Best Sight Seeings:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

South Island "Most Attractive Sight Seeings and Activities in South Island"

The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The territory of the South Island covers 151,215 square kilometres (58,384 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate climate.

The South Island is sometimes called the "mainland". While it has a 33% larger landmass than the North Island, only 24% of New Zealand's 4.3 million inhabitants live in the South Island. In the early stages of European (Pākehā) settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth due to the 1860s gold rushes. The North Island population overtook the South in the early 20th century, with 56% of the population living in the North in 1911, and the drift north of people and businesses continued throughout the century.

Hanmer Springs - Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Situated inland from Kaikoura, and only 1.5 hours drive from Christchurch. At Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa you can unwind the way you want to from relaxing in the natural environment of the Thermal Pools ranging in temperature from 36 to 42 degrees C (95 to 110 degrees F), to splashing your way through some serious waterslide fun. Located on the corner of Jacks Pass Road and Amuri Avenue.

Marahau - Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi

Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi is the leading Water Taxi operator in the Abel Tasman National Park. Our water taxi service has bases both in Kaiteriteri and Marahau allowing you the freedom to choose your departure point. 15 plus years of operation make us the most established water taxi transport operators in Abel Tasman National Park. We have the most departures of any water taxi operators allowing greater freedom for you. We offer services to Awaroa Lodge and are the only company to operate regularly to Muttton Cove. Our staff are all local characters who have worked in the region for many years and know all the good spots to take you to.

Marahau - Kiwi Kayaks

Kiwi Kayaks serves up a big helping of outdoor adventure in paradise. You will experience nature, scenery, storytelling and guiding like youve never experienced it before! Offering Full, Half Day & Overnight tours, guided by enthusiastic & knowledgeable guides who are truly passionate about what they do.

Aoraki/Mount Cook Attractions - The Helicopter Line

If you cannot join the elite few who make it to the top of the Aoraki/Mount Cook on foot, the next best way is by helicopter. The Helicopter Line offers a range of flights that traverse the soaring pearls of the pristine alpine environment exposing themselves - close-up views of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Ben Ohau Ranges, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers. All flights include a snow landing either on a snowfield or on a glacier. The Helicopter Line is based at Glentanner Station, a fully working high country sheep station located 15 minutes from Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.

Aoraki/Mount Cook Attractions - The Helicopter Line - Twizel

If time is against you, take a spectacular scenic helicopter flight from Twizel around the stunning Mount Cook region. The Helicopter Line offers a range of lights that traverse the soaring peaks of the Southern Alps and afford close-up views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Encompassing some of the most spectacular alpine scenery in the world, the Mount Cook region offers a personal flying experience youll want to keep close to your heart.

Aoraki/Mount Cook Attractions -Franz Josef Glacier Guides

The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gem of New Zealands West Coast Glaciers.
Franz Josef Glacier Guides gives you the opportunity to experience the most spectacular glacier environment available to the general public anywhere in the world, offering a range of glacier hiking tours to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The ultimate New Zealand adventure tour.

Christchurch - The International Antarctic Centre

Looking for a really special and unique visitor experience? Christchurch is the worlds aerial gateway to Antarctica, and The International Antarctic Centre has twice been judged the best attraction in New Zealand. This attraction is a fun, exciting and hands-on indoor experience combined with an exciting outdoor Antarctic Hagglund Ride. Set aside 2-3 hours for a visit - enjoy the sensation of real snow and look out for our latest attraction The Antarctic Storm! All this is situated just eight minutes walk from Christchurch International Airport at 38 Orchard Road. Plenty of free and safe car parking.

Christchurch Gondola

For a 'top' experience in Christchurch (only 15 minutes drive from the central city) take a ride to the summit of the Port Hills on the Christchurch Gondola; 500 metres above sea level, its Magic. Spectacular 360 degree views of the city, Lyttelton Harbour, the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains. Wander nature walkways, visit the historic Time Tunnel, go shopping, enjoy casual snacks at the Summit Cafe and full evening dining is available at the Gondola Restaurant. Catch the Best Attractions Direct coach, which departs from the Cathedral Square bus stop opposite the Tram stop, or there are regular City Bus services from the Colombo Street Bus Exchange, opposite Ballantynes. 10 Bridle Path Road, Christchurch.

Christchurch Tram

Christchurch Tramway - Enjoy the entertaining & historic inner city tram tour and then use the trams to explore the must see & do attractions on the tram route, eg Cathedral Square, Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum, Botanic Gardens. Your ticket is valid for 2 days. Tickets available from the friendly driver or conductor.

Christchurch Wildlife Cruises

Just 15 minutes from the central city you can see Hector's dolphins, the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin. The best view of these delightful animals is to be had WITH the award winning BLACK CAT Cruises ON Lyttelton Harbour. The TWO HOUR CRUISE passes sites of early Maori and European settlements, visits shipwrecks and looks at evidence of the volcano that formed the harbour. A free shuttle from Cathedral Square connects with the daily cruises. 17 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton.

Christchurch - Akaroa Harbour Cruises

The historic French Village of Akaroa is an 80-minute drive from Christchurch. Join the Supreme Tourism Award winner for 2003/04, BLACK CAT CRUISE ON AN Akaroa Harbour NATURE Cruise. YOULL SEE the Hectors dolphin, NEW ZEALAND FUR SEALS the White Flippered Blue Penguin and other sea birds. OTHER Highlights of the daily cruise includes A visit to SCENERY NOOK, Cathedral Cave and the sites of Akaroas early Maori, French and British settlements. Swimming with dolphins is also available year round. Main Wharf, Akaroa.

Christchurch - Tamaki Heritage Village

NO STAGE, no performance of song & dance for entertainment, it is how it was!

Find yourself in the middle of the battle between traditional and musket warriors. Come face to face with the radical chief Te Awhuri and his rebel warriors as they perform the fierce Haka of death .
Enter the pre European village of Matuku Moana, meet the people, Build relationships with the men, women and children of the village and learn the lifestyle of their existence. Experience the fear, terror and pure adrenalin as the invasion of Matuku Moana begins. Witness the battle for Matuku Moana as warfare rages in a duel of traditional weapons and musket between two tribes, two chiefs with only one outcome.

Methven - Aoraki Balloon Safaris

Aoraki Balloon Safaris has been operating since 1992, with its main base at Methven (by Mt Hutt) on the Central Canterbury Plains which is considered New Zealand's finest ballooning location. Aoraki Balloon Safaris is recognized as a principle leader in the New Zealand tourism industry for innovation and very good record in Hot Air Ballooning adventures.

West Cost Attractions - Dragons Cave Rafting

On this black water glowworm rafting we guarantee you'll be 100% totally pleased or your money back! With no hard feelings. In Taniwha Dragons Cave you'll buzz, sliding down underground waterfalls; you'll be awed floating in a galaxy of glowworms; you'll cuddle through the love tunnel. Free spa, drinks and internet. Everything is optional to suit family fun to full on adventures.

West Cost Attractions - Hot Rock Rafting

You'll get the best trip ever or its FREE!
You'll get more river rapids for your dollar.
You'll discover mountains, canyons, rainforests & champagne in hot pools.
You can thrill to NZ's grade 5 Grand Canyon.
You'll enjoy love in riverside hot spas.
You'll choose river sections & combos to suit you.
From adventurers through to families.

West Cost Attractions - The Helicopter Line

A scenic flight with The Helicopter Line - West Coast is the best way to experience the startling glacier terrain of the West Coast. Flying from the lush native rainforest to the gigantic glacier expanse unfolds pristine alpine scenery beneath you. Ice caves, pinnacles and seracs create the dynamic landscape. Above these glaciers rise the soaring peaks of the Southern Alps with Aoraki/Mount Cook ruling supreme. From their two bases at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier villages, The Helicopter Line offers a range of exciting flights that are an ideal way to explore this largely inaccessible alpine region.

For the adventurous, The Helicopter Line offers the unique opportunity to combine an awesome flight with a guided walk on the Franz Josef Glacier. Skilfully guided by Franz Josef Glacier Guides, the Heli Hike explores ice caves, serac and pinnacles. Flights also depart from Glentanner Park, near Aoraki/Mount Cook Village on the eastern side of the main divide. Main South Road, SH6 Franz Josef.

Queenstown - The Helicopter Line

Let The Helicopter Line show you why the views are always best from above! Using their modern twin -engine helicopters, The Helicopter Line offers a range of exciting flights. Capture the beauty of Queenstown and beyond, experience a snow landing on a glacier, take a captivating flight to Milford Sound, stand 1538m above Queenstown and admire the stunning views across Lake Wakatipu to the Southern Alps. Lucas Place, Queenstown Airport, Queenstown.

Queenstown - Shotover Jet

Get ready for the world's most exciting jet Boat ride! Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride - skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow imposing canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 spins! Over 2 million passengers have been thrilled by the unique Shotover Jet experience since 1970. Now it's your turn!

Queenstown - Challenge Rafting

Perhaps your preference is to taste a selection of activities from Queenstown's adventure menu? Whitewater rafting is a Queenstown specialty. Join Challenge Rafting for extra excitement and thrills whitewater rafting or heli-rafting on the Shotover River. Contrast this with the exhilaration of rafting for the first timers on the Kawarau River. After each trip relax with a sauna, hot shower and refreshments.

Queenstown - Queenstown Combos

Many visitors to Queenstown choose a combo trip that saves them both time and money. Queenstown Combos combine Queenstowns leading adventure activities. A comprehensive range of adventure combos include options of Shotover Jet, Challenge Raft, bungy jumping, sky diving, flights with the Helicopter Line, Skyline Gondola, Canyon Swing and Heli biking. Combos like the Awesome Foursome, Shotover Trio or Shotover High Five are available.

Queenstown - The Station
When it comes to finding information on the many activities on offer around Queenstown, you can't go past The Station. They offer a wealth of knowledge and can book your ticket for any Queenstown adventure. Find them at The Station Building corner Shotover and Camp Streets, Queenstown; or the Queenstown Information Centre, corner Shotover and Camp Streets, Queenstown. Expert staff in both locations will help you select the trip that meets your schedule, your budget and your comfort level.

Queenstown - Harris Mountains Heli Ski

In winter, Harris Mountains Heli Ski can take you on a high altitude adventure in Queenstown, Wanaka or Mount Cook. From first time heli-skiers to those wanting to ski maximum vertical, HMH will take you Above & Beyond for your alpine adventure. Offering extensive terrain, small groups of similar ability and personalised guiding it's definitely a day to remember. Daily and multi-day options are available for first-time heli-skiers and experts. HMH Queenstown: The Station Building, Cnr Shotover & Camp Sts, Queentown.

Queenstown - Dart River Jet Safaris

Located in Queenstown, Dart River Jet Safaris is a unique combination of breathtaking scenery, Maori heritage, and inspiring adventure truly authentic discoveries of what makes New Zealand and exceptional destination. Take a diverse adventure from Queenstown to the head of mightly Lake Wakatipu, and into the pristine and spectacular Mt Aspiring National Park. Explore this World Heritage area steeped in legend and mystery on one of three amazing safaris with Dart River Jet Safaris.

Queenstown - Milford Sound Red Boat Cruises

Discover the sights and sounds of New Zealand's most famous waterway at its unspoiled best aboard a spectacular Milford Sound Red Boat Cruise. Nestled in the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is described as the 'Eighth Natural Wonder of the World'.
A Milford Sound Red Boat Cruise is the perfect way to discover the beautiful scenery of this famous fiord, including Mitre Peak and stunning waterfalls that crash down into the serene waters. Enjoy a full commentary on the history of the sound and view wildlife such as dolphins, seals and penguins, which are often seen in their natural environment. Scheduled cruises depart daily ranging from 1hr 30mins to 2hrs 30 mins in duration.

Queenstown - Te Anau Travel Centre

For expert information on sightseeing and travel throughout New Zealand, including reservations for Milford Sound Red Boat Cruises and Great Sightseeing Tours, visit the friendly staff at Te Anau Travel Centre. Located in Lakefront Drive, Te Anau, there is plenty of free parking for your Maui and Britz motorhomes and campervans.

Get in

By plane

Christchurch in the South Island's biggest international airport with flights from all around the Pacific Rim. Dunedin and Queenstown both have flights from Australia. There are many airports which have scheduled flights into the South Island, including Picton, Blenheim, Nelson, Takaka, Westport, Kaikoura, Greymouth, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin and Queenstown. Invercargill airport has flights to Stewart Island. Christchurch airport has flights to the Chatham Islands.

By boat

The Interislander and the Bluebridge ferry companies run from Wellington to PictonMarlborough Sounds and across Cook Strait. The ferries take cars, buses and trains. The scenery on a good day is spectacular. The ferries are substantial ships designed for the sometimes rough conditions and the journey takes between 3 and 3 1/2 hours. through the

Get around

By train

Two standout train routes are on the South Island. The Picton - Christchurch TranzcoastalMarlborough wine region before hugging the Kaikoura Coast and crossing the Canterbury Plains. The Christchurch - Greymouth Tranzalpine crosses the Southern Alps at Arthurs Pass. Rated as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. begins traveling through the

By bus

Buses are a cheap way to get around to the main centers of the South Island. There are a range of types of services, from a luxury coach service to minivan shuttles. Shuttles which service a local area can be found in the regions and towns which they service.

  • InterCity Coachlines, 09 623 1503 (). High quality coaches and extensive nationwide network.
  • Newmans Coach Lines, 09 623 1504. High quality tourist coach linking Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and the West Coast Glaciers.
  •, (). Competitive prices, book early and get bargin bus travel.
  • Atomic Shuttles, 03 349 0697 (, fax: 03 349 3868). Lower cost shuttles with extensive network
  • Knight Rider, 03 342 8055 or 021 781 852 (fax: 03 342 8055). Evening/night bus service from Christchurch to Invercargill via Dunedin
  • Bottom Bus, 03 434 7370 (fax: 03 434 7376). Dunedin, Catlins, Invercargill, Te Anau, Milford Sound.
  • West Coast Shuttle, 03 768 0028 or 027 492 7000 (, fax: 03 768 0328)

By car

Roads in the South Island vary in quality and traffic, but as long as they are treated with respect they serve you well. Rental cars are available in most sizable towns. The best range (and hence lowest prices) are in Picton (off the interislander ferry) and Christchurch.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Petra "A rose-red city half as old as time"

Petra is an archaeological park, so the entrance fees are considered fairly steep compared to other Jordanian attractions. Visitors can purchase tickets at the Visitor's Center for 21 JD for a single entry and 26 and 30 JD for a 2 or 3 day pass respectively. A 3 day pass will get you a 4th day for free. A valid student ID card used to allow entrance for 11.5 JD, however this offer has been discontinued, it is not sure if it will become available again. Do not attempt to purchase tickets from dubious scalpers around town! Time permitting, the two-day pass is recommended, as there is much to see and do in Petra.

Guides can be hired from about 10 JD and up (depending on what you want to see) at the Visitors Center. You may want to take advantage of the knowledge of the Bedouins who work in Petra. Many of them were born and raised in Petra, and will gladly share their knowledge with you for the price of a camel or donkey ride. Alternatively, major hotels can rent you a portable Easyguide (JD 10/day) for commentary in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. Easyguide is also available as a mobile phone service on all Jordanian mobile phone networks, a map is needed to use this service.


The entrance to Petra is a long, winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq. There are minor carvings spotted here and there throughout the Siq, but the most impressive sights are the colorful and unusual sandstone patterns in the rock walls. There are also remains of terracotta pipes built into the sides of the canyon that were used in Roman times to carry water.


Upon exiting the Siq, visitors can view the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Treasury (al-Khazneh in Arabic). Be sure to note the urn atop the Treasury structure. It has been rumored that the urn contained a Pharaoh's hidden treasure, and the urn bears the bullet pock marks where Bedouin travellers throughout the years have tested the theory. Get there when the park opens at 6AM or 6:30AM (depending on the season) and you may have the Treasury all to yourself or with less than 5-10 people around.

Street of Facades

Past the next bend is the outer Siq or Street of Facades, a large canyon lined with the facades of various tombs.

Roman Theater

At the end of the Street of Facades is the 7000-seat Roman Theater. The theater was created by the Nabateans but later enlarged by the Romans. It is still used for occasional performances.

Royal Tombs

On the side of the valley opposite the Roman Theater and a short walk up the hill, are the Royal Tombs. The name was given because they are quite grand in scale compared to the others in the area, but it is unclear for whom the tombs were originally constructed.

The Monastery

The Monastery (ad-Deir), the largest carved monument in Petra, dates back to the 1st century AD. The interior, like that of the Treasury, is puny in comparison to the facade. The more than 800 steps up to the Monastery can take over an hour; many visitors choose to ride donkeys up to the top.

Princess Alia Clinic
Princess Alia Clinic, Brooke Hospital for Animals located just inside the entrance to the park. As you can witness inside Petra, not all donkeys, horses and camels are treated right. A few are overworked, carrying overweight tourist or being excessively whipped. The Brooke charity educates owners about the treatment of equestrian working animals and treats the animals for free. The clinic is happy to tell you about conditions for working animals in Jordan. You can give a donation to the clinic.

For the terminally energetic, there are a number of popular hikes around Petra.

In order to understand what in reality Petra is, it is better to spend there two days. The first day: Siq - Treasury - City - Monastery. The second day: another way to Petra through Wadi Muthlim - see the Treasury from above on Jebel Al -Khubtha - High Place of Sacrifice. If you enter Petra through Wadi Muthlim do not turn left right after the small Siq, firstly go right to see Aqueduct, Tunnel and Al-Wu'eira Fort and only after that return to Petra center.

High Place of Sacrifice

The High Place of Sacrifice is a popular destination in Petra. The site at the top of the mountain contains elaborate rock altars used for sacrifices. From the High Place, one can view much of Petra from above. The trek down the back side of the mountain reveals many interesting tombs and carvings that might be missed by average tourist. The round trip generally takes 1.5-2.5 hours.

The Mountain of Aaron

The Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun) is the highest peak in the area. At the top you will find a small church and the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. The route to the top and back will take you past the Monastery and will take 4-8 hours depending on your chosen path.


By bus

JETT buses, both ordinary and all-inclusive guided tour, connect to Amman and Aqaba. Other tourists come with organized groups, including daily trips from Eilat. Tours to Petra from Taba, Sinai and Sharm el Sheikh are also gaining popularity with charter tourism.

It would cost 24 JD for two persons to travel by JETT bus, and allow you to see almost the entire site in an (exhausting) day trip.

By minibus

The minibus from Wadi Rum costs 3 Jordanian Dinars (JD) each. It takes 1.5 hours to get to Petra. Have the Rum Guesthouse or your tour operator call the bus owner the day before to arrange an exact time for pick up. The bus usually leaves from Wadi Rum at 8:30 in the morning, but may be delayed due to weather or tour groups coming the other way.

There are also minibuses from Amman departing from the Wadabat bus station - these leave when full, and tourists are almost always charged 3 JD to get on. DO NOT allow the drivers to charge you for your luggage, as they might sometimes try to do, considering you're already paying more than the locals (who pay 2-2.5JD).

By taxi

Taxi is also a viable option. For 75 JD or less (depending on how much you haggle) you may be able to get a private taxi from Amman to Petra and back, including the driver waiting around for 6 hours.

A taxi from Aqaba to Petra should cost about JD 30 one-way. If coming from Eilat (Israel), opportunistic drivers at the border may ask for much higher fares; it's better to take one cab to central Aqaba and continue from there at the normal price. Most hotels in Petra can also arrange to have someone pick you up.

If you get there renting a minibus with a driver in the hotel at the Dead Sea, the one-way price would be 140 JD.

Get Around

The only modes of transport allowed within Petra are on two feet or on four feet (camel, donkey, or horse). When entering Petra, there is a brief hike down towards the Siq. Horses will be available for travel to the entrance of the Siq, or you can choose to take a horse-drawn buggy through the Siq (a distance of about .9 kilometers) and down to the Treasury. The prices for such rides are not set and are extremely negotiable, depending on one's bargaining abilities.

Once you arrive at the Treasury, there will be many camel and donkey owners jockeying for your business. Be prepared to do some bargaining and don't pay more than 10 JD, a more resonable price is around 3 JD a person. Often times the owner will drop his price in half simply by hearing a few phrases in Arabic.

Camel or donkey transport should be seriously considered. Riding a camel is a unique experience on more level ground, but a donkey is recommended for more ambitious climbs, such as the ones to the High Place or the Monastery. However if you are reasonably fit and the weather is good, the walk is quite nice.

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