Visitors to New Zealand now require an ETA

From 1 October 2019, travellers to New Zealand must have an ETA. An ETA can be applied for via the ETA mobile app or the Immigration NZ website.

The fastest way to request your NZeTA is by downloading a free app from the Immigration NZ Website to your mobile phone. If you use the app it will take you less than 5 minutes to complete your request. You can use the app to scan your passport to instantly upload your details and scan your credit or debit card for ease of payment.
 The cost of the ETA is NZD$9 (ca. 5.50 Euro) for requests made via the mobile app and NZD$12 (ca. 7 Euro) for requests made via the Immigration NZ website. 
 Passengers are advised to apply for their NZeTA at least 72 hours prior to travel.

You will need a valid passport that you will use to travel to New Zealand, a credit card or debit card (Visa or Mastercard), and an email address. Once issued, an ETA is valid for up to two years and can be used for multiple visits to NZ. 
Travellers will pay their International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) of NZD$35 (ca. 20 Euro) at the same time they request their ETA. The IVL funds tourism infrastructure and helps protect New Zealand’s natural environment.

Further information about the NZeTA can be found here:

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail: Part Two

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail: Wairarapa

From Hawke’s Bay, head south down The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail on State Highway 2 to the Wairarapa region.

A wonderful stop on the way south is at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Here you can see the world’s only white kiwi in captivity, as well as plenty of native New Zealand wildlife.

Wairarapa boasts some of the country’s most iconic wine producers. It is most noted for its pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and aromatic wines. Martinborough is the most prominent of the Wairarapa regions. It is home to around 30 wineries that are mostly family owned. Most of the wineries are within walking distance from Martinborough’s picturesque colonial town centre. Biking to the wineries is also very popular, and a great way to explore the area. There are some excellent vineyard cafes and restaurants, as well as boutique stores and quality accommodation. The Martinborough Wine Centre is also a great stop if you are short on time, and would like to taste a variety of wines from the region at one place. Greytown, a Victorian country village in the Wairarapa, has a mix of boutique shops, art galleries, antique stores, cafes and restaurants, making it one of New Zealand’s top shopping destinations. Schoc Chocolates is highly recommended for any chocolate lover! Wairarapa celebrates its wine legacy with a variety of festivals, including Toast Martinborough (in November) and Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival (in March).

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail : Part One

Explore the best of local New Zealand wines on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail wine experience spans three of New Zealand’s top wine regions: Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough. Together these regions account for 80% of New Zealand’s wine production, are home to more than 230 wineries and vineyards, and have won multiple awards for their delicious wines.

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail starts in Hawke’s Bay, where you can enjoy wine from New Zealand’s oldest wine region. The Hawke’s Bay specializes in rich, complex, Chardonnay and full-bodied Bordeaux-blend red wines. With over 70 wineries stretching across Hawke’s Bay, there is no shortage of places to visit. Join a group or private tour and taste wines from some of New Zealand’s most well-known cellar doors.

We also recommend hopping on your bike and finding your way to one of Hawke’s Bay’s fabulous food markets. The Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s Market is open every Sunday of the year and the Black Barn Vineyards Growers’ Market is open Saturday mornings throughout the summer. Choose something delicious for breakfast, a hot beverage to go with it, and something special for your day on the trails to offset the wine tasting later in the day. Hawke’s Bay offers some of New Zealand’s easiest and most delicious cycle trails. With over 200km of cycling, choose from a short ride along the coast or a four-day exploration through back-country roads, or something in between. There are bike companies who will take you on a wide range of guided adventures or just simply rent you a bike and give you a map (and saddlebags of course, to carry all of your purchases along the way).


We highly recommend the following wineries: Church Road Winery, Clearview Estate Winery, Stonecroft, Ash Ridge Wines, Te Mata Estate Winery, Sileni Estates, Trinity Hill Winery Tasting Room, Craggy Range Winery, Black Barn Vineyards, Mission Estate Winery, and Elephant Hill Estate & Winery.

Top Golf Experiences near Auckland

As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland has something for everyone: Enjoy the sun at one of the many fabulous restaurants, cafes or bars in downtown Auckland, savour some of New Zealand’s best wine at a vineyard, or take a short ferry ride to explore the islands of the surrounding Hauraki Gulf. Auckland is also the perfect starting point for Golf Lovers wanting to play golf in the North Island.  There are four “Marquee Courses” within easy reach of Auckland: The Wainui Golf Club, the Gulf Harbour Country Club, the Titirangi Golf Club and the Windross Farm Golf Course.

A Marquee Course is of high quality, is aspirational within inherent international interest, has history and/or a particular identity, and is accessible for visitor play. There are 14 Marquee Courses throughout New Zealand.

Wainui Golf Club

Just 30 minutes north of Auckland’s Central Business District lies one of the country’s newest golf experiences. Wainui Golf Club features an 18 hole championship course with five sets of tees, as well as a nine-hole short course, which plays through the property’s feijoada orchard with holes ranging from 70 – 150 yards in length. Although close to the city, the property still captures the rugged beauty of Kiwi landscapes. The course is cut through rolling hills, natural water ways, and is framed by 80-year-old statement pines and precise bunkering. With a full service clubhouse, driving range, and golf carts equipped with GPS, Wainui is quickly becoming a “must play” course in New Zealand.

You can read more about this club here:

Gulf Harbour Country Club

On the Whangaparaoa Peninsula – 40 minutes drive from downtown Auckland – Gulf Harbour was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr. and opened in 1998. With many outstanding sea views, Gulf Harbour has a links-style feel. Trent Jones Jnr kept this course mostly open to the elements so that when the wind blows, par or a score anywhere near that represents a fine day’s golf.  The signature hole is the 16th – a 460 yard par 4 dogleg along the cliff tops.

You can read more about this club here:

Titirangi Golf Club

Titirangi Golf Club, Neuseeland’s only Dr. Alister MacKenzie designed golf course, is just 15 minutes drive from downtown Auckland. It is situated in a beautiful bushland setting between the lower slopes of the Waitakere Ranges and the Manukau Harbour. Founded in 1909, it is a private members club but offers playing opportunities for New Zealand and overseas visitors. Titirangi is regarded as one of New Zealand’s top courses and is a product of one of golf’s all-time best course designers.

You can read more about this club here:

Windross Farm Golf Course

Set amongst iconic New Zealand countryside, and located within 30 minutes from Auckland city, Windross Farm is the site for the LPGA Tour’s Mckayson New Zealand Women’s Open. The 18 hole championship course has been developed as a unique links-style course that offers a mixture of flat and undulating grounds, man-made lakes and strategically placed dramatic bunkers, combining the best of golf and the natural environment. Windross is a course of strategy: about playing the right lines to the pin and then being tested by the undulating greens and surrounds.

You can read more about this club here:

DOC gets increased funding to support New Zealand’s wildlife and landscape

One of the major treasures of New Zealand is its stunning and unique wildlife, landscape and native bush. Given the growing attraction of this country for increasingly large numbers of tourists, the challenge is afoot for New Zealand’s government and its Department of Conservation to ensure that this treasure is maintained and protected. Sustainable tourism is essential, if New Zealand is to retain its beautiful natural environment.

New Zealand’s government has recently announced its 2018 Budget, which delivers a significant funding boost for the Department of Conservation, with an additional $181.62 million to be delivered to DOC over the next four years:

  • $81.28 million to help New Zealand’s unique wildlife thrive by controlling and eradicating predators
  • $16.24 million for strengthening DOC’s organisational capacity and capability
  • $5.5 million for managing the impacts of more visitors to public conservation land
  • $2.6 million for protecting plants, wildlife and landscapes in the Mackenzie Basin
  • $76 million as a contingency to fund biodiversity initiatives across land, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

It’s one of the biggest ever funding increases for the Department of Conservation and will benefit New Zealand’s distinctive native plants, wildlife and natural landscapes.

Discovering Mou Waho Island and Lake Wanaka with Eco Wanaka


Last month I was in Wanaka, enjoying a fabulous four day autumn retreat in this beautiful town. The leaves of the trees along the lakeshore had already turned a brilliant gold by the time we arrived, and the bright blue skies and sparkling sunshine were an incredible backdrop. Every time I put my camera away, I’d have to pull it out again in a vain attempt to capture this special corner of New Zealand.

One of the best trips we did during our stay in Wanaka was an excursion with Eco Wanaka Adventures out to Mou Waho Island nature reserve. Chris Reilly was our Guide for the day, and he regaled us with fascinating insights into the history of this nature reserve. Mou Waho is about 20 minutes by boat from Wanaka. It was a beautiful ride, and we were surprised to see how long Lake Wanaka is. From the town itself, you don’t get an appreciation for how far north it runs, and for all the bays and cliffs that edge the lake. We drove past Mou Tapu, a striking and sacred island where the Maori buried their dead, and then pulled up to a little jetty on Mou Waho.


The first thing we noticed was the beautiful bird calls drifting down through the bush: we could pick out bell birds, fantails and wood pigeons. Chris showed us examples of native plants on the way up to the top of the island – mistletoe with little yellow berries (a favourite with the wood pigeons) and fuchsia, whose purple flowers are adored by bell birds (the little green birds end up with purple faces from the pollen of these flowers). Chris also showed us some wineberries, and explained how the wood pigeons love to over-indulge in these small red berries. On a hot day, the wine berries ferment in the pigeons stomach, the pigeons get drunk on the berries, and you can see them swooping crazily up and down the island. Chris told us about how he nearly got hit in the head by one drunken pigeon a few years ago.

Another lovely aspect of this trip is that every group of visitors gets to plant a tree on the island, to give something back to the island, and to New Zealand’s environment. We planted a totara tree, and have already planned to go back and visit in a few years time, to see how it has grown. Another memorable part of our visit to Mou Waho was our interaction with two of the delightfully curious Buff Weka, a flightless bird that has been extinct on the mainland since the 1920’s. Sally (one of the Weka’s whose territory extended to the lake on the top of the island, where we stopped for morning tea) wandered around our legs while we sipped our tea, and was very calm and accepting of our presence. We got some fabulous photos and videos from very close up.

The view from the top of Mou Waho looking back over Lake Wanaka and up to the surrounding mountains was absolutely stunning. The light breaking through the clouds and the imposing mountains all around was a dream for any photographer. Every corner we turned looked out onto new breathtaking vistas which I kept trying to capture. A highly recommended trip for anyone wanting to experience New Zealand’s birdlife and native flora with a fabulous guide, and for anyone wanting to see this beautiful part of the country from a different perspective.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds provides a fascinating glimpse into New Zealand’s history. It was here on 6 February 1840 that the first 43 Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown, whereby (the British Crown claimed) British sovereignty was established. The Treaty House was built in 1832 and was originally a home of British resident James Busby. It is now preserved as a museum. The iconic carved meeting house – Te Whare Rūnanga – is stunning. The fine carvings on the meeting house represent the main Maori tribes.

We can also highly recommend the cultural performances at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which take place during the summer. You can experience the thrill of a challenge from a Māori warrior as you make your way through the grounds. If you pass, you’ll continue on to Te Whare Rūnanga where you’ll encounter a traditional Māori welcome, and an energetic cultural performance by the resident performing arts group – Te Pitowhenua. After the show you can return to the café for a delicious hāngi dinner – cooked in a traditional Māori earth oven – in which your food is steamed to perfection.  Expert hāngi chefs will educate you on the cooking process as they tantalisingly reveal your feast.

You can get a glimpse into what awaits through this video clip filmed at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Waitangi Treaty Grounds


McKayson’s New Zealand Women’s Open Golf Championship 2017


The New Zealand’s Womens Open is New Zealand’s richest golf tournament with NZ$1.85 million in prizemoney. It will be staged at the new Windross Farm golf course in Auckland from 28 September to 1 October this year. The New Zealand Women’s Open is part of the global LPGA Tour which comprises 35 events in 15 countries, with the New Zealand event to be broadcast to more than 150 countries.

Eight Major winners, including three from the winning 2017 USA Solheim Cup team, have completed final confirmation for the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open taking place in just over three weeks.

The trio of Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Danielle Kang were part of the winning American Solheim Cup team. The other Major winners include Canada’s Brooke Henderson, Korea’s Na Yeon Choi, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, Scotand’s Catriona Matthew and tournament host Lydia Ko.

Tseng and Ko have been so dominant that between them they were the world number one for more than four years. Tseng was the youngest player either male or female, at 22 years, to win five majors – the US Women’s PGA Championship twice, the Women’s British Open twice and the ANA Inspiration. Lincicome, 31, is a two-time Major winner and likely to be one of the most popular players at the tournament, on the back of her big hitting game, which has earned her the nickname of BamBam. Choi is another player with a remarkable record in the game, with nine LPGA wins including the US Women’s Open in 2012. The 29 year old has won over NZ$15 million in earnings, with her first professional tournament victory in Korea at just 17 following an incredible amateur career. Henderson, 19, already has four professional wins to her credit including her breakthrough victory when she beat Ko in a playoff to claim her first Major, the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship. Matthew has 11 tournament wins to her credit including the British Open in 2010 and four wins on the LPGA, amassing more than NZ$13 million in her career. Creamer is a 12-time winner who has amassed more than $NZ 16 million in prize money including a win in her first year to become the youngest winner of a multiple-round tournament. She claimed her Major at the US Women’s Open in 2010 with her last win coming at the HSBC Women’s Champions in 2014. Kang, 24, won her first Major with victory in the KPMG PGA Championship this year, pushing her one spot outside the top-10 in the Rolex World Rankings for the two-time US Amateur champion. And then there’s the 20-year-old Ko, who was world number one for a remarkable 104 weeks and in her very short but meteoric rise in the sport, has already won 14 times including two Majors along with 60 top-10 LPGA finishes.

“To have golfers who have won so many Major Championships between them is a testament to the quality of the field coming to New Zealand,” said tournament director Michael Goldstein. “To this you have a number of outstanding players who have won many times on either on the LPGA or the LET Tours. We have a large number of proven champions in the women’s game competing in Auckland, and it will be a privilege for New Zealand fans to watch players of this calibre in action. It is a level of golf that has never been seen in this country before.”

You can read more about the championship on their website:





Anzac Day: 25 April

Today is Anzac Day. April 25. To me, Anzac Day conjures up vivid images of my university time in Auckland, when on this day each year my friends and I would get up in the dark, and walk through the Domain to the Auckland War Memorial (by the Museum). We would gather in small groups, whispering, and waiting for the first rays of light, and the emotional moving sound of a solitary bagpipe, that indicated the start of the ceremony. Most people were well wrapped up against the cold, but all would be wearing a red paper poppy somewhere on their jackets, to mark the day.  Wreaths, decorated with poppies, would be laid around the memorial, and returned servicemen decorated with medals would be an intrinsic part of the ceremony, many often in wheelchairs.

In this way, thousands of New Zealanders and Australians in New Zealand, Australia and all around the world today attended dawn ceremonies and parades to commemorate Anzac Day. This public holiday (in both Australia and New Zealand) commemorates all New Zealanders and Australians killed in war and conflicts and also honours returned servicemen and women who have fought and protected our country.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Australian and New Zealand Armed Corps – the “Anzacs” – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders. Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians.  Among the dead were around 2700 New Zealanders, about a sixth of those who served on Gallipoli, and over 5000 New Zealanders were wounded.

New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams spoke at a dawn service at Gallipoli today. I found her speech very moving. You can see it here:

Gallipoli – Anzac Day 2017