Stop roaming while traveling

Are you tired of paying rocky international roaming fee?

Or want to keep your previous phone card instead of buying a local phone card.

Pocwifi provides a mobile Wifi modem for international travelers to solve those confusion.

Pocwifi’s mission is to help our customers enjoy mobile Wi-Fi anytime & anywhere.

Now Pocwifi has upgrade  3G mobile Wi-Fi.service to 4G  mobile Wi-Fi service.

pocwifi-4g-with-letter

With our mobile Wi-Fi hotspot you can easily link your tablet, laptop, smartphone or games console to the web when you’re on the move.

There’s an unlimited data allowance and absolutely no roaming charges leaving you free to surf, Skype, download and play, without the worry of a big bill.

Enjoy your holiday with our mobile Wi-Fi.

Let us see the fantastic new Huawei mobile device together.

Design

It has a fairly plain design, as it’s just a small block of white plastic. However, it’s also very compact at just 84 x 58 x 15mm. It could stand to be slimmer but it’s easily pocket sized, so carrying it

around with you isn’t a problem. It’s not an ugly device by any means, but it is functional rather than stylish.

It lacks any sort of display, so you can’t get detailed battery or system information from the device itself, but LED indicators give you an idea of battery life and connectivity status.

huawei-9

Setup and performance

As we’ve got the initial setup out of the way, you can connect other devices to it with a single tap.

That’s great as it takes all the hassle out of getting laptops, tablets and other electronics online and makes them as useful when out and about as they are in the home or office.

optus-1

 

Whether for work or play that makes the it a great asset, as you can bring new life to your Wi-Fi-only electronics when you’re travelling or away from home.

If you have to commute to work or spend much time in the great outdoors, wishing you could get online.

Battery

The battery is just 1500 mAh and it’s only good for around 4-6 hours of use, so this isn’t a device that you can stay connected to all day sadly.

If you want to keeping using it, we suggest you bring a power bank with you.

On a more positive note it does at least last for up to 300 hours on standby, so there’s no danger of it running down while you’re not using it.

optus7

Features

This Mobile Wi-Fi can connect to up to 10 devices at once, so your friends, family or colleagues can make use of it as well.

That’s a hugely useful feature. You could for example keep your kids entertained in the car, by allowing them all to connect to it, or save the day if Wi-Fi goes down in the office.

optus-5

Conclusion

The Mobile Wi-Fi does just one thing, namely gets other Wi-Fi enabled devices connected to 4G when out and about.

It does it well though for the most part, with simple one-touch connections, a small, pocket friendly design, speedy 4G, a handy smartphone app and the ability to connect up to 10 devices at once.

Only USD 8.99/Day
Easy Pick up at Australia and New Zealand Airport.
Book now at Pocwifi with unlimited data.

Try some world’s best street food

It has often been said that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and for those of us who live to eat, street food is the key.

Sampling roadside treats is a travel experience you can’t miss, and many travelers would attest that it’s one of the best and most affordable ways to get acquainted with a foreign country.

To taste the best street food that the world has to offer, journey to these culinary capitals:

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok street food

Fruit seller at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok, Thailand.

The future of Bangkok’s street food was a cause for concern recently when it was reported in media outlets that the city’s authorities planned to ban street vendors.

Locals and tourists alike were worried that this spelled the end of Bangkok’s illustrious reputation as one the world’s best cities to enjoy street food.

Luckily, it was later clarified that the ban would only apply to major roadways and tourist areas, and that street vendors would be moved to designated areas. Phew.

Yaowarat Road, home to the city’s Chinatown, is known as the epicenter of Bangkok’s street food and a must-visit. If you’re looking to try old-school Thai street food, you’ll find it in Bangkok’s Old Town at Banglamphu. For more high-end (read: gourmet) options, check out the areas of Sukhumvit and Silom.

If you’re wandering around any of the popular street markets, such as Chatuchak Weekend Market and Rot Fai Market Ratchada, there will be plenty of food stalls for you to choose from.

Try these: Grilled fish (pla pao), papaya salad (som tam), marinated meat skewers, pad thai noodles, Thai crepe (khanom bueang).

 

2. Marrakesh, Morocco

There’s a lot more to Moroccan food than just tagines, which you will discover while exploring the streets of Marrakesh.

The city’s crowded main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, will have lots of street food options, but if you want to know the best places to go, just follow the locals.

Try these: Pastilla (pigeon pie), bocadillo (a variety of meat, fish, potatoes, veggies, and condiments served on a plate or in a sandwich), msemen (buttery, flaky Morroccan flatbread), harira (noodle soup with tomatoes, lentils, and chickpeas), chebakia (sesame cookie covered in molasses), snail soup.

 

3. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong street food

The famous egg waffle, a popular treat in Hong Kong.

You know a city means business when it comes to street food when the Michelin Guide decides to include a section dedicated to street food for the first time ever.

And that’s precisely what happened in Hong Kong – the city has far too many good eats out on the streets to overlook.

In fact, the city has an impressive 23 street food stalls featured in the guide, narrowed down from what is an undoubtedly competitive field.

Take a stroll around Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, or Temple Street Night Market to enjoy some of the city’s best roadside cuisine.

Try these: Curry fish balls, deep-fried squid tentacles, soup-filled dumplings (xiao long bao), egg tarts, egg waffles, pineapple bun (bor lor bao).

 

4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s second largest city is famous for many things beginning with “S”: sun, surf, sand, soccer, and samba, for instance. But for many visitors, they tend to fall in love with one “S” in particular: street food.

The country’s national cuisine is an interesting blend of indigenous, European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern influences, and you’ll be able to find them everywhere.

Your best bet for some snacks is where everyone flocks to: the beach. Rio’s top beaches are Ipanema Beach and Copacabana Beach.

Besides that, on the first Saturday of each month, Rua do Lavradio in downtown Lapahosts a popular fair, which has its share of street vendors selling yummy eats.

Try these: Acaraje (black-eyed peas and shrimp fritters), pastel (deep-fried pastry, often filled with meat and cheese), coxinha (savory dough shaped into a drumstick around a creamy chicken filling), tapioca (crispy, fried crepe made of cassava flour and shredded coconut).

 

5. London, United Kingdom

London street food

Hot dog stall at Camden Market in London, United Kingdom.

Being as multicultural as it is, it’s no surprise that London is home to a diverse range of cuisines from all around the world.

Alongside the traditional fish and chips fried to crispy perfection at your local chippie, you can also find international dishes given their own little British twist, such as burritos stuffed with tender beef brisket slow-cooked in cola and vegetarian korma with summer vegetables and cashew.

You can easily have a feast by visiting any of the city’s famed markets, such as Camden Market, Borough Market, and Portobello Road Market.

Try these: Unusual fusion dishes (e.g., a Mexican tortilla filled with Korean bulgogi braised ox cheek), gourmet toasties (toasted sandwiches), slow-cooked meat piled inside a bread roll (known locally as a “bap”).

 

6. Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia’s northern island state of Penang is known around the world as a food haven, as both locals and travelers can’t seem to get enough of its specialty dishes.

The state’s capital of Georgetown, which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage City, is where you’ll find all the goods, particularly at Gurney Drive Hawker Center and Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls.

Try these: Assam laksa (noodles in fish and tamarind-based soup), char kuey teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles), mee goreng mamak (spicy fried yellow noodles), pasembur (snack consisting of shredded cucumber and turnip, topped with prawn fritters, potatoes, beancurd, and a spicy sauce).

 

7. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul street food

Simli, a bagel-like bread encrusted with sesame that’s a favorite among locals in Turkey.

Turkey is where East meets West, and its unique cuisine manages to bring the best of both worlds together.

Hungry after wandering the bustling streets of Istanbul and visiting its star attractions such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace? Then head over to the neighborhoods of Karakoy or Eminonu, both located on either end of Galata Bridge, to sample some of the city’s best street food.

Try these: Simit (bagel-like bread encrusted with sesame seeds), balik ekmek (grilled fish sandwich), durum (flatbread wrap filled with minced meat and veggies), borek (savory pastry filled with cheese and spinach), kofte (grilled meatballs, often made from lamb).

 

8. Mumbai, India

Visit Mumbai’s khau gallis (eat streets) to get a taste of what the locals eat on a daily basis or take an evening stroll down Juhu Beach, where the food stalls will beckon you with their lights and smells.

If you want to strike two birds with one stone, drop by Bhendi Bazaar or Crawford Market, both popular hotspots for street food, where you can also get some shopping done.

Try these: Pav bhaji (thick vegetable curry served with a soft bread roll), vada pav (deep-fried potato patty served between a bread roll), pani puri (crispy fried ball stuffed with potato, onion, chickpeas, and coriander chutney, then drenched in sour and spicy mint water), Bombay sandwich.

 

9. Berlin, Germany

Berlin street food

The ubiquitous currywurst.

There’s far more to Berlin’s street food scene than your typical market – it’s home to pop-up food stalls and shiny food trucks. Similar to London, Berlin’s melting pot of cultures mean you can get special, localized takes on world cuisine.

Thursdays have become synonymous with chowing down for Berliners, thanks to Street Food Thursday, the city’s biggest and most popular street food congregation. It takes place at Markthalle Neun in the popular borough of Kreuzberg.

If you’re in town on a Friday night, be sure to drop by Bite Club, which features some of the city’s favorite street food vendors. While it’s usually held on Friday evenings, the event doesn’t have a fixed location, so you should definitely check their Facebook page.

Try these: Currywurst (German sausage dusted with curry powder) at Curry 36, gemüse kebap (basically a kebab wrap) at Mustafa’s, chicken tikka naanwich at Chai Wallahs.

 

10. Singapore

Singapore keeps a tight ship, so you won’t see much street food vendors on the streets like you would in the other cities on this list.

Instead, they’re located at designated areas, known as food centers. Some of the must-visit food centers are Chinatown Food Street, Maxwell Road Food Center, Old Airport Road Food Center, and Tiong Bahru Hawker Center.

Try these: Hainanese chicken rice, fried carrot cake, satay, bah kut teh (meat bone broth), sambal stingray (grilled stingray served with spicy sambal paste), wanton mee, chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll, served with prawn paste sauce).

 

11. Osaka, Japan

Osaka street food

Takoyaki, Japan’s most popular street food.

They say come to Tokyo for the sights, Kyoto for the culture, and Osaka for the food. Back in the feudal Edo period, the city was known as tenka no daidokoro, or “the nation’s kitchen”; though at the time, it was due to its position as the center of Japan’s rice trade.

Now, however, it has transformed into a foodie’s paradise. Osaka’s vibrant Dotonbori area (with the iconic Glico Man signboard) is chock full of various kinds of street food to tempt your taste buds.

Try these: Takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes with cabbage and a variety of fillings), kushikatsu (deep-fried meat/veggie skewers), ikayaki (grilled squid topped with soy sauce), yakitori (grilled meat skewers), oden (fishcakes, daikon, konjac, etc. stewed in soy-flavoured dashi broth).

 

12. Portland, USA

Recognized as the USA’s hipster central, Portland also happens to have some of the best street food offerings inspired by dishes from around the world.

Its street food vendors operate from small clusters of food carts, known as “pods”, the largest one being the Alder Street Food Cart Pod.

Some other food cart pods you can head to are Cartlandia, Mississippi Marketplace, and Cartopia.

Try these: Artisanal sandwiches, pizza, salmon tacos, Norwegian lefse wraps, barbequed or slow-cooked meats.

 

13. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City street food

Tacos al pastor – you can’t stop at just one!

In Mexico City, you won’t find it difficult to come across street food – just follow your nose. Street food vendors can be found along most major streets, selling anything from beverages and light snacks to full meals.

Make like a chilango (local) and venture around the city’s tianguis (open-air markets), such Bazar El Oro or Tianguis Napoles, where you can sample freshly-made dishes.

Try these: Tamales (corn dough wrapped in a corn husk and steamed), tlacoyos (thick, oval-shaped corn dough tortillas stuffed with beans, cheese, and meat), tacos al pastor (corn tortillas filled with spit-grilled meat), atole (a traditional hot corn-based beverage), torta (Mexican sandwich), tostada (deep-fried corn tortillas with a mountain of toppings).

 

14. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is no doubt Vietnam’s food capital. Some of its best street food stalls are clustered at Van Kiep Street, Su Van Hanh Street, and Vinh Khanh Street, filled with stalls brimming with bubbling, sizzling dishes.

Soupy dishes are a staple in the Vietnamese diet, so if you love steaming bowls of noodles dunked in flavorsome broth, then you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Even former U.S. President Barack Obama has given it a thumbs up – so what are you waiting for?

Try these: Bahn mi (a crusty baguette stuffed with a variety of meat and veggies), pho (rice noodles in soup topped with beef or chicken), bun rieu (noodles served in a flavorful broth made from crab stock and tomatoes), banh trang tron (shredded rice paper tossed with chili sauce, Vietnamese coriander, basil, and pieces of squid, salty fish, and quail eggs).

 

15. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul street food

Gyeran-bbang, Korean egg bread.

Although Seoul is ranked as one of the most expensive cities to live in, there’s still cheap food aplenty to be found on its streets.

One of the more popular places for locals to satisfy their street food cravings is at the nearest pojangmacha – mobile eateries that are usually set under a tent to protect customers from the elements. So if you’re looking for an authentic experience, sit yourself down on a plastic stool.

You should also try the cornucopia of treats awaiting for you at Gwangjang Market orMyeongdong Food Street.

Try these: Hotteok (sweet griddle cakes filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and pine nuts), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), bindaetteok (savory mung bean pancake), mandu (dumplings), gyeran-bbang (egg bread), kimbap (rice rolls), Korean fried chicken.

_____

Have we piqued your appetite? Satisfy those cravings and book a trip to any of these cities with Pocwifi today!

Hansim. (25th May, 2017).  The Ultimate New Zealand Bucket List. Retrieved from http://www.dangerous-business.com/2015/03/the-ultimate-new-zealand-bucket-list/.

 

DOES TRAVEL HAVE TO STOP ONCE YOU HAVE KIDS?

I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me. I had a small baby bump poking through my sky blue singlet and ran into someone I knew on the street.

“Oh well. Looks like the travel is over for you now.”

I just stared blankly at them.

“Why?”

I can’t remember their response, nor anyone else’s. I’m sure it had something to do with status quo, fear, and a lack of awareness of the strength of your own inner power to create your dream no matter what.

Travel with Kids
on our family trip in New Zealand. Savannah was 8 weeks old
I received comments like that for the remainder of my pregnancy. And the next one, despite the fact that my first child had her first plane flight at 3 months old, her first overseas trip at 6 months old, and her first international relocation at 9 months old.

Once again determined to prove them wrong, our second child, Savannah had her first flight at 6 weeks old and her first overseas trip at 8 weeks old.

They’re both now 9 and 5 and between them have visited 8 countries, completed an 18-monthh road trip of Australia and have now started a similar epic road trip across the USA.

Don’t let anyone tell you can’t travel with kids, or that it’s too hard.

We want parenting to be more than just surviving the motions of each day, but really thriving as a family unit experiencing life together.

Kayaking in the Town of 1770 - Queensland, Australia

Fears will never go away, but you can learn to master them.

I have many fears when it comes to traveling with my kids.

Will they hate it? Will I hate it? What if we run out of money? What if they get sick? What about catching dodgy public transport in some countries? What if they get too close to the water’s edge and a croc snaps them up? What if we visit xxx in the middle of a terrorist attack or war?

The truth is all of these things can happen whether you are traveling or not.

You can plan and prepare for them.

You are more powerful than your fears and doubts have you believe and anything is possible. You know that already.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO MAKE FAMILY TRAVEL A REALITY

Family travel tips Snorkeling Big Island HAwaii

1. Prioritize for it

The first step is to prioritise. When we prioritise things we are far more likely to create them as a reality.

How important is travel to you? Why do you want to continue to make it a reality? What challenges do you envision in doing so? How can you plan for and overcome these?

2. Research and learn

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (1)

How are others managing to travel with their kids? One of my most empowering mantras I’ve used to create the life I want is, ‘if someone else can do it I can too.’

I travel with my kids frequently, that’s proof you can too. There are many people doing it, there’s more proof. Research and learn how they make it work. They’ll help you learn the tips and the strategies and how to make it a reality for you.

We have a family travel planning toolkit to help you get started.

3. Create a money plan

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (2)

I know! You can’t travel without money, right? This always seems to be the biggest barrier to travel. I’ve never really travelled with a lot of money saved, but I’ve always believed in my power to create the money I’ve needed for my dream.

I started traveling when I was 21 and slipped right into working in other countries. This gave me the money I needed and the travel I desired.

I still work and travel, but this time I have my own portable business. There are so many ways you can creatively earn the money you want for travel, as well as save money for travel, and find cheap deals on the road.

4. Start small, slow and local

Family Travel Waikiki Beach Hawaii

Traveling slow and local will be best for your wallet and your stress levels. Take your travel mindset and apply it to life with your children in your home region.

Get used to traveling together by exploring unknown areas in your hometown. See it through a traveler’s eyes. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll feel like you’re traveling and how comfortable you’ll quickly get traveling with each other. You’ll soon start to realize that travel with kids is not so hard and you can do it after all.

When you’re comfortable, stretch out that zone a little more by taking a trip a little further away, and then keep stretching it until you hit the overseas comfort zone.

The more you practice and love it, the more you’ll prioritize to make it a consistent reality.

5. Focus on the gift

Travel with kids Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Hawaii

Roll with the punches, don’t stress about what to pack and everything that can possibly go wrong. That’s causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety. I know you’re smart enough to figure it out as you go along. It’s no different to when you traveled on your own, there are just a couple of extra people now.

Treasure the memories and focus on the gift of spending amazing moments together. They go too fast and you want something to look back on to remember the years with your children by.

Nothing gives greater joy, nor reward than travel.

My belief is that parenting is hard, no matter where you are or how you choose to live your life. The only difference between living a life without travel to one with is what you feel the parts in between the challenges with.

A normal life is filled with running your kids here there and everywhere, releasing them to school, managing the household tasks, and trying to fit some fun in between.

When you travel those ordinary moments turn into extraordinary ones spent exploring, discovering, relaxing, connecting and having fun.

Now you’re creating incredible memories together. You’re tightening your family bond, you’re getting to know your children on a deeper level, and as you watch them grow you’re not left wondering where the years went by. You lived each one with them fully.

 

I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me. I had a small baby bump poking through my sky blue singlet and ran into someone I knew on the street.

“Oh well. Looks like the travel is over for you now.”

I just stared blankly at them.

“Why?”

I can’t remember their response, nor anyone else’s. I’m sure it had something to do with status quo, fear, and a lack of awareness of the strength of your own inner power to create your dream no matter what.

Travel with Kids
on our family trip in New Zealand. Savannah was 8 weeks old

I received comments like that for the remainder of my pregnancy. And the next one, despite the fact that my first child had her first plane flight at 3 months old, her first overseas trip at 6 months old, and her first international relocation at 9 months old.

Once again determined to prove them wrong, our second child, Savannah had her first flight at 6 weeks old and her first overseas trip at 8 weeks old.

They’re both now 9 and 5 and between them have visited 8 countries, completed an 18-monthh road trip of Australia and have now started a similar epic road trip across the USA.

Don’t let anyone tell you can’t travel with kids, or that it’s too hard.

We want parenting to be more than just surviving the motions of each day, but really thriving as a family unit experiencing life together.

Kayaking in the Town of 1770 - Queensland, Australia

Fears will never go away, but you can learn to master them.

I have many fears when it comes to traveling with my kids.

Will they hate it? Will I hate it? What if we run out of money? What if they get sick? What about catching dodgy public transport in some countries? What if they get too close to the water’s edge and a croc snaps them up? What if we visit xxx in the middle of a terrorist attack or war?

The truth is all of these things can happen whether you are traveling or not.

You can plan and prepare for them.

You are more powerful than your fears and doubts have you believe and anything is possible. You know that already.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO MAKE FAMILY TRAVEL A REALITY

Family travel tips Snorkeling Big Island HAwaii

1. Prioritize for it

The first step is to prioritise. When we prioritise things we are far more likely to create them as a reality.

How important is travel to you? Why do you want to continue to make it a reality? What challenges do you envision in doing so? How can you plan for and overcome these?

2. Research and learn

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (1)

How are others managing to travel with their kids? One of my most empowering mantras I’ve used to create the life I want is, ‘if someone else can do it I can too.’

I travel with my kids frequently, that’s proof you can too. There are many people doing it, there’s more proof. Research and learn how they make it work. They’ll help you learn the tips and the strategies and how to make it a reality for you.

We have a family travel planning toolkit to help you get started.

3. Create a money plan

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (2)

I know! You can’t travel without money, right? This always seems to be the biggest barrier to travel. I’ve never really travelled with a lot of money saved, but I’ve always believed in my power to create the money I’ve needed for my dream.

I started traveling when I was 21 and slipped right into working in other countries. This gave me the money I needed and the travel I desired.

I still work and travel, but this time I have my own portable business. There are so many ways you can creatively earn the money you want for travel, as well as save money for travel, and find cheap deals on the road.

4. Start small, slow and local

Family Travel Waikiki Beach Hawaii

Traveling slow and local will be best for your wallet and your stress levels. Take your travel mindset and apply it to life with your children in your home region.

Get used to traveling together by exploring unknown areas in your hometown. See it through a traveler’s eyes. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll feel like you’re traveling and how comfortable you’ll quickly get traveling with each other. You’ll soon start to realize that travel with kids is not so hard and you can do it after all.

When you’re comfortable, stretch out that zone a little more by taking a trip a little further away, and then keep stretching it until you hit the overseas comfort zone.

The more you practice and love it, the more you’ll prioritize to make it a consistent reality.

5. Focus on the gift

Travel with kids Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Hawaii

Roll with the punches, don’t stress about what to pack and everything that can possibly go wrong. That’s causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety. I know you’re smart enough to figure it out as you go along. It’s no different to when you traveled on your own, there are just a couple of extra people now.

Treasure the memories and focus on the gift of spending amazing moments together. They go too fast and you want something to look back on to remember the years with your children by.

Nothing gives greater joy, nor reward than travel.

My belief is that parenting is hard, no matter where you are or how you choose to live your life. The only difference between living a life without travel to one with is what you feel the parts in between the challenges with.

A normal life is filled with running your kids here there and everywhere, releasing them to school, managing the household tasks, and trying to fit some fun in between.

When you travel those ordinary moments turn into extraordinary ones spent exploring, discovering, relaxing, connecting and having fun.

Now you’re creating incredible memories together. You’re tightening your family bond, you’re getting to know your children on a deeper level, and as you watch them grow you’re not left wondering where the years went by. You lived each one with them fully.

Rent a portable wifi router at Pocwifi, to start your family exploring at New Zealand.

CAZ. (28th March, 2017).   Does Travel  Have To Stop Once You Have Kids. Retrieved from https://www.ytravelblog.com/stop-travel-with-kids/.

365 Days.5 Continents.35 Countries.

Last year, Sydney-siders Meg and Nick Wall made a momentous decision – to travel the world for all of 2017. That’s 35 countries, five continents and 365 days. They saved and sacrificed, sold their stuff, packed up their lives and left their jobs.

“We found responsibility and work constraints were really hindering the amount of time we could spend in places, so we agreed a 12-month trip would be best,” says Meg, a high school teacher.

“We committed to sacrificing our normal life to see as much of the world as possible, which was actually a lot harder of a decision than it may seem.”

Nick and Meg Wall with the Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach in the background.
Nick and Meg Wall enjoying the sights on their world tour. Image: Nick & Meg Wall

Making things easier was Flight Centre Warriewood travel expert Jamie Anderson, who introduced the couple to the concept of a round-the-world ticket and helped fine-tune their holiday.

Jamie says it’s a pleasure working with the couple.

“It was not your everyday round-the-world trip. It took a bit of time but it was very satisfying doing it, and I was kind of reliving my own past travels and experiences,” he says.

“I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, and I’ve travelled to 70-odd countries. I love all the adventure stuff and off-the-beaten track countries. It was an absolute pleasure putting all their dreams together.”

We caught up with Meg, who is now nearly halfway through their epic trip, to find out how their ‘Wall-ies World Tour’ is going.

What made you decide to travel around the world for all of 2017?

We decided to see as many places as possible in 2017 to fulfil our lifelong love and passion for travel.

How did you prepare?

We made a list of all the places we’d ever wanted to go and cut it down to an achievable amount given our available time and budget. We spent hours reading blogs, travel magazines and talking to like-minded people.

Along with this research came a serious saving plan, including downsizing our rental apartment and going without a lot of the luxuries we’d gotten used to when we graduated uni. We also had to mentally prepare to live out of a bag, not see our family and friends for a year and put our careers on hold.

What is your itinerary?

Our itinerary is split into five continents. We started in Canada – Montreal with friends for Christmas – before flying to Colombia, sailing up through the San Blas Islands and backpacking through all of Central America, including Cuba.

A striking artwork dominates one wall of a cafe in Cuba.A dose of vibrant culture in a Cuban cafe. Image: Meg & Nick Wall

From Mexico, it’s on to North America to explore the national parks and west coast in a campervan. From there we head to Madrid to explore Europe, Morocco and Turkey.

We then fly from London to Egypt to explore Egypt and Jordan on a tour. We then free-style through Israel before flying to Sri Lanka.

After a fortnight of island life, we go to China and Hong Kong before heading home to Sydney on December 19.

What do you pack?

Packing for four seasons and an entire year of diverse cultural expectations was one of the most challenging parts of preparing for this trip. Nick chucked three pairs of boardies and six shirts in his bag and was ready. In saying that, Nick also carries all of our electronics, of which there is quite a lot.

Meanwhile, I tediously laboured over the co-ordination of trendy clothing combined with comfortable, travel-suitable clothing. I ended up going basic with the knowledge that before the Middle East I can swap out my central American/Mediterranean clothing for maxi dresses from home when my parents visit us in Croatia.

My packing list is pretty extensive, albeit plain and boring – but I did squeeze luxury items into my bag: my favourite cleanser (a couple of bottles) from home and also some pretty dresses and skirts that take up a fair amount of room. I still find myself largely under-dressed everywhere we go – it consistently puzzles me how so many people manage such trendy styles when travelling, RESPECT!

Do you buy any souvenirs? What kind?

I tend to avoid souvenirs, even before our year-long trip. However, if I find something quirky or cool I will buy it. This time I have a beautiful Guatemalan pillowcase that was given to me as a gift and a gorgeous, handcrafted handbag from a Mayan cultural support group co-op.

A woman sells colourful handcrafted bags and textiles in a market stall in Guatemala.Souvenirs in Guatemala are hard to resist. Image: Meg & Nick Wall

I also bought some jade and silver from Mexico and El Salvador. I also have a shell bracelet from Nicaragua. I tend to buy things that I can wear and don’t have to carry.

Mostly, I’m saving my souvenir shopping for Marrakesh and Turkey, where I have strategically planned to buy a floor mat and some crockery for home. It has been really hard to leave behind the gorgeous Mexican textiles that are sold everywhere! I will be ordering some online, for sure.

You’re nearly halfway through – what have you learned so far?

I think the most valuable lesson that travel teaches anyone is an appreciation and gratitude for life beyond owning stuff and things particularly at home. I’ve also learned the value of deep and meaningful relationships, including Nick and mine. Letting go of pent-up things that are out of my control has also been a difficult but meaningful learning curve for me.

What has been the best experience so far?

Wow, the great variety of experiences makes it so difficult for me to choose just one. So I have selected six! Haha – did I mention I’m indecisive?! Sailing from Cartagena to Panama though the San Blas Islands was seriously freeing and amazing – we also met 12 of the coolest people we could have ever hoped to meet.

Dog-sledding with our friends in -33C Quebec, Canada, was ridiculously surreal. Completing an overnight hike up Volcano Acatenango in Guatemala was difficult but worth it when we saw a lava explosion at midnight!

A woman climbs Acatenango volcano in Guatemala.Climbing the active Acatenango volcano in Guatemala. Image: Meg & Nick Wall

Snorkelling with grey nurse sharks on the Mayan reef off Caye Caulker, Belize, was breathtakingly beautiful; I never wanted that day to end. We spent a day partying at San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua – a notorious pool/pub crawl Sunday Funday, and it was every bit as trashy and awesome as we’d hoped.

More recently, we rode horses through the tobacco fields in Vinales Cuba; it was a new experience for us but such a good way to experience the beauty of the Vinales Valley.

Best meal?

Again – suuuuch a difficult question! I would have to say the fish tacos at our hotel in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. We found so many organic cafes along the way serving a range of salads, juices and delicious foods.

 

A woman enjoys fresh salads and juices at a cafe in Panama.Healthy salads and juices? Yes please! Image: Meg & Nick Wall

Again – I could list around 20 different amazing fresh meals. But in complete contrast Latin America is all about ’dem empandas – amiright?!

Best stay?

We’ve stayed in a variety of accommodation. Our best hostel stay has definitely been the Matiox in Antigua, Guatemala – this space was very clean and well thought out in terms of privacy and merging partying and relaxing.

Our favourite alternative type of stay was glamping at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala called Free Cerveza – aside from the free beers (WOO) at dinner the view of this volcanic crater lake were breathtaking.

 

Glamping tents on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.Glamping on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Image: Meg & Nick Wall

Our favourite hotel stay (aside from the Hilton in Quebec City) was definitely the Aqua Lounge Boutique Hotel in Puerto Escondido Mexico – we had kitchenette and privacy, plus the hotel boasts panoramic views of the Mexican Pipeline surf spot and a pool and restaurant. I also LOVED the casa home-stay-style accommodation in Cuba.

Favourite spot?

Hmmm… Colombia is the most amazing country, with beautiful, friendly people. I will also always have a soft spot for Montreal. We both love Los Angeles a lot purely for the familiarity of the sweet comforts of home.

People enjoy a dip in a cenote (waterhole) in Tulum, Mexico.A stunning cenote in Tulum, Mexico. Image: Meg & Nick Wall

But I think it’s a tie between Antigua, Guatemala, and Tulum, Mexico. Both stole my heart in terms of ‘having it all’ – good food, shopping, trendy cafes, historical ruins, natural beauty, great people and great weather. El Tunco in El Salvador was also such a rad little surf town.

Most surprising moment?

We have a lot of these every day, as our Spanish has not improved over the last four months. However, the most surprising moment was easily the first morning we woke up in Montreal to snow falling outside, we were super stoked.

Staircases of Montreal's terrace houses are covered in snow.Snowy Montreal is a dream landscape for Aussies. Image: Getty

We also did a fishing trip in Mexico only for the non-English-speaking guide to dive out of our boat and catch a huge turtle. That was a surprise.

Have you had any hiccups and how have you overcome them?

So many! Hiccups overseas tend to put big problems into perspective but they also mostly prove very costly. The most significant error we made was accidently booking a flight using my married surname rather than my maiden name (which is still on my passport).

We also had a situation on the border crossing from Nicaragua to El Salvador (via Honduras) where their computer system crashed, causing us to sit in a van for four hours in the middle of the night waiting for them to fix the problem. Not to mention the countless times ATMs have failed us!

Mostly, waiting and being patient and open-minded is enough to overcome hiccups – a smile also means help is easier to obtain – particularly in the land of ever-helpful Latin Americans.

How have you found travelling as a couple?

Honestly without sounding super corny and gross, it has been great for our relationship. Of course when times get tough (and they truly do) we bicker with each other. We also annoy each other immensely, especially when we’re bored – waiting for a plane or a train or a bus.

Mostly, though, we are an excellent team when travelling. Nick is very level-headed and rational while I can be quite emotional and empathetic. I am so grateful to have been able to have this experience with my husband and best friend.

How did Flight Centre Warriewood help?

We have booked all our travel over the past five years through Flight Centre Warriewood, specifically agent Jamie Anderson. He is the best!

While at first we were sceptical of travel agents, Jamie is a professional who has actually travelled extensively – his knowledge of places is unbeatable and he has always beaten what price we take to him. Jamie knows soooo much about the world and he never recommends anything he isn’t positive is awesome. I could not recommend his services more!

Jamie also introduced us to the concept of an around-the-world ticket, making this trip possible. And he spent countless hours with us fine-tuning our trip – he emails us regularly while we travel, keeping us updated and showing us he is tracking our movements. GO SEE HIM!

What is your best tip for like-minded travellers?

Just do it – take a weekend, a week, a fortnight, a month, a year. Do what you can to get a taste of this magnificent world we live in! If it feels right, why not?

Bring a mobile hotspot at Pocwifi to start your world tour.

Flight Center. (24th May, 2017).  This Aussie Couple Quit Their Jobs to Travel – Here’s What They’ve Learned So Far. Retrieved from http://www.flightcentre.com.au/travel-news/destinations/this-aussie-couple-quit-their-jobs-to-travel-full-time-heres-what-theyve?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=fcau_2017_mike_always-on_always-on_2017.06-2017.07_website-visit&cd_tactic=blog-post

Why You Should Travel with Your Partner Before Getting Serious

Travel brings out both the best and also the worst in people. If you want to discover all aspects of a person, instead of just what’s presented normally as one’s ‘best-self’, then you should embark on a trip together. Even more so when you’re about to commit to your partner for life, or are about to step into a new romantic relationship. There’s no better test than travel where you have to work with each other, constantly over waking hours, for few days, weeks or even years, as you traipse across foreign cities and lands.

I’d only known my husband, Chris, for two weeks before we traveled together. He was on his round-the-world trip while I had a full-time job in Singapore. We’d decided spontaneously with a few other friends to escape Singapore for the weekend, but the other friends dropped out at the very eleventh hour. We went anyway because we wanted to enjoy the sun and the sea, even if it was just for a night. That one seemingly insignificant trip turned out to be a catalyst for our relationship to blossom into a permanent one as time passed.

Here’s why you should travel with your partner before getting serious.

Planning (or none at all)

Planning (or none at all)

I love buying bus or flight tickets impulsively, but when I was working a full-time job, it wasn’t so easy. My traveling had to involve some sort of rough planning, so that I could optimise whatever time I had at my destination. When Chris and I decided to head to Tioman Island for the weekend, he was thoughtful enough to book ferry tickets and accommodation at Mersing where we’d spend a night before taking the earliest ferry out the next day. My job on the other hand was to look into bus schedules. We had tasks that needed doing and we had split it amongst us without fuss. He turned up at our meeting point punctually, with snacks and drinks – because he thought we might get hungry on the way. I was impressed and was glad that I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

This told me that Chris is a responsible person and can be trusted with tasks. He also respected my time and helped out in the planning since I was the one with a full-time job. A big part of any relationship is having a partner who can see the bigger picture, and who can step up to taking charge if needed.

Previously, I’ve had experience with travel buddies turning up late, or without the right travel document, or even worse, had left all the travel planning to me. Chris, on all accounts, was already a winner.

A test of patience

A test of patience

Travel plans don’t always turn out as how you envision them. There’s a good chance that life will throw you an unexpected curveball while you’re on the road: flight delays, bus breakdowns, a nasty fever, long queues, visas not granted, cockroaches crawling on your pillow and so on. In such a situation, you need your partner to be composed and unflustered. Even better when they can calm you down when you’re the one freaking out.

When Chris and I left Tioman and were at the Mersing bus station, we were told that the bus that was supposed to pick us up had broken down and would take about an hour to arrive. An hour turned into four, and Chris responded to the event in an utterly Zen manner. He never once lost his cool. He even made that 4 hours fly by like a breeze. That led me to the insight of…

How one deals with monotony

How one deals with monotony

I always thought that if two people can share a few ‘boring’ hours together, doing not much, without any other forms of entertainment or distraction, then there’s a foreseeable longevity in the relationship. After all, a long-term relationship isn’t about only about the highs, the amazingness and the awesomeness. A marriage is more than just a magical wedding or a romantic moment. It’s made up of many little boring, insignificant fragments of existence.

And at that very moment, despite being in that empty bus station, with no Internet connection and nothing interesting nearby to explore, we felt comfortable in each other’s presence. Sometimes we had a lot to talk about, and sometimes we didn’t, but we never felt awkward or bored. This, to me, was a significant building block to a long-lasting relationship.

And I was right. After so many journeys taken and moving to so many countries together, here we are, still enjoying each other’s company without needing much.

Problem-solve your way out

Problem-solve your way out

How does your partner solve a problem? Does he or she complain and lament, or does he or she tackle it head on? Does he help you out financially if you just got pick-pocketed and lost all your valuables? Does she blame you when the way that you suggested resulted in getting lost?

Traveling is the perfect way to see how your significant other reacts to problems. It is the perfect team-building exercise you need before  making the ultimate commitment.

The Art of Compromise

The Art of Compromise

Chris is German while I’m Malaysian. We both don’t always share the same interests or curiosities. He enjoys doing things, while I enjoy sitting back and observing things. I like to have three warm meals a day while he can get through the day with just sandwiches. A sandwich for dinner? No way!

It gets annoying sometimes, when I want to sleep in and he wants to go out, but travel challenges us to make a decision that we both can agree on. And a large part of relationships involves compromise. Travel teaches you to live with each other’s flaws and differences, so you can put aside your disagreements for a while, and appreciate the fact that you’re both in a foreign country catching a beautiful sunset together.

If you squabble about dinner plans, you might miss that sunset.

How someone spends their money and who’s paying what

Is your partner calculative and always splitting every bill down to the middle? Or are they generous and easygoing? Also, what are they willing to spend their money on? A luxurious hotel room over great food? Or on a rental car over public transportation?

Seeing how your partner deals with their finances during travel is not only a great way to decide if he or she is someone who throws away money on things or is too stingy, but also a brilliant way to gauge their values and see if they match with yours.

Chris and I, for example, are happy to endure long bus rides. With the money saved, we’d spend it on food instead.

How someone spends their money and who’s paying what

At the end of the day, traveling with your partner isn’t just about challenging each other’s limits; it’s also about the awesome stuff too.

Just knowing that your partner is not only someone who will watch the stars with you, but also someone who’s got your back, and someone with whom you can laugh over setbacks and hardships, will help cement your relationship like no other situation can.

Travel with your parter and share the happy moment  by renting a mobile wifi at Pocwifi.

Tey Kher Ying. (14th July, 2016).Why You Should Travel with Your Partner Before Getting Serious. Retrieved from https://blog.traveloka.com/en/travel-partner-getting-serious/.

Such great heights: 15 jaw-dropping views you can only experience from above

1. Bagan, Myanmar

Plains of Bagan

Source: Shutterstock.com

The Plain of Temples in Bagan was once home to over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries. Presently, there are only around 2,200 temples and pagodas remaining in the Bagan Archaeological Zone. For the best view of the sprawling ancient city, visitors will often jump on a hot air balloon.

Best time to visit: Between November and February

 

2. Underwater Waterfall, Mauritius

Underwater Waterfall Mauritius

Source: Shutterstock.com

Located at the southwestern tip of Mauritius, the ‘underwater waterfall’ appears to break the laws of physics – the keyword here being “appears”.

When seen from above, a runoff of sand and silt deposits off the ocean shelf down to the depths below creates the illusion of a cascade of water below the ocean’s surface. So it’s actually an underwater ‘sandfall’. Pretty neat, don’t you think?

Best time to visit: Between May and December

 

3. Lysefjord, Norway

Lysefjord

Source: Shutterstock.com

For an awe-inspiring view of a Norwegian fjord in the summer, hike up to the famous Pulpit Rock (pictured above). The rock shelf extends some 30 meters from the mountain and sits just over 600 meters above Lysefjord, offering a majestic panorama for miles around.

Best time to visit: Between June and August

 

4. Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia

Source: Shutterstock.com

Almost all visitors will agree that the best way to see this whimsical landscape filled with unusual rock formations is by catching a hot air balloon in time to see the sunrise. As the sun’s rays gradually spread across the vast valley, you’ll think you’ve landed on another planet altogether.

Best time to visit: Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to November)

 

5. White Horses of Wiltshire, England

Westbury White Horse

Paraglider flying near Westbury White Horse in Wiltshire County, United Kingdom. Source: Richard Sheppard / Shutterstock.com

Scattered across the rolling hills of Wiltshire county in southwest England, you’ll spot several large white horses carved into the hillside. The oldest among them is the Westbury White Horse (pictured above), located on Westbury Hill, Bratton Down. It’s believed to have been made in 1778.

Best time to visit: Between April and October

 

6. Great Blue Hole, Belize

Great Blue Hole Belize

Source: Shutterstock.com

If you’re into scuba diving, then the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize must be on your bucket list.

The giant underwater sinkhole lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, and its turquoise blue waters is home to a variety of marine life, such as the Midnight Parrotfish and the Caribbean reef shark.

Best time to visit: Between April and June

 

7. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia

Victoria Falls

Source: Shutterstock.com

Set at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is the world’s largest sheet of falling water, spanning more than a kilometer with a height of over 100 meters. At the height of the rainy season, the Zambezi River’s water levels will swell, creating a spectacular rush over the precipice.

Best time to visit: Between December and March

 

8. Salzkammergut, Austria

Salzkammergut

Aerial view from Schafberg peak. Source: Shutterstock.com

Do you remember that iconic scene in ‘The Sound of Music’ where Maria (played by the incomparable Julie Andrews) sang on the hilltop, surrounded by the stunning beauty of Austria’s lush valleys and rugged peaks?

It was actually filmed right here in Salzkammergut. Ride the Schafberg Mountain Railway from St. Wolfgang to get an unforgettable view of the lake region from the summit.

Best time to visit: July or September

 

9. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay

Aerial view of floating villages around Cat Ba island, the largest of the 366 islands which make up the southeastern edge of Ha Long Bay. Source: Jimmy Tran / Shutterstock.com

Ha Long Bay’s striking limestone karsts, spread out across jade green waters, is one of Vietnam’s most recognized sights. Its name means “Bay of Descending Dragons” –according to local legend, the gods sent dragons down to Earth to help the Vietnamese defend against Chinese invaders. Afterwards, the dragons decided to remain and the place where the mother dragon descended is now known as Ha Long.

Hitch a ride on a seaplane to get a bird’s-eye view of remote fishing villages and islands.

Best time to visit: Spring (March, April) and Fall (September, October)

 

10. Horseshoe Bend, USA

Horseshoe Bend

Source: Shutterstock.com

Horseshoe Bend is a distinctive horseshoe-shaped corner of the Colorado River that has become a popular tourist stop, thanks to its unparalleled view overlooking Glen Canyon.

The hike up to Horseshoe Bend Outlook is an easy one, but the reward is immeasurable, as you try to wrap your head around the millions of years it took to create the remarkable landmark. Visitors will often flock there in the late afternoon to catch the sunset.

Best time to visit: All year around

 

11. Zhangye Danxia Landform, China

Zhangye Danxia Landform

Source: Shutterstock.com

Candyland is real, guys – and it’s in China! Just kidding…The Zhangye Danxia Landform may be candy-colored, but unfortunately, it doesn’t taste like candy.

Its slopes are a unique kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and oranges, which can be viewed from four platforms spread out across the park.

Best time to visit: Between June and September

 

12. Spoorbuurt tulip fields, Holland

Spoorbuurt tulip fields

Source: Shutterstock.com

Holland is best known for its vibrant tulip season in the spring, but to get a different view of its tulip fields, you’ll need to get high – up in the sky, we mean. Below, you’ll see multicolored strips of blooms cutting striking designs into the Dutch countryside.

Best time to visit: Mid-April

 

13. Mount Bromo, Indonesia

Mount Bromo

Source: Shutterstock.com

Located about a four-hour drive away from Surabaya, Mount Bromo is popular among avid hikers. From a viewpoint on the nearby Mount Penanjakan, visitors come from around the world to see the sunrise peeking up from behind the volcano. The mountain itself is steeped in local legends and myths.

Best time to visit: Between May and August

 

14. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Aerial panorama of Christ the Redeemer statue with Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Source: marchello74 / Shutterstock.com

Famous for its sun-drenched beaches and pulsating samba music, Brazil’s lively city of Rio de Janeiro is a must-visit. Its most recognized landmark, the Christ the Redeemer statue perched atop Corcovado mountain, offers an amazing view of the city that you can’t miss.

Best time to visit: Between December and March

 

15. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Source: Shutterstock.com

After you’ve dived into the ocean and explored the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater wonders, see the world’s largest coral reef from above, where you can truly appreciate its sheer expanse.

The Heart Reef (pictured above) can only be seen from an aerial view and is a mere 17 meters in diameter.

Best time to visit: Between June and November

With Pocwifi, sharing your sky-high  views by renting a mobile wifi at the Pocwifi today!

Hanisim. (8th May, 2017). Such great heights: 15 jaw-dropping views you can only experience from above. Retrieved from https://blog.traveloka.com/en/great-heights-15-jaw-dropping-views-can-experience/

Christchurch ranked as a global street art capital in new Lonely Planet book

Source: Stuff Credit: Charlie Gates

Rone’s work on Worcester St is one of many Christchurch mural featured in the Lonely Planet Street Art book. Photo: Dean Kozanic

Christchurch is ranked alongside New York, Barcelona, Berlin and London as one of the street art capitals of the world in a new Lonely Planet book.The book names Christchurch as one of 39 cities around the world with a rich street art scene.

It credits the birth of the Christchurch street art scene with the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and the RISE street art festival and exhibition in 2013.

Australian street artist, Rone, creating the work on a wall on Worcester Street in 2013. Photo: Dean Kozanic

“The contemporary street art scene was born out of tragedy,”  the book states.“Street art has become a vital part of the energy of the rejuvenated city.”

The book features images of Rone’s artwork on Worcester St, Anthony Lister’s seagulls mural on Cashel St, Seth’s artwork on Falsgrave St and Buff Monster’s artwork on Durham St South.

A work by Buff Monster on the St Asaph and Durham St corner created for the Spectrum street art festival. Photo: Dean Kozanic

Nelson art collector George Shaw organised the first street art festival in Christchurch in 2013 through his Oi You! business. He built the show around his collection of 22 artworks by British street artist Banksy and commissioned new works on city centre walls.It became the most visited show in Canterbury Museum history. The event then moved to the YMCA on Hereford St for shows in February and December 2015.

Shaw has since fallen out with the YMCA and taken his collection to a festival in Tauranga.

Buff Monster begins work on the piece on Durham Street in 2015. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves

Art historian Reuben Woods, who studied post-quake street art in Christchurch for his PhD, said the city deserved to be included in the book.“At this stage you can still say the city has a fair claim, but the next few years will be really crucial in terms of whether it keeps going,” he said.

“I think there are people who believe in it and want to keep it going.”

But he said it would be challenging to maintain the reputation as the city rebuilds and in the absence of Shaw’s festival.

“We’ve had this exciting period of time, but it will take a lot of effort to fill gaps left by the departure of Oi You!. There are also questions about the place for these artworks in the rebuilt city.”

Street art by Seth on Falsgrave St. Photo: John Kirk-Anderson

The book’s author, Ed Bartlett, writes in the foreword that Christchurch is one of 39 key cities in the world to “experience street art”.“This book is intended as a starting point to your journey,” he wrote.

“Highlighting a selection of some of the key cities around the world to experience street art today, and providing guides to each city’s street-art hotspots to enable you to explore further.”

Rent a mobile wifi at Christchurch Airport at Pocwifi.

FINDING MAGIC IN WAITOMO

Author: Eveline Harvey
Publish Date :Sunday, 23 October 2016, 1:00PM
Finding magic in Waitomo

It’s not summer but a squally spring weekend in the middle of the school holidays when we join the slow roll of Friday traffic heading south. Yet as we weave through the darkening landscape of well-watered Waikato fields, a long-forgotten passage from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream suddenly pops into my head:

I do wander everywhere, Swifter than the moon’s sphere; And I serve the fairy queen, To dew her orbs upon the green.

The lines are spoken by a fairy, who’s telling mischievous sprite Puck the lengths she’s been going to prettying up the place for her queen, Titania. And whether you believe in fairies or not, there’s no denying the sense of magic you encounter on a visit to Waitomo.

Sunrise in Waitomo. Photo / Waitomo Glowworm Caves

We wake to a light drizzle the following morning and head up the road to Ruakuri Cave. The longest of the area’s guided underground tours, Ruakuri exceeds all expectations from the moment we shuffle inside and find ourselves standing at the top of a 15m-high spiral. As we peer down, the levels are illuminated, showing us the path we’ll be taking to enter the bowels of the cave. It’s all our 3-year-old, Bryn, can do to stop himself from sprinting full tilt into the depths, but he remembers the briefing we’ve given him not two minutes earlier — “no running, no shouting, no touching the rock formations” — and manages to restrain himself.

The Ruakuri Cave spiral. Photo / Waitomo Glowworm Caves

This is an excellent tour for families as the groups are kept small and there’s plenty of time to ask questions of the guides. It’s also wheelchair- and stroller-friendly: our younger son, Luke, takes the darkness as a hint it’s time to nap and dozes for the entire hour and a half we’re underground.

Guide Beth explains the glow worms we’re about to see are the larvae of the fungus gnat. But if the lights they produce are pretty, the process to get to that point is as competitive as you’ll find anywhere in the animal kingdom. A female gnat lays clusters of up to 200 eggs before she dies but the first to hatch has a distinct advantage, feasting on the only food source it can readily access — its non-hatched siblings — to get the energy for its first glow.

Bryn seems equal parts aghast and enchanted at this prospect — “Mummy, they eat their brothers and sisters!” — so thankfully Beth has another gem of information up her sleeve with which to distract him . . . the distinctive blue glow the larvae emit is actually nothing more glamorous than their poo. Cannibalistic worms that dangle fishing lines to catch prey and secrete bioluminescent faeces? What little boy wouldn’t love these creatures!

Bryn and Eveline Harvey inside Ruakuri Cave. Photo / Michael Harvey

There’s something to be said for witnessing your child’s first reaction to something as miraculous as these otherworldly pin pricks of light deep underground. I see the wonder on his face as he gazes up at the tiny sparkles and the glistening threads that hang beneath them, fringing the cave wall.

It’s not just about the glow worms in Ruakuri though. There are stalactites and stalagmites of course, but we also have rocks that resemble cauliflower pointed out to us and are advised to look out for them should we ever find ourselves lost in a cave. This formation occurs if there’s fresh air in the vicinity to dry out the limestone.

“If you find cave coral, you’re near an exit,” says Beth. “Whether you can fit through the exit or not is a different story, but you’re close to an exit.”

Luckily, the way out of Ruakuri is straightforward and we gradually make our way back to the surface, blinking a little to readjust to the natural light outside.

Sheep and cows graze the fields of Waitomo District. Photo / Waitomo Glowworm Caves

After a bite to eat, we join a tour through Waitomo Cave itself. This experience is more condensed and the numbers passing through are much greater (as many as 3500 people a day visit in the summer peak season). We descend to the cavern known as the cathedral, in recognition of its acoustic properties. There’s no path for strollers in this cave, so Luke has been transferred to the front pack. Many people have sung in the cathedral over the years and our guide is looking for a volunteer to join their ranks. No one seems keen except Luke, who begins squawking. In an effort to keep him quiet I find myself offering a rendition of Pokarekare Ana to the bunch of strangers gathered in the dimly-lit cave. A few even join in, for which I’m grateful.

Floating beneath the glow worms in Waitomo Cave. Photo / Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Unsurprisingly, the grand finale of this tour belongs to the glow worms. A hush descends as we clamber aboard the boats which will float us back out of the cave. As we push away from the platform we’re instructed to look up and our eyes take in the improbably wonderful constellations of blue light adorning the roof. It’s not hard to imagine the awe the first people to discover the grotto’s secret back in the 1800s must have felt . . . more than 125 years on it’s still a phenomenal sight.

Dusk at Waitomo's TOP 10 Holiday Park. Photo / Eveline Harvey

Back above ground that evening, I watch my own two impish Pucks tearing around the lawn of Waitomo’s TOP 10 Holiday Park. It’s still overcast but the cold, wet weather that’s been battering the country for weeks seems finally to be loosening its grip. The late first buds of the season are bursting all over the place, though the wind has seen to it there’s a carpet of pink petals scattered around the base of the cherry blossom tree . . . or perhaps they’re rubies, placed as favours for a hidden fairy queen. Anything seems possible in this spellbinding neck of the woods.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE

Where to stay: Waitomo’s TOP 10 Holiday Park is the perfect place for families with a range of accommodation options. Centrally located in Waitomo Village, it has a playground with trampoline, pool and spa.

Where to eat:Waitomo Homestead, on SH3 just before the turn-off to Waitomo Village, is a great place to grab a bite. There’s also plenty of space for kids to run around outside, with an old tractor to clamber on and lambs, calves and chickens wandering the adjoining orchard.

Luke and Bryn Harvey enjoy themselves in the gardens at Waitomo Homestead. Photo / Eveline Harvey

For good pub grub, head to Curly’s Bar in Waitomo Village. The fish and chips met with approval, as did the mussels.

What to do:Ruakuri and Waitomo caves are each fascinating but seeing them both on one trip will add to your experience immeasurably. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes and a warm jacket.

The track to Marokopa Falls, west of Waitomo. Photo / Eveline Harvey

Also in the area: The Ruakuri Bush Walk passes through small caves and if you visit at night you’ll see yet more glow worms lining the track. Other options require a drive west along the windy road to the coast. Take it slowly if the kids are prone to carsickness but there are impressive sights, namely the Mangapohue Natural Bridge and the thundering Marokopa Falls, which reveal themselves after a short walk through forest thick with nikau. Look out too for that most Kiwi of landmarks — a fence covered in tramping boots!

A fence covered in tramping boots near the entrance to Tawarau Forest, west of Waitomo. Photo / Eveline Harvey

The magic in Waitomo is waiting for you, bring a pocket wifi to experience and explore on this pure land.

What to eat in New Zealand

New Zealand isn’t all glacial peaks, Hobbits, rolling plains and more sheep than you can poke a shepherd’s crook at. From wide open plains to remote coastlines, its incredible landscape also shapes the Kiwi culinary canon. Here’s what to eat on your next trip to the land of the long white cloud.

lamb dish at amanoEuropean flavours mingle in this modern lamb dish at Auckland restaurant, Amano (image: Anna Howard)

Lamb

One protein you’ll find on just about every menu in New Zealand is lamb. After all, they say sheep still outnumber people six to one! You may have had Australian lamb, but grass-fed Kiwi lamb is in a league of its own. There’s nothing better than settling into a cosy restaurant on a chilly day and tucking into a slow-cooked lamb shoulder paired with pinot noir.

Hangi

While a hangi is an experience, not a specific food type, experiencing this Maori feast is a must for any visitor. A mix of vegetables and large cuts of meat are piled into a cloth sack or basket and placed on hot stones, where it is cooked underground. The result after hours of slow cooking and steaming, is tender meat and vegetables imparted with a rich smoky flavour. One of the best places to experience a hangi is Rotorua on the North Island.

Seafood

With almost 14,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand is a seafood lover’s nirvana. Whether you prefer your fruits of the sea grilled, steamed, smoked or raw, there’s no shortage of seafood to indulge in.

bluff oystersBluff oysters should come with a disclaimer: one taste and no other oyster will compare! (image: Anna Howard)

Bluff oysters

Bluff oysters are unique to New Zealand, grown slowly in the freezing cold waters of the South Island’s Foveaux Strait. The result of its slow growth process is a pleasantly plump, lusciously creamy and salty taste sensation, best served only with a squeeze of lemon. Highly coveted, there are annual festivals dedicated to this local speciality, and you can try them across the country from March until August, or whenever the yearly quota is hit.

West Coast whitebait

The tiny fish don’t look all that appetising, but drench a handful in batter and fry it until crispy, and you’ve got one of the most sought-after snacks in all of New Zealand. West Coast whitebait is yet another quintessentially Kiwi ingredient that has its own festival, the aptly named West Coast Whitebait Season Festivals held in Karamea, Westport, Greymouth and Haast.

green-lipped mussels Green-lipped mussels are not only tasty, they’re known for their health benefits (image: Getty)

Green-lipped mussels

Distinct with a dark-green shell, plump green-lipped mussels can be enjoyed year-round all over the country. For the best of the bunch, head to Marlborough where 80 per cent of green-lipped mussels are sourced. Top tip: join a mussel cruise to devour freshly steamed mussels paired with crisp Marlborough sav blanc. Choice!

Crayfish

Kaikoura on the South Island isn’t just a base for wildlife watching. Its name literally means food (‘kai’) and crayfish (‘koura’), so it’s no surprise the coastal town is most famous for its shellfish. There are seafood caravans littered along the coastline (the most well-known is Nin’s Bin) dishing up the day’s freshest catch… and little else. Enjoy the uninterrupted ocean views while devouring cold or grilled crayfish tails and mussels.

Salmon

If the bright blue waters of Lake Pukaki don’t draw you in, perhaps the promise of fresh salmon will. New Zealand produces more than 50 per cent of the world’s king salmon, and the nearby Mt Cook Alpine Salon’s Tekapo site, 677 metres above sea level, is said to be the most sustainable salmon farm on the planet. Try it smoked or sashimi-style by the waters of the brilliant blue lake.

Savour fresh salmon sashimi on the shores of Lake Pukaki (image: Getty)

Sweet Stuff

Lolly cake

A condensed milk-based chocolate log filled with yellow, green and pink ‘Eskimo’ sweets, this bakery favourite is a Kiwi institution.

L&P

In classic Kiwi humour, the slogan of this soft drink is ‘world famous in New Zealand since ages ago’. The taste can be best described like a lemonade-flavoured Icy Pole.

Pavlova

This seemingly innocent meringue-based dessert is the source of great contention between Aussies and Kiwis. Both sides claim it as their own, but nevertheless, the dessert is a huge part of Kiwi culture and a must-try when visiting (if only to see how it stacks up against the true-blue Aussie version).

pavlovaThe long-standing battle between the origins of pavlova continue today (image: Getty)
Rent a mobile at Powifi to share the delicious  food and happy moment at New Zealand.

Historic Arrowtown, New Zealand

New Zealand is filled with quaint little towns where old buildings and European style gardens make you feel like you are somewhere in the English countryside. The small historic village of Arrowtown, located just outside of Queenstown, has to be one of the best around, although it wasn’t always so pretty.

Arrowtown began as a rough gold mining town, popping up out of nowhere when gold was discovered in the Arrow River in the 1860’s. The riverbanks were filled with prospectors camped along the river, and the town itself popped up to service them. This would have given the town more of a wild west feel than that of a quaint English village, however the buildings and streets were made to remind the European settlers of home, with little wooden cottages and tree lined avenues. After the gold ran out the town declined, only existing to service the local farming community, but from the 1950’s the town reemerged as a tourist town, and the old buildings and cottages restored as holiday homes, cafes and art galleries. As such, Arrowtown today has an interesting mix – historic mining town meets cute little English village.

Arrowtown is only a short 2o minute drive from Queenstown, so it makes for a great spot for a morning outing to enjoy the history, browse the little boutique shops and galleries, and indulge at one of the many great cafes and restaurants. There is also plenty to do in and around Arrowtown, so you could make a whole day out of it, or even stay here instead of Queenstown to get away from the huge tourist crowd.

We went to Arrowtown around mid morning after a drive to Coronet Peak and had coffee and cake at one of the cafes, before wandering around the town. I loved the tree lined avenues, the cute old cottages and the relaxed atmosphere. It felt like the sort of place where you could never be stressed out. The old shop fronts along the main street have been beautifully preserved, and it was just lovely to walk around, browsing the shops and feeling like I had gone back in history.

If you need a break from the tourist crowds of Queenstown, head out for a drive to Arrowtown. It is a lovely spot.

Pocwifi you take your time going around the beautiful  town. Mobile wifi, your best traveling companion.

Dean Wickham. (25th April, 2017).Historic Arrowtown, New Zealand.Retrieved from http://www.theroadtoanywhere.com/historic-arrowtown-new-zealand/.