Monday, March 3, 2014

The Perfect our Trip

New Zealand North Island

Less than an hour away from Auckland, Waiheke island offers plenty of idyllic beaches, like Onetangi Beach here, to get away from it all

More than just breath-takingly stunning scenery, words by Joyce Huang
Your trip mapped out, Soak in island life just away from a bustling metropolis, get wet navigating through rapids and drink up some sumptuous reds and perfumed whites.

AUCKLAND – Best for island life

Take a short ferry out to Walheke island an see why the locals are all charmed by this island’s forever-summer lifestyle

Further Information: The Auckland metropolitan area, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with 1,377,200 residents, 31 percent of the country's population. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. In Māori Auckland's names are Tāmaki Makaurau, and the transliterated version of Auckland, Ākarana.

The 2011 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 3rd equal place in the world on its list, while the Economist's World's Most Livable Cities index of 2011 ranked Auckland in 9th place. In 2010, Auckland was classified as a Beta World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University.

Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two separate major bodies of water. 

TAUPOBest For Adventure

Battle the rapids of the Tongariro River, get thrown about by the Huka Falls jet boat and take the plunge at Taupo Bungy

Furthr Information: Taupo is a town on the shore of Lake Taupo in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. It is the seat of the Taupo District Council and lies in the southern Waikato Region.

Taupo has a population of 22,600 (June 2011 estimate).In 1953, Taupo was officially constituted as a borough, but from 1989 it has been administered by the Taupo District Council, the district including both Taupo itself and the surrounding hinterland. Despite this, it is occasionally referred to as a city.

The name Taupo, by which the town is commonly known, is the shortened version of its full name, Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Literally translated from Māori language, Taupō-nui-a-Tia means "The great cloak of Tia", where Tia is the name of the discoverer of the lake.

In 2009 a team of Taupo citizens won the TV2 programme Top Town

HAWKE’S BAYBest for vineyards

Ever since missionaries planted the first vines here, Hawke’s Bay has been known to produce New Zealand’s top full-bodied reds.

NAPIER-Best For Art Deco

 Travel back in time to the 1930s, as Napier has a greatest concentration of Art Deco architecture

WELLINGTON-Best For Museums

Learn about the New Zealand story at the country’s national museum, Te Papa, and at the Karori Sanctuary, Zealandia.

AUCKLAND – Best for island life

It did not matter that the day was punctuated with periodic showers, or that it was the tail end of New Zealand’s winter with temperatures hovering at a cool 15*C. Everywhere  we went on Waiheke Island, it was teeming with people – families with kids and grandparents in tow enjoying a sumptuous and leisurely brunch in cafes and restaurants, groups of friends attending cellar room tastings, and folks from all walks of life catching the bouts of sunshine along the  beaches and parks – many of whom are Aucklanders. It was a Saturday and just because it was the weekend, many of those who reside in Auckland take the chance to escape the urbanized jungles and whisk away to Waiheke Island.

Waihake Island first started getting popular when creative types like artists, musicians, writers, poets and actors took up residence and opened up art studios, galleries and quaint cafes. Not too long after, people started realizing that the island’s climate and terroir was ideal for growing produce like grapes and olives, and soon vineyards an olive plantations sprouted. Compounded by the island’s existing beautiful beaches and native forest reserves, Waiheke’s forever-summer island lifestyle continues to attract weekend trippeers from Auckland  all year round. It being just a 35-minute ferry ride away definitely helps.

There are about 8,000 permanent residents on the island, plus plenty more who have holiday homes here,’Steve Robinson, an island local and my guide for the day shared. ‘some residents even commute daily between the island and Auckland; it is very convenient.’ Like many others, Steve fell in love with Waihake Island while vacationing and becoming an island guide came naturally. As he brought us around on a gourmet wine an food tour, it seemed like he was visiting neighbours, checking in with the cellarmaster of Mudbrick Vineyards on their latest harvest and bantering with the maitre d at Stonyridge vineyars’ café. When the folks at Cable Bay Vineyards became a little inundated with guests, he even took it upon himself to brings us around their stunning winery facilities and sculpture park.

Over at the Rangihoua Estate, one of the leading olive growers on Waiheke with an award-winning extra virgin olive oil, we were touring the estate’s mill when we came across random bottles of oil. We were told that residents on the islands who have and harvest their own olive trees, send their olives to the estate and have them processed by Raingihoua. Indeed, the popularity of home-grown olive oil is on the rise and nothing quite affirms your own slice of island life as a product from your gardens displayed proudly in your kitchen larder.

Further Information

Fullers Auckland operates regular ferry trips between Auckland and Waiheke island (

Ananda Tours specializes in relaxed and exclusive tours of Waiheke Island (

This year’s Waiheke Island International Jazz Festival will be held from 6-8 April (
For more information on the island, visit

Where To Eat – The Veranda Café at Stonyridge vineyard overlooks the vines, olive grove, and lavender field, and serves up delicious nosh such as roasted Southland lamb topside and pan-roasted duck breast (mains from US$20;

Where To Stay – Hotel Debrett’s iconic building was home to Auckland’s very first hotel, The Commercial Hotel that opened in 1841 it has  since been stylishly reinterpreted into a 25-room boutique hotel. Every room is individually designed and complimented with eclectic furniture, New Zealand art and photography collected by designer Michelle Deery in her travels around New Zealand and Internationally (from US$235;

Hawke’s Bay – Best For Vineyards

Comprising everything between the big curve on the East Coast of the lower North Island and the mountain range to the west, Hawke’s Bay’s reputation as a leading New Zealand wine region precedes it. Missionaries planted the first vines I the mid 19th century, making Hawke’ Bay one of the oldest wine producing regions in the country. The region’s climate is dry and temperate, and the long, hot summers and cool winters offer the best weather for growing grapes, especially later-ripening grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. The varied topography and diverse soil types produce a considerable range of wine and wine styles. From full-bodied reds that rival even Bordeaux to stunning whites like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and the recently popular Gewurtztraminer and  the Viognier, sampling the best of Hawke’s Bay’s 70-old wineries is easily achieved with a wine tasting trail.

We started off our morning at one of Hawk’s Bay’s most premier wineries. Craggy Range’s Giants winery and cellar door is located at the base of the spectacular scarp of the Mata Peak, its dramatic hillscape and jagged peaks an interesting juxtaposition to the neatly-lined rows of vines at its feet. Craggy Range is known to make single-vineyard wines that truly express the vineyard’s terroir. Inside the tasting room, I took a nose and sip of the 2008 Craggy Range, Te Kahu Merlot/Cabernet blend from Gimblett Gravels vineyard – opulent and structured, very much like the scenery outdoors. Next up was a tasting and lunch at Black barn Vineyards, a small boutique winery with just over 25 acres of vineyards. Overlooking the vineyards,   Black Barn Bistro is the ideal grown regional produce while absorbing the atmosphere of Hawke’s Bay wine country.

Further Information
See and for cellar room tastings.
For more information about the Hawke’s Bay Wine region, visit
For other uses: Hawke's Bay
Heretaunga—  Region of New Zealand  —Motto: Safeguarding your environment
Kaitiaki tuku iho Hawke's Bay Region within New Zealand Country New Zealand Island   North Island
Established         1989
Seat       Napier
Territorial authorities    

    Napier City
    Hastings District
    Wairoa District
    Central Hawke's Bay District
    Taupo District (part)
    Rangitikei District (part)

 • Chairperson   Fenton Wilson
 • Deputy Chairperson   Ewan William McGregor
 • Region             14,111 km2 (5,448 sq mi)
Population (June 2011 estimate)[1]
 • Region             155,300
 • Density            11/km2 (29/sq mi)
Time zone           NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST)              NZDT (UTC+13)
Website  :

Hawke's Bay (Māori: Heretaunga) is a region of New Zealand. Hawke's Bay is recognised on the world stage for its award-winning wines. The regional council sits in both the cities of Napier and Hastings. It derives from Hawke Bay which was named by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke who decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay

The region is situated on the east coast of the North Island. The region bears the former name of what is now Hawke Bay, a large semi-circular bay which extends for 100 kilometres from northeast to southwest from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.

The Hawke's Bay region includes the hilly coastal land around the northern and central bay, the floodplains of the Wairoa River in the north, the wide fertile Heretaunga Plains around Hastings in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges.

The region's boundaries vary somewhat from the former provincial boundaries of Hawke's Bay, and some towns in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region to the southwest, such as Dannevirke and Woodville have a historical association with Hawke's Bay.[citation needed]

The region consists of Wairoa District, Hastings District, Napier City, and Central Hawke's Bay District, as well as the town of Taharua in Taupo District and the town of Ngamatea in Rangitikei District.

One trivial fact is that the region has a hill with the longest place name in New Zealand, and the longest in the world according to the 2009 Guinness Book of Records. Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu is an unremarkable hill in southern Hawke's Bay, not far from Waipukurau.

Hawke's Bay Province was founded in 1858 as a province of New Zealand, after being separated from the Wellington Province following a meeting in Napier in February 1858. The Province was abolished in 1876 along with all other provinces in New Zealand. It was replaced with a Provincial District.

On February 3, 1931, Napier and Hastings were devastated following New Zealand's worst natural disaster. An earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale killed 256 people. Napier began re-building and now the city is world famous for its Art Deco buildings and celebrates its heritage each February with the Art Deco Weekend. An exhibition on the earthquake, its causes and impact, at the Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery is a popular destination for visitors from around the world.

Population-A map showing population density in the Hawke's Bay Region at the 2006 census.
The region's population is 155,300 from the June 2011 estimate.[1] Of these, 57,800 lived in Napier district and 74,300 lived in the Hastings district. The main urban areas are Napier and Hastings. Smaller communities include Wairoa, Taradale, Havelock North, Tikokino, Waipawa, Waipukurau, and Takapau. The region has a significant Māori population (24% of the total population at the 2006 census). A major local Māori tribe is Ngāti Kahungunu.
Climate and agriculture-A Hawke's Bay vineyard in autumn.
Maraetotara Falls, Hawkes Bay region.

Hawke's Bay's long, hot summers and cool winters offer the best weather for growing grapes. The climate is dry and temperate. Hawke's Bay is renowned for its horticulture with large orchards and vineyards on the plains. In the hilly parts of the region sheep and cattle farming predominates, with forestry blocks in the roughest areas.

Culture-The region is served by a variety of radio stations including Classic Hits 89.5, More FM, access station Radio Kidnappers and local station Bay FM. As well, most of the national commercial and non-commercial operators have transmitters covering the region. Hawke's Bay also has its own TV station, TVHB, which provides a mix of news and information programmes hosted by local personalities.

Hawke's Bay produces some of New Zealand's finest wines and once a year Harvest Hawke's Bay celebrates the fact by offering a three day wine and food festival. This event attracts many thousands.[citation needed]

Napier is home to the annual Mission Concert held early each year. The event held at the Mission Estate Winery in Taradale has attracted big names over the year's including Kenny Rogers, Shirley Bassey, Rod Stewart, The B-52's, Belinda Carlisle, Ray Charles, and Eric Clapton. Each concert is attended by around 25,000 people. The 2009 concert attraction was to be Lionel Richie, but the concert was cancelled because of rain.

Sport-As throughout New Zealand, rugby union is the most popular sport. The Hawke's Bay Magpies play in New Zealand's annual professional domestic rugby union competition, the ITM Cup. The team represents the Hawke's Bay region in provincial representative rugby, and draws its players from the constituent clubs who are affiliated to the provincial union. The team play their home matches in McLean Park in Napier. Players representing Hawke's Bay are also eligible to play for the Hurricanes franchise in the annual transnational Super Rugby competition. Hawke's Bay has produced a number of notable All Blacks, including Cyril Brownlie, Maurice Brownlie, Mark Donaldson, and more recently, Bryn Evans, Greg Somerville, and current All Blacks Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford. The Hawke's Bay Hawks compete in New Zealand's National Basketball League.

Medicine-Hawke's Bay has a useful and innovative approach to community-wide care of diabetes mellitus featuring shared records held in a web-based computer system.[citation needed]
Wine-Inside a Hawke's Bay winery
Missionaries in the mid 19th century planted the first vines. Hawke's Bay and it is now becoming an important place for full bodied red wines. As of January 2010, there is an estimated 74 wineries located across Hawke's Bay

Where To Eat
Apply named Terroir, Craggy Range’s winery restaurant, is where local produce, the vineyard’s wine and its culture come together sublimely in a dramatic setting. Witness your roast chicken spit-turn in front of you on a roaring wood fire (mains from US$26;

Where To Stay
The Farm At Cape Kidnappers  is the ultimate luxury lodge, set a top 6,000 acres of rolling pasture land of a real working farm. Each of the lodge’s 22 suites and the expansive Owner’s cottage are designed to evoke the rustic feel of a New Zealand sheep station while incorporating the most luxurious of comforts (from Us$475;

Napier – Best for Art Deco

The zigzagged and geometric shapes, the streamlined design, the sunburst motifs and the symbols of speed and power: as you walk around Napier city, these recurring architectural designs become more evident and easier to spot. Its prevalence soon makes you feel as if you have travelled back in time to the roaring 1930s or stumbled unwittingly onto an extensive movie set of The Great Gatsby or Our Dancing Daughters.
Quite possibly Napier’s most distinct claim to fame its great concentration of Art Deco Building. After most of the city was razed by the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 3 February 1931 and its resulting fire, the entire place was rebuilt in the Art Deco style, which was at the point in time a popular and eclectic artistic and design style that originated in Paris in the 1920s. Art Deco expressed all the vigor and optimism of the roaring twenties, and the idealism an escapism of the grim thirties. As the world entered the Great Depression in the early 1930s, the construction industry declined. But because it was necessary to rebuild Napier as fast as possible, the city’s Art Deco buildings went up in a short two-year span and have become a concentrated time capsule of that architecture period. In a country known for its stunning and majestic natural landscape, the beauty of Napier can be a welcome breath of fresh air and easily enjoyed with just a leisure stroll along the compact city streets.

Formed in 1985, the Napier Art Deco Trust drives the city’s preservation movement, undertaking and advocating conservation activities along with researching, educating and promoting the city’s Art Deco history. Christine Parker has been a volunteer with the Art Deco Trust for over 15 years and regularly leads visitors on guided walks around the city. “It’s  great that event shop and building owners are active in conserving the city’s unique architectural style,” she explained while pointing out features in landmark buildings such as The Daily Telegraph Building is of particular note thanks to its eclectic fuse of Art Deco style with native Maori motifs.

“Napier really comes alive in February when the Art Deco Weekend occurs,” Chirstine enthuses. “Fancy dress dinners and balls are held, there will be vintage cars on parade, everybody will dress to the nines and try to dance the Charleston! It really is one of the city’s biggest events and the best time to experience Napier!

Further Information

The Art Deco trust organizes twice-daily walking tours (from US412;
This Year’s Art Deco Weekend in Napier will be held from 14-19 February.
For more information about the region, visit:

Where To Eat
Shed 2 is cavernous barn-meets-booth kind of place, the menu scuttling between wood-fired pizzas, salads and pasta dishes (mains from US$13;

Where To Stay
The Dome, Located in the heart of Napier, the Dome luxury penthouse apartments offer guests a unique accommodation on the top two floors of an iconic Art Deco masterpiece the 1937 T&G building. Perfect for individual travelers through to a group of 20, The Dome provides flexible room configurations from two-bedroom studio style apartments to large four-room apartments, all luxuriously appointed (from US$420;

WELLINGTON – Best For Museums

“You’re in luck; the weather’s perfect for spotting the tuatara,” Zealandia Guide Chris Gee informs me as his sharp eyes scanned through the bushed to spot this ‘living fossil’ of a reptile. Found only in New Zealand, the tuataras are actually part of distinct lineage of reptiles that live 200 million years ago, making them the closest living thing to a dinosaur. “After that bout of cold rain yesterday, the tuataras will be coming out their burrows for some sun now.” Chris effortlessly pointed out yet another of this prehistoric-looking lizard peeking out from the earth.

In just over an hour at Zealandia: The karori Sanctuary Experience, we had already spotted a couple of takahes, three tuataras and a whole host of other indigenous birds like the tui, the New Zealand scaup and the North Island kaka. Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience is a unique eco-attraction, comprising an enclosed 225 hectares of regeneration lowland, forest and wetland. Protected by a nine kilometer long predator –proof fence that keeps out non-native mammals, this sanctuary is home to dozens of reptile and amphibian species, over 30 kinds of native birds, and hundreds of plant species, many of which were nationally-threatened and successfully reintroduced. Throughout the Karori sanctuary are 34 kilometres of easy-walking bush tracks and a guided tour gives visitors a deeper understanding of the diverse wildlife.

Inside the facility’s building, the Zealandia exhibition retells New Zealand’s natural history, beginning from the day before humans arrive, through centuries of catastrophic loss brought about unfortunately by the arrival of humans to present day when New Zealanders recognize that their unique isolated geographical positioning requires more conservation efforts to keep their fragile ecosystem alive.

The day earlier, I had my first round of history lessons on New Zealand at the award-winning National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. New Zealand’s geology and natural environment and the stories of New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori, are celebrated in Te Papa’s permanent exhibitions, but my tour of the museum started at the outdoor garden, where my guide Tina showed me native Maori plants. Our tour was rounded up with a tasting of traditional Maori food that used the exact ingredients we saw earlier – kawakawa (bush herb) tea served with manula (tea tree) honey; kutai (mussel) and karengo (edible seaweed) salad; kumara (sweet potato) chips with horopito (native bush  pepper) mayonnaise; and rewena bread (Maori potato bread) served with piko-piko (fern frond) pesto.

 Over the tea and bites, Tina explained to me the significance of each dish – the making of the rewena bread was particularly fascinating. Coming from the root wood ‘rewa’, which means potato, rewena refers to the fermented rua potato rising agent used in the bread instead of yeast, giving the bread its signature firm texture. Traditionally, each time rewena bread is baked, a portion of the fermented potato is left a side, handed down from generation to generation and used in making future batches of bread.
Tina herself is Maori and a part from being a tour guide at Te Papa imparting knowledge about Maori to visitors, she is also heavily active in the Maori theatre scene. She likens it to renewa bread making process, “Even though the it can be challenging at times, it is important to pass down an highlight our culture and the significance of who we are as a people. Every little bit counts.”

Further Information
Admission into Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience is US$14 each for the Exhibtion and the Sanctuary Valley, or US$22 for both.

There are daily guided tours at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (from US$9). For a taste of traditional Maori nosh, take up the Maori Experience Kapu Ti tour (US$30;
For more information about the region, visit

Where To Eat
Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium is a friendly establishment perfect for a cosy gathering. Dishes are served up tapas-style and communal dining is encouraged. Do order the sesame-crusted lamb brains and a drink from their innovative cocktail menu (tapas from US$11;

 If you’re up for something fancy, head to Logan Brown. This award-winning restaurant is a Wellington dining institution thanks to its perfectly executed dishes such as its signature, the paua ravioli (mains from US$32;

Located within Museum Hotel, Hippopotamus Restaurant & Bar offers exquisite French-influenced cuisine, an extensive wine list and an amazing view over the Wellington Harbour (mains from US$27;

Where To Stay – Museum Hotel
Originally occupying the spot where Te Papa museum is now, Museum Hotel maneuvered an epic shifting to where it is now, opposite the museum. The 165-room boutique hotel is part hotel part museum with opulent décor, organza-draped walls and lush furniture accentuating pieces of original New Zealand art (from US$70;

Make It Happen
Known as the city of sails, Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest and busiest city, with waterfront cafes, quiet gardens, stylish cocktail bars and museums – all built near the craters of ancient volcanoes.

Getting There- Singapore airlines ( and jetstar asia airways ( fly direct from Singapore to Auckland Airport from Kuala Lumpur, fly direct with Malaysia Airlines (

Getting Around-Auckland’s buses (from US$1.50 per trip) and trains (fromUS$1,50) are good, but can be limited outside the city centre (see A good option for further afield is car hire.

Further Reading-For more information about travelling to New Zealand, visit Also, pick up the lonely planet new Zealand guide us$26.99

There’s a real purity in New Zealand that’s not easy to find in the world anymore

9 Ways To Explore Auckland

For an insider guide to Auckland’s traditional and contemporary Maori heritage, sign up for a TAMAKI HIKOI walking tour. These intimate and engaging tours are led by guides from the local Maori tribe Ngati Whatua, who will share sacred tribal history, traditions and stories as they bring you around iconic places like Mount Eden (from US$30;

ELLIOT STREET STABLES is an epicurean marketplace where specialist artisans trade organic meat, cheeses, wines and cakes. You’ll also find gourmet eateries of Spanish tapas, French creperies, Italian bruschetta, German sasusages and more. Elliot Stables is atmospherically set in the original Archibald Clarke & Sons warehouse of the 1800’s (

Located within Auckland’s One Tree Hill domain, the STARDOME OBSERVATION & PLANETARIUM is the place to go for star-gazing. Night sky and weather permitting, there is 30-minutes of telescope gazing, during which visitors might catch a glimpse of Jupiter or Saturn’s rings (planetarium shows from US$7.50, telescope viewing from US$6;

Just 30 kilometers from downtown Auckland is the city’s largest regional park, the Waitake Rangers, Tour operator BUSH AND BEACH TOURS organizes interactive and innovative guided eco-tours around the area, bringing you amongst giant tree ferns and New Zealand’s famous kauri trees, to black sand beaches and panoramic views of the Paciific ocean (from US$105;

No visit to Auckland will be complete without partaking in the city’s favourite pastime sailing on the spectacular Waitemata Harbour. Experience a unique opportunity to participate as crew on an actual America’s Cup yacht with SAILNZ. Choose to sit back, relax and take in the sights or have  a go at helping the crew steer the yacht, trim the sails and even work the grinders (US$120;

Join local wine connoisseur and author Phil Parker at FINE WINE TOURS as he personally guides you on a relaxing half-day or full-day food and wine adventure. Visit some of New Zealand’s prestigious wineries, honey restaurants and cheese shop in the nearby regions of Kumeu, Matakana and even Waiheke (fromUS$130;

Well-know for its delicate eateries, 19th century wooden buildings, arts and craft and specialist shops, the charming urban village of historic Ponsonby is  the best place to go on a food tour. Zest ponsonby gourmet walks follows the footsteps of the  first ZEST FOOD TOURS in Wellington and takes you on a culinary journey of fine produce, chocolates, and exceptional coffee (US$145;

Housed in one of the country’s finest heritage buildings, the AUCKLAND MUSEUM tells the story of New Zealand as a nation. Don’t miss the Museum’s war memorial exhibition and the museums maori treasures gallery, which display over 2,000 pricless Maori Artefacts. There is also a daily maori cultural performance (while admission is free, a donation of US$7.50 is suggested for adults;

Take in Auckland fro mthe tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere – the iconic 328-metre high SKY TOWER. Travel up in the glass fronted to one of the three spectacular viewing platforms, or for more thrills and excitement, Sky Walk round the pergola at 192 metres up or Sky Jump off the Tower  (admission US$20;

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