DESTINATIONS
MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South Australia
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
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USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
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USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
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WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea

Heading up to Tahiti and its dramatic monolithic islands for a few days in the dead of winter can be both rewarding and a great way to take a well-earned break from all our cold weather and it doesn’t have to cost you the earth, especially if you do some homework before you leave.

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2010

On the upper outside deck of the ferry two couples sat cross-legged and chatted in French, some older Tahitians were playing a card game as a group of foreign backpackers used the gangway steps as a deckchair. I took another slug on my can of Hinano beer, the local brew, as Papeete receded in the distance. The glaring afternoon sun reflected off the white deck, in turn heating the metal handrails. An hour later I was lolling on my deck in a paradisiacal bliss with the sound of chickens cackling in the foliage.

 

Heading up to Tahiti and its dramatic monolithic islands for a few days in the dead of winter can be both rewarding and a great way to take a well-earned break from all our cold weather and it doesn’t have to cost you the earth, especially if you do some homework before you leave.

 

On my first morning I became a passenger sitting alongside locals in their unique form of transport called, ‘Le Truck.’ These Mercedes trucks are converted to whimsical buses brightly painted in red and white with two bench seats down each side. They run all day and night and usually only cost between 400-500 CFP for a round trip into town (under NZ$8).

 

Another way to keep costs down is to stop off at a local store to buy supplies for your hotel balcony such as fresh French baguettes, a few soft cheeses, some dips and chips, cold cuts and wine, (or safely secrete in your checked luggage a few bottles of your favourite Kiwi vino) as you will almost certainly find most hotel restaurants are very expensive to both drink and eat lunch or dinner in.

 

Yet another alternative is to eat at a local roulottes (French for caravans), roadside ‘meals on wheels’. One evening I caught ‘Le Truck’ to the port in Papeete where any night of the week there are dozens of roulottes cooking up local favourites like mahi mahi, steak and fries, Chinese stir fry or French crepes. It’s simply a great spot for families and couples to eat well, at a minimum cost. The fun part is choosing from a range of blackboard specials or badly photographed food shots and then finding some plastic stools and a table. On that balmy night, I ordered a rare steak with frites and a cold drink for under NZ$20.

 

Another lazy afternoon I wandered inside the colourful Municipal Market, which is worth browsing as the prices are usually lower than supermarkets and they display and sell a dazzling array of tropical fruits, strange looking vegetables and boxes of fresh seafood and iced whole fish. I watched in awe as old women haggled for a variety of fish they then heaved into plastic bags. A few days later a shuttle bus driver told me, “My wife eats fish for breakfast every day – it’s a Tahiti thing.” The upper level housed Tahitian arts and crafts and a popular café that has no views but keeps prices within reason.

 

For a change of Tahitian scenery I navigated my way over to Moorea (population just 9000), one of the most popular islands in French Polynesia for New Zealand and Australian travellers and just a short, inexpensive 35-minute ferry ride from the port in Papeete (under NZ$40 round trip). It is rumoured that James Michener based his mythical, idealized island, Bali Hai on Moorea – and it’s not hard to understand why.

 

This is an easy island to drive around, so either hire car or just hop on local transport. Here, you'll find the real South Seas' island experience - a casual, barefoot existence amidst white sand beaches and iceberg-blue lagoons, shadowed by serrated volcanic spires that seem to spear high clouds. Moorea is famous for its six mountains, including Mt. Rotui that offers spectacular views of Opunohu Bay and the rest of the island.

 

Most visitors go snorkeling at some stage and a good place to do it is on a motu (island). A half day trip can be arranged through the Intercontinental Hotel which includes a barbeque lunch and a lesson on how to make poisson cru (raw fish washed in saltwater with lime, fresh coconut milk, chopped cucumber, onions and tomatoes splashed with lemon juice). It’s also a place where some very friendly stingrays that like humans come into the shallow water for a bit of petting and feeding! For a mammal experience to remember there is also the chance to swim with dolphins at the Intercontinental Resort.

 

The fact is, in the heat of the day on Moorea, I lazily reclined on a beach further along from the resort sipping cold beers I bought from a small bar, reading a good book under the broad leaves of a thriving coconut palm, occasionally venturing into the warm sapphire waters to cool off. At this time of year, that’s what I regard as, “the lazy, hazy days of winter.”

 

 

 

FACTS:

 

Accommodation in Tahiti

If you can’t afford a five-star, ‘over the water bungalow,’ finding a family friendly hotel is the first step. Look for package rates such as ‘stay seven nights, get two free’ with inclusions like airport transfers and buffet breakfasts. On a recent trip I stayed at the Radisson Plaza Resort just 12km from the airport and 7km to the ferry quay. It’s located in historical Matavai Bay, overlooking Lafayette Beach.  The hotel offers a range of rich Polynesian traditions such as learning to prepare marinated fish from an old recipe, you can also learn how to dance the Tahitian Tamure, try a range of activities from yoga, spa, fitness and aqua gym or you can get free use of the hotel’s kayaks.

 

Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti

PK 7 – Arue, Lafayette Beach, Tahiti

E: sales@radisson-tahiti.pf

W: www.radisson.com/tahiti

 

Accommodation on Moorea

There is a list of high-end over-the-water type hotels on Moorea such as the Intercontinental, the Hilton or Sofitel, which all have specials or package prices with Air Tahiti Nui or your local travel agent. But to keep those costs lower, try staying in a small family hotel such as Fare Vai Moana. The hotel is located in the northwest of Moorea on edge of a splendid white sand beach, at one of the most beautiful locations on the island. The other option is to go for self catering. On the day I arrived, I took local transport to the Legends Resort, a luxury property offering two and three bedroom villas perched on a hillside above a bay with stunning views, with your very own Jacuzzi.  At the local store I stocked up with fresh supplies and some inexpensive table wine and cooked a delicious meal as the last of the golden rays set across the lagoon to the horizon.

 

Fai Vai Moana

Hauru – Haapiti, Moorea

14000 CFP (NZ$220) Garden Bungalow for two people (internet rates)

19000 CFP (NZ$295) Beach Bungalow for two people (internet rates)

E: favevaimoana@mail.pf

W: www.fare-vaimoana.com

 

Legends Resort

Taihura, Moorea

E: sales@legendsresort.pf

W: www.legendsresort.fr

 

For Tahiti package deals and airfares go to www.tahiti.co.nz or www.airtahitinui.co.nz Air Tahiti Nui fly non-stop to Tahiti twice a week on Thursday and Sunday: go to www.airtahitinui.co.nz

 

Shane Boocock would like to thank Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Tourisme in Papeete especially Rolfi, Maire and Hinata for their hospitality during his trip to Tahiti.

 

 

 

 

If you would like to read this article in full or licence it for your own publication, please click here to contact Shane.