INT. TRAVEL ARCHIVE:
677: The Little Island
Escape the late-winter blues with a tropical blast from the past
675: Scenic Spirituality
Commune with religion and nature in an ancient land
673: Aoni Onsen
Return to a forgotten time at one of Honshu’s most remote getaways
671: The Golden Rock
One of Burma’s many splendid attractions hangs by a hair
669: Hida Takayama
For personal trips gentle to the soul, seek out the old-time charm of Hida Takayama
A serene stroll through history awaits at this seaside retreat
663: Cruising the Bay
Ha Long Bay offers a breath of calm away from Vietnam’s urban rush
Fox fires and bar codes help a rural Niigata town reinvent itself
535: Hotel California
Mark Parren Taylor kicks up the desert dust in Palm Springs, the perennial
Hollywood star retreat.
531: Race through time
The Xterra Saipan triathlon journeys through tropical jungle, up steep mountain
paths and across the sands of history. Tama M. Lung joins the chase.
527: Bohemian rhapsody
No visit to Paris would be complete without taking in the Montmartre district.
Bon vivant Simon Rowe dusts off his French to go exploring.
523: Slow Motion
Mark Parren Taylor touches down in the timeless former seaport of Lukang, Taiwan.
519: Rock of ages
From ancient times to the present, Gibraltar has always been an island of
legends. Stephen Mansfield sifts through its history.
515: Go west, young man
Simon Rowe takes in the big skies and dust trails of Western Australia's
East Kimberley region.
511: All mixed up
Mark Parren Taylor makes land on Macau and finds an enigmatic blend of cultures,
cuisine and heated competition.
505: Earth, wind and fire
A historically imperiled town in Papua New Guinea holds the keys to a magical
getaway. Carlo Niederberger splashes ashore.
501: Off the rails
Braving the 2,010 kilometers of Vietnam's Reunification Express from Ho
Chi Minh City to Hanoi is quite the adventure. Simon Rowe goes along for the
493: Rites of passage
From firecrackers and cheek piercing to divinations and buffalo races, Thailand's
most colorful customs come alive at two annual festivals. Mark Parren Taylor
joins the crowds.
489: Paradise found
Beaches, battlefields and a colossal casino provide tropical pleasures on
the Pacific isle of Tinian. Carlo Niederberger touches down.
485: Through the grapevine
Stephen Mansfield drinks up the delights of the Château Monbazillac
in southwest France.
481: Pleasure island
Saipan awaits the young and young at heart with its pristine beaches, pointy
peaks, and perfect amount of entertainment. Carlo Niederberger checks in.
477: Reservoir of dogs
Simon Rowe visits the Kingdom of Tonga, where storms burst without warning
and wild canines rule the night.
473: Into the bat cave
Sarawaks Niah Caves are home to hairless bats, birds on the brink
of extinction, and lots of bugs, according to Simon Rowe.
469: A fork in the river
Laos ethnic minorities battle the forces of time. Stephen Mansfield
goes upriver in search of them.
465: Action scene
Sick of the short, humid Japanese summer? Tired of the winter? In NZ its
summertime and the living is easy, the food and drink inexpensive, and the evenings
long and lazy. Mark Devlin heads south to explore and party.
457/458: In living color
Simon Rowe soaks in the glow of Samoa's kaleidoscopic streets.
454: From Jamaica with love
Michael McDonagh soaks up the atmosphere in James Bond's balmy birthplace
449: See worthy
Dan Grunebaum drops oar in the stunning caves of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay
445: Great heights
Simon Rowe packs his hiking boots and sets out for Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu
441: Split personality
There are few cities with such an exacting dividing line between past and present
as Lijiang in China's southwestern province of Yunnan
438: Fierce creatures
Simon Rowe introduces us to the untamed charms of Australia's Kangaroo Island
434: Leap of Faith
Simon Rowe dives into a tropical island paradise of waterfalls, reefs and bush
rugby on the Fijian archipelago
430: A week in Provence
Stephen Mansfield explores the historic festival city of Avignon, a medieval
diamond in the south of France
426: Outer space
Surreal sites, lunar landscapes and UFO sightings go with the territory in Chile
422: The Big Easy
The Moorish streets of Granada, Spain are alive with a new Bohemian rhapsody
418: Small awakening
414: Fowl play
The animal kingdom comes alive in the Galapagos
410: The river of spirits
Wading through soulful waters in Varanasi, India
406: Heading north
Marching to the beat of a modern drum in North Korea
Santa's lap - enjoy saunas, Santa and sightseeing in Finland’s Lapland
Seeking the past in China's megacity
Rising from the ashes
Mary King explores the rich history, culture and art of Croatias phoenix
The betels and the stones
Simon Rowe rolls with the tropical exotica on the obscure island of Yap
World heritage site
Land of hope
Salt of the earth
Tour the Uyuni Salt Pan
Suzhou and Hangzhou
The river mild
Top of the world
Memo from the Lower Mekong
Call of the wild
Mad about Madurai
Sick of the short, humid Japanese summer? Tired of the
winter? In NZ its summertime and the living is easy,
the food and drink inexpensive, and the evenings long and
lazy. Mark Devlin heads south to explore and party.
Running forward as fast as we can, we head down the steep
mountain incline. Behind me John, a typical gnarly Kiwi, shouts
faster, faster! I look out over the cliff; if
we run any further we will drop of the side of the mountain,
like a wayward hill sheep. Well, off we go. With a final step,
our feet lift from the ground, and we step into space. The
air catches our parachute, and we slowly begin our descent,
some 450m through the cool summer air over the sparkling waters
of Lake Wakatipu. John guides the parachute in twists and
turns revealing the Remarkables, the sharply peaked Gates
of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Below is Queenstown,
the hub of New Zealand South Island activities.
Town and country
One week earlier, we had touched down in the nations
capital, Auckland, a modern City of Sails with
a strong British influence and a newly redeveloped waterfront
with displays of Americas Cup yachts. We bunked for
the night at The Hilton. Surrounded by water on three sides,
The Hilton is one of those ultracool modern hotels that made
us think of cruise liners, crisp white sheets, a single flower
in a long thin vase and a photo spread in Wallpaper* magazine.
After a brief sample of Auckland night life, we took a short
flight the following morning to Wellington, the quaint capital,
and hop on the Interislander ferry for a two hours cruising
to Picton at the very tip of the South Island.
The next day, we arrived at Abel Tasman National Park, named
after the first European to set sights on NZ, offers a Mediterranean
climate, sandy beaches and coastal walks. We abandoned the
path and waded from cove to cove, watching out for the tide.
If you prefer not to get your feet wet, try a days sea-kayaks
|Abel Tasman National
The West Coast of the South Island is a rainy land
that time forgot. During our two-day drive, we half-expected
dinosaurs to charge out of the forests. Unlike Australia,
which was settled over 50,000 years ago, New Zealand was discovered
by the Polynesians just 1,000 years ago, with widespread colonization
coming after Captain Cooks landing of 1770. Much of
the island remains untouched, and we even spotted an uneaten
Kiwi bird or two. Adding to the mystery are poetic Maori names
(Punakaki) as well as Scottish (Ross) and more straightforward
descriptions (Cape Foulwind). Every turn of the road brings
a new mountainscape, a new feeling of exploration into a new
On the way, amateur geologists will be happy to walk to the
base of the Franz Joseph Glacier to see the declining power
of the river of ice, once able to move mountains and now receding
due to global warming. For an extra close-up look, we hitched
a ride in a helicopter while the more adventurous can take
an all-day ice walk up the glacier face. Even though it is
summer, it is best to dress warmly.
|Auckland glistens at
Queenstown and the smaller Wanaka are activity-based resorts
in the center of the South Island and either is a perfect
base camp for hiking or trips to more remote areas such as
the serene fiords of Milford Sound (weather permitting). We
stayed at the classy Novotel St Moritz, five minutes from
the town center. The hotel has an excellent Italian restaurant
and views over the mirror of the lake. A charming resort town,
nestled on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has many
good-quality bars, restaurants, craft and jewelry stores where
you can search for the One Ring, and some excellent art galleries
with a fine selection of inexpensive (and expensive) art by
local and international artists.
Out and about
Using Queenstown as base camp, we set off up river with Funyaks
tours. The mountains had a light dusting of snow as we shot
up the river in a custom jetboat. With a quick shout from
the pilot, the high-powered speedboat spun 360degrees, sprinkling
us with chilly mountain water. The inflatable Funyaks were
somewhat slower, but no less fun. Make sure your partner knows
the difference between right and left and back and forward
or, like us, you will definitely become marooned on a stony
embankment. Friendly and helpful guides kept us entertained
with stories and legends as we drifted down the wide riverbed
through the pristine mountains and lonesome valleys.
|Skyline Gondola offers
For walkers there is no end of hiking trails starting from
Queenstown, from just a few hours to walks such as the Bourne
Trail, which can take several days. The spectacular Rob Roy
glacier trail was one of our favorites, taking us over river
wild torrents, Indiana-Jones rope bridges and Lord of the
Rings ancient woods. Yes, I am Frodo! Fans of The Lord
of the Rings will not be disappointed at the variety of scenery
laid before them like a living movie set, however, actual
locations are spread throughout the country like so many lost
legends, so a location tour is only for the very dedicated.
If you dont like walking then there are horses, motorbikes,
ATVs, four-wheel drives, speedboats, kayaks, helicopters and
And Parapunting (aka paragliding). You can take the Skyline
Gondola to the top of Mount Coronet, strap yourself in with
your co-pilot and as John said Just run as fast as you
can, then sit back and enjoy the ride As I drifted down
to earth through the spectacular view I realized this is what
they mean by 100 percent New Zealand.
Flying into Auckland with Air New Zealand (www.airnz.co.nz)
is a painless affair as the flight is overnight and theres
only a one-hour time difference from Japan. Book the ferry
and rental car ahead of your trip. Try to pick up the AA
What to See and Do and Where to Stay guides.
Queenstown Novotel San Moritz www.novotel.co.nz
Interisland Ferry www.interislandline.co.nz
Milford Sound cruises www.fiordlandtravel.co.nz
Franz Josef Glacier www.franzjosefglacier.co.nz
Air Safaris Mt Cook Tour www.airsafaris.co.nz
The Helicopter Line www.new-zealand.com/THL
Skyline Gondola www.skyline.co.nz
Rob Roy Glacier www.onedayhikes.com
Many thanks to Yumiko Nakayama of Tourism New Zealand
Photos courtesy of Tourism