Here's some places and people around New Zealand and the South Pacific that we really like . Some are folks we've worked with, some just places we've been. Anyway. We like ' may like 'em too.


West Coast South Island

The view from the Denniston plateau. Take in the Denniston Experience, and visit the old coal workings.

They bred them tough in those days. Home of the famous books by Jenny Patrick.

Lake Wanaka District
Lake Wanaka District

Cascade Saddle

Located vertically above the Matukituki Valley, Aspiring National Park.

This area is great for day walks.

The killer hike to the top of cascade isn't recommended as a afternoon stroll, but the views are worth it.

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The Catlins

If you are in the deep south take a drive through the Catlins. Stop off for micro walks and view all kinds of neat things..

Take a raincoat

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Stewart Island

There's a big Southern theme going on here, but as the slogan said "don't leave town 'til you've seen the country".

Rakiura is great. Walking, fishing, bird watching, swimming with great white sharks, eating fish n' chips...this little place has it all.

Go there.

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Kaimanawa Wild Horses

To get to be with the horses is a bit of a trick (they cohabit with the NZ Army near Waiouru, in the central north island), but its an experience to be treasured.

If you can't get there, watch the Wilson Sisters "At Home with the Kaimanawas" to get an idea how lovely these horses are.

If you have the space, adopt one...

Aoraki /Mt Cook

It's somehow spiritual....


Sir Ed-The Kiwi Legend

We were so lucky to spend a lot of time with Ed , having photographic trips around NZ, and working with him at The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre.

Here he is at the place that seemed to feel like home to him. What you can't see is the swarms of people trying to get him sign $5 notes...


The Timber Trail Lodge

Coming soon (the beginning of 2017). A new lodge, handily located at the midway point of the Timber Trail.

The Timber Trail is fantastic-ride or walk through ancient podocarp forest in the centre of the North Island.

It's going to be great-a chilled Pinot Gris in the Wilderness, with a fine meal and a made up bed to sleep in.

Click on the pic for YOUTUBE link


Urban Whitewater-now in New Zealand

Just what Auckland needed-a class 3 river on it's doorstep.

Now it's got one, courtesy of Wero-the whitewater park located out on Great South road (not far from the Airport)

Click on the pic for YOUTUBE link

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Ulva Island

Just because we love the place The Island has a full row of pictures.

Located in Patterson Inlet on Rakiura (Stewart Island) Ulva Island  is a cool green haven for birds. The wonderful Ulva Goodwilly runs Ulva's Guided Walks, which is a must. See her latest book, which we did a bit of work on....

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Tom Tit

On Ulva Island. The birds on the island don't seem to mind people with their Nikons, Swarovski binoculars, Canons and Ipads  clicking and whirring around them.

The birds are stars.

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Southern Seabirds

After you've been around Ulva Island take a morning out and see some of the magnificent seabirds that live in the great Southern Ocean.

You'll get a close up experience with various types of Albatross, Skua, Mollymawks and Cape Pigeon.

Birder heaven....



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Agile and tuneful. Talented too (you try singing upside down).

This character lives close to the wharf and will sing you ashore.


Paddle the Whanganui

It's one of the Great Walks, which seems strange, it being a river and all that...and you know how we like them.

Although this time you take a canoe. And canoes (as opposed to kayaks) are the way to go.

Hire your canoe from Taumarunui Canoe Hire. Aunty Karen will see you right. Ron will come and rescue you in the jetboat if you get in trouble.


Paddle some whitewater

There's lots of it in NZ-from hero to zero. If you want to do it yourself  get a copy of Graham Charles' Whitewater Guide Book. It has lots of great information and wacky hints .

If you want to learn kayaking see Mick at NZ Kayak School in Murchison. You'll never do better, even if he is from Yorkshire.

There's also lots of good commercial rafting operators around the country.

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The Shotover

Don't take your rental car up here. It isn't insured. Go with either someone who knows it well, or a commercial operator.

Some folks go up the Shotover to jump off high bridges and swings.

Some folks need their heads examining.


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Get thee to a Glacier

Go to the west coast and get on a glacier-by heli hike or just walk up to the base. See them  before they all melt. Fox and Franz are the most popular. Often it's the one that has the best weather-so if it looks good-go.

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Waikoropupu Springs, Takaka

Once upon a time you could swim (if you were related to a Polar bear) snorkel, or even scuba dive in this crystal clear water.

Nowadays , due to these activities destroying the fragile ecosystem you can only look.

But it is worth a look....


Enter the Coast to Coast

Every February hundred of mad athletes run, bike paddle their way across the South Island, from Kumara in the West, to Christchurch in the east.

Some people do it in under 11 hours.




Banks Peninsula Coastal Walk

Lovely. Pastoral, Coastal, scenic and intimate. Stay in cooky accommodation at various farms along the way.

A kiwi classic, not far from Christchurch.

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The Oparara Arches

Oparara and the surrounding area is a big favourite. It's at the end of the road at the top of the South Island (on the west side). And catch this. It's NORTH of Wellington. Win money from your friends betting on it. (look at a map-you'll see)


The Nikau Coast, Karamea

Being North of Wellington and kissed by warm coastal currents this area is blessed with it's own temperate climate.

See Wayne and the team at Karamea Helicopters to get around to those out of the way places.

Hint: Take your sandfly repellent.

The Hawea playwave

It's great to see a power company give something back. This little gem was donated to the river community close to Lake Hawea by the local power company.

It is really well used, so if you don't know where it is, welllll-you're going to have to find it.

Click on the pic to watch some lovely river surfing by the locals

The Old Ghost Rd

Destined to become a South Island Classic. Built by a team of dedicated volunteers over a few years the Ghost is now open.

Don't treat it lightly, but prepared for a fabulous experience.

click on the pic to see the YOUTUBE link

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Guide Dog Puppies

When you're talking about the best of New Zealand it's hard to leave these guys out.

The people who train our Guide Dogs for the blind are some of the most selfless, dedicated professionals I've met.

As for the dogs...

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Drive around East Cape

Not as easy and freewheeling as it used to be (a lot more "No Camping" signs around), but that's the price you have to pay when a small population of miscreants spoil it for the rest of us.

Still it's a cool drive and there are still enough places to camp by the sea.

Be respectful....

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Villa 25 Vanuatu

Where to go when you've had enough of the NZ winter.

Great accommodation in 3 villas owned by New Zealanders .

Don't miss the trip to the waterfalls, and Derek the Dugong that swims past every now and then.


The Kepler Track

How to get the best views of Lake Te Anau without using a helicopter.

You just have to walk up a rather steep hill for a while.

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Mt Cook

If the weather is good and you're driving through the McKenzie Country, don't miss the drive into Mt Cook.

Stay at The Hermitage, grab a glass of wine and watch the sun set over Aoraki Mt Cook.



Surf Raglan

When it's good there's a bit of a queue to get on the best spots but it's beautiful.

The cafe culture has grown up there also, so you don't have to get wet to enjoy it.


Balloons over Waikato

No singing that song from the seventies, please!

But riding in a beautiful balloon on a calm autumn morning over a misty river is pretty special.

Notable for when the gas inflates the balloon(which is quite noisy) how many dogs start barking down below.

Landing in a cow paddock also has it's hazards, cows being one of them....


Central Otago Hoar frost

Magical. The TV weather man will keep you informed as to how these big frosts develop. This one took 23 days to form and a morning to melt away.

Timing, if you want to be part of it, is critical.

Not surprising you find them here - the area around Ophir is the coldest in the country


The West Island

It wouldn't be fair to leave Australia out would it?

The Special places for us?

The Olgas, the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, the red interior, Fishing for Barramundi in Cooktown, and this...Uluru.

It's big.

Latest release from Wharehine

Blowing stuff up, moving large amounts of mother earth, creating highways, building gas stations-it all seems like a kid's dream-right?

No...this is a standard day for Rodney based contractors Wharehine.

See them drive around and some of the work they do by clicking on the link-pic of the Big Yellow Digger


Slickrock City

Moab Utah. Fabulous rock structures. Mountain bike heaven.

Really weak beer-don't know whether that's a real good thing but it's because of the Mormon influence.

Also home for some wonderful desert rivers.


Fly Fishing

Going fishing with Lindsay Lyons

The guide with always something new in his fly box.

Rumour is he's the first port of call when an incredibly famous rock star (is there anybody out there?) comes to New Zealand.

The Incredibly Famous one nearly missed his Auckland show because he wanted to catch the evening rise.

Luckily Lindsay is very sensible, and got him to the concert on time.


Who needs Yellowstone?

Okay, it's a bit bigger than Wai-O -Tapu near Rotorua, and there's more bison, but this little kiwi gem isn't to be missed if you are into Geothermal things.

Our most colourful thermal area

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The Mahurangi Regatta

Pray for a breezy day when this happens. You'll see old mullet boats, launches, keelers and dinghies sailing around as though they were in the America's Cup.

Located only an hour from Auckland, every January.

Laika on the prowl

Labrodorable Labradors

What about this little fella. Laika (as he was known in NZ) has now gone on to Hawaii where he is the Ambassador for Eyes for the Pacific.

Not bad for a kiwi pup from Point Wells.

If you're looking on Facebook he has his own page-he's now called Luke (to save confusion with another dog who had the same name)









Mesa Verde

Seeing as I'm uploading this on Independence Day it's time for some USA images.

Mesa Verde....stone villages and terraces on a great red rock mesa. Wonderful History, fascinating story. It's cool how you can crawl about the structures still. There's more of these places dotted around the South west. Include them in your trip....


Crater Lake

Obligatory when traveling around Oregon. Great views, drive to the top can it get better. No wonder Kathmandu shot half a catalogue (people camping no less!) up there.

Good stop off when traveling between the Rogue and The Deschutes Rivers.


The Grand

The Big Ditch . 230 odd miles of Ultimate River Journey. We took 23 days (we had lots of lay-days-why rush the journey of a lifetime, right??).

We went at the end of August-September. Great because it wasn't so hot and you could light fires at night.

What's camping without a fire for goodness' sake!


Monument Valley

Home of a thousand western movies (well...a few anyway) And you can see why. The Navajo still live here.


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Head North!

Catch the lazy beach and bay filled cruisey life that is the North Island North.

Favourites are many-Whale Bay , Sandy Bay...the Poor Knights, and this... Uretiti Beach.

It's easy to miss -it's on your right heading north along the Waipu flats.

You can camp there. Have a beach to yourself.

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The Heaphy Track

Ride it or walk it, North to South is the best. Stay overnight at Karamea's Last Resort. Get Helicharter Karamea to do your shuttle (driving is for the birds-it's a fair way!)


Experience Fiordland

Get on one of the overnight or longer trips and tiki tour your way through some of New Zealand's most majestic countryside.

Go diving, tramping and kayaking from your live aboard home.

Great thing about being on a boat? The skipper will often be catching fish for dinner(to keep himself amused presumably) and the sandflies don't fly out to sea.

Watch this space....


Kerosene Creek

After a day's biking thru the Rotorua Bike Trails head down to KC. A natural warm water creek with little falls and pools to wallow in.

Used to be the best kept secret then Lonely Planet mentioned it...

Hint: Be careful with your belongings in the carpark, and don't put your head under. Meningititis is still around.....


Nga Haerenga

The New Zealand Bike trail project. A great initiative that has translated into something wonderful for visitors , riders and communities alike.

See: for more info.

Get your bike out...there's bound to be one near you.

The Abel Tasman National Park

One of the best places in NZ. So nice, we're going back.

Sea kayakaing in Abel Tasman National Park New zealand

So. Why is it one of our favourite places?

A fabulous coastline. Interesting inlets. Great Granite. And with an infrastructure to support your sea kaying/tramping/generally relaxing needs all in place.

And if that doesn't float yer boat, then ..well, I don't know what will.

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No, not Easter Island.

Looks like it though don't you think?

This squatting watcher is on the north end of the park up by Totaranui.

No, it's not man made, but I like the tuft of grass/seagull nest on his head.

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Tonga Beach crossing

A great place to watch the crossing styles. Some have no style at all. Others just look hunky.

Hint: If you don't want to get wet, cross when the tide isn't full.

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Where can you get water like this, huh?

The granite coastline enables great water clarity.  A parallel with clarity is the Pacific Islands, but ATNP is a  tad cooler, which is a darn sight preferable if you're paddling  isn't it?





the sand mouldings at Awaroa are a favourite. And yes, this is pre dawn.

It's great to watch the tide slide in and change the shapes pf the pools.

Don't be a muppet and get caught out there with your tripod.


And on the way...

There's lots of vineyards to drop into or bike around.

Take time to smell the roses.

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More Sand Mouldings

They look different as the light comes up. Irresistible..


Also on the way..

Mapua Smokehouse. Mussels, smoked fish, delicious goodies.

Very easy to get carried away  and miss the ferry into the Park.


Farewell Spit

And while you are in the area  you can't miss Farewell Spit. Catch the tour up the beach-it's incredible what you may come across.

We came across an oarfish (look it up) that was easily 5 metres long that had washed up. Looked like a large silver snake in the sand.








Just in case you've just won Lotto

How's this?

Your own private Vineyard, heated swimming pool, movie theatre and designer home-all overlooking Omaha Bay.

If you happen to have a spare $10M to spend, or have a really rich uncle you can tap, then give Di Balich a call
Mobile  +64 21 917 080

She'll see you right.

CLICK on the pic next door for a YOUTUBE vid of the property

A rather special morning

Some days are just special. The fisherman was from Oregon. It was his first day in NZ and had found his way to this rather lovely lake (if you don't know which lake it is, then you'll just have to find it, that's what makes it special). He was casting to a large brown trout that was feeding just 5 metres in front of him. In the valley at the head of the lake deer were roaring, otherwise all one could hear was the swish of his line, the soft splashing of the trout, and the Oregonian uttering "ooooohhh man...." ever time the fish failed to take his fly.



Tucked away on the rugged South West coast of the South Island, this is  the great Southern Wilderness. Deep sounds, towering cliffs, waterfalls,'s all here.The creek pic (below) is the site of New Zealand's first micro brewery. Head brewer James Cook brewed an anti scurvy brown ale here from local berries, leaves and bark.

It was recreated from the original recipe not that long ago.

Tasting hints: Stick to IPA.

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