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The Sunshine Coast is a haven for natural wonders and outdoor adventure. It is the perfect relaxed getaway that is wonderfully balanced with exhilarating experiences.

We've put together five must do places every nature lover must visit when exploring the Sunshine Coast. 

Mary Valley

Escape to the countryside in the Mary Valley. This idyllic valley is dotted with villages that have a welcoming community spirit and are ideal for a technology break. Make a weekend of the experience and stay at Amamoor Lodge. Nestled between magnificent mountain ranges and 50 acres of stunning Australian bush, this local gem boasts breathtaking sunsets and phenomenal stargazing, as well as plenty of outdoor adventure. Explore the Amamoor State Forest parks, go for a swim in the lagoon style pool, relax in the spa, or go for a stroll to the waterhole through the rainforest and say hello to the local wildlife. Head to Imbil to stroll the historic Timber Cutters' Walk that weaves between age-old jacaranda trees right down to Yabba Creek, or hire a kayak from Ride on Mary and explore the tributaries that make up the magnificent river giving the region its name. 

Conondale National Park 

Forming the heart of unspoilt mountain scenery, Conondale National Park creates a picturesque overnight trip to explore the magnificent forests, deep gorges, and spectacular views. A great location to bring the whole family, offering picnic areas, campsites and plenty of walking tracks for beginner’s all the way to advanced hikers. For those who want a 4WD adventure, we recommend the scenic drive starting on Booloumba Creek Road, just make sure you leave yourself enough time for picnics and bushwalks along the way. You can also bring along your mountain bike or go for a horse adventure along the vehicle tracks.

Currimundi Lake (Kathleen McArthur) Regional Park    

Currimundi Lake Regional Park is a natural gem. A great location to immerse yourself in nature and perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, swimming and even fishing, there is something for everyone. If you are looking to hire beach gear contact Kitethrills for a range of choice. Enjoy a stroll along the short walking tracks and take in the local flora and fauna or walk to Currimundi Beach for some epic surf, which is patrolled by lifesavers on weekends and school holidays. 

Baroon Pocket Dam (Lake Baroon)

Tucked away between Montville and Maleny, Baroon Pocket Dam is a hidden treasure perfect for day trips and natural getaways. With picnic tables, free BBQs and kids' playgrounds, it becomes an easy choice for your next catch up with family and friends. The dam's calm waters are perfect for swimming and kayaking, or you can test your fishing skills and try and catch an Australian Bass. Keep an eye out for koalas and kangaroos whilst exploring the bushwalks, and hike to Baroon Lookout, taking in the gorgeous views of the Obi Obi Gorge and Baroon Pocket Dam.

Happy Valley, Caloundra

Happy Valley is a wonderful little beach hidden away from the hustle and bustle between Bulcock Beach and Clarke Place Park. Lie on the sand and soak up the sun or have a picnic or BBQ in the park that runs the length of the beach. For those after some high thrill adventure, bring along your kite or windsurf baord for some action-packed fun. Don't have your own gear? Not a problem, just hire from a local operator. Remember to pack the cricket set, frisbee, and football and enjoy a day of outdoor activity and family fun!

by Anika McMahon, Visit Sunshine Coast

 

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Bangkok is the leading travel destination for 2017, according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017.

Asia Pacific destinations made up five of the top 10 in the annual survey, which ranks the world’s 132 top destination cities – with Bangkok in Thailand taking out first place.

‘It is easy to see why Bangkok has topped the Global Destinations Cities Index as a great place to travel. For New Zealanders it is a close, cost-effective and exciting destination. Lots of Kiwis are making the most of the close proximity of Southeast Asia to enjoy fantastic cuisine, scenery and nwarmer weather,’ says Peter Chisnall, Mastercard country manager for New Zealand and Pacific Islands.

Asia Pacific had the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities bringing in $91.16 billion USD in travel expenditure in 2016.

Following Asia Pacific was Europe ($74.74 billion USD), and North America ($55.02 billion USD).

 

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While the Sunshine Coast is renowned for its beachside culture and its nightlife being as relaxed as its day time counterpart, after the sun sets behind the Glass House Mountains, there are pockets of bustling activity if you know where to look.

1. Aussie World’s Halloween FestEvil

Experience Aussie World’s dark side during their Halloween FestEvil! Back by popular demand, this night isn’t for the faint hearted but is for those who are looking for a bit of fun! Held on Friday the 13th of October, horror buffs (M15+) are invited to come face to face with their ultimate fears with a range of rides, mazes and entertainment that’s bound to shake everyone down to the bone! On 28 October, you’re in for a treat, as Aussie World turns into a Halloween FestEvil fantasy wonderland for a night of spooky fun the whole family will enjoy. Expect thrills and chills!

2. Caloundra Twilight Markets

With a variety of markets that rotate along the Sunshine Coast’s ever bustling coastal lines, the Caloundra Twilight Market, held every Friday during the September school holidays, is set to bring a whole new feel to market atmosphere. Take a walk through the countless stalls as the sun sets on Bulcock Beach while listening to the sweet tunes of street entertainment!  Your Friday night starts here.

3. Opera at the Castle

If you’re a fan of opera and musical theatre, this event is for you! Opera at the Castle is run by the Underground Opera Company and will showcase some of Australia’s finest voices as they perform pieces from popular operas and numbers from musical theatre showstoppers! Held in the magnificent banquet hall in Sunshine Castle Bli Bli, we recommend this experience for all music lovers on the Sunshine Coast! 

4. Sundowners in Twin Waters  

The Shore at Novotel Twin Waters Resort is a new pop-up Sundowner Lounge where drinks are enjoyed as the sun disappears over  the Twin Water’s lagoon. Running until Sunday 8 October, there’s a retro van serving cocktails and bean bags on the sand to relax on! What better way to kick off the Queensland long weekend! Cruise into the evening with cool tunes and cocktails by the lagoon at Novotel Twin Waters Resort.

5. Nights on Ocean 

On the second Friday of every month, Nights on Ocean comes to life on Maroochydore’s Ocean Street. With the street already famous for being the Sunshine Coast’s nightlife capital, Nights on Ocean builds on the street’s many restaurants and bars and amplifies the already pumping atmosphere. With food stalls to take you on a culinary tour around the world and desserts to satisfy the biggest sweet tooth craving, Nights on Ocean places you at the centre of Sunshine Coast’s nightlife.

6. Taps Mooloolaba 

What better way to kick off the weekend than by getting a table at Taps Mooloolaba and pouring yourself your own craft beers! With a variety of frothies only an arm’s reach away, your toughest decision won’t be what beer to try next, but what food you’ll have on their sensational menu! 

7. Degustation dinner

With fresh produce and innovative food being the heart of the Sunshine Coast, what better way to celebrate locals than by going out for a degustation dinner. Experience food differently by having the chefs choose your meals and courses for you! Guaranteed to make you appreciate the finer things in life, degustation dinners are a fancier way to spend your nights on the Sunshine Coast. Our suggestions are, Spice BarWasabiThe Long Apron and Spicers Tamarind

8. Take a full moon horse ride

Pony-up for an after dark saddle club adventure with Rainbow Beach Horse Rides. This two-and-a-half hour ride is an unforgettable experience. You’ll see the moon turn from orange to milky white as it rises and casts a reflection across the Pacific Ocean. All levels of riding ability are catered for so this is an easy one to tick off your bucket list.  Ride on the beach as the sun sets or take a moonlit country ride.

9. Night vision tours

Xperiences’ Night Vision Tours are a must-do after dark adventure. Kit up with military grade high definition night goggles and discover the nocturnal wildlife in the forest around Novotel Twin Waters Resort. Choose from a suspenseful adventure tour, or a slow-paced tour for nature lovers, or give yourself a scare with a “Wolf Creek” escapade.  Xperiences night vision escapades.

10. Take a sunset cruise

Join a Whale OneMooloolaba Harbour Reef Canal Cruises, or Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba for a sunset cruise to discover the waterways of Mooloolaba. Relax and admire the magnificent homes that line the canals and enjoy the sun disappearing behind the Glass House Mountains. If you're up Noosa way, hop aboard a Noosa Ferry for a one-hour, pre-dinner sunset cruise that'll take you up close the the wildlife of Lake Weyba before taking in the sunset at the river entrance.

 

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Niue’s Government and the island’s tourism industry have launched a Responsible Tourism Policy which is complemented by Tourism Business and Visitor Codes of Conduct.

The Policy and Codes were announced and released today to mark Niue’s contribution to World Tourism Day – 27 September.

Niue Tourism Director of Marketing Felicity Bollen says tourism is a vital part of the island’s economy and the Policy is intended to help preserve Niue’s largely unspoilt natural attractions. It also marks Niue’s support for the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly given the UN’s adoption of 2017 as the International year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Developed by the Niue Government in consultation with the island’s tourism sector, the Responsible Tourism Policy identifies how local planning and strategic developments will contribute to a responsible tourism industry which operates sustainably and with respect for the environment and the local community, says Felicity.

“It outlines actions that will deliver triple-bottom-line benefits to Niue - for the environment, the community and the economy – but also looks at how we will meet those UN sustainability goals as well as support Pacific Region initiatives.”

Felicity says the Tourism Business and Visitor Codes of Conduct weave in the actions of the other important stakeholders in responsible tourism – the visitors to the island and the businesses that offer them services. “There’s a growing awareness among visitors of the need to respect and protect the environments they visit like our forests and reefs, make sustainable choices, and thus contribute to the conservation of those environments.

“But visitors are also increasingly wanting to enhance their experience by learning more about the island’s natural habitats and what’s being done to conserve them, as well as looking to tourism operators to act responsibly towards the environment and have a commitment to sustainable practices.

“The Codes are a guide for both the tourism operators and the visitors on how they can meet the requirements of responsible tourism – respecting the local people and environment and contributing to Niue’s sustainable economic development.”

The Codes of Conduct will be made available to visitors in a number of ways, says Felicity. “They will be on display and available to visitors at the island’s accommodation and other tourism businesses, as well as being emailed to visitors when they book their Niue holiday.

“The main changes we see arising from this initiative are a much greater sharing of the responsibility for responsible tourism between the tourism industry, government agencies and those coming to Niue. It will bring a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to improving sustainability, and greater encouragement to the tourism sector to access finance and other support to progress sustainability initiatives.”

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When visiting Niue, there's definitely no shortage of water sport activities!

Fishing, diving, snorkelling with the dolphins & swimming in beautiful coves are high on the list for many travellers to Niue. If any of these tours are priorities, we recommend that clients tick these boxes early in their stay. Don’t save the best till last in case changes in the weather preclude some of these activities.

Niue is one of the very few places in the world where you can swim with whales – but you will need to plan your holiday from Jun-Sep when these magnificent mammals migrate from Antarctica to warmer water.

Niue is riddled with sea tracks that lead to beautiful and secluded swimming holes. To enjoy this experience you should definitely be packing some reef shoes!

We recommend renting a car as Niue has no public transport system and is a “place to explore”. With over 120kms of paved roads, a rental car is definitely a must. To rent a car you will be required to show your NZ licence and then will be issued with a Niue licence (cost is approx. $22.50 NZD – Subject to change).

On arrival in Niue, you will be handed a Visitor's Guide at the airport. DO NOT leave it in your bag until the last few days. This book is a valuable planning guide and includes relevant information for your stay. The team at the Visitors Centre in Alofi are a great source of information and they’re on hand Mon-Fri and Sat morning to answer any questions that comes their way from visitors.

Note: Shops and eateries are generally closed on Sundays as this is their religious day, so if you need to purchase supplies plan on any day other than a Sunday!

Plus: Make sure you have a bit of NZ currency in hand as some of the smaller businesses on the island don’t take Eftpos or credit cards. Niue does not have an ATM machine either, however if you need to get cash out, Swanson’s Supermarket will extend cash out with a minimum $5 purchase.

 

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While the city has much to offer urban explorers, Perth is even more blessed when it comes to natural beauty.

Catch the sunrise at Kings Park 

It’s an outdoor movie and concert venue, a popular vantage point for Australia Day fireworks and home to the state’s biggest Anzac Day Dawn Service. Kings Park, Perth’s sprawling inner-city green lung, knows how to rise to the occasion yet it’s equally impressive outside of a special event. Do a self-guided tour of the park’s Boodja Gnarning Walk, hit the running trails or simply soak up the views of the city and Swan River.

Take time out at the beach  

Want to really get away from it all? Perth’s coastline boasts plenty of quiet beaches. Consider setting course for enclaves such as the northerly stretches of Port Beach, near Fremantle, or Mettams Pool, a natural rock pool protected by a reef at North Beach.

Bushwalk at Bold Park  

It’s hard to believe you’re less than eight kilometres from the city centre. A world-class urban reserve in Floreat, Bold Parkhas more than 15 kilometres of walking trails plus a bridle trail for horseriding. Cycling is permitted on one trail. Lookouts give spectacular views of the coast and city.

Swim with dolphins at Rockingham 

Just a 40-minute drive south of Perth, Rockingham’s sheltered bays serve as a playground for more than 200 wild dolphins. The pod is never fed or trained – they welcome visitors into their world on their own terms – and you can frolic with them from September to May. 

Spend the day at Rottnest Island  

Named for the furry “rats” (actually quokkas) that are native to the island, Rottnest is a popular getaway just 25 minutes by ferry from Fremantle. No cars are allowed and hiring a bike is the best (and most eco) way to explore the postcard-perfect swimming bays.

Main image: Rottnest Island

Source: Travel Insider

 

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Abu Dhabi has been named the safest city in the world by Numbeo, a website that curates and collates data to develop the world’s largest user-contributed database about cities and countries worldwide. 

With the lowest crime index of just 13.54 in the past six months, and the highest safety index of 86.46, Abu Dhabi was well ahead of its closest rivals for overall safety. Respondents to the index stated that Abu Dhabi has very low crime levels and scored the capital at 94 per cent for a general feeling of safety in the city.   

Last month, Abu Dhabi was named the second-best city in the world to live, work and do business in, overtaking both London and Paris in the most recent Ipsos City Index. 

HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi has a solid reputation for safety with a virtually crime-free society. It is a priority when choosing a city to visit or live in and provides peace of mind knowing that you can feel safe anywhere you go in Abu Dhabi. The result of this index supports Abu Dhabi’s position as the leading city in the world to live, work and do business in, and highlights an aspect of life in Abu Dhabi that is a matter of great pride to all residents.”

The index, which ranked 334 countries globally, is an estimation of overall level of crime in a given city or a country. Crime levels lower than 20 are considered as “very low,” crime levels between 20 and 40 as being “low,” crime levels between 40 and 60 as being “moderate,” crime levels between 60 and 80 as being “high” and crime levels higher than 80 as being “very high.” Alternatively, if the city has a high safety index, it is considered very safe.

Ghobash continued: “The position of Abu Dhabi in this global ranking is a testament to the ongoing efforts to establish the Emirate as a destination of distinction with international standards of safety that are on par with global metropolises. Whether visiting for business or for an extended stay, we hope that our unique Emirati hospitality continues to enrich the experiences of any visitor to Abu Dhabi.”

Established in 2009, Numbeo is a collaborative online database which enables users to share and compare information about the cost of living between countries and cities.

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Beyond Resort Khaolak, the adults only, all-villa resort operated by Thailand’s Kata Group at Khaolak, has for the third time been awarded Travelife Gold status.Travelife is an international sustainability certification scheme for hotels and accommodations, allowing holidaymakers to relax in the knowledge they are supporting local people and helping to protect the environment.

All Travelife certified hotels and accommodations must undertake an independent on-site audit to prove they meet strict sustainability criteria before they receive certification.

For a Travelife Gold hotel to maintain certification it must be audited every two years, with audits being undertaken on a rolling basis.
Beyond Resort Khaolak, with its certification now achieved for the third time, has a long-established programme that is committed to saving natural resources.
Water is recycled to use in the gardens, while the laundry is outsourced to professional laundries with ISO 14000 standards. Modern single lever mixers on sinks and showers automatically reduce the water consumption by up to 50 percent compared to conventional models.

Energy saving bulbs are used for 99 percent of all lighting in the resort, and in the public areas timer controls or light sensors control the lights depending on times and weather conditions.

The resort uses solar water heaters for all guestrooms and all back-of-house facilities.

Along with the established 3Rs policy of “reduce, reuse and recycle”, the resort purchases only what it needs, and not the packaging. Overall the waste products going to landfill or incinerators has been dramatically reduced since the resort joined the guidelines of Travelife.

To support the local community, all tours sold within the resort are operated by local businesses. Locally crafted souvenirs are sold within the resort grounds on certain nights to create a small marketplace, and local people provide Thai language and cuisine lessons for guests who wish to learn during their stay.

Staff participation in these programmes has always been highly enthusiastic, and management provides an environmental briefing every month.

Beyond Resort Khaolak is set directly on the white sands of Pakweep Beach, in Khaolak, and provides a selection of villa styles including one-and two-bedroom units, and villas with a private pool. No guests below the age of 18 years are allowed.

 

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Markets!!!

The biggest market in the Gold Coast is the Carrara Markets in Surfers Paradise which is held every weekend. There is also a beachfront night market on the Esplanade every Friday from 5.30 pm. Not to mention that they have several markets held across the Gold Coast region on the weekends in the following areas: Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta.

Cruise!!!

The Gold Coast is all about activities and action but if you need the time out from the buzz of theme parks and shopping, then we recommend going on a Blue water River Cruise. These cruises will take you on a tranquil trip through the broad waters of the Gold Coast, which is the perfect way to relax and unwind.

Food Tip!!!!

We recommend eating at one of the local surf clubs, which is a great place to eat, drink and not to mention, mingle with locals. The local surf clubs al so often have an amazing view right on to the beach! You do not have to be a member to eat at a surf club, as long as you are staying no more than 15kms away - then you just sign the visitor’s book and head on in! Currumbin Vikings Club is a crowd favourite sitting right on Elephant Rock - check out their free courtesy shuttle on their website which has more information about the shuttle.

Outdoors!!!

Fancy a bushwalk or a reprieve from the blue and glitz of the Gold Coast? Visit the Springbrook National Park and see tumbling waterfalls and a subtropical rainforest. One of the key highlights is the Natural Bridge which can be accessed via a relatively easy walking track which is about 30-40 minutes long and get a selfie at the iconic "cave waterfall".

Family!!!

The Apartment style accommodation on offer in the Gold Coast is real value for money and is ideal for families. You can be sure that if you stay at Break free Diamond Beach, parents will feel safe with their kids as there is no busy road between the beach and the resort. You may also find that you don’t need to leave the property some days as you can enjoy the lagoon pools, BBQ’s and the kid’s playground.

 

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Located in West Zone of Rio de Janeiro City, Barra da Tijuca beach is the biggest beach of the State of Rio de Janeiro, with 14,4 km of length. The the greenish and clear waters extend along the Lucio Costa Avenue until Recreio dos Bandeirantes. In the beginning is Barraca do Pepê, the most famous juice kiosk and sandwiches of the city and meeting place to the youth who live in the neighborhood. Ideal beach to practice surf, windsurf, bodyboarding and fishing.

Barra tha Tijuca is known as Brazilian Miami, with its wide avenues, lovely beach. This was the area where the 2016 Olympic Games took place and also the place where all major events, concerts or major sports games are held.

Barra da Tijuca is the district of Rio de Janeiro that counts with more Shopping Centers and modern centers of commerce, leisure and entertainment in Great City of Rio de Janeiro. Most of big offices, companies and public adminstration are moving to the morden buiding of Barra da Tijuca.

Make sure you visit Olympic Park and the RioCentro Complex.

 

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The glorious and varied islands of New Caledonia provide a feast for the eyes, the mind and the tastebuds and they are almost on our doorstep, writes Alexia Santamaria

It's quite incredible to take a flight of fewer than three hours from Auckland and suddenly find yourself on a tropical island where everyone speaks French. New Caledonia is a fascinating destination where European and Pacific culture meld, creating a unique environment. It's gorgeous too, as I found out on a recent trip. Here are some must-dos and must-eats for those considering a holiday there.

Must-Dos

1. Get under water

The smaller islands away from La Grand Terre (Lifou, Ouvea, Mare and the Isle of Pines) offer snorkelling and diving opportunities galore but if you're staying in Noumea, a five minute boat ride from Anse Vata beach will get you to Ile aux Canards, an islet where you can float through the marine reserve and see all types of pretty coloured sea life. I loved swimming in the crystal-clear bath temperature water and hanging with Nemo and his mates. If it's just a dip you're after, Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons in Noumea itself are lovely.

2. Get some Kanak culture

There are multiple nationalities making up New Caledonia. The Kanaks and the French are the best-known, but there have also been huge waves of Vietnamese, Indonesians and other ethnic groups who have more recently contributed to this fascinating melting pot. To understand the Pacific side, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an absolute must-do. A celebration of modern and traditional Kanak culture mixed with art and sculpture from all over the Pacific, it was built as a tribute to pro-independence Kanak leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou. It is one of the best cultural museum experiences I've had anywhere in the world. I loved the indigenous houses and was gobsmacked by the incredible wooden structures (designed by well-known Italian architect Renzo Piano) which rise way above the treetops.

3. Get active

We've all seen the white-sand beaches and clear water in the brochures, but I was surprised just how mountainous New Caledonia is too. It's a great place for hiking and I really enjoyed getting up a bit higher in Bourail and enjoying the bush and views from an elevated position. Horse riding is also a popular activity. I tried it in Deva at Le Carre 9 Ranch and enjoyed the relaxation of ambling along the beach and up into the golden grass on my new equine friend.

4. Get French

Of course, one of the things New Caledonia is best known for is its "Frenchness". There are 28 regional Kanak dialects but French is the only language that unifies the whole country. Make sure you get your fill of bread, charcuterie and good wine from supermarkets; ride bicycles; and have a go at playing petanque at any of the pistes dotted around the place.

5. Get to an island

There's plenty of magnificent scenery on the main island but the Loyalty Islands and Ile de Pins will complete your total Pacific island fantasy of fine white sand and azure-blue ocean. Ile de Pins is the most easily accessed but if you can get out to Mare, Lifou or Ouvea, it's worth the journey for some of the best beaches you'll ever see.

Must-Eats

1. French pastries and crepes

Load up on patisserie wherever you go in New Caledonia as it really is fantastic. If you've ever been to France, you will be transported back immediately in one bite of a gorgeous pain au chocolat or croissant. I loved L'Atelier Gourmand and Au Pain d'Antan in Noumea but didn't have a bad pastry anywhere. Also worth a mention are the crepes - especially at Le Rocher in Noumea. Stunning views and fantastic-tasting galettes and crepes.

2. Seafood

There are so many types of fish and seafood available in New Caledonia that it's a bit mind boggling. I tried octopus (very popular with locals) at Au P'tit Cafe and it was tender and beautifully cooked. Local prawns and fish cooked with a Kanak twist at L'Assiette de Cagou were delightful as was the seared tuna at very recently opened Les 3 Chefs. Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this Pacific paradise.

3. Bougna meal

This is a traditional Kanak-style meal where banana leaves are used to wrap chicken, lobster or fish with soft yams, bananas, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. This is then steamed over hot stones underground for a few hours. I believe you can get it in restaurants in the city but I would totally recommend going with a guide into a local tribal area for the real deal. I went with Emeric from Gecko Evasions to have a Bougna lunch with the lovely Anderson and Kathy up in the mountains in Bourail, and it was an unforgettable experience. I even got to walk around their land afterwards, see the river, and marvel at their fruit and veges.

4. Tropical fruit

Definitely indulge in local fruit while in New Caledonia. The papaya, mango and passionfruit (so much prettier externally than their New Zealand counterparts) are all sensational. I could not get enough of the local pineapple - way sweeter than what we get in New Zealand. It's at roadside stalls and in abundance at the lovely 
city markets (right next to the water) in Noumea. The markets are worth a visit whether you're a fruit fan or not. Go during the weekend if you can, as they are vibrant with more vendors present.

5. Venison

Try and have some venison somewhere during your stay. New Caledonia has an excess of deer (I have seen evidence of this on the golf course in the Sheraton in Deva, where they popped in to say hi) so the locals eat a lot of it. I tried it tartare style in Noumea at La Table des Gourmets but if raw deer meat doesn't appeal, you can get it cooked in many eateries.

Source: NZ Herald

 

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Cook Islands

Clients travelling to the Cook Islands who are thinking about taking food with them should note ...

You are able to take items such as frozen meat, cheese, olives etc with you, provided it is vacuum packed or sealed to abide by the Cook Island’s government law.

Another tip for the Cook Islands is that it is recommended to take cash out before leaving NZ. The island of Rarotonga charges a NZ$7.00 fee per transaction from an ATM.

Keep in mind that most properties in Rarotonga have safes in their rooms to keep your cash in for safe keeping.

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Here's your chance to experience an epic train journey that's like no other, as you traverse CHINA, MONGOLIA & RUSSIA for 22 Days!

This train journey has captured the imagination of travellers' since the early 20th Century and our superb itinerary combines the classic route from Beijing, with many exciting stopovers enroute to St Petersburg.

Beginning in Beijing, we will have ample time to view the iconic attractions of this great city, before continuing to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Our time on the Mongolian Steppe provides us with a taste of nomadic life and a chance to experience the genuinely warm hospitality of the local people as we stay in a ger camp.

The next part of our journey enters the heart of Siberia to Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and largest freshwater lake. Finally, we first head to the city of Moscow to soak up its history and then to St Petersburg to be awed by the magnificence and sheer beauty of this Imperial city. 

Highlights include: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Summer Palace in Beijing and a remote section of The Great Wall. Dine on traditional roast Peking Duck dinner in Beijing and overnight with a local nomadic family in Mongolia.

After national park visits in Mongolia, well visit Lake Baikal in Siberia as well as Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral & Kremlin visits in Moscow.

You'll enjoy this special hand-crafted itinerary with included sightseeing, scenic drives and excursions accompanied by local English speaking Tour Leaders in each region. EuroVista's Paul Leigh and Ken Bowie will escort you from Beijing to Moscow.

For the full itinerary, travel dates and more, visit this link: https://www.mondotravel.co.nz/article/2105

You can also contact: david.boyce@mondotravel.co.nz or ph: 0274 776619.

 

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Peabody Ducks - These ducks live on the roof at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Every day at 11am they come down the elevator with the ‘duck master’ and head to the fountain in the hotel lobby where they spend the day. This has been going on since the 1930s! You need to get there early to get a good spot to see the ducks - a drink in the lobby bar gives you a good vantage point!

 

 

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With winter getting colder, many super city commuters may be dreaming of some freedom from the rat race. Fortunately, real estate website Curbed has made a helpful list of car-free cities around the world. Some are historic town centres that have banned cars; some have streets that are simply too narrow for vehicles. Others, like Venice, rely on boats. 

Ghent, Belgium

In an effort to end traffic chaos and air pollution, the Ghent city centre banned cars in 1996. The streets are now free for exploring on foot, by bike or public transport.

Lamu, Kenya

Lamu is a car-free island in Kenya, and is the oldest, most well-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, earning it a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The narrow streets of the old town only permit walkers, bicycles, and donkeys.

Fes el Bali, Morocco

Another UNESCO World Heritage site - Fes el Bali is one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world. Like Lamu, the preferred way of travel is on foot, by bike, donkey or cart. There are about 9,400 winding streets to explore, Curbed says.

Fire Island, New York

Off the coast of Long Island, Fire Island is a car-free oasis for the US. The only means of travel is by foot, bicycle or golf cart.

Hydra Island, Greece

The only big vehicles in this ancient town are the rubbish trucks. Part of the Saronic Islands, residents get around on foot, by donkey, or water taxi.

La Cumbrecita, Argentina

La Cumbrecita is known as Argentina's first pedestrian-only town. Strangely it features alpine-inspired Bavarian-style houses.

Venice, Italy 

The most famous car-free city - Venice boasts 416 bridges, 177 canals and beautiful, brightly-painted buildings.

Giethoorn, the Netherlands

Giethoorn is often nicknamed "the Dutch Venice" for its waterways filled with boats, and its plethora of bike trails. It's also famous for its thatched-roof buildings.

Dubrovnik's Old Town, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a busy city, but its Old Town centre is a pedestrian-only UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sark, Channel Islands

Off the coast of France, the island of Sark could be the perfect place for travellers to unplug. The only motors are the island's tractors. Even the ambulance is pulled by a tractor.

Source: NZ Herald

 

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Twice-a-week return flights to Niue from Auckland will now operate year-round following an agreement between the Niue Government and Air New Zealand.

 

Previously the airline has operated one service a week between early November and late March; it is now extending operations during that period to twice-weekly.

 

Niue Tourism Director of Marketing Felicity Bollen says growing visitor numbers and an increasing demand for seats has prompted the airline to extend the service.  

 

“We’re seeing not just an increase in international travellers wanting to experience the unique attractions of the island they’re hearing so much about, but also increasing numbers of Niueans overseas returning to visit friends and relatives on the island – particularly through the summer months.”

Felicity Bollen says the growth in tourist numbers and the tourism developments taking place on Niue, such as the current expansion of the Scenic Matavai Resort to add accommodation and a conference centre, have given the airline confidence in extending the service.

Flights to Niue from Auckland operate on Saturdays and Wednesdays, using an Airbus A320 aircraft with a capacity for up to 168 passengers. The flight time is 3.5 hours.

Let Mondo get you there in style - ask our travel specialist for the best deals at the best prices!

0800 1110 108

 

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CHIHULY in the Bronx - a major exhibition at The New York Botanical Gardens

Blooming in the Bronx this spring is CHIHULY. A major exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) from world-renowned sculptor Dale Chihuly, dynamic glass installations in brilliant colours will be on display, complementing over one million plants across a 250-acre landscape. Running April 22 through October 29, 2017, not only will the changing seasons create beautiful vistas for the artwork during the day, but evening events will also allow guests to view the sculptures by illumination.

While in the Bronx for NYBG’s CHIHULYNYC & Company (nycgo.com), the City’s official destination marketing organisation, invites visitors to stay in the northernmost borough to discover more attractions, culture, and dining, all only a short distance from Manhattan’s Midtown.

How to Get There:

First, speak to your Mondo Travel Specialist about flights, deals and accomodation offerings!

Once there:

  • Begin at Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan. While there, experience the Whispering Gallery and the 2,500 stars on the main concourse’s ceiling mural. To reach NYBG, the Metro-North train to Fordham Road is a 20-minute trip. The Bronx is also easily accessible by the B, D, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 MTA subway lines.

Where to Go:

  • Arthur Avenue / “The Real Little Italy”. Famous Arthur Avenue haunts is the Arthur Avenue Retail Market which is home to Mike’s Deli, Mario’s, Calabria Pork Store, Artuso Pastry Shop and Randazzo’s Seafood. While at the Retail Market, enjoy hyper-local brews at Bronx Beer Hall.
  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts - Located along the Grand Concourse, the Bronx Museum of the Arts showcases the borough’s emerging artists and its culturally diverse background.
  • The Bronx Zoo - One of the largest zoos in the world with 6,000 animals.
  • The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in Fordham, where poet Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life from 1846 to 1849, is a must-see for fans of his work. 
  • With Hush Hip Hop Tours, groups board a bus led by entertaining musicians who showcase important sites throughout the Bronx that played a role in the early days of hip hop, including the Bronx Walk of Fame.
  • Van Cortlandt Park is a sprawling 1,146 acre park is the third largest in the City and features the nation’s first public golf course. Also home to the nine-hole Mosholu Golf Course. The park offers endless green space for picnics, athletic grounds and playgrounds.
  • The 28-acre public garden and cultural center at Wave Hill allows guests to take in vistas of the Hudson River and beautiful landscapes. Their ongoing concert series continues this spring with music for the whole family at the Wave Hill House.
  • Yankee Stadium - Home to the 27-time World Series champion New York Yankees, the stadium is now also host to NYCFC soccer.

More of The Bronx?:

Check out A Bronx Tale the musical, now playing on Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

 

Call us to chat about an itinerary to suit you!

0800 110 108

 

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The Walking Dead, you ask ..... here's a little background ....

The Walking Dead is a tumunu or traditional bush bar on Atiu, an island of fewer than than 500 people about 45 minutes by plane from Rarotonga. The name comes from tumu, the Cook Islands Maori word for trunk, and nu, or coconut, because the brew was originally made in the hollowed-out stumps of coconut palms.

Tumunu were around long before disapproving missionaries had them banned, and remained illegal until the mid-1980s. That long prohibition explains why even now they are hidden deep in the bush.

Each tumunu has its own clientele and closely guarded recipe, but all brew something that can loosely be described as beer using the oranges that grow wild on Atiu. The result, which takes about three days to ferment, tastes more like a slightly fizzy fruit wine than beer. It's surprisingly palatable but deceptively strong - usually around 12 per cent - which only becomes apparent when you try to stand up.

You can read more on the NZ Herald article HERE.

Then have a look at some of our Cook Island deals HERE.

 

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G Adventures has introduced the Jane Goodall Collection, a selection of wildlife-focused tours endorsed by the world-renowned primatologist.

Under the guidance of its founder and namesake, the Jane Goodall Institute has worked tirelessly for 40 years towards fostering a deeper understanding of great apes and to protect their natural habitats. G Adventures and Dr Jane Goodall have designed these trips to bring you into close contact with our planet’s most fascinating creatures in a manner that respects their freedom.

G Adventures is proud to partner with the institute to create awareness of and support its mission to protect wildlife and empower local communities. Every Jane Goodall Collection tour sold helps G Adventures support the Jane Goodall Institute’s mission to protect wildlife and empower local communities.

Trips in the Jane Goodall collection include:

Mozambique, Kruger & Swazi Discoverer - 12 nights from $2,852pp

Galapagos Camping Adventure - 8 nights from $2,429pp

Explore Costa Rica - 13 nights from $2,989pp

 

 

 

 

 

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After four days of fun festivities on the bank of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, the 15th King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament wrapped up on Sunday 12th March. A total of ten teams with over 40 players from around the world created many memorable moments on and off the pitch during the annual charity event.

A total of 25 unemployed ex-street elephants took part in this year’s tournament, during which time they received full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand (under the patronage of His Majesty the King of Thailand) and the Department of Livestock Development. In addition, all elephants were given essential vitamins, food and care which are not available to them during their normal daily lives.

The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and is now one of the biggest charitable events in the Kingdom, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population. THB 6 million has been raised this year, taking the total raised to date to over THB 50 million (US$1,400,000)

Funds will be donated to various projects including the Positive Reinforcement Target Training programme for mahouts and vets, the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand which supports veterinary and educational projects to improve the year-round lives of the 300 elephants and mahouts in Ban Ta Klang, Surin Province where ex-street elephants face ongoing hardship.

Other significant benefits from the money raised by the tournament include: the ongoing Thai Elephant Therapy Project which has been underway since 2009 in conjunction with Chiang Mai University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, with future clinics to include children with Down’s syndrome and other conditions; a THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC); 4,000 trees planted in Hua Hin for elephant corridors to stop farmer/elephant conflicts; funding a conservation curriculum for schools to teach children the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand, and funding Asia’s first workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for captive elephants.

The event had something for everyone, kicking off with a colourful opening parade, with the opening ceremony overseen by the Kru Ba Yai, Thailand’s ‘elephant spirit men’, traditional dancers, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the pitch.

Day two saw the tournament host hundreds of children from local schools in Bangkok. Known as Chang Noi Day (Little Elephant Day), the children were invited to get up close with the elephants and learn more about their national animal. A range of educational walks, games and activities all teaching the benefits of elephant conservation and wellbeing were showcased by the organisers.

Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’, popularly known as ‘Bangkok Ascot’, where ladies dressed to impress with the best dressed lady winning a stay in the Maldives.

The highly anticipated final was presided over by the King of Thailand’s Royal representative, H.E. Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, Privy Councillor. Reigning champions King Power went head to head with Mekhong, culminating in a thrilling end to the tournament, with Mekhong clinching the title in the last moments of the match, resulting in a final score of 10-11.

Final Leaderboard for 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament: 

  1. Mekhong
  2. King Power
  3. Casillero del Diablo
  4. Johnnie Walker Blue Label
  5. Arabian Knights
  6. Citi
  7. PWC All Blacks
  8. IBM
  9. Benihana
  10. Anantara

For more information on the 15th Annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, please visit www.anantaraelephantpolo.com

Make sure you're at next year's tournament ... stay tuned by subscribing to the Mondo weekly newsletter for holiday deals and airfares.

 

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