Category Archives: Travel by Backpack

3 Ways to Do New Zealand Right

Copy of wittravel blog header (3)

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.

aoraki-90388_1920

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.

hills-golf-course-299914_640

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.

lake-tekapo-51736_640.jpg

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

Leave a comment

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

2018 Travel Trends: Walking Tours in and out of Town

walking tours

We know that many of our clients are revving up and ready to hit the road this year. Stay active and keep on adventurin’, that’s what we always say.

One of the coolest experiences you can have on a trip is a walking tour – it’s simple, doesn’t take too much time and effort, keeps your blood pumping, makes you feel energetic, and is a fantastic way to tour the city or countryside the way the locals do every day. Plus, you often get to see a side of the destination that many tourists don’t.

Here are some of our favorite walking tour companies – call Willamette Intl Travel to book yours today. 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

poster-1568247_640

Walking in Venice: luxury tours focusing on history, art and photography with art aficionados to the Accademia, or the Ca’Rezzonico, or the Ca’Pesaro and Fortuny Museum. Discover Renaissance Venice at the height of its power.

Spanish Trails: our in-country supplier for tours of Barcelona, Madrid and the Catalonian Coast. They offer small group walking tours in the city, wine tours in La Rioja region, or succulent food-tasting tours.

 

context stockholm-01

Photo from Context Travel

 

Context Travel: Small group tours and private tours in many cities around the world, from Edinburgh, Budapest and Istanbul to Philadelphia, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Spend the day with a local historian or scholar who will enchant you with their in-depth knowledge.

Chocolatine: How can we forget lovely France. Chocolatine provides a wealth of fun private walking tours (including those hard-to-find tickets to exclusive Parisian events!) all around Paris, Provence, Normandy and throughout.

aec-1822452_640

Adrienne & Renato: Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Art Tours by Amy / Mountain Hiking Holidays: It seems every time we check in with these folks, Amy and John Osaki have something new and exciting up their sleeves. Amy organizes the art tours in Europe and Asia, and John heads the mountain hiking trips all across the globe. Look for the next trip to explore the heritage of Japan, November 2018.

Marissa: Marissa is a one-of-a-kind one-woman operation in Buenos Aires. She’s organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for more than a decade — we highly recommend her if you’re in town!

“When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

Sherpa Expeditions: Looking for a multiday challenge? these folks curated self-guided walking and cycling trips throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. They supply you with the itineraries, some of the gear, and hand-picked B&Bs and inns to give you that small-town feel!

edinburgh-1541106_640

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Europe, Travel by Backpack

Mountain Hiking Holidays on PBS – Tune in Dec 16!

Our friends Amy and John Osaki over at Mountain Hiking Holidays will be featured on television next week!

On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, at 9:00 PM, Oregon Public Broadcasting will be airing the second episode of the six-part PBS television series “Sacred Journeys.” This episode focuses on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage and features, among others, the group from the Mountain Hiking Holidays Shikoku Temple Trek in April 2013.

PBS Sacred Journeys: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/sacredjourneys/

OPB program: http://www.opb.org/television/programs/sacred-journeys-with-bruce-feiler/episodes/102/

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to book any tour offered by the Osakis.

They arrange guided Mountain Hiking Holidays and Art Tours around the globe.

Mountain Hiking Holidays runs frequent trips to the mountains of Patagonia, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, the Julian Alps, the volcanoes of Japan’s Hokkaido island—and many more destinations. Sleep comfortably in your private room with private bath, and carry only a day pack with your water and jacket on the trail. Their skilled international team holds certificates and licenses in mountain guiding, have received rigorous training, and take great pleasure in leading you on the trail.

If a walking tour into culture is your thing, take a look at Art Tours by Amy. They offer occasional tours that immerse you in local history, art and architecture. As an art historian and former museum professional, Amy Osaki leads the Art Tours through a variety of culturally rich destinations, including Boston, Paris, Japan, Russia, Italy and more. Her tours encourage you to explore art “in situ” for a deeper understanding of the local history.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art & Architecture, Asia, Europe, Japan, Travel by Backpack, Vendors

Patagonia

Patagonia—the name sounds mythical, Argentina’s El Dorado or Shambala. South America boasts some of the most dramatic mountain ranges on Earth, and none as impressive as Patagonia. Named for a legendary race of giants, the region has long captivated the hearts and minds of adventurers and travelers.

Willamette International Travel can arrange trips that take you to the center of this gorgeous, natural world. Whether you’re a hardcore adventurer or lover of luxury, we’ll make sure you find your niche. With such a vast expansive of territory and bases to choose from, there’s something for every type of traveler.

Here are just some of sample itineraries available to clients:

Trek the full W Circuit: 12 Days, Santiago to Puerto Natales. Built for physically active travelers (not mountaineers), this trip will take you through the magnificent Torres del Paine. Head out with specially trained leaders and camp out in the wild heart of Argentina. Visit the the French Valley and Grey Glacier around the famed W Circuit.

photo by Phil Whitehouse

Chilean Adventure: 8 Days, Santiago to Buenos Aires. Combine rich wineries of Santiago and the pristine beauty of Patagonia on this amazing tour. Hike through Chile’s Lake District, cleanse your palate at a winery tour, embark on a trek to Osorno Volcano and Petrohue Falls—all against the backdrop of the incredible Patagonia range. This trip balances wilderness and comfort, with full transfers, private van, short flights, and an experienced guide.

photo by pclw

The Best of Patagonia: 11 Days, Buenos Aires to Buenos Aires. Capture the best of Patagonia with this comfortable and exciting tour. See Patagonia at its most wild and untamed, while enjoying the comforts of a planned itinerary, comfortable hotels, and a small group experience. Day hike through Glacier National Park, and view the frozen cascades of Perito Moreno Glacier. Admire the gorgeous views of Laguna de los Tres and Monte Fitz Roy.

photo by Grace Courbis

Puerto Natales in Luxury: 4 Days, Puerto Natales. Want to enjoy the vistas without too much activity? Book a trip to Puerto Natales, gateway to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. Just three hours from Puna Arenas, this town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1978. Stay at a hacienda-inspired countryside hotel and admire the natural beauty of the Balmaceda Glacier, Ultima Esperanza Bay, and the Paine mountain range. Venture out from your lodge and horseback ride through valleys, ride a boat up to the nose of glaicers, or day hike up into the world.

Our agents would love to share their expertise in travel and South America with you. Call us at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com for more information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Argentina, Chile, News, South America, Top Experiences In..., Travel by Backpack

Walking Softly Adventures and Mountain Hiking Holidays

mweelrea_muir_quotation_04_853

As a tie-in with last week’s post on excursions abroad, let us introduce one of our fantastic vendors for walking and hiking journeys, Walking Softly Adventures and Mountain Hiking Holidays. These two companies are run by some great friends of ours, John and Amy Osaki, and over the last 16 years, many clients and even some relatives of ours have thoroughly enjoyed the trips!

pieninyhikers

If a cultural walking tour is more your thing, take a look at Walking Softly. They offer occasional tours that immerse you in local history, art and architecture. As an art historian and former museum professional, Amy leads the Art Tours through a variety of culturally rich destinations, including Boston, Paris, Japan, Russia, and most recently in April, Italy. Her tours encourage you to explore art “in situ” for a deeper understanding of the local history. There are only two or three Walking Softly trips offered each year, and these trips sell out quickly, so be sure to let WIT know if you are interested in information about the next Art Tour by Amy. Upcoming destinations include New York, Japan with cherry blossoms, the Silk Road in China, Moscow and St Petersburg, and the museums of Spain!

villnosstal

If hiking a mountain trail is more your pace, check out Mountain Hiking Holidays—which runs frequent trips to the mountains of Patagonia, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, the Julian Alps, the volcanoes of Japan’s Hokkaido island—and many more. Three meals daily are often included in these treks, over peaks, through monasteries and temples, and around lakes. Sleep comfortably in your private room with private bath, and carry only a day pack with your water and jacket on the trail. Past park rangers and current mountaineers, John and Amy have hiked and climbed mountains on four continents. Their skilled international team holds certificates and licenses in mountain guiding, have received rigorous training, and take great pleasure in leading you on the trail. Consider a mountain hiking trip in South America, Europe, Asia, or North America. Ask WIT to keep you posted about Mountain Hiking Holidays’ a new 5-day spring hiking escape to the spectacular red rock country of Utah in April 2013, and the new winter hiking trip for the mountains of the Galapagos islands of Ecuador early in 2014!

glatschalmhikers

Groups are typically small and intimate, or can be customized to accommodate private departures. Running less than 20 trips a year allows John and Amy to really put care and love into each and every one of their adventures!

All photos are courtesy of Mountain Hiking Holidays. 

2 Comments

Filed under Features, Guest Writers, Travel by Backpack, VOTM