The Kombi Diaries

“One couple, one campervan, one unforgettable road trip around New Zealand.

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Tourism New Zealand has launched a special unique campaign using a global partnership with Facebook to create a short film, that will be in 5 parts and are called The Kombi Diaries,

The Kombi Diaries is about a couple’s trip around New Zealand.  It is a story of two American tourists missing the train to Wellington from Britomart in Auckland and going on a Kombi road trip where they meet the locals and see the country.

The mini short film series costs  $250,000 and will be featured in nine markets; Australia, the United States, Germany, Britain, Japan, Brazil, France, India and Indonesia.

The Facebook team went on the road trip and collaborated with the production crew and filmed their own content.

See the first Kombi Diary video here:

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Super Rugby Concerns 2016

There seems to be concern in the ranks about the future of Super Rugby with dire predictions about next year’s set-up.

Publicly, lNew Zealand’s teams are resigned to toeing the party line and accepting that the addition of a team from Argentina, Japan and another in South Africa is good for the game.

The realism is that the current system has seen a seen a declining trend around attendance.

In 2006, South Africa posted an average Super Rugby crowd of 34,000, Australia 24,000 and New Zealand 22,000.

By 2012, those numbers had dropped across the board – South Africa were down to 28,000, Australia 20,000 and New Zealand 16,000. I would imagine that the numbers for 2014 would be lower again.

Week one of Super Rugby kicked off with a sea of empty seats. With the Black Caps playing in Christchurch the following day, the Crusaders were resigned to a poor turnout. They got one.

It was the same in Auckland, where the Blues weren’t able to host the Chiefs at Eden Park. They knew it wouldn’t be a great crowd at North Harbour, and they were right.

The problem is the core product !

TV has been allowed to dictate the playing schedules; jumping from 12 to 15 teams has diluted the quality of the overall playing pool; the format has suffered from not being a true round-robin; the rules remain unfathomable and inconsistently applied; stadiums, with the exception of the Forsyth Barr, don’t have cover; the food in stadiums is mostly crap and expensive and maybe most damaging has been that the biggest name players have been allowed to drift in, drift out and skip the bits they don’t fancy.

Add all that together and that explains the 30 per cent drop in average crowds since 2006.

The actual rugby is great. Unfortunately with TV controlling the money and the terms of scheduling we are only going to see a lot more empty seats.
On a better note , at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast we see good response from game patrons wanting luxury accommodation close to the stadium.

How much to charge for a ride?

28 Feb

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Categories: Auckland, New Zealand, Strange News, Tourism News, Travel

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You have to admit that New Zealand is a pretty cool place to visit. Even our Wildlife thinks so!

Yesterday while out on the Auckland Harbour on a surf ski , a local woman had an experience with a seal that will remain in her memory for ever.

As she neared Rangitoto Island ,she came across a seal in the water and being a friendly Kiwi,she attracted its attention.

To her surprise it came over to her surf ski,put its nose up on the front and then hopped up and made itself comfortable.”
It then proceeded to settle down for a snooze laying its head on her shin.

Although after 30 minutes and showing no signs of leaving the woman decided enough was enough and removed her freeloading visitor by tipping the ski over and depositing the seal back in the water.

So this is why you should visit New Zealand. It’s fun and you never know what will pop up on your surf ski !

Is Adventure Tourism Unsafe?

13 Dec

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Of course it is !

But the New Zealand Government introduced new regulations in October 2011 following a Department of Labour report which said 29 people had died in adventure tourism activities in the previous five years. Things moved rapidly following the accident in 2012 when 11 people died during a hot air balloon sightseeing trip after the balloon flew into power lines near Carterton. This crash is considered one of the worst hot air balloon accidents in the world.

The New safety rules for the adventure tourism sector came into force on November 1 2014, and WorkSafe said at the time only 86 of 348 adventure tourism companies met the deadline and 199 were given an extension until December 1.

The safety agencies said yesterday the number of operators was now 349 and of those 255 are registered. As of 5pm yesterday all unregistered operators cannot legally operate.

So… , when they tie a rubber band around your ankles and suggest you jump off a perfectly safe bridge…… Make certain they have tied it tight .

A Macabre Bit of Early New Zealand History...

I used to run the Auckland Ghost Tours ; so when I see evidence of our Colonial Past and the macabre international trade in severed heads, I am fascinated . Information from new book has found that the intensified Maori inter-tribal warfare from such a Trade grew to such an extent it was feared the Maori would be wiped out altogether.

European agents sent to New Zealand in the nineteenth century to buy or trade for the best baked heads were often murdered and beheaded themselves, before being traded back as authentic “Maori warriors”, according to a new book on the history of severed heads.

In ‘Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found’, English author and anthropological expert Dr Frances Larson explores the “bizarre, often gruesome and confounding history of the severed head … our history is littered with them”.

In it she features the grisly history of Maori trophy heads, or toi moko, traditionally taken from the enemy during inter-tribal warfare.

The heads were not shrunken, like in South American head hunting cultures, but preserved with their skulls intact.

“Specialists, often tribal chiefs, removed the brains, eyes, and tongues before stuffing the nostrils and skull with flax and burying the head with hot stones so that it gradually steam or cured dry,” the book says.

Toi moko were displayed on short poles, usually around the chief’s house.

Joseph Banks, the naturalist who accompanied Captain James Cook on his historic first voyage to the South Pacific, was the first European to acquire a Maori head.

He managed to “persuade a reluctant elderly Maori man” to part with it in exchange for a pair of white linen drawers.

But when the old man took the drawers, he then refused to give up the head until Banks “enforced his threats” at musketpoint.

As contact with European whalers and sealers increased, and the desire for guns increased among Maori in the early nineteenth century, the trade is preserved heads took off.

Over the course of the 50 years from Captain Cook’s first visit in 1769, trade in human heads “reached such intensity, and inter-tribal warfare escalated so ferociously, that many believed the Maori would be completely annihilated,” Dr Larson writes.

The intricate facial tattoos of Maori chiefs were particularly attractive to Europeans.

But they were also the hardest to find and led to slaves being forcibly tattooed and sold to order.

European agents sent over were sometimes killed, tattooed, and sold back to their own unsuspecting countrymen.

Preserved heads were snaffled by private collectors and museums, but also sold in European shops and auction houses as curiosities.

In 1831, the Governor of New South Wales, Ralph Darling banned the increasingly popular practice, saying “there is strong reason to believe that such disgusting traffic tends greatly to increase the sacrifice of human life amongst savages whose disregard of it is notorious”.

The 317-page book notes the observation of one nineteenth century collector, Horatio Robley, who said the human head trade had by then stocked the museums of Europe but had also “considerably reduced the population of New Zealand”.

Since 2003, more than 70 toi moko have been returned to Te Papa Museum in Wellington from public collections in Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark, Australia, Argentina, France, Hawaii, the Netherlands, Ireland, Canada, USA, and Germany.

However, it’s believed there are at least 100 more in collections around the world.

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Balloon Internet from Google

It seems NewZealand has an unusual Stratospheric wind pattern.
On Saturday Google Scientists from the technology giant released up to 30 helium-filled test balloons flying 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) above Christchurch in New Zealand Saturday, carrying antennae linked to ground base stations.
While still in the early stages, Project Loon hopes eventually to launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet to remote parts of the world, allowing the more than four billion people with no access to get online.
It could also be used to help after natural disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.
“Project Loon is an experimental technology for balloon-powered Internet access,” the company said on its latest project from its clandestine Google (x), “where we work on radical, sci-fi-sounding technology solutions to solve really big world problems”.
“Balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, can beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster,” it added.
“It is very early days, but we think a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, might be a way to provide affordable Internet access to rural, remote, and underserved areas down on earth below, or help after disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.”
It works by ground stations connecting to the local Internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels.
The balloons, which once in the stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye, are then able to communicate with each other, forming a mesh network in the sky.
Users below have an Internet antennae they attach the side of their house which can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing overhead.
Some 50 people were chosen to take part in the trial and were able to link to the Internet.
The first person to get Google Balloon Internet access was Charles Nimmo, a farmer and entrepreneur in the small town of Leeston who signed up for the experiment.
He told the New Zealand Herald he received Internet access for about 15 minutes before the transmitting balloon he was relying on floated out of range.
“It’s been weird,” he told the newspaper. “But it’s been exciting to be part of something new.”
Google’s ultimate goal is to have a ring of balloons — each the length of a small light aircraft when fully inflated — circling the Earth, ensuring there is no part of the globe that cannot access the web.
It did not say how much it was investing in the project.
“The idea may sound a bit crazy – and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon – but there’s solid science behind it,” Google said, but added: “This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go.”
Project leader Mike Cassidy told reporters that if successful, the technology might allow countries to leapfrog the expense of installing fibre-optic cable.
“It’s a huge moonshot, a really big goal to go after,” he said.
“The power of the Internet is probably one of the most transformative technologies of our time.”
Google said that over time it wanted to set up other pilot projects in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand, including Australia and Argentina, due to the stratospheric conditions.

A Chinese Rip-Off

21 Jan

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This story about the Chinese Tourists getting a FREE meal at the City Mission just won’t go away .
They now say a rogue tour operator in Auckland promised them visits to farms, geyser parks and buffet dinners – but instead took them to free public facilities and charitable events, including the City Mission’s annual Christmas dinner. Ming Xi, a visitor from Wuhan, said he and 10 other Chinese tourists were taken to the City Mission lunch by the tour leader, who told them the event was an annual “buffet treat” the New Zealand Government organised for citizens and visitors.
The tourists arrived last month as part of a tour group on a four-day North Island tour.
They decided to extend their visit to experience how Christmas was celebrated in a Western country. They were approached by the Mandarin-speaking tour leader as they left the i-Site Visitor Information Centre in Quay St, Auckland, the week before Christmas and offered a discounted daily rate of $88 a person for the tour, which included meals and all activities and entry charges.
The itinerary would include visits to a wildlife reserve, a farm park, gardens and a geyser park, and meals would include a Kiwi barbecue, a cultural dinner and a grand Christmas buffet.

Thinking they had real bargain, they decided to go with him was because it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin.
The Kiwi barbecue was a sausage sizzle at a public barbecue pit, and the cultural dinner was a vegetarian meal at an “Indian” spiritual gathering where the group were asked to chant, sing and dance before eating.
The offer
*A grand Christmas buffet, cultural dinner and a great Kiwi barbecue

*Admission to a farm park with farm shows, shearing and milking

*Visit to a wildlife reserve with endangered native birds

*Geysers, mud pools and a soak in Rotorua hot mineral pool

What they got:

*Auckland City Mission charity Christmas lunch

*Vegetarian dinner by an “Indian” spiritual group, for which they had to chant, sing and dance

*A sausage sizzle on a public barbecue pit

*Council-funded Ambury Farm Park and Western Springs

*Rotorua’s public Kuirau Park and a soak at its free foot bath

Supposedly this operator is not one of the accredited Chinese Tourism Operators in New Zealand.
Personally, I have to admit its a great story…….


Homeless Meal For Chinese Tour Group

Being in the Accommodation Industry at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast in Auckland ,I like to read the latest reports and keep up with the news pertaining to the Tourism Industry. So when I read about the Auckland City Mission Free Lunch and the Chinese Tour Operator, I have to laugh!
Every year the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas Free lunch is presented to the homeless. This year 2800 people attended.
TVNZ caught a Chinese Tour Operator at a table of 10 Chinese having a free meal. When it’s reporter attempted to speak to the woman the agent fell back on to the wise words of “no speak English”
I would love to know if the Chinese Agent on-charged its tour group for that meal….
With all the hoopla about the Chinese Tourism Market and how we should be learning the basics of conversation , maybe we should be teaching them the meaning of the
English Word ” CHEAP”.


The X-37B flys again

15 Dec

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Before we reopened Eden Park Bed and Breakfast ,the wife and I lived the the USA for 6 years. We saw a lot of things and the influence of the military is everywhere; so I find the X-37B very cool.

The X-37B unmanned space plane will be undergoing its third launch, set upon a top secret mission by the Air Force. The spacecraft has a payload capacity about the size of a small truck bed, the contents of which are unknown.
X-37B will be hitching a ride aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket at 1:03 p.m. on Tuesday. Although the launch window is open until just after 6:00 p.m., there is just a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff.
The mini-space shuttle is about a quarter of the size of the retired NASA orbiters and is both a reusable and a robotic vehicle.
The vehicle has no crew cabin, no support life systems, and is solar-powered, designed to remain up in orbit for 270 days. Although its max life is supposed to be 270 days, the second X-37B mission flew for 469 days.
X-37B is also famous for being able to launch, orbit the Earth and re-enter our planet’s atmosphere, all autonomously.
Many theorists have opinions on what the super secret spacecraft is tasked with doing. Some believe that the X-37B harbors the capability of striking anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
Some believe that the vehicle is meant to keep an eye on China and Russia, particularly China’s new space endeavors. Amateur astronomers keeping an eye on X-37B’s orbital patterns say that the spacecraft is following closely on China’s Tiangong 1 orbit.
Others simply believe that X-37B is just a platform to allow the Air Force to perform experiments in space, or that it is a test bed for advanced sensors or secret missions.
Whatever it does this is one seriously cool piece of hardware produced by the US of A.


Auckland's top Restaurants offer Terrific food, served with great charm and efficiency in a smart but probably somewhat informal atmosphere.

Brief overview of upcoming events in Auckland City

A short walk from Eden Park makes us the perfect destination for all their sporting fixtures.