Travel Gallery – Luxury Travel

Sue Farley is a Nelson-based travel agent specialising in luxury travel in New Zealand and around the world

Home » Archive by category "All Travel Posts"

Wendy Wu Tours to China

Wendy Wu China Tours

One of our popular suppliers of tours to Asia is Wendy Wu Tours. They have a large range of options including China, Vietnam, Japan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Borneo, Tibet and Central Asia. Tours range from small groups to private departures.

Wendy Wu Tours are fully inclusive, including return flights from New Zealand, taxes, meals, accommodation, transport and local guides. Air travel is usually on Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, depending on your destination. The only added extra is for tipping, which is paid in advance on arrival in to the destination country. A local guide is only provided for departures with at least 10 people. And land-only tours are also an option if you want to add a tour to an existing trip.

Wendy Wu have three grades of tour – the Comfortably Paced Tour is your easy-going entry-level trip that will involve some walking and stair-climbing and getting in and out of boats, but is suitable for any reasonably active person. These tours are usually a bit shorter and stay on the mainstream tourist trails.

The Medium Paced Tour picks it up a bit and although still not considered strenuous it may include long days of walking and sightseeing. It is usually a bit longer in duration and there may be overnight train trips and long driving days. There may also be easy hiking and homestay accommodation.

The Active Paced Tour has a bit more going on and is similar to, but generally a bit more demanding than, the Medium Paced Tour. Accommodation options are similar although you may travel to quite remote areas and reach altitudes of over 5,000 metres. A mountain symbol is used to denote tours that reach over 3,000 metres.

Tour dossiers are available outlining day-to-day descriptions of each tour. Travellers over 70 years, or who have pre-existing medical conditions or other medical requirements will need to fill in a Medical Information Form when booking so all their needs can be accommodated. Children under 12 years are not able to join Wendy Wu tours, except the ‘In Pursuit of Pandas’ tour which accepts children from 8 years and over.

Wendy Wu In Pursuit of Pandas Tour

China is one of the three most visited countries in the world and Wendy Wu have a great selection of tours throughout China and its included territories.

The standard of accommodation varies amongst the destinations but all are visited regularly by Wendy Wu tour leaders to ensure their standards are high. You may find that a 4-star hotel in China is closer to a 3 star in New Zealand, but the experience will still be excellent. Single supplements are available and single travellers can also ask to room with another traveller to save paying the supplement.

So what are some of the most popular Wendy Wu tours in to China? The Yangtze River cruises are always popular, as are Beijing, Shanghai and Xian. Tours such as Magnificent China, the Wonders of China and Grand Yangtze will give you a great overview of this vast country. And if you want to drill a bit deeper then tours like the Sichuan Explorer, Yunnan Adventure, Silk Road Explorer and the China & Tibet Discovery tour will take you deep into the landscape, culture and mystery of China.

Pricing is very reasonable, especially remembering that the tour price includes airfares. The 17 day Wonders of China tour, for example, is only $NZ5879 per person (pricing from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch). Departures leave throughout the year from March to November.

For more information or bookings for any Wendy Wu Tour contact Sue

e:  sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nz   p: 021 555836

w:  www.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

Share

Earlybird Fares & Bookings to Europe

 

Toulon, Southern France

Every year about this time the airlines and international tour providers roll out their Earlybird rates for the next northern hemisphere summer. This means you can lock in your flights, accommodation and tours early on, at really good prices.

Best of all, it gives you the ideal opportunity to book the flights and times that really suit you. Leave it too late and the flights and tours fill, and although there may still be some good prices later in the season you’ll find that the easy travel times, direct flights and premium tours are often booked. So you’ll end up paying more to get something that suits you.

Things to think about

  • consider a 3 or 4 day stopover on your way to and/or from the northern hemisphere. It breaks the long flight time and lets you explore places like Osaka, San Francisco, Soeul, Dubai or Singapore for the cost of a few nights’ accommodation. Stopover accommodation packages are often very good value
  • if you’re not keen on long queues and rushed transits then book non-stopover flights to Europe through Asia rather than the US. Los Angeles and San Francisco airports can be very congested at times, pushing transit queues to three or four hours. But if you choose to stopover a few days in either city then it’s not such a problem
  • there are Earlybird rates and discounts for river cruises, coach tours, accommodation, rental cars and campers, as well as airfares, so if you book ahead you can save on all the components of your trip.

Then you can spend the next few months looking forward to your holiday.

For more info contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

Share

Walking Tour of Golden Bay

Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay

4 days – 21 to 24 February 2014

If you’re in New Zealand to fish, play golf or enjoy some other aspect of this great outdoors destination then here’s a tour that may suit.

It’s a four day walking-focused immersion into the landscape, geology, flora and birdlife of western Golden Bay – a dramatic and fascinating area. Come and taste some of New Zealand’s premier and most scenic coastal landscapes.

It’s not a luxury trip by any means, but offers a fabulous opportunity to explore beautiful Golden Bay, to the west of Nelson, at a very intimate level. Over 4 days the Discover Golden Bay tour explores karst landscapes, wild beaches, coastal paths and national parks. You’ll stay at a cosy little backpacker’s inn, eat at local cafes and enjoy a special meal at the home of a local writer.

Places like Farewell Spit, Wharariki Beach, the resurgence of the Riwaka River and the Kaihoka Lakes are all fascinating spots, each with outstanding natural features and landscape. Canaan Downs was featured in ‘The Hobbit’ movie and Farewell Spit is New Zealand’s longest sandspit – at 26kms long it’s a beauty. It is also a noted place for migratory birds.

This 4 day/3 night tour is return from Nelson with all transport, 3 nights simple accommodation, 4 full days activities with 2 1/2 days guided walking, and most meals included. You will need a moderate degree of fitness as there is plenty of walking. Cost is $NZ1255 per person.

If you enjoy sunshine, stunning scenery, walking in native forest, swimming in crystal turquoise seas, gourmet cuisine, getting to know the locals…. this is the holiday for you!

For more info or to book this walking tour contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

 

Share

Exotic India

Amber Fort at Jaipur, India

It’s 20 years since I was last in India and I still remember the noise and the people and the chaos like it was yesterday. If you’ve seen the movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or any of the other countless movies depicting that crazy, light-hearted side of India then you’ll have an insight into it. It’s all true.

If you want to see the classic places like Old Delhi, the palaces of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort then you’ll need to choose a tour that incorporates the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. And because travel in India can be a little challenging, that may be a good place to start if it’s your first trip. If you want to see the Ganges, and particularly its religious significance, then include a trip to Varanasi. And you’ll get a good wildlife experience by adding in the Ramthanbhore National Park which is also in the general area. Many of these tours are available with luxury options. 

But while you’re in India, plan to visit somewhere else as well. Head south to Kerala and its beautiful waterways and coastal villages. Southern India is well known for its delicious cuisine and there are opportunities to take cooking classes and visit the markets while you’re there. Then head into the hill country near Ooty to visit the lush green tea gardens, north to Mysore and on to Bangalore. Mysore has some beautiful palaces and temples while Bangalore is a modern city, once known as India’s Silicon Valley. It’s a nice place to get a feel for contemporary India without the mad pace of somewhere like Mumbai. Cross the country to finish in Chennai (once called Madras), a huge turmoil of a city, or head back to the west coast at Goa for a few days by the sea.

You don’t have to search far for the essential India – it’s in your face, all the time. The traffic, the monkeys, the crows, and the dust, the pungent smell of old coconut milk on every statue and deity, spices from the street food, car horns blasting, the broken pavements, scooters racing past and harsh voices calling across the roadways. But all these things, and so much more, add up to a most compelling experience. Travel in India has never been easier with much improved tours, bottled water, good restaurants and accommodation, and mobile technology. It’s much more than a holiday, it’s usually a life-changing experience.

And there’s even a 12 day Marigold Hotel Tour now going from Delhi to Udaipur. And lots of excellent luxury tour options to many parts of India.

For more info on travelling to India contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

Share

Travelling to Oregon

 

One of the hot new destinations in the US these days is the beautiful state of Oregon.

Columbia Gorge, Oregon

I’ve gathered together a few gems here to help you get the best out of a trip there. Just email me if you want to know more.

Oregon sits on the northern border of California and opens out to the Pacific coast. Climatically it’s on the cool side but it has a diverse range of habitats and activities, especially if you’ve already done all the usual US must-dos like Las Vegas, the Disney Worlds and New York. It’s also an easy place to self-drive and there’s plenty of wilderness to get lost in.

The biggest city in Oregon is Portland, about 125 kms inland from the coast. It’s a decent sized city – around 2 million people – and is known for its friendliness and fantastic foodie culture. According to Time magazine Oregon is currently the top food state in the US. There’s an excellent local transport system, good accommodation options and the shopping is tax free.

Portland has a lot of green spaces allowing plenty of walking and cycling options in the city. Work that in with a trip to their fabulous Farmers Market, then check out some of the great eateries and local beers. You’ll easily fill a few days around the city.

One of the bigger attractions outside of Portland is the Columbia River Gorge, with its huge basalt cliffs, waterfalls and walking trails. The highest point in Oregon, and a key part of the Columbia system is Mt Hood, an active volcano. Here you’ll find year round snow, fishing, kayaking, interesting local foods and some very luxurious lodges. It has three ski areas, a long ski season and good night skiing.

The nearby Willamette Valley is the state’s wine region, specialising in cool climate aromatics like riesling, pinot gris and chardonnay.

Central Oregon is another area where outdoor pursuits triumph. You’ll find good golf, more fishing, caving and rock climbing. Southern Oregon is more rugged with good cycling and mountain areas. The local foods are also worth checking out. The high point (or is it a low point?) of Eastern Oregon is Hells Canyon, which is actually deeper than the Grand Canyon. The east is a very laid back area and key farming region.

And like most Kiwis we are usually drawn to the coast at some point. Oregon has a 400 mile long western shore, just over an hour’s drive west from Portland. Sandy dunes and rocky islands line the coast and there are good golf courses nearby.

For more info on travelling to Oregon contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

 

Share

A Tropical North Queensland Winter Getaway

Daintree Eco Lodge

If the budget cuts haven’t hit too hard and a winter holiday is still on the cards, then here’s an idea that’s relatively close to home but still lets palm trees, soft white sand, sultry rainforest and balmy trade winds become a reality.

Take a direct flight from Auckland to Cairns (it’s only 5 ½ hours) and enjoy a real tropical break, even if it’s only for a week. Tropical North Queensland is a place you can return to again and again. The World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests of the Daintree area provide a wide range of activities and lots of very cool places to stay.

And one of my favourite places is the Daintree Eco Lodge. As far as luxury lodges goes it is very good value with a room rate starting at around $NZ700 for 2 people, including breakfast, in the high season. But prices can be half that in the low season, which is from November through to April. This, however, is no ordinary hotel, with its free-standing rooms perched out on stilts within a forested valley. Each room (or bayan, as they are called) has a screened verandah, some with a spa out there as well, which opens out in to the tree canopy. It’s a bewitching place with an ancient story (it is run in close conjunction with the local Kuku Yulangi people) and is a fabulous place to unwind.

A few days in Cairns is well worth it, and gets you close to the marina for an early start if you’re going out on a reef trip. There are lots of trips to choose from – some head to the inner reef where less experienced people are happy to snorkel around the shallow coral gardens and soak up the magic of the reef. Other trips head to the outer and northern reefs, either as a day trip or for anything up to a week. These trips visit some world-class dive sites, whale and shark playgrounds and the occasional off-shore island.

Port Douglas and Palm Cove, both on the coast north of Cairns, are quiet little resort towns that have grown over the years from their coastal backwater roots. But they’re ideal for a family getaway if you don’t mind lots of other families doing exactly the same thing (you’ll find at least half of them are Kiwis). Port Douglas has an interesting weekly market, lots of funky cafes and is close to both the reef and the rainforest. It’s an ideal getaway and beats the winter mud around the cowshed any day.

For more info contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

 

Share

Lizard Island Resort – a Superb Coastal Design Statement

 

A wide curved verandah sweeps around, following the line of the bay and catching the feisty ocean breeze. Cool natural weave sofas in the colours of the sea and the sand, bright glassware and vibrant fabrics lighten the inner spaces. Very contemporary, the look on Lizard Island, 200 kms north of Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef, is minimalist against the strong background of a remote island national park, yet it all blends perfectly.Lizard Island Resort

The main lodge area is a huge, perfectly proportioned beach house verandah overlooking the turquoise blue of Anchor Bay. This large unwalled area houses the lounge and restaurant areas, reception, the bar and a small boutique. A huge granite back wall has been retained from the original resort and creates a backdrop to the library area at the rear of the lounge. It’s solid presence helping tie the lodge to its site while bringing in the colours of the surrounding rock.

The Aussie beach house design has become a benchmark in Australia for good coastal architecture. Common themes can be seen at Lizard Island in the use of louvred wooden doors and windows, high cathedral ceilings to lift the heat out of room spaces, floor to ceiling glass on the shaded side to maximise the use of natural light, and wide eaves to protect the interior spaces from the ravages of the tropical sun and heavy monsoonal rains and cyclones.

These elements all create a spacious open environment that encompasses the feel of the wide open spaces outside. Wide sliding doors in the villas and suites open to embrace the view to the beach, and the main lounge and restaurant complex has neither walls nor doors to separate it from the surrounding landscape.

The original resort was first suggested in 1972, and in 1973 a Brisbane architect was commissioned to live on the beach in a caravan for three weeks to get a feel for the place. The only prerequisites he was given were that the building had to reflect it’s island location and include an old homestead-style verandah. Thirty years later the resort carries on those exact same themes, although in a modern style.

Flooring is mostly spotted gum and the joinery in the suites is European beech. Wonderfully luxurious Javanese style day beds on the verandahs are of stained hardwood, designed and treated to achieve the look of the weathered driftwood that litters the high tide line after a storm. The shapes and spaces, fabrics and fittings used at Lizard Island all combine to create the perfect beach house, one we would all want to own with the long hot summer in mind.

But it’s probably the oldest residents of the resort that give it that look and feel of really belonging. As the local, lumbering lizards (Gould’s Monitors) amble their way across the lawn, flicking their tongues out lazily over the ground as they go, they appear quite at ease in their nice, new beach house surroundings. They, like everyone else who stays at Lizard Island, definitely feel at home.

For more info contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley

 

Sue has visited Lizard Island Resort twice as a freelance writer to document resort refurbishments and to visit the neighbouring Lizard Island Research Station

 

 

Share

Cooking Tours

 

Here’s one for the ladies – mostly. A fast-growing niche in the travel market is that of food travel – cooking tours, local foods, farmers’ markets, culinary cruises and chef master-classes. And they come with as little or as much of a focus on food as you want.Amalfi Coast Cooking tour

There are well-known destinations like Italy and France, where the love of food has been part of the culture for centuries. Places like Tuscany, Umbria, Paris and Provence all have exciting options where you can stay in local homestays or boutique lodges, learn from a local chef, shop in the local markets, visit the wineries and the cheese-makers and then cook and eat the fantastic ingredients that you’ve been discovering all day.

Italy is the home of the Slow Food movement and tours often feature this element of Italian cuisine. Tours wind through the countryside, visiting farmers and growers, and often ending the day with a shared cooking experience at your accommodation. Paris is famous for its little neighbourhood street markets, which are spread throughout the city. We found our own favourite along Rue Mouffetard where we could buy fruit and veges, wine, cheese, bread and fish on the street early each morning. Afterwards we’d stop for an espresso and a brioche for breakfast, and sit at a little table overlooking the local square – always a great start to the day.

Other food tours in Europe include places like Sicily, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Turkey and Hungary. Many of these tours are suitable for couples as food is often only one feature of the day, leaving plenty of time for sightseeing.

Asia is another area with plenty of cooking tours and options. Vietnam is the most popular foodie destination with tours running from Ho Chi Minh city north to Hanoi, or centred around Hoi An and Hue. There are several well-known cooking schools where the beautiful food of Vietnam is taught in courses ranging from a half-day to several days. Cambodia is a growing food destination, as is China. Tours include places like Sichuan, the French-Chinese fusion of Shanghai food and the Yao food of Yangshuo.

A new option is culinary cruising, where you can join chef master-classes and take part in the behind-the-scenes food preparation. Silversea Cruises also have L’Ecole des Chefs cooking school led by an on-board masterchef. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in beautiful food while relaxing at sea.

For more info contact sue@nztravelbrokers.co.nzwww.travelgallery.co.nz

(C)  by Sue Farley  

 

 

 

Share

Exodus Travel is now selling in New Zealand

 

 

World-wide travel company, Exodus, is now selling its quality range of out-there travel experiences in New Zealand. In an arrangement with Adventure World, the Exodus range is available through good New Zealand travel agents – and the range is exciting.Cycling tour through Southern Iceland

I was particularly excited to see trips like a cycle tour through southern Iceland, and another from Manali in India to Leh in Ladakh. There’s a photography and wildlife tour on the Picos de Europa in Spain and one through Cappadocia and the Taurus Mountains in central Turkey. There’s a discovery tour through Sierra Leone and another through Ethiopia, and a 13-day trip through central Mongolia. So much to choose from – more than 500 itineraries in 171 countries.

Exodus are the experts. They have now been doing these adventure tours for 35 years and were one of the original global adventure travel companies. In addition to their big Discovery book they also have separate book brochures for cycling, trekking, winter activities, polar travel and family trips. And they use local leaders in over 85% of their trips.Whales & Leopards in Sri Lanka

But one of the biggest selling points they have these days is the fact they publish unedited trip reviews on their website. If you’re thinking of going somewhere you can scan through the website and find the good and the bad aspects of the trip – which will help no end in making sure you get the trip best tailored to your needs. A cycling trip that takes you 2000 metres higher than where you started may sound very exciting, but is it set up so you can acclimatise on the way? Or are you going to suffer altitude sickness because the trip is moving too fast? You’ll be able to get these and plenty of other gnarly questions answered through the review posts.

It’s all small group travel with an average trip size of 16 people, and an average age of 42. There’s no age limit but you need to be fit and active and, most of all, have an open mind to all the adventures you will be experiencing along the way. The pricing is very good, giving great value, but its not luxurious, although they do have 4-5 star premium trips to some destinations.Exodus Family Tour

The trips are graded – Leisure, Moderate, Challenging and Tough, and to give you an idea of their levels the Moderate tours require good fitness, so Challenging and Tough tours are just that – challenging and tough. Many of their trips are Solo trips, meaning they are for single travellers only, and ensuring that singles don’t end up on an uncomfortable tour full of couples.

All payments are included in the rate so there is no need to make local payments in the countries you are travelling in. There are also no added tour surcharges.

Exodus is serious about sustainable travel and they endeavour to ensure that their itineraries only leave a positive impact on the places they travel to. They also actively support aid projects in places like Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, Nepal and Peru, helping with local schooling, conservation, healthcare, education and employment.

We have booking information on all Exodus tours so email us for details.

 

(C)  by Sue Farley - NZ Travel Brokers-Nelson - www.travelgallery.co.nz

 

Share

The Gift of Volunteer Travel

 

Volunteer travel is something very dear to my heart. It gives something back, whether you’re working in remote rural communities or in underprivileged urban areas. Some volunteer trips will take you to endangered habitats and still others to drop-dead gorgeous places where the problems lie hidden beneath the startling beauty of sandy beaches and tropical islands.

Cambodia volunteer trip

But however you look at it, because we have the income and the resources to travel to these places, we can help.

It’s not that easy to find genuine volunteer travel opportunities. How to be sure the named charity is actually receiving the money? Or using it in the stipulated way? Are they bona fide organisations in the first place? And will the trip be well-run, taking into account the volunteers’ safety and health? All good questions to ask before you sign up to go.

We’re very lucky to work with a number of trips that we know are well run, honest to the core, and provide real help to the communities and environments they have set out to help.

But how do they work? How can a person really make a difference? Firstly these are not glamorous trips to exotic third world countries, with a little cameo appearance at an orphanage for a few hours to hug the children. All are part of a much larger picture where the aid work is ongoing, helped by regular visits by volunteer tour groups.

Mexico is a great example, where a volunteer group arrives and a house is built, usually in three days. The recipient family are involved and the community benefits as a whole. The shorter five day Mexico trips are all about building the house, with travel to and from the US included. Longer ten day trips allow time to do other volunteer work in the community, meet the locals, visit the markets and get a bit of sightseeing in as well. Groups travel from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, or you can meet up with a group in Los Angeles or San Diego. Prices are very reasonable, with the longer Mexico trip costing around $NZ2500, excluding airfares. This gives you some of your meals, your accommodation, land transport from California to Tijuana and back, and also includes an $NZ800 contribution to the building fund.

There are also trips to save the sea turtles in Australia and Greece, work in schools and orphanages in Russia and Uganda, to build houses in Cambodia or Fiji or rebuild a village’s shattered reef in Bali.

Volunteer travel is a great way to get to know the locals in a place, not just as spectators, but as contributors. It’s also an opportunity to get to know yourself a little better. And at the same time you can help to make their world a better place, whether it’s a new roof over their heads or a new reef out their front door to bring back the fish that feed their children.

We have a range of volunteer trips listed on our website. And if you want to know more about any of them, or of trips to any other destination then email us.

(C)  by Sue Farley - NZ Travel Brokers-Nelson - www.travelgallery.co.nz

 

 

 

Share