2014)

$406.25

25% off Unlimited Kilometer package. Purchase for $1,218.75. Maximum of 21 nights travel. Additional nights for $75.00 per night.
Kilometer Package

$526

Purchase 2 x 800 Kilometer packages (total $526.00) & receive an additional 2 x 800 km for free.
Convenience Kits, Additional Drivers & USA Travel Special

up to $720

Includes:
• Up to 6 x Convenience Kits (normally $80 each)
• Up to 2 additional drivers (normally $10 per day)
• Travel into USA charges (normally $10 per day)
Early Pick-up and Late Drop-off Special

$375

Extend your holiday! Special allows early pick-up between 10am & 12pm (normally 1pm & 4pm). Drop-off is permitted by 3pm (normally 8am-10am). Includes transfers to & from branch from Airport or hotel. Note: special also includes Sunday pick-ups (normally on request for $375.00) with early pick-up (10am-12pm). Sunday drop-offs still at normal times (8am- 10am).
Northern Surcharge $500 Northern Surcharge waived! Allows you to travel to:
• Alaska Highway north of Fort St. John, BC
• Cassiar Highway (#37) north of Kitwanga, BC
• Highway 35 north of Peace River, Alberta
• Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Newfoundland
• Quebec & Labrador north and east of Sept-Iles

Ontario_thousandislands

So go ahead, dream big and book early to have the self drive holiday of a lifetime in a motorhome in beautiful Canada.

Counting down to 2014, the best places to watch Australian fireworks

There are only a few weeks left till 2014; time to start making some New Year’s resolutions, career change plans, holiday plans, but first of all: celebrate New Year’s Eve. Some essential elements are, of course; champagne, friends, family, counting down the last seconds of 2013 and then … fireworks. If you want to see the best fireworks in Australia this year, where are the best places to go?

Here is a breakdown of your top options:

Sydney Fireworks

Sydney
With over 1.6 million spectators, Sydney is quite possibly the New Year’s Eve capital of the world. Bcause the new year starts 10 hours earlier in Sydney compared with most European major cities and even 15 hours before New York, the fireworks in Sydney are televised all over the world. So not justthe 1.6 million local spectators see the fireworks, over 1 billion watch it globally.

Every year Sydney creates a new theme for the fireworks. This year the theme is ‘Shine’. So pack your stuff and shine during New Years Eve to watch the 7 tonnes of fireworks sparkle and glow over Sydney’s night sky! But whatever you do, plan ahead – as 1.6 million is quite a large number, even for Sydney. Why not consider a campervan hire, when the crowd becomes a little too much for you, just drive away from the city and relax on  the first day of the New Year in NSW.

Opera Sydney NYE

Melbourne
Melbourne is Australia’s second most populous city and it’s a similar story on New Years Eve. The first fireworks are to be seen at 9.30 pm when Lord Mayor Doyle will set off the family fireworks at Yarra Park. Later on that evening the Mayor will also set off the fireworks over the city. With fireworks launching from the beautiful Melbourne skyline you can watch the fireworks from many vantage points around the city, just look up and enjoy. If you do want some entertainment during the show the best places to go are Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and Docklands.

Surfers Paradise
One of the best party places in Australia during NYE will be Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Gather your friends and family together and watch the fireworks from the beach. The fireworks will be synchronised to the most popular music from 2013.

Brisbane
Then there’s Brisbane of course, the capital of Queensland. Not the number one place in Australia to watch NYE fireworks but still a great place for an unforgettable start to the New Year. To watch the fireworks the best places to go are South Bank and Eagle Street Pier, as all the fireworks will be launched from a barge on the Brisbane River. If you’re just looking for an amazing night – and probably a huge hangover the next day – Fortitude Valley is no doubt the place to go!

Perth
Known as the most geographically isolated major city in the world,Perth is not the first place that comes to mind when making plans for New Years Eve. And though the best fireworks in Perth are seen on Australia Day, it still offers a great place for a perfect start to the New Year. “The George” is known for its stunning New Years Eve parties.

Adelaide
Planning to be in South Australia during New Years Eve? Then Adelaide is the place to be. For the best fireworks go to Elder Park where Adelaide City Council offers a great free event. Here you can view the city’s best fireworks combined with a music concert and the New Year’s Eve Beer Garden.

Canberra
The New Years Eve in Canberra is probably one of the best places in Australia to welcome in 2014 with your family. The non-alcohol and no-glass concert in Civic Square displays a spectacular firework show at 9pm and again at midnight while there are a number of national headline acts playing supported by local artists.

Hobart
Yes, even in Tasmania there’s a firework show to start the New Year, and a good one too! Superb festivals, many exhibitions and a number of exciting shows can be found, most of them on the Pier at the Hobart Function Centre. So come to Tasmania, Australian largest island and have an awesome New Years Eve celebration!

Darwin
Last but certainly not least in this list is Darwin. Find a spot with a view at Darwin’s Waterfront and enjoy the Darwin city fireworks.  The family fun starts here early at 5.30pm and the fireworks will be launched at 9pm. This all will be supported with a free outdoor concert at a sensational location.

Diving and snorkelling in Far North Queensland

Firstly it’s important to know some facts about the Great Barrier Reef before packing your flippers:

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  • Largest reef in the world
  • 2900 separate reefs
  • 900 islands
  • 2 million tourists annually
  • stretches from Bundaberg to Cape York along 2600 km (344,400 km2)
  • Biggest living organism in the world
  • Visible from Space
  • Formed around 18,000 years ago during the last ice age
  • World heritage listed by UNESCO since 1981

To enjoy your trip to the maximum, we advise you to go between May and September. July and August are the best months because of the mild temperatures and the whale migration season. October to May is stinger season so avoid this time.

Underwater the marine life offers a huge variety of possible encounters: six of the world’s seven turtle species live here. It’s also the habitat of Nemo (the Clown Fish), blue sea-stars, the Napoleon fish is found here, as well as fish of many different colours, a variety of corals, and during whale migration season most probably you’ll see whales. The must-have item is an underwater camera like a GoPro which you can buy for around $299 or hire for your time on the reef.

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To get to the reef there are several possibilities: boat, plane or helicopter ̶ it’s up to you! Cairns is one of the best launching platforms. The offers here are numerous and lots of companies depart from Cairns. Port Douglas is also a good spot to reach Agincourt Ribbon Reef offering huge diversity. This place is a mecca for scuba divers and considered one of the most beautiful places to view coral reefs in the world. Catch a sailing boat at Airlie Beach to the Whitsundays, from Townsville for Magnetic Island or Town of 1770 to get to Lady Musgrave Island which is a deserted island, protected, and allows a maximum of 40 campers at any one time. As you can read there are lots of ways to explore the reefs of Far North Queensland.

Practical considerations

Getting there:

Brisbane – Cairns: 1700 km

Sydney – Cairns: 2700 km (via Brisbane)

Cairns – Port Douglas: 65 km

Cairns – Airlie Beach: 625 km

Accommodation (campground):

BIG4 Cairns Coconut Resort, 23 – 51 Anderson Road – Woree, 4870, 0740546644

South-east Queensland is also a good place where you’re sure to have some great marine encounters. For example, 80 km (75 minutes) from Brisbane you’ve got beautiful Moreton Island: here you have a good chance of encountering kangaroos, koalas and many bird species. Moreton Bay itself is overflowing with rich marine life: turtles, dolphins, dugongs and small sharks. Old boats have been deliberately sunk to create habitat for fish and a good spot for diving and snorkelling. Numerous activities are available on the island: kayaking, quad biking, catamaran sailing, sand surfing or feeding dolphins; there is a resort there too if you plan to stay overnight.

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So now you know now what you’ve got to do: get in your campervan, head up to Brisbane and  Far North Queensland, go on board one of the boats and be amazed by this natural wonder that runs along the eastern coastline of Australia.

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Christmas in Australia

Forget the cold weather of the Northern Hemisphere and the chimney fire!

bondi beach christmas

Christmas in Australia happens during the Summer Holidays (mid-December – mid-February) with temperatures from between 28 to 35°C (sometimes even hotter) whereas in France for example it’s more like 0 to 7°C, so for Europeans or North Americans to spend Christmas “Down Under” is quite a different experience to what they are used to.

Like in Europe, Christmas is a religious celebration even if there isn’t an official religion, however, three quarters of the population of Australia identifies as Christian (Catholic or Anglican). The evening of the 24th and the lunchtime of the 25th is generally spent with the family and close friends. Some people go camping as well and celebrate with an Aussie barbie.

christmas-bush

Australia has adopted many customs from Europe and especially the United Kingdom: indeed you’ll find Christmas trees with lots of ornaments and Santa Claus, but perhaps with a swimsuit on the beach. As for the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, they get crowds of about 40,000 on the 25th!

Like in most countries you can hear carol singers on the street, with the biggest concert being the “Carols in the Domain” in central Sydney. Apart from the classic Christmas tree there is also the Christmas Bush: a small tree native to New South Wales, and lots of these decorate the balconies of houses in Sydney and surrounds.

six-white-boomers

In Australia Santa doesn’t use reindeers but kangaroos, the emblem of the nation, another Australian peculiarity making Christmas quite uniquely different.

Let’s talk about a central element: the Christmas lunch! Here again you’ll find some similarities with British cousins. The meal generally consists of:

  • Platters of seafood
  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Vegetables
  • Pudding
  • Fruit Mince Pie
  • Pavlova

Pavlova: a cake made of meringue, and topped with cream and fruit invented in honour of Anna Pavlova, on the occasion of the ballerina’s tour to Australia and New Zealand. The two countries claim to have invented this desert and it can be a source of conflict between both nations.

boxing day test

The following day, Boxing Day, is a public holiday common to all Commonwealth countries: it’s the first day of the summer sales and the Boxing Day Test Match – a cricket game that takes place in Melbourne in the “MCG”,  a stadium with a capacity of 90, 000, that is usually full on this day.