Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Zealand’s Richest Pro-Am Golf Tournament Established in Hamilton

The Brian Perry Charitable Trust announced it is establishing New Zealand’s richest Pro-Am golf tournament in Hamilton. The Brian Perry Classic will have a professional prize purse of $100,000 and has already attracted New Zealand’s highest ranked professional golfer, David Smail, who has confirmed his attendance.

The first annual event will take place from 18-20 March 2010 at both Hamilton and Ngaruawahia Golf Clubs.

Simon Perry, Chairman of the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and son of prominent Waikato businessman Brian Perry, says his family is excited about bringing this high quality golf event to Hamilton.

The first two days of the tournament will be played concurrently on the two Waikato golf courses. Three amateurs will be paired with a professional. Entries will be restricted to a total of 64 teams.

The last day of the tournament will take place at Hamilton Golf Club and will see the top 20 amateur teams nominating their best player to pair up with the professionals and compete in a Stableford tournament.

The amateur prize table will be in the vicinity of $30,000 to $40,000.

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MEGALODON – The Monster Shark at Kelly Tarlton’s

Meet the mightiest jaws that ever lived

Dive deep into the prehistoric past these school holidays and meet MEGALODON – a marine monster from over a million years ago. Beginning the first day of the September school holidays and running for one month only (September 26th – October 26th), MEGALODON – The Monster Shark exhibition puts the spotlight on the scariest shark that ever lived and gets you up-close to its modern day cousins in the Underwater World. A massive 16 metre long, 3D Megalodon model has taken over Stingray Bay ready for kids to climb in and clamber over (even venturing inside his massive jaws if they dare), while learning all about this fierce prehistoric monster who was so tough he could easily make fish-food of a T-Rex. There’s plenty of other Megalodon madness throughout Kelly Tarlton’s including shark art activities, movies, special talks and feedings, interactive exhibits and visits from Kelly Tarlton’s favourite finned friend, Sammy the Shark. You can also celebrate the beginning of Daylight Savings with our new, extended BITE NIGHT hours (8pm close) every Tuesday during the exhibition.

NAME: Kelly Tarlton’s MEGALODON – The Monster Shark

DATE: September 26th – October 26th

TIMES: Open 7 days, 9.30am – 5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm)

• NEW late BITE NIGHT hours every Tuesday until 8pm (last entry 7pm) so working Mums and Dads can bring the kids along after they finish work.
• Two new interactive MEGALODON talks 10.30am & 1.30pm daily, and 6.30pm on Tuesday BITE NIGHTS.
• Twice weekly shark feedings in the Predator Tank, Tues & Thurs 1.30pm.
• Special appearances by Sammy the Shark daily at 12.30pm during the holidays and Labour Weekend, and during Bite Nights
• Regular Kelly Tarlton’s activities such as stingray and penguin feedings continue as normal. Visit for more information and times for all other scheduled activities.

- Interact with the gigantic, 16 metre long, life-sized 3D model showing the sheer size of the monster Megalodon and learn all about this prehistoric predator.

- Get up-close with live, modern day relatives of Megalodon including the Broadnose Sevengill, School & Wobbegong sharks in the Predator Tank.

- Take part in cool, shark themed art activities like shark origami and face painting and learn to draw sharks (during the holidays & Labour Weekend).

- Discover what finally killed off the mighty Megalodon – and learn about shark evolution and why conservation is so important today.

- Snap a family photo in front of Megalodon’s life-sized jaws & check out actual teeth fossilised for millions of years.

- Interact in the NIWA room – dress up in a shark costume, look at shark skin under the microscope, play with the robotic Great White shark head and check out tons of shark stuff via the interactive touch screens.

- Get up close to four, full-scale models of today’s terrifying predator sharks – including Megalodon’s closest relative the Great White.

- Dare to watch Sharkwater in the Aqua cinema or marvel at prehistoric monsters of the deep brought back to life in the BBC’s documentary Sea Monsters.

SPECIAL: Dive in and face your fears with our 2 for 1 Dive Deals!

2 for 1 Shark Survival lets you and a friend take a heart thumping cage-free shark dive in the predator tank for just $155!

And our 2 for 1 Discover Scuba/Shark Survival Combo lets two people experience a PADI-recognised introductory dive AND a shark dive for just $260!

This hot deal is available during Megalodon – The Monster Shark exhibition only. Book your Kelly Tarlton’s 2 for 1 Dive Deal direct on 0800 80 50 50 Terms and conditions apply. See for details

PRICE: Normal admission prices apply: Adults NZ$31.90, Children 4-14 years NZ$15.80, Children 3 and under FREE. Family passes from NZ$53.60 for one adult and two children. Auckland residents – bring along proof of residency to receive a special locals rate.

LOCATION: Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World, 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland.

PARKING: There is plenty of free car parking in the Kelly Tarlton’s car park.

For more information or to book tickets, visit or call toll-free on 0800 80 50 50

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A Caloundra escape that's music to the ears

October is the ideal time to cruise into Queensland's Caloundra for a well earned beach holiday when the town comes alive to the sun, surf and soul of its annual music festival.

To be held from October 22-25, the Caloundra Music Festival has again drawn a stellar line up of artistic talent including the Hoodoo Gurus, Augie March, Josh Pyke, James Reyne, Toni Childs, Noiseworks and more.

Their popular sounds will reverberate around the scenic Kings Beach area of town in a family friendly weekend which also features a colourful street parade, roving performers, beach-side carnival, buskers, markets, free children’s entertainment and more in a celebration of culture, community and the environment.

One of Caloundra’s favourite waterfront holiday properties, BreakFree Grand Pacific hits the right note for music fans with rates available during the festival period from just $199* per room per night for a one bedroom garden view apartment.

Enjoying a stunning waterfront position at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, BreakFree Grand Pacific offers fantastic facilities in a beautifully tranquil setting, ideal for couples and families alike.

With sweeping views of the picturesque Pumicestone Passage and only minutes from the Sunshine Coast’s premier holiday activities, the property perfectly embodies the BreakFree philosophy of offering great resorts at great rates in Australia’s favourite holiday destinations.

The resort features beautifully appointed apartments with private balconies, two spas, baby sitting service, boutiques, café, conference facilities, games room, heated pools set amongst lush tropical gardens, sauna, gymnasium and more.

For bookings or further information phone 132 007 or visit

* Conditions and minimum stays apply. Subject to availability.

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Turkey Welcomes Autumn with the Bodrum Cup 21st International Wooden Yacht Regatta, October 20 - 24, 2009

One of Turkey's most anticipated annual sporting events is coming up, October 20 - 24 2009. The International Bodrum Cup celebrates the end of the cruising season every October and is unique in that only traditional and classic wooden yachts, or ‘gulets’, are permitted to compete in the main regatta. Gulets have been built by hand in the region of Bodrum for at least 2000 years. Bodrum is situated on the southernwestern Aegean coast.

Organized by the ERA Bodrum Sailing Club, the first regatta was held in 1989. While the competition is open only to traditional and classic wooden yachts, non-wooden vessels are also accepted as non-competing guests. Adding to the excitement of competition, all yachts anchor together for festive evenings. In keeping with traditional Turkish hospitality, there is such an array of prizes that few competitors come home empty-handed!

Often called “Turkey’s St. Tropez,” Bodrum lives up to its name! The Bodrum peninsula is a colorful tableau of white-washed stucco homes, purple bougainvilleas, orange groves and olive-green hillsides set against a dramatic backdrop of craggy rock peaks. It’s the Aegean darling of the jet-set with glamorous yachts dotting the harbor and modern luxury villas on hillsides overlooking the sea. With an international flavor and restaurants, boutique hotels and entertainment of the highest class, Bodrum attracts a posh crowd. Bodrum is also famous for having one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, The Mausoleum.

For centuries, famous people have graced Bodrum with their presence. Even Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra used to frequent Bodrum on their romantic voyages to Rome, and today it is a vacation spot for A-List celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Beyonce Knowles, Sting, Elizabeth Hurley, and Nicole Kidman.

For more info, please visit:

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For those of you that are looking to set yourselves a personal challenge for 2010...

Challenge Wanaka, the world’s most scenic iron distance triathlon, has grown into a week long festival of triathlon for 2010, featuring events for all ages and
abilities in one of the most spectacular settings possible, the shores of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand’s South Island.

The festival kicks off on Sunday January 10 with the Puzzling World Junior Challenge for budding triathletes aged six to fifteen. There’s also a 5km Fun Run and
Swim the Course during the week before the two highlight events.

The streets of downtown Wanaka turn into a high speed race circuit on Friday January 15 when New Zealand’s top triathletes, including Olympians and national
champions compete in the Contact Tri Series. This thrilling criterium style racing is a huge hit with spectators and provides exciting race conditions for the athletes
as they compete in this, the first of four national sprint races to decide the national championship.

The week culminates with the flagship Challenge Wanaka race on Saturday January 16 when top professional ironmen and women from around the world join
hundreds of regular athletes to take on the gruelling 226km course which features a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run.

Running simultaneously is the inaugural Lake Wanaka Half with the race timed to end before the first Challenge Wanaka professional athletes arrive in the finish chute.
The course will follow the same spectacular route that has quickly earned Challenge Wanaka the title of the world’s most scenic iron distance triathlon.

Thousands of spectators line the route and finish chute cheering on these inspirational contenders as they compete in the most arduous of the triathlon disciplines.
The finish line is in the heart of the Lake Wanaka township and in true ‘Challenge’ style, there’s a fun finish line party with music and fireworks to welcome the athletes
home late into the night.

Challenge Wanaka is part of the global Challenge Family Series that includes eight events in Germany, Denmark, Austria, France and Spain as well as New Zealand.
For further information visit


Puzzling World Junior Challenge
Date: 10 January 2010
Time: 10.00am – 1.00pm

Contact Cup
Date: 15 January 2010
Time: 2.00pm – 9.00pm

Lake Wanaka Half
Date: 16 January 2010
Time: 8.15am – 3.15pm

Challenge Wanaka
Date: 16 January 2010
Time: 7.00am – 11.30pm

Web Site:
Contact: +64 3 443 2700 or

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What’s On at Auckland Museum in October

LATE 02: Culture Compass
Thursday 1 October, 6.30-11pm
$15 (plus booking fee)
Culture Compass examines how 1000 years of migration has shaped our unique identity. The panel discussion features the University of Canterbury's History Professor Philippa Mein Smith; linguist Elizabeth Gordon who led the Origins and Evolution of New Zealand English project; and Maoritanga consultant Amster Reedy. The evening's music witnesses the sweet melodies of Wellington-based Family Cactus, alongside the 13-piece samba-jam band Batucada Sound Machine.

Celebrate Auckland Museum's 80th Birthday
Friday 30 October
The Auckland Museum building is turning 80 and we want you to celebrate with us. The Museum will debut spectacular new exterior lighting to commemorate 80 years of the building on Friday 30 October, and we'd love you to participate in the launch. On the evening there's a very special Night at Auckland Museum event, or you can join us outside from 9.30pm for fire-dancers and fun, family entertainment. At 9.55pm a special guest will hit the switch to illuminate the Museum. We also have a couple of surprises in store. Join us the next day and be amongst the first to see the all-new visitors' centre in the Grand Foyer.

Illustrated Leaves: Florilegia from the 16th to 21st Centuries
Opens Friday 2 October, 10am-5pm
Pictorial Gallery
Entry included with admission donation
Illustrated Leaves presents six centuries of plant anthologies and explores the evolving intentions behind their production. Once a means to catalogue plant-life never seen by European eyes, they now record what we may never see again. From Renaissance woodcuts, to delicate hand-painted plates and contemporary digital watercolours, the exhibition traces innovations in methods of printing. It also showcases The Highgrove Florilegium, an exquisite collection of plant prints from Prince Charles' garden at Highgrove.

Fabulous Fridays: Unlock Hidden Talents
Fridays in October, 11am-12pm
Single tickets $12, Concessions/Members $10, Groups (10 or more) $10 per person

Fabulous Fridays are an opportunity to spend an enjoyable morning or afternoon at Auckland Museum learning new skills and igniting your imagination. On 2 October discover stitching with Louise Hatchard, author of popular craft blog Praire Mouse. On 9 October Lorraine Meisner demonstrates and art of decoupage. On 16 October Jenny Nicholls demonstrates simple, innovative ideas for cake decorating. Then, on 23 and 30 October, a Jo Malone stylist will show you how to create your own signature scent.

Wonderland: Nature's Cheats and Liars
On Now, 10am-5pm
Special Exhibitions Hall
Adults $8, Concessions/Members $6, Children FREE
Orchids are the high-kicking, strutting, show-offs of the flower world. The world's most evolved flower, they have a structure that Charles Darwin described as the most perfectly adapted in nature. Unlike other flowers, very few orchid species use nectar. Instead, they use a variety of techniques to convince pollinators to do their bidding. Some orchid species, such as Chiloglottis, imitate a female wasp. When the male wasp tries to mate with the orchid, pollination takes place. This incredible process is called pseudo-copulation.

Hybridiser Competition
8 October-8 November
Enter inside Wonderland: The Mystery of the Orchid
During the final month of Wonderland: The Mystery of the Orchid come and explore this multi-sensory exhibition, try your hand at creating a virtual, hybrid orchid and you could be in to win! All orchids emailed from the Hybridiser touch screen interactive will qualify as an entry for one of three prizes. Try your hand at making the most mysterious orchid!

First prize
A return trip for two to Christchurch, The Garden City, and one night's hotel accommodation, for a private viewing of Sir Myles Warren's spectacular Ohinetahi garden in Governors Bay, plus a guided tour of the current exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery.

Second prize
A mature, rare orchid from Ross Tucker Nurseries. Plus, two free tickets to Wonderland: The Magic of the Rose.

Third prize
Two free tickets to Wonderland: The Magic of the Rose and a family pass to Night at the Museum: Hunt for the Spitfire Orchid. (2 adults and 2 children).

Sonic Museum: Eruption of Music

On Now, 10am-5pm
Download tracks $10, Headphone & audioplayer hire $10, Concessions/Members/Students $5
In a reversal of Jules Verne's classic imaginary voyage, Rachel Shearer's Sonic Museum track takes us on a journey upwards from the centre of the Earth. Inspired by the Volcanoes Gallery, her soundscape travels from the hot molten inner core, through the outer core, to the Earth's mantle. There we catch a ride with a mantle plume through the Earth's crust where the tectonic plates are slowly moving against each other, to emerge on the surface in Auckland, where hot molten lava cools, cracks and sizzles.

Apocalypse: The Second World War
On now until 18 October, 10am-5pm
Scars on the Heart II Gallery
Auckland War Memorial Museum marks the 70th Anniversary of World War 2 by showing National Geographic Channel's powerful series Apocalypse: The Second World War in the Scars on the Heart II gallery. Thanks to the efforts of a few private collectors and archivists, forgotten footage from World War II has been rediscovered, restored and made available by National Geographic Channel. Auckland Museum and National Geographic Channel will screen one episode a week on continuous loop until 18 October. Please note this contains graphic war imagery. We advise viewer discretion.

2009 Lucy Cranwell Lecture: Lessons from the Coastal Wetlands of Great Barrier Island
Wednesday 7 October, 7pm
Entry by donation. No bookings required
The wetlands of New Zealand represent a unique ecosystem and also act as repositories of information about our past. University of Auckland's Associate Professor John Ogden will explore plant colonisation, historical changes on the wetlands and the environmental impacts of drainage, with special reference to Kaitoke Swamp and Whangapoua Estuary on Great Barrier Island. An Auckland Museum Institute Lecture in association with the Auckland Botanical Society.

Friday 30 October, 6pm
Events Centre
Celebrate our 80th year in the Domain, support Auckland Museum's vital curatorial research, compete for fabulous prizes, enjoy cocktails and a sumptuous meal, question the curators and play an intriguing guessing game to determine fact from fiction of rarely seen objects from the Museum's vaults. While the event will raise funds for our collections and research, this is much more than a fundraiser. Artefact/Artefiction is a fabulous evening which will see us premiere the exterior lighting project and exciting new Museum features.

Library Treasures Revealed
Saturdays from 31 October, 11-11.30am
Bookings essential, email
Included with entry donation
Here's your chance to explore the Auckland Museum Library's unique treasures. Staff will provide a personal introduction to the Library and some of their favourite items from its rare and fascinating collections of books, manuscripts, maps and more. Each session is limited to 15 people, so make sure you book early.

Night at the Museum: Hunt for the Spitfire Orchid
4, 6, 8 October, 6-9pm
Adults/Children $20, Groups (10 or more) $15 per person, Members $15, All door sales $20. Booking fee applies.
Come armed with a torch and your imagination to explore the Museum at night. The galleries will be alive with Wonderland-inspired characters. Meet flower fairies, an intrepid orchid hunter, and characters straight out of Lewis Carroll's books. Why is that white rabbit always so late? Basil, our resident Dryosaur will also be there with his daughter Gertie to add to the excitement.

Dangerous Museum for Boys and Girls
Weekends (and every day during the holidays), 10am-5pm
Available from ticket desks
$5 per Dangerous Exploration Kit
Auckland Museum is dangerous these school holidays. Take a dangerous trail around the Museum to discover heroic tales of adventure. Uncover terrifying bugs, try your hand at knot tying, paper plane making and code cracking. You can even find out what it takes to start a Spitfire engine. A fantastic way for brave boys and girls (and mums and dads) to spend their holidays!

Special Membership Offer
During October all new or renewing Kid+ members or Household memberships with Stevenson Dinomites will receive one free Dangerous Museum Activity Pack per membership with their new cards (while stocks last).

Roll In, Roll Out Activities
Daily during the holidays, 10am-12pm, 1.30-3pm
Stevenson Discovery Centre
No need to book. Gold coin contribution (Members free)
During the holidays kids can get creative with our cool craft activities. Embellish and paint your own glass tumbler using a variety of orchids as inspiration. Personalise your own special badge and let your imagination fly. Discover the parts of an orchid by constructing your own paper-holder. Using a variety of special orchid pieces, assemble an acetate mega-magnet. You can also stitch your own fabric floral creation on to a stylish tote bag.

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Gaps exists between what business travellers want and what advertisers deliver

Jasons recently conducted two surveys that examined both travellers’ expectations and the offerings of accommodation operators’ who advertise in Jasons Business Traveller New Zealand Accommodation Directory.

The majority of advertisers overwhelmingly saw ‘a comfortable bed’ and ‘location’ as the key factors in winning business customers, followed by ‘car parking’ and ‘free Internet and newspapers’.

When asked to choose the most important features of accommodation, 81% of business travellers also responded with ‘location, location, location’! This was then followed by ‘a comfortable bed’, then ‘free Internet and newspapers’, and a place to eat on site. The importance of having food available on site was underestimated by advertisers, however.

Security was a consideration for 25% of travellers, particularly among female respondents. And according to Jasons General Manager Operations, Mary Ansell (herself a frequent traveller for work) her own experience supports these findings. “When I travel, security is always high on my radar. I always lock the door and chain when I'm in the room and prefer to be upstairs in the property where possible.”

When it came to booking accommodation online, business travellers said the deciding factors of choosing one site over another, were ‘the ability to compare options in one place’ and ‘knowing all costs upfront’. Offering plenty of information and photos of the property was also considered to be very important to almost a quarter of those surveyed.

Reflecting traveller opinions, 70% of advertisers also saw the most important factor as knowing the costs upfront, and 41% believed the key to success was offering plenty of photos and other information.

With more than 90% of business travellers surveyed now booking online, it is increasingly important for accommodation operators to offer plenty of information, exclusive incentives, and transparency in their fee structure. Says Jasons CEO Matthew Mayne, “No one wants to pay more than they need to. We hope travellers feel confident about booking online with Jasons Travel Media, and knowing there are no fees, commissions or hidden costs when they book.”

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Latest surveys highlight business traveller’s response to recession

Jasons recently conducted two surveys that plot the opinions and fortunes of both business travellers, and the accommodation operators who advertise in Jasons Business Traveller New Zealand Accommodation Directory.

Travellers were asked if their business travel this year was on a par with 2008. Individual travellers’ responses were as varied as their vocations. Where there were increases, reasons included growing client numbers, a more nationwide focus and wider marketing reach – with 29% of business travellers increasing the frequency of their trips.

A recurring sentiment was the increased need for cost-effective options. Travellers combine a number of strategies to maximise their travel budgets: with 62% choosing to book well in advance, 60% making more economic choices in accommodation and car hire, and 47% combining meetings or events. In addition, 40% of these business travellers have been more flexible with travel dates to make the most of off-peak or last minute discounts.

Where travel has decreased, many respondents have cited economic uncertainty leading to less business, and also the need for greater accountability. This may be unsurprising, but some respondents are also taking advantage of teleconferencing technology to reduce the need for face-to-face meetings.

To compare demand with supply, 55% of accommodation operators surveyed, have noticed a decline in bookings from last year, while 25% have seen figures remain steady. Less than 20% of operators have seen an increase in business custom, despite the 29% of business travellers who reported increasing their travel in the last 12 months. Perhaps this disparity reflects different perceptions of the economic climate, rather than simply statistics.

To combat an overall drop in numbers, 64% of accommodation advertisers surveyed are now offering deals and incentives, while 43% are seeking new markets and 34% are spending more on advertising their properties. Conversely, a third of all respondents have simply adopted a ‘wait and see’ policy.

One respondent, Neil Barker of Manukau Motor Lodge believed business confidence has to rise before travel will increase, and commented on the media’s influence over business travel spending, “Once people have more confidence, when newspapers start publishing positive news, then the economy and spending in accommodation will pick up also.”

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The Magic of Walt Disney Comes to Life at New San Francisco Museum Opening Oct. 1, 2009

The Walt Disney Family Museum Celebrates Triumphs and Travails of Great
American Storyteller, Animation Artist, Director and Innovator

The fascinating and inspiring story of Walt Disney will come to life on October 1, 2009, when The Walt Disney Family Museum opens in San Francisco.

Born in Chicago in 1901, Disney grew up on a failing farm in the rural Midwest, fell in love with drawing and animation and traveled, nearly penniless, to California in the early 1920s. Over the next 40 years, Disney elevated animation to an art form, created the first Academy Award-winning nature documentary, commissioned scores of songs that millions of people know by heart, and oversaw the birth of the first theme park, Disneyland. Today, more than 40 years after his death, Disney's characters and creations remain an indelible part of popular culture around the world.

``The name `Disney’ calls to mind the vast company that bears my father's name, rather than my father himself,’’ said Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney and a director of the foundation that is funding the $110 million museum. ``My father was a man of endless curiosity who loved to tinker and explore and entertain people. We look forward to sharing an honest and affectionate portrait of this amazing man.’’

Inside the Museum: An American Story
The Walt Disney Family Museum will contain hundreds of audio clips of Disney and his family and coworkers telling the stories of his creations, as well as over 1,600 objects and works of art, 200 monitors, and interactive exhibits that will invite visitors to learn about Walt Disney and the industry he nurtured. Highlights of the museum include:

- The earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse
- Animation cels of Disney's characters
- Storyboards, a Disney innovation, that map out timeless film classics
- The innovative Multiplane Camera that revolutionized animation
- The unique Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Academy Award: one full-size Oscar and seven miniature castings
- The one-eighth scale train he installed at his Hollywood home that spurred his vision for Disneyland
- A model of the Disneyland of Walt's imagination

Visit for more information.

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Grow a Mo for Charity this Movember!

I know this isn't travel related, but it's a good cause .....

Men get ready to grow your mo for Movember! The month-long charity event kicks off on November 1st when Mo Bros grow moustaches of every size, shape and colour to raise money and awareness for men's health.

Women can also show their support by becoming a Mo Sista and encouraging all the guys they know to take part.

You can register online now at so make sure you sign up before Movember officially starts.

About Movember
Movember (the month formerly known as November) is an annual, month-long charity men’s health charity event that raises money for Cancer Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation. At the start of Movember, guys register with a clean shaven face and have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their moustache, raising as much money and awareness as possible to benefit men’s health.
Movember culminates at the end of the month at official Gala Parties in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - the highlight of any Mo Bro’s and Mo Sista’s social calendar. Borat look-a-likes will battle it out for their chance to be crowned the much coveted ‘Man of Movember’.

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High country highlights for school holidays

Spring is in the air and New Zealand’s Mt Cook Mackenzie region is lining up plenty of affordable on and off-the-snow activities to keep families entertained for the coming school holidays.

It’s been a bumper season for the region’s three ski fields, Mt Dobson, Roundhill and Ohau, and all have great spring skiing with a snow base of between 100 and 150cm. Mt Dobson and Ohau are planning to remain open for the duration of the school holidays and Roundhill plans to be open for the first weekend (last ski day 27 September).

Mt Dobson will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first opening day this Saturday (19 September) with a “Back to the ‘70s” theme. Lift passes are ‘70s prices ($20 for an all day all lift pass) and those hitting the slopes are encouraged to dig out some flares and disco down to great ‘70s tunes.

Ohau will round off its winter season with plenty of fun and games at its annual “Hot Dog Day” on Saturday 3 October. It’s a great excuse to break out some retro gear and shimmy down the mountain on skinny skis or old-school snowboards.

Off the snow there’s plenty to do, including luxuriating in hot pools, roller/inline skating, hiking and mountain biking. The more relaxed can enjoy spa treatments, sample amazing local food and wine, or just sit back and absorb the majestic surroundings.

Scenic flights are particularly spectacular in spring with turquoise blue lakes, emerald green valleys, the snow-capped Southern Alps and New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, towering above it all.

Stargazing is another great year-round attraction in the Mt Cook Mackenzie region which is renowned as New Zealand’s best stargazing spot. Its uniquely dark skies are devoid of city light pollution and there are a high number of clear nights with atmospheric stability and transparency. That’s increasingly rare as other countries lose their starry skies to light and air pollution.

Warm spring weather has prompted an early start to the iceberg and glacier cruising season for visitors to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Normally Glacier Explorers is still closed during school holidays but high levels of winter snowfall combined with an early spring ‘melt’ have caused an early lake thaw, allowing the company to resume operations six weeks early.

Destination Mt Cook Mackenzie Winter Marketing Manager Prue Blake says the region’s diversity and affordability makes it the perfect place for families to come and enjoy quality time together during the school holidays.

“It’s a great destination for a family holiday. Families can enjoy excitement and adventure or peace and quiet – as well as accommodation ranging from backpacker to top-of-the-range hotels. Spring is a particularly good time to come because you get a great mix of winter and summer activities as well as spectacular scenery.”

Destination Mt Cook Mackenzie General Manager Phil Brownie is delighted with the way the winter season has gone and says it bodes well for next year.

“We’ve experienced a 7.6% increase in bed nights over the last 12 months and a comparison of bed nights for last July and this July alone shows we’re up 33%. This is a fantastic achievement given that bed nights are down 3.1% nationally,” he says.

For those still keen to book a holiday in the region, Destination Mt Cook Mackenzie has extended its winter holiday competition until 9 October. Be in to win a fantastic accommodation prize package for two adults or two adults and two children by registering online at or by texting 'winter' to 244 (texts cost 20 cents).

For more information about winter holidays in the Mt Cook Mackenzie region visit

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Kiwi discovered in outer space

An astrophotographer has discovered a kiwi in outer space from New Zealand’s internationally renowned Mt John Observatory.

It may be 26,000 light years away but a high powered astro-photograph has picked up the distinct image of New Zealand’s national icon in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The incredible image of the flightless bird was captured by experienced photographer Fraser Gunn. Mr Gunn, who has recently begun astrophotography with Earth and Sky Stargazing Tours at Lake Tekapo’s Mt John Observatory, is delighted with the discovery.

“When looking at the area with the naked eye it’s difficult to locate the kiwi but my camera allows greater light and colour into the image giving it more definition.

“We only started the astrophotography tour six weeks ago to complement our stargazing tours and the response so far has been outstanding. Basically, I provide instruction to anyone with a SLR-type camera so they obtain their own starlight pictures,” he says.

Graeme Murray, director of Earth and Sky Tours, says Fraser has become a leader in New Zealand astrophotography and is fast gaining international acclaim.

“His animation scenes of the night sky are quite remarkable. On a series of clear nights Fraser has taken a sequence of more than 1,000 photos between sunset and sunrise and then condenses the shots into about two minutes. It captures the full picture of what’s happening in space, complete with shooting stars and passing satellites, and is absolutely fascinating.”

Run by the University of Canterbury, Mt John Observatory is the centre of New Zealand's space research programme and is regarded by astronomers as possibly the best site in the world to view the Milky Way and the centre of our universe. Its uniquely dark skies, devoid of city light pollution, and high number of clear nights and atmospheric stability and transparency make it perfect for stargazing.

The Mackenzie region, where Mt John Observatory is based, is considered New Zealand’s best stargazing spot and has been named the fourth best place in the world to go stargazing by United States travel website

In fact, the quality of stargazing is so good that the Mackenzie region has a bid underway to establish its night skies as a UNESCO World Heritage Starlight Reserve.

Earth and Sky Tours has been operating astro-tourism tours at Mt John Observatory for the past five years and Mr Murray says he’s noticed a considerable national and international increase in public awareness about the night sky during that time.

“More than 50,000 people have been on our day, night and ‘behind the scenes’ tours in the past year alone,” he says.

“The kiwi is a great discovery for the Earth and Sky team on Mt John and how appropriate it is that a kiwi stands amongst the stars we are striving to protect.”

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Garuda Indonesia, will celebrate 40 years of flying to Australia in November, and to mark the occasion the airline is handing out the presents.

For a limited period Garuda is offering up to 40 percent off normal airfare levels for flights to Bali and Jakarta, plus special celebratory holiday packages to Bali through Garuda Indonesia’s “Bali on ANY budget”

This special 40th anniversary air fare offer, valid for sale until 3rd October (ex Sydney), and 31st October (Melbourne & Perth), includes:

Economy Class

Ex Sydney to Jakarta or Bali for $842* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Melbourne to Jakarta or Bali from $824* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Perth to Bali from $282* per person inclusive of all taxes
Ex Perth to Jakarta from $382* per person inclusive of all taxes

Executive Class

Ex Sydney to Jakarta or Bali for $1303* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Melbourne to Jakarta or Bali from $1285* per person inclusive of taxes

Poerwoko Soeparyono, Garuda Indonesia Senior General Manager Australia, New Zealand, SWP, said; “Garuda Indonesia is very proud of its 40 year commitment to the Australian market and this is our way of saying thank you to Australia for those years of support.”

“Garuda is going through a major turnaround in its business with new aircraft, new in flight product and new exclusive Garuda Experience in flight service. This special offer provides the perfect reason to experience the new Garuda Indonesia and explore Jakarta as a gateway to the rest of Indonesia and beyond to Asia,” he said.

Passengers flying on the direct Sydney or Melbourne to Jakarta services will travel on Garuda’s new Airbus 330-200 wide-bodied aircraft. With brand new interior configuration, all passengers enjoy a fully integrated in-flight entertainment system while executive class also offers 180 degree flat bed seats, in-seat laptop power and an 11- inch personal LCD touch screen.

As well as the celebratory airfares Garuda’s 40th anniversary Bali holiday packages with six nights accommodation start from $957** per person ex Melbourne ($975** per person ex Sydney, $390** per person ex Perth) at Matahari Bungalows or a family getaway at the Bali Dynasty Resort from $1291** per person ex Melbourne ($1309** per person ex Sydney, $714** per person ex Perth), including return economy class airfares, return seat in coach transfers (except ex Perth), American breakfast daily and all taxes fees and surcharges included! To view other deals and make bookings visit:

*Terms and conditions: Price includes including taxes, fees and surcharges. Valid for travel ex SYD 22 Oct – 24 Dec 2009 & 05 Jan – 31 March 2010, ex MEL 01 Nov – 22 Dec 2009 & 11 Jan – 31 Mar 2010., ex PER valid for sale 16 Sep – 31 Mar 2010. Seasonal surcharges apply. Ex Syd valid for sale until 3 October 2009, ex MEL / PER valid for sale until 31 October 2009. Valid only on Garuda Indonesia flights and no code share flights. Max stay 1 year. No child or infant discounts apply.

** Package prices are per person based on twin share including accommodation, return airport transfers (excluded ex Perth), return economy Garuda Indonesia airfare (book N class) & Australian Govt taxes & airport/airline related fees & surcharges. Airfares valid for departures ex SYDNEY 22Oct-9Dec09 & 18Jan-31Mar10 and must be booked & paid by 12pm 02Oct09, ex MELBOURNE 01 Nov – 22 Dec 2009 & 11 Jan – 31 Mar 2010 and must be booked & paid by 12pm 31Oct09, ex PERTH 16 Sep 09 – 31 Mar 2010 and must be booked & paid by 12pm 31Oct09

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Louis Vuitton to open Island Store at Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands®, through its retail arm Sands Retail Asia, announced that Louis Vuitton, the world leader in luxury, will open a unique “island” store that will “float” on the water in front of the region’s premier integrated entertainment destination.

Louis Vuitton’s flagship store at Marina Bay Sands will be a one-of-a-kind experience. It will be a striking glass-and-steel Crystal Pavilion island that will sit on Marina Bay.

Mr. David Sylvester, Vice President Retail Asia, Las Vegas Sands Corp, said, “This unique Louis Vuitton store at Marina Bay Sands speaks volumes about the visibility and credibility we have established in the retail community. Retailers recognize the quality of Marina Bay Sands which will attract high-level visitors from Singapore and beyond because of our winning combination of luxury brands, Celebrity Chef restaurants, a luxury hotel, a casino, expo and convention facilities, and world-class entertainment under one roof.”

Marina Bay Sands has secured commercial terms for close to 80 percent of its retail space. The company will open up to half of total retail space in the first quarter of 2010.

With over 800,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, Marina Bay Sands will be a destination by itself for shoppers from across the world. We will offer over 300 stores in a refreshing mix of international luxury brands and cutting-edge and emerging labels new to Singapore, as well as innovative entertainment including boat rides on an indoor canal.

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Backpackers Urged to “Go All The Way”

Tourism New Zealand is targeting the youth and backpacker market with a new campaign urging them to “Go All The Way” … to New Zealand.

The campaign was launched today (Thursday) at New Zealand’s first-ever Backpacker Industry Conference held at AUT (Auckland University of Technology).

George Hickton said younger travellers and backpackers had continued to travel during the economic downturn, showing their resilience as a sector. This campaign was to ensure that New Zealand was on the list of places they wanted to visit.

“Many backpackers from the UK and Europe go as far as Australia in their gap-year, but we want to challenge them to complete the journey and ‘Go All The Way’ by coming down to New Zealand,’ Mr Hickton said.

According to the International Visitor Survey, New Zealand welcomed 183,100 backpackers – those defined as spending over 30 per cent of their stay in backpacker accommodation – in the year to June 2009, up 4 per cent. This compares with an overall decline in arrivals of 2.8 per cent to 2.4 million in the year to July.

Tourism New Zealand worked with Backpacker Industry Organisation and Youth Hostels Association to research the youth and backpacker market and to devise the new campaign.

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Auckland Museum's Most Prized Possessions on Display in Exhibition of Rare Illustrated Books

In the Age of Discovery, intrepid explorers returned to Europe with so many exotic plant and animal specimens extracted from Africa, the Indies and the New World that chaos loomed for naturalists. Botanists and illustrators scrambled to classify and catalogue the newfound natural wonders. These rare and remarkable illustrations feature in Auckland Museum’s exhibition Illustrated Leaves: Florilegia from the 16th to 21st Centuries.

Illustrated Leaves showcases six centuries of illustrated books from Auckland Museum Library’s extensive collections. The exhibition opens in the Museum’s Pictorial Gallery on Friday, 2 October.

More than just an exhibition of botanical art, Illustrated Leaves explores the shifting motivations behind the exquisite production of florilegia – a Latin word describing anthologies of flowers. Once a means to record and classify plant-life never before seen by European eyes, they now present an opportunity to document plant-life the world may never see again.

The exhibition features Matthias de L’Obel’s Plantarum, seu, Stirpium historia (Plants, or, an account of their lineage) published in 1576. Bound in parchment, written in Latin with 1441 woodcuts, L’Obel’s work pioneered a new system of plant classification based on leaf form. It is considered a landmark in botany and is one of the Museum Library’s most prized possessions.

From woodcuts to the delicate hand-painted plates of esteemed 18th century artist Georg Ehret, to lithographs and contemporary coloured digital prints, Illustrated Leaves traces innovations in methods of production.

On James Cook's first voyage to New Zealand in 1769, the young artist Sydney Parkinson sketched exotic plant-life new to science. Working in cramped and difficult conditions, Parkinson recorded hundreds of specimens. Parkinson died at sea from dysentery, however when Cook returned to England, 185 of the artist’s sketches were made into engravings, several of which are featured in Illustrated Leaves.

The exhibit also showcases one of two volumes of The Highgrove Florilegium, a recently acquired contemporary collection of 63 prints of plants found in the Prince of Wales’ organic garden at Highgrove. Just 175 copies of the Florilegium were created, each embossed with gold and bound in leather. Their covers have been hand-marbled with the spine covered in red chieftain goatskin.

The Highgrove Florilegium features the work of award-winning New Zealand botanical artist Susan Worthington, who personally presented her art to the Prince this year.

Illustrated Leaves is an exhibition for treasure hunters and curious minds; an opportunity to explore rarely seen illustrated books from the Museum Library’s extensive research collections.

What: Illustrated Leaves: Florilegia from the 16th to 21st Centuries

When: Opens Friday, 2 October

Where: Auckland Museum Pictorial Gallery

Cost: Admission included with entry donation

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Kid Around in Wellington These School Holidays

Wellington may be best known as a city break destination for couples and friends, but New Zealand’s capital of cool is also a great family destination. The school holidays will see visitors and locals spoilt for choice when seeking to entertain the brood over the coming weeks.

City Gallery re-opens this weekend with Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years - a world class exhibition of mirrors, dots and patterns that will fascinate all ages. If you’re around on Sunday head to Gallery A-Go-Go, a party in Civic Square from 12-5pm hosted by Jo Randerson and featuring local bands Little Bushman, Rosy Tin Teacaddy and the Hardy Ha Ha’s. Entry to the exhibition is free on Sunday and badge-making activity inspired by the exhibition will be held in Civic Square (or inside Capital E if raining). Entry fee to the exhibition at other times: Adults $10, 5-16 years $8, under fives are free. $25 family pass for two adults and up to three children.
Speaking of Capital E, as usual the national theatre for children has an incredible programme of music, dance and technology workshops lined up. From hip hop dance classes for five-year-olds to DJ lessons for older children, the Spring Jam Sessions runs from Saturday 26 September to Saturday 10 October. The programme runs alongside the return season of the sell-out production Seasons, for 2-7 year olds. More information at

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is always a winner with kids, with Discovery Centres, StoryPlace sessions and regular creative events. Workshops this weekend and next week can see your kids making rabbit lanterns, putiputi (flowers), juggling balls or a tawhirimatea (wind god). Workshops run from 11am-12pm and cost just $2. Visit for the schedule.

Wellington Zoo’s school holiday programme is tailored for children aged 6 to 10 years, with many of the day events already sold out. If you’re in quick you might still be able to book in for the October dates for your kids to Go Ape! challenging our close relatives, be a Zoo Keeper for a Day, or go On the Prowl . Wellington Zoo is home to more than 500 animals and is open daily through the holidays from 9.30am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.15pm). Family concessions range from $36-54.

Just a 10 minute drive from the CBD, ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sanctuary Experience has special activities for kids planned daily over the spring holidays, including: a Beginners' Guide to Birdspotting; The birds, the bees and... the blossoms!, and The wonderful world of weta! Time your visit for kaka feeding daily at 12.15pm and 1.45pm (nb: feeding stations are a 20-30 minute walk from the visitor centre) and find out more about our playful native parrots. If you’re keen to spot a tuatara, ZEALANDIA rangers will be helping out at 1pm and 3.15pm every day. Free boat rides from 10am-2pm are weather dependent. ZEALANDIA is open daily throughout the holidays from 10am-5pm. Family concession $34 (two adults and up to three children), check out for full details and tour options.

Museum of Wellington’s school holiday fun includes the Captain Fearless pantomime on Tuesday 29 September at 11am ($5 per child) and Fairy Trina at 11am on Wednesday 7 October ($10 per child). The two characters also combine in The Quest for the Enchanted Sock on Thursday 1 and 8 of October ($15 per child). If you’re keen to roam around, free museum tours are held every Sunday at 2pm, offering a great insight into Wellington’s history.

The holidays also take in Wellington’s annual Spring Festival. Tulip Sunday on 27 September at Wellington Botanic Gardens is a Dutch-themed day expected to draw 10,000 visitors to see 26,000 tulips in bloom. The festival features about 40 free or low-cost events (mostly gold coin entry) during the festival at the gardens and Otari-Wilton’s Bush. Think scavenger hunts, tree climbing the safe and professional way, craft sessions and glow worm tours!

The best way to get to the gardens from the city centre is of course the Wellington Cable Car – a return journey for a family of two adults and up to four children costs just $14.

If the weather we’ve been having is anything to go by, there’ll be some lovely sunny days these school holidays. Enjoy them with a stroll along the picturesque Wellington waterfront, stopping off at one of the playgrounds when the kids need a break. If they’re good, reward them with a gelato at Kaffee Eis on Oriental Parade or at The Lagoon.

Having the brood in tow doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the capital’s coffee culture. Caffe L’affare on College St caters well to families and is now open Sundays. Southern Cross on Abel Smith St is also very child-friendly and has a large outdoor area.

If you want to venture out of the city centre, stop by the Island Bay Marine Education Centre’s open days on Sunday October 4 or Sunday October 11 from 10am-3pm. There’s heaps of marine displays and the ‘touch gently’ tank takes getting up close to a whole new level. Entry $2 per person.

The creatively minded will love TheNewDowse in Lower Hutt. You can create your own doorknob hanger daily for $2, or register your family for the gallery’s Wearable Arts Challenge on Friday October 2, where teams of four will design and create a garment from paper and then join in a fashion show to present their ensemble.

There’ll be an awards ceremony and you can take your own lunch. $40 per team, ages 10 plus. Full details at

Speaking of the Montana World of WearableArt™ Awards Show, this year’s Montana World of WearableArt Wander features 20 years of Supreme Award Winner garments throughout Wellington city until October 4. Location maps for this self-guided walk are available. Check out for full details or TEXT* WANDER to 315 for your personal mobile guide.
* Mobile guide is provided free of charge, but standard usage fees with your provider will apply. Texts cost 20c.

Need accommodation for your family’s spring holiday in Wellington?

The following inner city hotels are great for families. Check rates, availability and book at

Holiday Inn Wellington - Children 19 and under stay for free sharing parents’ guest room in existing bedding; plus kids 12 and under eat free from the kids menu when dining with an adult guest in the hotel restaurant. Contact the hotel for full details.

Quality Hotel Wellington – is in a convenient Cuba St location and has a swimming pool

Copthorne Hotel Wellington, Oriental Bay – is just short walk to the waterfront, Oriental Beach and Te Papa. Or if the beach isn’t the go, they have swimming pool.

Mercure Wellington – is in a quiet location but still close to the city centre. Adjoining rooms available.

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