Category Archives: Oceania

3 Ways to Do New Zealand Right

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It’s almost time to start booking that trip you always meant to take: to the fabled land of New Zealand! So we’ve prepared 3 itineraries that might inspire you of your journey. Whether you’re an adventurer, golf fanatic, or stopping by for a quick jaunt on your way to Australia, New Zealand has something for you!

Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel to discuss options for a self-guided drive. We can arrange car, maps, itineraries, flights, and hotels for you to explore this fascinating country on your own. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

For the Adventurer: South Island Glacier Adventure

6 Days | 848 miles, 1365 km

Ancient Glaciers | Arthur’s Pass | Mt. Aoraki | Canterbury Plains | Azure Lakes

Day 1: Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass

Pick up your car for the freedom or choose to travel the more leisurely TranzAlpine. Today’s journey will take you to explore the hiking trails from the village of Arthur’s Pass. As you descend the Southern Alps, you’ll reach the rainforests of the west coast. Greymouth is the region’s largest town, known for its breweries and gold rush history.

Day 2: Greymouth to Fox Glacier

Drive out to Hokitika, for workshops and galleries to admire the pounamu, special New Zealand jade. Near Arahura River, you’ll find the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Take the day for a guided hike, heli-hike or scenic flight for an unforgettable adventure.

Day 3: Fox Glacier to Queenstown

On your drive to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, you’ll have loads to explore: the wild ranges of Haast, river safaris, Mount Aspiring National Park. Or take a break from the adventure to explore the town of Wanaka.

Day 4: Spend the day in Queenstown

Queenstown is THE stop to try all sorts of fun activities: bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, ziplining, rafting and mountain biking. Or just take it easy with hiking trails around the beautiful Lake Wakatipu.

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Aoraki

Day 5: Queenstown to Aoraki Mount Cook

Welcome to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the stunning grand playground for NZ escapades. Edmund Hilary used this area as a training ground for the Himalayas, and the unqiue landscape continues to draw mountain climbers, glacier-climbers, hikers, heli-skiiers and heli-hikers.

Day 6: Aoraki Mount Cook to Christchurch

Unwind from your adventures at Lake Tekapo, and take it easy with some lowland kayaking or horse-riding. Your drive will take you to into Christchurch, to chill back once more in civilization.

The Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

For the Golf Pro: North Island Golf Highlights

8-9 Days | 808 miles, 1300 km

Cliffside Courses | Cape Kidnappers | Hawkes Bay | Wellington

Day 1: Auckland to Matauri Bay

From Auckland, leap off to the town of Paihia amid the Bay of Islands. Continue along Matauri Bay to the world-renowned Kauri Cliffs. You can also visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of New Zealand, and attend a Maori cultural show.

Day 2: Spend the day at Kauri Cliffs

Spent a full day at one of the world’s top golf courses, which played host to PGA Tour’s Kiwi Challenge, and the Shell Wonderful World of Golf match between Fred Couples and Michael Campbell.

Day 3: Paihia to Auckland

From Paihia, return to Auckland for a scenic oceanside drive. Explore the North Island’s favorite city, wines and foods, or escape a bit out to the black sand beaches on the west coast.

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Golf Course in NZ

Day 4: Spend the day at Windross Farm

Take your clubs to Windross Farm Golf Course, just 30 minutes from Auckland. It covers 60 hectares of pristine golf grounds — perfect to work on your swing.

Day 5: Auckland to Taupo

Drive to the center of the island, past the stunning Lake Taupo, and Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. The road will take you to Wairakei Golf Course, in the middle of NZ’s famous bush.

Day 6: Spend the day at Kinloch Club

From Taupo, a 20-minute drive will take you to Kinloch Club, designed by the one and only Jack Nicklaus. This picturesque landscape is a beautiful respite for fishermen, golfers and boat lovers (and you can even charter a boat to catch the sunset!)

Day 7: Lake Taupo to Napier

From Taupo you’ll make your way to Napier, an Art Deco city on Hawke’s Bay, known for its winning temperature, orchards and vineyards, and the magnificent Cape Kidnappers Golf Course.

Day 8: Napier to Wellington

Finally, drive on the scenic route to Wellington, NZ’s capital. If you’re still gearing to golf, head out to the stylish grounds at Paraparumu Beach Golf Club. If you’d rather pack your clubs in for the week, spend the rest of the day exploring magnificent Wellington’s museums, gardens, old cable cars.

Reading List: New Zealand

For the Quick Sightseer: Christchurch, Canterbury + Dunedin | 4 Days | 406 miles, 654 km

Turquoise lakes | Stargaze above Lake Tekapo | NZ’s longest glacier | Dunedin’s Larnach Castle

Day 1: Christchurch

Discover the street art and botanical gardens of vibrant Christchurch, famous for its stunning Avon River.

Day 2: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Hop on the bus or car for 3h-3h30 to beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. At nightfall, head to Mt. John for panoramic views from the International Dark Sky Reserve.

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Lake Tekapo

Day 3: Lake Tekapo to Omarama via Aoraki

Explore the South Island, stopping at Aoraki for a short detour to admire the country’s largest glacier. In Omarama, spend the night at the famed hot tubs amid wondrous geological formations.

Day 4: Omarama to Dunedin

Drive southeast past lakes to the iconic Moeraki Boulders and Moeraki Lighthouse. Once in Dunedin, explore what some call the “Edinburgh of New Zealand,” home to remarkable Victorian and Edwardian architecture and the country’s only castle.

 

Read More on New Zealand:

Top Roads of Australia & New Zealand

From the Gallery: Clients’ Trip

More posts on NZ, Click Here

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Filed under New Zealand, Oceania, Travel By, Travel by Backpack, Travel by Car, Travel by Rail

Travel News: Longest Lunar Eclipse this July

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The Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century Is Happening in July 

Afar.com reports if you’re based in North America, you’ll have to travel to see the blood moon on July 27. A total lunar eclipse is happening on the night of July 27, and it will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest lunar eclipse to take place this century. But if you want to see it in person, you’ll have to leave North America, since no part of the eclipse will be visible in the United States, Canada, or Mexico (unless you’re watching a livestream). A total lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon enters the Earth’s shadow. While some of the sun’s light can still reach the moon even when the Earth is directly between the two, our planet’s atmosphere filters out the blue light making the moon take on a deep red or rusty brown color, which is why a total lunar eclipse is also known as a “blood moon.” Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be observed safely with the naked eye. According to NASA the entire eclipse will be visible from most parts of Africa and the entire Middle East will also have great views, if the weather is clear. But that’s not all. India, Pakistan, western China, and most central Asian countries reaching up to parts of southern Russia will also be able to see the eclipse in its entirety. Everyone in Europe, western Africa, and most of South America will be able to see the lunar eclipse after sunset on July 27. If you’re in Asia or Australia, you’ll get a glimpse of the blood moon just before sunrise on July 28.

Federal Aviation Administration Says Shrinking Airline Seats Are Not Its Problem 

The FAA has stated that squeezing bottoms into shrinking airline seats is not its problem. The FAA did so despite a demand for federal regulation of seat size, a lawsuit brought by the consumer group Flyers Rights, and a judge’s order that the agency reconsider its position. Reconsider, the FAA did, concluding that there is “no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out of his or her seat” in the case of an emergency. Seat width on many major airlines has shrunk from about 18.5 inches to 17 inches. Seat pitch, the distance between your seat and the one directly in front of you, has decreased from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, and on some airlines it has been reduced to 28 inches. While seats have grown smaller, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report a growing size in American passengers. The average weight of a man is 192 lb (89 kg), a woman 165 lb (75 kg). Men pack a 101cm waistline. Women tickle the tape around the waist at 96cm. 

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Passing through DUBAI Airport? DXB is Getting The World’s Largest Vertical Farm

Business Insider that there are plans for a 130,000-square-foot vertical farm in Dubai. Vertical farms grow crops indoors and year-round without natural sunlight or soil. The facility will be the largest of its kind, and will produce 6,000 pounds of crops daily. The greens and herbs will be used for in-flight meals at Dubai International Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger traffic. When passengers board their flights at Dubai International Airport, most are served in-flight meals that include salads or greens atop sandwiches. These crops usually come from traditional, outdoor farms in the United Arab Emirates. By 2020, flights taking off from the airport will serve greens and herbs grown from a more high-tech source. The 130,000-square-foot indoor farm will produce up to 6,000 pounds of greens and herbs every day. Unlike traditional outdoor farms, Crop One grows crops year-round under LEDs (which mimic natural sunlight) located inside climate-controlled rooms, which are each set to optimal temperature and oxygen levels depending on the crop. Instead of soil, greens sprout in nutrient-rich water beds on trays stacked from the floor to the ceiling. Sensors in the trays track how the plants are doing in real time. The two companies will start construction in November 2018, and start delivering crops to Emirates Flight Catering’s customers, including 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, in December 2019. Crop One currently operates a vertical farm in Millis, Massachusetts, and delivers to Boston metro area grocery stores under the Fresh Box Farms brand name. The new farm in Dubai will surpass the size of the current world’s largest vertical farm, which is operated by AeroFarms. The facility grows greens inside a 69,000-square-foot warehouse in Newark, New Jersey. AeroFarms and other big indoor farming companies mostly sell their products to supermarkets, but Crop One believes greater opportunity may lie within airline partnerships.

Click Here for WIT Agent Pam’s feedback on her trip to DUBAI

Air New Zealand Allowed To Recycle Untouched Snacks And Beverages 

Airlineratings report a project that allows Air New Zealand to re-use untouched snacks and beverages from international flights has prevented more than 132 tonnes of “waste” being sent to landfill in the first nine months. Air New Zealand received permission form New Zealand authorities in August, 2017, to distribute 40 inflight products from international aircraft landing in Auckland to future flights. The unused products were previously sent to landfill because of New Zealand’s tough biosecurity controls and were burnt or buried. The airline said the figure so far, equivalent to the weight of three of its Airbus A320 aircraft, meant it was confident the program would meet its planned target of saving about 150 tonnes from landfill annually. It said tracking to date showed more than nine million individual items had been recovered for reuse or recycling rather than going to landfill. Items that had each seen more than one million recovered included plastic cups, sugar sticks, one paper cups and paper cup lids. Air New Zealand has a number of initiatives to reduce waste, with a program in place to tackle organic waste from office spaces, repurpose office materials and lounge furniture, and blankets. It also last year began plugging in its jets to gates to provide them with power rather than use on-board auxiliary power units, small jet engines in the tail of the aircraft. It estimates that using electricity from the gate will save about 4500 tonnes annually in carbon emissions. 

US airlines and China: tension over how websites refer to Taiwan

China has rejected U.S. requests for talks over how American airlines and their websites refer to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, according to sources, including a U.S. official. China has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, begin referring to Taiwan as Chinese territory on their websites, along with Hong Kong and Macau. Numerous non-U.S. carriers, such as Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways have already made changes to their websites, according to Reuters. But several U.S. companies, including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, were among carriers that sought extensions to a May 25 deadline to make the changes. The final deadline is July 25. In late May, the U.S. State Department presented China’s Foreign Ministry with a diplomatic note requesting consultations on the matter, but the ministry has since refused it. 

 

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A new airline enters the market very soon

From Conde Nast Traveler: The International Airline Group (IAG) already has a ton of airlines-British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus- but they just announced a “new” budget airline in Europe, one that will start flying on July 17. Level already exists as a relatively new long-haul carrier flying between the U.S. and Barcelona. In this new version, those cheap long-haul flights-from Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco to Barcelona, and then more recently from New York City to Paris and Madrid-will still stand. But those flights (about $350 round-trip, even from the West Coast) look expensive in the face of $30 one-way flights between London and Vienna, which launch on July 17, along with cheap flights between Vienna and Mallorca. The company will expand quickly in August, launching routes from Vienna to Barcelona, Madrid, Florence, Paris, Dubrovnik, and a number of other Italian and Spanish cities, The Independent reports.

Cross the Atlantic with Bob Mackie designs on the Queen Mary 2

Cunard has partnered with Julien’s Auctions to offer guests an exclusive opportunity to sail with legendary fashion icon Bob Mackie and enjoy a special exhibition preview of “Property from the Collection of Bob Mackie,” which includes some of the designer’s most famous pieces. The Transatlantic Crossing sets sail out of Southampton, England on August 19, 2018 (M831B), ahead of the auction which will take place on November 17, 2018 in Los Angeles and online at juliensauctions.com. Renowned fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie is best known for his creations for Cher, Carol Burnett, Diana Ross, and Raquel Welch. From his unforgettable award-winning wardrobe as the costume designer for the first Carol Burnett Show to his longtime collaboration with Cher and her dazzling, boundary-pushing wardrobe on her TV show, concert tours and public appearances, the nine-time Emmy® award winning designer, three-time Academy Award® nominee and Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee has spent a distinguished career designing for women who dare to be noticed. His achievements have been honored with numerous awards and accolades and he continues his work by designing for the upcoming The Cher Show, set to open on Broadway in fall 2018.

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Travel2 in Australia & New Zealand

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Looking to escape the winter snows this holiday? Book a couple weeks in Australia and/or New Zealand.

Travel2 is one of our favorite vendors in the South Pacific. They offer tailored packages for travelers in Australia and New Zealand, and beyond.

Want to hit the adventure and see the highlights of Down Under, but don’t want to figure out the logistics of a car and hotels? The folks over at Travel2 are your backup team — and Willamette Intl Travel’s got you even more covered!

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On a sample 11-day Sydney, Melbourne & Reef itinerary:

Take in the sights of Australia’s cities–Sydney and Melbourne. See the Great Barrier Reef, a fast-disappearing natural wonder of the world.

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On a sample 14-day New Zealand North Island Explorer Self Drive:

Hit the road and explore Auckland’s City of Sails and the geothermal landscapes of the North Island.

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On an 18-day New Zealand Grandeur Escorted Tour:

Take the Grand Tour of New Zealand, from Christchurch to Auckland. Hike through ancient forests, climb across glacier mountains, admire the historical railway and clear celestial skies.

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On a 22-day Explore Australia & New Zealand Escorted Tour:

Why choose between the two? Combine Australia & New Zealand on a Grand Adventure! Head out on red dirt roads in the Outback, enjoy a sunset cruise on a private yacht, witness the unforgettable glowworms illuminating the Waitomo Caves.

For more information on a trip to Australia, New Zealand or the Cook Islands tailored just for you, call Willamette Intl Travel: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

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Today’s post is courtesy of the New Zealand Government’s Department of Conservation. 

Fancy a Life-Changing Adventure? New Zealand is world-renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Hike through ancient forests and rugged coastlines on these amazing Day Hikes.

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Lake Wanaka

ROYS PEAK. 5h-6h, 16 km roundtrip. Challenging.

A steep climb through alpine meadows and tussock grasslands to the summit is rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring / Tititea and Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.05.19 PMsurrounding peaks. With beautiful Wanaka as the backdrop, you’ll walk from lake level through farmland then up into the tussock tops to the 1,578 m summit.

Roys Peak overs views of the lake and the jagged tussock ridges of The Stack Conservation Area. At the top, take a moment to contemplate the extinct Haast’s eagle / pouakai or hokioi (New Zealand’s largest predator and the largest eagle in the world) and its prey, the moa, which once lived here in a forest landscape.

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Mount Cook

HOOKER VALLEY TRACK. 3h, 10km roundtrip. Easy.

Enjoy the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana on this Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.05.28 PMshort walk, winding up the Hooker valley past alpine streams and glaciers in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook.

Many different wildflowers can be seen along the way, including celmisia and the Mount Cook buttercup/kōpukupuku, the world’s biggest buttercup. Endangered kea, the only alpine parrot in the world and one of the most intelligent birds, can sometimes be heard along the track.

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Alpine Ridges

TE WHARA TRACK. 5h-6h. 7.5km one way. Moderate to challenging.

Follow in the footsteps of Northland’s Māori ancestors. This challenging track climbsScreen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.05.33 PMthrough coastal forest before revealing a spectacular 360° panorama. The Te Whara Track follows an ancient Māori trail from Ocean Beach to Urquharts Bay. Once you’ve climbed up onto the ridge, the track becomes undulating and relatively easy-going.

Te Whara was the principal wife of the rangatira (chief), Manaia, of the Ngātiwai iwi (tribe). It was here that Manaia first met Puhi-moana-āriki, an early ancestor of the Ngāpuhi iwi. Manaia’s wife is said to have slighted Puhi and was turned into stone. She stands as the projecting up-thrust rock at the easternmost point of Bream Head, known as ‘Te Wahine iti a Manaia’.

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Tongariro Crater Lakes

TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING. 7h-8h, 19.4km one way. Challenging.

Trek across a volcanic alpine landscape of dramatic contrasts – steaming vents,Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.05.40 PMglacial valleys, old lava flows, alpine vegetation and vivid crater lakes. The track climbs the Mangatepopo valley to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, through South Crater before climbing again to Red Crater, the highest point on the crossing at 1,886 m. You will then descend on a volcanic rock scree track to the vivid Emerald Lakes. After passing Blue Lake, the track sidles around the northern slope of Tongariro, then descends in a zigzag track past Ketetahi Shelter and down to the road end.

Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO dual World Heritage Area and the first in the world to receive cultural World Heritage status. The alpine lakes and peaks of the mountains are sacred to the local Māori tribe Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro. Respectfully, they ask that peaks are not climbed and waterways are not touched.

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Gannet Colony in Cape Kidnappers

CAPE KIDNAPPERS WALKING TRACK

The journey along Māui’s fish hook takes you to the world’s largest mainlandScreen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.05.46 PM gannet colony and past rugged cliffs etched with history. The area is home to distinctive native wildlife, including the largest accessible mainland Australasian gannet/tākapu colony in the world.

History tells the story of Te Kauwae-a-Māui, the tip of the fishhook of Māui, which he used to pull up the North Island/Te-Ika-a-Māui (the sh of Māui). After an incident between local Māori and Captain James Cook’s crew on the Endeavour in 1769, it became known as Cape Kidnappers.

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Basic Guidelines: 

  • Plan your trip. Make sure you know where you’re going and have looked at a map of the track – consider taking a photo of it. ensure you have enough time to complete in the daylight. A wrong turn can create an unexpected night out.
  • Stay on the track – you have less chance of losing your way or injuring yourself and this protects the wild environment.
  • Tell someone your plans. Message someone – text, social, email – where you’re going and when you’ll be due back. Make yourself easier to be found if something goes wrong.
  • Take home everything you bring with you, including rubbish.
  • Check where the toilets are placed on the track and use them–it’s not allowed to use the outdoors as a bathroom!
  • Never feed wildlife – it can harm them and their young.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • Be considerate of others using the track
  • Be aware of the weather. New Zealand’s weather can be highly changeable. Check the forecast – Metservice.com – and expect changes throughout the day. Always prepare for wind and rain as it can, and o en does, happen suddenly.
  • Know your limits. Challenge yourself within your group’s limits. Consider the group’s ability to deal with the changing weather and the physical nature of the hike. stick to the marked track.
  • Take sufficient supplies. What supplies you need for each hike will vary, but you should always have a waterproof jacket, water, food, hat, head torch and sturdy footwear – consider hiking boots. Cell phone signal is o en not available in the outdoors. Place items like phones and maps in a plastic bag to waterproof.
 Willamette Intl Travel can arrange a perfect New Zealand adventure for you and your family. Ask us how! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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The Cook Islands: Hawaii’s Quieter, Overlooked Cousin

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Tropical Bliss…

The Cook Islands are a fantastic destination for travelers looking for a secluded tropical island experience.

Named after Captain Cook, the 15 islands boast stunning lagoons, moderate tropical weather, and a friendly “Ki Orana” spirit.

Most folks head to the Southern Cook Islands, especially Rarotonga and Aitutaki. The country is still undeveloped and the beaches uncrowded, even in peak season. They’ve have been compared to what Hawaii used to look and feel like 50 years ago.

At the Punanga Nui Cultural Market, sample the music, dance, cuisine and songs of the islands. Plus learn how to make local crafts like hat-weaving, lei-making, ukulele-carving and more. Open weekdays 8AM to 4PM, but the best events are on Saturday.

Cook Island Fun Facts

– It’s forbidden for any building to be higher than the tallest coconut palm!

– Local currency is the New Zealand dollar — great value for the cost

– Even though they’re technically part of New Zealand, the islands are self-governing

– Just 30 minutes from the plane to the beach

– Languages: English and Maori

– Only 20,000 inhabitants!

– A great alternative to the more expensive Tahiti

Willamette Intl Travel has sent clients on unforgettable holidays to the Cook Islands, and some even come back for their 2nd or 3rd time!

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Suggested Itineraries:

Plan your trip to the Cook Islands around a New Zealand and/or Australia getaway!

6 nights/7 days on the Cook Islands:

Spend a romantic vacation under palm trees, fishing, swimming and motorcycling — the ideal recipe for an idyllic getaway.

OR

12 nights Cook Islands + New Zealand:

Fly from Vancouver, San Francisco or Los Angeles into the Cook Islands for 4 nights. Get used to the jet lag and lie on a tropical beach; Soak your skin in the sun and your toes in the sand! Then hop on a plane over to Auckland for a trip in Kiwi central.

OR

16+ nights Cook Islands + Australia:

Spend the 4 nights / 5 full days then fly on to Sydney on the nonstop Air New Zealand flight. Spend as many nights exploring the Land Downunder, then fly over to New Zealand in a spectacular Pacific Adventure.

When to Go?

The Cook Islands are gorgeous year-round, but the shoulder months of April, May, September and October are optimal.

Before you Go: An Adorable Video

We absolutely adore this 12-minute video from Tourism Cook Islands! It will tell you everything you need to know about why you should visit the Cook Islands soon!

Read More:

Our Overview of the Cook Islands

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Travel News: Lights Up Down-Under

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Lights Up Down-Under
A round trip flight from New Zealand just for the view the Southern Lights. Otago Museum Director Ian Griffin came up with the idea. An astronomer, Griffin said he was inspired after seeing the Southern Lights while flying as a guest on a NASA observatory plane. A charter plane that left Dunedin, New Zealand, late Thursday flew close to the Antarctic Circle to give the eager passengers an up-close look at the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. He says the 134 seats on the chartered Boeing 767 sold out within five days and one man traveled from Spain for the trip. He says he could have filled the plane several times over, although they were only selling window seats and seats immediately adjacent, leaving the middle of the aircraft empty.“I thought it was absolutely brilliant,” Griffin said. “We were right under it. There were beautiful streamers, auroral streamers. This green-colored stuff that moves quickly, it looks like you’re looking into a green, streaky river.”
 
Viking Cruises Launches New Resident Historian Program
Viking Cruises has announced the roll-out of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking’s ocean cruise ships,” said the company, in a statement. According to the cruise line, the Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables.
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Large Sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Are Now Dead
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders. But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble. Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. The damage to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest living structures, is part of a global calamity that has been unfolding intermittently for nearly two decades and seems to be intensifying. The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.Australia relies on the Great Barrier Reef for about 70,000 jobs and billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue, and it is not yet clear how that economy will be affected by the reef’s deterioration. Even in hard-hit areas, large patches of the Great Barrier Reef survived, and guides will most likely take tourists there, avoiding the dead zones.
 
The new Berlin Welcome Card
The card covers admission to 30 attractions across the city as well as public transportation, and is commissionable. Among the highlights is access to selected national museums such as the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum, and private museums such as C/O Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the DDR Museum. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour and a boat cruise are also included as is admission to Berlin’s TV Tower and Madame Tussaud’s. The city guide that comes with the pass provides insider tips and the city map points the way to all of the participating sites. The Berlin WelcomeCard is all-inclusive and is available for $84 for adults and $52 for children ages 3 to 14 and is available for three durations: 48 hours, 72 hours, and four calendar days. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive includes public transport in the city of Berlin and the surrounding region. It will be sold at Berlin Tourist Information centers, at berlin-welcomecard.com, at turbopass.com, and by travel agents and tour operators. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive is being offered in partnership with Turbopass. 
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New Orleans breaks tourism records
A new study says New Orleans has broken a tourism record set before Hurricane Katrina, with nearly 10.5 million visitors in 2016. The record had stood at 10.1 million since 2004, the year before the hurricane struck. University of New Orleans’ Hospitality Research Center says last year’s visitors spent US $7.41 billion dollars. That’s 51 percent more than the amount spent in 2004, and 5.1 percent above the spending record set in 2015. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says in a news release that he’s looking forward to 2017 being even bigger.
Museum Of Ice Cream Announces Its Opening In Los Angeles
Museum of Ice Cream opens its doors to the West Coast this April claiming sunny Los Angeles as its highly anticipated second location. Stationed in DTLA’s burgeoning art district, Museum of Ice Cream welcomes visitors to enjoy an experiential ice cream journey. Museum of Ice Cream captivated a global audience with its unprecedented 2016 launch in New York City, selling out in five days and attracting a waitlist of over 200,000. The Los Angeles location is four times larger than the New York City incarnation and showcases 10 completely reimagined installations. Interactive highlights include a “banana split” comprised of ten thousand “bananas”, a mint “grow house”, a room dedicated to California, a melted popsicle jungle and more. The iconic swimmable sprinkle pool returns filled with one hundred million sprinkles that were custom designed and produced by Museum of Ice Cream! Museum of Ice Cream is open from April 22 until May 29 from 11 am-10 pm, Wednesday-Monday. Tickets include two curated ice cream tastings and surprise edible treats!
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Off the beaten track in Mexico
Isla Holbox (pronounced “ole-bosh”) has just been added as a “hidden hotspot” among vacation destinations in Mexico. Part of the Yum Balam Natural Reserve, the island offers vacationers a pristine tropical haven away from the hustle and bustle of more well-travelled tourist hotspots.Comprised of sandy-white beaches and home to a diverse and protected ecosystem, Isla Holbox is a popular island destination for bird watchers, snorkelers and beach lovers. Along with a variety of land and water sports excursions available, travellers in the summer months can also opt to join a snorkeling or boat tour to view the annual migration of the whale sharks that takes place close to the island between the months of June and September. There are two quaint hotels on the island to appeal to a range of travelers. At both properties complimentary kayaks and bikes are available to enable independent explorations of the island and windsurfing, kite surfing and fishing are also offered for an additional fee. Villas HM Palapas Del Mar, is a small, oceanfront hotel where guests can watch romantic sunsets from their infinity pool overlooking the beach.Those looking to adopt a slower pace can opt for Villas HM Paraiso Del Mar, with a  large swimming pool surrounded by lush vegetation, buffet meals, and unlimited national drinks and cocktails. Offers include packages where guests can enjoy four nights on the peaceful Isla Holbox, and three nights in Riviera Maya at Reef Coco Beach or the cosmopolitan HM Playa del Carmen resort—both of which are quite close to shopping, nightlife, and the exciting attractions of Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. Call your travel agent to discuss week-long packages. 

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Filed under Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, North America, USA

Infographic: 6 Destinations to Spot the Southern Cross in 2017

We at Willamette Intl Travel love tried and true destinations like these! Interested in one (or more) of the places below? Give us a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

TOP 6 PLACES TO SEE THE SOUTHERN CROSS IN 2017.jpg

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Filed under Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa, South Africa