Some say you should never go abroad until you’ve seen your own country.  Have you seen your own country Kiwis?

It’s very tempting to whisk away on a cheap airfare to Bali or a long weekend to Melbourne. The prices are often cheaper than domestic flights any day of the week. This is seriously unfortunate for the average Kiwi as the chances of really exploring their own country before they travel are rapidly depleting due to the lure of cheaper overseas alternatives.

Thankfully there are deals up for the taking for domestic travel if you don’t mind the flexibility of travel dates/times and can plan ahead. Airlines and accommodation can be arranged at very reasonable prices off-season or just because you’ve done your homework. Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat and Wotif are a good start.

If you can’t afford the time to take a month off and explore your own backyard, try to do it in short bursts. Make the most of long weekends (usually during the more stable summer months) or tick off your ‘must do list’ over a period of months or years if you have to.

Why explore New Zealand?

Fiordland

bubbling mud, rotorua nz

It’s a very special place. We take so much for granted. It will finally twig when you are sitting in a bar on the other side of the world, and someone turns to you with a joyous grin to tell you that you “live in paradise”, that it’s the “best ever place in the world” and they’d love to immigrate and live there if they could.

I am certainly patriotic and will match their grin with one even wider.

queenstown nz

bridal veil falls, raglan

If you haven’t explored much of New Zealand yourself, you may not know why they speak this way. Internationals who travel to New Zealand are an adventurous bred. Most Americans will never leave US shores and many Brits won’t go abroad further than Europe in a life time. So to have reached New Zealand, one does tend to ‘see it all’ in the few weeks they are here.

A question for you:

  • How many North Islander’s have never been to Milford Sound, Queenstown or the Marlborough Sounds? How many have actually seen our glaciers and ice-berg lakes, our snowy mountains at close range and tramped through our rain forests?
  • How many South Islander’s have never been to Rotorua, East Cape or even Auckland? How many have smelt the thermal pools, gallivanted down the rockslides or conquered volcano summits?

This is the New Zealand that international visitors remember. Perhaps we need to embrace these ourselves fellow Kiwis. I wrote earlier after coming back from Alaska of how proud I was of New Zealand.

Exploring has always been in my blood and from where my first website was spawned, sharing things to do in New Zealand on a no cost/low cost budget: www.planmyplay.co.nz – the New Zealand that Kiwi’s love.

While the International Air Show held in New Zealand this January can’t be described as the most impressive that I’ve attended, legendary ‘Jetman’ aka Yves Rossy stole the show hands down (or should I say, wings out).

With a sky of acrobatic WWII Robins in full formation, this Swiss pilot flew with the best of them, literally.

Jetman, as you may well have heard through international news, flies with a wingsuit-come-glider strapped to his shoulders.  It is more technical than that, of course.  Once you have thrown in jet turbines and years of commercial pilot experience, it is little wonder Rossy gravitated to wanting to push the boundaries of human flight.

He’s certainly a showman, and for very good reason.  Yves Rossy is the first and only man in aviation history to fly with a jet-propelled wing.

Jetman Yves Rossy flying in New Zealand 2013

And, when in New Zealand – one does as the Kiwis do.   We are known for our adventurous spirit, and not to be out-trumped, I’m sure that’s why Jetman hatched a cunning plan over morning tea.  Chatting with local New Zealand pilots performing at the Air Show, they decided on paper to pull a manuovre they’d never tried before.  And why not? It was the inaugural International Air Show after all (the first by that name, not by nature).

Not only would Jetman put on a fine display with this own jetpack wings, he would fly in formation with these World War II planes.  Yes, in formation.  All over a cup of tea (the plans, not the flight path).  Bless.

Not one, but three different formations.  Because there was no time to practice, Rossy was going to call the shots through his headset, whereby not only the pilots but the crowds below would be able to hear it all.

And it all unfolded, in sleepy New Zealand on a glorious summer’s day in January.  Nice.

Jetman clung to the side of a helicopter, dismounted and activated intermittent smoke trail, climbed the skies on a joy ride, only to merge like a zip with a group of five Robins flying in formation.

Jetman Yves Rossy flying in formation with WWII Robins NZ

At times it looked like they were painting State Highway 1 in the skies above the Dairy Flat airfield.

Unfortunately, this was just about the only highlight of the International Air Show, so I won’t go into too much detail other than I would hedge my bets there will not be a second (not by this event organiser anyway).  While a great location, massive viewing screens, camera’s mounted in the cockpits and headsets, and ample facilities, sadly it lacked a few planes.

For more information about Jetman, check out the official website.

Rodeos complete with bucking broncos, bull riders, barrel racing and steer wrestling may seem an odd choice of entertainment for a city girl, but every summer I am drawn to the sheer fascination of the sights and sounds of the New Zealand Rodeo circuit.

Warkworth Rodeo 2013 Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes I think we should pause and appreciate just how very awesome New Zealand is. For those Kiwis who live in New Zealand and haven’t travelled a lot, it’s sometimes difficult to put New Zealand into a box.

It is ‘home’ and modestly we nod and agree and say we’d like to bring up our children here, regardless of the offshore travels we may make while we are young.

For those ex-pats reflecting on life in New Zealand, it can look quiet and uneventful compared to the rest of the world with its noise and staggering volume of headline news.

 

Lake Pukaki, South Island

For me, patriotic at the best of times, after a recent overseas trip I was stunned by the number of travellers who raved that New Zealand was ranked their ‘best EVER country to visit’ list.

Not just raved, but shook my hand and SUNG praises to New Zealand. OK, there was a close call between New Zealand and Iceland, but I’ve never been to Iceland so I nodded modestly and was honoured that we made the Top 2 at least.

It’s like magically New Zealand has been blessed with select pieces of ‘The Best of the World’ not in volume, but in an eclectic array of beauty.  Like when you collected ‘stuff’ in your pockets as a kid.  Every piece of string, smoothed glass, or straightened paperclip each had it’s place and had immense value not only to you, but those who also had also carefully collected and admired such beauty.  I digress.

New Zealand has a snippet of everything beautiful other countries have, all squished into a tidy matchbox-size country.   Whether it be rainforests, glaciers, lakes, wild coastlines, alpine mountains, thermal springs, volcanoes, tranquil islands or the wildlife – (phew) we’ve got it.

Seriously we pretty much have a little slice of everything scenic, and a few added extras.  Obviously due to the longitude/latitude, we lack a desert or two and architecture that only old world places have endured the right to take ownership of.  But what we have, we wear well.

Well done New Zealand. Proud to be Kiwi, I remain very grateful to have New Zealand at my doorstep.

Walking the High Line, NYC

November 6th, 2012

Immensely popular in summer, a stroll along the High Line on the West Side will see you in good company. Once an elevated railway line built in the 1930s, 30 feet above the busy roads, it is now covered in greenery and a splendid pathway stretching for kilometres above NYC.

High Line Park was once a hive of business with freight trains hauling produce and meats to the area (and no surprise how the suburb Meatpacking District got its name).  It is approx 1.5 miles long and meanders through several suburbs, packed with greenery, bench seats and tourists!

The attraction? Not only is this walking excursion several stories high, there is plenty to see and do. Buskers will entertain you, street vendors will feed you. If you want to relax there’s a lawn and stadium seating to relax and read the paper or people watch.

Hign Line Park, NYC
High Line Park, NYC  High Line Park, NYC

The High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, open from 7am-11pm and is free to access.