New Zealand: Raw Nature and Happy People

With more than a third of its land declared as parks or nature reserves, New Zealand is the destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Here you will find immaculate beaches, volcanic plateaus, rolling green hills, fjords, geysers, impressive glaciers and a wide variety of flora and fauna. The country is divided into two islands, North and South, each with its own identity.

The North Island is represented by volcanic landscape surrounded by subtropical forests, high mountain lakes, and highlands covered with vineyards and meadows. It is the cradle of Maori culture which goes back to more than 700 years. Their culture, language, and traditions are part of the country’s identity. The folk songs, traditional Hangi dinner, Hongi (welcoming ritual of rubbing noses), famous Haka (traditional war dance) and the visual arts such as wood carving, weaving, and tattoos are integral elements of the immense cultural wealth of New Zealand.

The Southern Alps dominates the South Island. In its wild nature, you will discover rolling plains, snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, fjords and dense forests. You can even admire whales, dolphins, penguins and endemic fauna such as kiwi, kea, and yellow-eyed dolphins.

Christchurch

Christchurch is undoubtedly the most English of all the cities of New Zealand with its traditional neo-gothic style British architecture, award-winning botanic gardens, trendy boutiques, and pop-up pubs. After the 2011 earthquake affected the Christchurch adversely, it has rebuilt its urban landscape with an artistic, energetic, and refreshing vibe. The River Avon and the nearby gardens are reminiscent of the British heritage, while the Antarctic Center lets you experience the South Pole right here in Christchurch. The gondola ride takes you to the top of the Port Hills providing panoramic views of the city, icy peaks, and lakes along the journey.

Akaroa

Akaroa is an hour-and-a-half drive from Christchurch on Banks Peninsula. It was founded in 1840 by French settlers, with references to the culture still evident in the little township. Many of the street names are in French. There’s a festival every year celebrating the town’s French roots with entertainment, music and food. Akaroa attracts a lot of tourists, so there are a number of activities you can get amongst to experience the best of the Banks Peninsula. There are plenty of campgrounds in Akaroa and around the bays to pitch your tent for a weekend out of the city.

Queenstown

The capital of adventure, Queenstown is a dynamic city that is an attractive destination both in winter and summer thanks to its privileged location between lakes and mountains. Queenstown is the mecca of thrill-seekers due to the extensive adventure sports options: skiing, jet-boating, paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, zip-lining, rafting, rock climbing, kayaking – you name it. The city has a large number of hotels, bars, and restaurants, which contribute to the dynamism of the local nightlife. If you go a bit further, you can escape to the glaciers in the north and the fjords in the south. It is difficult to leave Queenstown without letting adrenaline rushing through your veins and your heart pounding through your chest. But if you’re looking for something slow-paced, you still won’t be disappointed. Escape into the nearby vineyards for a wine-tasting tour, sample the famed Fergburger, enjoy a romantic dinner with views of the mountains, or immerse yourself in the private natural hot springs in Omarama.

Auckland

Auckland is the largest city the economic capital of New Zealand. Popularly known as the City of the Sails due to its thousands of sailboats, each part of this cosmopolitan city has a story of its own. Located between Northland and the green hills of Waikato with ancient extinct volcanoes, the Auckland lies on a narrow isthmus between Manukau Bay and Hauraki Gulf. Climb to the top floor of the iconic Sky Tower to enjoy the incredible views of the city and dine in one of the two restaurants that offer panoramic views. Experience a slice of New Zealand’s history in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, and Auckland Art Gallery. Get close to nature by hiking on the extinct volcanoes of Mt Eden and Mt. Albert. Auckland has been continuously voted among the most livable cities in the world – another reason to visit the city.

Wellington

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is nestled between the sea and mountains, at the southern tip of the Island of the North Island. The city has plenty of green spaces throughout the city and wild beaches just minutes from downtown. On the same day, you can take the funicular up to the botanical gardens, visit the National Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa, enjoy a delicious dinner with local wine at Lambton Quay and discover the kiwis in Zealandia Sanctuary. And if that’s not enough, Kapiti Island and Martinborough are less than two hours away by road. Cuba street is probably the liveliest areas of the city where you can dine, shop, indulge in activities, and immerse in the cultural vibe of the city.

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Brazil: Kaleidoscope of Cultures and Landscapes

South America’s largest nation could keep you exploring for decades. Brazil has the Amazon, the Pantanal, and São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, just for starters. You’ll also find ethnically diverse culture, colonial architecture, remnants of mining and rubber boomtowns, and a rich artistic and musical heritage. With so much ground to cover—literally—you’ll need to plan your trip carefully and be realistic about how much you can fit into your days in Brazil.

A multifaceted, multicultural society, Brazil is fraught with contradictions. Carnaval, capoeira, beaches, fashion models and soccer stars, all-you-can-eat steakhouses, caipirinhas, and hammocks are a visitor’s dream, even as the country still contends with crime and poverty. As the legendary Bossa Nova composer Tom Jobim once put it: “Brazil is not for beginners.” For all their society’s complexities, Brazilians tend to be open and friendly towards travelers.

Rio de Janeiro

Rife with contrasts and contradictions, Rio de Janeiro is mesmerizing and musical, complex and sometimes chaotic, but never, ever dull. It possesses enough historical, cultural, and natural attractions to keep you occupied for months. The best way to tap into its pulse is by ignoring the clock, dispensing with schedules, and succumbing to its relaxing rhythms. Go with the Carioca—the term for a citizen of Rio—slow by not planning too much, and know that lolling on a mountain-fringed beach with an agua de coco (coconut water) and sitting in a neighborhood bar listening to samba and watching the world go by, count as Rio experiences, too. Tightly hemmed in between the South Atlantic and the foothills of the Serra do Mar, Rio provides an easy escape from the hustle of the city. The thing about Rio is that, aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, it’s suffused with a spirit of alegria (joy) that makes it quite simple, and effortlessly, fun.

São Paulo

São Paulo is as famous for its concrete as Rio is for its beaches. But don’t let that put you off. São Paulo may not have those incredible Rio views, that surf, that sea, but it is a beauty – if only behind closed doors. No city in Latin America can compete for the sheer variety and quality of restaurants, shops, hotels, and nightlife. This is where South America meets for business, where Brazil studies seriously, and where it produces everything from airplanes to the finest fashion south of New York. Visit Banespa or Terraço Itália (rooftop viewpoints) late in the day for sweeping panoramas of the city’s skyscraper skyline. Head to the Jardins neighborhood to browse Brazil’s best boutiques, sample the excellent collection of art at São Paulo Art Museum, and enjoy award-winning Brazilian food in the country’s two best restaurants, DOM in Jardins and Mani in Pinheiros.

Northeast Brazil

Brazil’s Northeast is one of South America’s great secrets, right up there with the Peruvian Andes or the Brazilian Amazon for spectacular natural beauty. Thousands of miles of white-sand beaches are backed by swaying coconut groves, sweeping sand dune deserts or caramel-covered crumbling cliffs. Fishing villages turned low-key traveler towns – like Jericoacoara, Pipa, and Canoa Quebrada. The coral sea is pocked with little islands like Fernando de Noronha fringed with turquoise bays and pristine reefs. The Sertão of the rugged interior is as wild and empty as the Australian outback with thornbush and cactus broken by beehive-dome mountains and towering table-top mountains daubed with prehistoric cave paintings. And then there are the cities and towns, such as colonial Portuguese São Cristóvão and Olinda with sugar-cube cottages, the crumbling Afro-Brazilian São Luis, and Recife with its decaying baroque cathedrals and art museums.

Western Brazil

Western Brazil covers a continental area, stretching from the Iguazu Falls in the far southwest to the northern reaches of the Amazon on the borders of Colombia and Venezuela. This is Brazil at its wildest, with a variety of terrain and scenery awe-inspiring in its scale. Iguazu is a waterfall as wide as a London borough, while the Pantanal is a wetland bigger than most US states. It’s the Serengeti of South America, and you shouldn’t miss it even if you have a passing interest in wildlife. Then there’s the Amazon basin itself: more than twice the size of India, with mountains over 2 miles high, sweeping savannahs and the most extensive tracts of tropical rainforest on the planet. The whole area is cut by myriad rivers, including three of the 10 biggest rivers in the world by water volume. And with such expanse comes great variety, from powdery white sand beaches of the Tapajos River and Marajo Island to the remote forests of the upper Rio Negro and Anavilhanas archipelago.

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Norway: The Land of Dramatic Landscapes and Intriguing History

The natural spectacle of Norway is hard to exaggerate. The fame of the beautiful fjords, with their incredibly steep cliffs that cut the coasts, is totally deserved. But Norway is also a land of magnificent glaciers, which meander from the ice fields that are among the largest in Europe. The mountainous terrain of the interior resembles the walls of a natural fortress. And then there is, of course, the immaculate appeal of the Arctic. These geological formations are the framework of charismatic flora and fauna like reindeer, fjord horses, and musk oxen. Here are the top five places that take you to some of the most enchanting corners of Norway:

Tromsø

Tromsø is the largest city in northern Norway, and its 18th-century wooden houses add charm to the city in winters. Here you can explore museums and art galleries, relax in alpine gardens and experience two spectacular natural phenomena: the midnight sun and northern lights. Tromsø is an ideal destination for outdoor adventures throughout the year, mainly in the nearby Lyngen Alps. In winter, you can go for polar fishing, cross-country skiing, husky sledding or snowmobiling. During the relatively warm summer months, you can go horseback riding, walk along the glaciers and hike in the woods.

Lofoten Islands

Located in the north of the country Lofoten Island is an archipelago with a relatively warmer microclimate despite being well above the Arctic Circle. The steep pointy mountains surround the postcard-like villages inhabited by a large number of artists and fishermen. Watch for the old red fishing cabins, docked boats, and cod kept for drying as you hop from one island to another on a ferry, car, bus or bicycle. The islands are linked by bridges, so it’s easy to get around the region. In addition to exploring the culture, you can go hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and deep-sea fishing.

Bergen

Bergen is the second largest city of Norway and acts as a gateway to the majestic fjords. From the staircase of colorful wooden buildings along the slopes of the Seven Mountains, it seems like this place is drawn straight from a fairy tale. It was one of the most prominent cities of Medieval Europe and still carries the vestiges of the Vikings. Hop from one art museum to another, ride to the top of Mount Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular railway, and peek into Bergen’s ancient past. When adventure calls, set off for a hike or mountain biking on the surrounding mountains and when tiredness creeps in, laze on the historic Wharf and watch the fishing ferries come and go.

Oslo

Protected by fjords dotted with islands and surrounded by forests and lakes, Oslo is the only European capital where you can ski a few minutes from the city. Nature, history, and modern buildings blend perfectly in Oslo. The city boasts more than a thousand years of history, although it was not until 1905 when it became the capital of an independent Norway. After renewing its maritime façade and inaugurating several museums, the Norwegian capital, with nearly a million inhabitants, is one of the most significant artistic hubs of Scandinavia. Stroll around Karl Johans Gate, the main artery that runs through the heart of the city. Here you will come across Oslo Cathedral, Central Market, the Parliament, University of Oslo, and the iconic National Theater. On the opposite end of the avenue, the Royal Palace is perched on a hill.  Once the residence of the Norwegian kings, today the palace and its gardens are open to the public. Town Hall, Opera House, Aker Brygge, Grønland, and Grünerløkka are other places worth visiting.

Stavanger

Stavanger is known as the oil-city of Norway. Besides the oil, Stavanger is like a blank sheet of paper and not only because of its neat houses in the old town, where it seems you will blemish them if you touch them. But also because it is the outdoor studio for hundreds of artists who, for 15 years, have let their imagination fly, turning the city into a work of art that you never get tired of admiring. Walk around the old town among the well-preserved wooden houses and visit some of the city’s best museums such as Stavanger Art Museum and Norwegian Petroleum Museum.  Stavanger also acts as the gateway to two of Norway’s iconic landmarks: Lysefjord and Preikestolen. Lysefjord has 4,444 wooden steps (world’s largest) that take you to an altitude of 740 meters, and Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) was named as the best viewing platform in the world by Lonely Planet.

 

Italy: Cradle of European Art and Culture

Drone Videos of Italy

Italy’s enchanting countryside, great food, splendid architecture, and glorious history make it one of the most diverse and excellent travel destinations. From the icy Alps in the north to the turquoise Mediterranean waters in the south, Italy has a treasure of natural wonders. Italy has been the birthplace of art-maestros and creative legends like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, whose art and architecture has shaped the Western world. Heart of the Roman Empire and home of the Renaissance, this country holds thousands of years of untold stories to discover. With treasures of art, historic buildings, fascinating culture, and beautiful landscapes, Italy is loved by the travelers from all over the world. Here are the top 7 destinations which are incredibly beautiful and equally well-rooted to their heritage.

Rome

No other city in the world is at par with Rome’s artistic excellence. Over the centuries, the “Eternal City” has been an inspiration for the top artists and architects. The result reflects the current heritage of Rome. The city is marked with ancient statues, Byzantine mosaics, and baroque facades adorning the museums, churches, and piazzas. Rome boasts of having an unusually high concentration of creative geniuses – Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini, and many others. Monuments like Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museums, and Pantheon opens a vista into the glorious Roman history.

Florence

Birthplace of Renaissance, Florence is as aesthetic as it is artistic. Although it is small enough to be covered on foot, Florence is packed with artistic treasures, historic buildings and delicious eateries. Its rustic narrow streets seem to be unchanged with time and evoke a feeling of romance that can’t be translated into words. From Da Vinci at Renaissance to present day Gucci, Florence has always been the home of design tycoons. Along with art and history that the city has to offer, it also provides plenty of opportunities for activities like food tours, exploring the wineries, and experiencing the lively nightlife of Florence.

Milan

Being Italy’s business capital, Milan is Italy’s banking, media, and industry hub. It is a city which has established itself as a glamour and fashion magnate, a city which follows football like a religion and is a shopper’s paradise. Milan’s culture is an amalgamation of the old and modern, traditional and chic. Although Milan represents modern Italy, there is a layer of heritage hiding beneath its fast-paced lifestyle. The splendid Gothic cathedral, Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and the Gothic Duomo still hold Milan attached to its roots.

Venice

Venice is a city which seems to be taken straight out of fairy tales. The winding streets and peach-colored Venetian buildings line the banks of a network of canals. This unique layout of Venice makes it one of the most romantic cities in the world.  Venice has been the heart of numerous empires, and their influence shows in its fascinating mix of cultures – Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine, and Italian. Along with world-class galleries, museums, and churches, the narrow labyrinth passages leading to San Marco and the mystic Palazzo Ducale add to the glory of this city.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, which is translated to “five lands”, is a group of five small towns beautifully perched along the Italian Riviera. Once an undiscovered gem, Cinque Terre has gained massive popularity in the last decade or two, but its enchanting ambiance is still prevalent. This small group of towns offers dramatic scenery of the turquoise waters, rocky coasts, and vibrant homes. With old castles and churches marking the hillside meadows, the surrounding of Cinque Terre itself is fascinating. Although Cinque Terre is relatively new on the tourist map, a part of it still reflects the pre-medieval days.

Amalfi Coast

Bathed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi Coast is located on the peninsula of Sorrento in the southern Italy. The beautiful coastal route meanders along vineyards, lemon groves, and pastel-colored small towns perched on the edge of the cliffs. Whether you’re traveling to Praiano, Positano, or Ravello, every bend along the 28-mile coastal highway invites you to stop and take photos.

Vicenza

To deviate from the typical tourist routes and explore real Italy, visit Vicenza: a hidden gem just an hour’s drive from Venice. It was the former home of the famous Italian Renaissance architect Palladio, so as you can imagine, the city is full of architectural wonders. Our favorite is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teatro Olimpico, a 16th-century theater which is hard to believe that it was once a prison.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF DRONE VIDEOS OF ITALY

 

AirVūz Partners with Rotor Riot for New Drone Web Series

Two of the biggest names in the drone industry are teaming up to provide a new series of content to fans around the world.

AirVuz.com and Rotor Riot have partnered to unveil “Rotor Riot Presents:” The self-described “semi-fictional, satirical entertainment” series features some of the top FPV (first-person view) drone pilots in the world. The first episode premiered on AirVūz this week and featured Philadelphia-based pilot Botgrinder. Each episode of the series will showcase a different FPV pilot.

In the inaugural episode, Botgrinder flies with fellow pilots Zoroe and Cricket as they attempt to pull off a challenging maneuver called the “Philly Corkscrew.” Botgrinder thinks his ticket to making it big in the FPV world is by getting noticed by Rotor Riot — and that means executing this tough stunt. Viewers who want to see if Botrgrinder can complete it will have to watch through the end of the episode.

AirVūz was launched in 2015 and is the host site of thousands of drone videos and photographs from all over the world. In addition to promoting the work of its global community of content creators, AirVūz also produces original drone-related content.

Rotor Riot was founded in 2015 by Chad Kapper after he saw the rise in popularity of drone racing and FPV drones. Rotor Riot is a collaborative of some of the world’s top drone pilots and boasts one of the largest drone-specific groups on Facebook, with more than 27,000 fans active in the group.

“I could tell this was going to be a thing and a movement and a lifestyle, so I wanted to create a brand that preserved and gave that culture a rally point,” Kapper said. “That’s what Rotor Riot is.”

Rotor Riot also offers a popular podcast for FPV pilots and is “always striving to entertain, educate and inspire people through kick-ass content.” Now its latest creation, “Rotor Riot Presents:” offers a glimpse into the different styles of drone pilots all over the world.

Kapper said the show takes a satirical approach: “We wanted to exaggerate things for the sake of entertainment and have fun with it. But the basis and foundation comes from a very real place, and you can’t make that up.”

Ready-to-fly FPV drones

If you’ve ever watched FPV videos, you’ve probably had the same thought as everyone else: that looks like a ton of fun.

But you’ve also perhaps had the same question as many others watching those videos: how do I get into FPV drones? Most pilots that fly FPV (first-person view) build custom quadcopters from a variety of different parts. That involves some basic knowledge of electronics and soldering, which isn’t a skill that everyone has — especially those of us who are used to flying camera drones that are ready to fly right out of the box.

Luckily for anyone looking to get into FPV drones, more and more companies are building ready-to-fly FPV mini quads with everything already assembled. All the pilot needs is a controller and goggles, and then pair those with the drone and you’re ready to go.

Drone manufacturer Teal has created the Teal Sport, an FPV drone that boasts it can fly 80 mph out of the box. The drone is modular, meaning replacing an arm or a motor is much easier than custom-build quads. Both the Racer and Freestyle models of the Teal Sport retail for $499.

Similarly, Uvify recently showcased its Draco drone at AUVSI Xponential in Denver. Like the Teal Sport, the Draco is modular and allows pilots to swap out an arm of the drone if things break or need repairs. Uvify offers both an analog and a digital version of the drone with regards to its video quality.

Even some of the best FPV pilots in the world enjoy flying pre-built quads. That list includes Shaun Taylor, who recently won a race at Xponential with the EMAX Hawk 5 ready-to-fly drone.

“If you’re getting into it, or if you’re a pilot like me and maybe don’t like working on them so much anymore, it’s really great,” Taylor said. “It’s super fun to fly. … It’s faster than the rigs that I build for myself.”

See the Latest Drone Video of the Week Winner

A Mexican drone pilot used six different drones over a five-year span to create a winning drone video.

Tarsicio Sañudo won the weekly AirVūz Drone Video of the Week contest (and the $1,000 prize) with his video “MEXICO A TRIP OF 5 YEARS.” The aerial compilation features more than 30 different locations throughout Mexico and showcases the country’s coastlines, festivals, skylines and natural wonders. Sañudo used six different DJI drones — the Phantom 1, Phantom 2, F450, Inspire 1, Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro — to capture his winning film.

AirVūz.com, the world’s leading drone video and photography sharing platform, launched the “Drone Video of the Week” contest in which one content creator will be chosen for the weekly USD$1,000 prize. All drone videos uploaded to AirVuz.com are eligible to win. The contest began April 2.

The winning video received the most votes in a public poll and beat out four other finalists: “The 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Sri Lanka,” “Mystic Iceland,” “My First Year of Filmmaking” and “EPIC Lofoten Islands in Winter.” Finalists were chosen based on a variety of factors, including quality of footage, originality, music selection and editing techniques.

First Drone Video of the Week Winner Announced

One drone pilot is now $1,000 richer after winning a new video contest.

Noel Thomas of New Jersey won the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video of the Week contest with his video titled “Dreamscapes 4K,” which included aerial footage of locations all over the world — from New York to South Korea. The video features shots of skylines, waterside locales, bridges, unique hiking locations and more.

AirVūz.com, the world’s leading drone video and photography sharing platform, launched the “Drone Video of the Week” contest in which one content creator will be chosen for the weekly USD$1,000 prize. All drone videos uploaded to AirVuz.com are eligible to win. The contest began April 2.

The winning video beat out four other finalists: “4K Iceland Drone Adventure,” “Exploring the Galapagos in 4K,” “Drone Video Reel” and “24 HRS.” Finalists were chosen based on a variety of factors, including quality of footage, originality, music selection and editing techniques.

The AirVūz curation staff selected the five finalists from more than 1,000 videos uploaded to Airvuz.com during the week of April 2. Videos considered for the contest were uploaded between April 2 and April 8.

The contest continues for a second week, with another USD$1,000 up for grabs for drone pilots from all over the world. This week’s contest runs from April 9 through 11:59 p.m. CT on April 15.

The Drone Video of the Week contest follows the success of the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video Awards, which selected the best drone videos and photos of 2017. Voters chose winners in 13 categories from a total of more than 33,000 videos.

Drone Video Awards analysis: This is Yunnan by Face du Monde

As we look more in-depth at the winners of the 2017 Drone Video Awards, we now move to the “People” category. While all of the finalists were great, “This Is Yunnan” by Face du Monde came away with the win in that category.

The concept of having people in a drone video is one we here at AirVūz preach to content creators looking to make their videos stand out. Showcasing a beautiful landscape is one thing. But adding a human element to the video — either to show the scale of the aforementioned landscape or to simply vary your footage — can go a long way.

That’s exactly what Face du Monde did in this great video. The film focuses on the Yunnan province of China, a region in the southwest of the country that is filled with mountains, rice terraces and lakes. While the landscape of Yunnan is featured prominently in the video, so too are its people.

One of the reasons “This is Yunnan” was so successful — and why it won the People category — is the variety of footage. Of course there is drone footage used throughout the video, but there are also hyperlapses as well as close-up shots of a variety of people. The music choice also perfectly fits the mood of the video, which is always an important element.

The general feeling of this video is that the drone footage compliments the rest of the ground footage, not the other way around. Consider that next time you’re looking to do something to make your drone video stand out.

Stay tuned for more analysis of the rest of the winners of the Drone Video Awards.

Finalists Selected for $1,000 Weekly Drone Video Contest

More than one thousand drone videos have been narrowed down to five finalists in the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video of the Week contest. Now $1,000 is up for grabs.

AirVūz launched the “Drone Video of the Week” contest in which one content creator will be chosen for the weekly USD$1,000 prize. All drone videos uploaded to AirVuz.com are eligible to win. The contest began April 2.

Here are the five finalists in this week’s contest, as chosen by the AirVūz staff:

Voting is now open to the public. Votes can be cast for 48 hours, until the end of the day on Wednesday. Limit one vote per person per day.

The contest continues again this week. Content creators have until 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday to upload their videos to AirVuz.com to be eligible for this week’s $1,000 prize.

The Drone Video of the Week contest follows the success of the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video Awards, which selected the best drone videos and photos of 2017. Voters chose winners in 13 categories from a total of more than 33,000 videos.