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12. Apr, 2013

Discover the Hidden Gems of Fiordland

Nestled in the western corner of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage site and is the renowned home of breath-taking Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. This region of New Zealand is present to a striking and dramatic landscape, making it the top destination to visit in New Zealand. A traditional Maori legend suggests that TuTeRakiWhanoa, a Godly being, sculpted the fiords himself. It is hard to imagine what geographical events could lead to such a captivating landscape, but this element of wonder makes the fiords even more spectacular. TeAnau is the closet town to the fiords and offers a mysterious underground world of thousands of shimmering glow-worms.

Milford Sound: The Most Visited Place In New Zealand

Milford Sound is the only fiord that is accessible by road, but the best way to explore it is on a Milford Sound Nature Cruise as it allows you to get up close and personal to the diverse wildlife found here, including playful dolphins and seals. If you visit during the right season you can see the extremely rare and treasured Fiordland crested penguins. As you travel down the narrow 22-kilometer fiord, a mesmerizing hedge of cliffs, peaks, thick native forest and stunning waterfalls will surround you. This region of New Zealand is often visited by rain, which causes an eerie ambiance as the mist softens the towering peaks.

Doubtful Sound: The Sound of Pure Silence

While Milford Sound is the most visited of the fiords, Doubtful Sound has a lot to offer – it is three times the size of Milford Sound and has the advantage of no inhabitants and no helicopters or planes flying overhead. Doubtful Sound is dubbed the Sound of Silence, which will only be broken by the sound of a cascading waterfall or the sweet melody of birdsong. This silence is what sets Doubtful Sound apart from the other fiords and provides you with the tranquillity to really appreciate the breath-taking scenery. Because of the vastness and sheer size of Doubtful Sound, it’s important you select a tour that will allow you to properly explore this natural wonder. The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise has been specially designed to showcase the highlights of this fiord, while tailoring each day to the weather conditions and wildlife sightings.

When To Visit The Sounds

Although the fiords are striking all year round, visiting in the late summer months to beginning of autumn is recommended to ensure the best weather conditions possible. March, April and May are a great time to visit as you will miss the peak tourist season, allowing you a little more privacy to savour the spectacular beauty of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound.  The Fiordlands are known to have four seasons in one day; it is not unusual to go from sunshine to rain in what feels like minutes, so pack appropriately.

The Hidden Wonders of TeAnau

TeAnau is the closet town to the Fiordland National park and is a sleepy, small town. Many visitors to the region use it as a base for visiting the Sounds, but neglect to explore one of its greatest secrets: the glow-worm caves. These caves have been carved over 12,000 years by the force of the river flowing through them and are home to special glow-worms that are unique to New Zealand. To visit the glow-worm caves; you will enjoy a short cruise to the Western Shores of TeAnau Lake, before taking a much smaller boat through the caves.

As you enter the caves you’ll hear the trashing sound of heavy water flow. The caves are gently lit up so you can see the striking shape of the limestone and the incredible detail that the water has itched into the caves. As you head further into the caves, silence creeps in and the ceiling of the cave is lit up with thousands of little glittering glow-worms. Visiting the glow-worms will delight travellers of all ages, but especially is great for children who will be delighted by the star-like appearance of the sparkly glow-worms.

No trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting one of the extraordinary fiords, whether you choose Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound or spoil yourself with a visit to both. While in the area, make sure you don’t pass up the special and natural wonder of visiting TeAnau caves and their illuminated inhabitants. These places all offer you a distinctively New Zealand experience, while showcasing some of the best natural wonders in the world.

To discover more about excursions to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and TeAnau’sGlowworm Caves visit: www.realjourneys.co.nz

 

25. Feb, 2011

How To Pack For Your Next Trip

Every first-time flyer’s worst nightmare begins something like this. Your bag is packed and ready to go. Your book and iPod are ready to go in your hand luggage.  After shuffling your way through the crowds, you finally get on the plane. After the 6-hour flight, you wait for your checked baggage at the airport only to find it is ‘missing’.  Now what?

First of all, take a deep breath. This will probably not happen to you – although the 2010 Air Transport Industry Baggage Report declared that 25 million (yes, twenty five million) million pieces of luggage go missing each year. 

That’s a shocking 1 for every 100 pieces of checked in luggage.

You need to be prepared for this situation. Make sure you have your passport, money, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a spare change of clothes in your carry-on with you. If you’re travelling as a couple, it’s a good idea to split up your clothes and put some your hand luggage.
 
When you realise your bag is missing, and after reality sets in, you need to file a claim with customer service or the baggage claim desk. Sometimes airports will give you an overnight bag of general supplies: toothbrush, toothpaste, some deodorant, and pyjamas if you are lucky.

But don’t expect the finest silk pyjamas!  Qantas recently “mislaid” our luggage on a short haul evening flight from Auckland to Brisbane.  They were “kind enough” to give us an overnight bag and Qantas branded t-shirt and shorts to sleep in that were 6 times too small! 

Ask baggage claim to make a copy of any documents for you to keep of anything you sign. This goes for receipts too. If your luggage comes back broken, you can file a claim for broken luggage, purchases you had to make while your luggage was gone, and you have proof of your claim.

When you make it to your hotel, try to relax. Think of it this way, at least you don’t have to unpack. There will probably be a local discount store close to your hotel. Go to the store and pick up some necessities. Make sure you don’t over-load at the store—just get what you absolutely need. Your luggage will most likely arrive tomorrow.

In addition, never pack more than you can carry. For example, if you are headed to France it’s good to know that the French either walk everywhere or take the Subway. You need to be able to carry your suitcase up and down multiple flights of stairs because you will be hauling your suitcase through the Subway. Moreover, it’s completely acceptable to wear the same pair of jeans more than once! 

If you are travelling in the middle of winter, make sure you wear layers. You do not need seven pairs of pants, fourteen shirts, and five sweatshirts for a week’s trip. Be practical.

In summary, below are some tips to help you pack smart and enjoy your trip. 

*  Invest in a money belt. It holds your two most important items—money and passport. 
*  Split up your clothes between your hand-luggage and your checked luggage. 
*  If your bag is missing, file a claim. Keep a copy of your claim and all receipts. 
*  Never pack more than you can carry up and down multiple flights of stairs. 
*  Remember to have fun and enjoy your trip.