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Friday, February 12, 2010

Arrowtown's Autumn Festival is a must if you are travelling New Zealand

If you are on a New Zealand travel adventure, arrange your schedule to be in Arrowtown, Central Otago, on tbetween April 20 - 29. It's the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival and it is days of history, fun, music, food and all round good times.

That time in April is when the Central Otago foliage is at its glorious finest. Like any climate which has hard winters, the summer foliage in Central turns to fiery displays of colour in autumn.

Arrowtown, 20km from Queenstown, is at the very heart of that autumnal finery . . . and the good folk of the town celebrate it in down home country style.

Let's put it this way: I am specially arranging my travel affairs to be there again. It's that good.

Proceedings kick off on Friday night, April 20, with an art exhibition at the Lakes District Museum. Given that Central is home to some of NZ's finest artists this will be a good night out even if you "don't know much about art, but know what you like". Entry is a miserable $5 . . . and that includes your first drink. What's more you can have a wander around one of the best small museums in the country. How good is that!!

And, just as an extra sweetener, there's $5500 in prize-money up for grabs.

Saturday is market day, family day and a parade. A village wide market experience with over 120 stalls selling some of the best NZ made products ranging from arts and crafts, to farmers and artisan food. Set amongst the canopy of autumn trees, this vibrant market is full of atmosphere and with live entertainment throughout the day. It's on the village green and admission is a gold coin donation. Priceless!

Jazz bands, international street performers, aerobatic displays - you can even go gold panning to see if you make your fortune. (Don't bet the ranch on it). And that night is the 70s Disco Inferno at the Athenaeum Hall. $30 gets you in, cash bar and a light supper served. Heartland fun at its best.

I've been to this festival before. Take it from me it really is a great day out. For the traveller it's something you'll fondly remember for the rest of your days.

You can get more information and tickets from the Arrowtown Autumn Festival Website.

For more on Central Otago attractions go to the Queenstown and Central Otago page.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winery Tour a feast of New Zealand music - travellers should catch it.

If you are travelling New Zealand on holiday try to catch the More-FM Winery Concert Tours somewhere along its way. It's a feast of world-class New Zealand music.

At Ascension Vineyard, between Warkworth and Matakana last night a crowd of 4000 sat under the setting sun enjoyed the venue's fine wine products, supped up on picnic hampers and were treated to a pot-pourri of classics from Tim Finn, Bic Runga and Dave Dobbin.

The warm-up set was done by Runga's younger sister, Boh Runga, along with major hip-hop star, Supergroove front-man Che Fu - and they alone would have been feast enough to justify the entrance money. They were on stage for well over an hour.

The three main players reprised a tour they did together 10 years ago, and time has not wearied them. They gave us all the hits we wanted to hear with Finn reaching back to the days of Split Enz , Crowded house and his own solo career. We got Weather, I See Red with it's high energy and discordant piano riffs, Six Months in A Leaky Boat. Bic Runga's hits Sway and Driver were there and Dobbin served up Wailing, Loyal - anthem of New Zealand's America's Cup bid a few years back - and You Oughta Be in Love, the theme from the film Footrot Flats.

Not surprisingly, given the career paths of the performers, the age range of the audience was wide, very wide. At least three if not four generations. The middle age moshers down front had their kids, and grandkids, boppin' to the beats.

The show covers 18 shows at 16 venues from as far north as Tutukaka to Millbrook at Queenstown.

Seriously, if you are here on holiday this is your chance to sample the best of Kiwi music.

Get more from the tour website

For more on what to see and what to do in New Zealand go to