Things you can do at the push of a button

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

So, did you miss me last week — or was it a welcome change to read the technology page without my irrational ramblings?

I was in Christchurch last week having a mini holiday with my teenage son and well-insured husband.
Planning a holiday is so much easier these days with the wonders of modern technology and that interweb thingy. I was able to research and book the motel online and get useful and easy-to-follow directions to our accommodation on the Wises map website (

Of course, a trip to Christchurch wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Orana Wildlife Park ( The entrance fee of $16 for an adult is reasonable and we easily filled in four hours getting up close and personal with meerkats, giraffes, zebras and more.

Among the many lions, we met one who did a convincing impersonation of our dog, lying in the sun on his back, all four feet in the air. And who’d have thought that a porcupine in the flesh would be so cute.

However, the otters proved to be somewhat lazy. They were asleep when we arrived at the park and still napping when we left.

The big news from Orana Wildlife Park relates to the current rush of building activity going on. The Siamang Gibbon exhibit was completed this week ( and the bloke driving the tour shuttle the day we were there told us there’s a tiger exhibit on the way, too.

We also took a look at the Antarctic Centre ( The Antarctic storm was impressive to watch but really, it’s all just snow and ice.
Being a hardy Southlander I couldn’t help but think that a chilly winter morning being almost airborne as you struggle to walk past the driveway between The Southland Times and Chances Bar would rival anything the Antarctic has to offer.

Planning a holiday further afield is also easier with the net. Sites like House of Travel ( and Flight Centre ( let you find the best price across a range of airlines while Flights Direct ( and Zuji ( offer prices and info on flights, accommodation and more.

You can also go direct to the websites of the various airlines to see what’s on offer. I managed to score $99 flights in the middle of the school holidays by keeping an eye on specials advertised on Virgin Blues site ( In fact, by researching the prices and organising the bookings myself online, I managed to save more than $500 on the best price I was offered for a similar family holiday package even after upgrading to better accommodation.

I’ll send you a postcard.


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