Hiking Up the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Is Your Ultimate Test

One of the most challenging treks that you can encounter in lush New Zealand is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Holding cultural and natural significance to the country, this 19-kilometer Crossing is not to be missed!

Its intriguing appeal rests on the fact that you have to brave a raw volcanic terrain. You read that right! Three highly active volcanoes can be seen around this area. Solidified lava flows, consistent emittance of sulphur, and loose tephra await you. It takes no genius to realize that you have to check the “volcanic risk” before scheduling a climb.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Image Credit: Wanderlusters

An avid hiker may find Tongariro as an exhilarating climb, but how about a novice tourist? Can you complete the demanding trek up without having any experiences of climbing a volcanic terrain? This is a question that you have to answer on your own.

Let us be honest! Reaching the farthest peak of the Crossing is nearly impossible for some people. The sulphur-filled air and the uneven terrain can put a toll on one’s body. Hikers should not underestimate how much energy can be depleted by travelling this track for at least a day (i.e., 6-8 hours). This is why, experts recommend for you to assess your fitness level first.

Prepare your body by incorporating aerobic exercises to your fitness regimen. If you rarely engage in high intensity activities then, you may have struggle with your breathing and stamina. Physical fitness is something that you have to gradually work on.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Image Credit: Catherine Deslauriers

Without your continued dedication, you reached your optimum physical capacity with no sign of injuries. This is when you shall begin your preparation for the hike. Start by researching the possible weather and volcanic hazards. The best time to plan your hike is in the Autumn or Spring.

Aside from these, your main concern is your mode of transportation to and from the Crossing. Say that your preferred transportation is only available on the next day. Fret not! You can seek an accommodation option that suits your taste and budget. The authors behind the adventure blog called “Stoked for Saturday” stayed at the humble Oturere Hut.

Other boxes on your checklist must include clothing, medical kit, trail map, mobile phone, water, and food. Pack layers of clothing to match with the weather during your trip.

It is advisable to bring a small medical kit to provide first aid wherever you are.

Hiking Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The map of the trail is available for free at the Ruapehu region. Take a copy to lead your way. Alternatively, you may just use your mobile phone as a guide and keep it handy in case of emergencies.

Take at least two litres of water to last your entire climb. It may be heavy, but you have to make this sacrifice. You will realize that there is nowhere to fill your water bottle on the trail. For food, pack snacks rich with energy such as protein bars and mixed nuts. You can also focus on complex carbohydrates.

To motivate you to commit to the climb, you must know that the youngest child who completed it was 5 years old and the oldest was 94 years old. If they can do it…so can you!

15 Quirky and Unique Facts About New Zealand

For such a small country, New Zealand never runs out of surprises.

Sure, it’s known as one of the most desirable countries to live in, what with its stable economy, high-quality public services, and largely unspoiled environment. But if did you know that underneath its pristine natural beauty lies an endearingly quirky character?

Read on and learn about fifteen things that make New Zealand so delightfully unique:

1. Ever wondered why New Zealanders are sometimes called “Kiwi’s?”

kiwi bird
Image Credit: Animal Picture Society

No, it’s not because of the fuzzy, tart green fruit but rather after the kiwi bird, which is a small bird that can’t fly but can lay one heck of an egg (about six times as big for a bird of its size).

2. Speaking of kiwi fruit, it’s not even from New Zealand.

Kiwi fruits originated in China, but were imported to New Zealand.

Well, I guess everything’s made in China these days anyway.

3. Every high school in New Zealand is equipped to conduct nuclear experiments.

Every high school in New Zealand is equipped to conduct nuclear experiments
Image Credit: Vernier

Apparently, NZ has a law that allows its high schools to hold one pound each of uranium and thorium for the purpose of experimenting with nuclear energy.

So, you can attempt to blow up your school (and that irritating professor who makes your life a living hell), but only if you’re prepared to shell out NZ$1,000,000 as a penalty for the resulting explosion.

4. Only 5% of the total population is human.

New Zealand has the highest ratio of animal to humans ratio in the world. Heck, there are 9 sheep per person here.

No word on the Hobbit-human ratio, however.

5. Filming of the Lord of the Rings movie franchise funneled NZ$200,000,000 into the country’s economy.

Lord of the Rings

Speaking of Hobbits, Peter Jackson and G.R.R. Tolkien were undoubtedly a boon to this island nation. The LotR franchise contributed so much to NZ’s coffers that the government even appointed a minister for it (Minister of Lord of the Rings, does a job title ever get cooler than that?) to ensure that the country could make the most money out of the films.

Perhaps we should offer Lionsgate the right to shoot the next “Hunger Games” reboot in EDSA and see where that leads, no?

6. Only one scene in all the LotR films wasn’t shot in New Zealand.

So, the entire movie franchise is practically one long “Wow New Zealand” commercial.

7. As a tribute, a local news channel actually broadcasted a weather report in the (fictional) Elvish language.

I’m not even kidding, you can view it here.

Now, which country would be the first to do the same in Dothraki?

8. New Zealand is tied with Denmark as the least corrupt nation in the world.

New Zealand is tied with Denmark as the least corrupt nation in the world

That’s according to the Corruption Perceptions Index last year. Looks like all that LotR money was probably put to good use then.

And no, I don’t know where the Philippines ranks in the same index. I’d rather not find out, thanks.

9. There are no snakes in New Zealand whatsoever.

Hmm, is it all because they’re the least corrupt country in the world? I wonder…

10. New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote.

women's right to vote
Image Credit: Getty Images

It was granted on 19 September 1893, more than a century ago and women have flourished since, which brings us to…

11. In 2006, New Zealand made history as the only country so far where all the government’s highest positions were simultaneously held by women.

That year, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice were all women, as was the titular Head of the Commonwealth (none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, of course).

12. A good percentage of New Zealand’s population consider themselves Jedi’s when asked about their religion.

About 20,000 registered as such in a 2006 census.

13. Christchurch actually appointed an official Wizard of New Zealand.

Wizard of New Zealand
Image Credit: Christ Church Daily Photo

His duties include providing philosophical and political commentary, casting spells for the local rugby team, and doing the odd bit of street performance art.

14. New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori, and sign language.

15. In Maori, New Zealand is called “Aotearoa,” which means “land of the long white cloud” in English.

Who said New Zealand was boring, eh?

Discover the Wonders of New Zealand’s Hobbit Holes

Journey To The Shire

Hobbiton is a fictional place in the center of Shire. It serves as home to many notable Hobbits such as Frodo Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee. These place along with its characters were encapsulated in the best-selling novels written by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am referring to the novels entitled “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings (LOTR)” trilogy.

The development of the Hobbiton set came about when Peter Jackson ran an aerial search of the best possible locations for the film. He saw the “Alexander Farm” and thought it was perfect.

For those of you who are not familiar with his craft, Peter Jackson is an industry triple treat – a director, screenwriter, and producer.

Peter Jackson and a Hobbit Hole

March 1999 marked the first construction of the site. About 37 Hobbit holes were created with plywood, untreated timber, and polystyrene. The set was rebuilt in 2011 for the sought-after films “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”. Hobbiton ended up with 44 Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon, the Mill, a double-arched bridge, and the Party Tree.

Strict attention to detail was poured to ensure that everything is suited well for the movie. There was this one particular tree with 200,000 leaves on it. Peter Jackson felt that it had the wrong shade of green.

So, a woman was paid to hand paint everything for 10 consecutive days. Can you imagine this? This fact along with other nuggets will be shared during the set tour.

Inside The Renowned Movie Set

The massive and loyal following of Tolkien’s trilogies led to the public’s clamor for visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set. Fans and travellers alike do not want to miss this attraction once they visit New Zealand.

The Hobbiton Movie Set allows you to fully immerse yourself to the wonders of the Hobbit Holes and the entire Shire. It is a once in a lifetime experience that will tantalize your sight, smell, and all your other senses. Your guide is set to escort you to explain how the movie magic was made. Moreover, you will get a chance to fall in love with the Alexander Farm sheeps and with the view of the Kaimai Ranges.

hobbiton set tour

The website‘s attractive description says it all: “You will be taken around the 12-acre set; past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn, where you can sample our exclusive, specially brewed beverages to conclude your own Middle-earth adventure.”

You can choose from the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, the Evening Banquet Tour, the Chinese Tour, and the Private Tour. Admission prices for adults start from NZD 79 while admission for children aged 8 and below are entirely free.

What are you waiting for? Book your tickets, now.

Visitor’s Information

Address: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5:30 PM
Contact Number: +647-888-1505
Website: www.hobbitontours.com

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Napier’s Art Deco Repertoire

To occupy the curious minds of her children, my mother showered us with the bulky volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica. A significant portion of my day was spent on browsing the monochromatic pages of these informative volumes.

You see, we did not have the luxury of wikipedia.org back then. I became familiar with the dynamic wealth of knowledge in various subjects. If you owned one, you probably stumbled upon the intriguing “Art Deco”.

The Art Deco movement began in the Roaring Twenties (1920’s) and was fully developed during the Thirties (1930’s). Its distinct name was derived from the Parisian exhibition entitled “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes”.

The style was first displayed here, in 1925. The style represents modernism transformed into the alluring fashion. Its distinguishing features were geometric ornaments, clean shapes, representational forms, and often expensive materials. It gave off a unique appeal that held a special place in history.

A Rainbow After The Rain

a rainbow after the rain

Napier holds over a hundred of Art Deco buildings in its area. Napier is a coastal city on New Zealand’s North Island. The integration of the historical architecture was initially unintentional.

It all started with one of the most devastating natural disasters in the country – the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. In 1931, Napier was struck by a massive earthquake measuring to 7.8 on the Richter scale. 256 people lost their lives that day and there were a few lucky survivors.

Another glistening silver lining in this circumstance was the opportunity of rebuilding the town from scratch. The Art Deco age offered chrome, neon, and other shiny materials. Downtown Napier was quickly rebuilt using the vibrant and confidence-raising style of Art Deco.

You can see this style in various parts of the world. However, Napier stands out due its concentration of buildings decked in this striking style.

One That Napier Can Trust

one that napier can trust

Art Deco Trust is the organization that leads in preserving, protecting, and restoring Napier’s heritage for a period spanning over 30 years. It arranges the guided walks and bus tours for tourists.

You shall look for them when you come to this part of New Zealand. The price of the guided walks range from NZD 19-21 (about AUD 18-20). While, the vehicular tours range from NZD 45 to NZD 195 (about AUD 42-182).

According to the organization, the city boasts with 147 Art Deco buildings. These buildings were infused with the designs of the Egyptian, Mayan, and Maori culture.

Many of these buildings were repainted to cheery pastels and restored to its historical beauty. The tour showcases the thriving 1938 Municipal Theatre, which has its original neon fittings and original chrome.

The 2017 Tremains Art Deco Festival

Napier’s consistent efforts to annually celebrate the Art Deco Festival is truly admirable. During five magical days, the town seeks to transport you back to this bygone era.

You will get to savor Hawke Bay’s regional specialties in food and beverages, enjoy the soothing Deco music, dance with new friends, and relive the incredible heritage that Napier is proud of.

This year’s event was held from February 15 to 17. Take a peek at the festivities last year!

Exciting Things to Do at the Kaikoura

A remote gem resides on the South Island of New Zealand. It is none other than the town of Kaikoura.

The coastal drive is an adventure in itself and as you get closer to the town, you will get more personal with nature. Savor the calming teal waters, the rich marine habitat, and the stunning mountain views while you are there.

From watching the largest toothed whales in action to climbing the peak of the Mount Fyffe, there are so many things that you can do at Kaikoura. Here are just some of them:

Watch Incredible Whales

whales and other marine life

The largest toothed whales, the Sperm Whales, are the year-round stars of the show. Kaikoura enables its visitors to witness this magnificent creature along with other marine life such as dolphins, seals, and albatross.

Arrange early bookings to get this chance of a lifetime.

Swim With the Dolphins

Freely swimming with the friendly dolphins sounds like a page from a fairytale. Not anymore! Snorkelling with the playful and uncaptured dolphins is one of Kaikoura’s main attractions. Simply hop on the tour boat and prepare yourself to jump in the beautiful water.

Take a Hike

hiking at Kaikoura
Image Credit: Trover

Spectacular views over the Kaikoura peninsula and plains await those who climb up the Mount Fyffe. You have to options: the 8-hour return route and the 5-hour return route. The former begins by following the 4WD road up the mountain’s long south-west ridge. This road leads you directly to the summit. While, the latter can go as far as the Mount Fyffe Hut.

For your safety, check if there are current earthquakes happening in the area as it might affect your hike up.

Eat Fresh Seafood

Eat Fresh Seafood

What is better than experiencing the picturesque seascapes of Kaikoura? Getting to indulge on the town’s fresh seafood of course!

Kaikoura is blessed with an abundance of sea creatures, which can serve as the main ingredient to a hearty meal. Crayfish is the specialty here. If you cannot shell out cash for it, try the other varieties of fresh fish.

Since the ocean is readily accessible to the majority, seafood is relatively cheap.

Appreciate Rich History

Kaikoura Museum

Kaikoura District Museum & Archives is a historical institution situated in this humble town. It houses Maori artifacts, marine fossils, photographs, archives, and more. I cannot deny the fact that I am passionate about art and history. So, seeing these two facets fuse in one place brings in pure delight.

What’s more? The ticket only costs a dollar (NZD 1 = PHP 36) for children and five dollars (NZD 5 = PHP 180) for adults.

Feel free to comment below, if you have anything to add to our exciting list of activities in Kaikoura!

Visitor’s Information

Telephone: +64-3319-5641 or 03-319-5641
Email: info@kaikoura.co.nz
Website: http://www.kaikoura.co.nz