Archive for ◊ June, 2010 ◊

30 Jun 2010 As the “Sun” goes down, there sees the birth of L’Eclipse

(Hong Kong, September 2006) After 17 years in business, the Sun’s Café at the Langham Hotel Hong Kong will be transformed into an all-day interactive dining restaurant – L’Eclipse (which means Langham’s Eclipse), due to open early December of this year.

L’Eclipse will be known as the premier casual dining experience, employing an inspired modern approach to traditional Asian cuisine from an array of action and wok-fired stations. The cuisine will be a highly creative blend of authentic Chinese, Asian and Western fare influenced from Hong Kong’s diverse world class cuisine.

According to the interior designer Andy Tait of LRF Designers Limited, whose previous works have received the Scottish National Heritage Awards and the British Travel Writers Awards, “L’Eclipse will be a stylish and innovative restaurant with an open kitchen concept.”

Guests will experience the first visual impact when they enter the remodeled glazed entrance, where they will be met by an irresistible dessert showcase awash with bold colors and textures. Next on the visual tour is a free standing back-lit podium piled up with the freshest seafood, oysters and prawns. The theatre-styled kitchen design will allow guests to customize their feast through open dialogues with chefs and enjoying the views of kitchen and its team in action.

To enhance the touch and feel of a modern yet elegant dining experience, Tait has married the natural warmth of sandstone & granite with the contemporary feel of steel & tempered glass. A stylized and dramatic eclipse will be projected onto sheer drapery, while color-changing mood lighting will subtly shift the restaurant from day to evening. The image of “Eclipse” is further strengthened by the iconic feature wall which subtly separates the dining and open-kitchen area.

“At L’Eclipse, we will be reputed for our outgoing and friendly chefs whose creations are made according to the selections and tastes of discerning patrons. We will be flexible, knowledgeable and inventive as we cater to the vast range of cultures and backgrounds of our guests,” says Executive Chef, Christopher Christie.

Items represented on the all-day dining as well as a la carte menu will reflect a fresh approach to Asian Cuisine with strong Chinese influences of high quality. L’Eclipse will open its doors early December this year where breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner will be served daily.

For information on the The Langham Hotel, Hong Kong, please visit: hongkong.langhamhotels.com

About Langham
Langham has a legendary hotel heritage dating back to 1865 when the The Langham Hotel in London originally opened as Europe’s first Grand Hotel. For 140 years, this flagship hotel has been at the forefront of sophisticated and gracious hospitality. Today, all Langham Hotels worldwide inherit the same philosophy that reflects elegance, continuous innovation and genuine hospitality creating a truly unique hotel experience

About Langham Hotels International:
Langham Hotels International (LHI) features six properties with over 2,700 rooms in five gateway cities across the four continents, namely, London, Boston, Hong Kong (2), Melbourne and Auckland. In each city Langham Hotels is associated with the prestigious “The Leading Hotels of the World” group which represents some of the world’s finest luxury hotels.

LHI is wholly owned by Great Eagle Holdings Limited a publicly listed company (HKSE: 41) which was founded in 1963 and was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972.

30 Jun 2010 Weird travel stories
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Cruising at about 35,000 feet, the woman calmly finished her economy class airline dinner. Her husband sat in the adjoining seat, blood seeping through his trousers. He excused himself to use the lavatory. Returning in a fresh pair of britches, he once again took his seat. “Don’t worry Jacques”, his brother-in-law seated across the aisle counseled. “We’ll be landing in Papeete soon and then we’ll be home in a short while. You’ll be okay there”. I had my doubts.

They had boarded the plane in Auckland, New Zealand. I had first noticed them in the passenger lounge; an elderly man and his wife accompanied by her brother and sister-in-law. The group of four stood near the water fountain. The older man was dressed in summer whites. He had just made his way out of the men’s room. I couldn’t help but stare at the blood on the front of his pants thinking “What the? Something must have broken loose. Has he had surgery”? Countless thoughts raced through my mind. The biggest question was Why aren’t they getting medical assistance for him”? His wife and relatives looked at the mess and then took a sweater and wrapped it around the front of him like an apron, effectively covering the blood. My companion noted, “They’ll never let him fly like that”. I had misgivings. With the front of his trousers covered, the gate attendants would never notice.

We made our way to the gate, without further incident. Finding our seats I noticed that I shared the same row as the elderly gentleman and his wife. Great, I already felt queasy. After we had reached cruising altitude, the old man headed for the lavatory in what would be the first of many trips. I noticed that he carried a pair of trousers under his arm. After a short interlude, he returned, carrying a bloodied pair of pants with him. His wife noncommittally took them from him and stuffed them into a carry on. My eyes were drawn to the gruesome packet. This was going to be a long and unnerving flight.

More trips to the restroom were in store. I was shocked by the wife’s nonchalance with her husband’s condition. By the end of the flight, the gentleman was out of clothing. He had wrapped a blanket around his waist and quietly waited in a seat saturated with blood. The flight attendants were never the wiser of the drama being played out.

As the plane approached the landing strip at Papeete, Tahiti, the foursome secured their seat-belts. After landing, they waited while the rest of us deplaned. That was the last I saw of them. After a brief stopover in Tahiti we were to continue with the same plane to Los Angeles. We were on the ground longer than anticipated due the airline’s need to change out the seat the gentleman had occupied.

With thoughts of his prognosis going through my mind, we re-boarded the aircraft. Selfishly, I was relieved to think that I wouldn’t have to be made an unwilling party to an old man’s dire medical problem. The next set of passengers couldn’t possibly be as bad. I smiled as a beautiful young Tahitian couple and their toddler approached my row. They returned my smile and took their seats. I started to breath in a sigh of relief, but then realized something. They weren’t wearing any deodorant.

29 Jun 2010 Go Global In Your Search For The Best Refinance Mortgage Interest Rate Online

These days, shopping around for the best refinance mortgage interest rate online is essential for anyone who is looking to get the most out of their investment in real estate, whether it is for investment purposes, loss attributing qualified companies, or even just moving up the social ladder. It’s not only possible, but it’s also more convenient and less stressful to hunt around for the best refinance mortgage interest rate online.

Do More without Leaving Home

Any piece of property, whether you live in it or simply own it and lease it out, is a huge deal. You invest so much of yourself into it financially, emotionally, and personally, and you tend to tie your sense of self worth and integrity to your properties. It’s now more important than ever to make sure you are getting the best deal on something which is so important to yourself and your families. In the old days, you had to go down dressed in your best suit to visit the intimidating bank manager who would tell you how much a parcel of land would cost you. These days, however, you can search for the best refinance mortgage interest rate online without even setting foot outside the door!

Seek the Best

With residential real estate fast becoming the investment vehicle of choice amongst practically the entire population of the developed world, the hunt for the best refinance mortgage interest rate online has become faster and more furious. Not surprisingly, the competition amongst lenders has increased as a result. A major marketing strategy being employed by a large number of players in the market now is to provide their application services online. Competition amongst borrowers is good for you, the buyer. So is convenience as efficiencies further push down best refinance mortgage interest rate online.

Think Global, Go Global

One of the huge advantages that the Internet has brought to the mortgage brokerage game is the access it gives everyday people to the best refinance mortgage interest rate online, not just in their home countries but anywhere around the world where investment and borrowing conditions are favorable and where they make it possible to conduct transnational mortgage refinancing deals. In the last six years in Auckland, New Zealand for example, the average house price has skyrocketed up to 200 percent in places. In an attempt to cool the housing market, the reserve bank first raised interest rates three times in two months and then more lately has been selling off large amounts of New Zealand currency. Mortgage interest rates are now far too high for New Zealand to afford to refinance but overseas investors have the advantage of being able to access some of the best refinance mortgage interest rate online, such as the National Australian Bank operating out of Japan, offering 1.5% as opposed to The New Zealand bank’s 10.69% fixed rate. If you’re an internationally minded investor, it may be a good time to look around for the best refinance mortgage interest rates online and take advantage of vulnerable markets around the globe.

Finding the best refinance mortgage interest rate might seem a daunting task. It’s as simple as baking pie, however, if you do it online.

26 Jun 2010 Where is the best place to go for a family fun day out?

One of the best place for a family fun day out is heading to the orchard and pick fruits. There are many orchards where you can pick your own fruits. Our city raised children get to know that fruits do not come from the supermarket and what a good way to learn Science and have fun too. As fruits are seasonal, the children will also learn that in Summer, there are stone frutis, berries, and oranges. Taking them close to nature will teach them to be appreciative of the work other people do. Seeing your children chromp into the delicious crispy apples they had just pick will give you just as much satisfaction as they have in eating them.

Some fruit trees are tall, like apples. The children will enjoy the fun of climbing up ladders and trees and realise that happy and fun times can be gotten away from the blinking computer and television screen.

Come every summer holiday, after Christmas in New Zealand, families head to West Auckland to the straw berry fields with their young and not so young children, and grand parents, to part take in the pick-your-own straw berries.

I love these outings and confess that I ate more than I paid for. The farmers charge only what you have picked in your ice cream cartons and not what is is your tummy. A friend joked that perhaps the farmer should weigh me before I entered the farm.

After being away for sixteen years, I was enthusiastic to resume this tradition which is popular in England.( A fellow picker told me)

Straw berry picking is attractive to families, with many parents saying they wanted their children to experience what they had done as kids.

Not all horticulturists like to offer pick-your-own fruit as it tended to be less profitable. Some people ate more than they picked and the public could damage irrigation pipes in the fields. Half eaten and semi ripe strawberries can be seen strewn in the fields and children and even adults trampled on the plants.

Picking your own straw berries may not be a cheaper option. Along the road side, vendors sell the fruits from their car boots and at a cheaper price. You also don’t have to listen to your other halves’ growling that just the petrol would have paid for the miserable kilo of straw berries.

You can’t put a price on reminiscences. When your children grow up, they too will enjoy taking their children to pick their own fruits.

26 Jun 2010 The benefits of living in New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of outstanding beauty, where the pace of life is slower; a country that affords one a feeling of freedom. Spectacular scenery, adventure and a sense of having been put back in time, makes it a delightful experience and it’s easy to see why people would like to make it their home.

About a third of the population of New Zealand live in Auckland, a large multi-cultural city in the North Island; the other two-thirds being scattered sparsely over the two islands.

Driving through the country you can find yourself on clear roads, passing other cars infrequently. You’ll be winding up mountain roads, looking down into deep valleys with trickling streams and succulent vegetation.

Anyone deciding to start a new life in New Zealand should think carefully about what it has to offer and whether it would be right for them. Cities are few and far between, so if you crave shops and nightlife you would need to live in one of the big cities, perhaps Auckland or Wellington, but, if this is all you are looking for, maybe New Zealand isn’t for you.

If, on the other hand, you love nature, walking, sports, isolated beaches, snow capped mountains, blue seas and spectacular water falls, then you would definitely enjoy a new life in this wonderful country. The only problem you would have would be choosing where to live. Of course, this will ultimately depend on your type of work or business, where it is situated and how far you wish to travel to get there.

If you have children, New Zealand is the perfect country for them to grow up in. Here they could choose from a multitude of sporting activities, kayaking, hiking, skiing, bungy jumping, white water rafting, swimming, surfing, fishing and camping, to name but a few. New Zealand is definitely a place for the young.

Walking is a great way of getting exercise and seeing some of the scenery that can’t be seen from the road. Walks can range from 20 minutes to a few days and are usually well signposted. Follow one of these trails and you can find yourself completely on your own, enjoying the solitude and freedom that is one of the great appeals of New Zealand.

Perhaps beaches are more your thing. If so, then you will not be disappointed. Blue water and soft sands can be found all around the country. Whether you want gently lapping waves or large surfing waves, you will find a beach to suit.

Fewer cities and fewer people add up to less crime, which is a big advantage to anyone considering moving to this country. The majority of towns are small, some just catering for basic needs, others with small shopping centres and you will find the New Zealand people friendly and welcoming.

If you are moving from the UK to New Zealand the low price of fuel will be a very welcome bonus. Some form of transport is obviously a necessity, apart from having to get to and from work, it is vital in a country that has so many leisure activities and such a vast array of national forests to explore.

The choice between islands would be another difficult decision. South Island offers, Picton and the Marlborough Sound, Christchurch, Haast Pass, Hanmer Springs, and unsurpassed views. The North Island offers, Auckland, The thermal area of Rotorua, the beautiful Bay of Islands, delightful beaches and a ruggedness that has a beauty all of it’s own.

New Zealand doesn’t just have National Parks, it is one big National Park just waiting to be explored.

26 Jun 2010 New Places to Live and Retire Around the World

Places to Live in the World: Emerging Alternatives

From Canada to Europe, Africa to Asia, it’s time for a fresh look By Phillip Townsend

The advent of fast Internet communication and inexpensive air travel makes it easier to turn any far-flung paradise into a permanent home. Which places in the world have the most to offer? The perfect place to live or retire, of course depends on your idea of perfection.

I’m taking a different approach for this article. Instead of giving an overview of the better-known and increasingly-popular expatriate destinations around the world (Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc.), I’ve decided to introduce you to the below 7 locales you probably don’t know much about. All offer affordability and abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.

Nova ScotiaJust east of Maine, in the North Atlantic, Nova Scotia’s pristine coast is slowly becoming a sought-after affordable getaway. Only two hours from New York or Boston, it feels a world away. A pleasingly crowd-free province on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, little-known Nova Scotia could just be the perfect full- or part-time retreat. Halifax, the capital, has been luring tourists for years. Waterfront cafes, European architecture, and spectacular seafood keep them coming back. Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island boasts the some of the best scenery in the world, from the picturesque highlands to the picturesque Bras d’Or Lake (pronounced “bra door”), with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. In the winter months, the Gulf Stream keeps the climate milder than most northern U.S. states, with the area more rain showers than snow storms. Picture the American East Coast a century ago, and you get a feel for what Nova Scotia is like. Almost an island, it is best known for its stunning coastline, sleepy seaside towns and friendly people. The province’s natural beauty, cheap real estate and low cost of living make it well worth a look: oceanfront lots start at $10,000, three-bedroom homes on acreage from $50,000. A lobster dinner with a bottle of good local wine set you back no more than a twenty spot. Scenes of the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic were shot in Nova Scotia, and celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Billy Joel maintain summer homes here.

CaribbeanAlmost everyone has had dreams of living a laid-back, stress-free life on a tropical island. One by one, the Caribbean islands were discovered and eventually became sadly over-developed, terribly over-crowded, and ridiculously over-priced. Unfortunately, due to mass tourism, most places in the Caribbean have become little more than artificial, tropical Disneylands with luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. But there is one place that still maintains its original charm and natural beauty. This place is quite inexpensive (by Caribbean standards) and is virtually unspoiled. Relatively undiscovered, here, you can still find ocean view lots for as little as $22,000 and have a small cottage built for prices starting at $25,000. To protect it from the fate of its Caribbean cousins, I won’t reveal the name of this special place just yet. You can find a link to more information at the end of this article.CubaThink Cuba, and vivid images come to mind: of men in Guayabera shirts and Panama hats, tropical breezes and cool drinks, steamy Latin rhythms and sultry women. It has always been an intriguing place, steeped in truth and in fiction by the novels of Ernest Hemingway. Because travel to Cuba is restricted by the U.S. government, relatively few Americans visit the island each year. While their counterparts from Europe, Canada and Latin America bask in the warm Cuban sun, most U.S. citizens can only hope to experience this “pearl” of the Caribbean after Castro is gone. Of those who do manage to get to Cuba via Mexico or Canada, few are disappointed. The largest Caribbean island (pop. 11 million), Cuba is also one of the most beautiful and unspoiled. There are miles of pristine, underdeveloped beaches, tropical forests teeming with wildlife and some of the best deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling the world has to offer. And there is Havana, not only the capital of Cuba, but also long the most important city in the Caribbean. With tourism once again thriving, Havana has regained much of its past allure. Famous old bars, restaurants and hotels are enjoying a proud comeback, and stunning new places are being built. As one taxi driver put it, “We have the best cigars, best rum, best music, and most beautiful women in the world. What more could anyone want?”

RomaniaBest known for Transylvania, the legendary home of Count Dracula, Romania is steeped in history, myth and folklore. Unlike other Eastern European countries with Slavic origins, Romania, whose name means ‘land of the Romans,’ absorbed much of the culture, religion, and language of the Roman Empire. Bordered by the Black Sea (which is being called “The Next Riviera”) and the Danube River, with the Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountains nestled in the center of the country, Romania has long stretches of seacoast, mountains, forests, medieval villages and gothic castles galore, giving it all the makings of a fairy-tale setting. The capital Bucharest, a former communist citadel, has a growing number of discos, while restaurants at most major hotels double as nightclubs, there are several Parisian-style cafAs, and cheap wines and plum brandy flow freely everywhere. Due to its wide boulevards, sidewalk cafAs, and Triumphal Arch, Bucharest, was known as the “Paris of the Balkans” prior to World War II. Today the city’s 19th century neoclassical architecture and numerous tree-lined streets still maintain its charm. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Germans, Jews, Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Croats, and Gypsies) live in Romania. French is the most widely-spoken second language and English is spoken by many of the younger generation. The real estate prices are some of the lowest in all Europe (the country’s economic woes spells opportunity for you).

Malaysia

Asia’s best-kept secret for expatriates, Malaysia has a vibrant mix of foreign and indigenous tribal cultures, creating a veritable melting pot of peoples, traditions and religions. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Brits, Americans, Australians, and Canadians) live full time or maintain holiday homes in Malaysia, and you’ll find that just about everybody speaks English, since its compulsory in local schools. Not only are three world-class playgrounds (Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines) all within a few hour’s travel from Malaysia, but miles of beaches and numerous coastal islands add to its tropical appeal. Despite being the capital of a developing nation, Kuala Lumpur is a modern cosmopolitan with clean streets and every modern convenience to found in New York or London. Compared with other major Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, for example), Kuala Lumpur is downright cheap. The cost of 2-bedroom rental apartments begins at around $225 per month and 3-bedroom houses start at $35,000. Naturally, comparable housing in expatriate communities or the luxurious homes that date from British colonial period can set you back considerably more.

New ZealandImagine an interesting land of breathtaking and contrasting scenery: craggy coastlines, golden beaches, lush forests, snow-capped mountains, bubbling volcanic pools, fish-filled rivers and glacier-fed lakes, all beneath a brilliant blue sky. New Zealand is accessible, spread over three relatively small islands with modern and efficient transport, quiet roads, plenty of flights and two stunningly scenic rail journeys. Other pluses are friendly, English-speaking people, virtually no crime, and a trio of rich cultural influences: adventurous Polynesian navigators (Maori), pioneering European settlers who followed a thousand years later, and modern Pacific Rim immigrants. The plant and animal life are unmatched, giving opportunities for close-up experiences with birdlife (including kiwis), seals, dolphins and whales. Enjoy the chance to explore two of the richest wine regions on the planet, taste wonderful cuisine, stroll on sandy beaches. Prefer urban living? Immerse yourself in the culture of the capital Wellington or the large cities of Auckland or Christchurch.

TanzaniaMany people tend to associate African countries with wars, famine and political unrest rather than the good life, but Zanzibar, Tanzania is an exception. Located only a short distance off the east coast of Africa, exotic Zanzibar has lured explorers, traders and colonists for centuries. The islands’ powdery white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and turquoise waters continue to attract European and Asian tourists. Outside of an unusual mix of black African and Arab cultures, you’ll find the islands teeming with tropical forests, remote villages and idyllic coastline. Despite flare-ups between residents of Zanzibar Island and the smaller island of Pemba (due to differing views on unification with the mainland), Zanzibar is usually quite stable. Cheap real estate (oceanfront or raw land with fruit trees), mouth-watering seafood, some of the world’s best scuba diving, and pure tropical bliss make it an attractive expatriate haven. A few wealthy Europeans and African aristocrats have already made Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania home. Why not join them?

RESOURCES

For more information about living abroad, visit: www.nsliving.info

For travel articles and news from countries around the world, visit: www.worldcountries.info

About the Author

Phillip Townsend, an international reloacation consultant, is the author of Passport to Canada: The Complete Guide to Living and Retiring in Nova Scotia, and the special report The Caribbean’s Best Kept Secret. His website is www.nsliving.info

24 Jun 2010 City of Sails in the Middle Earth

New Zealand or Aotearoa (what means “Long White Cloud”) is mostly known for its beautiful and diverse nature geysers, mountains, lakes, beaches and glaciers. Nowadays the rapt attention New Zealand pays to the ecology allows to keep all its natural magnificencealmost untouched even in the big cities.
One of the most isolated corners of our planet, after the shooting of the trilogy “The lord of the rings” New Zealand received mighty flow of the tourists from all over the world. Everyone wanted to see what they considered the embodiment of the fabulous Middle Earth.
The most popular places in the country are national parks Mount Cook and Tongariro. New Zealand is the unique place where you can combine alpine skiing and lying on the beach.
Auckland is the main port of New Zealand. It was founded in 1840 and till 1865 (when Wellington was built) was the capital of New Zealand. With its population of 1,1 millions, Auckland is the biggest city in the country boasting the largest University and international airport. The city in located in a very picturesque place with the views of the Pacific Ocean and Tasmanian Sea.
Auckland is often called “the city of sails” ships and yachts are the integral part of the landscape. Twice a year it houses a prestigious international regatta – America’s Cup.
It’s also a city of parks Western, Victoria, Mayers, Albert and enormous Aukland-Domain to name just a few.
What else to see in Auckland? For example, Kelly Tarlton ‘ s Underwater World a museum with the underwater tunnel and Kelly Tarton ‘ s Antarctic Encounter a place where landscapes and animals of Antarctic are presented.
Among other attractions of Auckland are Zoo, Botanic Garden, local vineyards and National Maritime Museum.
Nowadays Auckland is developing fast, its look is changing, new modern skyscrapers, luxury hotels and shops are being built.

20 Jun 2010 Where to play poker online
 |  Category: Auckland Restaurants  | Tags: , , , , ,  | Comments off

Where to play on-line poker is an individual choice. It’s kind of like what is your favorite ice cream, vanilla or chocolate ?

My personal favorite is Pokerstars. I believe Pokerstars is the largest online poker site and can be easily downloaded free in just a few minutes. You can begin playing once you are signed up and there are plenty of play money and real money tables and United States players are welcomed. Due to a law passed in October of 2006, many on-line poker sites banned United States players.

It is very interesting to me how you can be playing at a table with a player from Auckland New Zealand sitting to your left, a player from Berlin Germany sitting to your right, you can be all-in with 4000 chips while eating a ham and cheese sandwich and talking on the phone at the same time, while you are sitting in your favorite chair with the air conditioner on during a Sunday afternoon.

If you like high stakes poker, you will love the 200/400 No Limit Holdem rooms. The pots there are regularly over 100 thousand chips and can reach a lot higher. I haven’t played the high stakes tables yet, but I have over 200 thousand chips and if I can stay off the phone and put down the ham and cheese sandwich while playing, maybe I can build up enough chips to take a chance in the high stakes rooms.

One of my favorite things about Pokerstars is getting a chance to play with people from all over the world. Sometimes you will find yourself in a room that has nine players from five different continents and six or seven different countries. Then a half hour later you may be sitting next to someone from two towns over from your home town.

If you decide to head over to Pokerstars, maybe you will run into me. You are probably thinking right now, how will you know which player I am?

I will be the one that is winning! HA ! HA !

17 Jun 2010 Three Reasons Why You Should Travel to New Zealand

If you are unsure about where to take your next vacation then perhaps you should consider New Zealand. It is a beautiful country that has a variety of wonderful scenery and terrain. From the forests in the north to the many beaches in the south, New Zealand offers just about every thing that the visitor could want. This article aims to provide an insight in to just a small selection of the places that you can visit once you decide to go.

Current statistics show that the population of New Zealand is approximately four million people, of which just over a million live in its biggest city, Auckland. The capital city is Wellington which has a population of around 400,000. The vast majority of the urban areas of the country are situated on the North Island and generally people visit the South Island to enjoy the rural environment.

Auckland

If you decide to visit Auckland on your trip then make sure you visit the Sky Tower. It is hard to miss as it stands 1,066 feet into the air. Built in 1997 its primary function is for telecommunications. However, as one of the tallest buildings in New Zealand it is also a favorite place for tourists and locals alike to visit. There are restaurants and shops within the tower and the views can be breathtaking, particularly the sunsets. If you are feeling adventurous then you might want to consider trying the bungee jump off the tower. The Sky Jump will drop you 192 meters at a speed of 83 kilometers per hour in approximately 11 seconds!

Christchurch

This is the largest city on the South Island and is a great place to visit. With its relaxed environment, pleasant suburbs and wonderful scenery it is not difficult to understand why this is a popular city to visit. During its history, Christchurch has become known as the gateway to the Antarctica as it traditionally has been used as a base for explorations into the area. Famous explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton have used the area previously and it is still used for these purposes today.

Christchurch also has amazing botanical gardens. They were established in 1863 and possess a vast array of different and unusual plants. The great thing about this is that entry is free, so if you do go to the city you have no excuse not to visit.

Fiordland National Park

This wonderful place was named a World Heritage site in 1986 and is New Zealand’s largest National Park. The area covers approximately 1.2 Million Hectares and is a vast variety of beautiful natural landscapes.

There are plenty of places to explore within the National Park. Doubtful Sound is the deepest fiord and it is here that you can discover penguins and seals. It is also possible to go Kayaking or enjoy a cruise in this area. Milford Sound is the only fiord that is accessible by road and offers a wonderful drive, one perhaps you are unlikely to experience anywhere else in the world. If you visit this area then you must find the time to see the underwater observatory. It is situated some 10 meters below the surface and offers a wonderful view of the undisturbed natural environment under the fiord.

15 Jun 2010 The Most Popular Holiday Gift Destinations

You are sitting at home, trying to think of a holiday destination for a gift you are giving to someone you truly care about. Where do you send them?
To make your choice a bit easier, here are the top international holiday destinations among North Americans.

1. St. Maarten: This tropical island, 80 kilometers to the south of Puerto Rico, is internationally divided between the Netherlands and France. Naturally, the warm weather during the winter makes it a perfect getaway for anyone trying to beat the snow and cold of January or February. The island features beautiful beaches, breathtaking scenery and literally hundreds of gourmet restaurants.

2. Montego Bay: Jamaicas tourism city is a hot destination with a hot climate and duty-free shops as far as the eye can see. It also serves as a cruise ship terminal that serves a large portion of the Caribbean. It should be noted that while it is a beautiful area of the country, it also suffers from a high crime rate outside of the resorts that is, in some cases, 28 times higher than that of New York City.

3. San Jose Del Cabo: This city of nearly 50,000 is located in Mexico along the Baja California Peninsula. Together with Cabo San Lucas it forms a major tourist destination for travelers from all corners of the continent.

4. Paris: Of course, the top three in the list are in hot spots of the world, but who can deny the appeal of Paris. The City of Love is perfect for any couple who are looking to rekindle their love or simply want to experience the holiday season in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

5. Cancun: Due to its close proximity to Canada and the United States, it is no surprise that Mexico has multiple entries on this list. If you dont feel like relaxing on the beach in this incredibly popular area, you can journey a few miles out of the city, explore some Mayan ruins and learn a little bit about the people who occupied the area centuries ago.

6. San Juan: This Argentine city has something for everyone. You can enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside, relax on a beach, or check out some fossils from the Triassic period, which is considered to be one of the largest collection of fossils in the world.

7. Auckland: Journey a bit further to the south and you will find Auckland, New Zealand. The countrys capital offers everything a person could desire. Night clubs, fine dining, fishing, hiking and lets not forget touring the sites where the Lord of the Rings was shot a few years ago.

8. Aruba: Not a city but an island in the Caribbean, this hugely popular destination has become an attractive place to move to due to its high-paying job, not to mention the fact it was immortalized in a Beach Boys song in the 80s.

9. London: Jolly Old London does not have much sunshine, it is often cloudy and rainy but what it lacks in warmth of climate it more than makes up for in history and culture. This city will satisfy the needs of the historian, pop culture enthusiast, partier and scholar, all at once.

10. Sydney: Heading to the land down under, where its summer in December. No trip here would be complete without checking out the world famous Sydney Opera House in the harbor.