Head to the Hobbit Capital

“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold."


Next time you're in Auckland, take a magical journey across the Shire from the Lord of the Rings! Hear filming secrets from behind the scenes and see if you can spot any Hobbits along the way. This magical trip takes you deep into Hobbiton and the fascinating Lord of the Rings story.

On this Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland, pickups from Auckland CBD hotels begin at 6am. Then, you'll drive from Auckland out towards Matamata, where Hobbiton awaits! The set is situated on a family-run farm, and as you drive, you'll see hints of the famous scenery emerge.

Once you arrive, you'll see exactly how this beautiful piece of farmland has been transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth. Step into the lush pastures and wander around the tiny houses. Peek in the windows and make sure you get a selfie in front of the famous green door. Spend time exploring the Hobbit Holes, The Mill, the kitchen and enjoy hearing stories about the movie from your guide. They'll also point out tiny details and explain how the movie was made.


After wandering The Shire to your heart's content, it's time to make a stop at the Green Dragon Inn. Enjoy a complimentary drink here and warm yourself by the roaring fire. It feels just like you're in the movie! You'll also have time to visit the Shire Store, which features an extensive selection of souvenirs to remind you of your visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set.

On the return journey to Auckland, you'll drive through some of New Zealand's most beautiful countryside, including the majestic Waikato River (the longest river in New Zealand), Ngaruawahia (home of the Maori King) and Taupiri (a sacred Maori burial ground), before arriving back in Auckland at approximately 1:30pm.

Click HERE to book and score up to 10% off your Hobbiton Tour.

ORIGINAL POST: November, 2012

While Wellington is worth a visit at anytime of the year, the 28th of  November, 2012 will be of particular note. For this is when New Zealand's capital once again becomes Wellywood for the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) Chief Executive David Perks says the city’s hotels are quickly filling up on the date of and surrounding the premiere and recommends fans act quickly if they wish to secure a spot.

“There is going to be a simply unmissable buzz pulsing through the coolest little capital in the world around the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November. Now that the date has been announced we recommend fans get booking their flights, tours and accommodation immediately to avoid disappointment.”

Thousands of fans are expected to descend into the central city to welcome and celebrate the film’s stars, crew and international press on Wednesday 28 November, but the opportunity for Wellington is well beyond the premiere date.

“The legacy of the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will last years, if not decades beyond Wednesday 28 November for both Wellington and New Zealand,” Mr Perks says. “It’s yet another incredible chance to showcase our city, hospitality and innovation to the world. As we’ve seen from our experience with The Lord of the Rings, the awareness and interest films of this type and scale drive has the ability to significantly increase international visitation.”

While you can’t tangibly forecast the number of visitors or dollars The Hobbit films will draw to Wellington, you can look at the transformation of the city and its $2200 a minute tourism industry that has occurred since the release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mr Perks says.

“Wellington was dubbed a ‘city on the rise’ by Lonely Planet in 2007, then rose to the challenge and earned an upgrade to the ‘coolest little capital in the world’  and 4th top city in the world to visit for the publisher’s Best in Travel 2011. The film industry has played a lead role in both that transformation and international acclaim.”

International visitor arrivals into Wellington increased 50% in the decade from 2001 (the year of the first Lord of the Rings release) to 2010; American arrivals increased 54% across that period.

“Film tours are still in high demand in Wellington over a decade on from the release of the last of the trilogy. Thanks to the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November this can certainly be expected to continue well into the future.”

Top 10 Backpacking Tips for travelling around Europe

Simply put travelling Europe is an amazing experience. You will be able to explore places that have thousands of years of history, such as Rome, meet fellow travellers from around the world and see breathtaking landscapes. Start your trip in a place like London, certainly one of the best cities in the world, but also somewhere English is spoken and at least some things will be familiar helping you ease into foreign travel. Below are top 10 backpacking tips for travelling around Europe.

Keep Weight Down
Europe's connectedness and relatively small size makes it easy to get around. One mistake many backpackers make is packing to much gear. The heavy weight quickly turns travelling into a chore and burns a lot of your energy. Another reason to keep weight down is to ensure that you meet the weight limits set by Europe's budget airlines for carry-on luggage, and avoiding paying extra to check your pack. To ensure both ease of moving about and travel weight restrictions keep your backpack total weight, including the pack, to 10kg (22lbs) max. Even if you plan to travel by train and not plane, keeping your backpack weight to 10kg makes keeping an eye on your belongings much more manageable.

Your Backpack
While on the subject of your backpack's weight, the pack itself is also an important consideration. This is something that it is worth investing a little money in to get a good quality backpack. It is better to buy a backpack that has an internal frame, as these are less bulky. Also check the straps to ensure they have sufficient padding that will help distribute the pack's weight in the most comfortable way. Get a backpack that is suitable for your size and height, otherwise you can end up very uncomfortable, or even worse hurting yourself. And finally, look for a backpack that comes with a detachable daypack, so you don't have to carry a large bag around when you're exploring your destination.

Figuring out what clothes to pack for Europe can be a bit tricky. The weather and climates can change drastically from one end to the other. One thing to keep in mind is to blend in. This will make you less likely to be targeted by thieves. Avoid wearing American sports wear and sneakers as this makes you stand out as an American tourist from 100-feet away.

You will want to pack layers, so that you can stay cool or warm with the range of temperatures you'll experience. However, pack items that are lightweight, dry quickly, and not to bulky. A mac is a good addition to have with you. These are extremely lightweight rain jackets that can squish up, taking up a small amount of space. You will want some type of rain protection if you're visiting places like Ireland or Scotland where it can be sunny one minute and raining the next. A fleece jacket is a good warmth layer as they can be fairly thin and not heavy.

Accessories and Other Items
Keep non-clothing items to absolute necessities. One great little item to pack is a flexible travel clothesline, which can stretch across the poles of a hostel bunk allowing you to dry any clothes you've hand washed. Also pack a padlock, as you won't always be able to get one in all accommodation options. One that is both a lock and has a retractable cable is ideal.

You will most likely also need to pack one or more power converters, so that you can charge your phone or other devices. Make sure you have the right ones for the countries you're visiting, for example the UK and Ireland use the same type of plug, but it differs from other western European countries. Also, pack a mini plug extension, as many European hostel dorm rooms will have just one or two plugs for 10 people! One thing to note is that instead of packing your hair dryer, which can be large, and often they don't work with a plug converter, is to buy a small travel sized one once you arrive in Europe.

Money Belt
Money belts are small belts with a compartment where you can store you cash, documents, and bank cards. They are worn around your waist under your clothing. The most common crime tourists face is many European cities is pickpocketing. Some places are more notorious than others, but always being smart with how you store your money and passport will help you avoid a pickpocketing nightmare. Don't fumble with your money belt in full view, as this will give away your tourist status too.

InterRail and Eurail Pass
One of the most traditional and best ways to get around Europe is by train. An excellent rail network spans from country to country allowing you to connect to major cities and reach many more rural areas on local trains. If you purchase train tickets individually and last minute in Europe they can be expensive. However, backpackers have long made use of the InterRail or Eurail pass.

To use an InterRail pass, you need to have been a resident of Europe for at least 6-months prior to purchasing a ticket. If you are not a European resident then you should buy the Eurail pass. These passes come in different types that allow you to visit a certain amount of countries, with a certain amount of journies in a specified number of days. You can choose the pass that best suits the places you want to visit and make a good saving on your travel costs. You can even plan to travel on overnight trains, combining both a place to sleep with your travel.

Visa Debit Card
When travelling it is best to not carry a lot of cash with you just in case something gets stolen or lost. The traditional way easily access funds was to get a load of travellers checks from your local bank before departing. However, this is hardly done now. The best way to have quick access to your cash is to have a Visa debit card. Anywhere that accepts Visa cards or has a Visa symbol on the ATM machine, which is pretty much everywhere, means that you can instantly withdraw money in the local currency.

Learn Some of the Language
While no one expects you to be fluent in another language, especially when backpacking around Europe where you'll encounter several different languages, it is a good idea to learn a few useful phrases for each country you'll be visiting. Even a small attempt, such as simply saying hello and thank you will be much appreciated by the local people. It will show that you are making some effort to get to know the local culture and it will almost always get you a much more friendly response.

Get Ulmon
Ulmon is a brilliant app that you can download to your phone or tablet, and even better it's free. The app is made especially for travellers and has hundreds of maps that you can download covering Europe. The maps also include the locations of restaurants, hotels, attractions, and shops in that destination; there are plenty of great photos too. You can use the maps offline, so you don't need to worry about expensive data charges or finding WiFi. You can even use them to navigate around a city even though you don't have a data connection. Plus, having these maps on your phone helps you blend in and not look like a tourist that is fumbling with an awkward to hold map while walking around. Plan ahead and download all the maps you'll need before leaving and make sure you have an alternative if Ulmon doesn't cover a particular area you plan to visit.

Random but Important Tips
Plan your route in advance but don't try to pack to much in. Take into consideration the time it will take you to travel between destinations; this is usually longer than you think as Europe's train stations are extremely busy. Make sure to give yourself enough time to truly explore each place. Europe has a vast history and many different, amazing landscapes. Book your accommodation in advance. You will get cheaper rates for hotel rooms or hostels by doing this. Also, make sure you take note of any important addresses, such as where you're staying and how to get there, so you can easily and inconspicuously find them when you arrive.

A fantastic tip one backpacker of Europe suggests is to get an extra debit card, so that you have two. This tip came after an ATM machine in the UK did not return his card and he was stuck taking, very expensive cash advances off a credit card. Finally, before you travel scan all of your important documents – your passport, driver's license, travel tickets, and even your birth certificate. Once scanned email them to yourself. If you end up loosing your actual documents while travelling having scans of them makes things much easier when you visit your country's consulate, as proving who you are is a lot less stressful.

Port Macquarie - Australia

If you are travelling along the East Coast of Australia make sure to visit Port Macquarie, a beautiful township just a four to five hour drive from Sydney, New South Wales. It is a calm place, compared to other backpacker destinations, great to relax for a few days. But don’t worry, there are still a lot of things to do, also for the adventure seeking traveler.

Some of the activities you can enjoy in Port Macquarie are enjoying stunning views along the scenic coastal walks, relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches, visiting historical landmarks and so much more.

There are several budget accommodation options in town like Ozzie Pozzie Backpackers or Beachside Backpackers, which have all plenty of facilities and friendly staff. You can also spend the nights camping at one of the many camp sites nearby.

KoalaHospital6One of the great attractions in Port Macquarie is the Koala Hospital, a charitable organisation to treat sick and injured koalas. Since Koalas living near urban areas are at risk from traffic, more than 200 each year end up in this shelter. Visitors are welcome to walk around the open-air enclosures at any time of the day, however, a guided "Feed, Walk and Talk" tour is at 3pm every afternoon. If you haven’t seen Koalas yet, this is the perfect location. During the tour the koalas are fed and a volunteer will explain the issues that brought the koalas into the Hospital. There is no admission fee.

In Port Macquarie you can have a fantastic time without spending a fortune. There a lot of National Parks to recharge your batteries. You can have a picnic with your traveling friends and go for a relaxing walk. Willi Willi National Park is a great place to enjoy an extensive mountain wilderness. You can take a short waterfall walk and enjoy a swim in the rock pools. Swans Crossing is another wonderful National Park to visit with several walking and hiking trails.

Port Macquarie is also a true water lover's paradise with not only the beautiful Hastings River offering heaps of fun activities but also with 18 different beaches in the Greater area for swimming and surfing. Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the River to view whales and dolphins or go fishing with your mates. The adventure seeking travelers will have lots of fun to try their hands at water skiing and jet boat riding. A popular beach is the long and beautiful Lighthouse Beach next to the Historic Lighthouse, a significant landmark and breathtaking lookout. To get there you can stroll along the stunning 9km Coastal Walk, which starts at the iconic break wall on Town Green, where you can see colourful graffiti rocks. If you are looking for even more historical sights check out St Thomas Church, the 5th oldest Anglican Church still in use in Australia.

If you are seeking the extreme check out Australia’s most spectacular Skydives in Port Macquarie, offering you fantastic coastal views. There is a twenty minute ride at the beginning, followed by a 40 second freefall and a four minute parachute ride. It is the most exciting thing to do and will leave you with mind-blowing memories.


To have a unique and fun filled experience hop aboard on one of Australia’s own camels and ride along the beautiful Lighthouse Beach. Camel Safaris are a true highlight for every traveling backpacker in Australia.

Another great experience to check out in Port Macquarie is to go on a wine tasting tour. Bring your mates or make new friends while tasting traditional wine and amazing local cheese at the Bago Vineyards and lose yourself in the beautiful scenery.

You see, Port Macquarie is a backpacker’s paradise offering fun activities in a relaxing environment.


Top 5 Places to Backpack in Mexico

A trip to Mexico would not be complete without some time spent in the wild country there. The climate and sunshine make this an ideal place for backpacking for the novice and expert alike. If you need a few places to consider for your next trip, take a look at a few of these top spots and see what you think.

1.Canyon del Sumidero National Park

If your journey takes you to southern Mexico, then a trip to the Canyon del Sumidero National Park in the state of Chiapas is worth fitting into your schedule. The Sumidero Canyon took more than a million years to be carved out by the Grijalva River and reaches depths of as much as 3,280 feet. The canyon is the focal point of the park and the hydro electric dam that was built in 1981 made the canyon accessible by boat. If you’re lucky, you may see an American crocodile or two as you hike the numerous trails and enjoy the lookout points.

2.Cumbres de Monterrey National Park

Cumbres de Monterrey National Park sits at the northeastern end of the country in the state of Nuevo Leon. If your vacation is in or near Monterrey, then this is the place to go to scratch your backpacking itch. Here you will find the renowned Cerro de la Silla skyline formation which is part of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range. From mountains and waterfalls to canyons and rivers, the park offers everything a backpacker could want.

3.Cumbres de Majalca National Park

In north central Mexico near the city of Chihuahua in the state of Chihuahua is Cumbres de Majalca National Park, a wonderland of rock formations created by water and wind over millions of years. The park attracts those interested in bike riding, hiking, rock climbing and camping.

4.Nevado de Toluca National Park

Nevado de Toluca National Park lies in central Mexico just to the southwest of the city of Toluca in the state of Mexico. The park was created in 1936 to protect the volcano of the same name. At 15,387 feet, it is the 4th tallest peak in all of Mexico. At the top visitors can see a large crater that is home to a number of crater lakes. The park is also within reasonable travel distance from Mexico City.

5.Copper Canyon National Park

Copper Canyon National Park is perched In northern part of Mexico within the borders of the state of Chihuahua. Within the park are six distinct canyons, each formed by a different river. While many tourists view the canyons from aboard the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, you can hike and back pack through the canyons at your leisure.

Hiking Precautions: Make Backpacking Safe and Fun

Spending time in the great outdoors is an active sport and unlike any other. Backpacking your way through rugged terrain, overcoming the elements can give you a sense of empowerment and self-worth. The adventure is not without risk, however – something that actually appeals to many outdoor enthusiasts. The smart hiker never sets out without being prepared. Here are some things you should plan for before lacing up your hiking boots.

Camping Precautions

If you intend to camp as part of your adventure, check the weather conditions for both days and nights in the location you are exploring. Having the right tent and sleeping gear can make all the difference. Understand the wildlife. Some areas may be inhabited by bear; other may be home to alligators. Whatever the species, each requires that you handle things differently. With bears, for example, you will want to be able to store your food supplies in a bear bag. Don’t camp next to a lake, pond or stream if alligators are present because they roam at night. Always use fire safely and only where allowed.

Dehydration Concerns

Even in moderate temperatures, people don’t always remember to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water keeps the body performing at its best. Pack plenty of water - as much as 1 liter per every four miles you plan to hike and watch for signs of dehydration which can include chills, dizziness and nausea.

Dress for Success

This isn’t just true for the office. Your clothing and supplies can make your hike a brilliant success or a ghastly disaster. IF the weather can change where you are going, bring a jacket you can fold down and fit in your pack. Make sure to have rain gear and wear comfortable shoes suited to the terrain. Some basic supplies you should have on hand even for day-long hikes are a first aid kit, water, a flashlight, a compass and some energy snacks. A hat may be useful to keep the sun from beating down on the top of your head. Good socks – and a spare pair - are essential.

Hunting Season

Check with the local game and wildlife people in your desired hiking location. During hunting season, many hiking trails are closed because the lands are opened up to hunters. You certainly wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a deer or other game animal. If the trails are open, wear a bright range vest so hunters can easily see you.

Miscellaneous Tidbits

You may want to carry and use sunblock if you anticipate spending any time in the sun. Sunglasses and bug spray are also good things to have on hand. As for your vehicle, since it will be unattended for long periods, don’t leave valuables visible inside. Be sure it is locked and if you need a permit to be on the lands you are hiking, make sure it is displayed in the front window.

Exploring Auckland like a Local

Auckland is one of the world’s most geographically spread out city so finding ways to spend your time, especially if you don’t have a car, can often seem a daunting task. Too often visitors resort to following the footsteps of tourist troves and never truly experience the urban zest and recreational spirit that this microcosm metropolitan has to offer.

Thankfully, we’ve shared some yarns with the locals and have broken down a list of the top six things to check out in New Zealand’s Big Little City.

1. Big Picture Wine

Forget about sluicing down a glass from a goon box, this innovative establishment takes wine tasting to another level.

Complete with an aroma room, where you can put your sense of smell to the test and learn exactly what the hey ‘oaky’ and ‘woody’ means, the unconventional Big Picture Wine tour’s piece de resistance are its ‘fly overs’.

For little under $30NZ you can take a virtual flight over New Zealand’s wine country and experience a guided cinematic walkthrough of wine samples from the growers themselves.

It’s like being in the world’s coolest lecture theatre and education has never been so easy to swill.

2. Cook your own Catch

With miles upon miles of glorious beaches, it’s no surprise that New Zealand’s aquatic culture transcends all aspects of Auckland living—with seafood being no exception. No visit is complete without tucking into some fish and chips. But far better than queuing in line for your paper-wrapped meal is to learn how to make a Master Chef version at Auckland’s Seafood School located in the waterfront district.

Classes are run on most nights and cover all sorts of cooking techniques, from filleting to designer oysters, all the way through to pan-fried works of art.

After watching a demonstration by a local top chef, you’ll get to roll up your sleeves and try your hand at making some culinary magic.

The best part, of course, comes when you get to sit down with a complimentary glass of wine and enjoy the spoils of your toils in good company.

3. The Classic Comedy Club

Located in the heart of Auckland’s entertainment precinct, the Classic has become a local institute and is guaranteed to inject a good chuckle into any stay.

Aucklanders love this establishment, and with good reason, the club is known for running weekly specials of 10 Comedians for $10 where patrons can put the heat on rookie comedians without breaking the bank.

The atmosphere is eccentric & laid-back and the cabaret-style seating is conducive to making new friends while enjoying food and some of the local drop.

4. Movies & Markets at Silo Park

The historic cement towers standing tall against the waterfront are perfectly complemented by the buzzing Wynyard Quarter and there’s always something interesting happening at Silo Park.

During the summer months, there are over 50 events being held in this public space, including the ever-popular open-air outdoor cinema sessions, as well as the Friday Night and Saturday Silo markets—where you can scour stalls like a true local in search of trendy brick a bracs and bargains.

Hopping on one of the vintage trams running through the district is also a great way to explore the area.

5. Waiheke Island

Although this little gem is only a short and enjoyable ferry ride across the Harbour, it may as well be a different country altogether. On this little paradise whipped from sunrays, the locals are charming, and the wine is always chilled and waiting to be tasted.

Rent a scooter and make the rounds of secluded beaches, or hop on a small tour to sample some award winning drops and meet new people (three drinks and you’ll all become best Facebook friends).

The best way to enjoy Waiheke, however, is to just meander around on the beaches and orchards, enjoying coffee and wine with friendly locals and dipping bread in freshly pressed olive oil.

6. Mount Eden

Sure you could spend a small fortune to make it up the Sky Tower, but Mt Eden is a far cheaper (FREE!) and healthier way to get those panoramic camera views of the city.

Yeah this dormant volcano is baby when you compare it to the likes of some of its Southern counterparts, but don’t let this little hump fool you, the walk up is colossal and suited best for those with thunder thighs.

It may not look like much from the outside—you could drive past and pass it unnoticed—but once you reach the top (which thankfully can also be reached by car) a giant lush green crater dimples the tip and panoramic views of both the Pacific and Tasman Sea makes for the perfect photo opportunities.

Aucklanders love to challenge their workout routine by taking on the Mount, if you need to burn off some of that backpacking beer gut there’s no better place to start.


Head out South

There is nothing quite as picturesque as South Island in New Zealand. Nearly one-third of this idyllic paradise is either designated as a park or a reserve meaning there is plenty of wilderness to explore. And there are many ways to explore it, too.
The West Coast is the site of many geological wonders. Here you can kayak in the sea or along rivers or hike over glaciers and through rainforests. Okarito Lagoon provides a lush wetland landscape replete with a diverse and spectacular flora to enjoy at your leisure including a saltmarsh.

There are two glaciers to choose from, the Fox and the Franz, each a formidable adversary with spectacular views. From towering heights, these majestic peaks wind their way back down to sea level.
When it comes to hiking tracks, there are several that should be on the diehard trekkers “to-do” list. Both the Routeburn and Kepler tracks traverse scenery including alpine lakes, crystal clear rivers and valleys with lush forests.
The Milford Sound is a great place to plan an overnight stay during your excursion because of the unique opportunities it provides. Another great stopover point is Queenstown. This setting can accommodate almost any activity you could conceive of before you resume your journey.

Mt. Cook National Park is another location that offers a wide range of scenery types to enjoy. Here you can find everything from native bush to glaciers and soaring peaks.

If you aren’t familiar with South Island, it is the larger of the two main islands that make up New Zealand. It has a smaller population than the North Island but is often referred to as the mainland. To the north is Cook Strait and to the west is the Tasman Sea. The island has a temperate climate year round.

While hiking and kayaking are definitely popular activities, they are not the only things you can do for fun on South Island. This popular tourist destination also caters to those with a taste for other types of adventure. Adventure tourism might include Bungee jumping, glacier climbing, camping and tramping on multiple day outings. Some locations such as the Milford track are known around the world while others are local secrets waiting to be unearthed by the truly adventurous.

From rugged coastlines to sweeping plains, South Island offers one of the most diverse geological treasure troves waiting to be discovered. You can plan your own excursion or hire on with a tour company that will organize your travel arrangements. Either way, an outdoor adventure vacation on New Zealand’s South Island is likely to be the vacation of a lifetime.
If you need assistance planning and preparing for your South Island adventure, checkout the deals at backpackerdeals.co.

Is the Tongariro Crossing really the world's best 1-day hike?

If you are looking for a one-day hike set in the most exotic location, look no farther than the Tongariro Crossing trail on New Zealand’s North Island. Here you will traverse contracts in landscape from dense woodlands to that resembling a Scottish moor and even trek across a volcanic landscape that leaves you feeling as though you have Earth altogether. This trail is not for the faint of heart, however. It includes several steep ascents.

The trail is situated in Tongariro National Park and is widely accepted as the country’s best one-day hike. The park is New Zealand’s first national park and doubles as a world heritage site. Within its borders are three volcanoes: Ruapahu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. The track leads through the Mangatepopo Valley. Following it for about 1.5 km (1mile) brings you to a side trail that leads to the Mangatepopo Hut. Pressing ahead and following a stream, you pass through old lava beds and can enjoy the sight of Mt Ngauruhoe on your left. Roughly 2.5 km (1.5 miles) farther along the track you will reach the valley head from which you can reach a cold water spring, Soda Springs, by taking a short detour. The springs are surrounded by lush plant life.

Continuing on, the hike gets serious as you start ascending the saddle that lies between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Form here you are rewarded with amazing views of Tongariro and a clear day, of Mt Taranaki due west. From the saddle, the truly adventurous can choose to ascend Ngauruhoe, a tough climb over loose rock that can be particularly treacherous when ice is present. This part of the climb takes about three hours.

Following the signs from the saddle, trekkers can cross the South Crater. Another 7 km (4.4miles) father down the track, you reach the highest point of the trail, Red Crater. You will be able to tell this volcano is still active by the pungent smell of sulphur in the air. Below, you can see two small water-filled craters named Emerald Lakes because of their high mineral content. High winds and exposure to biting cold make it difficult to stay for very long.

Leaving Emerald Lakes, you will head north and arrive at Central Crater before embarking on a short hike to Blue Lake. Originally called Te Wai-whakaata-o-teRangihiroa (Rangihiroa's Mirror), Blue Lake is an old vent and it was a descendant of Rangihiroa's who donated the main section of Tongariro National Park in 1887.

Almost done now, the trail continues north as you edge North Crater on your descent to Ketetahi Hut. The vista open up and plumes of smoke and mineralstreaked rock formations are visible, part of, Ketetahi Hot Springs. The springs are on privately owned land and not accessible. Be aware that you are now crossing private land and there is no right of access to the springs.

If hiking the Tongariro Crossing appeals to you, contact backpackerdeals.co for assistance planning your trip.

Bald Hill From The Edge

Bald Hill in Sydney is one of the most visually beautiful places from which to hang glide.  Sweeping views of the ocean and coastline make this an ideal location for your maiden voyage or your one-thousandth. It has been called one of the premier  flying sites in all the world. Located about one hour south of Sydney, it is within easy reach for most.

About Hang Gliding

Hang gliding is an air sport utilizing a non-motorized, foot-launched aircraft. The aircraft resembles the delta-wing shape, is usually made of aluminum alloy and typically carries just the pilot. The pilot is secured to the frame with a harness and controls the aircraft by shifting his body weight to steer it. Modern aircrafts may have some flight controls as well. Long ago, a hang glider could only hope for a good ride by leaping from a tall place and coasting ever downward toward the ground. Now, flights can last hours and climb thousands of metres. Bald Hill is a fascinating place to entertain this type of experience.

About Bald Hill

Bald Hill is located in Illawarra, Australia and affords pilots an exquisite view of Grand Pacific Drive as well as spectacular views of the Royal National Park, the ocean and the coastal escarpment. The peak is about 500 above sea level and makes an ideal launch point. The best time to use Bald Hill for hang gliding is when the winds are from the south/southwest.

Flying at Bald Hill

Overseas visitors will need to procure a temporary HGFA membership before arriving at Bald Hill. Local non-members can get a temporary membership before flying. It is a good idea to introduce yourself to the safety officer on duty. Look for the orange ones designating the set up area. Paying attention to the weather and wind conditions is the most important aspect of hang gliding and here at Bald Hill, that is equally true. While there are a number of places to land safely, you are surrounded by ocean, rocks and trees, any of which could make for trouble if you are not cautious. Once airborne, however, you can glide for hours taking in al that the area has to offer, from Garie to Bulli. The views at Stanwell Park are gorgeous, too. Stanwell Park beach is also the most commonly used landing site. Use caution as those on the beach often wander into the landing zone. Top landing is only allowed in proper conditions and if you have the endorsement of the safety officer to do so.

Before you head out to Bald Hill, check with http://www.backpackers.co. for all your travel deals.

Dive into Northland

The Poor Knights Islands in Northland is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true

If you are looking for an adventure that combines your love of the outdoors with your love of diving, then look no farther. Just off New Zealand’s North Island lies the Poor Knights Islands. Here you will find a 4million year old volcano just waiting for you to explore.

Poor Knights Islands is a collection of three larger islands surrounded by smaller islets. The area has been uninhabited since the 19th century and had the feel of a lost world to it. The area has been designated both a nature and marine reserve in order to protect its unique, natural beauty.

What You Will Find

Marine life around the Poor Knights Islands is abundant and diverse. From lush kelp forests to soft corals, there is a colorful array to behold. Large pelagic species including sharks, dolphins and manta rays inhabit the waters.

For those who like to spend a little time underwater as well as above it, there is a wide range of diving available in the area. If you enjoy deep dives or exploring caves, you’ll find it here. You can also dive caverns, walls and wrecks to add variety. While here, snorkelers and sight-seers will have plenty to take in.

Underwater Experiences

You can experience nearly every aspect of ocean diving from this compressed marine eco system. Poor Knights Islands offers sunlit waters teeming with life and beauty for you to explore. From the upper levels of the ‘tumbling staircase’ to the depths and darkness of the numerous caves, an amazing underwater experience awaits.

Don’t miss the spectacular sponge gardens and gorgonian fields. Here fish of every species abound. Urchins, shellfish and anemones dance in the sparkling waters. The islands’ popular arches are another source of entertainment as numerous species of animals vie for space on their walls. Stingrays glide through archway waters in warmer months.

The marine reserve is home to many subtropical fish that cannot be found elsewhere in New Zealand. Many of these remarkable fish are known for their friendliness. An afternoon among these beauties will make for memorable vacation stories you will share for a lifetime.

If you are a novice diver, parts of the South Harbor are perfect for you. Nursery Cove is an ideal place for the novice and experienced diver alike. Some dive operators have special equipment on hand to help non-divers enjoy this underwater playground.

From the heights of the sheer cliffs that plunge to the depths of this remarkable underwater environment, the Poor Knights Islands are a blissfully, protected wonderland of natural beauty set in the coastal waters of one of New Zealand’s most protected and treasured assets. Make sure to spend some time here when you visit New Zealand.