ONE FOR THE KIWI ROAD
Is a New Zealand road trip suitable for a single woman in her 60s? I’d like to do the North Island, up to the Bay of Islands, and the wine districts in the north of the South Island. Would it be necessary to book accommodation ahead or could I just hire a car and see where the road takes me?
A self-drive holiday on New Zealand’s well-signposted roads is one way to enjoy jaw-dropping scenery from glassie lakes and snow-topped mountains to forests and long stretches of empty beach. Start by looking at newzealand.com.au, where Tourism New Zealand helpfully outlines itineraries including the Twin Coast Discovery Highway which travels from Auckland up to the Bay of Islands. Just make sure you’re comfortable doing all the driving, and build in plenty of stops to rest and take photos at landmarks such as dramatic Cape Reinga, at the very tip of the North Island, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea.
Even if you travel at a less busy time of year, I recommend you book accommodation in advance to avoid being stranded alone. Break the trip into locations you want to visit, work out how long it will take you to get there and book a night’s accommodation at each spot. Newzealand.com.au has suggestions for all types of accommodation, and you can search by location, date and availability. Campervans are an alternative to cars but they can be hard to drive and manoeuvre alone.
CRUISING ROUND THE WORLD
My wife and I just paid our deposit on a 2020 world cruise and would like any tips on how we can enjoy this experience more.
First, get in early and book your preferred shore excursions. They can sell out – as do spa treatments and specialty restaurants on sea days. Beverage or coffee bundled packages are often good value, and make use of new cruise planner apps to allow easy on-board communication with your wife and keep up to date on daily activities. Helloworld’s head of cruise, John Simos, says it’s a good idea to walk the ship on your first day to become familiar with its facilities. And advise the cruise line of occasions like anniversaries or birthdays that fall while you’re on board.
Consider downloading a city guide mobile app, such as Lonely Planet’s My City Guides which include maps and suggested tours in cities around the world. Take out an international roaming plan with a reasonable data allowance so you can wander far and wide and find your way back to the ship.
John also recommends arriving at shows early to get the best seats and enjoy a pre-show drink, and remember, on sea days the ship shops will run special promotions with popup sales, so keep that in mind for any planned shopping sprees.
John also recommends exercise at the on-board gym to counter indulgent menus, and if you plan to use ship’s laundry, go early to beat the queues.
SPECIAL SOUTH AMERICA
Next September I hope to take my son to South America for two weeks. We’d like to visit Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro to start with and do not want to do tours. I am 71 and he is 37. If you could advise of currency, and any special things to do or interesting places to stay.
Copacabana is Rio de Janeiro’s most famous and touristy neighbourhood but you will find Ipanema or Leblon, just to the south, safe alternatives. Both suburbs are buzzing with restaurants, bars and shops and on one side have beach, and on the other side the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, better known as Lagoa, where lots of people walk and exercise.
Rio’s attractions include Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Museum of Tomorrow in the city and an abundance of hikes of varying difficulty – Pedra Bonita isn’t too difficult and takes about half an hour, with a great view. The beaches on weekdays are relaxed, but on the weekend are very busy.
You could spend a day peoplewatching by lifeguard tower Posto 10 on Ipanema Beach, or Praia Vermelha is a little beach near Sugarloaf Mountain, which has a casual, family vibe.
Rio is famous for its churrascarias (barbecue restaurants) where you pay a fee and waiters deliver meat until you
N EW Z E A L A N D Cape Reinga is worth a stop on a New Zealand road trip; book shore excursions early on a world cruise; and Ipanema Beach, Brazil, is good for people-watching.