Tuesday, July 31, 2007

South Island Visit: Adventures for Women in NZ

Nothing adventured, nothing gained!

What a great slogan - and at Driftwood Dreamers, they live by it! I had a chance to preview their new South Island adventure trip and am still droolin. It blows my mind that so many activities and great places are included in the two-week trip...whale watching, sea kayaking, bird watching, cellar door tastings, beach hopping, wilderness walking, glacier crossing, whitewater rafting, cruising, sightseeing and more in the company of women from all over the globe!

Any woman traveler headed to New Zealand in November should put this on their list of to dos. The trip runs 18 Nov. - 1 Dec. and you can get a detailed itinerary on RainbowTourism.com/tours.

If you miss this one, book early for the second edition, departing Christchurch 27th Jan - 9th Feb.

Check out the itinerary

Monday, July 30, 2007

Top 10 up-and-coming gay destinations

Here is a list of Top 10 destinations as suggested by gay.com

  1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  2. Melbourne, Australia
  3. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA
  4. Hong Kong, China
  5. Cape Town, South Africa
  6. New York, NY, USA
  7. Berlin, Germany
  8. San Diego, CA, USA
  9. Philadelphia, PA, USA
  10. Toronto, Canada

Melbourne, Australia as reviewed by gay.com:

"With its tree-lined boulevards, intimate restaurants, thriving theater scene, Victorian architecture and a nightlife that easily rivals Sydney's, Australia's second city should come first on every antipodean visitor's itinerary. Cap it off with a stay in the laid-back, gay-friendly state of Queensland, boasting the Great Barrier Reef, lush rainforest, miles of surf and a blazing sun."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

K'Road: Kómmerce, K'haracter, Kúlture & Kómmunity

K'Road is the essence of Gay Auckland, home to many gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses, bars, and entertainment venues, like Finale Restaurant which recently celebrated its second birthday.

Just around the corner from Family Bar, is gay-owned coffee shop run by Matt & Tim, who also own Moana Vista B&B off the Ponsonby District.

Karangahape Road is a golden mile long, containing every kind of biz from the Rainbow Youth office to arts and drama queen hangouts. and plenty of mainstream hotels, restaurants and shops, too.

As inspiration to, and meeting place of, many of Auckland's most creatively brilliant people K Road has organically become an arts and events space. Be sure to put it on your to do list when visiting Auckland. I spent an afternoon walking from one end to the other, stopping frequently for chai latte, cell phone top up, late lunch, and new walking shoes! Oh yeah, and souvenirs at the From N to Z store.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wider Auckland Worth the Wander

Skip the Rainbow's End theme park. Throw your boots in your JUCY hire car and head for "Fairy Falls" on the west coast.

Visitors to the North Island ex Auckland should add the Whatipu (Fot -a- Poo) experience to their list of "Not to Miss".
Figure on 30 minutes to get out of the CBD, a short scenic drive through the country, and eventually through a plush rainforest, and you're almost there. The black beaches of Whatipu Sands await you...for fishing and beachcombing, painting and photography, cave exploration, even weaving with native harakeke, bark and shells collected from the volcanics and soil along the magnificent coastline. The area is ecologically significant and has major Maori associations and historic sites.

Book ahead with Marnie and Ali if you want to stay at Whatipu Lodge. The original Colonial homestead and post office are maintained for historical significance by Auckland Regional Council. The bunkhouses and central cafeteria built later in the 1920's as a fishing camp can accommodate groups up to 37. The greenie girls and Jac (their jack russell ) also manage a campsite with long drop and solar showers...and a bach for those who like a few amenities. The Lodge, Bach and Campground are kid friendly. In fact, each January, the Rainbow Family weekend is held here, and attracts 60 some lesbians, kids, cats, dogs, tents and caravans.

Remember Jane Campion's epic movie "The Piano"? It was filmed right up the coastline at Karekare - about a 2.5 hours tramp or 1.5 hours drive by scenic, winding, road. Also check out "Fairy Falls Track" while in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, a 3 hour, 6km walk in the wild. It takes about 45 min. to get to the top of the waterfall.

Also on this Tasman Sea coastline is the very popular Piha Beach and Lion Rock, where you can swim with the dolphins, sharks and seals in season. Stay overnight with Bobbie and Julia at their Piha Beach cabin. The cosy accommodation is a minute's walk from the beach, and a comfortable stop for $100 pn. All are welcome, especially keen surfers, trampers and beach lovers.

Don't forget your wide angle lens. Wider Auckland requires a panoramic camera to capture the waves to mountain scenes you won't soon forget.

Monday, July 23, 2007

WA Pride Confirms Dates and Venues for 2007 Festival

Pride’s 2007 Festival “Imagine… One better world” will be launched on Thursday, September 20 at The Court Hotel. Everyone’s favourite, The City of Perth Pride Fairday in Russell Square will follow on Sunday, September 30.

‘We are still waiting for community groups to confirm events that will be held throughout the month, but it looks like being a wonderful Festival,’ said Female Co-president and Festival Co-convenor, Tanya Croft.

‘Our film season will be held once again at Cinema Paradiso from October 7 to 17 and we are currently finalising the films.’

The Women of Pride Subcommittee have also secured a vessel for a rivercruise, an event that was very popular amongst the ladies in 2005. “Women in Uniform 2” will be held on Sunday, October 7.

‘These are just some of the events the community can look forward to during October,’ said Tanya Croft.

Community groups and others wanting to hold an event are reminded to get their information to the Pride committee by the end of July to ensure they are included in the Festival Guide.

The Pride Festival will conclude on Saturday, October 27 with the Pride Parade and Official After Party at Belmont Racecourse.

Rainbow Places to stay in Perth

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Awesome Auckland Alive with Gay Life

Instead of a wicked weekend flash visit, I decided to spend some quality time on my second visit here. Auckland is gayest of cities in NZ (if you don't count Queenstown in Sept. during Gay Ski Week), and the first port of call to check out Kiwi Culture from N to Z.

First order of business was long-stay accommodation; plenty of gay B&B and homestays available with online booking on RainbowTourism.com/places/New_Zealand.

Rainbow Recommendation: Moana Vista B&B, a short walk off Ponsonby, hosted by Matt & Tim with mixed clientele.

They also own a popular cafe, called Barretta Expresso, just off the golden mile K'Road, where all the gay and lesbians bars and bistros hum on the weekends. For the women, there's Bitch and Flirt; for everyone, there's the Family bar, and coming soon is Dorothy's Sister.

Second, fine wine and food eateries in the queer neighborhood of Ponsonby. Chapel Street Bar & Bistro jumped out of me because of the Vespa Club outings it sponsors on 3rd Sunday; how I miss my rainbow scooter. There's no shortage of wIne lounges with tapas; super gay friendly Kim Crawford wines are a favorite ever since they were the official wine of Mardi Gras/Sydney in 2005.

Not since Vancouver, have I found a more sexy city, one that appeals to shoppers as well as Arts in the CIty buffs, and sailors, of course. The City of Sails almost has more yachts than fish in the Tasman Sea!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Zealand Guided Nature Walks


Peter & Karyn Hitchman…

…we have been guiding and instructing in the mountains and forests of New Zealand for the last decade, taking groups deep into the lush forests and high above the snow line into the pristine, untouched world of the alpine region.

We have a vast knowledge of the flora, fauna, history and geology of this beautiful region and with the on-going assistance of Richard Bryant, a fourth generation local and the pioneer of Guided Nature Walks we have a huge source of information and history that is unavailable anywhere else.

It is our privilege to take our clients into some of the most beautiful and spectacular areas in the Queenstown region and show them what makes this such a special area.

Our friendly, knowledgeable guides will make sure our clients have the time to enjoy the whole experience nature has provided. We have chosen our range of walks for their natural history, scenic beauty, remoteness and varied terrain. We are proud of our company’s reputation for providing friendly, informative and personalised nature walks for small groups.

Thank you for your on-going support and business through the winter season.

Together with you we are working to make Guide Nature Walks the most memorable part of our client’s New Zealand experience

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Winter special at Catlins Wildlife Tracker Eco Cottages

Take two nights at Mohua Park and receive
FREE WINE and CHOCOLATE this winter(June-Oct).

Enjoy a winter break in the Catlins area in southern New Zealand with Fergus and Mary Sutherland your hosts at Catlins Wildlife Tracker Eco Cottages Mohua Park

The Catlins area is a natural retreat where wilderness and farmland coexist, where beech and podocarp rainforest with abundant native birdlife still extends from hill tops to the coast. The headlands and beaches of the varied coast are home to sub-antarctic wildlife such as yellow-eyed penguins, petrels and sealions. The Catlins is
a place for those who love nature to stay a while and enjoy the freedom of the many outdoor opportunities for exploration.

Why not enjoy all winter offers with a special that
Catlins Wildlife Tracker Eco Cottages Mohua Park are offering over winter.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Country Retreat Especially for Women & Studio Retreat for All

The Village of Waipu, pop. 432, is a 2 hour drive or 2.5 bus ride from Auckland, on the way north to Bay of Islands. If you're searching for paradise, at the end of a rainbow, this could be it! A giant rainbow flag flies proudly above one couple's salt water shack atop the highest point, offering this stunning view!

Waihoihoi Lodge outside Waipu is a highly desirable holiday destination for women travellers and for groups because of its superb facilities, generous hospitality & engaging hosts, not to mention value for money and stunning location!

A lot of women - and their men guests and family members - come here time and again to relax, revive and rejuvenate. That was me on my first visit in 2005. This time, I'm wwofing on the environmentally sustainable property. Willing Workers on Organic Farms, or Wwofers, exchange labour for room and board. The view, garden goodies and fresh air are priceless!
Rosie and her late partner Ngiare , built the eco lodge four years ago, which is lovingly patrolled by their dog Hildegard who will greet you upon arrival in paradise.

If you're like me, you'll never want to leave - except for an afternoon stroll on Cove Beach to pick up fresh mussels, a paddle around Bream Bay in a sea kayak, or a round of golf alongside the sea.

Rosie is also a guru of women's travel in New Zealand, and around the globe. She maintains the site www.womentravel.co.nz.

2008 Update: Rosemary is now travelling so her wonderful lodge is closed - check out her stories on her Women Travel Blog

Kia Ora: Welcome to Kiwi Kountry

For the cost of a cab to the CBD, you can be met at the airport and driven to your accommodation in Auckland with gay tour host Ron Judd. Why go any other way? Ron greeted my late flight from Sydney, and despite a welcoming shower, he drove me up to Mt. Eden for a panoramic view. Sensational introduction to NZ's big, bold and breathtaking City of Sails!
Ron left me with a handy dossier of brochures and recommendations where to eat and shop in the trendy,gay district known as Ponsonby. The women gather at an event called Flirt, and a lot of others call into Family, both on K'Road. I did not enjoy the service at Restaurant SPQR, yet the muscles were divine as the savvy wine.

For those staying longer than overnight, I suggest you book with Ron for a country tour, or at least a half day tour around the city. After discussing your preferences, he will personalise the drive to your pace and taste. Ron is a native Aucklander - a rarity these days - and his knowledge of the area makes for a very pleasant experience - not to mention the smooth ride in his luxurious 607!