Destination: New Zealand

World Travel Watch: Turmoil in Kashmir, Criminal Gangs in El Salvador and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Mudslides in Guatemala, Bombing in Cancun and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Let’s See What’s Down There

Let’s See What’s Down There iStockPhoto

In an excerpt from his new book, David Grann takes to New Zealand's high seas on a quest for elusive giant squid

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The Subtle Bouquet of Cat’s Pee and Other Wine Aromas

The Subtle Bouquet of Cat’s Pee and Other Wine Aromas Photo by hlkljgk via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by hlkljgk via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the 1980s, the University of California, Davis gave a gift to wine snobs everywhere by creating the “Aroma Wheel, ” a lexicon that allowed your average wino to stick his nose deep into your long-stemmed Riedel and then emerge using words like grapefruit, blackberry, banana, black pepper and oaky.

Some of the Wheel’s vocabulary bordered on the undrinkable-sounding: sweaty, barnyard and wet dog, for example. Which allowed for descriptions like this: This deep red blend offers an intense bouquet of wet dog balanced by hints of banana and sweaty barnyard with a body robust enough to be, as the Italians would say, perfectly corposo.

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Dhani Tackles Poetry: ‘Greater Than…’

dhani jones, new zealand Photo by Red Line Films
Photo by Red Line Films

NFL linebacker and Renaissance man Dhani Jones hosts the Travel Channel show, Dhani Tackles the Globe.

Like any good Renaissance man, he’s writing poems inspired by the travel experiences featured on each show.

The topic of tonight’s journey: New Zealand.

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Five Hostels I Have Loved

Five Hostels I Have Loved Photo of Lizard Point by Eva Holland
Photo of Lizard Point by Eva Holland

These days, there are more accommodation options than ever for the budget traveler: everything from house swaps to pod hotels to rock-bottom recession-era deals at more traditional travel digs.

But even with that abundance of choices—most of which I’ve sampled, and enjoyed—I think my shoestringer’s heart will always belong to the youth hostel. I love the hosteling community, I (sometimes) love the fiesta atmosphere, and—of course—I love the price. From grungy party pads to serene dorm-room retreats, here are five hostels I have loved:

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Arthur Frommer Promises to Keep Digging up the Deals

The guidebook author/publisher-turned-blogger takes a hard look at the latest travel numbers and trends, and concludes that while overall travel is down, “nearly 90% of all Americans are continuing to travel. And when they do, they are seeking bargains and values beyond all else.” He goes on: “Though some have criticized this blog for its alleged over-emphasis on special deals and discounts, we’re going to continue to make those discoveries a hallmark of our content.”

Well, consider me a fan of that alleged over-emphasis—Frommer’s blog is a great source for must-act-fast cruise, flight and hotel deals, and sure enough, here’s his latest bargain find: a set of $750 round-trip flights from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand.


Best Cities to Drink Coffee

coffee cafe REUTERS

Terry Ward takes a look at seven of the best cities in the world to sit and sip

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New Zealand: The Dream Destination for ‘Ecomigrants’?

new zealand Photo by Sami Keinšnen via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Sami Keinšnen via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Most ecomigrants, or people who leave their home countries because of climate change, are poor, desperate and often homeless. Consider the citizens of Bangladesh, where between 12 million and 17 million eco-refugees have fled in the last few decades because of increased flooding and other environmental catastrophes attributed in part to global warming. But in an intriguing Washington Post story, it appears that well-off people from developed countries are also worried enough about climate change to relocate to greener locales.

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A Very International Oscars

Last night’s Oscars ceremony is likely to be up for debate for some time—among the most contentious issues, for me, is the fact that the cast of “High School Musical” got more screen time than most nominees—but one thing is certain: it was the most international Oscars since 2004, when Charlize Theron thanked everyone in South Africa, and the winners from “Lord of the Rings” managed to name-drop just about everyone in New Zealand, too.

In the 2009 edition, there were acceptance speeches smattered with Spanish (Penelope Cruz, for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and Tamil (A.R. Rahman, the composer for “Slumdog Millionaire”), there were shout-outs to Mumbai (from the assortment of “Slumdog” winners, who took home 8 awards between them), and there were two separate winners from Japan.

My favorite globally-flavored Oscar moments, after the jump:

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Morning Links: Haka, ‘Travel as Rehabilitation,’ Taxi Gourmet and More

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Christopher Lee: ‘I Can’t Recall Visiting any Countries I Hated’

So where does one of the most omnipresent movie villains of the past half-century (who also popped up in our list of the best travel horror movies) like to go on vacation? The veteran actor recently dished to the Independent about his ideal travel experiences—and it turns out, solitude is high on his priority list.

Lee’s favorite country is Finland, “because once you get to a certain point, you can drive for hours without seeing a single person.” His worst-ever journey was a rough ride from Washington, D.C., to Charlotte, N.C.: “It was only a 45-minute flight,” he told Sophie Lam, “but I have never known anything like it—including during the war when I was shot at in planes.” And as for New Zealand, where he spent a few months during the filming of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy? It’s “the most beautiful country I have ever been to in my life.”


Nation Branding for your iPod? Canada Votes for a National Playlist.

Nation Branding for your iPod? Canada Votes for a National Playlist. Photo by FHKE via Flickr, (Creative Commons)
Photo by FHKE via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Call it change you can listen to: CBC Radio is hoping to get some made-in-Canada music onto incoming President Obama’s iPod.

The Canadian broadcaster is accepting nominations for a “definitive Canadian playlist”—dubbed “49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel”—to be unveiled on Obama’s inauguration day. “One of the best ways to know Canada is through the depth and breadth of our artistic expression,” said a CBC representative. “We’re excited about the new president, and we want him to be excited about us.”

So how do you go about compiling a definitive national playlist? CBC producers will whittle the suggestions from the public down to a manageable 100 most-nominated songs, and then online voting will cut the shortlist down to the final 49.

Sure, the project seems a tad goofy—realistically, Obama will have bigger things to worry about on Jan. 20 than whether he prefers Stompin’ Tom Connors or Gordon Lightfoot—but it got me thinking about music and national identity.

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Morning Links: Warrior Monks, Sustainable Fuel, ‘The Big Belch’ and More


New Zealand Hostel Owner Sentenced For Filming Female Guests in the Shower

A former hostel owner in New Zealand has been sentenced to community service and probation after admitting that he filmed his female guests in the shower for over a year. The man eventually removed his recording equipment and destroyed the hours of tape, but kept a two-hour “highlight reel” which he apparently watched regularly—with a friend who was a convicted sex offender.

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