TRAVEL Exploring FIFA World Cup cities: Kaliningrad cut off from the rest of Russia

Kaliningrad is the capital of a small territory isolated from the rest of Russia and sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

With a major Russian naval base nearby, the port city is packed with history. And nearby Baltic Sea beaches could prove irresistible for World Cup fans in good weather.
Kaliningrad will host a game that could make or break the World Cup hopes of England or Belgium.

Here’s what you need to know about one of the 11 host cities in Russia:

The stadium

One of the smallest stadiums used at a World Cup since 2002, the simply named Kaliningrad Stadium seats 35,000.

Its rather conservative design is decorated blue and white to evoke the nearby sea and Kaliningrad’s maritime history. Buses will be organised to transport fans to the remote location on a largely undeveloped island.

After the World Cup, it will be used by Baltika Kaliningrad, currently a team playing in Russia’s second division.

What to know

Kaliningrad is one for the history buffs. Under the name Koenigsberg, it was a political and cultural center for Germans for hundreds of years, but much of that heritage was destroyed during World War II.


A man catches fish at the lower lake in Kaliningrad, Russia. Photo / AP

After the Soviet collapse in 1991, it became a haven for smugglers. Local officials are trying hard to reinvent the city as a tourist destination in the way nearby Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have done.

What to do

The German cathedral and the Ocean Museum both draw tourists, though the beaches outside the city may be the real draw during the World Cup.

To find sea and sand, head to the villages of Zelenograd or Svetlogorsk, or to the Curonian Spit, a long sandbank which links the Kaliningrad region to Lithuania, with water on both sides.

If you’re looking for a souvenir, amber is often found locally — sometimes with prehistoric insects still trapped inside. Kaliningrad companies specialise in elegant amber jewelry.

For food, there are German and Russian-style restaurants around the center of the city.

What to watch

Kaliningrad will host four matches, starting with the Group D game between Croatia and Nigeria on June 16.


The new World Cup stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia. Photo / AP

Serbia will then take on Switzerland in Group E on June 22, followed by a Group B match between Spain and Morocco on June 25.

The final match in the city on June 28 is likely to draw the most interest. That’s when England will take on Belgium in Group G.

– AP


Expert tips for a good snow experience

An expert points the way for your novice snow bunnies, writes Beth J Harpaz.

Ski season is starting, with Ruapehu’s Happy Valley already open and the country’s other fields due to open this month. For parents, that may mean getting kids on the slopes for the first time. But is there a perfect age to learn to ski?

Nate Gardner, ski and snowboard school training manager at Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont, in the US, says that what’s more important than a child’s age is his or her readiness. How well does the child handle other physical activities? Does the child separate well from parents so that she or he is comfortable spending a few hours with a ski instructor and other kids on the slopes, away from parents?

“Every child develops at their own rate both physically and emotionally,” Gardner says.

“That’s going to be a big factor in whether the child is ready to learn to ski.”

Here’s some other advice from Gardner on everything from planning a family ski trip to tailoring ski instruction to a child’s learning style.


“Private lessons are great for one-on-one attention,” Gardner says. “The experience gets tailored to you.”

But he added that “kids learn a lot from their peers.” Children sometimes have more fun and get more out of a group lesson where they can interact with kids their age.

Or do a bit of both: “Maybe a two-hour introduction when they first arrive, then the next lesson is this full day group where they’re getting to hang out with other kids.”


You may hear and see ski instructors exhorting kids with the words: “Pizza! French fries!”

Gardner says it’s a creative way to help students configure their skis right: angle the tips inward to slow down, like a pizza slice, or straighten them like fries to go a little faster.

“One thing almost all kids know is what a slice of pizza looks like,” he says.


How long does it take for kids to learn to ski?

“It has to do entirely with the kids themselves, their age, their developmental level, their emotional readiness, their willingness to learn from a stranger,” he says. “Parents need to gauge their expectations based on what they know of their child’s previous experiences.”

A child’s learning style matters too. “Everybody learns a different way,” Gardner says.

“Instructors are trained to assess the kids and get the ones who are “doers” into the activity as soon as possible, while talking through the process with kids who are “thinkers and listeners and want some more of the information.”

And always make things fun and positive. “If each time is a fun experience, you’re going to have a lot more success than you are dragging them to the hill kicking and screaming.”


Gardner says when it comes to equipment — skis, boots, bindings, helmets — you’re better off renting. It takes the burden out of lugging gear from where you live to the mountain. It also ensures that you’re getting the latest, high-quality gear and that it fits your fast-growing child every time. If you end up doing a lot of skiing, consider a lease programme in which you can trade gear in at the end of the season.


Dress kids in layers so they can peel off midday when the sun is out and bundle up early morning and late afternoon when it’s chillier. Don’t forget goggles and sunscreen. The snow reflects ultraviolet light with greater intensity than even the beach, Gardner said.

“Goggles are key to keeping that brightness off the eyes and keeping the wind out of the face.”

4 Stunning Day Trips From Queenstown

It’s no secret that Queenstown is in one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.

Beyond the perimeters of the soaring peaks of the Remarkables and the meandering coves of Lake Wakatipu, there are endless more kilometres of picture-perfect panoramas and outdoor adventures to soak up – as well as interesting local heritage and, if you know where to go, world-class wine too.

Discover it all on these incredible day trips from Queenstown.

Central Otago

50-60 minutes from Queenstown / 58 kilometres

It doesn’t take long to leave Queenstown behind and find wine country playing out in your rear view mirror. Thankfully, Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s most scenic wine regions: it’s rugged and mountainous, but also spans lakes, rivers and rolling farmland.

Landscapes of Central Otago.Central Otago boasts lovely, unique landscapes.

Home to over 80 wineries, the area is famous for producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and a vivid repertoire of white wine varietals.

Beyond the cellar doors, the indulgence continues in the form of fine dining, character-filled cafes and lovely al-fresco dining spots where fresh, seasonal produce is key. Central Otago is the undisputed home of summer fruits, so don’t be surprised to repeatedly spot cherries, apples and apricots on the menu.

Crushing grapes in Central Otago.Otago is a place to be tasted.

What travellers also love about a day trip from Queenstown to Central Otago is the change of pace. It’s low-key, oozes country ambiance and there’s barely an adrenalin-pumping activity in sight.

There’s also some rich heritage – you can pan for gold along old gold mining trails – some unique wildlife and historic rail trails to find dotted between the vineyards and small character-laden towns.


45 minutes from Queenstown / 46 kilometres

True outdoor enthusiasts will love rustic little Glenorchy. The town itself is tiny – home to less than 500 people – but the adventures to be had in its midst are big, which is its main appeal.

For an idea, it was here in Glenorchy’s surrounding landscapes that many of the scenes from Lord of the Ringsand Narnia were shot.

Routeburn Track near Glenorchy.Glenorchy is a gateway to the Routeburn Track.

It is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s best hiking trails, including the popular day hike to Mt Alfred, the Rees and Dart Track, the Greenstone/Caples Track and the Routeburn Track – one of the Great Walks.

Step by step, you can venture your way into Middle Earth territory.

Glenorchy.Glenorchy is small in size, but big on adventure.

Not keen on walking? Glenorchy also traces the shoreline of beautiful Lake Wakatipu.

Horse trekking, jet boating and kayaking are also popular local activities. Either way, snow-capped mountains, idyllic green forests and stunning blue waters come guaranteed.


1 hour from Queenstown / 66 kilometres

Wanaka is where the South Islanders go on holidays, so it’s bound to be good.

For travellers, it flaunts many of the same activities as a Queenstown holiday but often at a lower price, so it’s perfect for those travelling on a budget.

Lake Wanaka.Lake Wanaka is beautiful throughout the seasons.

Perched on the shores of Lake Wanaka at the heart of the Southern Alps, it’s the natural beauty that’ll first strike you about Wanaka – as well as the friendliness and warm hospitality of the locals.

You could easily spend a day simply strolling around the lake, unpacking a picnic and taking in the views and laid-back town vibes for peaceful day of sightseeing at an un-hurried, enjoyable pace.

Mountains over Lake Wanaka.Wanaka can be as relaxing or adventurous as you make it.

For many however, those placid lake waters prove too hard to resist. Paddle boarding, kayaking and jet-skiing are all popular in the warmer months, as are sightseeing boat tours into the nearby mountain, lake and island landscapes that seem as straight out of Middle-earth.

Wanaka is also a favoured launching pad into hiking and biking adventures in the surrounding peaks that form part of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Come winter, there are three ski fields on Wanaka’s doorstep and the town springs to life with a lively après ski scene.

Milford Sound and Fiordland

3 hours and 30 minutes from Queenstown

There are many ways to arrive at Milford Sound – including by cruise, on a scenic flight and on foot.  But the incredible splendour of it all is in no way lost on those who approach by self drive.

In fact, the journey from Queenstown into the heart of Fiordland National Park to what is one of New Zealand’s most famous sights is an unforgettable journey in itself.

Milford Sound in New Zealand.Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most famous sights.

The road winds and weaves through a myriad of spectacular landscapes – through glacier-carved valleys and native rainforest, past clear blue lakes and trickling streams so clean you could drink out of them, and over the Main Divide of the incredible snow-capped Southern Alps.

This all serves as a momentous build-up to the final show; when you finally do arrive at Milford Sound, you’ll be greeted with even more wow-factor natural splendour.

Think waterfalls bigger than Niagara Falls, sheer-sided blue fjords, drastic mountains ranges and more lush rainforest.

Fiordland National Park.The lush track at the Chasm Fall, Fiordland National Park.

The entire journey presents a never-ending line-up of brilliant photo opportunities.

Yes, it is a long day trip from Queenstown, but it is an absolute must-do experience while visiting the South Island that cannot be missed.

Explore the Queenstown with portable wifi at Pocwifi.

Tijuana Jaksic. (1st September, 2017).4 Stunning Day Trips From Queenstown. Retrieved from

Tauranga is New Zealand’s most mispronounced place name

Tauranga has been identified as New Zealand’s most mispronounced place name on Google Maps.

To coincide with Maori Language Week, which ends on September 17, Vodafone and Google has launched an initiative allowing Kiwis to ‘pin’ place names on Google Maps which are incorrectly pronounced at a new website,

The Say it Tika (Say it right) website lets Kiwis play an important role to enhance the local pronunciation of places on Google Maps.

Vodafone, Google and the Māori Language Commission will then work through mispronounced place names and update them on Google Maps.

Since the website launched on Friday, more than 18,600 pins have highlighted the incorrectly pronounced place names – and Tauranga has the two most common.

According to the website, Tauranga is the number one place in the country that Kiwis say is mispronounced on Google Maps. The second is Totara St at Mount Maunganui.

Vodafone New Zealand consumer director Matt Williams said supporting Google to improve pronunciation in Aotearoa was an important way they could play a part in preserving the taonga (treasure) of te reo Māori.

“It’s up to all of us now to put the mahi [work] in,” Mr Williams said.

By getting involved and pinning mispronounced Māori place names, Kiwis will create a priority list for Vodafone, developed with Google, to update first.

These will be worked through in consultation with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission), with te reo tika (correct) place names set to be heard on millions of phones from late this year.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui their vision was to have te reo Māori resonate throughout the entire country.

“We want to see and hear te reo Māori everywhere – on the streets, in shops, in schools, on radio, on TV and online,” Mr Apanui said.

“We are proud to partner with Vodafone and Google Maps to further progress towards this aim in the Say it Tika campaign.”

Pocwifi is you best travel companion. Unlimited data in New Zealand.

NZHERALD. 11th September, 2017). Tauranga is New Zealand’s most mispronounced place name. Retrieved from

What backpacker travel was like in the 90s compared to now

Remember sending huge long group emails to all of your family and friends (from your Hotmail account), telling them ...


Remember sending huge long group emails to all of your family and friends (from your Hotmail account), telling them about all of your overseas adventures?

 Xennials are a weird generation – too young to be pessimistic Gen-Xers, but too old to be flaky Millennials. We’re not the social media generation, but we know how to use it. Some of us got in before the property market boomed – some of us did not.

We’re an in-between generation, made up of those born between 1977 and 1983. The word sounds silly – Xennial – like a buzzword made up by some marketing people, but it feels real. Xennials don’t really identify as being part of the previous generation of the next. We’re distinct.

We’re also distinct as travellers. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, if you know who Yahoo Serious is and you remember taping songs from the radio, then there’s every chance you’ll also display the following travel quirks…


Long ago, way back in the late 90s, you would have had to set up a fancy new email account so you could go hang out in internet cafes overseas and message your parents to let them know you were OK. They would probably check their email account a few days later and then you’d get a response in a week or so. That account was invariably a Hotmail account, and you might even still have it.

Discmans were once all the rage.

Discmans were once all the rage


Back before you could google any detail about any destination you’ve ever wanted to know, we all bought physical copies of Lonely Planet guidebooks, which were in their heyday around the 90s and 2000s. Plenty of Xennial travellers have never been able to part with their “bibles”.


Back when Xennials were doing gap years, you got your working visa for the UK, you went over there with dreams of skipping over to mainland Europe most weekends, and then you got to the end of your two-year stint and realised you’d barely even left Clapham. So you jumped on a Contiki or TopDeck tour to “do” Europe before heading home.

Who doesn't own a Lonely Planet guide?

Who doesn’t own a Lonely Planet guide?


Before all the budget airlines came along, before you could fly from Berlin to Barcelona for about 30 euros, this was the most affordable way to see Europe. You’d get yourself a two- or three-month Eurail pass and just buzz around the continent, hopping from city to city, staying in dirty hostels and travelling by train.


Xennials were blessed – we got in while Full Moon Parties in Thailand existed, but they weren’t that well known. It wasn’t overcrowded or too touristy. It was just fun. We’d all arrive on Koh Pha-Ngan clutching our battered copies of The Beach, and hang out with a few hundred partygoers trying to live the dream.


Many Xennials were probably travelling in South-East Asia when tubing in Laos was a thing.


Many Xennials were probably travelling in South-East Asia when tubing in Laos was a thing.

Prague was the first Eastern European city to become popular, this city that seemed so exotic and adventurous. At that point no one had been to Budapest. No one even considered going to Croatia (which until recently had been Yugoslavia). If you wanted to be different and escape the crowds, you went to Prague.


In a similar vein to the Full Moon Parties in Thailand, many Xennials were probably travelling in South-East Asia when tubing in Laos was a thing, when it hadn’t yet been overrun with mushroom milkshake stands and dodgy cops, when there seemed something innocent about floating down a beautiful river on an inner tube, drinking $1 tins of Beerlao and having the time of your life.


Xennials didn’t grow up with smartphones, or social media, but we adapted to them in our 20s, we got Facebook and Instagram and figured out how best to use them. Most of us take selfies now, though not with nearly the dedication – or skill – that Millennials demonstrate. We take selfies, and we look ridiculous.


If you’re an Xennial traveller you can probably remember a time when you would send huge long group emails to all of your family and friends (from your Hotmail account), telling them about all of your overseas adventures. Now, of course, people just have blogs. Or the Snapchats. Or whatever.


This was the quintessential travellers’ movie, released in 1995, the tale of an American backpacker (Ethan Hawke) who spends one glorious night of intelligent conversation and dreamy gazing with a French woman (Julie Delpy) he meets on a train to Vienna. Anyone with their own fantasies of European travel and romance would have watched it several times.


They seem ridiculously unwieldy now, and yet we all travelled with Discmen (Discmans?), and, obviously, with large books of CDs that definitely included something by Pearl Jam or Silverchair.


Before everyone had a smartphone, or reliable internet to send emails, you had to communicate home by buying a phone card from a newsagent and then getting a degree in astrophysics to figure out how to make the thing work. Is that the PIN, or the number you call…?


What’s Florence like? Well, there’s this bar there called the Red Garter that all the backpackers go to and the Italian guys turn up to hit on all the girls… And in Nice there’s this place called Wayne’s…


Back in the day, if you organised to meet someone at a certain spot at a certain time on a certain day, then you had to be there. No changes of plan. If you didn’t show up, you’d probably never see or hear from that person ever again.


Most Xennials, these days, can remember a time when they were footloose and fancy free, backpacking around Europe and South-East Asia getting drunk and being silly. Now, Fiji seems a good option – the childcare there is great.

Are you an Xennial traveller? Do you recognise any of these signs? What marks out the other generations of travellers?

Share your idea with Pocwifi at below comment.

BEN GROUNDWATER. (16th August, 2017).  The Ultimate New Zealand Bucket List. Retrieved from–compared-to-now.



When I was putting together my little travel archives, which you can see on the right hand side over there, I had a bit of a realisation. I’ve never written about New Zealand on my blog. Which is actually mental. I know life is now all about London and Europe, I did spent a grand 14 years living in the old NZ, and went to school and Uni there. Being a good old kiwi is still a major part of my life.

I was around 7 when we first moved there, and as we all know, NZ is in the middle of bloody nowhere. Yes, Australia is kind of near, but still usually over 3 hours on a plane. This then lead to many, many road trip holidays where the 4 of us would jump in the car and explore the gorgeous country we were living in. It also meant that as all the family made their way over to visit us, we would then do the whole trip again. So from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South (though not yet made it to Stewart Island!), I thought I’d pull together my favourite bits of New Zealand into this ultimate itinerary. Pull up a chair, it’s gonna be a long ‘un.

The best way to get around New Zealand is by far car, flights can happen but are generally really expensive for internal ones. Plus when you drive you really get to experience the country and see scenery constantly. Plus, the main highway is like a two lane road so it’s not exactly stressful to drive along. So jump in a car and lets get started. Just a note, I don’t actually have many photos of NZ, I’ve tried to pull out a few but most are actual photographs which are at my parents!! I actually discovered that 100% pure New Zealand has a heap of photos available to promote tourism which is totally awesome and explains why there are some random people in some of the pics. But hey, they are gooduns!




Auckland isn’t my favourite place in kiwi land but really, it’s the place most people fly into and you’ll probably be tired and grumpy and need some time to adjust so why not do it here! The main thing people remember about it is the Sky Tower, the big thin needle thing in the middle of town. I’ve always enjoyed going up to the top, and you can jump off to get back down to the bottom if you don’t fancy the lift which is always handy.

Nearby is the awesome aquarium – Kelly Tarltons, we went here a heap when I was young and I always really enjoyed it – especially the penguins. One of my best memories is doing a behind the scenes with some injured little blue penguins where we fed them tiny fish and it was just generally epic.


As NZ is in the southern hemisphere, not only is Christmas a hot affair, but so is New Years. Queue some kind of road trip somewhere over New Year to chill and drink and all that good stuff. The place to go was the Coromandel, up the top of the North Island, kinda to the right of Auckland. Expect a lot of white sand beaches, warm water, huge forests and a hot water beach which is very enjoyable. Dig yourself your own little hot tub and sit back and relax. Oh and go to Cathedral Cove beach because everyone does and take a photo of the hole in the rock. Ironic as I bet after living in London I’d think the place was deserted!!



An absolute bloody must do. There are two options here, the one which me and mam went for which is where you jump into a little boat and sail serenly through underground caves full of staligmates and staligtites. Then before you know it, you appear in a cavern absolutely full of sparkling glow worms. It’s almost like an amazing night sky. I seriously want to go back all the time.

The second option is what Dad + Reb always did, abseiling down a 300 foot abyss before caving and tubing through tiny holes until they reach the same kind of cavern. But hey, each to their own to their preference of how to get there!!



Yes, it smells like rotten eggs. It’s weird. It will go away within like 10 minutes of being there then it’s not such of a big deal. Rotorua is really the home of all the thermal wonders, from giant pools of boiling mud, to huge magically blue ponds, to giant geysers which explode and spurt right next to you. There are several places to see them, and a load of them are just like little spots on the side of the round where you pull in and get a load of bubbling mud. It’s good for the skin too – though please buy it from the gift shop rather than burning yourself to get some of the real thing.

The Maori culture is huuuuge in NZ, as the natives of the land. What with school there, I got a heap of Maori culture growing up (I can still swing a good old poi and sing tutira mai nga iwi to this very day), so we never went out of our way to search it out. But from what I can see, there is a lot in Rotorua for you to see and learn from.


Want to hear something ironic? I bloody hated wine when I lived in NZ. Ridiculous right. A good bottle of white was like $10 and I worked in hospitality where we got to take the partially opened bottles home. But not me, now I’d kill for a good NZ Sauv.

But anyway, if you have any sense, then you will go wine tasting and it will be amazing. You can do it in a load of places, but Hawkes Bay is a goodun. I really like Napier and it’s somewhere we ended up really frequently.

u072-kelburn-hill-wellington-ian-traffordWELLINGTON – LIVE UP THE CAFE CULTURE AND SEE A KIWI

Kind of funny that the place I lived for 14 years was the place I couldn’t quite decide on what you should do there. I finally settled on just living like a kiwi. Wellington is the best place to live up the food scene – from a good flat white and a slice of lolly cake, to getting a giant bowl of mussels and a bottle of wine. Eat all the food and enjoy it, I’ve still not found anywhere in the world that does it any better.

Whilst in between all the food, you must see the kiwi bird. Two options here – head to the zoo, which is a zoo I really rate, good size and an array animals. We did the meet the red pandas once which was the best. But you can see a kiwi there too. There is also Zealandia which is the outdoor reserve where you can go on a night tour and see a kiwi in the wild which I really rate too.




I walked the Abel Tasman twice, once I had tonsilitis. And you know, it was still brilliant. Tramping (or rambling if you’re British) is a national past time so you have to do it. Grab a big back pack along with some scroggin and get your walk on. This is particularly gorgeous as you wind around isolated, idyllic beaches and through some epic bush. If you’re ambitious then stay in one of the little huts over night as you wander through, otherwise jump on the boat and get a comfy ride right back to where you started.



We really had the South Island road trips down. And the first place we always stopped was at Punakaiki on the West Coast of the South Island near Greymouth. And well, go and see the rocks. They look like giant stacks of pancakes and are quite spectacular. There are a heap of blow holes nearby too which always look very impressive.


From volcanoes to glaciers, you will pretty much find it in NZ. And climbing a glacier is definitely a good idea. There are a couple of glaciers down the bottom of the South Island and even though they are melting, you can get climbing. And not the whole ice climbing, there are generally steps cut into the ice in the lower levels. You also have the option of being a little lazy and jumping on a helicopter which will fly and land you right on the top. I really love this bit of the South Island as not only do you have the amazing coast but it’s right by the Southern Alps. If you are a skiier then this is definitely where you should be headed.


Now, I’ve never seen a whale, which is unfortunate. But I’m pretty sure that most people who go whale watching will see a whale. And the best place to do it is in Kaikoura on the East Coast. There are a heap of boats out to see whales and dolphins in the bay – and I’m very keen to go back and actually see some!!



Queenstown is the place most adventure lovers know – not only is it an awesome place to ski, but you can pretty much do any kind of thrillseeking. My sister did her first bungy jump here, but you can do skydiving and a heap of other things. For the non thrill seeking kind, it is one of the most gorgeous places anyway so you can do a load of walking and eating. There is also a luge (kind of like a little go kart that you sit in and ride down a steep hill) which even I enjoyed – so really, something for everyone.



You will look at the photos of here and it is the shot, you know the most beautiful idyllic shot which is at the very top of this post. It will rain when you visit and look like the photo above. But that’s okay, it still looks pretty in the rain. Jump on a boat, sail the sounds and breathe in some cold mountain air.


The two of the larger cities in the South Island (and when I say large, I really mean small). Now I’ve been to both of these many a time, but usually because I was visiting some of my friends who were going to uni there. Sooo, it mainly involved drinking and sleeping. So I can’t recommend too much for these places, but put them on your list as I can guarantee there will be something good for you to see there!

It’s kind of ironic as I think I was worried about writing about NZ on the blog for ages because I thought I wouldn’t have enough to say on the topic. Well, apparently once you start tapping, you just can’t stop me!! So you know, over 2000 words later, here we are. I hope I’ve convinced you that NZ is a place you should get on your visit list ASAP – it may be a long flight from Europe but it is SO worth it.

Tell me, if you’ve been to NZ where is your fave (and what have I missed?) and if you haven’t where do you want to go first?!

Share a your trip at New Zealand by renting a mobile wifi at Pocwifi.


Have you been to those New Zealand’s eeriest spots?


The original owners of Larnach Castle were beset by tragedy.

Believe in ghost stories or not, you don’t have to travel far in New Zealand to find eerie spots.

From old mental hospitals and hotels to a castle built by a family with a tragic history, many of these places are – or are said to be – sites of grave suffering and untimely deaths. Others, such as Spirits Bay in Northland, are reputedly sacred conduits between this world and the next.

Here is just a small selection of the country’s eeriest places.

Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital, Karaka, Auckland

The former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital is now the site of the Spookers theme park.


The former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital is now the site of the Spookers theme park.

Deranged psychopaths stalk the halls of the old Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital, intent on giving all they come into contact with the biggest frights of their lives. Well, kind of.

Spookers, which bills itself as New Zealand’s only haunted attraction theme park, has been attracting pundits for more than a decade; its convincingly made up “live scare actors” proving strangely alluring.

Part of the attraction, no doubt, comes from the property’s dark history. It sure looks the part: the stark exterior concealing empty, derelict rooms with scratch marks on the walls, bars on the windows and dark stains on the floors.

Opened in 1932, the hospital, which included a maximum security wing and a morgue, housed more than 800 patients in its heyday, before sweeping mental health reforms forced the closure of it and similar institutions in 1999. Since then, many former patients have come forward claiming to have witnessed or experienced abuse at the hands of staff.

Spirits Bay, Northland

Spirits Bay (right) has long been considered sacred by Maori.


Spirits Bay (right) has long been considered sacred by Maori.

An isolated bay near the tip of the North Island, Spirits Bay has long been sacred to Maori; said to be the place where the souls of the dead leave this world for the next. The bay has two names in Maori: Piwhane and Kapowairua, the latter meaning “to grasp the spirit”.

Before setting off from the bay to visit his daughter, Ngati Kahu chief Tohe is said to have told his people to grasp his spirit if he should perish on his voyage. Tohe went on to name more than 100 places along the west coast on his travels south before meeting his death at Whangairiki.

Legend has it that, at night, spirits can be seen moving down the beach toward an ancient pohutukawa tree and suddenly disappearing. If this is something you think you’d like to see with your own eyes, there’s a campsite between the long sandy beach and lushly forested hills of the Aupouri Peninsula.

If you don’t want to join the departing souls though, be careful in the water as rips are common and swells can be large.

Erskine College, Island Bay, Wellington

Erskine College in February 2014, after it had been red stickered by Wellington City Council.

Talia Carlisle

Erskine College in February 2014, after it had been red stickered by Wellington City Council.

Abandoned to the elements, once dignified and graceful Erskine College for many years seemed to be hovering somewhere between life and death. Built by the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1905, the four-storey convent building – which has Gothic, Tudor and Edwardian touches – served as a Catholic girls’ boarding school until its closure in 1985.

Its status as a Historic Places Trust Category I building, signifying it has “special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value”, did little to preserve it. Wellington City Council declared it unsafe in 2012 after it failed to meet earthquake safety guidelines and it continued its slow but steady decline.

Its once well tended gardens went to weeds and were covered in “keep out signs”; its stonework was covered in graffiti; its windows broken or boarded.

But it seems the buildings, which featured in Peter Jackson’s 1996 The Frighteners, may get a happy ending after all. In June, developer Ian Cassels’ Wellington Company won approval from the Save Erskine College Trust and Heritage New Zealand to move forward with a $30 million project to convert the property into housing.

Racecourse Hotel, Riccarton, Christchurch

The licensee of the Racecourse Hotel was shot dead in his bed in 1933.

Dean Kozanic

The licensee of the Racecourse Hotel was shot dead in his bed in 1933.

The scene of an unsolved murder, the Racecourse Hotel looks fittingly like it’s straight out of a Hollywood western. In 1933, Donald Fraser, the 41-year-old licensee of the hotel, was shot dead in his bed, where he was asleep with his wife, by two blasts from a double-barrelled shotgun.

The case became a media sensation and, while the police had their suspects, no one was ever charged for the crime. Investigators checked and rechecked the movements of everyone in the hotel that night, but no conclusive evidence of whodunnit was ever disclosed.

Police did establish that the bullets were bought on the West Coast but could not say by whom.

Larnach Castle, Dunedin 

Norcombe and Margaret Barker, executive and founding directors respectively of Larnach Castle.


Norcombe and Margaret Barker, executive and founding directors respectively of Larnach Castle.

In a kind of real-life fairytale gone wrong, the original owners of New Zealand’s only castle were beset by tragedy, including multiple untimely deaths. Commissioned by businessman and politician William Larnach for his beloved first wife Eliza in 1871, the Gothic revival-style castle took 200 men three years to build. No expense was spared and European craftsmen spend a further 12 years perfecting the interior.

After losing his seat in parliament, Larnach took his family – he had six children with Eliza – to the UK but soon learned his businesses in New Zealand were failing and decided to return with his wife, her younger sister Mary and the youngest children. Eliza died shortly afterward of a stroke at the age of 38 and he promptly married Mary, reputedly a drunkard whom his children despised. She too died at the age of 38 after contracting blood poisoning. Larnach also lost his daughter Kate – said to have been his favourite child – to typhoid in her 20s.

At the age of 57, Larnach married again, this time to a woman named Constance 22-years his junior. Rumour has it he discovered Constance and his son Douglas were having an affair and, in 1898, after receiving a letter that confirmed all the sordid details, he shot himself in a parliament chamber.

The castle’s current owners, the Barkers, bought the property in 1967 and begun a massive salvation effort, returning it from a state of near ruin to its former glory. Some believe the Larnach’s have never been able to let the place go. William is said to be haunt the lower level, which contains the ballroom he presented to Kate on her 21st birthday, while Eliza apparently haunts the upper levels.

Do you have an eerie tale about you travels in New Zealand? Share them in the comments.

Lorna Thornber  THORNBER. (11th August, 2018).New Zealand’s eeriest spots. Retrieved from

Money belt, iron and zip-off pants: 10 useless travel items you don’t need to pack

In Malaysia’s Georgetown, way back in the hippie trail days, I ran into a high school friend who had fallen under the influence of Jack Kerouac and was hammering out a road novel.

On a Remington typewriter, cast in solid metal. Not sure what came of the work but by the time I quit Chulia Street the pauses between the clacks were growing longer with each passing minute. Whether it’s a hot water bottle or a blow dryer, most of us will sometimes pack stuff we really don’t need. Here are 10 things that don’t belong in your case.

Travel iron

Is this not an oxymoron? Irons are not made to travel. Nor will it bring you joy should you travel with one, despite your crisp cotton shirt. Hotels have irons, and housekeeping will happily do it for a modest sum. Unless you happen to be staying in a fancy hotel in Paris, in which case the cost for pressing might be more than the original item. Black T-shirts hide a multitude of sins.

Money belt

Yes you need your passport but leave the pillow and money belt at home.


Yes you need your passport but leave the pillow and money belt at home.

For starters, your cover will most likely be blown the moment you walk through airport security, get a pat-down and get told to do the big reveal. Next, are you really going to be hoisting up your shirt every time you go to pay a restaurant bill? Thieves can smell a money belt as a bear does nectar. Walking around carrying scads of cash is asking for trouble. ATM machines and credit cards make it easy to travel with just small amounts.

Crap presents for the locals

Pens? Kids all over the third world know the word, or “stylo” if they happen to have enjoyed the wondrous advantages of French colonial domination. Handing out pens fosters mob violence among six-year-olds and encourages children to view foreign tourists as cargo-cult figures.

Sweets? Only if you offset the damage you’re causing by handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste. If travel motivates you to kind acts that will change a third-world child’s life in some long-term and meaningful way, donate to World Vision.

Zip-off pants

Uh-oh. Treading on toes here because, Mr trailbreaker in your much-loved Columbia Convertibles, you’re going to wear what’s practical and to hell with what anyone else thinks. And you’re now getting ready to hit the keyboard and let off steam with a feisty comment – see below. They just look naff. On the upside, you will provide entertainment to people in remote third-world villages, and that’s no small thing.

RFID-blocking wallet

Concerned that a thief might use an RFID scanner to harvest your credit card data and make merry? Theoretically possible, but highly unlikely. There are much simpler and more effective ways to garner information from your credit card, like a point-of-sale card reader, which costs less than $20 and only requires a salesperson in cahoots to swipe your card out of sight. If you are truly concerned, wrapping your wallet in aluminium foil has the same effect as an RFID-proof wallet.

Camera tripod

These things are beasts. Even if it’s a superlight carbon fibre model a tripod is large, bulky and takes up an inordinate amount of space in your case, and I speak from bitter experience. If you’re a super enthusiastic videographer or a photographer toting an SLR and looking to take night shots of Venice or aurora borealis, then maybe. A Gorillapod might just do the trick, and they’re tiny.

Electrical converter

Forget it. Even though you might be travelling in a primitive country that delivers a meagre 110 volts of power from a wall socket you don’t need a converter to beef it up to the 220-240 volts that your phone, tablet and other devices probably run on. Apart from hairdryers and irons and other heating appliances that you have no intention of taking, most devices will recharge just fine on a slender diet of 110 volts. What you do need is an adaptor so you can plug all that stuff into the wall socket, since the world has yet to agree on a common electrical plug.


Last year’s Booker Prize winner you got for your birthday? That life-changing novel by the one-time Mumbai street kid turned literary wunderkind? Forget it. Download whatever you think you might read via Kindle, steal a book from your hotel and raid the magazine rack on your way through the business class cabin.


Guess what. Hotels have pillows. So do aircraft although, yes, they’re small and only slightly more comfortable than a brick. Horseshoe-shaped neck pillows, fine, but a full-size, snuggle-into bed pillow, this is not frolicking on the gender-level playing field. While young women are free to flaunt the rules and board an aircraft with their favourite memory foam pillow, and that’s you I’m talking to in 27A sleeping blissfully with your pillow scrunched against the window. a grown male toting a fluffy white pillow through the airport bespeaks a total lack of cool. It also suggests forethought, which is generally not a male characteristic. Why doesn’t some enterprising start-up offer pillows as a service at airport terminals, to be collected at the other end?


Just kidding. But if they snore, sweat excessively, if their interests, hygiene practices, food preferences or alcoholic intake differ vastly from your own, solo might be a better way to see the world.

Pocwifi, your best travel companion wish you have a wonderful trip.

Michael Gebicki. (7th July, 2017).  The Ultimate New Zealand Bucket List. Retrieved from

Essential Travel Items for Australia

Packing for your next adventure is an equal mix of excitement and stress. You want to take everything but at the same time you don’t want to lug everything around. You constantly use the excuse “I’ll pack it just incase”. But deep down you know you want use half of the stuff you laid out in front of you…and trust us it’s true! So what awesome items should definitely make the final cut?!

He who would travel happily, must travel light.

Well we’ve asked our team of awesome adventurers their top packing items, the things they couldn’t travel without and the things that are always the first in their bags before they head off to foreign lands…”

Toilet Roll and Immodium!

Always our top tip!
Having these two items in your hand luggage at all times will save you heaps….for reasons I don’t think we need to talk about!
Not only that but your travel buddies will love you forever when you can magically produce them in their time of need!hahaha!


The humble head torch has been a staple packing item of backpackers for years for good reason! Whether it’s a power cut in the middle of Asia, camping out in the jungle or simply needing to locate something in your dorm room at 3am it’s a greta piece of kit to keep within easy reach!

Travel Adaptors

We don’t want to divulge how many times we’ve landed in a new country and have failed to pack a travel adaptor or have brought the wrong one! Do some research before and you’ll save apt of stress!
If you want all bases covered the universal adaptors, although bulky, are a good way to go!

Passport (obviously!)

You aren’t going anywhere without one. So make sure it’s packed!
Bonus points if you email a copy of it to yourself – that way if it goes walkabout or gets stolen you have an electronic copy that you can download wherever you are in the world, making it heaps easier to replace.


Chargers are something we loathe on the road.They go missing, get forgotten or simply aren’t to hand when you need them most!
Make sure you have your chargers all neatly stored in a separate bag so they’re always easy to access and if you’re jumping on a flight/bus/train it’s always worth chucking them in your hand luggage incase you need to charger on the go!

Dry Bag

There’s nothing worse than wrecking a camera or your soaking your dry clothes on a day trip of island hopping or day to the beach. Investing in a dry bag is a solid option and is one of our most used items of kit so it’s well worth investing in one.
Not only does it keep the wet out but it can also keep the wet in too – so if you’ve gone for a last minute swim in the pool before and overnight bus or flight you can bundle all your wet gear inside your dry bag and save it soaking the rest of your rucksack!

Snorkel & Mask

If you’re heading anywhere with a beach on your travels then having your own snorkel and mask is a great purchase. Sure you can hire them out on the road, but if you plan on doing a lot of day trips, diving or beach time that can soon mount up – so it’s worth considering!

Pocket wifi

Unlimited data at Australia. Stay connected with family and friends. Easy pick up at Australia main international Airport.

Book now at

What items are top of your packing list? Tell us in the comments!

PETERPANS ADVENTURE TRAVEL. (21st June, 2017). 7 Essential Travel Items for Australia. Retrieved from

Quick Start of 4G Mobile WI-FI

   Quick Start of 4G Mobile WI-FI 




(Mobile WIFI 4G LTE)

Getting to Know Your Mobile WiFi



  1. Battery indicator                 
  • Green: Sufficient battery.
  • Blinking green: Charging the battery.
  • Red: Low battery.
  1. Power button
  2. Micro USB port
  3. Signal indicator

Green: Strong signal.

Orange: Weak signal.

Red: No signal.

SSID and Wireless Network Encryption Key


When a Wi-Fi device establishes a connection to the Mobile WiFi for the first time, you may need to enter the default Service Set Identifier (SSID) and wireless network encryption key.

The default SSID and encryption key are printed on the Mobile WiFi label.

Charging the Battery


  • If the Mobile WiFi has not been used for a long time or if the battery is fully depleted, the Mobile WiFi may not power on immediately after the charger is plugged in. Please charge the battery for a while before attempting to power on the Mobile WiFi.
  • Method: Use the charger to charge the device or connect to computer
  • Note: Use of an incompatible charger or one from an unknown manufacturer may cause the Mobile WiFi to malfunction, fail, or could even cause a fire. Such use voids all warranties, whether expressed or implied, on the product.

Connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi

Step 1: Turn on the Mobile WiFi

Press and hold the power button until indicator lights up, indicating that the Mobile WiFi is turned on.


Step 2: Establish a Wi-Fi connection (using a computer running the Windows 7 operating system as an example)

  1. Ensure that the Wi-Fi function is enabled.
  2. Select Start > Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Connect to a network.
  3. Select the wireless network connection with the Mobile WiFi’s SSID and click Connect.

If the wireless network connection is encrypted, enter the correct wireless network encryption key. z The default SSID and encryption key are printed on the Mobile WiFi’s label.

  1. Wait a moment for the wireless network connection icon to appear in the system tray in the lower right corner of the computer screen. The wireless network connection is then established.

Step 3: Connect to the Internet

If data is transmitted, the Mobile WiFi will automatically connect to the Internet. If data is not transmitted for a period of time, the Mobile WiFi will automatically disconnect from the network connection.

Battery Saving Mode

If the Mobile WiFi has been inactive for some time, it enters the standby mode and all the indicators are off. Pressing the power button causes the indicators to light up.

When the Mobile WiFi is being powered only by the battery, you can choose to enable or disable the automatic Wi-Fi off function. If this function is enabled and if no Wi-Fi devices access the Mobile WiFi for a period of time, the Wi-Fi turns off automatically. You can press the power button to turn the Wi-Fi on again.

Example: Connecting to a Tablet Computer (for example, iPad) through Wi-Fi


  1. Touch Settings > Wi-Fi to turn on Wi-Fi.
  2. The tablet computer automatically searches for wireless connections and displays a list of access points.
  3. Select the access point with the Mobile WiFi’s SSID.
  4. If required, enter the correct wireless network encryption key, and tap Join.

(The lock icon indicates that the encryption key is required to connect to this wireless network.)

Note: Wi-Fi devices, such as an iPhone, iPod touch, PS3 and NDSi, can all access the Internet through the Mobile WiFi.


When the Mobile WiFi is in use for an extended period of time, it will become warm and may overheat. Should this happen, the Mobile WiFi will automatically close the network connection and turn off to protect itself from damage. If this occurs, place the Mobile WiFi in a well-ventilated space to allow the heat to dissipate, then turn it on and continue to use it as normal.

If you are unable to use the Mobile WiFi as normal, try the following:

Restart the Mobile WiFi.

Please contact us:

4G Pocket wifi your best traveling companions. Stayed connected with family and friends during  the trip.

If you  have more questions, please visit our