One of the absolute highlights of my recent travels was the two weeks I spent driving around the South Island of New Zealand. New Zealand is a great country for a road trip. You can drive for almost hours with barely a sight of another car and the constant turns and switchbacks designed to tackle New Zealand’s tricky terrain make it a fun place to drive. But, most importantly, the island is so visually stunning that every day you’ll wake up chomping at the bit to get on the road in anticipation of what you might see. Using my experience in New Zealand I have put together my recommended itinerary. Part 1 of this is below…

Day 1 – Fly into Christchurch
Personally, Christchurch reminds me of an average English town and I wouldn’t be inclined to stay long there. New Zealand’s star attractions are not their cities (although, to be fair, some do have a lot of character). After a long flight I’d recommend using this day to rest, perhaps taking the opportunity to go punting on the Avon River. Tomorrow is a big day.

Day 2 – Christchurch to Mt. Cook
To get the most out of this day, get an early start. Just over 4 hours into the the drive you’ll be finding yourself arriving at Lake Tekapo. Up until now you will have been experiencing a very nice scenic drive but when you arrive at Tekapo your jaw will be well and truly fixed in a wide open position. The ice blue colour of Lake Tekapo and the subsequent Lake Pukaki is so stunning that at first sight you’ll believe it to be almost unnatural.

Take the turning to Mt Cook village (just past Lake Pukaki) and make the drive up toward the snow-capped Mt Cook: the highest peak in Australaisa. Once at the village, use the opportunity to stretch your legs, spending the afternoon on one of the hiking trail that leave from the Hermitage to capitalise on one of the many stunning viewpoints. Finally, rest your weary legs by spending the night in the village.

Day 3 – Mt. Cook village to Queenstown
You can either spend the morning on a few more trails or you can start your drive straight down from Mt Cook village to Queenstown. Option B is by no means a bad way to start the day – this drive is one of the most stunning you’ll experience in New Zealand. Queenstown itself is well known to be one of the adrenaline-rush capitals of the world. But Queenstown is also an energetic town blessed with plenty of bustling restaurants and busy bars. And it’s all set in a sublime landscape of mountaineous wilderness.

There is plenty of time for thrills tomorrow so use this time to kick back and relax at a lakeside cafe, perhaps hopping on to the Skyline gondola for an awesome view over-looking the town and the surrounding mountains. And if you can’t wait for a little bit of a thrill then why not take the Luge to make your way back down. For dinner, go for a Fergburger. By now you’ve probably heard enough people talk about them!

Day 4 – Queenstown to Te Anau
Use this day to feed the adrenaline junkie in you. There is everything on offer here: bungy jumping (including the first ever commercial bungy off the Kawarau bridge), sky diving (and you could not possibly ask for a better view to sky dive), swinging over canyons, hang gliding, jetboating, white-water rafting, canyoning and, in the winter, skiing. I opted to bungy jump the Nevis Highwire – a 134m jump from a station suspended over the Nevis river. It’s the highest in New Zealand! But, to be honest, you can spend a lot more time and a lot more money trying all the various activities in Queenstown – if you have both available.

If, like me, you have neither in abundance then make the drive down to Te Anau in the late afternoon, so you arrive in time for the sunset. I’m not sure if I was just lucky, but in Te Anau I saw what was quite possibly the most stunning sunset I’ve ever seen.

[to be continued next week]

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New Zealand is a truly stunning country and I spent every day there in constant awe of it’s beauty. So I was amazed just how often I’d speak to a resident who hadn’t seen many of their country’s natural splendors despite it being so accessible for them.

But, to be honest, that was a common story everywhere I went. And it is a common story in the UK too. I’ll hold up my hands and admit I’m guilty. Maybe it’s because the sights just don’t seem as interesting somehow when it’s not situated in some far off exotic country. Or maybe it’s because your own country is so accessible that you put off doing it because you can “visit there any time”.

But as we tighten our purse strings maybe we should use this opportunity to start visiting some of those amazing places that you can find a little closer to home. There really is some beautiful things to go see in our country and I want to use this blog to start showcasing them. And what better way to demonstrate just how much natural beauty our country has to offer than by compiling our very own “seven wonders” list. So below I’ve listed my nominations for the UK’s seven wonders (of course please post any nominations of your own as a comment and I’ll add them to the list). Please put your seven votes for the UK’s seven natural wonders!

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If you live or work in London, you may have seen Transport for London’s smarter driving initiative. The idea behind it is to get Londoners to travel smarter and consider other forms of transport – including car sharing, and giving up car ownership altogether, only renting one when needed for longer journeys.

On their website, www.tfl.gov.uk/smarterdriving, they give 10 great tips to help cut not only emissions, but also fuel bills – in fact, they believe that, by following these tips, you can save up to £120 per year in fuel. In these credit crunch times every little helps!

Here are the tips:
1. Keep your tyres at the right pressure- underinflated tyres increase your fuel consumption by around 2%
2. Avoid short journeys – cold engines use twice as much fuel as warm engines, and catalytic converters take 6 miles to become effective
3. Speed up and slow down smoothly – avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy breaking reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
4. Change gears at lower revs – to save fuel change up a gear at between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm
5. Avoid the air conditioning – it places huge demands on your engine, meaning you burn much more fuel
6. Get your car serviced regularly – it’ll help it run at optimum efficiency, helping to reduce fuel consumption
7. Empty your boot! – carrying excess loads makes your engine work harder, burning more fuel
8. Share your ride – giving a friend or colleague a lift means one less car on the roads, and someone to talk to on the way!
9. Plan your journeys – combine errands into one sensible trip to avoid unnecessary mileage and save CO2 emissions
10. Avoid leaving your engine running to warm up – idle engines use 0.5 litres per hour, the equivalent of 3.5 miles worth of fuel

If you feel inspired by these tips and would like further information, please visit the TfL smarter driving website, where you can make a pledge to cut down on your emissions, as well as get further information on the greenest cars to drive, events in London and lift sharing.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the above, and whether the credit crunch has got you thinking about how to save money as well as the environment.

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As one door opens, another closes!! With Rob’s recent return to Avis (and the blog), it’s time for me to move on to pastures new. After eight years with Avis, I am moving on to a new challenge with an exciting position in a company based in Central London.

Writing and contributing to the blog has been a wonderful experience. You’ve given us some great feedback, shared some fantastic information and challenged us on more than one occasion. I only hope that Rob and myself, along with the others who have made the blog possible, have helped you along the way when travelling or renting a car.

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish all Avis staff and customers, as well as all you avid blog readers, the best of luck for the future. Needless to say, I’ll soon be a blog reader myself and will check back from time to time and, no doubt, leave a few comments.

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After hopping around the world for 4 months, I have finally returned back to the UK and, back to reality, into my role at Avis. As eager as always to pack in as much as possible, I managed to squeeze in an itinerary that took me through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. They’ll be plenty of time to provide a full update on my travels but as a short introduction I’ve listed my top 12 highlights below (getting it down to 12 was very tough!)…

  • Visiting the awesome Angkor temples while being humbled by the people of Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Trekking through the jungle and playing with tigers in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Climbing the spectacular rock formations at Railay, Thailand
  • Diving the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Surfing the Gold Coast, Australia
  • Bungee jumping the Nevis Highwire in Queenstown, New Zealand
  • Cruising through Milford Sound, New Zealand
  • Hiking the Fox Glacier, New Zealand
  • Swimming with wild dusky dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand
  • Living a life of excess in Las Vegas, USA
  • Visiting the visually-overwhelming national, state and tribal parks of Arizona and Utah, USA
  • Chilling out in the culturally diverse city of San Francisco, USA



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It’s only a couple of weeks before the new F1 season kicks off in Albert Park, Melbourne at the Australian Grand Prix and I, for one, can’t wait. In fact, at Avis, we’re all massive F1 fans.

This season sees the most radical technical changes to the cars in years, including changes to the aerodynamics, tyres and the much talked about KERS. These changes have been introduced to increase reliability and further reduce cost for the teams. They are also designed to reduce the role of aerodynamics in the cars’ performance, make overtaking easier and keep lap times in check. If you’ve seen any pictures, you know that the cars also look quite different to previous seasons.

As regular readers of this blog will know, we supported Lewis Hamilton in 2008 on his way to becoming World Champion. And this year is no different! We’d love to see Lewis go all the way again with his second title in two years!

Avis is also heavily involved in the British Grand Prix, being the official car rental partner to Silverstone in 2008! Last year, Avis provided the cars for the chauffeur-driven shuttle service that picked up VIPs, team members and officials arriving by helicopter to take them to their trackside destination.

So, good luck Lewis and here’s to another exciting F1 season!

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Even though it’s the national day of Ireland, you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! It seems that everyone is having a parade or festival these days.

If you’re heading over to the Emerald Isle, you can catch the celebrations in Dublin, Cork or one of the smaller county towns like Waterford, Wexford or Kilkenny. In fact, if you visit the Avis website at the moment, Avis have a great weekend special rate available for rentals in Ireland! If you need any other suggestions of things to see and places to visit while you’re there, you can check out our previous blogs on Dublin, Cork and Northern Ireland.

If you want to stay closer to home, festivals and parades are taking place in London, Nottingham and Manchester as well as many other places in the UK. And for the really adventurous among us, you can always hop on a trans-atlantic flight and sample the delights of the parades in New York and Boston.

Why not let us know what you’re doing for St Patrick’s Day?

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Have you ever wished that you could book your holiday needs together? We asked the question and over 50% of our surveyed customers said that they would be very interested in being able to shop for hotels at the same time as booking their Avis car rental.

If you’re a regular to the Avis website, you may have noticed a recent addition to the homepage. I am of course referring to our new partnership with Hotels.com. Planning your trip shouldn’t be stressful and tiring, so you can now conveniently book accommodation from our website.

Hotels.com, part of Expedia, gives travellers one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net, including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in over 80,000 properties worldwide.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect weekend break in the Mediterranean or for a business trip to Northern Europe, with a choice of over 80,000 hotels worldwide, Avis and hotels.com are your perfect travel companions. We can save you time when looking for great cars and a wide choice of fantastic hotels! And with Hotels.com Best Price Guarantee, you can also be confident that you’re getting the best possible prices.

What do you think to our new partnership? Is there anything else you’d like to see available to reserve on our website to make your travel planning easier?

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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ScotlandIf you’ve ever wanted to visit Scotland, 2009 is the year to go.

The whole country is running a programme of events called “Homecoming 2009” which celebrates some of their great contributions to the world, including golf, whisky, great minds and innovations and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage. The programme kicked off on January 29th, the 250th birthday of one of Scotland’s most famous sons, Robert Burns and carries on until St Andrew’s Day on November 30th.

Some of the highlights include:

Whisky Month – May 09

Some of Scotland’s most popular and exclusive distilleries are opening their doors to the public so you can see behind the scenes at how they create this famous drink.

“Drive it Home” Golf Promotion

Scotland is the undisputed birthplace of Golf and every year thousands of overseas golfers come to play the amazing variety of 550 courses. This programme offers a free four-ball at selected courses across Scotland for overseas golfers and their golf buddies.

Homecoming Self-Guided Walks

Each of these walks provides a history of the people who lived in the area, who they were, why they left and which areas of the world they moved to. The walks are available as a free download from Walkhighlands and comes complete with a detailed route description, Ordnance Survey map, pronunciation and meaning of the placenames and waypoints for your GPS.

Highland Games

These games provide a highlight for every visitor and take place throughout Scotland between May and September.

If you need to hire a car, Avis has offices at major airports including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Prestwick. We also have city centre offices in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

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We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.