Thursday, April 30, 2009

Auckland Museum and leading musicians get together on Sonic Museum

Adding music and sound inspired by galleries at the museum.

Auckland Museum has joined forces with some of the biggest names in New Zealand music to work on a ground breaking project called ‘Sonic Museum’, which will see the production of a series of exclusive new music tracks inspired by galleries at Auckland Museum.

Musicians and sound artists from the dance, rock, ambient, orchestral and jazz scenes have been invited to write and record a track inspired by a gallery of their choice in the museum. The project will be launched on Thursday 7th May to coincide with the LATE at the Museum event and the launch of New Zealand Music Month. Visitors to Auckland Museum can hear tracks by donning a special set of headphones and embarking on a sonic exploration of the collections. The tracks will also be available for download onto portable music players from the museum website.

“The collections in Auckland Museum affect each of us in different ways. In Sonic Museum, a diverse selection of original music accompanies you through the galleries,” says Auckland Museum Director Dr Vanda Vitali.

“This exciting project highlights the way in which our thoughts, feelings and sensations are constantly reorganised by new experiences. On the one hand the music allows us to consider how others, in this case a group of New Zealand’s top musicians, can be inspired by galleries in the Museum. At the same time the tracks develop our own experience of the displays, encouraging a new awareness of the collections, of ourselves, and of the world in which we live.”

Musicians taking part in Sonic Museum and the galleries they have chosen are: Tiki Taane (Maori Court), Tim Coster (Landmarks: International Design and Decrorative Arts), Don McGlashan (Origins), Richard Francis (Land), Nathan Haines (Oceans), Rachel Shearer (Volcanoes), Phil Dadson (Ancient Worlds), Chris Adams (World War I Sanctuary), Rosy Parlane (World War II Hall of Memories).

Sonic Museum provides a rare opportunity to hear music and sound in the setting which inspired the composition, and in some cases in which it was recorded. It will run from Thursday 7th May to Monday 31st August at Auckland Museum and will cost $10.00 to hire headphones and audioplayer. Information about each composition plus a biography on each of the musicians is also included. Alternatively, all tracks will be able to be downloaded from

Universal Studios Singapore embarks on global talent search

Universal Studios Singapore is set to embark on an 11-city audition world tour, in search of the world’s best stunt performers, stilt walkers, puppeteers, vocal impersonators, singers, dancers and celebrity look-alikes.

The talent search kicks off in Singapore next Monday and Tuesday, before moving to Kuala Lumpur (May 4-5), Hong Kong (May 10-11), Manila(May 15-16), Australia's Gold Coast (May 20-21), Melbourne (May 25-27), Auckland (May 31-June 1), Orlando (June 6-7), Toronto (June 13-14), Salt Lake City (June 18-19) and Hollywood (June 23-25).

Ms Andrea Teo, Vice President of RWS Entertainment, said: “In keeping with the world-class entertainment standards of Universal Studios theme parks, we want to attract the world's best talents, making Universal Studios Singapore an experience that will leave everyone breathless.

“We are offering full-time jobs to a group of skilled performers who have traditionally relied on short-term gigs and ad-hoc performances as livelihood.

“And of course, the chance to work in cosmopolitan Singapore, and become the pioneer term of performers in the latest Universal Studios them park in the world.”

Successful applicants will be notified by August and offered a contract with Singapore’s new USD$4.32 billion integrated family resort, Resorts World at Sentosa – home of Universal Studios Singapore.

In addition to training with show directors and stunt coordinators for their performances at the park, this might be a chance in a lifetime for some talents to relocate to Singapore by years end, in preparation for the park’s early 2010 opening.
Universal studios Singapore will feature 24 rides- including the world’s first ‘Transformers’ ride- shows and attractions spread across seven themed zones.

Queensland's Hottest Deals

It's no secret travellers are looking for more value for their holiday dollar! Here's the first of Tourism Queensland's regular new updates on the hottest holiday deals on offer. Please contact us for high res images and hope Queensland's hottest holiday deals help your readers warm up in Queensland for less.

Queensland Islands
* Voyages Hotel & Resorts will offer meal-inclusive packages from May 1. Guests booking four nights or more on Brampton Island, Dunk Island or Heron Island receive breakfast, lunch and dinner included for free and kids still stay and eat free on Dunk and Heron Islands. The offer is valid until September 30, 2009. Bookings 1300 134 044,

* Stay at Queensland's newest island resort, Koala Adventure Island, for guests aged 18 years and over only, from $49 per person per night including ferry transfers. Bookings must be for a minimum of two nights and offer is valid until June 30, 2009. Bookings 1800 466 444.

* Escape to Fraser Island and Kingfisher Bay Resort before September 20, 2009 and receive a third night free for every two nights booked. Twin-share hotel resort accommodation starts from $99 per person. Triple share in a two-bedroom villa is also just $99 per person, per night. Bookings 1800 FRASER or

* Sofitel Brisbane Central Met NY packages start from $275 per night including superior room accommodation, breakfast for two at Thyme2 Interactive Restaurant and two tickets to the exclusive "American Impressionism and Realism exhibition: A Landmark Exhibition from the MET" at the Queensland Art Gallery from May 30-September 20, 2009. Bookings 07 3835 4444.

* The Novotel Brisbane Sunday Breeze package offers overnight Sunday accommodation, full buffet breakfast for two and free parking until 6pm Monday for $159 per room until July 6, 2009. Bookings 07 3309 3309,

Sunshine Coast
* Noosa's annual Mayfiesta is a month filled with fun, food and frivolity and this year includes a selection of great holiday deals offering 25% off select accommodation, wellbeing, shopping, tours and restaurants. Mayfiesta events include the Settler's Cove Noosa Food and Wine Festival and Streetfest on Thomas, the Noosa Blue Water Swim and the Noosa Journal Riverfest Regatta. More information

Reefsleep – Stay For The Night and be Stimulated

The sensory stimuli are all there - the intensity of the stars, the tranquillity of the Great Barrier Reef amidst the hush of the Coral Sea at night and the spectacle of an orange-red sunset.

The financial stimulus package will allow you to experience it, transporting you 51 nautical miles off the coast to a mini floating hotel on Hardy Reef for two days and one night, providing a unique opportunity to unwind in the solitude and peace of Reefsleep.

Reefsleep accommodates a maximum of six guests at any one time in a four berth bunk room or luxurious king room for couples with their own personal Fantasea host catering to their needs.

The cost is AUD$460 per person in a four share Bunk Room or AUD$630 per person in the King Room inclusive of all meals including wine with dinner, two scuba dives, snorkelling equipment and underwater viewing observatory.

Reefsleep Includes;

•Two full days and one nights accommodation at Fantasea’s Reefsleep on the Great Barrier Reef.

•Return transfers from Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.

•Personalised service by a Reefsleep host.

•Snorkelling equipment, including individually sealed snorkel mouthpiece.

•Two SCUBA dives.

•Unlimited access to the underwater viewing observatory

•Al fresco dinner including wine under the stars.


•Two buffet lunches, morning and afternoon tea daily.

•Private lockers and bathrooms.

•Optional extras that can be provided include scuba diving (PADI) for both first time and certified divers, guided snorkel tours with reef interpreters and helicopter scenic flights over world-famous Heart Reef.

For further information or to book phone +61 (0)7 4946 5111 or visit

Unlimited Drinks & all Meals in Vanuatu

Savvy Australians with less money to spend on their holidays, and worried about over-spending once they arrive are opting for ALL INCLUSIVE offers - that is, all drinks and all meals included in the cost, so that there are no nasty surprises when checking out of the resort, like having spent too long at the swim up bar!

Now there is a way to experience Vanuatu’s premier resort with Norfolk & Pacific Holidays “all inclusive” package, offering the popular 140 room Le Lagon Resort in Port Vila, as one such holiday option. Six nights flying from Brisbane costs a remarkably reasonable AUD$1935 per person twin share, and that includes flights on the full service Air Vanuatu, transfers and “all inclusive” accommodation. Flying ex Sydney costs just AUD$60 more at AUD$1995 pp and from Melbourne & nights costs AUD$2249 per person twin share

“The best thing about our “all inclusive” holiday in Vanuatu is that from the moment you arrive at the fabulous Le Lagon Resort to the day you come home, you can enjoy 3 meals a day, alcoholic drinks and nightly theme buffet entertainment, all without opening your wallet.” said Colin Slark, Business Development Manager at NPH.

Warwick Hotels South Pacific who operate Le Lagon Resort, have mastered the “all inclusive” concept in their two Coral Coast Fiji properties, the Naviti Resort & The Warwick Resort and know very well how Australians are looking for value for money holidays in these troubled economic times.

Mr Slark continued “Vanuatu is a happy place and I would return there in a heartbeat for a perfect holiday. Le Lagon’s location is stunning, and the resort management have ensured there's plenty to do for everyone as well as a Kids Club. Kayaks, catamarans and snorkels are free and highly recommended for exploring Erakor Lagoon, and for “all inclusive” guests as well as unlimited food & beverages, they even include Free Tennis; Free Golf green fees and a free Scuba Diving lesson. Additionally we have thrown in a free introductory tour of Port Vila, so whilst the initial price may be higher than a standard holiday, if you go “all inclusive” it is value packed and the only thing extra you may want to treat yourself to is a Spa Beauty treatment or a Round Island tour!

These packages must be booked before 30 May 2009 and are valid for travel until 08 Dec 2009, with high season surcharges.

Email: Details are aIso available on line at the new website

Friday Night Moonlight River Escape Aboard MV Fantasea Ammari

A fortnightly Friday night cruise aboard a 60m cruising catamaran now provides a tranquil, Friday night idyll allowing Brisbane residents and visitors to enjoy the lights of the city skyline.

The two and a half hour cruises aboard the boutique cruise ship MV Fantasea Ammari include a two course meal with beer, wine and soft drinks and are priced at AUD$120 per head.

Enabling guests to enjoy the tranquillity of the river and admire the city lights, the cruises leave Skyring Terrace at Newstead at 6.30pm and return at 9.00pm with a jazz band on board providing entertainment.

The menu of tempura fish, tandoori chicken breast and lamb and rosemary sausage kebabs with a choice of salads is complemented by a selection of Sirromet white, red and sparkling wines and a range of beers.

The 60 metre MV Fantasea Ammari, which has previously cruised the Mediterranean and the Whitsundays, boasts four decks including an expansive, open sun deck which allows guests to fully appreciate Brisbane at night from the river.

The ship can host 270 guests while cruising the river or 180 in Moreton Bay.

It has four star accommodation for 64 guests in 32 spacious, air conditioned cabins equipped with ensuite bathrooms, bar fridge and plasma television screens and can be chartered for corporate or private events.

The ship is part of the Fantasea Adventure Cruising fleet which is owned and operated by the Campbell Family under the company Riverside Marine with headquarters situated on the Brisbane River in Newstead.

For reservations or further information call +61 7 3426 2520 or email

Warm the Soul With a Fireside Indulgence at Peppers Guest House

One of the Hunter’s best-loved retreats, Peppers Guest House, has uncorked a weekend of fireside indulgence, fine wines and wonderful food for a soul-warming escape this winter.

The retreat has teamed with acclaimed winery Pepper Tree Wines to offer the special getaway in celebration of the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month in June – where an elegant guest house experience and the finest local produce are certain to provide a palate-pleasing combination.

Priced from AUD$425* per person, the Fireside Indulgence package includes two nights accommodation double share in a Vintage or Classic Room with breakfast each morning; dinner in Chez Pok Restaurant; pre-dinner hosted fireside tasting of Pepper Tree Wines matched with chef’s selection of canap├ęs and a complimentary bottle of Pepper Tree Wines Reserve Cocqan Shiraz.

Guests also have the opportunity to upgrade to a Pepper Tree five course degustation menu with matched wines for $45 per person extra.

Featuring 48 guest rooms including a four-bedroom homestead, Peppers Guest House offers the ideal getaway from the stresses of everyday life, an easy two hour drive north of Sydney on the F3 highway.

The retreat provides the perfect environment for guests to do as much or as little as they please, with onsite facilities including the acclaimed Chez Pok restaurant, indulgent endota retreat spa, tennis court and indoor pool and spa all set on 20 hectares of delightful country gardens.

The many delights of the Hunter Valley are only moments away including winery tours, hot air ballooning, cheese tasting, golf, horse and camel riding, carriage rides, sky diving and 4WD adventures to name but a few.

Peppers Retreats, Resorts & Hotels manages a collection of premium retreats, resorts and hotels in beautiful locations throughout Australia and New Zealand, including NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, NT, TAS, North and South Island.

For reservations or further information please contact Peppers Guest House on (02) 4993 8999 or email

Celebrate! as Darling Harbour comes of age on Sunday 3 May

On Sunday 3 May, Darling Harbour will mark its 21st Anniversary with its biggest celebration of the year with multicultural music, dance, entertainment, food and spectacular fireworks.

Presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Celebrate! is a once-in-a-lifetime FREE event that will bring together 200 of Australia’s best multicultural performers, 120 dancers, 11 bands and more!

Experience the Multicultural Carnivale from 11am, enjoy World Music from West Africa and Latin America on Cockle Bay from 2pm and have the kids in fits of laughter at the Children’s Corner. The celebrations reach their peak with a Carnivale Parade along the Urban Stream and the Gala Concert, featuring Wes Car, TaikOz and fireworks on Cockle Bay from 6pm.

Multicultural Carnivale at Tumbalong Park

Starting at 11am, Tumbalong Park will host an enormous Multicultural Carnivale that will feature everything from Indigenous performers, contemporary Indian music and Korean dancers to Polish folkloric groups, Carribean reggae bands and Spanish flamenco dancers.

Some of the highlights include West African dancers and drummers Mohata, and the South American rhythms of Los Gaucho featuring Argentinean Zapateo and Boleadoras dancers.

Circle of Rhythm will also perform their renowned blend of Indian, Polynesian and Japanese rhythms featuring the tabla, sitar and drums.

Students from Alexandria Park Community School will display the traditional nowey – an indigenous stringy-bark canoe – and demonstrate their crafting skills as they build model versions of the nowey.

Children’s Corner on Curtain Call Lawn

Four hours of kids’ entertainment will kick off at 12pm at Curtain Call Lawn. Kids will love the zany antics of Leo the Clown and Ace P Freckle, and they can even create their own quirky head gear at hat-making workshops hosted by Circus Solarus.

Budding photographers from four to 16 years of age can enter a photographic competition to win one of ten Darling Harbour experience packages.

Two special photographic workshops will be held at 12.30pm and 2.30pm where kids can learn the basics on taking photographs and tips on what makes a good image. Kids can capture images based on their ‘Celebrations at Darling Harbour’ every day from 3 May until the competition closes on 18 October.

There is a first prize, runner-up prize and a people's choice award for all photographs entered in each of three categories: 4–6 years, 7–11 years and 12–16 years.

World Music on the Aquashell at Harbourside

From 2pm, the Aquashell will showcase some of Australia’s best world music artists.

Australia’s leading world music band, Marsala will kick start the Aquashell entertainment. Musicians from West Africa, Russia, Italy, Spain and Macedonia team up with local artists to create a cultural banquet that embraces everything from the music of Zimbabwe and Senegal to the music of Tom Waits and Paolo Conte – with tangos, gypsy music, Macedonian love songs, Spanish rumbas, and everything in between.

Sonora Galaxia, Australia’s most popular Latin show band will perform an exhilarating mix of their hot and spicy rhythms including rumba, salsa, mambo and Latin pop, followed by the powerful grooves and infectious contemporary beats of African and American group, Panjea.

Carnivale Parade

At 5.45pm visitors can join in the Carnivale Parade with all the multicultural performers as they make their way from Tumbalong Park to Cockle Bay via the Urban Stream.

Gala Concert and Fireworks Finale on Cockle Bay

The Gala Concert will open with a traditional Indigenous dance performance on the Aquashell at 6.15pm.

Wes Carr will take centre stage at 6.25pm to perform a selection of songs from his recently released debut album The Way the World Looks including the hits You and Feels Like Whoa.

The highly acclaimed drumming group TaikOz will combine the visceral power of Japanese taiko and the ethereal sound of bamboo shakuhachi with a breathtaking synchronised fireworks spectacular to create a dramatic, explosive finale.

Further information about the 21st Anniversary celebrations and the children’s photographic competition is available at

Luxury Jamaican Villa Holidays At Value For Money Prices

A luxury family holiday in a staffed villa in Jamaica is being made more affordable thanks to the Summer Break Villa package from Half Moon, the resort near Montego Bay with prices starting from under £85 (US$125) per person per night. As a bonus the resort will add up to US$1,050 in resort credits.

Half Moon offers 32 lavish Royal Villas with up to 7 bedrooms so several generations can holiday together. Each villa is staffed by a butler, housekeeper and cook to take care of all arrangements from cooking meals to booking activities and even doing the washing.

Designed to be like an exclusive hotel, the villas have expansive living areas, private swimming pools and gardens and all bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms.

Villa rates start from US$1,250 per night for a five bedroom villa, US$1,500 per night for a six bedroom villa and US$1,750 per night for a seven bedroom villa.

The package includes breakfast for all fully paid adults and round trip airport transfers from Montego Bay. Children aged under 12 can stay for free when accompanied by two adults. Children also receive a 50% discount on meal plans.

Half Moon will also add credits of up to US$1,050 to be spent on resort activities such as golf, horse riding or swimming with dolphins, pampering at Fern Tree, the Spa at Half Moon or meals and drinks at the numerous on site bars and restaurants.

The Summer Break Villa package is available from May 1 to December 14, 2009.

Half Moon is nestled on 400 acres with a two mile, white sand beach, and has something to suit all the family. On-site facilities include the award winning Fern Tree, The Spa at Half Moon, Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed 18-hole golf course, Half Moon Golf Academy, 13 floodlit tennis courts, equestrian centre, fitness centre, 51 swimming pools, the Anancy Children’s Village, watersports, dolphin lagoon, restaurants, bars and shopping village.

For more information visit

Luxury Yacht Southern Cloud Available for Charter in Sydney Harbour

Australian private charter yacht, Southern Cloud is available for short term private and corporate charter in and around Sydney Harbour. A complete and unique luxury experience, Southern Cloud provides everything you could want in a luxury sailing yacht.

This fully refurbished and modernised 130ft sailing charter yacht is able to comfortably sleep 12 in decadent and luxurious surroundings. Including fully electric en-suite facilities for all seven bedrooms, full internet access, laundry and climate control, modern entertainment and a private crew of six staff, you will not have a single worry whilst on board.

On deck, expansive space provides room for dining and entertainment, making Southern Cloud the perfect vessel to experience and explore magical Sydney Harbour. With a 25 ft beam, this classically Bermuda rigged yacht can easily cater for large functions and events across the vast deck space.

“Southern Cloud represents a rare opportunity to privately charter a luxury yacht of this size and quality in Australian waters,” Ben Harvey, Southern Cloud’s manager says.

“Without physically leaving, you can escape the rigors and stress of Sydney on Southern Cloud. We can take you a million miles away by just sailing around the corner, and leave you without a worry on your mind”

This exclusive charter opportunity comes with everything you will need during your stay: a dedicated staff including a chef, engineer, stewardess and First Mate, diving and snorkelling equipment, a 24-hour water taxi service and all of the equipment you could need are provided for.

For AUD$1650 per person for three days and two nights aboard, twelve lucky guests can take in the very best Sydney has to offer, on the best private charter yacht in Australian waters. Drop anchor out the front of Taronga Zoo, visit Pittwater for a night, or slowly tack around Farm Cove and Rose Bay as you enjoy your company and beautiful surrounds.

Nick Wayland - TravMedia
+61 (0)2 92622369

Tastes of the Tropics with Geoff Lindsay

The Elandra Resort Mission Beach is proud to present Tastes of the Tropics, a series of professional, highly crafted and informative cooking events, hosted by Australia’s top chefs.

Geoff Lindsay from Melbourne’s Pearl restaurant will host the third series of cooking events from Saturday June 6th to Thursday June 11th, culminating in Geoff’s famous Chilli Mud Crab Gala Dinner.

“The main inspiration for my cooking comes from cuisines whose food is based on love and respect for the ingredients, and the shared table, where food is enjoyed together with people who care for each other. This begins in the kitchen. Cooking for me is by far the most immediate and sensual art form. I’m a fifth generation Aussie boy who is seduced by ginger, chilli and palm sugar, Turkish delight, chocolate and pomegranate. My food is, I believe, intrinsically Australian and I am proud of that. It is multi cultural and layered with influences from all over the world, and spiced with a new, frontier enthusiasm,” says Geoff.

“This mission statement could not be better brought to life than at The Elandra. This region of Australia is a chef’s dream, abundant with amazing seafood, decadent fruits, fragrant herbs, lush dairy products all within a short drive. This resort paradise is the perfect environment for sharing great food and great wine, for discovering tips from food producers and recipes and behind the scenes secrets from Pearl's kitchens.”

Please find following the exciting details of Geoff’s Tastes of the Tropics cooking experiences and Gala dinner menu:

Experience #1: Go Mud Crabbing with Geoff Lindsay - Sunday 7th June

Crab harvesting in the north of Australia and South East Asia is according to the phases of the moon. The mud crabs (Scylla serrata) inhabit the mangrove regions and dig deep in the mud just before the full moon illuminates the sky and makes them easy prey. Just prior to this time, the crabs gorge, therefore the best time to harvest the crabs is on the waxing gibbous, two or three days before the full moon. Guests will accompany Geoff for a trip down the Hull River to fish for mud crabs for the Full Moon Gala Dinner.

Chilli Mud Crab Full Moon Dinner - Sunday 7th June

1st course Crab and dashi egg custard
2 2nd course Crisped sweet pork with spanner crab, bean sprouts, mint and green mango salad
3rd course Pearl Special – wok fried chilli mud crab and its broth, with crispy friend eggplant with black vinegar and garlic chips, steams broccolini with oyster sauce, coconut rice
4th course Young coconut sorbet

Experience # 2: Reef trip and lunch with Geoff Lindsay – Monday June 8th

Guests will enjoy a boat trip and island cruise around the Reef followed by lunch prepared by Geoff Lindsay on Reef Island (Menu TBC)*
Experience # 3: Cooking Demonstration and Lunch Menu in the Pavilion – Tuesday June 9th

1st course
Raw Hiramasa yellowtail kingfish with fresh coconut cream, pomegranate seeds, chilli and lime
2nd course
Watermelon, marinated fetta and sunflower shoot salad with a clear tomato jelly and olives
3rd course
Turkish delight and rose petal ice cream, glace ginger, pomegranate seeds and Persian fairy floss

Experience #4: Exotic Fruit Farm Tour and cooking demonstration with The Elandra head chef, Mick Hannaford (menu TBC) – Wednesday 10th June

Please note: Geoff’s events are open as day packages and can be customised to suit guest’s needs. The Gala dinner is the highlight of the package where 100 guests will join together to celebrate tropical food at The Elandra with Geoff Lindsay. This is open to our cooking students and also to our local and regional markets however, day package tickets are limited

Tastes of the Tropics at The Elandra Mission Beach will combine all the ingredients for a truly unforgettable experience.

For AUD$2700 per person (AUD$2500 twin share) - Tastes of the Tropics Event includes:

• 5 night’s accommodation
• 3 intimate cooking experiences with the celebrity chef including gala dinner
• 1 cooking demonstration/ experience with The Elandra’s head chef
• 1 gourmet meal per day as part of the cooking experiences/ events
• Daily a la carte breakfast
• 1 hour in-room massage
• 1 Yoga class
• Great Barrier Reef boat trip
• Off-site dinner in the rainforest
• Welcome drink & Elandra gift pack upon arrival – inc flip flops & sarong
• Transfers to & from Cairns airport
• Transport to all official off site activities

For AUD$1500 per person (AUD$1300 twin share) - Tastes of the Tropics Event includes:
• 3 night’s accommodation in a Queen Room
• 3 intimate cooking experiences with the celebrity chef or head chef including gala dinner (choose 3 out of 4 from list above)
• Daily a la carte breakfast
• 1 hour in-room massage
*Reef trip and island cruise is weather dependant and as such is not a guaranteed activity.
For more details or to book a Tastes of the Tropics package
call 1800 079 090 or 0428 993 010 or visit

Spectacular Tudor River Pageant Marks 500th Anniversary Of King Henry VIII’s Coronation

On Saturday 20 June 2009, Historic Royal Palaces will mark the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII’s coronation (24 June 1509) with a magnificent Tudor river pageant rowing from the Tower of London up the River Thames to the King’s favourite surviving royal residence, Hampton Court Palace. This event is being held in association with Thames Alive.

Henry VIII’s Coronation weekend celebrations will be the highlight event in Historic Royal Palaces’ year-long celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the mighty monarch’s accession to the throne. The Tower of London is holding a major exhibition, Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill, bringing together the most stunning display of the King’s personal arms and armour ever seen in the UK, whilst Hampton Court Palace is hosting Henry VIII: heads and hearts, a series of unmissable special events and exhibitions at the great Tudor palace which has been majestically transformed for the landmark year.

At 10am on Saturday 20 June, visitors to the Tower of London will see King Henry VIII and his Queen boarding the Royal Shallop ‘Jubilant’, followed by a splendidly attired entourage of Tudor courtiers and musicians. Accompanied by a flotilla of traditional shallops and Watermen’s cutters, the King will proceed along the River Thames with more boats joining the procession at Richmond for the final leg of the journey to Hampton Court Palace.

King Henry’s loyal subjects are invited to line the banks of the river Thames between central London through Fulham, Putney, Chiswick, Richmond and up to Hampton Court Palace, cheering the King and Queen and the flotilla as they pass by on their journey.

Meanwhile at Hampton Court Palace, preparations will be underway in anticipation of their arrival at around 3pm. Visitors will be invited to explore King Henry’s palace and picnic in the East Front gardens on this special day, The Tudor cooks will be hard at work in Henry VIII’s kitchens preparing a feast fit for a King, which will be served to the royal party in the palace’s famous gardens. Music, dancing and entertainment from the King’s fools will take the celebrations into the evening at the palace, with Henry VIII’s State Apartments open until late and fireworks at 9.45pm, so get ready to party like its 1509!

On Sunday 21 June, festivities will continue at Hampton Court Palace with traditional Tudor court fun and games on the river, such as boat races and tug of war, with further opportunities to meet the King, Queen and members of the court throughout the day, By late afternoon the royal couple will bid farewell to Henry’s palace playground, once again boarding the ‘Jubilant’ to travel back downriver, and bringing the historic weekend’s celebrations to a close.

The event is part of the Story of London festival - a month-long series of cultural activities celebrating London's heritage, past, present and future:

For further information about the Henry VIII Coronation weekend river pageant or for tickets to the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, please visit the Historic Royal Palaces website:

Virgin Limited Edition Unveils Cliff Lodge At Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

Virgin Limited Edition, Sir Richard Branson’s privately owned collection of luxury retreats, is delighted to launch the new luxurious ‘Cliff Lodge’ at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. Having been given the honour of the inaugural stay, Hollywood Actor Christian Slater remarks, “The Cliff Lodge is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Even with its supreme opulence it gives you the ability to blend in with the bush and all that lives there; it truly is a place that will enrich your life.”

Cliff Lodge, located at Ulusaba's Rock Lodge, has two magnificent one-bedroom suites, offering guests the ultimate in safari luxury. The larger of the two suites is a spacious one-bedroom, featuring two additional small pull-out beds, an en-suite bathroom, separate kitchen, private dining area, a bar, a spacious lounge to relax in with all the latest technology, an outdoor deck with a braai area and a large swimming pool. It also has a smaller second bedroom/study which can accommodate one adult or two small children.

The second suite is a luxurious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, lounge area with fireplace and a spacious outdoor deck with Jacuzzi. The suite also has two small pull-out beds. Guests who wish to indulge in some pampering or feel the need for a workout with a spectacular view can use the small spa and gym as well.

With a strong traditional South African theme running throughout, Cliff Lodge exudes an eclectic African feel. Furniture has been custom-designed and made; to complement the solid African Teak wooden floors. Colourful and dynamic artwork, by renowned South African artists, decorates the stunning bedrooms and lounges. Access to the Cliff Lodge will be via a wooden walkway from the main house of Rock Lodge allowing guests who stay in Cliff Lodge to feel a sense of adventure as soon as they stroll over the walkway to their secluded suite.

Cliff Lodge is ideal for families and friends seeking an exclusive getaway, or couples wanting to enjoy those special occasions in pure privacy. The two suites in Cliff Lodge can be booked exclusively accommodating a maximum of five adults and four children. Exclusive use will include the use of both suites, a private game drive vehicle and a chef! The two suites will also be able to be booked individually.

Stay 4 nights, Pay 3 nights; Stay 5 nights, Pay 4 nights; Stay 7 nights, Pay 5 nights when you book an individual suite or hire Cliff Lodge exclusively before 30th June 2009.

Individual Suites from ZAR 12,000 per person per night, based on two people sharing.

Exclusive Hire, an introductory rate of ZAR 40,000 per night for up to 5 adults and 4 children will apply until June 30th, 2009 - a saving of ZAR 12,000 per night. Children go free!

Set on the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Ulusaba brings the thrill of adventure and safari traditions of Africa to life in an exclusive and luxurious setting.

For bookings please call 0800 716 919 or visit for more details.

Virgin Limited Edition is a collection of unique retreats chosen for their stunning locations, magnificent surroundings and offering a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service. The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, Sa Terra Rotja in Mallorca; The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, and The Lodge in Verbier.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NZ cities among world's best for quality of life

New York, London and Paris don't hold a candle to Auckland and Wellington, according to a worldwide quality of living survey.

The New Zealand cities ranked among the best in the Mercer 2009 Quality of Living survey, which covered 215 cities and was based on criteria including political, social, economic and environmental factors.

Auckland jumped one place from last year to join Canada's Vancouver in fourth place, while Wellington stayed 12th on the list.

Austrian capital Vienna took the No 1 spot, knocking Switzerland's Zurich and Geneva into second and third respectively.

Paris (France), Tokyo (Japan), London (England) and New York (United States) were in places 33, 35, 38 and 49 respectively.

Baghdad, in war-torn Iraq, claimed last place.

The global recession meant many organisations were reviewing international appointments and cities with favourable rankings had an advantage when it came to attracting expatriates, Mercer spokesman Rob Knox said.

"Despite the financial crisis, New Zealand remains a very attractive market for expats - particularly as a career development opportunity for high potentials."

Across the Tasman, Australian cities also ranked among the best places to live, with Sydney taking 10th, Melbourne 18th and Perth 21st.

Mr Knox said the results supported the case for companies sending staff to Australasia.

"Our major cities continue to tick all the boxes for expatriates who have access to established infrastructure and transport facilities, quality housing close to the city, a wide selection of restaurants and other amenities, as well as a good education and environment for their families.

"Economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region is outstripping most other parts of the world," Mr Knox said.

"Multinationals can send their high performers down under to gain experience in a mature market, but on the door step of, and with exposure to, one of the fastest moving regions in the world."

10 Best Cities:

1. Vienna (Austria)
2. Zurich (Switzerland)
3. Geneva (Switzerland)
4. Auckland (New Zealand) and Vancouver (Canada)
6. Dusseldorf (Germany)
7. Munich (Germany
8. Frankfurt (Germany)
9. Bern (Switzerland)
10. Sydney (Australia)

10 Worst Cities:

1. Baghdad (Iraq)
2. Bangui (Central African Republic)
3. Ndjamena (Chad)
4. Brazzaville (Congo)
5. Khartoum (Sudan)
6. Sanaa (Yemen Arab Republic)
7. Pointe Noire (Congo)
8. Nouakchott (Mauritania)
9. Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
10. Port au Prince (Haiti)

- NZPA - NZ Herald

Excess baggage charges hits musicians....1,000% increase by Qantas!

An ABC report, says that while airlines are struggling to attract customers in this current downturn, by offering heavily discounted flights, they're catching up the shortfall elsewhere, with in some cases, increases in fees and charges.

A musician who regularly tours Australia says he's had a ten-fold increase in his excess baggage costs from Sydney to Perth, with Peter Combe, a popular children's singer/songwriter who makes around 25 trips around the country a year to perform his hits, saying he got a nasty shock on his most recent trip to Perth.

“I take a guitar, my keyboard player takes two keyboards, a keyboard stand, and of course just personal luggage.” “So that's pretty minimal stuff, that's barely half a band.” “The cost this time of going to Perth, rather than somewhere between $40 and $80, was $800. So that's on my maths is a 1000 per cent rise.”

“I understood that Qantas going through a difficult time like all companies all over the world were.” “But to actually penalise musicians by this much was getting close to making it unviable to tour.”

A spokeswoman for Qantas told the ABC that the airline is introducing the new fee structure "to align its domestic and international allowances and provide greater consistency for customers, particularly in relation to other airlines."

Domestic travellers are now charged $10 for each kilogram over 23 kilos, but in the past passengers could take 32 kilos for free, but it is even worse for international travellers who now face a $50 fee for each extra kilo over the limit, although the good news for international Qantas passengers is that their baggage allowance has increased by three kilos to 23 kilograms, regardless of the number of bags.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn says all airlines are now enforcing their excess baggage costs - where they once turned a blind eye saying, “As the cold winds of the downturn have blown through this industry, they're seeking to charge more for luggage.” “In fact with all the domestic carriers here; Virgin Blue, Jetstar, Tiger, Qantas, they all have different systems about what you can carry for free.

“So the take home message is that we actually need to be perhaps a little more light-handed in what we're actually carrying with us on airlines as check baggage because the costs of doing so are going to be pretty high.”

“Especially if you think you've got a $50 ticket between capital cities and your check baggage, if you haven't actually informed them you're going to be carrying any, it might cost you $40.”

Aviation writer Tom Ballantyne from the Orient Aviation magazine says airlines are struggling to make any money in this current economic climate and that they are doing all they can to look for other revenue streams, adding, “Subsidiary earnings from additional things that they do have always also been an important part of what an airline does apart from the passenger paying for a ticket.”
“A lot of mainline major airlines nowadays are starting to do things that were only associated previously with low cost carriers, like paying additional money for a particular seat on the aircraft for instance, even paying for some food.”

“Big airlines are starting to do these things because it's so hard for them, these days to make money.” “And passengers want cheap deals and they're getting cheap deals at the moment, they're getting ticket prices at the moment which are lower than they have ever been and they want more.” “Airlines can't fly people around the world for nothing; they have to make their money somewhere.”

From E-Travel Blackboard

Jetstar launch Auckland –Sydney, Gold Coast services

Jetstar celebrated the launch of its Auckland to Sydney and the Gold Coast flights this week, with direct daily services which will potentially reel in an added 128,000 visitors into NZ each year.

The carrier’s Airbus A320 fleet will now operate two daily international services from Auckland to the Gold Coast and Sydney, with extended one-way JetSaver Light fares from NZD159/AUD169.

From June, the carrier will continue its expansion of NZ services, with the launch of up to 84 weekly return domestic flights between Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

In conjunction with the domestic services, Jetstar will launch Self-Service Kiosks at Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington Airports and Web Check-in on