Traveller: Takeoff travel news 20 July 2014

AIRLINE: Fresh bite of the Big Apple
Our passionate affair with New York gets extra oomph when China Southern Airlines starts flying to the Big Apple via Guangzhou, in southern China, from August 6. The service will run four times a week on new generation Boeing B777-300ER aircraft to JFK airport, featuring cutting-edge touchscreens in the pointy end and a new Premium Economy class with a 38-inch seat pitch, up from the 32-inch pitch on standard economy seats. Use any layover time to explore old Canton/new Guangzhou with its new free 72-hour transit visas. China Southern now has two US hubs, New York and LA, and codeshares with Delta from LA to eight cities including Atlanta, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Honolulu. The airline says the US is ‘earmarked for expansion’. Stay tuned. 1300 889 628,

KIT: Soft-shoe shuffle
If you’ve ever used ‘too bulky’ as a reason not to pack runners, your lame excuse is no longer valid with the discovery of Skechers GOwalk 2 travel shoes. A pair of average woman’s size 7 weighs just 226 grams and the mesh upper lets them squish down to fit even in your carry-on, with no need for socks, so there’s more packing space for shopping finds. Flexible and lightweight, the slip-ons are suitable for walking the town and ideal for foxing airport x-ray scanners and shimmying down the aisle on long-haul flights. Available in women’s, children’s and the men’s GOwalk 2 - Maine. $99.95. 1800 655 154,

SITES: Road warriors 
World Heritage Sites buffs should have Peru in their sights as it now has 12 sites on its books, following the addition of the Incan Great Trail to Machu Picchu. The UNESCO-listed Qhapaq Ñan (literally, ‘beautiful road’) was the Incan empire’s super-highway, running 30,000km along the spine of the Andes. Archeologists have also recently uncovered another ancient road leading to Machu Picchu, opening up new views (think: new camera angles!) of the citadel, which was built around 1450 but remained hidden until its rediscovery by a US historian in 1911. Other sites in Peru’s top 12 include the sacred city of Caral-Supe and the Chavín Archaeological Site.

KIDS: Marking time 
Tell the kids to draw on the walls at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, on St Kilda Rd. In the dynamic Pastello – Draw Act playroom, kids can strap on helmets or shoes loaded with crayons and run at the (paper-covered) walls to leave their anarchic mark. There are also gigantic crayon pendulums and a long drawing table with ‘cutlery crayons’ for small-scale masterpieces. The focus is on the movement and the act of drawing, not the outcome, say Pastello’s creators, Italian design duo Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli. The interactive play space is also a good time-out space for tattered tots. Open daily, 10am-5pm, until August 31. Free.

FOOD: State on a plate 
Put your city on a plate with the new Tapastry concept by feted chef and Pullman culinary ambassador Justin North. The sharing plates, devised by North and the five-star hotels’ executive chefs, showcase regional ingredients: we’re talking Hawkesbury calamari, slow-cooked pork belly from the Northern Rivers or single-origin chocolate by Zokoko, in the Blue Mountains. If you’re not leaving town, taste Tapastry at the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour or Sydney Olympic Park, or go further afield at the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort in Palm Cove or Sails in the Desert, in Ayres Rock. The Tapastry concept is being rolled out throughout the group’s 12 Australian five-star properties. 1300 656 565,

GADGET: Cool runnings 
You’re always running late, and your friends know it. Skip the tedious ‘I’m on the train’ mobile call and give them get a glimpse of your ETA with The travel tracker pops your headshot up on a dynamic, real-time map that you can share with nominated friends from email, text, Facebook or Twitter. The info is available only for a designated amount of time, up to four hours maximum, for added security. Best of all, the app is free, with no accounts, passwords or logins, and you don’t even need to have it installed to receive a glimpse.  Available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry users and now updated for Windows Phone 8.

FAMILY TRAVEL: Fiji for Teens
Kids too big for kids' club? Let your teens explore Fiji with the locals at the eco-friendly, five-star Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, recently voted best overseas family resort by Luxury Travel magazine. The resort is up in the country's wild northern island, Vanua Levu, which teens can explore with a "buddy" from the activities staff. Make a billi billi (bamboo raft) and head off swimming, hike through the rainforest, go river tubing or snorkelling and finish off with a beach bonfire. Free for teen guests 13 years and up. Stays cost from $372 a person, twin share on a six-night stay from October 6 until March 31 (excluding Christmas). 1300 306 171,
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