Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pacific Blue in Fiji expansion

Pacific Blue will launch non-stop services between Adelaide and Fiji and Melbourne and Fiji from June 4. It follows the introduction of flights from Sydney and Brisbane.

Both routes will operate twice weekly. The Adelaide flights will be the first direct
services to Fiji from South Australia.

“We welcome the chance to provide a further boost to tourism to a destination that has attracted consistent demand in terms of our existing services,” Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey said. “The success of our Fiji services from Brisbane and Sydney has been a strong incentive for us to introduce additional nonstop

The carrier has launched a ‘Fiji Frenzy’ sale with oneway fares from Adelaide to
Nadi costing $249 and $239 from Melbourne. Tickets are on sale until April 2 and valid for travel between June 4 and June 25 and between July 21 and August 31.

oldest customer to experience a Skippers Canyon Adventures jet boat ride

A ninety-one year old Englishman became the oldest customer to experience a Skippers Canyon Adventures jet boat ride on the Shotover River near Queenstown on Tuesday (17 March).

From Southhampton in England, Ivan Powley was accompanied by his seventy-one year old Dunedin relative, Alec Kellaway. Powley has a long history with boats and worked in the engine room of HMS Hood, one of Britain’s most famous 20th century warships, during World War II.

Matt Rhodes, Skippers Canyon Adventures Marketing Manager, said it was a privilege to host someone like Ivan, with his prestigious marine history, on one of their boats.

“We loved having him on the trip. He obviously has an appreciation for all things boats and had a wicked time on the jet boat ride.

“He was enthralled during the 4WD drive into Skippers Canyon and really got into learning about the gold mining history of the area.

“We were blown away by his energy.”

LAN launches cheap flights on trans-Tasman route

LAN Airlines launched deals earlier this week for flights between Auckland and Sydney on its new Premium Business Class.

With the recent removal of fuel surcharges on trans-Tasman fares, LAN Premium Business class seats will now cost $299 one way and $598 return.
The carriers Premium Business class features fully lie-flat pod beds and in-flight entertainment on a 15.4” flat screen.

‘Full steam ahead’ for Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth

Cunard Line has announced that its new 90,400-tonne ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth will enter service on October 12, next year.

Queen Elizabeth’s first expedition will recreate the QE2 13-night maiden voyage to the Atlantic Isles calling at Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira, with fares starting from $3609 per person twin share.

Her first six voyages, which will open for sale on April 2 this year, will include a 14-night “Mediterranean Premiere”, a 19-night “Aegean Introduction”, a five-night “Gallic Debut”, a second voyage to Iberia and the Canaries and a 22-night Christmas voyage to the Caribbean.

The new Queen Elizabeth will pay homage to her namesake with its interior grandeur, décor and style, but it will also offers it own modern twist.

The liner will herald the return to the golden age of cruising with nostalgic entertainment inspired by the 1930s-40s such as country house parties, Ivor Novello style piano evenings, period dancing from traditional ballroom to the jitterbug and the jive, and a classic film club.

In addition the ships Games Deck will offer passengers the chance to play croquet, paddle tennis and traditional British Bowls.

Carrying 2092 guests, the ocean liner will offer a number of luxurious public areas such as The Queens Room, which will represent a new take on the traditional Cunard ballroom, with its 1000-square foot dance floor, for grand balls and tea dances at sea.

The ocean liners new garden lounge will feature a magnificent vaulted glass ceiling and a new evening concept called the supper club, which will mix dining, music and dancing under the stars.
The ship will also feature the line’s celebrated Britannia Restaurant and its luxury Grills accommodation and dining.
As successor to Queen Elizabeth 2, the ship will also pay tribute to this great liner with its very own ‘Yacht Club’ which will feature artwork and memorabilia.

Costing around £365 million, Queen Elizabeth will be the second largest Cunard ship ever built, and the third new ocean liner to be launched by the company in the past six years, joining Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria.

Following the withdrawal of the QE2 from service last year, the launch of Queen Elizabeth marks the return to Cunard having all 'three Queens' sailing together.
Announcing the newest addition, Cunard President and Managing Director Carol Marlow said that there had been an ‘Elizabeth’ in the Cunard fleet for more than 70 years.

“This beautiful modern day celebration of our past ‘Elizabeths’ will ensure this proud tradition will continue far into this century,” Ms Marlow added.

Free telescope viewing

Global astronomy project comes to the Stardome with 100 hours of stargazing

Auckland’s Stardome is one of hundreds of observatories around the world allowing free use of its telescopes as part of the “100 Hours of Astronomy” project.
From 8am on Thursday April 2 until midday on Monday April 6, Stardome is issuing an open invitation to anyone interested in viewing the sky through a telescope to come into the observatory and talk to one of the astronomy educators.
Stardome astronomer Dr Grant Christie says the experience of seeing the universe through a telescope for the first time can leave a lasting impression on young minds.
“The night sky is often seen as a magical but unknown quantity. Seeing it up close and understanding that there is a rhyme and reason to it all can spark a lasting interest in the science of astronomy. It could be a great gift from parents to their children to share an experience like this.”
The “100 Hours of Astronomy” project is the largest global event taking place in the International Year of Astronomy 2009. It is expected that millions of people around the world will use this as an opportunity to have their first look through a telescope.
At Stardome, solar viewing will be offered during the daylight hours and night sky viewing will be available during the hours of darkness.
Mike Simmons, co-chair of the international project, says the event is key to achieving the goals of International Year of Astronomy 2009 – that is, to inspire greater understanding of astronomy and encourage young learners to ask questions.
“Astronomers are known for their enthusiasm and love of sharing knowledge, which are the main ingredients of 100 Hours of Astronomy. It's going to be an amazing time, as nothing of this scale has been attempted before. Every participant will be making history!"


Visitors during the 100 Hours of Astronomy will be able to view a range of the best objects viewable through a telescope during the time of their visit.

NB: If the weather is unfavourable for telescope viewing, Stardome will continue to be open with tours of the Large Edith Winstone Blackwell Zeiss Telescope and regular presentations on topics ranging from the planet Mars to Life on the International Space Station.

Saturn – from 10.00 until 4:30am (next day) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Jupiter – from 3.45am until 30 mins before sunrise each morning Mars – from 5.45am until 30 mins before sunrise each morning Moon – Thursday 10.00pm – 12.00am (next day) Friday 10.00pm – 1.00am (next day) Saturday 10.00pm – 2.00am (next day) Sunday 10.00pm – 3.00am (next day) Southern Cross at highest point - 12:00am until 2.00am each morning Omega Centauri Globular Cluster at highest point – 1.00am until 3.00am each morning Sun (via solar projection) - from one hour after sunrise to 30 mins before sunset each day

Stardome Observatory has created an environment that brings together astronomers and enthusiasts and inspires a love of the sky and the science behind it. Every year the organisation uses the best blend of education and entertainment to share its passion with close to 60,000 New Zealanders.

The observatory’s facilities include an amazing 360° digital dome theatre, the 0.5m Edith Winstone Blackwell Zeiss Telescope, and the Nustrini research telescope.

Situated in Auckland’s One Tree Hill Domain, Stardome Observatory is New Zealand’s leading astronomical attraction and invites you to enjoy the view.

A full list of public show times is available at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

turn off the lights

At 7:30 pm on 28 March, guests of the 50 InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels and resorts across Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific will be encouraged to turn off the lights in more than 11,000 rooms, as part of the WWF's (World Wildlife Fund) Earth Hour 2009.

With hotel restaurants, bars and lobbies also participating in the rapidly-growing event, IHG is supporting Earth Hour's objective of raising awareness of climate change issues and their effect on our planet.

As the WWF strives to secure one billion votes for action against climate change ahead of the 2009 Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, IHG ANZSP has swung its considerable network of hotels and resorts behind the cause.

"IHG was the first international hotel company to get behind Earth Hour, when InterContinental Sydney signed up to the inaugural Earth Hour in March 2007. In two years, this commitment has grown to encompass our entire collection of hotels across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia" said IHG ANZSP chief operating officer, Bruce McKenzie.

"We know hotels consume significant natural resources, and have been working for years to reduce the environmental impact of our hotels and resorts. Earth Hour is a fantastic initiative that raises awareness of the dangers of unchecked consumption and rallies the world to get behind a common cause, for a single hour each year. We'll be strongly urging our guests to get behind Earth Hour and show their support," Bruce said.

For more information on Earth Hour 2009, visit

The Ghan celebrates 80th Birthday

The Ghan, Australia's legendary rail journey, is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its original 1,500 kms service from Adelaide to Alice Springs in the heart of the Australian Outback.

The Ghan offers a choice of three levels of accommodation: Red, Gold and Platinum.

The Ghan is named after the turbaned and robed ‘cameleers’ who, before roads or rail, provided the only supply route to the middle of nowhere. First opened in 1929, the railroad linked Adelaide to Alice Springs. It took another 75 years before the track opened between Alice and Darwin. The two-night 2,979 kms classic rail journey takes you through the heart of the country: crossing deserts and the rusty reds of the McDonnell ranges northwards to Katherine and tropical Darwin.

World’s Largest Fish Make an Early Splash at Ningaloo Reef!

It’s only the start of March but the gentle giants of the ocean – the magnificent whale sharks – have already been sighted near Ningaloo Reef on Western Australia’s Coral Coast.

Whale sharks, which can grow up to 18 metres long, normally visit Ningaloo between early April and early July each year following the mass spawning of coral
in the pristine waters of Ningaloo Marine Park.

One of the Earth’s last true ocean paradises, Ningaloo is also one of very few regions in the world where whale sharks congregate regularly in coastal waters which are easily accessible to nature lovers.

Marine adventurers can swim with these huge but docile creatures by joining one of the specialist whale shark tour boats which operate out of the small coastal towns of Exmouth and Coral Bay.

There’s also plenty of other marine life to discover at Ningaloo Reef and, unlike many others, you can get to it just by stepping off the beach.

Slip on a snorkel or diving gear and swim with graceful manta rays, see dolphins and schools of brightly coloured fish in the clearest turquoise water imaginable. Rare turtle species hatch here in late January and February and you can watch this amazing natural phenomenon on special guided, eco-interactive trails.

If you don't want to get your feet wet, take one of the glass bottom boat tours or on land explore the rugged Cape Range National Park by 4WD.

At night relax at one of the regions resorts. Enjoy wild bush luxury at the new exclusive safari camp Sal Salis , or the stylish Novotel Ningaloo at Sunrise Beach.

Ningaloo Reef is a little over two hours by plane from Perth or two days drive by car.

For more information on tours and attractions in the region visit

Two Week Sale as Virgin Blue Announces New Non-Stop Melbourne–Darwin and Darwin – Perth Flights

Virgin Blue has announced a two week fare sale to celebrate the return of competition to the Melbourne-Darwin market with non-stop flights commencing on the route from 28 April 2009. The airline has also re-affirmed its commitment to Western Australia by introducing direct flights between Darwin and Perth from the same date.

Melbourne – Darwin from $99*
Darwin - Perth on sale for $149*

Virgin Blue’s new Melbourne-Darwin service will depart the Victorian capital late in the evening six times a week, arriving in the top end in the early morning. The return flight will depart Darwin at 6.15pm and arrive in Melbourne at 10.55pm.

The new Melbourne-Darwin services will carry overnight freight loads under an extension of Virgin Blue’s freight agreement with close partner Toll Priority, enabling the airline to offer affordable fares between Melbourne and Darwin.

Flights between Darwin and Perth will operate daily, departing Darwin at 7.00am arriving in Perth at 9.20am before turning around and landing back in Darwin at 4.25pm the same day. The airline has committed a Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the new routes.

In celebration of the new services Virgin Blue has launched a 14 day sale with special fares available from today until Thursday 26 March 2009, for travel from 28 April until 14 June, 2009:

Melbourne-Darwin: AUD$99* one way on the internet (regular lead-in fares will start from AUD$159 one way)
Darwin-Perth: AUD$149* one way on the internet (regular lead-in fares will start from AUD$279 one way)

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet or $15 more when booked by phone. Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. A credit card surcharge of an additional $3 per person per one way flight is applicable. For Virgin Blue bookings log on to or phone our award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 6789 or contact a travel agent. Fare price is based on GO! Fare and is non-refundable. Checked baggage charges apply to all Blue Saver and GO! Fares. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

Upcoming Events in and Around Queenstown

Guilty – the official NZ Open Bar:
Downtown in Queenstown the Guilty Bar, once the resort’s original court house, is the official NZ Open bar and will be themed to reflect the association. Players, caddies, sponsors, media and NZ Open visitors are being encouraged to use the Guilty Bar as a headquarters and special deals will be offered.

A “Cut Party” for those players who do not make the NZ Open cut will be staged on Friday March 13.
Venue: 45 Ballarat Street, Queenstown

Art Exhibition:
The Nadene Milne Gallery in Arrowtown is hosting an art exhibition featuring the work of Gretchen Albrecht, the ‘granddame’ of New Zealand modern art. Open from 10am – 5pm Venue: 16 Buckingham St. (behind the pharmacy), Arrowtown

Arrowtown Street Party:
The Arrowtown street party will be staged on Saturday March 14 with food, wine tasting and music. Bands will begin at 5.00pm and include the Arrowtown Festival Miners’ Band, well known local bands Middle Earth and the Master Blasters. The street party will conclude with a spectacular fire show by Flame Fire Productions.

Southern Landscape Art Exhibition:
The Southern Landscape exhibition represents and reminds how varied the South Island landscape is. Dates: 7 – 25 March Venue: milford galleries queenstown Cost: FREE Organisation: milford galleries queenstown Contact: Maurice Watson Email: Phone: (03) 4... Web:

House of Shem – Fine NZ Reggae Roots On a Rare South Island Tour:
A must see NZ Reggae Dub R&B act Dates: 12 – 13 Mar Venue: Revolver Cost: Tix $15 Organisation: Revolver International Contact: John Stapleton Email: Phone: 034418911 Web:

Cricket: State Championship – Otago vs Auckland:
The Otago Volts host the Auckland Aces in this match of the 2008/09 State Championship cricket competition. Dates: 13 – 16 Mar Venue: Queenstown Events Centre Contact: New Zealand Cricket Web:

Walk2Work 09:
On 18 March 2009, thousands of people across New Zealand will leave their cars at home and Walk2Work with friends, family and colleagues. Walk2Work encourages the people of Aotearoa to get out there, leave the car behind and walk to work, or utilise public transport for part of their journey and walk the rest. Walking to work can save you money, help save our environment and get you mentally prepared for your day ahead. See for more information

Summer Sessions ’09 “Diamonds in the Dirt”
Revolvers presents Diamonds in the Dirt Locally produced Film following the Cultures and Characters Queenstown Summer 09 Date: 20 Mar Venue: Revolver Cost: FREE Organisation: Revolver International Contact: John Stapleton Email: Phone: 034418911 Web:

Gibbston Harvest Festival:
A relaxed and fun afternoon for the whole family -- entertainment, games for the kids, food and wine. Come celebrate the grape harvest with the Gibbston community. Date: 21 Mar Organisation: Gibbston Harvest Festival Committee Contact: Tim Morrison Deaker Phone: 03 44... Time: 11 – 4pm Tickets available on day for NZ$15 Adults and children via gold coin donation Transport: Transport to the festival will be available through Snag Bus Tours, for bookings and enquiries phone 03 44...

Royal New Zealand Ballet – Tutus on Tour:
The wonderfully talented dancers from the Royal New Zealand Ballet present their popular road tour programme. A mixture of contemporary and traditional works provide a evening of delights. Date: Wed 22 Mar Venue: Queenstown Memorial Hall Organisation: Lakes Leisure Contact: Karen Gemmell Email: Phone: 03 45... Web:

International Ice Hockey comes to Queenstown:
The 2009 ICE BLACKS will go head to head with visiting HC Storm from Vassa, FINLAND in a four game series across New Zealand. Date: Wed 26 Mar Venue: Queenstown Fun Centre Cost: From $12 Contact: Queenstown Ice Hockey Club Web:

‘7 Before 7’ Dinner Special @ Threesixty
Queenstown’s favourite award-winning fusion restaurant invites you to share our passion for food with our locals special: The first 7 tables seated before 7pm receive 50% off their food bill. Every night.

Fine wine. Exquisite cocktails. Stunning fusion food. Giving you the whole experience.

Call today and reserve your table: 03 44... Threesixty Restaurant & Bar Beach Street - in front of Crowne Plaza Promotion on now. Not valid with any other offer or voucher.

Saturday Creative Queenstown Art and Craft Market:
Free weekly art and craft market at Earnslaw Park where the artists are selling their own work. No imported goods are allowed - only genuine handmade local products.

Every Saturday from 9.00 am until 4.00 pm Venue: Earnslaw Park Queenstown (near Steamer Wharf) Organisation: Creative Queenstown Contact: Marilyn Smith on 03 44... or 021 1... Web:

Queenstown Farmers’ Market:
For a great selection of fresh, seasonal and local produce; including fruit & vegetables, cheeses, breads, farm bacon, flowers, herbs, free range eggs, honey, chocolates, wild rabbit, coffee and much more. A foodie’s delight!

Every Saturday morning Dates: Every Saturday morning until 29 March Venue: The Anglican Church Grounds, cnr of Church & Camp Sts Contact: Sharlene Inch on 021 025... Email:

The Blue Train Announces Golf And Game Packages In South Africa

The Blue Train has just announced two fabulous packages combining this luxury rail experience in South Africa with a golfing break in KwaZulu-Natal and a safari in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Click here for more info!

A trip onboard The Blue Train is the ultimate way in which to experience South Africa’s beautiful landscapes from the comfort and luxury of Africa’s ‘Blue Jewel’, one of the country’s best-known tourism icons. This compelling combination of luxury train travel, world-class service and fine dining against a magnificent ever-changing backdrop, makes The Blue Train the experience of a lifetime.

The Blue Train has just announced two exciting packages with set departures in 2009, combining this luxury rail experience with golf in KwaZulu-Natal or a safari in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Zimbali Golf Breakaway
The Blue Train is offering an amazing Golfers Breakaways, departing:
19 - 23 November 2009

This 4-night package, departing on a Thursday evening, includes a return overnight journey on The Blue Train and 2 nights at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge on a B&B basis. It also includes 2 rounds of golf at Zimbali Golf Estate (including green fees and cart hire) OR a R730-00 voucher to use at Camelot Spa at Zimbali for non-golfers. Guests on the train also get a surprise gift on board and whilst at Zimbali, are invited to enjoy a traditional braai (BBQ) dinner on the Saturday night and Sunday buffet lunch. These special meals are also included in the package - as are the return road transfers from the station to Zimbali. The cost of this package is R9,680 (around £650) per person sharing in a Deluxe suite.

Safari in Style
The Blue Train is offering its Bakubung Bonanza packages again, due to popular demand, departing:
17 – 20 September 2009, and
29th December 2009 - 1st January 2010

This trip includes one overnight forward & one return day trip’s accommodation on The Blue Train, plus 2 nights accommodation at Bakubung Game Lodge in the Pilanesberg Game reserve on a DBB basis. The package also includes one guided game drive per day and road transfers to the Lodge. The cost of this package is R8 935-00 (around £595) per person sharing.

Both packages offer FANTASTIC value for money!

Qantas Announces Codeshare Agreement With Etihad Airways

Qantas announced today that it would add four Middle East destinations to its network from 29 March*, through a new codeshare arrangement with Etihad Airways.

Executive General Manager Qantas, Mr John Borghetti, said the codeshare agreement would give Qantas customers non-stop access to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub as well as connections to Amman in Jordan, Beirut in Lebanon and Bahrain.

“For the first time, Qantas will be able to offer direct access to multiple points in the Middle East from Sydney, Melbourne and from Brisbane.” Qantas will codeshare on 21 weekly Etihad services to Abu Dhabi:

11 non-stop from Sydney;
7 non-stop from Melbourne;
3 from Brisbane via Singapore.

Deluxe Cruise Ship A Unique Place To Stay During the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Norwegian Cruise Line’s luxury Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Star, will become a floating hotel for visitors to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Norwegian Star will arrive in Vancouver on February 10, 2010, after a four-day sailing from Los Angeles. She’ll reside in North Vancouver for the duration of the games, returning to L.A. on March 6.

Norwegian Star was purpose-built for Freestyle Cruising in 2001, and fully refurbished in 2006. While docked in North Vancouver, the ship will be a floating luxury lodge featuring all the amenities, activities and entertainment programs as if at sea, with a crew of approximately 1,000 tending to the needs of several thousand guests. A variety of rooms are available aboard the ship, ranging from staterooms to mini-suites with balconies and luxurious penthouse suites.

Transfers from/to the ship to North Vancouver and the city of Vancouver will be readily available to those staying on the ship.

Among its 2010 venues, Vancouver is home to the Olympic and Paralympic Village (location of the opening and closing ceremonies), ice hockey and skating sites. Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver (approximately a 20 minute drive from North Vancouver) will play host to freestyle skiing and snowboarding for the games.

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games are Friday, February 12 to Sunday, February 28, 2009. The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games take place Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 21, 2010.

Visit and

SAA Releases Top Value Fares From Adelaide And Perth To South Africa

As part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, South African Airways has announced great value fares to passengers travelling from Adelaide and Perth to Johannesburg return for $1300, with connecting fares to four cities in South Africa for an extra $100.

Thevan Krishna, SAA’s Head of Australasia said the new fares went on sale on Friday March 6 until Friday March 20 and are for travel between now and March 28, and then from April 15 until July 31, 2009.

“These fares offer excellent value to passengers between now and the end of July, particularly with the added advantage of very good connecting internal fares within South Africa,“ Thevan said.

“People can connect with Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth or East London for only $100 more, taking the maximum fare under this great offer to $1400,” he said.

According to Thevan Krishna, SAA is seeing strong interest in travel to South Africa and Africa due to the low value of the South African rand compared to the Australian dollar.

“2009 is shaping up as a big year as we build up momentum and prepare for the World Cup in 2010. As the fastest, most direct way of getting to the African continent from Australia, we are very excited about welcoming more Aussies on board SAA,” Thevan concluded.

For more information on SAA flights and reservations

US Tourists Spotting a Bargain and Heading to New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s drive to help halt the decline in international visitors to New Zealand is starting to show the first signs of success.

Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims says aggressive pricing and innovative marketing in the United States has seen bookings improve in recent weeks.

“At this stage, with bookings up week-on-week, indications are we’ve stemmed the short-term demand fall which is good news for tourism operators.

“Cumulatively we remain a long way below last year’s bookings. Nonetheless we are now more confident that we will not have to reduce capacity further than the 9% already in place for the next four months. “It certainly is encouraging to see that in the face of an economic crisis in the world’s largest economy, US consumers are still prepared to spend when they spot a great product at bargain prices. New Zealand’s appeal as a clean, green and safe destination has never been more valued.

“The challenge we therefore now face collectively as an industry is to invest further in our nation’s presence offshore. We will have to work more collectively than ever to grow demand long-term during this challenging economic cycle and claw back some of the decline we have seen over the last twelve months,” says Mr Sims.

Air New Zealand is currently promoting special return economy fares from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Auckland for as low as US$738 (18% saving), Premium Economy US$2359 (30% saving) and Business Premier US$5400 (46% saving).

Air New Zealand has also started a pricing and marketing campaign in the United Kingdom to entice more Brits to New Zealand, promoting bargain specials of return London-Auckland fares for just £571.

“We spend over $100 million annually on international sales and marketing activities, helping to attract the 800,000 offshore visitors who fly with us to New Zealand each year,” says Mr Sims.

“On top of these special deals, thanks to the weak New Zealand dollar, Americans can now visit and enjoy a half-price holiday which is a unique selling point for the country with today’s cash conscious tourists.” Kiwis looking for a cheap long-haul fare are not out of luck. Specials include cheap economy class fares to Asia, companion fare deals for Premium Economy and Business Premier Classes to a number of destinations and weekly grabaseat $1 reserve International Auctions.

Queenstown’s Winter Festival Celebrates 35 Year Milestone

The Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter party is celebrating 35 years of winter fun this year with ten days of totally outrageous and uniquely Queenstown events.

From 26 June to 5 July, thousands of locals and visitors will take to Queenstown’s streets and ski slopes to welcome in the start of winter with mountain races, street parties, fireworks, live concerts, comedy, theatre, and loads of family fun, as part of the 2009 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.

“Winter starts here”, says Festival Director Sally Feinerman who promises a programme that brings back the past, laughs at the present, has a sprinkling of glamour, a real community feel and plenty of opportunities to get in on the action.

“This is Queenstown’s official start of winter so we want everyone to get involved and party with us. We’re working to make the festival as accessible as possible with lots of free events and affordable ticket prices.” While most festivals average a seven year life span, Ms Feinerman believes the secret of the Winter Festival’s success is its ability to change with the times.

“Festival has always been, and always will be about celebrating who we are, what we are and where we are. Its roots are well and truly cemented after 34 years but we still regularly step back, reassess and continue to find new ways to engage with people.

“This year we’re working with as many local schools and community groups as possible to represent and celebrate the constantly changing diversity of Queenstown’s population.” Tickets will go on sale on 2 April on the Winter Festival website and through Ticket Direct. A promotion which runs from 2 April to 2 May will enable those quick off the mark to purchase tickets at ‘Early Bird’ prices.

For more information about the 2009 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival visit

Winter Starts Here! From 26 June to 5 July the 2009 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival celebrates 35 years of winter fun and festivities with ten days of totally outrageous and uniquely Queenstown events. Become a Friend of Festival to be first with the latest news and hot updates

Air Southwest To Connect London City To Newquay And Plymouth

UK regional airline Air Southwest is launching a new twice-daily service between London City Airport and Plymouth and Newquay airports from 20 April.

The new service will stop at Plymouth en-route to Newquay, allowing travellers from both Devon and Cornwall to benefit from the new connection to London City Airport, the capital’s most centrally located airport.

For passengers from the capital, the new route puts the far South West within easy reach for short breaks at a time when travellers are increasingly looking to holiday closer to home and avoid the high costs of euro zone breaks.

Richard Gooding OBE, Chief Executive of London City Airport, welcomed the announcement: “Air Southwest passengers will be able to travel to London’s financial centres faster than any other way with this new service. London City Airport’s close proximity to Canary Wharf and The City, with quick connections to the rest of London and the South East, makes it an obvious choice for the business traveller. With a check-in time of only 15 minutes, this new service will be popular with commuters wanting to maximise their business day.”

Peter Davies, managing director of Air Southwest, said: “This London City service will revolutionise air travel between Devon and Cornwall and the capital, saving our customers hours of travelling time whilst offering great value fares. Whilst the flight times have been designed to fit with the busy working lives of our business passengers, they are also perfect for London City passengers to make the most of short breaks enjoying the delights that Cornwall and Devon has to offer at all times of the year.”

Fares on the new flights have been designed to make the new service better value than either rail or road travel, with seats starting at £29 each way including taxes, charges and baggage.

Business customers will be able to take advantage of Air Southwest’s Business Plus service which offers a range of benefits including flexible booking and complimentary refreshments.

The new service will operate twice daily, Monday to Friday, and once a day at weekends. Seats are on sale now at

Home Suite Home Golf At Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa has launched a “Suite Golf” package that offers guaranteed tee times on St Andrews’ Old Course, recognized worldwide as the Home of Golf.

Whilst indulging their passion for golf, visitors can enjoy life in a luxury suite at the five-star Old Course Hotel, which enjoys a unique location overlooking the 17th Road Hole of the Old Course and St Andrews Bay, made famous by the iconic film Chariots of Fire.

In addition to a round over the Old Course, the three-night package includes a tee time at The Duke’s Course, the Peter Thomson-designed heathland course that offers majestic views over the historic town of St Andrews, and a round over either the New or Jubilee Course.
Off the course, the Suite Golf package also comprises dinner on two nights in the Road Hole Fine Dining, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant that boasts three AA rosettes, and a 50-minute luxury spa treatment in the hotel’s Kohler Waters Spa.

“St Andrews is a world-renowned golfing mecca and the best place from which to enjoy it is the luxurious Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, which borders the 17th fairway of the Old Course making the experience all the more memorable ,” says Debbie Taylor, Managing Director, Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa.

“Due to overwhelming demand, the St Andrews Links Trust traditionally runs a daily ballot for the highly-coveted tee times on the Old Course, so it is a real bonus to be able to include guaranteed tee times on a course considered a must play due to its historic place in the heart of golf.”
In addition to playing golf, visitors can also sample the unique atmosphere and historical coastal setting of St Andrews by visiting the historical buildings of St Andrews Castle, the Cathedral ruins and the University of St Andrews, the most ancient in Scotland. Around St Andrews there are also many picturesque fishing villages, such as East Neuk, Crail and Anstruther, to explore as well as numerous country parks and nature trails.

The Suite Golf package, launched in honour of ‘Homecoming Scotland 2009’, a series of events throughout the year in honour of poet Robert Burns’ 250th birthday, starts at £1,770 per person based on two people sharing and is valid until the end of 2009.

For further details email and mention booking reference HOMGLF or visit

Vanuatu Launch Bargains

By taking advantage of heavily discounted Vanuatu airfares and a range of “Stay/Pay” discounts, Norfolk & Pacific Holidays have been able to launch their new Vanuatu programme offering a range of 7night holidays to Vanuatu leading in at The Moorings Hotel on Port Vila Harbour front for just AUD$895pp twin share from Brisbane & Sydney, and from AUD$975 from Melbourne.

“Our range of Vanuatu holidays will offer a choice of full service or value based airline, and the most competitive resort specials” said Colin Slark, Norfolk & Pacific Business Development Manager, who has many years experience wholesaling Vanuatu.

The Autumn Super Savers range is available for sale until 31st March, and for travel until 30 June 2009. Accommodation offers include many other popular Port Vila properties such as Poppys on the Lagoon; Le Meridien Port Vila Resort, Spa & Casino; The Sebel; Sunset Bungalows Resort; Le Lagon Resort and the very "top shelf" Eratap Beach Resort

“Each property has included some great value added offers and another unique feature is the inclusion of a Port Vila introductory tour and Vanuatu Bounty Pass discounts for all guests” added Mr Slark.

For those who want a break, but don’t have the time for a whole week away Norfolk & Pacific also have an enticing deal called “Get lost for the weekend in a tropical Island” priced at $735pp twin share. It’s at Turtle Bay Resort, leaving Brisbane on Air Vanuatu Friday morning, and just over 2.5 hours later arrive in Espiritu Santo for a laid-back tropical weekend, and return Monday evening.

Pet Porpoise Pool Recognised As One Of The Best

Coffs Harbour is now home to the best tourist attraction in Australia, after the Pet Porpoise Pool won the top prize at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Melbourne last weekend.
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to winning awards for the Pet Porpoise Pool.

“We’ve proved that even a small park like the Pet Porpoise Pool can win a national tourism award,” chief executive officer Paige Sinclair said.
The award was one of 26 presented and was for tourism attractions that have mostly domestic visitors, as opposed to the Major Tourism Attraction category that has more international tourists.

“I nearly fell off the chair, it came as a complete surprise, we were up against some big players,” Paige said. “We’re all just over the moon, although I don’t think it’s sunk into everyone yet.”

Awards are mounting for the popular marine attraction, which has won the regional award for the last three years and the last two state awards in the same category.

NSW had more winners than any other state in the awards and Minister for Tourism Jodi McKay said the awards show that tourism in NSW sets the benchmark. “The winners are a fine example of the unique tourism product offered to travellers, and plays a critical role in bringing out the best in what NSW has to offer” she said.

The award selection process began in July and Paige said it was really about writing a submission that reflects the passion of the Park and its staff.

“The Pet Porpoise Pool is different, because we do something no one else does – you can get close and personal with our beautiful marine animals,” Paige said.
“Everyone can get kissed by dolphins and seals, and can be touched by magic.”

Taronga’s “Roar and Snore" Moves Onto Sydney Harbour

Taronga’s Zoo’s new-look overnight accommodation program, “Roar and Snore“, now has a dress circle location amid the Zoo’s wildlife and overlooking spectacular Sydney Harbour in Australia...

The cliff-top location boasts ultra-comfortable safari-style tents, each with a view of the Harbour and Sydney’s majestic city skyline and is a the base for the tours and wildlife encounters with Australia’s famous wildlife from kangaroos and koalas to emus and possums throughout the overnight stay at Taronga.

From arrival in the evening to the next day’s dawn, the views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are always changing with the city’s lights sparkling at night and the Harbour’s surface criss-crossed with boats.

The Zoo’s General Manager Life Sciences and Environmental Education, Cameron Kerr, said: ‘What started out as a simple camping experience at our Education Centre has now moved centre-stage with accommodation and meals to match the remarkable wildlife experience of staying in the zoo overnight.”

” Besides meeting Australian animals during the visit, there’s lots of free-ranging wildlife living just outside your tents from kookaburras with their laughing, early morning calls to Brushtail and Ringtail Possums, which are often met during the night walks in the Zoo. ”
“The Roar and Snore experience includes rides on the spectacular Sky Safari Cable Car which gives passengers stunning views of the Zoo and the harbour as it sails up from the Zoo’s own Ferry Wharf to the very top of Taronga. Visitors can stay on in the Zoo for the whole of the next day too.”

The new-look “Roar and Snore“ is now a fully-hosted experience based around architecturally designed tents, where a sumptuous roast feast and drinks in the main tent are complimented by up-close animal encounters and the only opportunity to camp overnight with the views of Sydney Harbour and the city on one side and the sounds of lions, birds and Meerkats on the other.

The tents are equipped with fully-dressed double and single beds. All linen is provided and you also have the chance to shower in the new amenities block just steps from your tent, while you enjoy the world famous views from Taronga Zoo.

Mr Kerr said: “I can’t think of another place in Sydney where you can stay overlooking the Harbour and discover the wonders of the Australian and exotic wildlife in our care. You may wake the next morning to the roar of the lions or an elephant trumpeting as you prepare to experience the zoo before the crowds. “

“Breakfast is taken in the main tent with the sprawling view of Sydney’s Harbour just in front of you. While you’re listening to the bird calls, the Harbour is waking up. As the sun strikes the glass of the business district’s tall towers, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, ferries and small boats are cutting across the water below you. Then it’s off to feed a giraffe on your way ‘behind the scenes' to learn about the secrets of this famous and fascinating zoo.“

The tours are all led by trained zoo staff who can answer their guests’ questions about wildlife. The tours introduce people to some very special times in Taronga, not usually seen by the zoo’s daytime visitors. Dusk and early mornings are particularly special and night time offers the chance to see many of the animals including the big cats as they commence their nocturnal activities.

Mr Kerr said: “Our zoos are never still and our staff work everyday of the year. The best thing about choosing a “Roar and Snore, is that you are supporting our work with wildlife. Zoos are now one-stop conservation agencies that care for wildlife, teach visitors about animals’ needs, start field conservation projects, manage breeding programs and conduct scientific research and our “Roar and Snorers” are part of all this.”

Whistler Getting Dumped On Just In Time For Start Of Spring Skiing

Spring skiing and snowboarding in Canada is a veritable right of passage for the snow junkie: soft bumps and corn snow, bluebird (read: no clouds) days, fewer crowds in lines and on hills, and no parkas required. And you can get to British Columbia direct from Australia with Air Canada—without breaking the bank.

With 13 resorts, choosing to ski BC isn’t difficult but deciding where to go first might be. Sun Peaks delivers BC’s second-largest skiable terrain and is, alongside Big White, Kimberley, and Apex, known for a family-friendly environment. Kicking Horse and Revelstoke deliver it steep and deep while Fernie and Red are known for their champagne powder. Uncrowded cruisers lure many to Panorama and Silver Star, and Mount Washington and Whitewater are perfect for those who want something away from the hustle and bustle. Then of course, there’s Whistler Blackcomb.

Whistler Blackcomb has been getting dumped on just in time for skiers and riders to slap on the factor 30 (beware the goggle tan!) and hit the hill. Last week those lucky enough to be on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains sent messages to envious mates Down Under proclaiming “scored the week of the season” and “just slayed 25cms of pow.”

If Whistler is on your BC spring-skiing itinerary, time your visit with the annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (April 17 to 26th, With under 12 months until the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games hits Whistler, the resort’s biggest pre-Olympic event gears up to celebrate its 14th year. A celebration of snow, sports, art and music, it offers Canada’s biggest free outdoor music festival, slopestyle events, team-formatted athletic competitions, a Big Air spectacle, new media, film, storytelling, fashion, skateboarding and photography.

Get a seat to Whistler for cheap: Air Canada has spring skiing on sale! Economy flights from Australia to Vancouver (with Victoria, Kelowna and Kamloops now Common Rated) from $1,932.00*. Contact your local travel agent for details.

*Prices include applicable taxes and surcharges
*Prices are subject to change and availability and may be withdrawn without notice
*Travel dates effective immediately through to 31 May 09
*Ticket must be paid for within 72 hours of booking or by 18 March 09
*$1,932 fare based on A class availability, higher fare levels available
*Full published fare rules apply

For more information about Whistler, visit

Enjoy the Adventure of Connections' New 4 Day Red Centre Safari

Connections Safaris has launched a new four day Red Centre safari that combines memorable activities and a high quality camping experience with the Northern Territory’s awe-insipring landscape.

The 4 Day Spirit of the Red Centre 4WD safari is an intimate, small group tour with a maximum of six passengers. This small group enables travellers to experience the majesty of Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kaja Tjuta with personalised guided walks and interaction with members of local indigenous communities

Connections is a leading operator of safari-style holidays for couples, families and solo travellers who want to experience the culture and environment in which they travel and benefit from the convenience and cost savings and of travelling in a small group.

With the most modern fleet of custom built vehicles operating in the Northern Territory, Connections promises comfortable travelling. Accommodation is at private campsites with modern bathroom facilities, spacious canvas cabins (permanent tents) with beds and environmental lanterns. However those travellers keen to sleep under the myriad of stars in the outback skies are welcome to do so!

What: 4 Day Spirit of the Red Centre 4WD safari

Where: Departs from Alice Springs, explores Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta, with one night at Uluru, one night at Kings Creek Station and one night Wallace Rockhole.

Highlights: A gourmet BBQ and star talk within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park after sunset, an Uluru sunrise restaurant breakfast followed by an interpretive walking tour with Anangu Aboriginal Guides, Kings Canyon Rim Walk and dot painting workshop with community elders at Wallace Rockhole.

Includes: Transport, park entrance fees, camping fees and all equipment, meals, wine with dinner, activities, guided walks, bath towel, travel pillow to keep and sleeping bag

Price: From $1595 per adult, and $1276 per child (6-14 years, accompanied by an adult)

For more

Four Points By Sheraton Kuching Opens Doors

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Kuching, the first new international hotel to open in Kuching, Malaysia in almost two decades. Owned by Global Ulpine Sdn. Bhd., the newly constructed hotel is also the brand’s first open in South East Asia. Four Points by Sheraton Kuching offers 421 spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and a lively, social atmosphere.

Located just minutes from Kuching International Airport, Four Points by Sheraton Kuching is adjacent to the Gyratory roundabout, 15 minutes south of the city center. Guests can explore the local area on foot or take a short taxi ride to discover the city’s diverse selection of shops, restaurants, temples and bazaars. Nearby attractions include Sarawak Cultural Village, Damai Beach and the orangutans of Borneo at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

“Four Points by Sheraton is delighted to welcome guests to Kuching, one of Malaysia’s most colorful and dynamic cities,” said Sandy Swider, Vice President, Four Points by Sheraton. “Four Points by Sheraton gives guests just what they need – comfortable rooms, an inviting social atmosphere and extras to help them feel fulfilled at the end of the day.”

“We’re extremely excited to introduce the Four Points by Sheraton brand to Malaysia,” said Mal McArdle, General Manager of Four Points by Sheraton Kuching. “We offer guests approachable and straightforward hospitality – a style that will work really well for the Kuching market."

Developed and owned by Global Upline Sdn. Bhd., Four Points by Sheraton Kuching combines modern architectural design with practical use of space. The hotel is opening just 11 months following the start of construction.

“The simple functionality of our design allows us to introduce the Four Points’ honest, uncomplicated hospitality to a market that’s hungry for a new international hospitality brand,” said Bobby Ting, Assistant Managing Director of Global Upline. “This property is testament to our ability to deliver turnkey projects to the market in an accelerated timeframe.”

Boasting high ceilings and tall glass windows in its spacious lobby, the hotel showcases the revitalized design aesthetic of Four Points by Sheraton with simple furnishings, clean lines, classic forms and a contemporary look. All guestrooms will offer the signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort Bed, large workspace with ergonomic desk chair, 32-inch plasma television and a laptop-sized safe. Premier category of rooms also offer iPod entertainment docks, complimentary Wi-Fi and access to the Premier Lounge, while the bathroom offers a refreshing rainforest shower and sleek, vanity sink.

Extensive banquet and conferencing facilities cater to meetings and functions of all kinds. The hotel’s stylish Rainforest Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,300 people for a sit-down banquet and is one of the largest banquet spaces in the city. To improve traffic flow, the hotel features a separate main entrance for larger groups and banquet and conference attendees as well as individual elevators to the Ballroom and meeting facilities.

Four Points by Sheraton Kuching also offers three restaurants and lounges on the lobby level including the Eatery, an all-day dining restaurant serving up international delicacies and local favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Designed for buffets with live cooking stations and colorful treats for children of all ages, The Eatery can accommodate up to 306 people and includes two private rooms. Wrapped, a café-deli is ideal a quick, simple bite and a great coffee and The Lounge provides the perfect ambience for light business discussions or relaxing cocktails with friends.

The state-of-the-art fitness center is outfitted with the latest in Technogym equipment. Additional facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and pool bar, a spa with eight treatment rooms, steam room and sauna and a 24-hour business center. WiFi is available and complimentary in the lobby and other public spaces.

As an added service to guests, Four Points by Sheraton Kuching will be the first hotel in the city to offer guests complimentary shuttle transfers between the hotel and the airport as well as to and from the city’s commercial center. Bookings can be made directly through the hotel by emailing Alternatively, guests can access the hotel’s website