Our Ramblings…

New Zealand – South Island Activities

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in New Zealand | 0 comments

south_island_physical

South Island New Zealand – Our top 16 places of where to go in New Zealand South Island – If you are looking for spectacular scenery, some amazing places to visit, with a wide range of attractions, activities and South Island adventure.

Dominating the South Island of New Zealand are the Southern Alps, which run the full length of the island. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, and a great location to explore Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. In the south is Dunedin with its Scottish heritage, and diverse wildlife. To the north are sunny Nelson and Marlborough, famous for their wines and food.

 

1) Queenstown

New Zealand’s number one all year round alpine resort, magnificently located besides Lake Wakatipu in the Southern Alps, Queenstown has every adventure activity imaginable. You could try your hand at jetboating, white water rafting or bungy jumping. In winter, try skiing at the nearby ski resorts of the Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

 

2) Fiordland National Park

The largest National Park in New Zealand is Fiordland, home to the magical Milford Sound and Mitre Peak. Less well known, but even larger, is Doubtful Sound. Take a cruise, go sea kayaking or fishing or try one of the many hikes in the park.

 

3) West Coast Glaciers

The West Coast of New Zealand has the iconic Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Walking to the face of the glacier, taking a guided walk or helihike on the glaciers is a must do New Zealand attraction. Enjoy spectacular mirror like reflections of magnificent Mt Cook in nearby Lake Matheson.

 

4) Dunedin

An old University town, Dunedin is a unique mix of historic buildings, Scottish and gold mining history, along with natural wild life attractions of Otago Peninsula.

 

5) Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand is the largest city and main gateway to the South Island of New Zealand and is often referred to as the “Garden City”, with its picturesque parks and gardens. Take a ride on the Christchurch Tram, go punting on the Avon River as it winds its way through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens.

 

6) Nelson Region

An area synonymous with arts and crafts, fine food and wine, and the gateway to the natural wonders of Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay and Nelson Lakes National Parks.

 

7) Marlborough Region

Famous for wine and food, as well as the nearby nature lovers paradise of the Marlborough Sounds. Marlborough is world famous for Sauvignon Blanc wine and visiting one of the wineries is a must. Outdoor pursuits including swimming with the dolphins, fishing, hiking or kayaking in the Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds.

 

8) Aoraki – Mount Cook

New Zealand’s highest mountain is a great place to base yourself for scenic flights over Mt Cook and the glaciers, hiking, excellent fly fishing, 4WD trips or taking a glacier boat trip on the Tasman Glacier lake. You can visit the Sir Edmund Hilary mountaineering centre, or try star gazing in the evening.

 

9) Hanmer Springs

Here you can stay and relax in the famous Thermal Hot Springs and Spa, have a massage, or spend time browsing the boutique shops in the village. Hanmer Springs is also great for mountain biking, hiking or walking on the forest trails, taking a jetboat ride or even bungy jumping.

 

10) Kaikoura

The small seaside town of Kaikoura, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery of the Southern Alps, is a mecca for wildlife. Here you can go whale watching, swim with the dolphins or seals, and view pelagic sea birds in their natural environment. At night try the local crayfish (lobster) or other seafood specialities.

 

11) Wanaka

The idyllic small town of Wanaka, New Zealand is often bypassed by visitors. However Wanaka has a great range of family activities, as well as being an ideal base for adventure enthusiasts interested in hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, skiing or snowboarding. Wanaka has 2 world class ski areas of Cardrona and Treble Cone, as well as cross country skiing at the Snow Farm, and freestyle skiing or snowboarding at the Snow Park.

 

12) Stewart Island

Stewart Island is strictly speaking not part of the South Island, but is instead New Zealand’s third largest island. Stewart Island is rarely visited by first time visitor to New Zealand. As a result it has managed to maintain its natural charm and unspoilt natural charm. Stewart Island is a haven for nature enthusiasts with opportunities for bird watching, fishing, hiking and kayaking.

 

13) Greymouth

The West Coast of New Zealand’s largest town, Greymouth is the turn around point for the TranzAlpine express from Christchurch, and also a region with a lot of history revolving around the old gold mines. Connect from here with car rental or coach services to the other West Coast attractions.

 

14) Hokitika

A small vibrant historic town on the West Coast, home to a thriving arts and crafts community. Each year the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival is held in March. Don’t miss it, if you are there at this time of the year!

 

15) Akaroa

Just 75kms from Christchurch, Akaroa has a great English and French history. You can easily spend a day seeing the historic buildings, boutique shops, arts & crafts, or taking time out at a local cafe. For nature lovers, a dolphin cruise on Akaroa harbour is not to be missed.

 

16) Punakaiki

Located on one of the most spectacular scenic coastal drives in the world, Punakaiki is famous for the world-renowned Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

Article is adapted from Go New Zealand website.

New Zealand – North Island Activities

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in New Zealand | 2 comments

north_island_physical

North Island New Zealand is where New Zealand’s main population lives. New Zealand’s largest city, and main international gateway of Auckland is located here; as well as New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.

In the 2006 census the North Island of New Zealand had a population of 3,059,420 or about 75% of New Zealand’s total population.

Countless list of activities and places of interests abound in North Island and attached below are some of our handpicked places of interests for your consideration:

 

1) Rotorua

New Zealand’s Geothermal Centre and Maori Heritage capital, Rotorua is the number one must do place to visit in New Zealand’s North Island. With a myriad of different attractions, Rotorua is a place you need to spend at least 3 or 4 nights.

 

2) Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s sub-tropical north, where cruising the famous Bay of Islands to see the “Hole in the Rock” and the dolphins; as well as visiting Waitangi National Park, where the famous treaty was signed between Europeans and the Maori are on everyone’s list.

 

3) Coromandel Peninsula

A region that has a beautiful coastline, rocky on the west coast, and interspersed with many headlands and fine beaches on the east coast, Coromandel Peninsula has a long gold-mining history, and is popular with Aucklanders as a weekend getaway, or overseas visitors on a self-drive itinerary.

 

4) Waitomo

New Zealand’s caving capital, with the famous Waitomo Caves. As an alternative, consider visiting Ruakuri caves, not as well-known as its famous older cousin, but even more spectacular. For those seeking a little bit of adventure and something different, there is a huge range of options from the rambo adventure of Haggas Honking Holes to abseiling Lost world, and exploring St Benedicts Caves, where you do not even get wet!

 

5) Auckland

New Zealand’s largest city and main gateway for international flights. Often overlooked as just an entry or departure point for New Zealand, Auckland has many attractions including cruises to the Hauraki Gulf, wine growing, black sand beaches, Auckland Harbour and great shopping! A climb to the top of Sky Tower to experience the view is not to be missed.

 

6) Hawkes Bay

The wine growing centre of New Zealand’s North Island, Hawkes Bay is famous for food and wine, as well as art deco architecture in Napier. Not to be missed are the weekend farmer markets, where you can stroll around the stalls and buy some of the local produce.

 

7) Lake Taupo

The largest lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo, formed by the biggest volcanic eruption to occur in the last 5,000 years. Lake Taupo is a great place to try your hand at trout fishing in the lake from Taupo, or in one of the many streams and rivers at Turangi. At Taupo there are many geothermal areas to visit, as well as small bars and cafes to relax in.

 

8) Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a small city built around the harbour, with a vibrant cafe and bar culture, great shopping and dynamic theatre scene. Wellington is where the InterIsland ferries connect, when travelling between North and South Island.

 

9) Tongariro National Park

The volcanic peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro that make up Tongariro National Park were made famous for Mount Doom, Mordor, Orc country, and Ithlien in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The region is great for hikers with the Tongariro Crossing being a great day walk, or the Tongariro Northern Circuit being the ultimate three day challenge. For skiers there are a great range of trails at Whakapapa or Ohakune Ski Areas in winter.

 

10) White Island

New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, White Island is a little off the beaten track for international visitors. However, the trip is well worth the time. You can take a boat trip from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty for a 6 hour tour, allowing you to explore the inner volcano, see the colourful fumaroles and steaming crater-lake. Other alternatives are helicopter trips from Tauranga or Rotorua.

 

11) Bay of Plenty

One of the sunniest regions in New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders. A fruit growing area, with orchards, maori culture and spectacular surfing beaches. The Bay of Plenty is a major area for the production of kiwi fruit. The Bay of Plenty is located on the Pacific Coast Highway between Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and Hawkes Bay.

 

 Wait wait wait…these lesser known gems below, are certainly not to be ignored.

 

12) Wairarapa Wine Region

Located only an hour’s drive north of Wellington, the Wairarapa has many small towns to explore, including the art and gardens of Carterton; historic Greytown with boutique arts and crafts shops, and cafes; and heritage museum of Featherstone. Whilst in the Wairarapa visit Martinborough, centre for premium wine growing.

 

13) Taranaki Region

Dominated by magnificent Mount Taranaki, with its perfect cone shape dominates New Plymouth and the surrounding farming area. It is well worth the time to stop and see the gardens and parks of the region. If you are a keen gardener, come in spring for the Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival, or alternatively come during the TSB Bank Festival of Lights, held every year from Christmas to early February.

 

14) Poor Knights Islands

One of the top dive sights in the world, the Poor Knights Islands located just north of Whangarei are a great place for a cruise, experienced or beginners diving, kayaking and snorkelling.

 

15) KatiKati

Don’t blink, or you will miss it. KatiKati is a small town in the Bay of Plenty. However if you are driving through on the Pacific Coast Highway, it is well worth stopping and spending some time to explore. The main attractions in KatiKati are the many open air art murals that have been painted on the walls of many of the buildings in the town. Stop at the Tourist Centre and pick up a map which will give you details of the location of all 44 murals.

 

Article is adapted from Go New Zealand website.

Cycling Across the Miles to Johor

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Our Thoughts | 0 comments

Text by guest blogger: Kaile

Photos credit: Kwok Hwee

 

When Swee Hoon told me that she would be cycling over to Pengerang, Johor with her friends to savour seafood and ostrich satay, I was immediately hooked. I mean, how often does one get the chance to visit an ostrich farm, let alone tuck into ostrich satay?! The fact that this farm was strategically located at a place pretty near Singapore intrigued me even more. It was with much enthusiasm that I signed up for my first overseas cycling trip.

Changi Ferry Terminal

Changi Ferry Terminal

We all gathered together at Changi Hawker Centre on 28th February (Saturday). I was initially concerned that I would be the odd one out, for I only knew Swee Hoon. However, it turned out that the group was new to one another too, for they comprised customers-turned-friends who had participated in different tours organized by Swee Hoon and the other founder of 10,000 miles, Janice. Introductions were made, handshakes were exchanged and it wasn’t long before we warmed up to each other and got ready to embark on the trip.

Load our bicycles onto the ferry

Load our bicycles onto the ferry

We first took a comfortable ride on an air-conditioned fiber boat that ferried us to Pengerang half an hour later.

At Tanjung Pengelih Ferry Terminal, beginning of our ride

At Tanjung Pengelih Ferry Terminal, beginning of our ride

Here we go!

Here we go!

Countryside scenery along the way

Countryside scenery along the way

Smooth leisure ride...

Smooth leisure ride…

Hopping on our bikes, we cycled doggedly to Sungai Rengit—notwithstanding the scorching sun—because the mouth-watering seafood at Jade Garden Seafood Corner was beckoning us over.

Sungai Rengit famous mascot - lobster!

Sungai Rengit famous mascot – lobster!

Woah!

Woah!

Clams!

Clams!

Lobster!

Lobster!

Crabs!

Crabs!

Sumptuous lobsters! Look at the meat...

Sumptuous lobsters! Look at the meat…

Homemade Tofu

Homemade Tofu

The delectable bamboo clams and huge crispy lobsters didn’t disappoint but then again, I didn’t expect anything less from the foodie Swee Hoon. What also made this meal memorable for me was being able to toss lo hei (prosperity salad) with new friends in a foreign country. Street cred accomplishment? Unlocked!

The cool gang

The cool gang

After indulging in the food until our stomachs felt bloated, we checked in at Hotel Hiap Hwa, which was a stone’s throw away from Jade Garden.

Ostrich farm

Ostrich farm

Exotic ostrich satay...yummy!

Exotic ostrich satay…yummy!

But the lure of exotic ostrich satay was too strong to resist, so we soon set off to the ostrich farm. Our appetites whetted, we expectantly ordered 30 sticks, thinking that this would be enough since we had just eaten a sumptuous lunch. The juicy and unbelievably tender meat, however, left us craving for more, so we just had to order another twenty sticks to top it off. Coupled with Swee Hoon’s tales of using less-than-desirable toilets during her tours (trust me, it is less off-putting and more hilarious than it sounds!), it was an interesting way to while away a lazy afternoon.

Char kway teow

Char kway teow

Mouth-watering char kuey teow

Mouth-watering char kuey teow

Pipping hot chicken wings

Pipping hot chicken wings

Deep-fried prawn roll (Hei Zho)

Deep-fried prawn roll (Hei Zho)

Dinner saw us savouring char kway teow and other local delicacies. Our food was complemented with “front-row seats” outside a barber shop in which we could observe old-school barbers at work. We were particularly struck by how gleeful this handsome little boy appeared to be while getting his hair cut. This triggered a round of reminiscence about how we all missed the good ol’ days of getting such a traditional haircut in Singapore. This helped to add a nostalgic flavour to our chay kway teow, I guess.

Freshly made lao po bing (wife biscuit)

Freshly made lao po bing (wife biscuit)

You might have assumed that this trip only involved cycling and eating since we were staying at a small kampong town after all. But nay, this trip, albeit short, amazingly didn’t exclude one of Singaporeans’ finer pleasures in life: shopping! The next morning, we made our way to a traditional pastry shop, where we succumbed to the temptation of buying lao po bing and zhen tuo bing biscuits. One of us even bought a large packet of lobster crackers, the need to cycle back to the jetty be darned!

Happy souls!

Happy souls!

With our pockets emptied but our souls filled, we returned to Singapore. I really appreciate how Swee Hoon and Janice not only took care of our every need, but also anticipated them in advance. Thank you, 10,000 Miles for an awesome experience and I look forward to more unique shared experiences with you all. :)

GONG XI FA CAI !!

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in Our Thoughts | 0 comments

Wow wow wow, February is indeed a crazy month for us in 10,000 Miles. Since our launch in January, it has been madness every day and we have been working round the clock to firm up itineraries so as to bring the best deals to our friends like you! Nevertheless each day is an exciting day and we look forward to every new day to meet new friends and gain new experience. Another reason that spice up the short February is because in this month alone, we have 2 great events celebrated by most people around the world! In this February, we have the rowdy Chinese New Year and the romantic Valentine’s Day.

Chinese New Year is the most important festival of worldwide Chinese and every household will indulge in detailed preparation to receive the festival. While we Chinese are engaged in the hustle and bustle of the celebration, have you ever wondered how do people in another part of the world celebrate their New Year?

In Asia alone, New Year can be celebrated in many different forms. In Indochina region, we have Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Songkran in Thailand, Thingyan in Myanmar and Pi Mai Lao in Laos. The Yunnan’s Dai people and Northern Vietnam’s Tai Dam people celebrate their new year in similar fashion as their Indochina’s neighbours. In Southeast Asia region, we will have the Chinese New Year celebration which most of us are familiar with. In South Asia, we have Deepavali or Diwali in India and Dashain Festival in Nepal. I could go on and on about the New Year celebrations in these countries as they showcase amazing cultures, traditions and colours of the festivities.

Pi Mai LaoOne of the lesser known is the Pi Mai Lao celebration in Laos. Laos is a shy country as compared to its well-known neighbours such as Thailand and Cambodia. As such, little is known of her Pi Mai Lao celebration. To my surprise, it can be equally rowdy and crazy as Songkran and you have to be there to witness the fun. The Laotians regard Pi Mai Lao as the most joyful festival of the year and most of them will take the whole week off though only three days are declared as public holidays. Buddha images will be cleansed with scented water and devotees will gather the scented water and pour on friends and relatives as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. Tourists are not spared too and everyone will immerse in the joy of getting wet.

The entire festival will last for three days but in Luang Prabang, celebrations have been known to last for around three weeks as the entire population of the city indulged in endless rounds of ceremonies, rituals, games and processions. Atmosphere can get heated up by a large and attractively colorful parade filled with a variety of traditional Lao costumes, music and dance, a Miss New Year beauty contest, a handicraft fair and boat races held on the Mekong river. You will not get bored at Pi Mai Lao.

Be it Chinese New Year or Pi Mai Lao, all of us hope to cleanse away the bad luck of the past year and receive the New Year with hope and aspirations. As we usher in the New Year, we at 10,000 Miles, wish every one of you a great year ahead and check more travel destinations off your wish list. Let’s start off with Luang Prabang in April! Hope to see you there! =)

Flights of Fancy

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Our Thoughts | 0 comments

After months of painstaking preparation, 10,000 Miles is finally ready to take flight and begins her adventures around the world. We, at 10,000 Miles, firmly believe in a saying “Once you have the wanderlust in your blood, you have got it for life”. This is so true especially to some of us. There are so many wonders out there, waiting for us to explore and to discover and the utmost objective of 10,000 Miles is to bring our friends along to marvel at these wonders TOGETHER. What other joys could there be other than to bask in the pleasures of travelling with your loved ones and buddies.

planeBeing avid travelers who could not seem to beat the withdrawal syndromes after a holiday, we are always fantasizing about our next travel destination. We love to indulge in flights of fancy on places which are so off the beaten track. The untouched beauty of these places is the reason that draws us to them and we are not that selfish to keep them to ourselves. To our surprise, travel destinations which have become so touristy over the years still have hidden gems which are yet to be exposed. We are so wrong to think that we have covered a place well and we could not wait to begin our adventures to dig out these gems as well. We could hear the theme song of “Indiana Jones” ringing in our heads already haha.

To embark on this journey is not a simple decision, there are many factors that go into taking the plunge and there are certainly many challenges lying ahead. But come on, life is short, do not stay at home and get rooted to the chair. Get your butt off where you are now, put on your good walking shoes and join us. You are definitely in for great surprises and great deals. Horizon will not be the same anymore and trust us, travelling is the only thing that you spend that makes you richer. One of our favourite sayings goes “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”. We hope to enrich your travel experience and turn every one of you into a storyteller after you come back home from a great trip.

Last but not least, we will, we must and we definitely can adhere to our mission by bringing you to where you want to go, bringing you to see the world you want to see and enabling you to inspire the soul you want to be. Get your passport ready (make sure it is of six months validity haha) and join us on our flights of fancy. Hope to see you onboard soon!