Fifty countries and many reasons to travel
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Today we often want to take time out to recreate ourselves, or to see how the other half lives. Unfortunately the world is becoming smaller as we communicate and travel with greater ease than ever before.
Our information is a summary of the countries listed with note of health, safety and places you should not go without specialist knowledge and local contacts.
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A Disease in what should be paradise
The dengue carrying mosquito bites during the day.
Dengue is a relatively new mosquito-borne viral disease endemic to more than 120 countries throughout Latin America, the Pacific and Asia. It is spreading rapidly and you need to be aware as you travel. It is also spreading in the USA.
Nicknamed breakbone fever, dengue can be extremely painful and debilitating flu-like illness that can lead to life-threatening complications such as dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). The disease is caused by four closely related virus serotypes of the genus Flavivirus. Infection provides lifelong immunity against the infecting sterotype but not the other three.
Encouragingly, the number of deaths due to dengue is falling due to better clinical management and the implementation of PAHO/WHO guidelines.
A personal experience
Hello, in most descriptions of dengue, the information speaks of painful symptoms, however I had none. Here’s what happened to me.
Despite that I thought I was taking reasonably good precautions, I personally had the misfortune to contract Dengue fever on a holiday in the Philippines in 2012. I later calculated that I may have been bitten by a mosquito when visiting a fish farm with city officials and symptoms became apparent about two weeks later. The only symptom I felt was that of a sense of languor which I put down to the tropical climate and laid back lifestyle, however my family suggested that I looked unwell.
I began to feel a little weaker than normal and as my family said I looked unwell, I went to a doctor. A blood test was taken and my white blood cell count was a little lower than normal but not dangerous. I was asked to return in 24 hours which I did and again a blood test showed my white cell count lower than the day before indicating that I most likely had dengue fever.
Armed with that knowledge, arrangements were made and I was admitted to the Dagupan hospital in Luzon. This was in fact the newest large hospital where staff had a lot of experience with dengue patients.
I was immediately put onto an intravenous fluid drip and a milk based nutrient drip. There is no medication to combat dengue, the only treatment is through nutrition and keeping the body strong.
The hospital food was something of a challenge and fortunately I had family who could go out and get meals from local restaurants. All this time, the only physical discomfort were the IV needles and hospital confinement. I had absolutely no physical aches or pains, only a sense of lethargy and boredom as there was nothing much to do except watch TV.
This treatment lasted for three days and on the fourth day the drips were removed. I still felt very weak however my blood count had returned to normal and disease had dissipated. During those few weeks I probably lost five of six KG in weight and it was a month before my strength fully returned.
With my charming nurses on discharge day. I could walk but I wasn’t allowed to until I was outside.
As a legacy of this incident, there remains a slight patch of oedema which is where I presume the mosquito bit me.
Travel safe my friend and note that there are three strains of dengue. Infection with one provides immunity to that specific strain, nut not the others. It is said the contracting another strain of dengue results in more severe symptoms and a greater likelihood of death.
While the Philippines is considered by many to be ‘third world’, the facilities and services in Dagupan hospital were better than my own country of New Zealand.
The treatment and hospital stay cost near to NZ$3000.00
On admission, an orderly tried to run off with my shoes – I was very alert and prevented this.
A private room took an hour to arrange and treatment proceeded almost immediately.
The staff all expected gratuities.
On check out, I was given a full copy of all my files.
Left of centre
Colorado is located in the Western United States where Rocky Mountain high recently took on a new meaning. You may think of the song by John Denver, but no; the referral here is to Colorado’s new status as the mile high state which should also not be confused mile high club.
The mile high club of course is a reference to people who have enjoyed the pleasure of sex on an aircraft in flight, the mile high state is a reference to Colorado’s legalisation of marijuana or cannabis.
Before continuing, lets remember that marijuana was made illegal back in the 1930s. The reason for it being made illegal was nothing to do with human health or risks of its mildly euphoric effects. Marijuana is another name for hemp, a plant that has traditionally been used for making ropes, building materials, medicines and to a lesser extent, recreational highs.
The hemp plant can also be processed to produce oil and plastics, and the bodies of Henry Ford’s first cars were made from hemp plastic. This is a very tough and durable material that can be composted at the end of its life. The oil and steel industries saw hemp as a threat to their business, they lobbied the government and had the plant declared illegal citing their fear of what it did to the people who consumed it.
Of course the people who consumed marijuana suffered few ill affects. Those who smoke the weed have a similar potential to develop lung cancer as cigarette smokers, but marijuana smokers are more peaceful and cooperative citizens.
On April 4, 2014, a senate bill 14-184 addressing oversight of Colorado’s industrial hemp program was first introduced. It was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper on May 31, 2014. Colorado had previously passed laws back in 2000 to allow the use of medical marijuana. The effect of this was the discovery of new cures for cancer, remedies to alleviate the symptoms of many incurable diseases and the symptoms of chronic diseases.
The effect of the new 2014 law is that anyone over 21 years of age can now purchase marijuana at any of the hundreds of licensed pot shops. Colorado residents may by up to 1 ounce and tourists may purchase up to one quarter ounce. One marijuana joint or cigarette costs around $15. Under US federal law, marijuana still remains illegal and the entire marijuana trade is done in cash, so if you’re passing through make sure you have cash in your pocket.
The legalisation of cannabis has not put the street dealers and criminals out of business. They are still trading to the under 21-year-olds and avoiding the 35% sales tax, so if you buy from these people, you can be busted.
At the onset of this experiment many people were fearful for the consequences. Those fears included an abandonment of the rule of law, a host of unspecified health problems and the liberation of consciousness. However the liberation of consciousness is simply allowing personal freedom and self-determination, and the effects of this are unlikely to show up in society for many generations. But the effect is likely to be more enlightened thinking and a more harmonious society.
The fear about the abandonment of laws was completely unfounded. In fact the reports coming out indicate the general crime rate is down some 15% and the murder rate down by over 30%. Not only that, but the tax on marijuana sales is putting large amounts of cash into the state coffers. This is being spent to improve the education and the quality of life for Colorado residents. As much as this is a social experiment, the positive benefits are greatly outweighing what people perceive as risks.
John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High with
pictures of Colorado by FiresOfOrion
Of the entire US population the people of Colorado are said to be slimmer and healthier due to their more outdoor lifestyle. The landscape of Colorado is defined by the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River and the great Plains.
Colorado has become a stoner’s paradise, but the real paradise is the great outdoors. There are miles of hiking trails in the Colorado range as well as the Rocky Mountains which has an abundance of lakes and rivers. Those who are inclined will find there are many places to hunt and fish, or if you are more party minded, there are regular annual music festivals in summer and the city clubs have a slightly more laid-back atmosphere.
Colorado is well connected by road and air to the rest of the United States and being so central, it shouldn’t be too hard to flex your schedule to visit this very interesting state.
Auckland’s disconnected paradise
Waiheke Island is a tranquil getaway from the hectic pace of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. There are ferries to and from the island leave about every half hour which makes it very accessible. Most of the island is farmland and besides the café’s in the township of Oneroa, the main attraction is the ocean and the beaches.
If you are going there for a day trip, take your drinking water, food and sunscreen along with your beach gear. While it is possible to charter your own boat, plane or helicopter most take the ferry from downtown Auckland or Devonport.
When you get off the ferry, you can hire a pushbike. There is a bike rental behind the car park adjacent to the ferry terminal and a car rental place a little further on but may take the bus the 1.6 kms into the village of Oneroa where you can also buy anything you might have forgotten, or book some more adventurous recreation.
Oneroa Beach, that’s the main beach which is only a few minutes walk down from the Oneroa town centre. This is a nice long sandy beach and the bay is generally filled with pleasure craft making for a picture perfect place to spend a lazy day. There are toilets and showers near the west end of the beach.
Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island
If you need a rest from relaxing, you can go around or over the rocks at the east end of the beach. This takes you onto Little Oneroa beach that has a kids play area and a store.
Palm Beach: Only 4 km East, Palm Beach is smaller and is more suburban. It has a kids play area and public toilets. If you like to get naked, Little Palm Beach over the rocks at the west end of Palm Beach is clothing optional.
Onetangi Beach: Another 5 km further on, the almost 2 km long Onetangi beach is known for Beach Races and its western end being clothing-optional although the area is often inaccessible at high tide. There are toilets and showers near the middle and toilets just off the beach in Seventh Ave. At the Eastern end you’ll find Charlie Farley’s café and bar.
There are other beaches, but these are the best and serviced by regular bus services that also connect to the ferries, so you seldom have to wait long. You can go further afield, but you will need your own transport. Some beaches are only accessible by water as landowners have blocked access. So do obey those no trespassing signs.
There are beaches on the southern coast, but they are not like the northern sandy beaches. These are places to explore by kayak or to use a snorkel to view the marine life.
Walking: There is a network of walking tracks around Waiheke linked into a continuous 100 km route around the island. So you can see the real Waiheke, one step at a time. See the council brochure or DOC info.
With only 8000 permanent residents, the islands population grows to over 20k in summer. There is a broad range of accommodation.
Sealink car ferry
The Grand Canyon is one of the worlds wonders and a must see on any American tour. The Grand Canyon is a great chasm carved by the Colorado River cutting through the Colorado Plateau which is slowly rising as the Earths crust changes.
The most popular view points are from the South Rim which is some 7000 feet/2134 m above sea level and often hidden from view 5000 feet or 1524 metres below the rim or the canyon the turbulent Colorado River is popular for white water rafting. On foot it is a two-day hike down to the river and back from the South Rim although you can take a tour by mule.
It’s a longer trip from the North Rim and you can to drive to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry which is the official beginning of the Grand Canyon near Marble Canyon which is a 2.5 hour drive from the South Rim.
It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of.
To see the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is an ideal starting point or the town of Page is on the north rim where you will find the ancestral home of the Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians and Pipe Spring National Monument which is worth a visit for it’s early explorer and Mormon pioneer history.
Blue sky’s, openness and sometimes drama
Geographically, what the locals refer to as the Mackenzie Country is actually the Mackenzie Basin. It is a wide alluvial plain and a tussock grassland within the South Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island.
After travelling south from the plains of Canterbury, the Mackenzie country provides a refreshing change of vista as well as some refreshingly fresh air.
Despite being nestled between the mountains, the daytime temperatures in summer can be very hot and in winter heavy snows will occasionally is the roads. As such this is a delightful winter playground with ski fields at Ohou, Round Hill and Mount Dobson.
Some scenes for Peter Jackson’s movies the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit were filled here.
The main route into the area is State Highway 8 from Fairlie or Omarama in the south and State Highway 83 from Oamaru and through the Waitaki Valley from the East.
When driving into the area from Canterbury, the highway runs from Fairlie, over Burke’s pass which can sometimes be closed by snow in winter and onto the township of Tekapo.
Over the past 50 years, Tekapo has transformed from a sleepy village with a tea shop, a small service station, a supermarket and camping ground for those who wanted to stop by to a thriving tourist village with almost every modern amenity including mini golf and a spa complex.
For the traveller, it’s an in between place to buy fuel, stretch one’s legs and have a […]
Blenheim to Invercargill – 1021 km
Blenheim – Nelson, Nelson – West Coast, West Coast – Central Otago, Central Otago – Southland
Break time in the Marlborough Sounds
This is a long scenic drive that could be squeezed into two days, but as a holiday it can take a week or more. Typically anyone travelling this entire route will commence the journey at Picton after having crossed the Cook Strait on one of the ferries, or driven north from Christchurch to Blenheim on highway one.
If commencing this route from Picton, the more popular and very scenic route is Queen Charlotte Drive, It’s a shortcut across to Havelock. This road is very winding in places, but there are some spectacular views over the Marlborough sounds and some very nice picnic spots and a range of accommodations.
If coming from Blenheim, turn right to Renwick, a small town 10 km from Blenheim that services the Woodbourne Air Force Base. There is little of interest before Havelock and a almost 20 km further on is the Pelorus bridge. If you are travelling with kids this is a nice place where they can scramble over the rocks and swim in the river although most adults find the water a little cold.
Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
Pelorus Bridge and one of the deep freshwater pools
From the Pelorus bridge, the road follows through the picturesque Rai Valley. Along this route in addition to the farms, there is a scattering of artists and crafts people are you my like […]
From Waipara and Highway 1 to Greymouth and HWY 6.
Highway 7 is one of the four routes to the West Coast and the primary route between Christchurch, Reefton and Westport, and a longer alternate route between Christchurch and Greymouth. The section from Waipara to Springs junction is a main route to Murchison, Nelson lakes National Park and Nelson.
Waipara is home to the Weka Pass Railway, it is a small agricultural town with a focus on sheep farming and wine and home to the Weka Pass Railway.
If travelling north from Christchurch, the route most travelled, turn left off HWY 1 at Waipara, it’s well signposted.
From Waipara, this excellent road is straight for a while through the northern Canterbury plains before it passes through the picturesque Weka Pass to the village of Waikari. There’s a turn off here to Harwarden and Lake Sumner forest park, a tea shop, fuel (business hours only), a hotel and gift shop. Another turn off takes you back to highway one at Greta Valley.
Upper Waiau River with spring/early summer broom flowers in bloom.
There’s a nice big hill to cruise over before coming down to the Huruniu Tavern and Hurunui river. There’s a nice picnic and camping spot at the north end of the bridge. Once you’re over the humps, Balmoral forest is a significant feature and the road leads dead straight into Culverden, a popular refreshment and toilet stop, and hub for the traffic police. The loos are on the left as you enter town and are usually clean.
3 kms on the straight is left behind at the Kaikoura turn off and the […]
The gateway to the Far North
Whangarei is the regional centre of a land almost forgotten by time, slow-paced, idyllic with magnificent scenic attractions and wide ranging activities. It has more the feel of a large country town than a fast-paced city, a good rainfall, few frosts in winter allowing the lush green semi-tropical flora with bananas, pawpaw and other exotic fruits grown locally. It is also the most northern city of New Zealand with a dsitrict population of 80,800.
Once you make it to Whangarei, head for the Town Basin, a multi-million dollar marina re-development, a chic, sophisticated gathering place for international boaties and locals who sit under the sun umbrellas at Riva’s, or one of the other licensed bars and bistros to sip their flat white, cappuccino, wine or beer, eat superb café style cuisine ((try a bowl of Riva’s Seafood Chowder with a serving of crisp garlic buttered baguette) – watch a game of chess played on metre high chess pieces on the paving stones next to the café or the ensigns of multiple nations fluttering from the masts of dozens of yachts anchored in the marina.
Take a stroll around the special interest shops and galleries in the development. You can watch internationally renown glass artists and ceramists in action at the glass blowing studio or visit one of the three museums (Clapham’s Clocks, the Doll Museum and the Fish Museum).
Take a walk down the lighted walkways along the Hatea to see the petanque ground and historic […]
With giant bamboo, frangipani, banana & jacaranda trees, warm & humid, Northland is New Zealand’s sub-tropical paradise.
Seeped in history, with plenty of exciting recreational activities, the blue-green world of the Bay of Islands is a lifestyle that can be experienced all year round. There is so much to see and do that you could never be bored. Walk on unsullied sands, along deserted beaches, trek through magnificent ancient Kauri forests or body surf in the Tasman Sea or the Pacific Ocean.
The clear waters of Northland’s beaches are sought after by aquatic lovers of all ages. Whether it is diving, sailing, boating, swimming with dolphins, taking a scenic cruise, harvesting the sea’s bounty in some of the best ocean fishing to be found in the world, or visiting historic places, Northland has it all.
Let’s take a round trip along the east coast highway to Whangarei, stopping at some of the places of interest along the way.
Tutukaka and the Bay of Islands Think big game fishing – think Tutukaka and the Bay of Islands. Zane Grey immortalized this area when he caught his first marlin in 1926.
North half an hour is Paihia, an ideal base from which to explore the north and east of Northland. Renowned for its safe waters, superb beaches and top class accommodation, it has outstanding restaurants and holiday activities to suit all. Whether your interests are unspoiled beaches, fishing, skydiving, parasailing, scuba diving, kayaking or bush walks – you will find something to challenge and […]
Russell’s beautifully preserved colonial architecture, pristine environment and lush subtropical blooms makes the town a perfect setting for honeymoons, weddings and romantic sojourns and is a haven for wanderers in ocean-going yachts, sport fishing, artists and travellers seeking something unique.
Russell is a quick passenger ferry ride across the water from Paihia or can be reached by road by vehicle ferry from Opua. The township of Russell has over 150 businesses including the fascinating Russell Museum, a general store, two supermarkets, the historic Duke of Marlborough Hotel, cafes, restaurants and some amazing colonial homes.
History In the early nineteenth century Russell was known by it Maori name of Kororareka. It offered fresh food, water and the safest anchorage in the bay for sailing ships and became an important stopover place for the early seafarers, sealers and whalers.
Russell earned the reputation of being “The hell hole of the South Pacific.” as it became a substantial but unplanned European settlement. Commerce was well established by the late 1830s with a strong trade in rum and women for the visiting sailors and brawls, murder, abduction were common without law enforcement.
In 1840 the residents of Kororareka had hopes of it becoming New Zealand’s first capital, but by British decree, the town of Okaito located nearer Opua was selected which at the time was called Russell. But politics as they were selected Auckland as New Zealand’s capital and in 1844.
In recent history, the town’s Victorian atmosphere has been carefully preserved, with many historic buildings dotted around the […]