Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  Radisson Blu Hotel Media City Dubai
Radisson Blu Hotel Media City Dubai Suite

Accommodation Review:  Radisson Blu Hotel Media City Dubai

The Radisson Blu Hotel Media City Dubai is obviously a chain hotel, so we weren't really expecting too much from it.  We hotel was chosen because of its location in Media City where we had hoped to visit the Food Festival.  In the end, we decided not to to go to the Festival, so a more central choice of hotel in Dubai might have been preferable.

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Read more about the article Do buy Dubai
Dubai - The world's largest gold ring

Do buy Dubai

Do buy Dubai. Dubai is trying very hard to sell itself as a city that delivers both a luxurious experience for tourists and an efficient business hub.  The city needs to achieve this so it has something to fall back on when the oil money runs out.  Everyone is trying to sell you something - from the marketing hype to the souks.  

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Read more about the article Where to Stay in Sydney – Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach
Crowne Plaza Hotel Coogee Beach bedroom

Where to Stay in Sydney – Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach

The Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach is a perfect place to stay in Sydney.  Apart from great facilities it has very friendly and efficient staff.  The breakfast here was well worth the $25 charge.  We had a king sized room with an ocean view which was excellent.  There is a swimming pool too with an ocean view - we didn't use it. but it looked very well maintained and inviting.  There is also a room you can use to shower and change once you have checked out. Highly recommended!

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  The Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook
The Hermitage Mount Cook view

Accommodation Review:  The Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook

The Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook has an enviably great location with stunning panoramic views from the restaurant.  Our room here was a bit small though and the kettle didn't fit under the tap in the small wash basin (?!). There is very little choice of accommodation in this remote spot though and this hotel was as good as any.  Breakfast is a pricey $30 each, if you decide to take it.

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Read more about the article Christchurch – Bitten by the “Beast from the East” …
185 White Chairs Memorial Christchurch

Christchurch – Bitten by the “Beast from the East” …

We hadn't expected to be woken at 4am with the bad news from home that our house had been subject to flood damage during the "Beast from the East" which is gripping Britain currently.  We are still trying to assess the extent of the damage, but it seems as though we will have a real mess to sort out when we get back home.  There is always a context to everything though.  Christchurch was badly hit by earthquakes in 2010/11 and 185 people died - commemorated by a display of empty white chairs in the town centre.

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Read more about the article See a Kiwi at Queenstown Kiwi Sanctuary!
Caution - Kiwis cross at night. Your chance of avoiding them would be small, I would say, unfortunately.

See a Kiwi at Queenstown Kiwi Sanctuary!

We visited the Kiwi Sanctuary in Queenstown today.  It is a great place to see these fascinating creatures.  They are nocturnal and live in the forest, so there really is no easy way to view them without visiting a sanctuary like this.  They are much bigger than I had anticipated - about the size of a rugby ball.  You get really good close up views once your eyes adjust to the darkness, No photo, unfortunately, as the conditions in the bird sanctuary are very carefully controlled:   no cameras; no 'phones; no talking (as the kiwis are very easily scared)!

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  Peppers Beacon Queenstown
Peppers Beacon Queenstown View

Accommodation Review:  Peppers Beacon Queenstown

Peppers Beacon Queenstown is a functional hotel, conveniently located for walking to town and all the restaurants it offers.  Our balcony is very small though and the room is a bit tunnel-like and dark.  There are better rooms with wider windows and really good views of the lake which might be worth the upgrade if you are here for a while.  There is a good guest laundry and a bonus of a hot tub and sauna area too.  The buffet breakfast seemed very impersonal after all the friendly B&Bs we have been getting used to here!

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Read more about the article To Bungy or not to Bungy …
Kawarau Gorge New Zealand - Site of the First Bungy Jump

To Bungy or not to Bungy …

To bungy or not to bungy? The first bungy jump happened here and A.J.  Hackett is still in business with a big centre in town at Kawarau Gorge.  There have been 2 million successful bungy jumps since 1986.  It makes you wonder what the definition of an unsuccessful bungy jump is?!

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Read more about the article Wairarapa … Learning the Lingo in Milford Sound
Milford Sound

Wairarapa … Learning the Lingo in Milford Sound

Today, we took a cruise into Milford Sound.  It was raining which added to the beauty of this remote region immensely.  When it rains, all the non permanent waterfalls really come to life.  Within fifteen minutes of a rain shower stopping, many of the temporary waterfalls stop running,  When it pours with rain, Milford Sound pumps and roars with appreciation. Fascinating Fact: There are so many Maori words for water.  Some of the town names really start to make sense once you understand this:

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Read more about the article Fiordland Navigator – The Best Way to See the Sounds
Fiordland Navigator

Fiordland Navigator – The Best Way to See the Sounds

The Fiordland Navigator has comfortable enough little cabins with a tiny wash basin and a shower.  None of the cabins have a porthole, but this didn't really matter as we were only on board 1 night.   The evening meal was a reasonable buffet style.  Soup was served mid afternoon and cakes etc. too, so you don't need to bring a packed lunch.  This is a great way to see the Sounds and stay overnight so you can experience the peace of early mornings here before the crowds descend.

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Read more about the article Experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland
Sounds of Silence - Doubtful Sound

Experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland

Yesterday, we took a short cruise with Real Journeys across Lake Manapouri then a coach trip on the remote sub-alpine route over Wilmot Pass and into Doubtful Sound where we docked overnight on the Fiordland Navigator. This is a very peaceful and beautiful place where you can experience the Sounds of Silence of Shadowland.​   The boat turned off its engines and everyone kept a complete silence for five minutes - blissful.

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review: Blue Ridge Boutique B and B Te Anau
Blue Ridge Boutique B and B Te Anu

Accommodation Review: Blue Ridge Boutique B and B Te Anau

Blue Ridge Boutique B and B Te Anau is upmarket luxuriously appointed accommodation with tea and coffee making facilities in the room.  They even provided bathrobes here, which was nice.  There is a hot tub too.  Breakfast is a generous and conical affair in the host's own kitchen.  Best of all, it is just a short walk into town where there are a variety of restaurants, so this lodging ticks all the boxes.

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Read more about the article Puzzling World Wanaka – Can you Find the Love in Hate?
Can you find the love in hate?

Puzzling World Wanaka – Can you Find the Love in Hate?

The weather turned chilly, very windy and promised rain in the afternoon.  We managed a leisurely stroll around the lakeside and then paid a visit to Puzzling World Wanaka.  We failed the challenge of exiting the giant maze within the 60 minutes target and gave up when we saw an emergency exit.  If there was one of these back home, it would make a fortune I think! The attraction houses a whole host of illusional exhibits which turn your brain inside out.

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  Peak Sportchalet Lake Wanaka
Peak Sportchalet Wanaka Lounge

Accommodation Review:  Peak Sportchalet Lake Wanaka

Peak Sportchalet Lake Wanaka is certainly a very well equipped chalet, with a full sized  oven and all the kitchen utensils you could possibly need.  There is a little private, sunny garden too, which is a great bonus.  Good laundry facilities and very friendly and helpful hosts add to the charm of this accommodation.  The Wi-Fi is free and fast too, which is always an important consideration for me!  

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Read more about the article Ascent to Mount Perspiring (aka Mount Aspiring)
Mount Aspiring

Ascent to Mount Perspiring (aka Mount Aspiring)

OK - it isn't really called Mount Perspiring - it is Mount Aspiring and we walked 775m to view its summit today.  Total distance covered in today's walk was 15kms and we felt it at the end of the walk `as it was very steep in places.  This walk gets a "hard" category in the walking trails booklet - we saw what they meant! The views at the top were awesome though and worth the climb.

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Read more about the article Franz Josef to Wanaka – Fifty Shades of Green …
Franz Josef to Wanaka Fifty Shades of Green

Franz Josef to Wanaka – Fifty Shades of Green …

Today did not start well. We woke up early - worried about the effect of Cyclone Gita overnight.  There was no water in our chalet, so we had to go up to town to buy some.  In town, we discovered that the road from Franz Josef to Wanaka had been closed in both North and South directions.  So, we were stuck, in a place with no power, no water and no fuel.

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Read more about the article Franz Josef – Gita’s Gonna Getcha …
Joining the Four Square line - you can just about pick out Fran Josef glacier in the background!

Franz Josef – Gita’s Gonna Getcha …

Today, we continued our journey south to Franz Josef.  We made an early start (7am) because of the cyclone warnings.  Local schools were all shut and there was talk of closing the coast road, so we didn't want to take any chances. Despite the early start - things did not go smoothly ...

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  The Rocks Homestay Punakaiki
The Rocks Homestay Punakaiki Bedroom

Accommodation Review:  The Rocks Homestay Punakaiki

The Rocks Homestay Punakaiki is a reasonable choice of B&B with lovely views of the sea.  It is a short drive to Punakaiki from here, but it isn't walkable.  There are a couple of restaurant options in the village, but you won't find much beyond steak & chips/fish & chips or pizza.  The rooms are air conditioned which is welcome with the humidity of the pre-cyclone weather currently.  There is also good wi fi reception here.

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Read more about the article Beach, Bush and Rain Forest – Pororari River Tramp
Pororari River Tramp - Swingbridge

Beach, Bush and Rain Forest – Pororari River Tramp

Today we took a long walk along the beach first thing.  The sand in Paparoa National Park is grey and very coarse - very different from the golden, coarse sand at Abel Tasman NP.  There is a 23km beach here - and only we are on it - all morning.  Awesome! The rest of the day we clocked up another 12kms on the beautiful Pororari River Tramp through lush, dense rain forest.  Thankfully, the sun kept shining and the tree canopy gave some welcome shade.

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Read more about the article Pancakes in Punakaiki – Paparoa National Park
Pancake Rocks Punakaiki

Pancakes in Punakaiki – Paparoa National Park

Pancakes in Punakaiki.  A 3 hour drive brought us into different countryside again.  The West coast of South Island is much wilder than the East≥. There were 8km high waves here during the recent cyclone which had a king tide.  They are bracing themselves and hoping that Cyclone Gita stays North and does 't real and more havoc down South.  We are obviously keeping our fingers crossed on that one too. ​We had time to fit in a visit to Pancake rocks this afternoon - worth the trip..

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review:  Ocean View Chalets Marahau Beach
Ocean View Chalets Marahau Beach View

Accommodation Review:  Ocean View Chalets Marahau Beach

The Ocean View Chalets Marahau Beach offers extremely well equipped chalets with full kitchen facilities, laundry space and within easy walking distance of two reasonable restaurants - perfect!  The lovely sea views are a bonus too.  This was a great choice of accommodation for this portion of the trip and ticked all our boxes.

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Read more about the article Abel Tasman Coastal Tramp – Dip your Toes into Cool Clear Turquoise
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman Coastal Tramp – Dip your Toes into Cool Clear Turquoise

Abel Tasman Coastal Tramp.  We took a scenic cruise today inside the Abel Tasman National Park, booked through Wilsons - www.abeltasman.co.nz.  The boat takes you up to Totaranui Bay at the top of the coastal stretch covered by the park and stops by a NZ fur seal colony on the way back before dropping you off at Medlands Beach to walk the 11.8kms back to Anchorage Bay.  It is a beautiful stretch of coast line, but it was tough going on a very hot day.

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Read more about the article Accommodation Review: Punga Cove Resort, Endeavour Inlet
Punga Cove Resort View - Sanctuary in the Sounds

Accommodation Review: Punga Cove Resort, Endeavour Inlet

Punga Cove Resort is a really lovely complex with 19 cabins built up the hillside with good facilities including a swimming pool, hot tubs, hammocks, sea kayaks and a table tennis table.  Our large cabin was a well equipped suite with kitchen facilities if required.  It is a pity we are only staying two nights here - you could easily spend longer as it is a lovely spot.

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Read more about the article Sanctuary in the Sounds – Punga Cove Resort – Queen Charlotte Sound
Sanctuary in the Sounds Punga Cove Resort

Sanctuary in the Sounds – Punga Cove Resort – Queen Charlotte Sound

Punga Cove Resort - Sanctuary in the Sounds It was a day’s drive from Tongariro to Wellington via the twisting, scenic Wanganui River Road.  The next day, we boarded the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton - a 3 and a half hour journey.  From there, we boarded a pre-booked water taxi (operated by Cougar Line enquiries@cougarline.co.nz) and arrived at beautiful Sanctuary in the Sounds of Punga Cove Resort  - an hour and a half later.

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