• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Macquarie Island and New Zealand sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure

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Orion – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises



Sub – Antartic Islands – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises



Milford Sound – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises

How do you fancy a once in a lifetime trip to Macquarie Island and New Zealand sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure Dunedin to Christchurch – 28th February 2014 – 14 Nights

This adventure takes us from New Zealand’s South Island through to the remote sub-Antarctic Islands. Calling at: Dunedin, Milford Sound, Dusky & Doubtful Sounds, Stewart Island, Snares Islands, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, Macquarie Island & Christchurch.
Isolated, windswept and beautiful, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands are unique and irreplaceable. The UNESCO rates these ‘the most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos’, and awarded them World Heritage status in 1998. This expedition is for a fortunate few as only 500 visitors a year are permitted to visit New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands and 1,000 to Australia’s Macquarie Island. Macquarie Island has been described as one of the wonder spots of the world and rivals South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. The island was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage site in 1997. These sub-Antarctic Island groups are a paradise for birders and photographers. They are blessed with the most significant populations of many species, such as the southern royal albatross, the yellow-eyed penguin, king penguin, royal penguin, rock hopper penguin, erect-crested penguin, gentoo penguin and the New Zealand sea lion. There are 126 bird species in total, including 40 seabirds, five of which breed nowhere else in the world. This is a rare opportunity to see these fragile island groups with the help of expedition leaders who will enhance your experience with their knowledge. Orion is considered one of the finest and best equipped ships in the world to bring you the experience of these remote islands – the Galapagos of New Zealand and Australia.

I you would like more information about this lifetime trip or to incorporate it into your bespoke tailor made holiday with more great ideas, then please give us a call on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

When to visit New Zealand

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The most popular time for visitors to New Zealand is most definitely their summer – being located in the southern hemisphere, that means approximately from December to February. With generally warmer and sunnier weather, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular time of year to explore the varied and beautiful country. However, there are also advantages of travelling outside of the summer –

1. Fewer crowds – by travelling in the ‘shoulder’ season either in October/November or March/April, you’ll find that the roads are emptier (not that they are often busy in the first place!) and that visitor attractions are much quieter – offering a more leisurely and peaceful experience of this stunning country.
2. Better prices – often by travelling outside of the peak period, there can be better fares to be found for flights, and reasonably priced accommodation with good availability – ideal for the budget conscious traveller.
3. Different attractions – consider travelling in New Zealand’s winter (June/July/August) for a different perspective and equally beautiful scenery. Much of the landscape at higher altitude becomes transformed by the snow and ice, and makes for fantastic photographic opportunities. There are plenty of ski slopes for winter activities too.

So why not consider a holiday to New Zealand for later this year? There is something to suit everyone year round, and we can help you to plan the right itinerary for you – just give us a call on 01323 446550, or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk and we can discuss your holiday plans in detail.



A road made in heaven – South Island – copyright New Zealand Tourism

Christchurch, New Zealand Cathedral has opened..

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The Transitional Cathedral has opened to the public following a Dedication service on the 15th. August. As a symbol of hope, creativity and resilience of the people of Christchurch, it has caught the imagination of the locals and visitors alike.
Designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban the cathedral is made from 98 cardboard tubes weighing up to 120kilograms and measuring up to 20 metres in diameter. It is in replacement of the cathedral destroyed by earthquake and it is designed to last up to 50 years.
Capable of seating 700 people, it is centre of worship primarily but is a place of hospitality and special events.
All of us that love the city of Christchurch and its people salute this iconic building and admire the vision and tenacity that made it happen.

Extreme Fun in New Zealand!

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As the resident Adrenalin Junkie of the office, I think that New Zealand is one of the greatest places in which to consider including an extreme activity or sport. The Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown boasts the first commercial bungy jump in the world, with a drop of 47 metres into the Kawarau River – and a choice of whether to get wet or stay dry (I chose to avoid a dunking)!

Queenstown, located on the south island, is considered by many the ‘adventure capital of the world’ – take a tandem skydive, with stunning views of the Remarkable Mountains as you descend, or try a canyon swing, jetboat ride or luge down from Bob’s Peak.

Visit Fox and Franz Josef Glacier for the opportunity to take a heli hike across the ice, or try exhilarating ice climbing for a unique experience. Visit the Fjordland areas of Doubtful and Milford Sounds or the beautiful coastal region of Abel Tasman for kayaking amongst incredible scenery.

Over to the east coast of the south island, visit picturesque Akaroa and take a trip out to swim with wild Hector’s Dolphins, or go whale watching from Kaikoura.

On the North Island, consider the ‘Sky Jump’ from the Sky Tower in Auckland – a controlled jump, or take the bridge climb for stunning views across the city. From the Bay of Islands consider dolphin watching, or from Rotorua consider ‘zorbing’ – rolling down a hill inside a clear plastic ball. Head to Waitomo and consider black water rafting inside the caves, or quadbiking on nearby farmland. Visit Lake Taupo and parasail across the lake. From Whakatane, visit White Island – an active volcano complete with steam vents and an excellent photograph opportunity.

These are just a few of the many exhilarating activity options in New Zealand – there are plenty more and if you have something specific in mind, we can discuss the best way to include it in your bespoke tailor made New Zealand Holiday. Call us on 01323 446550, or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

New Zealand’s Fjordland

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We’ve just received a newsletter from Destination Fjordland, reminding us of some of the many reasons to include this stunning region in a visit to the South Island of New Zealand – a snippet follows:

‘Fiordland can be explored by land, air or water – each gives a unique and memorable experience of the country’s largest National Park. Enjoy a cruise on the world-famous Milford Sound, soar over mountains and remote valleys on a scenic helicopter trip, or hire a guide and explore some of Fiordland’s spectacular trails. Of course, to do justice to the variety of scenery in Fiordland, visitors should really try all three!

The Milford Track celebrates its 125th Anniversary in October, with a number of celebrations planned for this milestone. Thousands of visitors walk the track each year and it is every bit as worthy of its ‘Finest Walk in the World’ accolade now, as it was in 1888.’

Te Anau and Queenstown are two of the main gateways to the Fjordland region, and both are widely considered ‘musts’ to include during a holiday to New Zealand. Queenstown is known as the adrenalin capital of New Zealand and has a beautiful location on the shores of Lake Wakatipu close to the Remarkable Mountains, whilst Te Anau is closest to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. The Milford Track is a popular inclusion for keen walkers and we can discuss with you the best way to incorporate part or the whole of the track into your holiday – providing an opportunity to explore stunning scenery away from the crowds.

For more information on the region, or about New Zealand in general, please call our office on 01323 446550, email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk or check out our website www.experienceholidays.co.uk. We can work with you to create your perfect bespoke tailor made New Zealand holiday.

Picture courtesy of Destination Fjordland.

The Samoan Way

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Photo Copyright of STA_046_DK Samoa Tourism

The Polynesian islands of Samoa make an ideal add-on to a holiday to Australia or New Zealand, or as part of a wider pacific islands itinerary.

Upolu, the main island, is easily accessible with direct flights offered from Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as from Fiji and Hawaii. The nearby island of Savaii can be reached by ferry or light aircraft and offers a wilderness experience with hiking, trekking and cycling on offer. A combination of these two islands, along with smaller Manono Island provides a comprehensive experience of the country – and one you’re unlikely to forget!

With a stunning diverse landscape, Samoa offers a wealth of natural attractions such as thundering waterfalls, national parks, mountainous rainforest and of course crystal clear lagoons. The pristine coral reefs are home to over 900 species of marine life, and the beaches are beautiful – with one (Lalomanu Beach) recently voted one of Lonely Planet’s ‘Top Ten Paradises on Earth’.



Photo Copyright of SAM019 Samoa Tourism

One of the key advantages of a visit here over other Pacific islands is that much of Samoa is ‘virgin territory’ – secluded beaches, undiscovered surf spots, miles of coral reef for diving, snorkelling and kayaking as well as unspoilt dive sites for advanced divers. The Samoan culture is fascinating – with 3000 years of history, and a chance to learn about the ‘Fa’a Samoa’ – the Samoan way.

A range of accommodation is offered, from boutique luxury to rustic traditional fales, and we can work with you to find the right experience to suit your preferences as well as your pockets. For more information, call our office on 01323 446550, email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk or see our website www.experienceholidays.co.uk.



Photo Copyright of SAM_DK2011159 Samoa Tourism

Tiaki Promise a commitment to care for New Zealand

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Vicki Tester


 As a tour operator who enjoys putting together amazing itineraries for our clients to New Zealand, we feel we have an important role in introducing the Tiaki Promise concept to visitors. To keep New Zealand’s landscapes and environment well cared for, they have introduced the Tiaki Promise to ask visitors to look after their country during their time there. 

Tourism New Zealand have put together 5 main elements that they would like their tourists to respect so they can keep their country as the special place it is today and for many years to come, giving enjoyment to many generations from all over the world.

Tiaki means to care for people and place. New Zealanders have a special connection to the land and want to help visitors travel safely and conscientiously. The Tiaki Promise has a set of guiding principles for visitors to follow, showing them how to contribute to preserving and protecting our land.  

To learn more about the Tiaki Promise then please contact us.

Coastal Pacific Rolls Again!

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Vicki Tester


It’s the news we’ve been waiting for – the Coastal Pacific train on New Zealand’s South Island is set to recommence operations from the beginning of December! This scenic rail route operates between Picton and Christchurch, and connects perfectly with the ferry between the north and south islands of New Zealand.

If arriving by ferry from Wellington, Picton is the first place visitors will come to – with a stunning journey through the Queen Charlotte Sound on the approach. Here, explore the wine regions of Blenheim and Marlborough, and take time to discover Abel Tasman National Park with its crescent shaped beaches and lush greenery. Kayaking, sailing, cycling and walking are just a few of the activities awaiting visitors to the region.

From Picton, board the Coastal Pacific train – the rail route wends its way down the east coast of the island, and stops in Kaikoura along the way. At this point, it’s possible to stop for a night or two – Kaikoura is best known for its whale watching and the albatross found here. The earthquakes of 2016 have meant an enforced regeneration of parts of the town, and it is ready to welcome visitors once again.


Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

The rail route continues to Christchurch. This is another place that has seen earthquake enforced regeneration and the locals here have taken advantage of the chance to make improvements along the way. Alongside traditional attractions such as the botanic gardens, the tram and punting along the river, visitors can head to the unique Cardboard Cathedral and the Quake City Museum – both icons of the recent history of the city.

From Christchurch, it’s possible to connect to another of New Zealand’s iconic rail journeys – the Tranz Alpine. This rail route cuts a path through the Southern Alps from east to west, briefly stopping in alpine Arthur’s Pass before continuing to Greymouth on the coast.

These trains provide a chance to experience New Zealand’s scenery from a different perspective, and can dovetail perfectly with sections of self-drive during a New Zealand holiday. For more information, please contact us.


Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

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Treble Cone, The View – Picture Courtesy of Lake Wanaka Tourism.

With more of our clients heading to New Zealand for their holidays, it is worth mentioning some of the lesser known attractions that would fit in well with your tour. One such place is Lake Wanaka which should certainly be considered for your itinerary. As you leave the exciting west coast of South Island and head inland, Lake Wanaka will tempt you to stay a night or two at least.

Surrounded by the Southern Alps, which in the Southern Hemisphere winter makes Lake Wanaka one of the best skiing destinations, every view has a rugged mountain as a back drop. They also offer some wonderful hiking venues of differing difficulty and duration. If you would rather take the weight off your feet on your adventure, then consider a guided horse ride or quad bike tour.

The Lake itself also offers a wealth of activities such as kayaking, stand up paddling and sailing and it is a great location to just to relax with stunning views in every direction.

So why not talk to us about your New Zealand itinerary and how to include time at Lake Wanaka. Having travelled this far for your holiday, it pays to talk to an expert to ensure you do not miss any of the key attractions.

Take a look at our webpage for our New Zealand itinerary ideas or contact us direct on Tel: 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka – Picture courtesy of Jim Bell

Good News For Locals!

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Vicki Tester


Picture courtesy of Cathy Pacific Airways Ltd

Picture courtesy of Cathy Pacific Airways Ltd

Good News – Cathay Pacific has announced that they will be launching a new service offering direct flights from Gatwick to Hong Kong four times a week. This is in addition to their longstanding routes between Heathrow and Hong Kong, and between Manchester and Hong Kong.

This new route is great news for those living in the South East wishing to visit Australia and New Zealand, as there will be connections through to key hubs in both countries from Hong Kong.

The new service is due to commence in September 2016 with Cathay Pacific’s new Airbus A350-900 with refreshed Business Class cabin and new Premium Economy Class seats.

Hong Kong makes a great stopover location, as well as a holiday destination in its own right. For more information on this, and how these flights could work well for your future holiday plans, give us a call on 01323 446550, or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

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