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North Island Road Trip Day 1: Wellington to Palmerston North

Distance: 140km Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours 10 mins Donkeys at Owlcatraz Road trip! The last time my kids heard those words we embarked on a two week epic journey around the South Island. By the end, we were all exhausted! This time, we were heading off on a five day trip during the school holidays to explore the lower North Island. With shorter driving distances – and hence more time to explore and have fun – the kids (Lee and Jason), my husband, Paul, and I were raring to go. Being the July school holidays the weather was, well … July! Dull, wet and cold. But that just added to the adventure and we were well prepared with beanies, gloves and lots of waterproof and warm clothing – and a change of clothes easily to hand in the car. We headed north along the picturesque Kapiti Coast road where the Wellington wind was sending the waves crashing into the rocks. Leaving the coast, Levin is a great place to stop and stretch the legs. The kids love the huge Adve
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Hervey Bay: a holiday haven

Situated approximately 300km north of Brisbane, Hervey Bay is perhaps best known as the home of the humpback whale and gateway to heritage-listed Fraser Island. While these attractions are undeniable, it offers so much more, with its calm protected waters, mild climate and quiet clean beaches. Visitors can choose from three Choice hotels in Hervey Bay. The 4-star Comfort Inn & Suites Arlia Sands is ideally located just a block from the beach, while the 3.5-star Econo Lodge Fraser Gateway Hervey Bay is close to shopping facilities, the Cultural Centre, Discovery Sphere and Art Gallery. For visitors looking to indulge, relax and unwind, Oceans Resort, an Ascend Hotel collection member, is the perfect hotel. This hotel features 54 self-contained suites, offering uninterrupted views of the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island. The hotel offers a day spa, two lagoon pools, fitness centre and an onsite restaurant and bar. Home to the Butchulla people, the first recorded sighting of Herv
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XYNZ Choice Roadie: from Hamilton to Rotorua

Recently Ellen Dick and Tessa Stockdale from XYNZ took park in a #ChoiceRoadie. Below is an account of their adventures, as originally published in XYNZ, June 2015. Ultimate roadie playlist – check. Jucy Fiat Punto – check. Spot on accommodation to rest our heads – check. Reading and rearing for the big-little roadie. Get in. Thanks to our friends at Choice Hotels, we were sent on a roadie of epic proportions. From 0 to 100 real quick (thanks Drake), to indulging in divine cuisine and cosy accommodation, to being treated to each city’s best attractions; this was an adventure you don’t want to miss. Setting off from Auckland, to Hamilton and then on to Rotorua, we were ready for anything. Show us what you’ve got: Waikato and Bay of Plenty, we are ready. Clarion Suites Ambassador Located in the heart of Hamilton, the newly opened Clarion Suites Ambassador is a quaint yet vibrant place to spend your time whilst visiting the Waikato. Located a short walk from the Waikato Stadium for those
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Christchurch in winter: The Cold and the Beautiful

Known as a great summer city with its beaches, harbours and rivers, Christchurch – the largest city in New Zealand’s South Island – is also a popular winter destination. Less than two hours’ drive from the beach will see you in the snow-capped Southern Alps, with their stunning scenery and world class ski fields. With a population well over 300,000, Christchurch is a vibrant modern city with a lively entertainment scene. Whether you are staying a while in Christchurch, or just passing through, there’s plenty of great accommodation options. Quality Hotel Elms is easy walking distance from Northlands and Papanui Shopping Centres, where you will find cinemas, bars, restaurants, and even indoor swimming pools for the kids – with gym facilities for Mum and Dad! And Econo-Lodge Canterbury Court is conveniently placed for those attending events and concerts at the nearby stadium or show grounds, and is within easy reach of all Christchurch has to offer. Known as “the Garden City”,
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Goodness gracious, great rims of fire!

Situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua in the central Bay of Plenty area, lies the city of Rotorua. Established in the 1830s, Rotorua offers a mix of natural beauty, unusual geo-thermal activity and a fascinating Maori culture. Rotorua’s name comes from the Maori words Roto (lake) and Rua (two). Rotorua is situated on the Volcanic Plateau and has one of the world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity. It’s a region known for boiling mud pools and natural hot springs and sits squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire. There’s a host of attractions to cater to all tastes in Rotorua and you can stay at a number of Choice Hotels in the region. Quality Inn on Fenton is close to Rotorua’s CBD and within walking distance to buzzing cafes and restaurants. The hotel offers a choice of suites, studios and deluxe studios. Comfort Inn & Suites Coachman is also centrally located and features self-contained spacious apartments. Econo Lodge Cleveland is situated on the shores of the stu
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Marching with our ANZACs in Canberra

Canberra is a treasure trove just waiting to be explored, and with the 100-year anniversary of ANZAC Day upon us, there is no better time to visit our nation’s capital. Careful planning of this purpose-built city allows for easy access to all the attractions no matter where in Canberra you are staying. The award-winning Quality Hotel Woden is situated minutes from one of Canberra’s largest shopping complexes – Westfield Woden Plaza Shopping Centre.  Quality Hotel Dickson and its 4.5 star accommodation rooms are just a stone’s throw away from top quality dining options. For those looking for the best value for money the Comfort Inn Airport International is perfect, located 15 minutes from the airport. If country hospitality is what you’re after the Quality Inn Country Plaza Queanbeyan is conveniently located just over the border and is only 20 minutes from Canberra’s CBD. The Australian Capital Territory was established to house Australia’s Government, with construction beginning on the
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You’ve goat to get into the spirit of Chinese New Year!

It’s the year of the Goat and Melbourne will come alive this Chinese New Year. Melbourne is steeped in Chinese heritage and has a long tradition of celebrating the New Year in colour, dance and style. Melbourne will play host to a number of activities over two weeks. You can kick start your celebrations by counting down the New Year in Chinatown on 18 February. The following day, Melbourne Star will theme its LED light show in red and gold. And the Docklands will come alive with the 100 metre-long Docklands Dragon between 19 February and 1 March. On the 19 February, ACMI [Australian Centre for the Moving Image] will explore Chinese moving image art through live events, exhibitions and animations for the whole family.   Hungry? There will be a Hawker market in the CBD on 20 February offering a variety of Asian cuisine including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Indian and Thai. There will also be New Year cake and traditional sweets. You could stay in style at our a
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Coober Pedy: gem of the Australian outback

  A trip to Coober Pedy promises it all; a location unlike any other, adventure, precious stones and interesting stories from the thousands of fascinating locals that have come from 45 different nations to call this place home. Located in the centre of the outback 685km from Alice Springs and 846km from Adelaide, it is one of the few locations in the world where the question of extreme exposure and a harsh climate has been answered by building accommodation underground. With over seventy opal fields and the largest opal mining area in the world, Coober Pedy has become the world’s most important source of quality gem opal.   Visitors to the town also have the exciting opportunity to experience the cool and quiet of a stay underground, with hotels like the Comfort Inn Coober Pedy providing rooms in a fully converted former opal mine shaft that was used from the 1910s until the 1960s. The Comfort Inn Coober Pedy is the perfect choice for travellers wanting to experience the uniq
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Port Arthur: Where history lives

Port Arthur is recognised as one of Tasmania’s top tourist attractions and it’s easy to see why. The small town owes its existence mainly to its former status as one of Australia’s penal sites and here, amidst stunning natural beauty, the fascinating story of Australia’s convict past comes vividly to life. Hobart, located an hour and a half’s drive from Port Arthur, provides a convenient base for a day trip to the town. The Quality Hotel Hobart Midcity is located in the heart of the city and is well suited to all needs, particularly those of families. Named after the Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania between 1823 and 1837 George Arthur, Port Arthur was established as a timber station in 1830. By 1833 the area had become a penal colony for criminals sent from Britain as well as repeat offenders within Australia. At its peak, more than 1100 inmates eked out their existence in this remote corner of Tasmania, sentenced to a prison considered quite progressive and ‘modern’ in the 1830s, when
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Never a dull moment in Warrnambool

Situated on the western end of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool is the perfect place to start or end your trip along the world famous stretch of coastline. With so much to do and see this historic town attracts almost a million tourists every year. There are a number of quality Choice Hotels to choose form in the area and you’ll definitely want to stay at least a couple of nights. The Comfort Inn Western is located in the heart of Warrnambool and offers beautifully appointed rooms. The Comfort Inn on Raglan is an award-winning motel offering comfort and relaxation and is situated just a few minutes’ walk from everything you need. The Comfort Inn Warrnambool International has the town’s only restaurant where local crayfish is the house special. If you are after something away from the hustle and bustle, the Quality Suites Deep Blue is located just two kilometers from the main street and just moments from the beach and Lake Petrobe. The town is drenched in history. Settled in the
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