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Posts tagged ‘Queenstown’

Top things to do if you’re celebrating Christmas in Australia, Canada or New Zealand

The countries that we work with offer the best of both worlds when it comes to Christmas. You have the traditional northern hemisphere Christmas in Canada – snow, roaring log fires and hot chocolates while wrapped up like snow bunnies. Or, you have the southern hemisphere Christmas in Australia and New Zealand – barbecues on the beach and Santa in his shorts.

Here’s our round-up of the top things to do if you find yourself in one of these countries over the festive season.

Australia

Ayers Rock Uluru Sounds of Silence Australia

  1. Make the most of the sunshine and get out on the water – especially in one of Australia’s most iconic watery spots: the Sydney Harbour. You could enjoy a harbour cruise whilst tucking into a Christmas dinner.
  2. If you’d prefer a more active Christmas day, how about climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge? That’s guaranteed to be more memorable than another turkey dinner.
  3. In keeping with the active theme, you could take a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and spend Christmas day snorkelling or diving with the fishes.
  4. An Aussie icon – Ayers Rock or Uluru – offers an incredible dining experience on Christmas Day. Its Sounds of Silence experience includes sunset canapés, dining under the stars (a BBQ buffet, naturally) and stargazing. Sounds pretty magical to us!
  5. Of course if you really want to make the most of Christmas down under, you could just hit up one of the many beaches and enjoy a picnic or BBQ.

Canada

Capilano Canyon lights Canada

  1. Don’t miss your opportunity to see the already spectacular Niagara Falls all dressed up for Christmas with the CAA Winter Festival of Lights, with over 125 animated lighting displays and three million tree and ground lights.
  2. You could really embrace a traditional Christmas with a Prairie Christmas (at Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm). It boasts a roaring bonfire for roasting marshmallows over, gingerbread cookie decorating, hot chocolate and hot apple cider – toasty.
  3. The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park puts on a legendary lights show for Christmas, with a zillion sparkling lights on the bridge, rainforest and cliffwalk.
  4. Enjoy Christmas up high – Grouse Mountain hosts real reindeers, sleigh-rides and ice skating in naturally snowy surrounds.
  5. Let someone else take the strain during your Canadian Christmas – and hop on a sled drawn by dogs as you explore the snowy Canadian wilderness.

New Zealand

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium New Zealand Santa

  1. Soak away the Christmas stress in the great outdoors in some hot pools – New Zealand’s got hundreds of ‘em. You can even dig your own at Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.
  2. Head underwater – whilst staying dry. Check out Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium where Santa will be feeding the fish and you can explore the brand new, snow filled penguin enclosure.
  3. If you think Christmas isn’t the same without some snow, you could head to Snowplanet for some indoor skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.
  4. Hit up Queenstown, where the adventure never takes a Christmas break. On Christmas Day you’ll still be able to enjoy a Milford Sound flight and cruise, paragliding, a helicopter flight over The Remarkables, lake cruises, jet boating…
  5. Or for a real novelty factor, treat yourself to the only ice you’ll find in New Zealand over Christmas – ice cream. Following on from a BBQ on the beach, obviously.

Have you been to Australia, Canada or New Zealand over Christmas?

Tell us what you got up to!

Top five things to do in New Zealand during the summer

Sorry to rub it in to anyone currently residing in the northern hemisphere, but down here in the southern hemisphere it’s that glorious slide into summer. As thoughts turn more summery (and sunshiny), here’s our pick of the top five things to do that really show off New Zealand at its sunny best. It’s pretty hard to whittle down the to-do list but this is our attempt – purely based on personal experiences!

PS: We’ll follow this up with the top five things to do in Australia and Canada too in the coming weeks.

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1. Tongariro alpine crossing

If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings (let’s face it, if you’re considering a move to New Zealand, you should be), then you’ll love the chance to walk through what was used by the film crew as Mordor. Touted as one of the world’s best day walks, a 19.4km walk will see you tackling steep climbs, catching glimpses of hidden emerald lakes and feasting your eyes upon old lava flows, active craters and thermal steam vents. Even if the idea of walking up a serious sweat doesn’t get the adrenalin pumping enough, you might like to know that Tongariro has recently started erupting again after a 115-year silence – thrilling enough for you now?

2. Rotorua

Don’t let the smell of rotten eggs pervading the region put you off – it’s the smell of living, breathing New Zealand (well, sulphur actually). Nowhere else in NZ are you as close to its geology than in Rotorua, where steam spews from the earth, mud bubbles in pools and geysers erupt from the hot ground. The geothermal heartland of New Zealand, immerse yourself in exploring thermal parks. Or if the smell gets a bit overpowering, Rotorua is also renowned for its proud Maori culture where you can experience traditional crafts, music and legends.

3. Bay of Islands

Close to the tip of New Zealand’s north island lies the spectacular Bay of Islands, comprising of 144 islands all ripe for exploring. The best way to explore these is on water, whether you fancy fishing, snorkelling or kayaking. You can’t visit the Bay of Islands without joining a dolphin watching tour where pods of dolphins leap through the unbelievably blue water. Additionally, from the Bay of Islands you can travel north to Cape Reinga (where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet) and 90-mile beach, a world of forest, sand and ocean waves.

4. The Coromandel

Known as the playground of Aucklanders, the Coromandel is a wonderland of golden beaches and natural beauty, including rainforests. You can relax in your own spa at Hot Water beach where you can dig your own hot pool to laze the day away in. Access the spectacular Cathedral Cove on foot or by boat or explore the old tunnels, walkways and rich history of the Karangahake Gorge. Although with views and surroundings as stunning as this, we won’t blame you for just lounging on the beach.

5. Queenstown

Arguably we’re saving the best for last here. The jewel in New Zealand’s crown is Queenstown in the south island – the adventure capital of the country. Whether you fancy hurtling downhill incredibly quickly on a luge; bungy jumping from the world’s first bungy site (or New Zealand’s highest); or jet boating through one of the world’s most scenic settings; you can do it all in Queenstown. If just reading that makes your palms sweaty, you’ll be glad to hear Queenstown is equally phenomenal if you don’t fancy risking mortal injury. Explore historic Arrowtown or take advantage of Queenstown being the gateway to the Milford Sound and all the cascading waterfalls, sheer rock faces and serene beauty it offers.

Over to you

Have you been to New Zealand? What was your top five? And if you haven’t been yet, what are you most tempted to try?

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