Backpackers’ accommodation in Christchurch and Canterbury

There are several backpackers’ accommodation in Christchurch and Canterbury, depending on your budget and preference. You may opt to stay right in the city centre itself or a bit farther from the noise and traffic.

Blue Castle - YMCA
YMCA Christchurch

Because of its perfect location on the edge of the Canterbury Plains, Christchurch offers many natural attractions to its visitors.  In fact, many of the visitors here are repeaters. They keep coming back because they can’t get enough of the majestic beauty of Christchurch.

And of course, with these tourist destinations, Christchurch’ tourism industry must also keep up with the demands for accommodation.

While many hotels may have been brought down by the 2011 earthquake, several other types of accommodations are made available to receive both local and international guests.  Some of these comfortable and less expensive facilities are the backpackers’ hostels.

Here are at least five of the many backpackers’ accommodation in Christchurch and Canterbury that I highly recommend.

The Old Countryhouse Backpackers. This is one of the favourite hostels among backpackers in Christchurch. Located along Gloucester Street, Linwood Christchurch Canterbury, it’s only around 15-20 minutes walk from the central city. Local bus stops are just in front of the hostel.  Room rates per adult guest per night range from:

  • High season: $33 – $144
  • Low season: $29 – $138

Around the World Backpackers. Located along Barbadoes Street, City Centre Christchurch Canterbury, this hostel is just about a short 10-minute walk away from The Restart Mall.  Part of its amenities include free unlimited calls to national and New Zealand mobile phones; free coffee, tea, sugar, and any spices left by other guests.  Room rates per adult per night are as follows:

  • High season: $31 – $80
  • Low season: $30 – $74
Blue Castle - YHA Mt Cook
YHA Mt Cook

YHA Kaikoura.  Located in Kaikoura, Canterbury, the YHA Kaikoura gives you a majestic view of the Kaikoura mountain ranges across the South Pacific Ocean. Rooms are available in twins, doubles, and small multi-share, with rates ranging from $30 to $110 per adult per night.

YMCA Christchurch. This is located at Hereford Street in the heart of the Christchurch’ central city, right next to the Arts Centre & Botanical Gardens.  Its room rates range from $30 to $220 per adult per night.

YHA Mt Cook. Located in Aoraki Mount Cook, this comfortable hostel charges between $31 and $183 per adult guest per night. Price includes community levy to assist with village development.

For booking and more information about the backpackers’ accommodation in Christchurch and Canterbury, please visit the Christchurch & Canterbury web page.

Take a surfing holiday at St. Clair Beach, Dunedin

Dunedin is home to some of the best beaches in New Zealand, most of which are only a few minutes drive from the central city. Of these, St. Clair Beach is the most popular because of its excellent surfing location and scenic view of the ocean.

St. Clair Beach is the perfect place to go if you are looking for a consistent surf break. And it’s only a ten-minute drive from the city centre. Besides surfing, you can also enjoy walking by the seaside or just go dining in its cafe-lined promenade, and watch the surfers ride the waves of the Southern Ocean.

Blue Castle - St Clair Beach

At the southern end of the beach there’s a the heated St. Clair Hot Salt Water Pool.  It’s an ideal swimming area for those who don’t want to venture into the ocean waters with huge swells.


Depending on your taste and budget, there are plenty of accommodation facilities close to St. Clair Beach.  Among which include:

Lisburn Avenue Cottage. The standalone modernized character red brick cottage costs from $100 per night, and can accommodate a maximum of 6 people.

Mosgiel Charmer. Its room rate starts from $130 per night, and can accommodate up to 5 people.

Stunning Panoramic Views Surf to City – St. Clair.  Room rate starts from $130 per night, and can accommodate up to 9 people. The place is a 3-minute drive to St. Clair Beach.

St. Clair Gem Holiday House.  Its room rate starts from $145 per night.

Fabulous Beach House at St. Clair. Located 1.5 kilometres away from St. Clair Golf Club, and 5 kilometres from Dunedin City Centre, this beach house can accommodate a maximum of 4 people.  Its room rates cost between $150 and $400 per night.

Blue Castle - Hydro

Wains Hotel Dunedin. Although it’s 3.6 kilometres away from St. Clair Beach, the hotel offers very good facilities.

Best Western 555 Bayview. It’s 1.9 kilometres from St. Clair, and a 5-minute walk from St. Kilda Beach.

Hotel St. Clair. This boutique beachfront hotel is just 0.5 kilometres away from St. Clair Beach.

Apartments at St. Clair is located just 50 metres away from St. Clair Beach, and just a five-minute walk from the St. Clair Salt Water Pool.

The Hydro Esplanade Apartments is located right in front of St. Clair Beach, or just a short 0.3 kilometres from the beach front.  It’s also just a minute walk from the St. Clair Salt Water Pool.

Or, you may want to seek the advice of your travel agent to get better room rates. They might also have special holiday packages to St. Clair Beach.

Why you should stay in Wellington

Booming city, rich in diversity, abundant job opportunities, and leading centre of arts and culture: these are but few of the numerous good reasons to work and stay in Wellington.

city landmark 1

Wellington is one of the best cities to live in New Zealand. And here’s why:

Proximity to major areas. With a span of only two kilometres in diameter, Wellington can be easily navigated around on foot. In other words, you can get to your destination quickly. And if you choose to commute, the city has the most well-used public transport systems with the least vehicular traffic congestion compared with other cities in New Zealand.

Accommodation.  Wellington’s house prices are way below the national median.

  • Rent.  The cheapest way to rent is to share a flat with other people. The cost depends on the size of the house, the number of occupants, and location. But if you wish to rent an entire flat with your family, you can get a cheaper unit in the city fringes or outer suburbs.
  • Hotel. Depending on your taste and budget, you may choose from the different accommodation types in Wellington – from central hotels, serviced apartments, hostels, to backpackers.
  • Buy. The New Zealand property market is enjoying a sustained growth, and so does its economy within a low interest rate environment.  So, you can expect mortgage rates to be competitive.  Wellington offers many options to the house buyer. Financial institutions and lending banks offer flexibility on rates and terms.

Safety. Wellington has an efficient police force. There’s a strong coordination between government agencies and varied sectors to ensure that anti-social behaviour is curbed.

Activities. Situated within a scenic harbour, and being rich in history, Wellington never runs out exciting activities you can indulge in anytime.

Blue Castle - food markets

  • Visual and performing arts.  The city is home to Te Papa, the country’s national museum; National Art Gallery; the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and; the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
  • Recreation. Wellington offers a wide range of activities, depending on your preferences. You can go explore the city by walking or biking through scenic landscapes, stroll around the harbour, or enjoy the beach.  If you are more of the adventurous one, you can go to the greater regional areas and enjoy the sights of the lush vineyards, play at the golf courses, go for bush walks, or visit the bird sanctuaries.
  • Shopping. Wellington is home to a wide shopping complexes. If you can’t find it in Wellington, that only means you don’t need it.

Food. Again, depending on your budget and taste, Wellington offers you several places to dine and eat out.  But, if you prefer to cook your own meals, there are also many places to buy fresh and good quality foods.

These are but few of the many reasons why you should stay in Wellington. Not to mention the great career opportunities in this booming city.

What awaits skilled migrants in New Zealand

As New Zealand industries continue to grow, so does its need for more labour resources increase.  And since the local manpower source is not enough to cope with the increasing demand, the country invites skilled migrants to practice their expertise here.

Shortage of labour is one sign that business is expanding. And that is exactly what is happening in New Zealand now. Industries such as Tourism, Information and Communications, High Technology Manufacturing, and several others are in need of more workers to cope with increasing demand.

But with all these sectors recruiting a good number of workers all at the same time, local manpower sources would not be enough to fill the vacancies. That’s why New Zealand turns to other countries and invites skilled migrants to work here.

Most of the recruiting companies in New Zealand offer remunerative packages as well as other perks to qualified candidates. What is more interesting, aside from a financially-rewarding career, is that New Zealand sets a personal yet professional environment for all its workers. One example of this is by calling each other in the workplace on a first name basis, regardless of your position in the company. In other words, the spirit of belongingness to the company prevails. No discrimination of race and beliefs.

Blue Castle - emigration

Also, in New Zealand, you don’t only come to work, work, and all work.  Its a prevalent culture here that each employee or worker lives a well-balanced lifestyle. Meaning, even as you value your career, you also get the opportunity to spend quality time with your family and loved ones; for each New Zealander upholds the belief that “life is for living”.

It’s no wonder, then, to find several parks, gardens, and other public facilities and recreation centres all throughout the country where you may spend your free time.  New Zealand never runs out of events all year round.

Blue Castle - New Zealand signGetting a job

New Zealand implements certain rules and guidelines that skilled migrants must observe. First and foremost, you need to register your profession with the corresponding regulating body in which you belong. Be sure also that your qualifications comply with the host country’s requirements.

Once you have done the processing of your paper works, you are now ready to apply for a job.  Visit legitimate employment sites like Seek, New Kiwis, Workhere for job vacancies in New Zealand.

You may also check with New Zealand Now on how to become successful skilled migrants in the country.

What to expect at the Waiheke Island, Auckland

Waiheke Island is the ideal destination for those who want to get away from the hurly burly of city life for a while. Located just 17.7 kilometres away from downtown Auckland, you will find total relaxation on this island.

Waiheke Island is the second largest in the Hauraki Gulf, next to the Great Barrier Island.  Noted for its lush vineyards and wineries, sandy white beaches, public reserves, and homey accommodations, it is ideal for both day trips, eco-tours, and longer vacations.

Blue Castle - Waiheke Island

There are several things to do on Waiheke Island. If you prefer to spend the day swimming, or doing water activities, you may go to any of these white sandy beaches:

  • Oneroa and Little Oneroa Beaches
  • Onetangi Beach
  • Cactus Bay
  • Palm Beach
  • Little Palm Beach
  • Blackpool Beach
  • Surfdale Beach

Or, if you love strolling around and prefer to immerse in the beauty of nature, you may visit the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Here, you will enjoy watching the wildlife and plants that are not found anywhere else in the world.  You will also discover the island’s rich historical sites and cultural heritage at the Te Matuku Bay Cemetery and Scenic Reserves, Stony Batter Historic Reserve, or the Matietie Historic Reserve.

And, oh, don’t forget to join a guided tour to the fantastic vineyards and wineries. You’ve got to experience wine tasting of world-class wines there.


Hekerua Lodge

If you prefer to stay longer on Waiheke Island, there are a number of accommodations to choose from, depending on your budget. Here are a few of them.

When you’re on Waiheke Island, you’ll feel you’re a world away even if it’s only a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

A glimpse to past civilizations through Hamilton Gardens

The Hamilton Gardens are a sort of museum that feature themes from ancient civilizations.  It is the most popular tourist destinations in the Waikato Region, attracting not less than a million of people each year.

Owned and managed by the Hamilton City Council, the Hamilton Gardens is a public botanical patch.  It lies on a four-acre land between State Highway 1 and the Waikato River bank in the southern part of Hamilton City.

Blue Castle - Sustainable Backyard

What makes Hamilton Gardens different from any other garden is its ability to convey a story in each of the garden themes. As soon as you enter, a guide will take you on a journey of discovery from the tranquil Chinese Sung Dynasty era, and into different periods.  You’ll surely be mesmerized at the varied themes that are divided into five collections, namely:

Paradise Collection.  This garden will bring you back to at least three Asian civilizations, two European periods, and the 20th century West Coast American tradition.

Productive Collection.  I have a personal bias for this themed-garden because it’s something closest to my heart.  I love the way the gardeners present the patches with such convincing and unique characters in

  • Sustainable Backyard
  • Herb Garden
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Te Parapara

Blue Castle - pondFantasy Collection.  Its newest addition, the Tudor Garden, stands out because it depicts the English aristocracy of the 16th century with a complex knot garden.  The other themes that belong to this collection include the Tropical Garden, and the Chinoiserie Garden.  And more gardens are still coming up.

Cultivar Collection features five themes, namely:

  • Rogers Rose Garden tells the story of how the modern rose developed from species to the newest hybrids.
  • Hammond Camellia Garden tells how the Camellia flower genus developed
  • New Zealand Cultivar Garden features cultivars from New Zealand native plants
  • Rhododendron Lawn highlights small deciduous trees
  • Victorian Flower Garden features greenhouses, and a 19th century English tradition

Landscape Garden. This features three themes, namely: the Hamilton East Cemetery, the Valley Walk, and the Bussaco Woodland.

How to keep calm when earthquake rattles

Nepal has yet to recover from its nightmare of the April disaster when another strong earthquake rattles the land on May 12 this year.  Tremors are unpredictable. They hit anytime, anywhere causing many to panic. Although we cannot prevent it from occurring, we can at least minimize its damage to our lives and properties.

Blue Castle - rubble
Earthquake damage in Nepal

On May 12, a 7.3 magnitude quake followed by a number of aftershocks hit the country of Nepal again. It occurred barely two weeks after a stronger 7.8 magnitude tremor claimed more than 8,000 lives and reduced the country to rubble.

The South Island of New Zealand also experienced tremors twice in April; although, those were of lesser degree.

What does this mean to us, then?

While no technology can ever predict when earthquake occurs or prevent it from happening, we can at least do something to minimize its damage to our lives and our properties. By being vigilant and equipped with knowledge on what to do during and after an earthquake, we can significantly stay safe and avoid severe damage to properties.

Blue Castle - ring of fire

The following countries are more prone to strong earthquakes because of their location within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

  • Chile
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Guatemala
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Antarctica
  • Russia
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • Philippines
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Indonesia

Around 81% of the world’s strong earthquakes occur along this ring; although, this does not mean those away from it are safe. So, whether your country is within the Pacific Ring of Fire or far away from it, it is important that you know what to do during and after an earthquake rattles your area.

Safety tips

After careful study and based on experience, some organizations have come up with important tips on what to do during and after an earthquake. They also advise that you understand your risks to reduce or prevent injuries, damages, and long-term financial repercussions. I recommend that we all should read these guidelines.  We should rather be safe than sorry.

Catch the FIFA U-20 World Cup games in Dunedin

Seven of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games will be played at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, now known as the Otago Stadium, in Dunedin.  The world football event is set on 30 May – 20 June. New Zealand bested Tunisia, Peru, and Wales to host this year’s competition.  It’s the first time for the country to host the said sports event.

Blue - Otago Stadium

The Forsyth Barr Stadium, renamed Otago Stadium for the competition, is where the action will take place as Dunedin hosts seven of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games, including a Round 16 clash, or the round prior to the quarter finals.  This year’s world football event is the twentieth edition of the U-20 World Cup since its inception in 1977 as the FIFA World Youth Championship.

Twenty-four contingents from all over the world will participate in the competition.  The schedule of the games are distributed in Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton, Whangarei, New Plymouth, and Wellington.

The teams to compete in Dunedin are as follows.

31 May

  • Mexico vs Mali.  Kick-off time is at 1:00pm
  • Uruguay vs Serbia.  Kick-off time is at 4:00pm

3 June

  • Mexico vs Uruguay.  Game starts at 4:00pm
  • Serbia vs Mali. Kick-off time at 7:00pm

6 June

  • Colombia vs Portugal. Game starts at 1:00pm
  • Serbia vs Mexico. Game starts at 4:00pm

10 June – Round of 16.  Kick-off time is at 4:00pm.  

  • The game will be between 1D against 3BEF

For a complete schedule of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games, check out the Match Schedule.

About Dunedin

Beach - St. Clair

Dunedin is a coastal city at the southeast end of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the largest city in the South Island, sprawling  from the inlet towards the open sea across valleys and hills of a dead volcano. It is also home to some of the best beaches in New Zealand.

The city is known as one of the country’s most important educational and cultural centres. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) even recognizes Dunedin as the official City of Literature during the launching of the Creative Cities Network.

Store Lighting and its Impact to Store Customers

Lighting is an important factor that every retail owner should focus on. With brands competing for every customer, it is a must that a store can provide all the necessary features consumers are looking for and adequate lighting is one of those. With its direct effect on consumers mood, a perfect lighting can highlight architectural elements, product qualities and it can also create a virtual space that could influence the way consumers feel, how they think about the product and the choice on whether they will be purchasing or not.

    To have that great impact against consumers, owners should be selecting the right set of lights for their needs. And to help them do so, here are some of the most common types of lighting that can be used on store as part of the retail design.

1.    The Ambient Lighting

This lighting is known to be the main light source of any store. These lights ensure that the store is not too gloomy and all the consumers who enter the store will feel comfortable due to the adequate light present around the shop.

2.    The Task Lighting

This type of lighting is more focused on the task given to it, wherein it used to illuminate areas in the store that needs more light to perform the said tasks. These lighting can be seen on store entrances, checkout area, dressing rooms and the customer service desk.

3.    The Accent Lighting

This type of lighting are used by many retails stores in highlighting some specific areas, displays and even decors of the store for them to enhance the products and to add a sense of importance to their most valuable masterpiece.

4.    The Decorative Lighting

From the word itself this kind of lighting has a specific function of adding sophistication and glam to the store. In most cases, it is all about the light fixtures and not the lighting itself. Most decorative lights today includes chandeliers, custom designed fixtures and others depending on the taste and theme of the store.

    As they choose the lighting type that will best suit their store, the next thing they have to do is to setup the lighting as part of their retail design. To do so, here are some of the general tips they could follow:

    In purchasing LED bulbs, owners should ensure that they buy all the needed bulbs at once. As the technology of Led is still being developed, the bulbs are not yet consistent in color, temperature, and even tone. So the best way to ensure that the bulbs that have been purchase has a same outcome it should be purchased in bulk.

    The heat coming from the lights should not make any customers feel uncomfortable. It should not be too close on products that can fade especially for those stores with low ceilings.  So when they purchase a light, incandescent lights produce the warmest, Led is the coolest while fluorescent lights are in between.

    As the store is already packed with lighting, it is advised that owners use dimmer switches so that they can control the level of lighting in their store. This can help them save from their energy bills and it provides them the freedom to manipulate the atmosphere of their store without much control.

    So for those retail owners who are planning to replace their store lighting, they should be careful in choosing the type of lighting they will use to enhance the merchandise of their store and to create a good impression towards their customers. 

Te Papa features WWI events in Gallipoli exhibition

Te Papa Museum brings back memories of World War I by presenting a close-to-reality Gallipoli exhibition.  Entitled Gallipoli: the Scale of our War, the display takes visitors on an immersive journey through the battlefields, where 2,779 people lost their lives. Stories of eight New Zealand citizens who played significant roles in the war are also brought to life to add drama to the display.

Produced by Te Papa in collaboration  with Weta Workshop, the Gallipoli exhibition uses movies, monumental figures, 3D maps and projections, miniatures, and models to come up with an almost real war experience. While ordinary New Zealanders who experienced that part of history narrated the tragedies and victories of the Gallipoli campaign.

Weta Workshop spent considerable time conducting research and creating the 2.4 times larger than life figures of the nurse and seven soldiers, around whose stories the display revolves. The figures are carefully sculpted to evoke suffering, pain, and heroism.

In the exhibition, you will also see the weapons used in the combat as well as the photographs that the soldiers took on the front line.

Dr. Christopher Pugsley, Exhibition Historical Director, said that this project aims to create a lasting impact on the visitors’ memory, especially among the younger generation, so that the eventful New Zealand history will not be forgotten.  He also hopes that this exhibition will help shape people’s perspective on the Gallipoli campaign.

Gallipoli exhibition - invitationIf you are a resident of Wellington, New Zealand, you are encouraged to see “Gallipoli: the Scale of our War” and be immersed in that important event of the country.

The Gallipoli exhibition is ongoing and will be on for the next four years, or until 2018, to concur with the commemorations of World War I centenary.  Admission is free of charge, but parental guidance is required among young visitors as there are some graphic contents in the display.