• Explore the Maori Culture of New Zealand

    While no longer the dominant culture of New Zealand, many people still take an avid interest in the Maori way of life and their fascinating way of life. With so many opportunities for you to experience this unique culture, you may be at a loss of where to start, so to help you along your way, here’s a guide on how to explore the Maori culture of New Zealand!

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    Maori Kai Festival

    The Maori Kai food festival is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike due to showcases of delicious natural and local foods from the Maori culture. Previously, the traditional foods that you can try in these festivals were reserved mainly for Maori functions and events!

    With the increasingly popularity and the awareness it raises, the Maoris are more than happy to let everyone experience their way of life, providing the perfect opportunity to ease yourself into the cuisine side of the culture. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to appreciate the traditional clothes and jewellery that will be worn by the Maori locals.

    Lonely Planet has described this festival as one of the highlights of the year for people in New Zealand, with it being held around the month of February. Different areas of the country give the festival a different twist, so even if you have done it before and find yourself in a different area, you will have a whole new experience!

    Pasifika Festival

    This annual festival is a celebration of everything in the Maori culture, from music to food, arts to dancing. It is without a doubt one of the most significant cultural festivals in the South Pacific and helps preserve many of the old practices of the Maori.

    The festival generally lasts for around two days and on the first day you will be treated to a concert of Pacific songs, dances and stories. The following day sees the Auckland’s Western Springs Park transformed into 10 villages, one village from every Pacific Island. This is a great opportunity to sample so many different kinds of Maori culture in a couple of days and should not be missed.


    The entire area of Rotorua is steeped in Maori culture and history, making it a great place to experience! Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, and Maori legend states that two fire demons searching for a lost tribe leader are the cause of the heat coming from the Earth. Here, you can explore the geysers, mud pools and steam vents while there are plenty of signs and information points explaining the importance of what you see in the Maori culture.

    Te Puia

    While many of the Maori cultural festivals give you a taste of the cuisine, none of them can give you cuisine cooked in one of the most ancient Maori methods, the Steambox. The Steambox uses a favourite Maori technique of cooking the food from the hot geysers that spray out from the Earth. You simply choose what you wish to eat for lunch and watch as the Maori chefs cook the food with the heat from the geyser!

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  • The Churches of Munich

    There are few places that can match Bavaria for architectural beauty, with the castles, churches and other iconic buildings appearing like something out of a fairytale. The famous Cinderella Castle of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom was even based on one of Bavaria’s 19th-century palaces, and if you want to discover the charm of this amazing region for yourself then you can’t go wrong with a trip to Munich.

    Some of the area’s best towers and castles – including the dreamlike Neuschwanstein Castle – can be found sprinkled around the countryside and in small villages, so if you want to see them all then you may want to hire a car at Munich airport. However, there are also plenty of amazing structures to see within Munich itself, and in this guide we’ll introduce you to a few of them.


    The two domes of the Frauenkirche have become something of a symbol of Munich since this church was built in the late 15th century. Located in the Old City, or Altstadt Lehel, its twin towers stand at a height of 99 m and offer amazing views of the city and the surrounding countryside – stretching all the way to the Alps – from the top.

    Officially called Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau, meaning Cathedral of Our Dear lady, the building is a perfect example of the Gothic style for which Munich is so famous, and is home to the legendary devil’s footprint, which is impressed into the floor of the church.

    Kirche St Peter

    Also in the Altstadt Lehel is the Church of St Peter, which sits on the Petersbergl hill and provides a view that can rival that of the Frauenkirche. You’ll have to ascend 299 steps to enjoy it though, but the reward more than makes up for the effort.

    Originally constructed in the 11th century, the church has been expanded, redeveloped and redecorated numerous times throughout history, and is home to a number of wonderful pieces of art from various periods of Munich’s past. Large ceiling frescoes cover the church’s nave, while each side of the tower also features two clock faces.


    Inspired by Rome’s Sant’Andrea Della Valle, the Theatinerkirche sits in Odeonsplatz and was designed by Italian architect Agostino Barelli in the high Baroque style, with construction taking place between 1663 and 1690.

    Further features were later added by a succession of other architects, including Enrico Zuccalli who added two towers, as well as Francois de Cuvillies, who completed the Rococo-style facade in 1768.


    Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this particular building is the fact that it was built by a pair of brothers as their own private church. However, shortly after its completion in 1746, owners Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam were forced to open their place of worship to the public under pressure from Munich’s staunchly religious citizens.

    Located on Senlingerstraße, near Sendlinger Tor (one of the three remaining city gates), the Asamkirche is a great example of late Baroque architecture and is typical of the sorts of buildings that can be found throughout Bavaria.

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  • Tenerife’s Top Free Attractions for Families Holiday On A Budget

    With hours of sunshine all year round and some of Europe’s best beaches, Tenerife is an ideal destination for holidaymakers. There are also plenty of cheap flights available from all major UK airports, making it perfect for anyone travelling on a budget. They say the best things in life are free, so check out our guide to the best purse-friendly attractions Tenerife has to offer. The whole family will love it!


    It might sound obvious, but what better place to start than Tenerife’s famous beaches? The island certainly isn’t short of golden sands and clear waters where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a swim. After all, it’s completely free to relax, unwind and top up your tan!

    Visit El Drago

    Located in a park in the town of Icod de los Vinos, the multi-headed Drago Tree is certainly unusual and is said to be up to 1000 years old. You have to pay to get into the park where this huge knarled tree is, but if you head to the town plaza instead you can get a brilliant view of it completely gratis.

    Teide National Park

    Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to discover Tenerife, and some of island’s most fantastic views can be found at Teide National Park. Its surreal volcanic landscape really does have to be seen to be believed! Alternatively, enjoy a walk around one of the island’s many promenades and coastal paths where you can enjoy an ice cream, enjoy the breath-taking views and see some of the island’s fascinating flora and fauna.


    If relaxing on the sand isn’t enough for you, dig out your board and take advantage of Tenerife’s excellent surfing conditions. Forget paying for pricy water parks and head to Playa Jardín in Puerto de la Cruz where you can brave the waves and enjoy all the thrills and spills of the water for free.


    Famous attractions like Siam Park don’t come cheap, so take advantage of Sundays on the island where entry to all of Tenerife’s publicly owned galleries and museums is free. Alternatively, if you’re not over there on a Sunday, try using a service like Cheapflights the online comparison website to save some money on flights for the sightseeing. It’s a great way to combine fun and learning for the whole family.


    Mainland Spain is renowned for its fiestas, and The Canary Islands are no exception! Canarians love a celebration and there are no less than 14 fiesta days celebrated throughout the year. Most shops close on fiesta days, but bars and cafes largely remain open and the main plaza is decorated with colourful bunting and a huge stage ahead of the celebrations. Once the sun goes down, local Canarian bands take to the stage to deliver performances of traditional music and singing, and the atmosphere is electric.

    Food and drink flows freely and people descend on the plaza to join in with the fun. Canarians are also renowned for being welcoming and hospitable, so tourists are always heartily encouraged to join in too.

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  • Top tips for booking a last minute travel deal

    So you’re looking to book your annual holiday and you realise that the best deal that you will get is by booking one of the last minute vacation deals like from ClubMed. This is when people can get a little nervous, they don’t like to leave everything to the last minute. There is little to worry about, if you are flexible then you will not be disappointed, you will more than likely save money and keep within your budget. Booking a last minute deal is not as simple as going on line and clicking a few buttons, there are several things for you to consider before committing to a last minute deal.

    Summer_earlybooker_13_visual-sliderPlan ahead

    If you plan ahead and do your homework then you will be well prepared when it comes to making a last minute booking. You should make yourself familiar with the type of fares that are offered by the airlines, make sure that you search through the comparison websites to find the best deals. You can also set up email alerts so that you are informed when the price either drops or increases. It’s also a good idea to sign up to newsletters from airlines, this way you will know when there are flight offers. By looking at airfares and hotel costs regularly you will know what is a good deal and what isn’t.

    Pick the best time to travel

    There will be more expensive times of the year to fly such as during holiday season, this does not mean that you have to pay astronomical prices to travel during these times. You will be able to get discounts if you choose your day carefully. For example, fridays and saturdays are more often than not the most expensive days to travel on. If you travel on the actual day of a holiday the price will be lower; christmas day and new year’s eve are usually cheaper to fly on. Check in advance to see when the most likely savings will be offered.

    Be flexible

    The secret behind successfully booking a last minute holiday is to be as flexible as possible, remember you are planning on saving money so you can’t be too picky. Of course you can have your ideal holiday in mind but be willing to compromise. Those that are most open minded are the people that will be enjoying the best last minute holiday. You may have to compromise on location, departing airport and accommodation, but that will all be forgotten when you have a fantastic family holiday!


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  • Advice Blog Travel Travel Tips

    Local knowledge when you travel

    European cities have a lot to offer and are very diverse. One city might be known for it’s create architecture, whilst another is more seen as a ‘Mecca’ for musicians and artists. One thing they have in common and that is the fact that most of them have a lot of history going on and that they are culturally rich. Looking at Paris or London, both places to be for fashionistas and artists. Copenhagen with it’s Freetown of Christiania which was founded by a group of hippies in the 70s. And Prague with is wide assortment of cheap and tasty beer.

    So Europe seems to be a great place to go. Momondo created this amazing interactive cheat sheet so you that provide you with all the local knowledge you need to know: trendy areas, club scene hotspots, and local knowledge such as what food to taste and what to drink.  Check it out!

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  • 5 Awesome Things to Do in London

    A day spent in London can include nearly an endless amount of possible activities! This city has something for literally everyone, whether you’re into cultural activities, eating great food, exploring the outdoors or people watching. There’s great shopping, dining and historical attractions and entertainment both on and off the beaten tourist path. So book some accommodation in London and use this list as a handy guide for spending a great day in London:


    Chill in a Park

    There are so many green spaces in this city that you can almost forget that you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world. Chill out with a picnic and enjoy the trees, lakes, bike and walking paths and tranquil gardens. Kensington Gardens right off the side of Hyde Park is absolutely gorgeous. This is London’s largest and most famous park.

    Shop Till You Drop

    You absolutely can’t leave London without experiencing some of the world’s greatest shopping. Walk down Oxford street and take in some of the most expensive and luxurious shops in the world. Window shop in the unique boutiques on Bond Street and indulge in the glamorous lifestyle of the crowd in this area. People watching can be just as entertaining as swiping your credit card at these shops!

    Buckingham Palace

    This is an absolute do-not-miss in London! The morning is the best time to visit in order to beat the massive crowds that will gather during the day so leave your London hotel early and get your spot. Make sure to see the changing of the guard at 11:30 am, but get there early enough to nab a spot on the Queen Victoria Memorial right in front of the palace! Afterwards, you can bring a picnic to St. Jame’s Park for a nice view of the lake.

    Indulge in Culture

    London has some of the best museums in the world, making it a number one destination for anyone looking for some cultural immersion. Over 240 museums will satisfy your desire to explore everything from modern art to natural history and science, design and imperial war. There are also tons of niche museums covering interests like rugby and cartoons. Bring the kids to one of the fabulous children’s museums and watch their wide-eyed fascination.

    Enjoy a Spa

    Pamper yourself for a day during your holiday and relax your tired feet from all that walking. There are so many luxury spas to choose from in this cosmopolitan city. Enjoy all the treatments including a facial, massage and scrub for face and body. You’ll emerge feeling refreshed and renewed for the rest of your holiday.

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  • Preparation Tips for a Long Distance Trek

    Part of the fun of travel is the spontaneity and freedom it provides. However, if you’re planning a long-distance journey on foot, you’ll need to take the time to prepare a little. A long distance trek could mean anything from a two-week hike through the Andes to a six-month long journey backpacking through Southeast Asia. No matter how long the distance may be, there are a few tips that can help you start off on the right foot.

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    Choosing a Route

    The first step towards planning your trek is to choose an itinerary. The terrain, distance, and climate will help determine what you need to do to prepare, so it’s important to research these aspects of the trek before you begin. Think about the type of scenery you’re interested in exploring. Do you prefer a gentle walk around a series of lakes and valleys, or would you prefer a more challenging hike up the side of a mountain? How far do you plan to travel to get to the beginning of the hike? It’s best to narrow the route down by region and preferred terrain before you begin. You can then read reviews, books, and blogs about the trail. Be sure to stock up on hiking guides and maps for your journey.

    Getting in Shape

    With a good idea of what your route is going to look like, you’ll be able to start training for this endurance challenge. Remember that you’ll not only need to be walking for eight hours a day, potentially on steep inclines, but you’ll also need to be carrying a heavy load for much of this distance. Focus not only on building your leg muscles, but the body as a whole. Cardio exercises will help build your endurance, while weight lifting can help you prepare for heavy lifting. Even if you’re in top shape, prepare to start slowly on your hike and build up to more gruelling days, particularly at high altitudes.

    Preparing your Packing List

    What will you need to bring on your journey? If you’re travelling abroad, how will you get in touch with people? One option is to get a prepaid international SIM card from a provider like lebara.co.uk, which you can use in case of emergency. Yet in remote areas, you’ll also need to be self-sufficient. Think about health and beauty items like toilet paper, sanitary supplies, and soap, as well as adequate food and water. Dehydrated food is ideal for the trail, as it weighs less and doesn’t take up too much room. Powdered beans, vegetables, and soups can help keep you going on the trail.

    Final Preparations

    As you get closer to your final preparations, think about how you will stay in touch with the real world on a long distance journey. If you’ll be gone for several months, don’t forget to cancel your subscriptions and turn off media services. Prepay your bills or even switch over to a prepaid phone like the ones at Lebara, particularly if travelling abroad. You’ll also need to research your destination and find out if you need visas, permits, or vaccinations before entry.

    By taking the time to research your journey in advance, you can ensure that your trip runs smoothly while still enjoying the spontaneity of life as a backpacker. You’ll then be free to enjoy the renewal of mind, body, and spirit that a long distance trek can provide.

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  • Where are the cleanest toilets?!

    Traveling the European countries is incredible. It has something to over for everyone. Whether you are a sun and beach worshiper or a cold winter and snow lover, a historian or party animal you’ll find something to do around Europe! Europe is many things for sure but two of them are definitely culturally rich and beautiful.

    But is very thing as beautiful in Europe as you think? Not according to Zoover’s research that showed that public toilets in some countries are not as clean as they could be. 48% of British voters declared that France’s public toilets are the dirtiest in Europe, followed by Turkey’s with only 19%.


    If that put you off going to France, why don’t you try another popular destination like Playa de las Americas in Tenerife. Zoover has plenty reviews to offer to ensure you find the perfect destination for you!


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  • Saas Fee

    Located in the Swiss Kanton of Valais, Saas Fee is one of Switzerland’s finest ski resorts. I went on a skiing holiday in Saas Fee last February, and the skiing there turned out to be very good indeed. Saas Fee is close to the Dom and Allalinhorn glaciers which provide very high quality snow as well as skiing opportunities during the summer. Due to Saas Fee being surrounded by more than ten mountains which are higher than four thousand meters; the quality of snow is naturally very good. In fact, Saas Fee won a HolidayCheck Destination Award this year for the family holiday’s category.

    Saas Fee also has some famous movie heritage; the James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed partly on the Mittelallalin Mountain just below the Allalinhorn glacier.

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    Staying and Skiing in Saas Fee

    When you get to Saas Fee, one of the first things you will notice is that there are no cars in the town. Saas Fee is a car free town! You can get around on the small buses which ferry you about the town. The only real issue I found was getting around the other villages in the Saas Valley, as when you got to one of the villages, you sometimes had to get a bus back around to Saas Fee, instead of getting a lift back up and over the mountain, and personally I’m not a huge fan of getting on buses in my ski boots, with skis and poles falling about the place. After a day’s skiing, there is not quite like anything than getting to the bottom of the mountain and having a beer in one of the après ski bars, then retiring to the hotel. The hotel I stayed in had steam room and sauna facilities, which is ideal after a day’s skiing to loosen all your leg muscles off and to warm through.

    Saas Fee is also home to the world’s highest underground funicular railway, which is one of the ski lifts and goes up to a height of 3500 meters. At the top of the railway, there is another record breaker, the world’s highest revolving restaurant, although this was expectantly overpriced – as are most restaurants up the mountains in ski resorts. The town also has good restaurants and nightclubs, a few of the local specialties which you can eat in the restaurants are Saas sausage and fondues, which can be found all over Switzerland.

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    Essential information about Saas Fee

    In general Saas Fee has a snow safe reputation, and the Swiss are also pretty impeccable at grading their runs correctly (I mention this, as when I have skied in France before, some of the run grading’s were questionable). The ski pass prices were not too bad either; I paid around 400 Swiss Francs for a week’s ski pass, which works out as around 440 dollars. If you do drive to Saas Fee they have large multi-storey car parks, where you have to park your car before you go into the village. This cost only 97 Swiss Francs with the Saas Fee pass, which isn’t too bad, realistically most hotels I’ve stayed at in the French Alps charge more for a week’s parking.

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  • Exploring Dinosaur Island

    Hear the term ‘Dinosaur Island’ and images of the jungle-covered isle from the film The Lost World will probably spring to mind. At any rate, you probably won’t think of the Isle of Wight, although – drumroll, please – this actually is Dinosaur Island.


    While this nickname is a relatively recent development, its history does of course go back millions of years – 130 million, to put a rough figure on it – when dinosaurs freely roamed the Isle of Wight. Today, I’m going to be talking all about the local dino heritage, as well as clueing you in to a few of the dinosaur-themed things to do and see while you’re here. Meanwhile, you can get information about places to stay on this website.

    The lowdown on the Isle of Wight’s dino days

    The Isle of Wight has earned its title of Dinosaur Island thanks to the impressive level of dino-based finds here. Fossils and footprints have fascinated paleontologists and locals alike, not to mention captured the imagination of tourists. It’s down to this heritage that the island has even been named the Dinosaur Capital of the UK on the new Dinosaur Map of Britain (created by a researcher from the Natural History Museum).

    Evidence of a host of different species have been uncovered on the island, and it’s this diversity – as well as the volume of finds – that have helped give it its prestigious position.


    Since 2013 has been named as the island’s Year of the Dinosaur, this year is a particularly good time to visit. Alongside the island’s year-round attractions, you can take part in specially organised fossil hunts and even dinosaur appearances!

    Dinosaur Isle

    For anyone coming to the island with an interest in dinosaurs, Dinosaur Isle is an absolute must-visit. This is the first purpose-built dino attraction to open its doors in Britain, and you’ll find it on Culver Parade in Sandown (home to the famous Sandown Beach).

    What’s lovely about this museum is that the inside has been decorated to mimic the kind of landscapes the creatures would have walked through on the Isle of Wight all those years ago. And, nestled within this landscape, you’ll spot incredible re-creations of dinosaurs built to scale, including the polacanthus and iguanodon.

    Of course, you’ll no doubt be keen to see some real remains, and you’ll be in luck because you can check out authentic dinosaur skeletons. What’s more, you can see both skeletons and fossils arriving at the museum as and when they’re found by the museum’s researchers. Amazing!

    Fossil walks

    You don’t need to be visiting during the Year of the Dinosaur to go on guided fossil walks, but there are some special ones taking place for those of you travelling before the end of 2013. Whether you are or not, though, there are several companies that offer regular excursions, including Footprint Tours and Dinosaur Fossil Hunts.

    The latter, for example, is run by an expert in Cretaceous fossil crustaceans, who offers two-hour long tours. These cost very little, but are an excellent chance to discover fossils for yourself and learn a lot.

    Dinosaur Island app

    Just to finish off, I’d like to point out that to celebrate the Year of the Dinosaur there’s a special Dinosaur Island app for smartphones and tablets. Definitely download it before you go, because at six coastal locations on the Isle of Wight it’ll activate and give you the chance to snap pictures of your family or friends (or whoever you’re travelling with) in the local landscape as it would have looked 130 million years ago – dinosaurs and all!

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