Hideaway Holidays is offering the perfect opportunity to fully immerse in one of the Solomon Islands richest cultural regions with a seven-night stay at Zipolo Habu Resort in the heart of the magnificent Vona Vona Lagoon.
Gizo, the capital of the Western Province, attracts more international visitors than anywhere else in the Solomon Islands. Its unspoiled environment, uncrowded beaches, crystal clear lagoons, bustling daily market, sports fishing, surfing and meeting point for three very distinct cultures - Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian – all combine to make the area a major drawcard.
A sixty-minute flight from Honiara, Munda in the Western Province was once known as the home of the Solomon Islands’ fiercest headhunting clans.
Today Munda is renowned for very different reasons, primarily as a mecca for international SCUBA enthusiasts looking to experience a pristine, world-class dive environment.
Gizo in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province is the second largest town in the destination and with its concentration of tourism accommodation, facilities and activities it is where many international visitors make a beeline for.
While a relatively ‘new kid’ on the South Pacific travel scene, the Solomon Islands is cemented in place on the New Zealand travel scene judging by the increasing numbers of Kiwis looking to get off the beaten track in search of a new, different travel experience.
The recent start of Solomon Airlines’ Auckland-Solomon Islands flights via Vanuatu means there has never been a better – or easier – time for New Zealanders to visit this last true frontier of the South Pacific and especially SCUBA divers.
There is no better way for travellers to really experience a destination than to take their lead from the locals.
That’s where a recent resource consolidated by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) comes in. The ‘Hello Hong Kong – My Best Picks – Most Liked Hong Kong Experiences’ is full of recommendations by Hong Kong’s residents.
Lantau Island provides clients with many opportunities to take interesting walks and explore some 50 towns and villages, each with their own appeal. New Zealanders will particularly enjoy the resort town of Discovery Bay, offering nature, outdoor adventures and fine restaurants only a 25-minute ferry ride from the heart of the city.
The Peak is often dubbed Hong Kong’s must-see attraction.
Even reaching The Peak is an experience in itself. The journey takes approximately six minutes, rises from 33m to 396m above sea level along a 1,278m-long track and is a visually memorable experience as skyscrapers glide past at what appear to be impossible angles.
The islands provide an enjoyable break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
In Hong Kong, many islands are easily accessible by public transport including ferries and offer a range of easy strolls and hikes. As well as better known destinations like Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and Tai O, there are also many other islands that are worth exploring.
Be it cutting-edge dance shows or traditional Chinese music concerts, Hong Kong’s local performance art groups know how to put on an incredible show.
Cantonese Opera performances will be something completely different for most New Zealanders. A great place to experience this is the Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon, home of Cantonese Opera performances. Visitors needn’t be afraid of being completely lost with the story line – many of the performances include English surtitles.
Hong Kong is a city surrounded by ocean so clients will not have any difficulty finding a place to dine while enjoying a seaside view.
Sheltered harbours and an advantageous geographic location defined early Hong Kong and today the rich heritage is honoured with amazing seaside options – from glitzy spots overlooking the city skyline to simple seafood restaurants bordering the ocean.
Hong Kong’s list of ‘must try’ activities and attractions is growing longer all the time – a mix of the new and the familiar that spans, history, culture, theme parks and more.
For families, Hong Kong Disneyland will be top of the list, with a major highlight being the night time spectacle that brings Disney stories and memorable moments to life against the iconic Castle of Magical Dreams.
Wilderness, natural wonders and wildlife reserves may not be the first things clients think of when considering a trip to Hong Kong. However repeat visitors or those with a little more time who like to explore beyond metropolitan boundaries, Hong Kong has lush forests and mountain ranges to explore.
A mecca for international SCUBA enthusiasts looking to experience a pristine, world-class dive environment, it doesn’t get much better than Munda in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province.
From November to April when the Northern Pacific swells sweep in to the Solomon Islands’ extensive reefs and north-western facing coastlines, the ocean comes alive with some of the most perfect – and uncrowded – waves on the planet.
Hong Kong’s lively and sometimes little known neighbourhoods give both new and returning visitors a chance to connect and rediscover a different side of the destination.
Hong Kong Tourism Board can help travel agents find and personalise a wide choice of neighbourhood itineraries, covering such places as Old Town Central and Sham Shui Po.
What makes the Solomon Islands such a mecca for lovers of the underwater world?
The answer is simple – 992 islands and unspoilt coral reefs literally teem with huge numbers and varieties of marine life and hundreds of WWII shipwrecks and downed aircraft that litter the seabed.
Hong Kong’s diverse culinary scene is studded with stars – Michelin stars that is.
This year, nine restaurants join the ranks of the long list of Michelin starred restaurants in Hong Kong – taking clients on a wild ride to the street stalls of India, the kitchens of Latin America, the tile-roofed hanoks of Seoul’s traditional villages and much more.
Clients can explore Ireland’s only island town on an eBoard or hydrobike.
Recently launched by Erne Adventures, both are a new way of experiencing the Fermanagh Lakelands. Exclusive to Fermanagh, the eBoards are a fun and relaxing way to explore the beautiful island town of Enniskillen.
The Guinness Storehouse has been officially recognised as The World’s Leading Beer Tour Visitor Experience. The Home of Guinness was voted the global winner in this category at the 2022 World Travel Awards late last year.
The Guinness Storehouse previously won the European finals in October last year and faced competition in the world finals from the Tiger Brewery, Singapore and Coors Brewery Tour, Colorado, among others.
Clients who like to include (or ‘tick off’) a National Park when they head to the USA now have a new option – The New River Gorge, which earned the status just over two years ago.
Ironically, despite it’s name, New River is one of the oldest waterways in the world and it has carved out a dramatic chasm through the state of West Virginia.
Giant Tours Northern Ireland offers a way for Game of Thrones fans to ‘hang out with Hodor’.
Guide Flip Robinson’s encyclopedic knowledge of the show owes a lot to one crucial fact: he was in it.
Clients visiting Galway can take the opportunity to discover the natural beauty of Connemara on a day trip to some of the region’s top sights with cycling company Fat Bike Galway.
Founder and owner Martin Brannelly says guests are able to explore the area on an electric fat bike and admire the diverse landscapes on a private guided excursion with roundtrip transportation from Galway.
The tallest hotel on the island of Ireland, the Grand Central, has been awarded a five-star rating by the AA.
The AA inspector’s report noted the hotel’s ‘five-star service delivered by a friendly and engaging team’ and said ‘the diverse, spacious and versatile public areas present extremely well, having benefited from some serious investment.’
A visit to Clonalis in County Roscommon allows clients to step back in time and explore 2000 years of history of one of Ireland’s oldest families.
Visitors learn about this Gaelic Irish family, who include 12 High Kings of Ireland and 23 Kings of Connacht in their past, and glimpse into family life from the custodians of living history. Richard and Carol-Anne O’Conor Nash continue the relaxed and friendly welcome for guests.
Crindle Stables, a horse riding school in Northern Ireland, has announced some special events in the first quarter of next year.
A group beach experience will be held to mark Valentines Day on 12 February and a Ceili, Craic and Forest Hack will take place for St Patrick’s Day on Friday 17 March.
The Grafton is one of Dublin 2’s newest four-star hotels, designed for city stays for business, couples, friends and families.
This newly refurbished hotel is positioned adjacent to South King Street, a minute from Grafton Street and St Stephens Green, and within walking distance of landmark visitor attractions
Original Irish Hotels has two new members.
The first is The Lodge at Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo which sits in the magnificent 350-acre estate of Ashford Castle overlooking the Lough Corrib. The surroundings and the views offer guests the opportunity to freely explore the magnificent woodlands and village of Cong. The estate offers over 20-plus amenities ranging from relaxing to adventurous.
Hanna’s Close offers self-catering cottages in Kilkeel, Co. Down.
This traditional ‘Claghan’ of original 17th Century cottages is nestled between the foot of the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea. Cottages sleep between two and seven people.
Clients can visit the award-winning Irish Racehorse Experience at the Irish National Stud & Gardens, County Kildare.
The attraction combines cutting-edge gaming technology with live video, audio and graphics which offers visitors the chance to buy and train their own thoroughbred racehorse, culminating in a real-time race to set pulses racing.
Long Meadow Cider, an award winning, third generation, family run business that produces a range of artisan craft ciders, apple juice and apple cider vinegar has diversified to offer bespoke orchard/cider experiences on the family farm. Granny’s traditional griddle bread is the centrepiece of the most recent immersive experience added to Long Meadow Cider’s portfolio.
Renvyle House Hotel and Resort, Connemara, Co. Galway is running a special Green Button campaign that allows clients to pay for the three, stay for four. Guests who stay three nights bed and breakfast with two evening meals, get a fourth night bed and breakfast free.
Clients who are looking to do something crafty in Ireland next year will be able to find a good yarn and like minded company with Knittingtours.com.
Ireland is a haven for quality wool and generations of handed down knitting skills. Knittingtours.com highlights the finest Irish knitting experts as well as authentic knitting and craft based activities during exclusive Ireland tours.
Titanic Belfast has announced work will begin on a multi-million pound refreshment programme which will see the iconic Titanic Experience being reimagined.
This comes after a busy high season for the world-leading visitor attraction, which recently welcomed its seven millionth visitor.
Whiskey Island was born in response to the incredible Irish whiskey boom taking the world by storm.
Ten years ago, there were only five operational distilleries in Ireland and the Scots were having all the fun. Today, there are 45 distilleries operational and at least another 25 are work in progress.
By Stu Freeman
More than a thousand years ago up to 40,000 people are believed to have lived in Dzibilchaltun, a thriving city of temples, palaces and observatories that were scientifically well before their time.
The golf course at Adare Manor is the first golf course in the world to receive ISO’s International Sustainability Standard 20121 following the JP McManus Pro-Am’s successful implementation of the standard.
A globally recognised framework for sustainable event management, the ISO 20121, stems from the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games’ sustainability strategy and legacy commitments.
In a world where so much has changed for people over recent years, what hasn’t changed is the search for people’s sense of identity.
At EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, Ireland, the story of identity is explained in an engaging and informative way.
Agents who have clients keen on an Irish roadtrip in 2023 can now book a motorhome adventure with Bunk Campers.
Bookings are open for rentals travelling up to March 2024 giving early bookers time to plan all that Ireland has to offer.
Clients heading to Waikiki may not have thoughts of getting muddy in a taro patch top of mind. However, during a new tour at Kualoa Ranch, about an hour’s drive from the famous beach’s resorts, that’s one of the experiences on hand.
A new tour at Pearl Harbour allows visitors to hear and see (or at least visualise) the 7 December 1941 attack like they have not been able to before.
The Top of the Tower tour is the latest drawcard to the Pearl Harbour Aviation Museum and gets guests 15 storeys above the ground (via a small elevator built in the 40s and some narrow stairs).
Both the trade and consumers have quickly responded to the relaunch of services between Auckland and Honolulu, with the first Hawaiian Airlines flight out of AKL on Monday night full and a major agents’ initative coming up seeing big demand.
Darragh Walshe, of Hawai’i Tourism in New Zealand, says the Aloha Downunder event scheduled for 29 August in Auckland is ‘basically sold out’.
By Stu Freeman
One of the first things that visitors do at the new International Spy Museum in Washington DC is to be given a new identity and a mission.
When I punched a few preferences at the venue’s briefing centre I came up as Alex Saito (codename SLICK) of Costa Rica. My mission? To head to the far away exotic destiantion of Christchurch where a double agent was handing over secrets in a spa.
Exploring Washington DC’s monuments and memorials is one of the most popular activities in the city as well as being a great way to get orientated – especially in the National Mall area. It is also easy to do independently and free.
But it is worth suggesting to clients that they include a guided tour of these icons, thus gaining so much more appreciation and getting around the highlights logically.
As the east coast of the USA opens up even more to New Zealanders, clients who are well versed with National Parks in the west will be looking for comparable experiences on the other side of the country.
While it may be less known to Kiwis than the parks of California, Utah and and Nevada, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is rated as one of the USA’s most picturesque. It takes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, includes a stretch of the famous Appalachian Trail (which in total stretches through 14 states) and since the park was founded in 1935 has seen a resurgence in wildlife. Today Shenandoah has more than 200 species of birds and 50 species of mammals. The modern visitor is almost certain to spot Virginia white tailed deer, while there are also healthy numbers of black bear, beaver and red fox.
In Washington DC’s National Mall area a temporary free exhibition stretching through to July, FUTURES, has opened at the Arts + Industries Building.
While the exhibition itself mainly looks forward, the venue is an important part of the city’s past, being America’s first National Museum, and an ’incubator’ for many of the other Smithsonian venues.
By Stu Freeman
Significant milestones and new attractions in Washington DC are waiting for New Zealanders who are quick off the block to visit the capital.
After two years of border restrictions it is now easy (with a negative Covid test and a quick and easy attestation form to fill in) to fly to and around the United States from New Zealand.
World Journeys reports that the Galapagos Marine Reserve has expanded to the northeast by 60,000sqkm, with the objective of creating an ‘ocean highway’ connection with Costa Rica’s Cocos Islands.
PONANT recently organised the world’s first international rescue exercise in a remote polar zone.
It was conducted during a trial voyage to the North Pole aboard polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot.
PONANT has released its documentary ‘Beyond the Polar Circle’ with newly appointed brand ambassador Andrew Daddo showcasing his experience sailing on board PONANT’s Le Boréal to Antarctica.
Available via PONANT’s website, the 45-minute feature takes viewers on a journey south, embarking on a 16-day polar expedition voyage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Terrific geological contrasts make Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area a must visit for those seeking dramatic scenery. The main feature of the area is a 146-kilometre reservoir at the bottom of a spectacular river gorge that runs 475 metres deep in some places.
Visitors also get great views of the Uinta Mountains and enjoy the refreshing atmosphere of the Ashley National Forest.
However most people head to the area for more than passive viewing – Flaming Gorge is known for its boating, water-skiing, windsurfing and more than 160 kilometres of hiking and mountain biking trails as well as being renowned for some of the best fishing in the west.
Clients wanting to take a deeper dive into the attractions of Utah are sure to be drawn towards one or more of its 43 state parks.
Wildlife viewing areas, wetlands, and historic ruins – those and more are covered by these parks and recreation areas.
An example of a state park with scenery dramatic enough to be named after a famous photographic colour film brand name is Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Clients who are keen to get on their bike will find plenty of options in Utah. Adventure cyclists, including those seeking bikepacking experiences and multi-day trips, will find endless routes to explore.
More casual cyclists can easily access great starter routes and scenic roadways.
The historic city of Ogden, for example, is ideal to explore by bike. The Ogden River Parkway is an urban oasis that includes an extensive trail system. When the ride is over, there’s time to dine out, go shopping or explore the city’s museums.