Posts Tagged With: blue penguin travel

Destination Feature: Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island Collage.jpg

Wild, unspoilt and stunningly beautiful – Great Barrier Island lies just 62 miles off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city – yet is a world away. 

With a permanent population of around 940 people, visiting Great Barrier Island feels like you have stepped back in time. It offers off-the-beaten-track bays and coves, stunning deserted beaches, beautiful rare birdlife, illuminating sunsets, peace and tranquility and a completely unique New Zealand experience.

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Seeking a truly special off-the-beaten-track travel adventure, myself and my husband took a trip to Great Barrier Island during a year we spent living in New Zealand and we were blown away by how different it felt from not just the rest of New Zealand, but from anywhere else in the world we had ever been.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take the 30 minute flight from Auckland. Immediately on landing you are aware you have landed somewhere special. You feel an imminent sense that you want to explore, and your best choice is hiring a car and exploring the island yourself. In fitting with the laid-back style of the island, the cars tend be a little ‘historic’, which only adds to the experience.

The stepped-back-in-time-feel extends to everyday basics one might usually take for granted – including electricity! There is no mains power on the island so they rely on generators and solar power. Arriving at a cafe at lunchtime one day we were offered ‘only coffee’ but we could have food after 4.30pm when they switched the generator on! The locals (many of them barefoot) were incredibly friendly and welcoming.

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Whilst being quaint and unusual Great Barrier Island also has much to offer the off-the-beaten-track traveller. Most of the beaches were completely deserted – shining with desolation and untouched beauty. The least accessible beach but perhaps the most stunning, was Kaitoke beach – down a steep gravel track and really worth the trip.

There are many panoramic lookout spots (Windy Canyon was our favourite) on the island that can be reached by a number of hikes. You can also take a hike to the fantastic Kaitoke Hot Springs and bathe in your own natural hot springs amongst the shade of the trees, listening to the birds sing.

The wildlife on Great Barrier Island is also very special – we spotted many smaller native birds (tui, brown teal) and were very lucky to see a few of the rare and beautiful North-island kaka. We also heard the little blue penguins on the beach at night.

The serenity and peacefulness, as well the stunningly beautiful scenery and very different way of life make Great Barrier Island a truly special and unique timeless paradise, and an escape from nearby city-life.

Make sure you include it on your New Zealand itinerary – you won’t be disappointed.

All photos are copyright of Blue Penguin Travel.

This article was also published in the Huffington Post’s Travel Section.

Interested in travelling to Great Barrier Island as part of your trip to New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We are an independent travel company who offer a bespoke itinerary planning service, to help you create an amazing off-the-beaten-track travel adventure in New Zealand. Feel free to drop us an email: nicola@bluepenguintravel.com or check out our Facebook page.

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Categories: Destination Feature, Huffington Post, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue Penguin Travel’s Facebook Page

 

Blue Penguin Travel FB screenshot

Despite running as a company for over three years now here at Blue Penguin Travel we haven’t given our Facebook page as much attention as we would like, so we have decided to invest more time and effort into making it great. Take a look here if you are interested in seeing our page and if you like what you see, please give us a ‘Like’ and we promise to post interesting content about New Zealand. You never know, it might inspire you to take your own trip to the amazing country of New Zealand (if you haven’t already!).

For those of you who don’t know who we are, Blue Penguin Travel specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand. We offer travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries enabling you to have the adventure of a lifetime.

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo of the Day: Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

This photo is of the very picturesque Lake Tekapo – which is located on the road from Christchurch to Queenstown. This was taken during our year living in New Zealand, in October 2012. As it is one of our favourite lakes we always stop by to take in the stunning views any time we are passing, so were lucky enough to also visit in May 2013 and August 2013 – both of which I blogged about so take a look if you are interested in seeing more photos. Back in 2006 on our very first trip to New Zealand Lake Tekapo was also the first lake we ever saw. And what a beautiful sight it is!

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Lake Tekapo and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: New Zealand, Photo Of The Day, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Destination Feature: The Stunning Mount Cook, New Zealand

Mount Cook Collage

The highest mountain in New Zealand – Mount Cook – is one of its most striking assets. Standing at 12,218ft high Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to summit Mount Everest) is one of the most famous men to have ascended Mount Cook, back in 1948.

Today Mount Cook attracts not only climbers and mountaineers from all over the world but tourists too. Despite its incredible beauty and surrounding scenery Mount Cook is still often overlooked on many New Zealand itineraries. Located approx 4 hours from Christchurch and 3 and a half hours from Queenstown, Mount Cook is fairly remote, and because of this maintains an element of serenity and peacefulness.

The road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook

There are still some facilities for tourists (including the Hermitage Hotel, among other accommodation options, including camping), and a few excellent food options for those that stay in the village. But there is no supermarket, or post office (or bank etc.) and so it still retains a quaint charm.

As soon as you head out on the road up to Mount Cook (not forgetting to stop at Peter’s Lookout on the way) and should the weather be good enough you will be able to see this vast mountain stretched out in front of you.

The stunning scenery is the main reason to visit this area and the huge variety of walks that are on offer to even those with the most limited mobility. Take a look at this DOC leaflet detailing the walk and cycling options. This DOC leaflet also gives more detail on walks around the village.

Glacier Explorers Boat Trip

Glacier Explorers Boat Trip

As well as the interesting and varied wildlife to spot in the area, there are also other amazing activities you can take part in at Mount Cook:

  • Glacier Explorers Boat Trip – an incredible boat trip out on to the Tasman glacier lake where you can get up close to the icebergs and terminal face of the glacier, and take in the striking views all around.
  • Helicopter Flight over Mount Cook – there are a variety of flights that depart from Glentanner Park and are operated by The Helicopter Line.
  • Helihike on the Tasman Glacier – operating out of the Mount Cook airport take a helicopter trip up on the glacier and have the fantastic opportunity to hike across the glacier.
  • Stargazing – take a trip to an outdoor stargazing site to explore the brilliant night sky.
  • Tasman Valley 4WD and Argo Tour – take a 4WD tour through Mount Cook’s amazing alpine scenery.
  • Horse trekking – on offer are guided horse treks of varying length through the spectacular scenery , that depart from Glentanner Park.
  • Skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing – Alpine Guides offer a variety of more extreme winter sports in the Mount Cook area.

Visiting Mount Cook is an incredibly memorable event and Mount Cook is a destination that most certainly should feature on everyone’s New Zealand itinerary.

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Mount Cook and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: Activities, Blue Penguin, Destination Feature, New Zealand, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue Penguin Travel is a family affair!

Blue Penguin Travel

My baby boy Elliott

My baby boy Elliott

I have had a few people contacting me asking if Blue Penguin Travel are still running and the answer is YES!!! In case you don’t know Blue Penguin Travel is my own travel consultancy business and specialises in helping people travel to and around New Zealand by providing personalised off-the-beaten-track travel advice and itineraries.

So yes, Blue Penguin Travel are very much still running! We just have an extra little helper now who is keen to get involved. Pictured is myself and my lovely and energetic baby boy Elliott, who has just turned 8 months. I haven’t been posting on my blog much because I have been busy being a Mummy, but I have been lucky enough to work with two clients since Christmas who have had wonderful trips to New Zealand. I have loved helping them with their amazing itineraries, and Elliott especially loves trying to help on my laptop by pressing the keys!

So if you are considering planning a trip to New Zealand and would like help with your itinerary do not hesitate to get in touch. We can help you plan the trip of a lifetime to New Zealand. Drop me an email or fill out our contact form. 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ever wanted to visit Paradise (aka The Cook Islands)? Let Blue Penguin Travel help!

With vast experience of travelling to and exploring the amazing island of Aitutaki, Blue Penguin Travel have now decided to expand the services that we offer to include planning trips to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands – which is simply paradise!

Blue Penguin TravelWho are Blue Penguin Travel?

To give you a little bit of background – Blue Penguin Travel is my own travel consultancy company that I set up back in February 2013, inspired by living in the most beautiful country in the world – New Zealand! Since then, after living in New Zealand for a year and travelling to almost every far-fetched corner of this stunning place, I have moved back to the UK and had a beautiful baby boy. Since setting up my company I have helped some wonderful clients have incredible adventures in New Zealand and I have loved every second of it.

In a nutshell, Blue Penguin Travel specialises in creating amazing off-the-beaten-track travel adventures in New Zealand and we offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in New Zealand.

We have now expanded our services – and will be offering clients assistance with planning their trips to Aitutaki in the beautiful Cook Islands. We can create personalised itineraries for your special trip to this beautiful island.

Aitutaki Lagoon

Aitutaki Lagoon

Why would I want to visit Aitutaki?

It really is so unimaginably unspoilt and many of the places you visit appear to have been taken straight from a picture postcard. Aitutaki is a tiny island, part of a group of islands called The Cook Islands – located deep in the South Pacific Ocean.

With its gorgeous pristine beaches and inviting turquoise waters, it is the ideal location for a honeymoon, special anniversary/birthday trip or a relaxing break away. The island is just developed enough to ensure you have a wonderful trip when you visit, but the facilities provided do not ruin or spoil the beauty of this incredibly beautiful island. It really feels like one of the very few unspoilt paradises left in the world.

Where is Aitutaki located?

The map below shows where Aitutaki is located (indicated by the star) – it really is in the middle of nowhere and is surrounded by a strikingly beautiful turquoise lagoon.

Many people have heard of Rarotonga – the largest of the Cook Islands, but Aitutaki is only a short flight from Rarotonga and much quieter, less developed and more relaxed. It is an incredibly beautiful place that has to be seen to be believed!

Aitutaki Map

A holiday house

A holiday house

What is life like on Aitutaki?

There are no high-rise buildings on the island (nothing above one storey), very few cars (many people travel around by scooter) and a very laid back way of life. Islanders refer to ‘island time’ as the time they live by – where no one rushes and no one can be early or late! All the islanders are incredibly friendly and lovely. As you explore the island by scooter (or car if you wish) they will often wave as they pass you on their scooter, or wave from their houses. Often goats and pigs roam free and it isn’t uncommon to find a loveable wild pig in your back-garden (we did!). Much of the fresh fruit and vegetables on the island are grown there and other food is shipped in once a week.

Deserted beach

Deserted beach

Where could I stay and what could I do on Aitutaki that is really special?

There are many different accommodation options to choose from to suit varying tastes and requirements – varying from small private villas and holiday houses to beach-front bungalows. You can sleep just metres from the gorgeous lagoon and listen to the waves lapping at the shore , or relax on a hammock and enjoy a cocktail on the beach looking out into the lagoon.

There are different activities you can take part in, but one of the most special is taking a private boat trip out on the lagoon to explore the other tiny uninhabited islands that surround Aitutaki for a day – get dropped off on your own private island, enjoy time in the sunshine on the pure white-sand beaches, snorkel, swim and relax – completely alone and away from any form of civilisation.

How can Blue Penguin Travel help me?

Let us help you put together an itinerary for your trip to Aitutaki that is completely personalised and tailored to you. We have insider information on the best food places and accommodation options, the best hidden secret beaches, the best swimming and snorkelling spots and the best boat trips out on the lagoon or activities to take part in (including fishing, scuba diving and traditional ‘island nights’).

How can I contact you?

Take a look at our website, our cook islands page and please contact us using our contact page or drop me an email at nicola@bluepenguintravel.com if you are interested in travelling to the stunningly beautiful island of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands and would like a personalised quotation. We can help you plan the trip of a lifetime to paradise!

Categories: Accommodation, Activities, Blue Penguin, Cook Islands, Destination Feature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you visited New Zealand? Please complete my survey!

Survey MonkeyHave you visited New Zealand? If so I would be really grateful if you could complete a quick survey. The survey is a New Zealand Favourites survey and I have already had loads of responses, so am hoping to collect even more. The survey contains 5 short questions – which takes just 2 minutes of your time.

Blue Penguin TravelThe results will be incredibly helpful to my travel consultancy company – called Blue Penguin Travel. Blue Penguin Travel specialises in helping you travel to and around New Zealand by providing personalised off-the-beaten-track travel advice and itineraries. Check out our website to read more. 

We plan to use the results to improve our offering to our customers, so thank you very much in advance! 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, Survey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo of the Day: Breaching Humpback Whale

Breaching Humpback Whale

Breaching Humpback Whale

Today’s photo is one of my favourite wildlife shots I have taken. This was during our trip up to the Bay of Islands back in January 2013. Although the company we took our trip out on to the water with weren’t great (read my blog post for more), we really enjoyed our time in the Bay of Islands and I was especially lucky to be able to photograph the breaching whales as they leapt out of the water!

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in seeing breaching humpback whales and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: New Zealand, Photo Of The Day, South Island, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo of the Day: The road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook

Today’s photo comes from one of our favourite places on earth – Mount Cook. We were lucky enough to visit Mount Cook a total of 4 times during our year living in New Zealand. This photo was taken during our trip back in October 2012 which I blogged about in two separate posts – the road to Mount Cook and spending time there. We also visited with my parents who had flown over from the UK in January 2013, again when living in our camper-car spaceship in April 2013, and took one last trip there on our way back to fly out of Christchurch in August 2013. Driving on the road up to Mount Cook is a really special drive – alongside the gorgeously blue Lake Pukaki.

It really is a very special place and we would highly recommend visiting Mount Cook on any trip you take to New Zealand.

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Mount Cook and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: New Zealand, Photo Of The Day, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure is back!

Me and Elliott

Me and Elliott

It has been so long since my last post (over a year!) and I have the best reason in the world for not writing for so long – a lovely baby boy! We have welcomed our gorgeous son Elliott into the world and he will be 10 weeks old tomorrow.

Baby Elliott

Baby Elliott

On coming back to my blog I am delighted to see that despite not having written for so long that the number of visitors to my blog has dramatically increased! Thank you to each and everyone of you who is visiting my blog and reading this. I also have almost 250 followers, so again thank you to all of you for being a part of our adventure.

It is over a year now since we returned from our amazing New Zealand adventure living in New Zealand for a year. So, what brings me back to my New Zealand travel blog? Well I was contacted about 10 days ago by someone interested in working with me and my company Blue Penguin Travel (we specialise in helping people travel to and around New Zealand by providing personalised off-the-beaten-track travel advice and itineraries) and wanted help planning their New Zealand itinerary. Being officially on maternity leave and with a little bundle of joy to look after I initially didn’t think I had time to help. However, on reading her emails I discovered the woman that contacted me was planning her honeymoBlue Penguin Travelon with just 3 weeks notice and planned to spend Christmas and New Year in New Zealand! I was really excited by the prospect of helping her and also knew it would be the ultimate challenge – being that New Zealand is SO popular and busy at this time of year.

I got working and in just 3 days we had planned a fantastic 12 day trip to New Zealand and booked all accommodation for their stay (including an incredible overnight boat trip on Milford Sound over Christmas Eve night) – it was pretty amazing! I worked pretty solidly on it, but really loved helping them plan the trip of their dreams. They arrive in NZ on the 21st of December and I know they will have the most amazing time.

The road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook

The other thing that brings me back to my blog is my love of New Zealand. We bought our own home back in April and have just got round to choosing some acrylic photographs to go on the wall from our recent year in New Zealand. I relished the chance to look back at all the photos we took while we were away and felt we were spoilt for choice (not to blow my own trumpet too much!). Eventually we chose our favourite image of the road to Mount Cook to grace our wall. It is a daily reminded of what an incredible country NZ is, and how we would love to return there soon with little Elliott in tow this time. Check out my photography website for more of my photos.

So I have now decided that Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure should live on and I plan to blog as much as I can about all sorts of New Zealand related things – including my Blue Penguin Travel business, my photography, and about what a truly wonderful country it is.

If you are keen to know more about Blue Penguin Travel then please visit our website, check out the services we offer, or read some of our lovely testimonials. You can also email me at nicola@bluepenguintravel.com if you are interested in receiving help in planning your own adventure to New Zealand.

Thanks for reading this post and bye for now! 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blue Penguin Travel update

Blue Penguin Travel I am busy updating my blog at the moment with tales from our Spaceship adventure around New Zealand, but I just wanted to post quickly with an update about my business Blue Penguin Travel. For those of you who follow me and regularly read this blog you will know that I have set up my own company helping people travel to and around New Zealand – specialising in helping people have amazing off-the-beaten-track travel adventures. My website explains more so please take a look if you are interested in travelling to New Zealand, or perhaps mention us if you know someone who is. I have a real passion for this beautiful country and would love to help people to fulfil their own travel dreams over here.

My website is: http://www.bluepenguintravel.com/

I also have a Facebook page which is focussed on inspiring people to want to travel to NZ, and have a unique Top 5 Friday feature where I post a NZ-related Top 5 feature each week! Please take a look here if you are interested.

A couple of snippets from my testimonials are:

“We would wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend Blue Penguin Travel  to anyone who is looking to go to New Zealand. If you are looking for a custom vacation itinerary, but don’t have the time to spend months researching and planning on your own, we would recommend Blue Penguin Travel as a great alternative”.

“Your experience and insight created an amazing, unforgettable and relaxed holiday for us and allowed us to get the most out of every second we were in New Zealand”.

“We love Blue Penguin Travel – they do all of the hard work for you, so you can just enjoy an individual, flexible and completely personalised holiday, based on expert guidance from people who know and love New Zealand”.

“We would both like to heartily endorse you, as an ambassador for New Zealand and an awesome trip planner […] The beauty of this wonderful country surpasses everything we could have ever imagined. So thank you so very much Nicola for all your help and patience, excellent advice and planning. It was a trip that will stay with us forever”.

Thanks to everyone for reading and I appreciate the support!

Categories: Blue Penguin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lift off for our spaceship adventure is tomorrow!

Spaceship

We have now left Waiheke island, and are staying over in Auckland for one night, before our flight down to Queenstown tomorrow. I previously wrote about our upcoming Spaceship adventure so take a look at my blog post here.

So, we pick up our spaceship from Queenstown tomorrow and will be taking a 9 week trip in a little camper-car as we are calling it! They seem like a great design, and have a look at their website for more information.

After having been in New Zealand for just over 6 months now it will be great to explore more of NZ – and go back to some of our favourite places and see some other hidden gems we haven’t yet visited. It will also serve as a research trip for my own travel consultancy company I have set up – called Blue Penguin Travel.

I haven’t really camped before and people who know me know how much I like my home comforts, but I am looking forward to going out of my comfort-zone and having a real adventure! It should be great fun travelling all around. It is also hard for me not planning every day/night, like I am used to. But again, having the freedom and flexibility will be amazing and having complete control over where we go and what we do. We can’t wait to start this new and exciting adventure, and lift off is at about 11am tomorrow when our plane touches down in Queenstown!

We hope to enjoy our time and make the most of every second, so will only post blog entries as and when I have time rather than every day/every few days. I don’t want to spend too much time at the computer when I can be out enjoying NZ!

I will post updates when I can but otherwise see you in 9 weeks! 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, Spaceship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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