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New Zealand’s North Island Attractions

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Photo courtesy of Christopher

The North Island of New Zealand, Te Ika-a-Maui if you’re Maori, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but less populated South Island by Cook Strait.

The North Island of New Zealand is where New Zealand’s main population lives, it’s where New Zealand’s largest city, and main international gateway of Auckland is located as well as New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.

Photo courtesy of Christopher
Photo courtesy of Christopher

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway, a journey you simply must take when you visit the North Island, begins in Auckland and travels north, tracing both east and west coasts to Cape Reinga and back.

Read Why I Love Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand

It will take you to the iconic Bay of Islands, as well as the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei.

The east coast is spectacular, with white sandy beaches, relaxed seaside towns and ports where you can catch a cruise or dive trip.

The west coast on the other hand has fewer people, wilder beaches and giant kauri trees.

It’s on the west coast you’ll find the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest kauri tree in existence.

Then you should travel north to Hokianga Harbour and Ninety-Mile Beach, areas with huge white sand dunes and laid back beach communities.

The Bay of Plenty.The North Island of New Zealand is perhaps best known for the unique volcanic plateau at its centre.

This thermal belt contains the active volcanoes Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro and magnificent examples of geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and steam vents.

In Waitomo District, the Waitomo Caves, with their caverns, underground rivers and glittering glowworms, are one of the island’s most popular attractions, while up north the historic Bay of Islands is famous for its scenic islands and secluded coves.

Of course active volcanoes, island sanctuaries and historical sites top the list of must see places when visiting New Zealand’s North Island.

In the beautiful Bay of Islands you can take a boat cruise, swim with dolphins, dive, fish or just relax in the sun and don’t forget to visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites.

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are part of a 1000 acre gifted site, are referred to as the birthplace of New Zealand.

(1000 acres is about 1.5 square miles or just over 400 hectares.)

The grounds include one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes.

Treaty House - The birthplace of the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo courtesy of puting bagwis
Treaty House – The birthplace of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Photo courtesy of puting bagwis

Treaty House, originally named ‘The Residency’ was built for the first British resident, James Busby, and his family.

The name was changed to Treaty House at the request of Lord Bledisloe after the house was restored in 1933.

(Lord Bledisloe was a former Governor General of New Zealand.)

At the very northern tip of the country, Cape Reinga, you can watch the waters of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea come together.

Northland, one of sixteen “local councils” in New Zealand is a colourful world of beaches, bays and subtropical pleasures.

Northland’s only city, Whangarei, has plenty of accommodation and is an excellent place to enjoy the Northland lifestyle.

Sit at a quayside café and watch the yachts or visit the farmers’ market on a Saturday morning and stock up on the freshest local food.

Go diving, fishing, hiking, swimming, surfing, mountain biking and sightseeing in Northland.

The Northland NZ region incorporates the Bay of Islands and the Far North.

Main centres in Northland include Kaitaia, Paihia, Whangarei, Dargaville, Kerikeri, Waitangi and Russell.

There’s so much to see and do in the North Island you’ll need “a month of Sundays” as my mother used to say but here’s a small sampling of places not to be missed when you visit:

Rotorua

Rotorua Museum.

New Zealand’s Maori Heritage capital and the centre of New Zealand’s thermal activities, Rotorua is the number one place to visit in New Zealand’s north Island.

With a host of different attractions, Rotorua is a place definately not to be missed and you probably you need to allow yourself at least a couple of nights.

Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a small city built around the harbour, with a lively cafe and bar culture, great shopping and dynamic theatre scene.

Wellington is where the InterIsland ferries connect, when travelling between the North and South Islands.

Bay of Plenty

One of the sunniest regions in New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders.

A fruit growing area, with orchards, maori culture and spectacular surfing beaches the Bay of Plenty is a major area for the production of kiwi fruit.

The Bay of Plenty is located on the Pacific Coast Highway between Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and Hawkes Bay.

Reinga Beach.

Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s sub tropical north, where cruising the famous Bay of Island’s to see the “Hole in the Rock” and the dolphins as well as visiting Waitangi National Park, where the famous treaty was signed between Europeans and the Maori should be on everyone’s list.

Hawkes Bay

The wine growing centre of New Zealand’s north island, Hawkes Bay is famous for food and wine.

Not to be missed are the weekend farmer markets, where you can stroll around the stalls and buy some of the local produce.

White Island

White Island is a little off the beaten track for international visitors however, the trip is well worth the time.

The site of New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, you can explore the inner volcano, see the colourful fumaroles and steaming crater-lake by taking a boat trip from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty for a 6 hour tour.

Not to be missed

Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo, Auckland, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, there are so many “not to be missed” sites on New Zealand’s North Island that I can’t possibly list them all here, I guess you’ll just have to go for yourself and find them all and when you do I’m sure you’ll……..enjoy,

5 Tips for a Safe Trip to Afghanistan

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Badakhshan Afghanistan

Is Afghanistan safe to travel? This is perhaps the first question that strikes a person keen to visit the country. The safety concern is pretty valid, given Afghanistan’s reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. To date, it is regarded as an unsafe destination for travelers.

Afghanistan-mapIn the 70’s Afghanistan with its mountain vistas, friendly people, archaeological sites, old castles, beautiful mosques, and monuments was an amazing spot for tourism.

However, things took a drastic turn when the country was plunged into political turmoil. The Taliban insurgency coupled with hazardous landmines, bombings and random acts of violence devastated the historic country.

Apparently all this, is a thing of the past. Afghanistan is no longer a war-ravaged country. The troubled nation is slowly limping back to normalcy and on the whole, tourism is picking up. Though the current situation can be termed stable, it always pays to be cautious.

If you’re considering travelling to the city of Kabul in Afghanistan, personal safety must be the top priority and special care must be taken to finding secured accommodation in Kabul.

These five safety tips can go a long way in shielding you when visiting Afghanistan.

Badakhshan Afghanistan

  1. Arrange for car pick-up:

Kabul is undergoing significant changes. The airport is no longer a chaotic experience, and everything from luggage arrival to immigration services is being handled pretty efficiently. Nevertheless, it is not wise to linger alone at the airport.

Make sure that arrangements are in place for a pick-up by a trusted driver so that you are dropped safely from the airport to your destination.

  1. Secure Accommodation in Kabul:

Since the prime concern is security while visiting Kabul, it is imperative that travellers look for the safest life-support facility in Kabul, even if it pinches your budget.

It is extremely important to stay in a hotel that is centrally located and is in a good neighbourhood.

Also, the hotel should adhere to the high-security standard, offer amazing hospitality services and have a supportive staff.

  1. Stay healthy:

Since Afghanistan doesn’t rate very high on the medical facilities, it would be a sheer disaster to fall sick in the country.

Diarrhoea, Gastrointestinal infections, and sun stroke are common afflictions so take all the necessary precautions. Drink boiled or bottled water, avoid eating street food and use plenty of sunscreens. Though vaccinations are not mandatory, taking Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots is recommended.

  1. Unsafe travel:

Hitch-hiking is a big no-no. Also, refrain from walking on the streets alone. If driving around the city, do it groups and make an effort to keep the car doors and windows locked at all times.

Hiring professional security while visiting rural area may be a good idea since incidents of banditry are not unheard of.

  1. Dress conventionally:

If you want to blend in with the Afghans and not stand out like a sore thumb, dress conventionally. Ladies, avoid wearing anything tight or provocative and no shorts for men. You are likely to face far fewer problems with the locals and enjoy your trip more.

Well, Afghanistan may not be at par with the regular tourist attractions across the globe having gone through very turbulent times.

However, don’t let this deter you from planning a getaway to Afghanistan because it is indeed a fascinating country. With the help of these tips and a secure hotel in Kabul, you should be able to enjoy your trip to this historic country.

Things To Do in Bali

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There are many things to do in Bali for the active and the somewhat less active traveler.

The Bali landscape offers ideal adventure tours such as rafting and hiking, while the cultural centre Ubud has many courses that travelers can join to create more understanding about the daily life of the friendly Balinese.

Here is a list of things to do in Bali so you can experience the beautiful island to the fullest…

Bali hiking:
The mountainous landscape in Bali offers ideal opportunities to go hiking.
A mountain that is visited a lot is Gunung Batur, however the sacred Gunung Agung and many others are climbed as well.

Hiking to the summit is mostly done early in the morning so you are rewarded with a unforgettable sunrise…

Bali diving and snorkelling:
Bali is an ideal island for diving and snorkelling where you can many species of marine life such as nudibranchs, white tip sharks, manta rays, barracudas, turtles.

Most of the diving and snorkelling spots are located on the east coast of Bali and accessible together with dive operators or traditional fishermen…

Surfing:
Bali is popular for its great waves. The famous surf beaches are located around Kuta and Uluwatu, but for the die hard surfers there are also deserted beaches.

Surfing lessons are possible as well. I had a great surfing lesson in Kuta and now I can’t wait to jump on my board again. If you want to feel totally comfortable on a surfboard in a short period of time or if you are already a keen surfer you can also join a Bali Surf Camp.

Bali Cruises:
There are many things to do in Bali if if you feel like spending the whole day on the water.

Many cruises offer fun activities such as snorkeling, a ride on a banana boat, visit to an island and not to forget the delicious lunch buffet. Cruise operators are mostly found in Sanur and Nusa Dua.

Bali Water sports:

bali-water-park
When you are tired of lazing at the resort pool there are other things to do in Bali that will give a boost to your energy levels such as para-sailing, jet skiing, banana boat, deep sea fishing and even the underwater experience Seawalker where you have tropical fish eating out of your hand.

Most of the water sports can be arranged at the hotels at Sanur, Tanjung Benoa and Nusa Dua or you can ask the boatmen waiting on the beach.

Bali Dolphin tour:
On of the most memorable things to do in Bali is going on a Dolphin tour in Lovina.

These dolphins gather together every morning around the reef. Don’t be surprised if you see them suddenly swimming next to your boat.

The tours can be arranged in the villages at Lovina and leave just before the sunrise…

Bali Rafting:
There are 3 places in Bali which are perfect for rafting: the Ayung River with II-III rapids, the Melangit River with more than 30 falls and the Telaga Waja River where you slide along waterfalls, rice terraces, winding gorges and the tropical rain forest.

There are several companies who offer various whitewater rafting tours…

Bali mountain biking:
One of the best experiences is biking downhill from Gunung Batur all the way to the idyllic village of Ubud.

Along the way you will pass several types of vegetation, coffee and vanilla plantations, rice fields and traditional Balinese villages where it looks as if time has stood still. It’s a great way to experience Bali…

Bali Sawah Walking:
One of our favourite things to do in Bali is to discover new walking trails in Ubud.

Ubud is ideally located in the hills which has resulted into many great walking opportunities.

Along these trails you can watch the Balinese working in their fields or placing offerings in the many shrines along the road…

Bali Bird Watching:
Just north of Ubud every day thousands of white Heron Birds return home before sunset.

You can watch them land in their nests so get your camera ready.

Bali Bird Walk organizes walking tours around Ubud where over 100 species of birds are found such as the Java Kingfisher…

Bali Golf:
There are 5 golf courses available on Bali.

Some of them with stunning views such as the world famous Bali Handara Country Club in the cool mountains, the Nirwana Bali Golf Club designed by Greg Norman with views on the sea temple Tanah Lot or the Bali Golf or Country Club in Nusa Dua with breathtaking views on the Indian Ocean…

Bali Treetop Climbing:
Yes, you read it correctly. Climbing tropical giant trees! Meaning that you will be swinging from one treetop to another far above the ground. Once you are geared up you can do several circuits, all with different levels of difficulties and heights.

If you are older then 4 and higher then 1.10m then you can have a go! So definitely one of the most adventurous things to do in Bali for the whole family…

Bali Courses:
There a whole range cultural things to do in Bali.

You can choose from shadow puppet making, play the gamelan, woodcarving, making jewellery, classical painting, basketry, Balinese dancing, flute playing, offering, mask painting, batik courses and even meditation or Bali yoga classes…

Bali Parks:
There are several parks you can visit. In the Central of Bali near Ubud you have the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, the Bali Bird Park in Batubulan (with the Reptile Park next door) and the Botanical Gardens at Bratan Lake and Ubud.

There’s also the Bali Orchard Garden north of Sanur and the Butterfly Park north of Tabanan.

Bali Waterbom Park Kuta:
This waterpark offers something for everyone with several pools for young an old.

You won’t get enough of the 15 exciting waterslides(some with speeds of 60km/h), the superbowl with centrifugal forces, euro-bungy which catapults you 9m high, wall-climbing, restaurants and there is even a spa with reflexology and several massage treatments…

Bali Horse Riding:

horse riding in Bali
There are a couple of stables available where they organize horse riding tours.

There’s the Bali horse adventure where they offer 1-5 day pony camps at Pererenan Beach in the Canggu area north of Seminyak and there’s the Bali Island Horse stable north of the famous Tanah Lot temple. Expect to pay around $35 US for one hour horse riding through rice fields or along the beach.

Things to do with kids:
Kids don’t need much, the only thing they need is a beach, a swimming pool, french fries and they are more than happy but for the older children this may become a little bit boring so here we’ve listed 12 memorable things which you can do on the island…

For additional things to do in Bali you can also have a look at ‘things to do’ located under each village in the navigation bar and you can get additional ideas at our things to see in Bali page. There might be other activities that you wouldn’t want to miss…

Did You Ever Notice These 5 Stunning Forts in Goa?

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Are you one of those whose idea of a trip in Goa is just limited to beaches and party? Well, Goa is additionally home to some magnificent fortifications and posts which are the inevitable result of the hypnotizing society and culture of Goa. They are the first embodiment of the goliath political, money related and military centrality. With two or three rulers, the fortresses in Goa are the depiction and spectators of a long-gone time. So if history and relics of the past attract you, then take a historical walk around these Goan forts and fortresses.

Goa has the appeal and the right blend of perspectives that make it the nation’s most loved restoring retreat. Well, who knew that this beach hub could also be home to some fine structures of the past? So get your Mumbai to Goa flights tickets booked soon and head to these fortifications that have been another component of fascination, attracting tourists from across the country.

Mormugao Fort

Built in 1624, this fortification served as a gatekeeper to the Portuguese from the back to back strikes of the Marathas. It contains rich recorded confirmations as there is a basic obsolete data implanted on the columns and walls of this titanic post. The fortress included a towering barrier, five worshipping places, a guard house and three magazines.

Aguada Fort

Aguada-Fort

It gets its name from the fresh water springs that are present on its site. For the boats that went from Portugal, it was the key stop after a long voyage for new water supplies before moving inland. On the northern side, it gives a harbor to neighborhood ships. The fortification, at present, houses the primary jail. A nineteenth century created reference point is in like manner located inside the fortification.

Terekhol Fort

The Terekhol Fort lies on the northern tip of Goa close to the Terekhol River. It was built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle of Sawantwadi in the 17th century, and was later revamped in 1764 when the Portuguese Viceroy Dom Pedro Miguel de Almeida seized control over it. The site has been restored, and today, it serves as a legacy lodging. The 100-year-old Church of St. Anthony, is situated in the patio of this very fortification. The encompassing views of the skyline and green and watery environs are captivating as the fortification stands magnificently along the Tiracol River.

Corjuem Fort

Corjuem-Fort

Found 4 km north of Pomburpa, close to the river Mapusa, the Corjuem Fort was built in 1705 by the Portuguese and has an interesting story associated with it. Ursula e Lancastre, a yearning Portuguese lady set out to succeed in a man’s reality, dressed like one and set out to the most removed corners of the planet.

Chapora Fort  

ChaporaFort

Dil Chahta Hai! Does that ring a bell? Yes, you hit the nail on the head! The Chapora Fort is made of red laterite and was built by the Portuguese in 1617 on the site of a prior Muslim structure. The enormous protections and scattered Muslim headstones are all that is left of this post today. At present, one can see the pioneers of the two segments, that once gave the supply courses to the ambushed screens.

New Zealand Lord of The Rings Tour

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New ZealandNew Zealand, The Land of the Long White Cloud, The Shaky Isles or Aotearoa if you are Maori, beautiful, unpredictable and full of delights for the intrepid traveler.

Because of its remoteness New Zealand was one of the last places on earth to be settled, not just by Europeans but also by the natives from Polynesia and today New Zealand is a traveler’s delight.

New Zealand is made up of two main islands, the North Island and, would you believe it, the South Island and approximately 220 smaller islands and it is situated about 1,500 kilometers or 900 miles east of Australia and roughly 1,000 kilometers or 600 miles south of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

The main North and South Islands are separated by the Cook Strait which is 22 kilometers or 14 miles wide at its narrowest point.

Now, you already know how absurdly picturesque New Zealand is.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, filmed so beautifully, shows off New Zealand to its best advantage.

If you’ve seen any of the movies and thought the scenery was an invention of some wonderfully imaginative mind, think again, it’s all real and it’s all New Zealand!

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

You can’t ignore New Zealand’s scenery but equally as alluring is New Zealand’s culture; it’s Maori heritage, New Zealanders passion for sport, her wonderful assortment of delicious wines all entice visitors from all corners of the globe.

And New Zealand doesn’t disappoint.

To all you adrenaline junkies it might seem as though New Zealand was invented just for you.

Bungee jumping, while not quite invented in NZ has become synonymous with a good New Zealand holiday, something you simply have to do.

Likewise jet boat racing, white water rafting, quad biking, mountain bike riding, hot air ballooning, snow skiing and so on.

So, whether you’re skydiving over a stunning patchwork of mountains and fields or climbing the Fox glacier, New Zealand is certain to get adrenaline coursing through your veins.

Holiday in New Zealand

Not that keen on risking life and limb to have a great holiday?

There is another side of New Zealand that keeps people coming back for more.

That’s New Zealanders!

Yes the people in New Zealand really are extremely friendly and genuinely want their visitors to have a good time.

Kiwis love sharing their spectacular country with visitors and in turn seeing it through foreign eyes.

They never tire of being reminded of the rugged beauty of their beaches, mountains, fiords, glaciers, native forests and thermal regions.

Just as in Australia the Aboriginal culture is an important part of the mix in New Zealand Maori culture plays an important part in everyday life with abundant opportunities for visitors to understand and experience both the history and present day forms of Maori life.

When you come to New Zealand make sure you allow sufficient travel time between your stops, distances are longer than you might think and many roads wind along the coast and through mountain ranges (particularly on the South Island).

It’s rewarding to tour for three or four weeks on each of the main islands, although you can certainly see some of the highlights in far less time.

Auckland, with a population of around 1.5 million people, is the largest city in New Zealand and has a large population of people from the many surrounding small pacific nations.

Indeed, many of the small pacific nations, such as the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, have more of their national population living in metropolitan Auckland than in their home islands! (NZ Government Statistics.)

This gives you, the intrepid traveler, the opportunity to experience some interesting ethnic shopping and eating, however, if you want to get to know the true New Zealand spend as little time as possible in Auckland as it is very different to the rest of the country.

When you holiday in New Zealand you’ll have the opportunity to experience two very different geographical regions.

The North Island with its mild (relatively speaking) temperatures and with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks with bubbling mud pools and, of course, the South Island with much cooler conditions, especially in winter and its huge beech forests, great beaches, large glaciers, spectacular mountains and fords.

Whenever you come and wherever in New Zealand you go …………..enjoy.