Dreaming of New Zealand

March 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

As I’ve often mentioned before, New Zealand is hands down my favorite travel destination so far. It’s got great scenery, a laid-back atmosphere and a superb infrastructure that makes it a breeze to just explore and get lost in the country’s many beautiful landscapes. For Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday, here’s a photo recap (Part 1) of my New Zealand travels!

From one of the stops on our Port Hills Drive

From one of the stops on our Port Hills Drive

The view from Sign of the Kiwi

The view from Sign of the Kiwi

Another view from Sign of the Kiwi

Another view from Sign of the Kiwi

Castle Rock Scenic Reserve

Castle Rock Scenic Reserve

At the sea-side town of Sumner

At the sea-side town of Sumner

The sprawling Mount Cook Village

The sprawling Mount Cook Village

Sea-side fun at the beach of Sumner

Sea-side fun at the beach of Sumner

Kite-surfing

Kite-surfing

Ducks by the Avon River

Ducks by the Avon River

Lake Tekapo, about an hour's drive away from Moun Cook

Lake Tekapo, about an hour's drive away from Moun Cook

Another shot of Lake Tekapo

Another shot of Lake Tekapo

At the Gentanner Camping Ground

At the Gentanner Camping Ground

A hiking trail at the base of Mount Cook

A hiking trail at the base of Mount Cook

Glacier Lake, with Mount Cook in the backdrop

Glacier Lake, with Mount Cook in the backdrop

Upclose and personal with the glaciers

Upclose and personal with the glaciers

The Islands of South East Asia

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under magazine, News

We are very pleased to unveil our most recent project,
a travel publication focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all around Asia. If you’re in the region of South East Asia, do pick up a copy and don’t hesitate to send in your comments and thoughts.

Download PDF       Browse Online

In this issue
+ The Islands of South East Asia
+ Raja Ampat, Phuket, Puerto Princesa
+ Koh Pha Ngan, Bali
+ New Zealand’s Splashing Lake Taupo
+ A Guide to Middle Eastern Cuisine
+ Heeding the Call of Asia
+ Spotlight on Jakarta
+ Flashpacking Essentials
+ A Tropical Affair

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Scottish Reminiscence in Dunedin, New Zealand

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

Living in Scotland, you become spoilt by the never-ending scenery and hospitality of this northernmost section of the UK. Surprisingly, though, there’s one part of the world where you’ll find a near replica of Scotland – and it couldn’t be further away: Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dunedin is actually an old Scots word that means Edinburgh. The city blossomed out of the southern Kiwi countryside during the 1800’s gold rush, and the two cities were officially twinned in 1974. Today it’s the city in New Zealand with the highest proportion of persons of Scottish descent. Here are some of the wonderful places and sights you’ll see in Dunedin that will make you fall in love with both Dunedin’s…

Photo credits - tm-tm

Photo credits - tm-tm

Robert Burn’s Statue

Robert Burns was a famous Scottish poet, the man that brought us Auld Lang Syne. (That’s the song everyone sings on New Year’s Eve but doesn’t really know the lyrics to.) He even has his own national holiday in Scotland, Burns Night, where locals tuck in to a traditional meal of a Burns Supper. You can reflect on Burn’s influence on the world at his statue inside the Octagon, made by an Edinburgh sculptor, then follow up with a pint at The Original Robert Burns Pub on George Street.

Photo credits - yum9me

Photo credits - yum9me

The Organ Pipes

So you won’t find a similar rock formation in Scotland (though there’s one kind of like it in Northern Ireland) but the Organ Pipes are a great way to get some fresh air, some height, and take in the great views of this part of the world that will remind you of Scotland’s green hills. The pipes are on Mount Cargill, which is easily accessible from the city. You’ll need a car or get a lift out to the car park on Mount Cargill Road and take the base trail from there, which is conveniently shaded from the sun on hot days. You’ll see the pipes long before you reach them; they’re a series of volcanic rock formations that cooled to look just like a set of organ pipes. Be sure to wear proper footwear up here as the rockface can be slightly slippery underfoot.

Photo credits - Mrs.Gemstone

Photo credits - Mrs.Gemstone

Tunnel Beach

Being on an island itself, Scotland is well known for some pretty spectacular coasts, and New Zealand is no different. You simply must go and visit Tunnel Beach in Dunedin: half of the experience is getting there! Legend has it that a local politician had the tunnel built so that his daughter could easily access to shore anytime she wanted. It’s slightly damp, creepy, and spooky but the jagged cliffs on the other side are well worth the effort. To get there, you’ll need to drive along the Dunedin/Brighton coastal road until you see the Tunnel Beach signage. It takes about an hour to get to the beach and back; check with the tourist board in the Octagon and visit during low tide, the best time to go.

Photo credits - Samuel Mann

Photo credits - Samuel Mann

Baldwin Street

If you’ve been to Edinburgh, you’ll know it is a town full of quite steep cobblestone streets. But they’re nothing compared to Dunedin’s Baldwin Street: officially the world’s steepest street! You can walk it or drive to the top, where you’ll find a water fountain for refreshment, a bench to rest your feet, and great city views for your reward. Baldwin Street is in the northeast side of the city and even has its own festival every February, The Baldwin Street Gutbuster. If you have the energy, follow up your “hike” with a stroll in the nearby Botanic Gardens.

If You Go

While the overly-practical city center, called the Octagon for obvious reasons, is very nice and always bustling, it goes without saying: go head out into the countryside. There are tons of great scenery and loads of walks. Check out the list of walks, by category, on the Dunedin City Council website.

Unearthing Asia now offers travel packages throughout the region of Asia. Check out our promotional offers of Luxury Private Villas in Bali, perfect for Honeymooners or those looking for a little romance. We also have great offers for hotels in Singapore, resorts in Phuket and many more.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.

Fiji Fun

September 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

If you really want to go somewhere off the beaten track, head to Fiji. While yes, most people have heard of it, few realize how far away it is – floating out in the South Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and New Zealand. With turquoise blue waters and amazing palm-tree shores, Fiji isn’t a tough sell. Here are a few thoughts on things to do when you’re not lying in the sun sipping drinks with umbrella in them.

Photo credits - kalevkevad

Photo credits - kalevkevad

Visit a Traditional Village

You should take an opportunity to go and visit a traditional village. These trips can be arranged or you might just be invited if you make friends with the locals. If you go, stop by a shop and pick up some kava root, the traditional gift guests bring. On arrival, you’ll be offered a coconut shell full of yaqona, to be swallowed in one full gulp. It’s considered homeopathic in some countries, so enjoy it – it is rude to turn it down.

Afterwards, you’ll be invited to sit and chat with the villagers. This is may seem quite casual but it’s the traditional way for the locals to get to know each other. The best part is the children, who love guests and love their photo taken!

Photo credits - makani5

Photo credits - makani5

Walks and Waterfalls

Fiji has so many fantastic waterfalls it’s worth heading out to see a few; there are walking tours in many areas that include a waterfall option. Waterfalls are mostly on Viti Levu and Taveuni. The World of Waterfalls site has a great map showing you where all the falls are. You can join a waterfall walk with many of the forest tours, such as the Bouma Falls and Lavena Coastal Walk .

Photo credits - derekkeats

Photo credits - derekkeats

Scuba Diving

Given its remote destination, Fiji is a diver’s paradise. But it’s not just coral; check out the shark dive in Pacific Harbour (not for the amateur nor the faint of heart). It’s too adventurous for me so I can’t report first-hand! If something far more ‘light’ is your interest, then ask your accommodation to book a snorkelling trip. Great spots are ubiquitous and most resorts have special rates with a local operator, so ask if you can get a discount. One of the nicest places is Somosomo Strait where you’ll find the Great White Wall and Rainbow Reef.

Photo credits - timoshea95

Photo credits - timoshea95

Other Must Dos

Beyond those favorites, there are a couple more must-do experiences. You’ll love the ZIP Fiji experience, similar to the ever-so-popular ZIP options in South America (Costa Rica and Brazil come to mind).

And don’t miss out on the shopping! Ladies, check out the black pearls. One the reign of the Cook Islands, Fiji is now in on the game. In Savusavu Bay you can buy what they call Fiji Gold, very uniquely yellow-ish pearls. You can also pick up colourful clothing, arts, and crafts – just shop carefully because many crafts are imported and mass-manufactured.

Photo credits - Alex Kehr

Photo credits - Alex Kehr

If You Go

Fiji is unfortunately becoming more well-known for violent crime, especially in Suva. Be sure to use extreme caution at nightfall and take heed to any advice/warnings of your accommodation. The fact remains, though, that the Fijians are some of the warmest, friendliest people in all of Asia, so don’t let that impede any trip to Fiji. Head to Fiji when you have the chance!


Unearthing Asia is a travel magazine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of Bangkok’s fine dining highlights. You can also find some information on holidays in salou here.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Capital Adventures in Wellington

September 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand (not its larger northern neighbor, Auckland). Travelers in the know agree that this is one Pacific city not to be missed. With a combination of cosmopolitan attractions and a very laid back atmosphere, what’s not to like? Here are some top tips for your next visit.

Photo credits - tony_the_bald_eagle

Photo credits - tony_the_bald_eagle

Take the cable car to the Royal Botanic Gardens

The old cable car is one of those old relics ticking along very nicely thanks to the tourist trade. So it’s purely a cheesy tourist thing, but I just love it because after it clinks and clanks its way to the top you’ll be at the Royal Botanic Gardens, and your reward is a wonderful view over the city. The gardens are huge and have a number of gorgeous old buildings and they really put some heart and soul into the flower displays!

Photo credits - *TreMichLan*

Photo credits - *TreMichLan*

Chill out in Kelburn

Just west of the gardens is Kelburn Village, Wellington’s most European neighborhood. The main street is lined with cosy cafes, one-of-a-kind shops, antiques, a bakery, amongst other retail gems. This is the best place in town to linger over a coffee or enjoy a meal. Be sure to also wander around The Glen (which connects the village to the Botanics) and have a look at the old Pohutakawa trees near Saint Michael’s church.

Photo credits - PhillipC

Photo credits - PhillipC

Go Back in Time at the Karori Sanctuary Trust

You’ll never guess you’re still in Wellington when you enter the Karori Sanctuary. The trust states on their website that they’ll “restore a corner of New Zealand as closely as possible to the way it was the day before humans arrived,” and most agree they do their job pretty well! It’s actually a closed off area with a mainland island in the center; endangered plants and animals have found a safe refuge inside. Even if you’re on a guided tour, the place still feels extremely peaceful and rural even though it is in the city.

Photo credits - No One Nels

Photo credits - No One Nels

Be Entertained at Te Papa

Te Papa is Wellington’s national museum. I say national museum lightly, because the Te Papa has such a wide spectrum of exhibits that it’s hard to describe it. On any given day you learn about the geological forces that shaped the island, learn the oral traditions of the first people of New Zealand, explore a junk shop, and even art too. A must-see stop if you have children.

Photo credits - Peter Hodge

Photo credits - Peter Hodge

Sail out to Matiu-Somes Island

You might not think an island that was once an internment camp and a quarantine zone would be a tourist highlight, but Matiu-Somes Island in Wellington Harbour is worth a visit. You can catch a ferry from Queen’s Wharf but be sure to check with the staff, as you’ll need to ask for them to stop on the Island. It’s a great place to wander and explore, but then make sure you know what time to catch your ferry back – you don’t want to spend the night out here!

Photo credits - jemsweb

Photo credits - jemsweb

Other Lookout Points

I mentioned the views you can get from Kelburn or the top of the cable car, but there are a few other places you must go if you have the time and check out the view:

Mount Victoria – probably the most well-known lookout point, offering 360-degree views. About an hour walk from town, but you can also catch a bus;
Wrights Hill – get great views and explore WWII tunnel all at the same time. Check the website for opening days/times as it is only open infrequently;
Massey Memorial – this uniquely shaped memorial is an interesting sight itself, but the views of Days Bay is quite good to;
Brooklyn Windmill – I love the views from up here. But just so you know, in New Zealand a windmill isn’t the type of thing you’d see in Holland; it’s a wind turbine.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.

Queenstown Photo Collage

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Enchanting Oceania, Nature

For this weeks’ Photo Friday, here’s a collage of snaps of the world’s adventure capital, Queenstown, New Zealand. This popular tourist domestic and international tourist destination did not disappoint, with plenty of attractions to satisfy visitors of all ages and interest. You can enjoy the natural beauty of Milford Sound, scream your lungs out bungee-ing away from a bridge, luge down the hill as you take in the beautiful scenic view, and many others!

queenstown-collage


This post is part of Photo Friday, a Blog Carnival held by Delicious Baby. Check them out for photo-sharing goodness, or take part in the carnival yourself.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.

Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, NZ

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Enchanting Oceania, Nature

The first thing I heard about the town of Rotoroa was that it’s got a weird smell hanging over the entire town. This intriguing fact was due to the amount of thermal geoactivities that surrounds the town, the various geysers, thermal volcanoes and the likes that gives off an extra serving of sulfur in the air we breath.

I’m glad to share my own experiences that the sulfuric smell was much overrated, especially around town. Fact is, Rotoroa is a great place to base yourself on your exploration of New Zealand’s Northern Island. They are within driving distances of the various thermal wonderlands, and the town itself is located by Lake Rotoroa, a great base to embark on boat/cycling journeys and the likes.

One of the thermal wonderlands we had the chance to experience was the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. Come early in the morning, around 10 am, so you can view the Lady Knox geysers jetting her streams up high (only once a day). Wai-o-tapu is Maori for Sacred Waters, which stands for how the Maori warriors of old would bathe in these Sacred Waters for their mystical healing prowess.

rotoroa1
rotoroa2
rotoroa3


This post is part of Photo Friday, a Blog Carnival held by Delicious Baby. Check them out for photo-sharing goodness, or take part in the carnival yourself.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.

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