• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Wildlife of South Island, New Zealand

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Credit Angie Watson

Credit Angie Watson


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand is not only a country of stunning scenery, a rich and interesting culture and friendly people, but is also home to a wide variety of wildlife – predominantly marine and birdlife, and mostly in the South Island.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the kiwi – a rare flightless bird native to New Zealand. Stewart Island is one of the few places in New Zealand where you may encounter a native Kiwi bird in the wild. Nearby Ulva Island offers a predator-free environment where these, and other endangered birds, can thrive. Take a bird watching tour with an expert for the best chance of seeing these elusive birds.

The Catlins, located in the deep south of the South Island, is comprised of rolling farmland, temperate rainforest, beautiful deserted beaches and plenty of waterfalls. Here, observe New Zealand sea lions lounging on the beach, tramp one of the many walking trails through the rainforest, and explore the small villages of this quiet region. A visit to Curio Bay and the Petrified Forest is a must – with a chance to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguin in its natural environment.

Visit the Otago Peninsula with opportunities to see the Royal Albatross, Little Blue Penguin, Yellow Eyed Penguin and sea lions too.

On the east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is famous for its whale watching opportunities. Here, take a cruise to see humpbacks, blue whales and giant sperm whales, along with orcas, dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, shearwaters, albatross and petrels.

In the Fjordlands National Park, take a cruise to Milford or Doubtful Sound. Here, a highlight is the Fjordland crested penguin, along with seals and dolphins. See breathtaking scenery including mountains, waterfalls and rainforest.

If wildlife is of interest, then the South Island of New Zealand is well worth a visit. For information on bespoke New Zealand holidays, see our website www.experienceholidays.couk, call us on 01323 446550 or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

Photo courtesy of Mr Hardman

Photo courtesy of Mr Hardman

 

Cruise to Papua New Guinea and learn to take underwater photos

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Vicki Tester

 

When planning your bespoke trip to Australia make sure you talk to us about your time in Perth. There is so much to do here with the Daintree Forest, Great Barrier Reef and Tablelands to explore. You should ensure you give yourself plenty of time to see all that this part of Australia has to offer. It is a holiday destination in its own right.

For those that want to make even more of their time here and to explore even further afield then the following could be added to your tailor made holiday. Join a 6 day adventure with North Star Cruises to Papua New Guinea.

Picture courtesy of True North

Picture courtesy of True North

You will fly from Cairns (flight costs included) to Alotau to join your North Star vessel and sail in to the South China Strait. Over the next few days you will explore the Louisiade Archipelago, one of the great island arcs of the South Pacific, nearly 400kms of islands and barrier reefs along the northern edge of the Coral Sea. You will meet the seafaring Dobu people and have the best diving, snorkelling and fishing to be found in Papua New Guinea.

Snorkel over the Japanese Zero wreck at Deboyne Island, swim with manta rays at Losai Island and drift snorkel with huge trevally fish at Nivani Pass. You will have the chance to explore the little islands and to meet the locals and enjoy amazing meals on shore and on board. Take to the air in the helicopter to fly over the Calvados Barrier Reef and again over Misima Island for stunning views of emerald green islands in a deep blue tropical sea.

Finally, on some of the cruises an award winning underwater photographer will be on board to give you tips and guidance on how to make your underwater photos the envy of friends.

Call us to ensure Perth and Papua New Guinea are part of your bespoke, tailor made Australian holiday on 01323 446550 or email: info@expereinceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of True North

Picture courtesy of True North

Christmas Dinner Cruising Sydney Harbour, Australia

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Vicki Tester

 

If you are planning to be in Sydney for Christmas this year or next, then consider building in the following cruise to your tailor made holiday.

True North Luxury Adventure Cruises has their 4 night cruise over both Christmases. Spend the morning with your friends and family before joining their True North vessel in the harbour and settle down to your Christmas dinner as you tour the World famous harbour – considered one of the most beautiful.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Next morning you will be alongside the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in a prime position to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race while you have a champagne breakfast! Following the excitement of this you have the chance to visit either the Sydney Opera House or Taronga Zoo. In the afternoon you will cruise past the Heads and then along the northern beaches of Sydney to your next destination at Pittwater.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

Start the day with a walk or beach combing in the Pittwater area before catching a helicopter to the Hunter Valley for wine tasting and lunch. Back to Maitland Bay where the vessel will be anchored up for a swim or bush walk and then hors d’ouvre on the beach. For those that need a golf fix, a game can be arranged for this afternoon before cruising to Jerusalem Bay.

 

In the morning you could go for a bush walk or have a swim from remote beaches. Lunch will be on the beach at Cowan Bay and there is the chance of a further helicopter trip around this stunning scenery. Cruise to Hawkesbury River and take the scenic ride in the expedition boats up the river to explore. For your last night on board a live band will join you.

Finally sail back to Sydney on the last morning. 

If you cannot make the Christmas break then True North has a similar cruise that ensures you are in the harbour to witness and join in the fun of New Year in Sydney! The cruise then goes on a similar itinerary as above.

 Why not let us build this into a bespoke, tailor made itinerary for you.  Please contact us for all ideas and info on 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

Ranches of Wild West

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Vicki Tester

 

Some lucky clients are already packing their bags to experience the ranches of the rolling plains and/or the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the United States. July and August are the busiest months for this type of holiday and the wild flowers are at their spectacular best. Only the very tops of the highest mountains have snow still on them. The long days ensure that you make the most of your time here.

The activities are those that you would expect here but also include some that you may not have thought of, such as going to guide school to improve (or learn) wilderness skills. One of the most popular activities is riding tours which vary in length from half a day to 2/3 days out in the mountains. At the end a day of being in the saddle you will camp out in one of many camps deep in the wilderness; with a fire going and your guide cooking a hearty and well earned meal.

Picture courtesy of Catherine Brewer

Picture courtesy of Catherine Brewer

If you prefer two wheels, then mountain bike trails and equipment is there or you could rely upon your legs to get you in to the beautiful wilderness. It is all about tailor making your trip to what you want to do. It can be as energetic or as laid back as you want. Or a mixture of both.

It is not too late to book something in the fall, when it is more peaceful, the days are shorter and crisper and the leaves on the trees are changing in to their autumn colours. In these regions you have the chance of seeing black bears, grizzlies, moose, big horn sheep and different sorts of deer. If you are really lucky you may see a cougar.

 So if you ever wanted to try the cowboy life or just wanted to get back to nature, then let us help you plan your own bespoke, tailor made holiday – either for this autumn or for next summer.  Please contact us on 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Catherine Brewer

Picture courtesy of Catherine Brewer

 

 
Picture courtesy of Catherine Brewer

Staying in the Great Karoo, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Vicki Tester

 

Samara Private Game Reserve has grown to 70,000 acres of former agricultural land that is being returned to the eco-system that supported so much wildlife before the advent of European arrival. The herds of springbok, wildebeest, zebra, eland and blesbok are increasing and rhino and cheetah have been re-introduced successfully.

Making this part of your self drive bespoke holiday is well worth the extra miles that it could add. As well as the wildlife the scenery here is amazing with views from the mountains that overlook the plains. The lodges are the kind of place you want to be to celebrate a special occasion or for a place to relax completely but with plenty for you to do and see if you are so inclined.

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

The staff ensure your stay here is special and the guides will delight in showing you want can be achieved when wildlife is given a chance to recover. You will have the opportunity to see cheetah up close and the much talked about and elusive aardvark is seen regularly. Join a walking trip to see the smaller animals, birds and flora that can easily be missed when in a vehicle.

Your guide’s knowledge of all that you see makes this a memorable way of learning about the Great Karoo. Finish your game drive with a sundowner overlooking the plains and watch the sun disappear at the end of an exciting day. It is wonderful to see the return of so much wildlife and to see the dream of dedicated people coming to fruition. Definitely consider making this part of your bespoke, tailor made experience of South Africa.

To start planning your holiday please call us on 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

 

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Picture courtesy of Samara Private Game Reserve

Western Australia

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Amanda Skingle

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Austraila

Picture courtesy of Tourism Austraila

Western Australia is the largest state and is about 10 times the size of the UK, yet it only has a quarter of the population of London. With such a variety of landscapes and so many things to do there is more to this side of Australia than you think! Here is a taste of what’s on offer:

Perth

The main gateway to Western Australia, Perth is the place to start or end your holiday and with so much to do you will need a few days here to explore. You could take a picnic to Kings Park and Botanic Garden, take the free city bus to attractions such as the Perth Cultural Centre, Art Gallery and the Swan Bell Tower, cruise along the Swan River or just sit and relax on Cottesloe Beach.

Ningaloo Reef

The Ningaloo Reef is little brother to the Great Barrier Reef.  Closer in to the shore, it is easily accessible to all.  500 species of fish are to be found here, plus sharks, enormous manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and dugongs.

Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia

Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia

Rottnest Island

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then take the short ferry ride over to Rottnest Island. It is classified as a Class A Nature Reserve so you can expect to see protected and rare species of plants, marine life and wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for quokkas, a small kangaroo like animal only found in Western Australia.

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are found in the Nambung National Park, about three hours north of Perth along the Indian Ocean Drive. Here you can see the weathered limestone spires rise out of the yellow sand dunes. Once there you can enjoy either a scenic walk or follow one of the drive trails through the park.

Margaret River

Just three hours south of Perth you can discover one of Western Australia’s most renowned food and wine regions. With more than 120 wine producers, this area produces some of the countries best wines. Many food and wine events are held throughout the year and one of the most popular is the Margaret River Gourmet Escape which is a four day event held in November.

The Kimberley

Found in the north of Western Australia close to the boarder of the Northern Territory, The Kimberley is made up of rugged gorges, white rapids, and calm ocean. There is plenty to do there from a sunset camel ride in Broome, a 4WD down the Gibb River Road and the unusual scenery of the Bungle Bungles in PurnululuNational Park.

So with all this and a whole lot more there really are some great reasons to visit Western Australia. Call us today on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk to start planning your bespoke, tailor made holiday down under.

Ride the Train across Canada

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Vicki Tester

 

Just imagine! Three nights and four days crossing Canada’s vast expanses while train staff look after you in style.  A delicious meal with the northern lakes rolling by; or a  360-degree view of the golden prairies and then an aperitif at the foot of the Rockies. These are just some of the pleasures that await you on board the Canadian, VIA Rail’s great transcontinental train.

You wake up and open the curtains to be greeted by the majestic Rocky Mountains slowly emerging from a veil of clouds. You prepare quickly for breakfast, spurred on by the gentle rocking of the train and the promise of freshly brewed coffee.

After leisurely savouring your breakfast omelette, you collect your book and head to the Skyline car. There, you can sip your drink, read, socialize… and scan the panoramic view for a glimpse of elk moving across the valley.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

The Toronto-Vancouver train, which takes four days to travel between one of Canada’s largest cities and the Pacific Coast, lets you see the breadth of the country like never before.

Take in boreal forests reflecting on the surface of the Great Lakes; Prairie sunsets painting vast skies in shades of fire and Mountain peaks towering above as the train winds through the Rockies.

Choose the relaxing ambience and attentive service of budget travel in Economy class, or upgrade to the pleasures of a cosy bed, a gourmet table and exclusive access to stylish lounges in Sleeper Touring class.

Add on time to explore at either end of your bespoke tailor made journey and you will have a holiday that will give you a good flavour of Canada.

To get started on your bespoke tailor made Canada holiday please call us on 01323 446550 or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Christmas Get Away

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Amanda Skingle

 

Picture courtesy of Big White Ski Resort

Picture courtesy of Big White Ski Resort

I know it’s only July and most of you will be going on your summer holiday, but if you want to get away for Christmas and still haven’t booked, with just over 20 weeks to go, now is the time to do it.

So if you want to leave the cold, wet and windy weather of the UK behind you, here are some suggestions for a warmer climate.

Bondi Beach – When a visit to Australia over Christmas is mentioned, then a BBQ on the beach springs to mind. If you are near Bondi Beach at this time of year then it is almost tradition with an international crowd gathering on the beach each year to celebrate. Instead of Christmas trees and cake you can expect to see fur trimmed bikinis and snowman sandcastles!

Brazil – With diverse landscapes to explore from rainforest to beaches to vibrant cities there are so many things to see and do in Brazil. Christmas and New Year are the perfect time to visit. Some highlights are the Iguaçu Falls which can be found on the Brazil/Argentina boarder. Salvador is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas and is Brazil’s third largest city. Salvador is best known for it’s cuisine, music and architecture as well as hosting the worlds largest carnival. Once Christmas is done, make sure you end up in Rio for New Years Eve. You can join the crowd on Copacabana Beach for the celebrations or if crowds aren’t your thing you can always watch the offshore fireworks from a beach front hotel.

If you think Christmas should be colder with snow all around instead of sunbathing on a beach here is some food for thought.

New York City – This city is great to visit any time of the year but at Christmas it has an almost magical feel about it. You can marvel at the imaginative window displays down Fifth Avenue, go ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre skating rink, whilst you are the don’t forget the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree,  and don’t miss out on your chance to see Santa!

Western Canada – If you are a lover of winter activities, this side of Canada is a great place to be. There are several resorts to choose from, Whistler, Banff and Jasper being some of the more well known ones. You’ll find a wide range of activities available so there is something for everyone including skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding and even snowshoeing.

So no matter if you like to spend Christmas in the warm or somewhere a bit colder call us today on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk and we can plan your bespoke, tailor made Christmas break away.  

Walking in New Zealand

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Amanda Skingle

 

Picture courtesy of Chris Sisarich

Picture courtesy of Chris Sisarich

 The beautiful and diverse landscapes of New Zealand lend themselves to the idea of putting on the hiking boots and getting out there to explore. From rolling farmland, boiling mud pools and pristine beaches to dramatic mountains, glaciers and lakes there are almost endless possibilities for walkers in New Zealand.

Whether you prefer to take a short walk to a scenic spot or overlook, or whether you enjoy the adventure of a multi-day hike (or tramp as the New Zealander’s call it) there is something for everyone here, and most are easily incorporated into a self-drive tailor-made holiday. Below I have mentioned just some of the possibilities.

On the north island, the Tongariro Crossing is a popular option – this is a full day fairly strenuous walk that involves part of the ‘Tongariro Northern Circuit’ Great Walk, across active volcanoes and with stunning panoramic views. Whilst this can be self-guided, our recommendation is to book a trip that includes a guide – providing the opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of the region.

On the south island, there are a number of iconic Great Walks to consider. The Routeburn Track is a three day walk that links Mount Aspiring National Park and Fjordland National Park, weaving through meadows and alpine areas with beautiful vistas along the way.

The Milford Track follows an historic route through FjordlandNational Park over four days that can only be walked in one direction. This is quite a challenging track, but rewards walkers with incredible scenery throughout.

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is quite different to those I mentioned above, with views of idyllic beaches, bays and coves, and with parts of the walk involving walking along the beach. The full walk takes five days, although a three day section can be taken instead.

The Rakiura Track is a three day route on Stewart Island – this is perhaps the most remote of the walks I have mentioned, and with some of the most pristine wilderness to explore. If you’re lucky enough, you may even spot a kiwi in the wild – Stewart Island is one of the only places this is possible.

For more information on these walks, and how they could be incorporated into a tailored holiday in New Zealand, give us a ring on 01323 446550 or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

Picture courtesy of Miles Holden

Picture courtesy of Miles Holden

Filming Pirates of the Caribbean

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Posted by:

Amanda Skingle

 

Picture courtesy of Australia Tourism

Picture courtesy of Australia Tourism

Most of you will have, if not seen, heard of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series starring Johnny Depp. From the title of the films you would think that the films were shot in the Caribbean. For the first three films this was true, using places such as Jamaica, The Bahamas and Hawaii. But for the fifth film – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, filming finished last week in Queensland, Australia.

A lot of the filming was done at the Village Roadshow Studios, situated 45 minutes drive south of Brisbane International Airport. Some scenes were shot on location in Port Douglas, The Whitsundays and ‘The Spit’.

Port Douglas is a town in the north of Queensland, 40 miles north of Cairns. It is a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, taking part in scuba diving/snorkelling and boat trips. Port Douglas is well known for its many walks, golf courses and five star restaurants. The best time to visit this part of Queensland is in the dry season – which runs from May through to October.

‘The Spit’, officially known as Southport Spit, can be found at the north end of MainBeach on the Gold Coast and is home to SeaWorld Resort. Some water bound scenes were filmed here but the location had to be moved to Raby Bay due to big swells causing cast and crew to suffer from sea sickness! 

The Whitsundays are a group of islands situated off the coast of Queensland not far from the southern parts of the Great Barrier Reef. The best known of these islands are Hayman Island, Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Island itself. Some islands are no more than deserted areas of white sand. You can simply stay on Hamilton Island and enjoy the peace and quiet, join a cruise or get a bird’s eye view with a flight in a sea plane over the islands.

So if you want to follow in Johnny Depp’s footsteps call us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk today to start planning your bespoke, tailor made Aussie adventure!

 

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