Yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins

If you see something that looks like a duck in the water at Roaring Bay* in the Catlins, chances are it’s a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. By the time you realise that ducks don’t belong in the sea, the penguin may be upright on its bubble gum pink feet and swaying across the stony shore.

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

The yellow band that stretches around the top of a hoiho’s head and into its eyes marks it as one of the world’s rarest penguins, and a breed unique to New Zealand. Hoiho translates to ‘the noise shouter’, … Read the rest

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

There are a few uniquely New Zealand experiences you can have for $5 or less – you can hire a spade and dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, visit Weta Cave in Wellington (free), and see all the curious creations at The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai, the Catlins (seasonal hours*).

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

Blair Somerville is the resident ‘organic mechanic’ and creator of The Lost Gypsy Gallery (free entry), and The Winding Thoughts Theatre of Sorts ($5 entry – R13). If you like unusual attractions definitely pull over in Papatowhai, your time … Read the rest

Teapot Land in Owaka

I’m not sure there are many towns that have more than three tea pots per head of population, but Owaka in the Catlins area does. In summer, there are more than 1200 tea pots in the garden at Teapot Land on Main Road.

Vegetable tea pots at Teapot Land in Owaka

Vegetable tea pots at Teapot Land in Owaka

The owner of Teapot Land is actually a coffee drinker, I’m not sure whether the unusual collection started with a tea pot, a coffee pot, or a kettle, but Teapot Land it is.

Teapot Land in Owaka

Teapot Land in Owaka

Visitors are invited to put a koha (donation) in the kettle and … Read the rest

Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

If ye happen to be travelling through Gore on a dreich day, a wee dram of Old Hokonui, and Hokonui Honey Moonshine is included in the $5 entrance fee to Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

The Museum documents the first distiller in the area as Irish carpenter Owen McShane. In the 1830’s Owen made a potent spirit from cabbage tree sap known by a few names including the brilliant ‘McShane’s Chained Lightning’. Fond of more than a wee dram, Owen McShane may be the only person ever to build a jail, go out on a … Read the rest

Dunedin Street Art

The last time we were in Dunedin I photographed and wrote about the art work on bus shelters on Otago Peninsula. Two years on, there are more than 25 walls of art in Dunedin city. Much of the art work was facilitated by Dunedin Street Art  volunteers who have helped bring art and artists into the streets. You can find the street art at random or download a Street Art Trail map, or pick up a copy from the i-SITE on The Octagon. A two hour Street Art Tour may also be an option (ask at the i-SITE).

Mural by Filipa (the Fairy) Crofskey

Mural

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Tropical Forest at Otago Museum

The temperature can drop below zero during a Dunedin winter but one place you’re guaranteed to keep warm is in the Tropical Forest at Otago Museum. On the day I was there it was a balmy 35.8 degrees celsius with 64% humidity, I can confirm that’s not enough humidity to make your hair frizz.

Hibiscus can be found in Dunedin

Hibiscus can be found in Dunedin

Butterflies are the main attraction in the Tropical Forest and they arrive in New Zealand in chrysalis form from breeders in Costa Rica and the Philippines. At 11am every day as well as1.30pm weekends and school holidays you can see … Read the rest

Raceline Karting at Off Road NZ

After driving a V8 in Taupo Mike was keen to get behind the wheel of another fast machine, so that made gift giving easy this year. Cue Raceline Karting at Off Road NZ, around 25 minutes drive north of Rotorua in the countryside near Mamaku. Off Road NZ is a professional set up with a top class race track. If you know your karts they have 390cc 4 stroke SODI GT3’s imported from France.

Karting track at Off Road NZ in Rotorua

Karting track at Off Road NZ in Rotorua

Kitted out in a balaclava, overalls, gloves and helmet you’re good to go, up to 100km/hour the website … Read the rest

Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill

Walking through Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill I overheard someone say to his mate “You could spend a month in here”, “Yeah, I could”, the mate replied. He obviously really likes trucks, I don’t particularly but I’d been at Transport World for two hours and there was still plenty to see.

1937 Ford - 79, an exact replica of the first Ford owned by the Richardson family

1937 Ford – 79, an exact replica of the first Ford owned by the Richardson family

Bill Richardson was a Southland businessman with a passion for trucks, he bought his first from his grandfather in 1967 – a 1933 International D1. In 1976 his collection of trucks and … Read the rest

Cheap P&O Cruises out of Auckland – May/June 2016

Reading the Escape section of the Sunday Star Times over the weekend I was surprised to see cheap P&O cruises out of Auckland advertised by House of Travel. When I look at cruise ads they’re usually for the following year, and prices quoted are often quad share, not this time.

One example is the 9 night Pacific Island Hopper cruise on the Pacific Pearl departing Auckland on 7 May, priced from $749 per person twin share. Ports of call are Noumea, Port Vila, Lifou and Mare. See all four cheap cruise deals via House of Travel – Update: the deals … Read the rest