Friday, March 13, 2009

Qatar heads Down Under – at long last

Observers have suggested the introduction of a third Middle East carrier will lead
to a price war with Etihad and Emirates.


In only its third year the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival, in association with Nissan NZ, is set to break their previous attendance records by achieving a capacity crowd of 2,000.

With only very limited gate sales available, at a premium price, on the day organizers are confident that they will achieve a capacity crowd. “In the three years since the Harvest Festival started it has really begun to attract a keen following of its own” say event manager Liz Pollock. “People see it as an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing day out in a beautiful environment while enjoying some of the region’s finest wine, food and entertainment– what’s not to love?!!”

A total of 16 representatives of Wairarapa’s premium wineries and will be showcasing their products during the day. Amongst them will be Loopline Vineyard, Waipipi Vineyard, Three Terraces, Hudson Winery, Johner Estate, Urlar, Little Vineyards of Wairarapa, Joseph Ryan, Gladstone Vineyard, Borthwick Estate, Wycroft Vineyard, Schubert Wines, Fairmont Estate, Cottier Estate, Mebus Estate and Matahiwi Estate.

That’s not the end of it however!! The best of the Wairarapa is expected on the plate as well as in the glass with award winning chefs from high profile restaurants throughout the region preparing local specialties including whitebait fritters, rabbit pie, pork fennel & savvy sausages, cod & crayfish cakes, paua fritters, poached strawberries and that’s just for starters!!

Entertainment will continue throughout the day ranging from festival favourites, Barry Saunders and Nic Brown from the Waratahs to The Blue Meenies visiting the event for the first time from the Coromandel. Joining them will be the extremely popular Hobnail Boots and 60’s and 70’s cover band The California Dreamers.

The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival will be held between 11.00am and 6.00pm on Saturday March 21 at ‘The Cliffs’, the spectacular riverside setting on the banks of the Ruamahunga River in the popular wine growing area of Gladstone’s Dakins Road, in the heart of rural Wairarapa.

Tickets are on sale now from all Ticketek outlets, by phoning 0800 TICKETEK or online through

The Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival is proudly supported by Nissan NZ Ltd, Tardis Design, Trusthouse, Roadstar, Solid Gold FM, Wine works and Greenlees Print.

For further information please visit

Balloons back for 2009

Wairarapa’s annual hot air balloon event will take to Wairarapa skies in March 2009 with several changes from previous years.

Trust House Balloons Over Wairarapa will take place over three days from 20-22 March 2009 in a change from the five-day events held in previous years.

Wairarapa Balloon Society chairman, Bob Francis, said the current economic climate meant corporate sponsorship had this year been much more difficult to secure. “The fiesta in its traditional form is a costly event to put together but we are able to continue in 2009 with a number of changes. The balloon fiesta has become an iconic Wairarapa event which we would have been extremely reluctant to let go so we have adjusted what we are able to do to the funding available. There is still a strong desire and commitment from the community, pilots, volunteers, organisers and local sponsors to continue to hold the event.Balloon pilots from throughout New Zealand have enjoyed their time spent in the Wairarapa over many years are still very keen to come back and fly here,” said Mr Francis.

Mr Francis said more than 20 balloon pilots from throughout New Zealand had already indicated that they would attend the 2009 event. Mr Francis said special shape balloons from overseas would not feature in 2009 as funding did not allow for this. The Night Glow will shift to the Colin Pugh Sports Bowl in Masterton and entry will be by gold coin donation.

Renamed “Trust House Balloons Over Wairarapa” the three-day event will begin on Friday 20 March morning when all balloons will lift off from Clareville Showgrounds and drift in the direction of the wind.

Late Friday afternoon will see the balloons combining with the annual Wairarapa College Gala – flying out of and around Wairarapa College grounds. Balloon pilots and crew will parade with their baskets and firing their propane burners through Carterton’s High Street later on Friday evening.

Saturday morning will feature the traditional flight over Masterton’s Henley Lake followed by the fiesta highlight, the spectacular Night Glow set to music on the Saturday evening at the Colin Pugh Sports Bowl.

The event will conclude with an early morning flight over Masterton at a venue yet to be decided.

Balloon ‘meister’, Martyn Stacey of Blenheim will return for the third consecutive year to direct the various ballooning events. Trust House will be the major supporter of the 2009 event, along with Masterton and Carterton District Councils, Radioworks, the Wairarapa Times-Age and other local businesses.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seoul and US warns North Korea to drop its “inhumane” airline threat

South Korea and the United States lashed out Friday warning North Korea to drop its "inhumane" and "belligerent" threats against commercial flights travelling through the region.

North Korea has said that “security cannot be guaranteed for South Korean civil airplanes flying through the territorial air of our side and its vicinity" while joint military exercises between the United States and Korea are underway, beginning Monday.

The threat has caused Korean Air and Asiana to re-route some 200 flights over the next two weeks, adding up to an hour in journey times.
Airlines from other nations using the route over North Korean-controlled airspace have remained unaffected.

"The government urges North Korea immediately to withdraw military threats against civilian air flights," Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement.

"Threatening civilian airliners' normal operations under international aviation regulations is not only against international rules but is an act against humanity," the South Korean government's main spokesman on inter-Korean relations, Kim Ho Nyeon said.

North Korea is also preparing to test-fire a rocket that it says will carry a communications satellite into space.

Seoul and Washington say the real purpose is to test a missile that could theoretically reach Alaska.

Kim Ho Nyeon, said about 33 daily international flights pass over North's air space from the east, with about 15 of them by South Korean airliners.
Analysts say North Korea may be trying to test the resolve of the Obama administration and to strengthen its hand in future nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Seven missing after Phuket-bound boat sinks

Two Australians are potentially among seven missing after a Thai boat bound for Phuket capsized and sank after heavy rain and winds on Sunday night.

But confusion has arisen after the Austrian Foreign Ministry said that two of their nationals, Mr Klaus Konradder and Ms Monika Schuster, are missing, contradicting earlier media reports.

Choke Somboon 19, operated by Dive Asia, was travelling at speeds of eight to nine knots on its return journey from the Similan Islands to Phuket when it sank with 30 passengers and crew on board.

“23 of our guests and crew were able to get into the life rafts and have safely returned to Phuket,” reports Dive Asia in a statement. “Seven people are still missing and a search in the area was conducted [Monday] and will continue on Tuesday morning.”

It is believed that the six-month old ship hit a vortex which had formed quickly, causing it to capsize. Local fisherman, who were nearby, raced to the scene and found the survivors adrift in an inflatable lifeboat. Other tourists still missing are believed to be two Swiss nationals, a German national and a Japanese national. One crew, a Thai national, is also still missing. Additionally the Thai Navy has dispatched a boat and a helicopter to aid in the search efforts.

Dive Asia were unreachable for comment this morning.

Get wrapped up in the healing power of grapes

Visitors to Peppers Guest House in the heart of the Hunter Valley wine country can now get wrapped up in the healing power of grapes through a series of innovative new spa treatments.

Coinciding with the launch of the Hunter’s annual grape harvest, the retreat’s endota spa has introduced a range of indulgent Vinotherapie treatments which enlist the region’s famous fruit to fight the effects of ageing.

Vinotherapie treatments, which originated in France, use the stems, oils, seeds and flesh of wine grapes to create anti-ageing skin and body treatments – giving new meaning to the idea of soaking up a good drop.

Spa owner Julie Molenaar has teamed up with natural Australian skincare company Victoria’s Essentials to create Hunter Valley varieties of the famous French Vinotherapie treatments.

“The pips, stems and skins of the grapes contain the antioxidant Resveratol and Phtophenols,” Julie said “In layman’s terms, what these antioxidants do is help protect skin from the free radicals which cause skin to age.

“We use freshly crushed grapes from nearby vineyards and,vine leaves to wrap the body. The grape seed oil, grape seed and red wine extracts have a detoxifying effect. People step out of the treatments with skin that is energised and firmed,’’ she said.

Providing both a fun and therapeutic way of embracing the Hunter’s most luxurious product, guests can choose from a range of decadent treatments includinga ‘chardonnay massage’ which wraps up with warmed vine leaves being laid all over the body; a ‘pinot noir wrap’ which includes a detoxifying, skin polishing scrub; the ‘vinotherapie facial’ which uses all of the grape elements to cleanse, exfoliate, detoxify and moisturise; and a shiraz bath soak which brings new meaning to the phrase ‘soaking up a good drop of red’.

With naturally elegant gardens and over 18 hectares of manicured grounds, Peppers Guest House is an iconic retreat capturing the spirit and essence of the Hunter wine region. Comprising 48 elegantly furnished guest rooms in a contemporary classic style, the retreat exudes an intimate and relaxed atmosphere offering warmth, interesting curios and a friendly unobtrusive service.

Within the gardens of Peppers Guest House is a lavish four-bedroom homestead. With four double rooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, dining and living room, the country house provides the luxury of intimate seclusion where couples can enjoy the attentions of their own private butler or chef.

On an idyllic escape from the pressures of everyday life at Peppers Guest House, guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the terrace, pamper themselves at endota spa, spend a lazy day by the pool, play tennis or relax with a good book.
he many delights of the Hunter Valley are also close at hand including winery tours, hot air ballooning, cheese tasting, golf, carriage rides, sky diving and 4WD tours to name a few.

For bookings or further information contact Peppers Guest House on 4993 8999 or by emailing Additional information on Peppers properties can also be found by visiting

Peppers Guest House celebrates the arrival of the Vinotherapie treatments with a special package offer representing up to $230 of extra value.

Guests staying two nights from just $275* per room per night midweek or $380* per room per night on weekends will receive a full buffet breakfast each morning and two 60 minute “Chardonnay Massages”

Plus the first 20 bookings will also receive a free Dermalogica travel pack valued at $65 on this launch offer valid for sale and travel until 30 April 2009.

Naked barney!

A fight has broken out at the The White Cockatoo nudist resort in North Queensland
after one of the guests failed to get naked. Owner Tony Fox said he ordered the guest off the premises after he refused to take his clothes off while having a conversation with three nude women. A ludicrous offence.

Resort in danger after collapse

Plans for a new $500 million resort in Townsville appear scuppered after Queensland
property group Resort Corp collapsed with debts of $300 million. The company’s plan for
a resort near Airlie Beach also appears in jeopardy. The collapse does not include the $210 million Noosa Sanctuary Hotel.