Budget · Life · Life style · New Zealand · North Island · Rotorua · Travel

Summer in Rotorua (2018)

Rotorua came on as a place of interest to visit ,when my brother asked about the place. We had visited Rotorua around 2013, and had a chance to visit the Geysers and the Maori Cultural centre, but we couldn’t remember much of the place. So we decided to take a quick weekend trip to Rotorua to have a relaxed trip and visit places things we did not see before.

It turned out to be a nice weekend away to enjoy some relaxed time with family and experience Rotorua , like a local.( well, almost like one)

As soon as we landed in Rotorua, we hired a rental car so that we could go everywhere easily together as a family. It also is a preferred mode of transport as J enjoys the flexibility and ease of driving his own vehicle.

We had booked a one bedroom unit at a motel called Rotovegas ; which actually consisted of a nice family room, kitchenette with all the utensils and gadgets ( we did not use them) toilet, bathroom, and two bedrooms in the upper level. And the best of all , our own heated Spa tub in an enclosed area. Their service ,rooms , the spa pool and the general swimming pool I must say were all good . We had a lovely stay here.

On the day we landed, with all the excitement of travel, we skipped lunch and decided to have an early dinner. Staying in Christchurch and not having many places to go for a South Indian vegetarian Dinner, we literally jumped with joy when we saw this restaurant called Steam

The dosa , sambar and chutney was as close to the authentic dosa sambar and it made me very happy.

The next morning , we got up early and bright , went to have breakfast .As we found a parking around Hinemoa street, we decided to park the car and take a walk around and we came upon this cute French Cafe called Le Cafe De Paris

Being a francophile, I dragged everyone in with me for breakfast.The ambiance was old world simple and cozy which I loved, the food was yummy and the service so good.The only thing I did not like at this place was the smoke filling up in the room , as the crepes were being cooked. We all enjoyed the crepes though.

After a scrumptious breakfast, first on the itinerary, we had the Redwood Treewalk . When we planned this walk, we had no idea what to expect but were totally blown away by the beauty of the magnificent redwood trees. The stroll on the 20 feet high wooden suspension bridge was an exhilarating

as well as informative experience with boards placed in strategic places.

Then we went to Rotovegas where the boys went on luge rides. We had our lunch and snacks here before heading to our last stop for the day.

Our next and final stop for the day was the 3D Art Gallery.We walked around leisurely, taking pictures , pretend playing and laughing around , it was not crowded at all . All of us enjoyed the gallery as it was so much fun!

The boys were too tired for the day to go out for dinner with us so they requested that we get them McDonalds . Which we did , as it was not very far away from our motel.Later J and I went back to Steam restaurant ordered the same dosa sambar , went for a walk in the empty streets and wound down for the day.

Our flight the next morning was late in the afternoon so we went out with a boys for a leisurely walk around the city centre admiring the street art and getting a feel of the place.

We then had breakfast at a cafe called Capers Epicurean where the food was good but I felt it was not the place to go if one was in a rush .It was quite busy when we went and took a while for us to find seats and settle down before we could order.

With this trip we found out that taking short trips away from home and just enjoying a change of scene was immensely refreshing. We felt that doing a few things together with out rushing around made us appreciate the time we spent sight seeing around Rotorua and each other’s company better than the busier travel schedules we have had before.

We had left Amber with a dog sitter, by the end of day two , we were all missing her like crazy. So we were are all so ready to come back home.

Trip Iternary:

How We got there :

By Flight : Air New Zealand direct from Christchurch to Rotorua.

How we got around Town :

Rental Car

Where we stayed : Rotovegas Motel

What We Did :

  1. Whakarewarewa Tree Walk
  2. 3D Trick Art Gallery
  3. Luge

Where we ate :

Hotel stay · Life style · Lifestyle · Queenstown · Road Trip · Scenic Suites Hotel · Travel

Quick trip to Queenstown

One can never get enough of the beauty ,South Otago region offers. When my cousin visited New Zealand with his friends, we decided to tag along on their two day trip .

First stop was Lake Tekapo. About three hours drive from Christchurch, the deep turquoise waters against the backdrop of the rugged brown Southern Alps is just breathtaking.lake tekapoOn the banks of the lake adding charm to the scenery ,stands the Church of the Good Shepherd .Apparently a favourite spot for wedding photographers.DSC_0499.JPGEnroute to Queenstown, stopping at various Scenic Outlooks to admire the magnificent beauty of the landscapes meant our supposedly six hour drive from Christchurch to Queenstown ,was stretched by a couple more hours. DSC_0542.JPGHence we reached Queenstown late at night  .

Ready to crash ,The Scenic Suites hotel where we stayed, with its spacious bed and clean self contained utilities ,offered just the cozy comfort we needed. DSC_0570.JPGThe stunning views of the lake and town were an added bonus.DSC_0551.JPGOh ,the breakfast of eggs benedict  with english muffins and bacon we had at the hotel restaurant was large , filling and scrumptious.

Of all the adventure sports that Queenstown offers, DSC_0645

DSC_0681.JPGDSC_0660.JPGmy favourite past time at Queenstown is people watching , canva-photo-editor-6having a juicy burger at Fergburger , IMG_0784

(one  of the best tip we received and found immensely helpful to avoid the serpentine queue ,was to order beforehand on phone and then go get the burger . )

Or grab an ice cream at Patagonia. Not only do they have a wider variety to choose from but you can also create your own cone , add things you like . So fun and so so yummy !IMG_7102

or walk on the side path gawking at all the sights and sounds enjoying the touristy vibe of the town.

Looking at the pictures  just makes me want to go back there.

 

Budget · Camping · Grey Mouth · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Out and about Christchurch · South Island · Travel · West Coast

Greymouth

Just before the labour weekend rolled around, J suggested we all take a trip to the West Coast to explore the area. Since none of us had any idea about the area.

Grey Mouth is about three hours drive from Christchurch and we took the Arthur Pass route.To say that the scenic drive was spectacular ,would be an understatementcanva-photo-editor

The first stop was Castle Hill, which are interesting rock formations .This kind of set the tone for our trip

The terrain itself is so different on each side the mountain. As we went up the mountains the long stretches of the dark grey river beds  with streams trickling by and dull brown beech trees, were a feast to the eyes.DSC_0086

The steep scary down hill drive that would lead into the rainforest like terrain with ferns and lilies everywhere, came as a big surprise. The gorge and the bridges simply breathtaking!

This was a budget trip for us and so we stayed in the Kiwi Holiday Park  , with its self -containted kitchen, lounge, toilets was very convenient and clean.DSC_0321DSC_0039.JPGWe however decided to sleep in tents, true Kiwi style.Crawling on all fours trying to get into the tent, sleeping with hot water bottles in my sleeping bag so as not to freeze into an icicle , maybe are  fun things to try once in a lifetime, but its not something I look forward to repeating again for fun 🙂 DSC_0030The whole town was shut down for a Bike race DSC_0088DSC_0098and so Pancake Rocks was to be our next destination.DSC_0133Rugged mountains on one side the vast wide ocean on the other, the beauty left us speechless. At the entrance of the Paparoa National Park, a Weka  ,another flightless native New Zealand Bird, took to greeting the visitorsDSC_0144Inside at the park, a very well laid out trail leads to mind-blowing natural beauty. DSC_0190The visual treat  is overwhelming  as your eyes are torn  between admiring the rock formations that look like pancakes stacked one above the other DSC_0168and  the rock formations that look like humans, the rugged  silent rocks providing the perfect foil for the boisterous wavesDSC_0155and home for nesting birds high up on them. .DSC_0222DSC_0215DSC_0181DSC_0246.JPGOn this trip,I did not cook, but picked up different salads  and food from Countdown, the supermarket and had a picnic by the river at noonDSC_0292DSC_0293DSC_0299scoured the beach for pebbles and driftwood, in the evening, ate dinner at Pizza Hut .DSC_0357Unprofessional campers that we were, couldn’t  take in the idea of shivering in our tents to sleep and so  decided to pack our tents and head back back home.

The steep drive down the mountains, covered in thick fog afforded some scary , nail biting moments, but by God’s grace, we all made it home in one piece, and fell into our beds with grateful hearts.

 

Baldwin Street · Dunedin · Dunedin Railway station · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Out and about Christchurch · South Island · Travel

Dunedin

We were in Dunedin for the Unwind Yarn Festival .DSC_0179DSC_0185

We stayed in a small town called Balclutha at a motel called RoseBank Lodge. It was a comfortable place.

The eggs benedict and hotcakes at the restaurant there were really good.IMG_0971IMG_0972It was  great to walk/drive around Dunedin  to soak in the  essence of the city.IMG_5800Dunedin  a university town, with a lot of young student crowd against the backdrop of the magnificent architecture,was a unique mix of urban as well as old world charm and grandeur.DSC_0289DSC_0006interesting wall art img_0999.jpgand the locomotive museum was a hit with the boys.DSC_0493.JPGDSC_0511 hilly landscape along the harbour so rugged and picturesque It was good to spend some time sitting on the grass by the harbour, watching the seagullsDSC_0066 The Cadbury factory is a must visit, I tried  the triple chocolate drink in the cafe near by , so tasty.IMG_0975IMG_0976DSC_0307DSC_0100DSC_0338The architecture of the  railway station was simply breathtaking DSC_0097DSC_0117.JPG

IMG_0989DSC_0129DSC_0132DSC_0150.JPG However, the most thrilling, and exciting experience for us in Dunedin was going up Baldwin Street, the Steepest Street in the world.DSC_0378

having a little glitch with our car in the middle of the climb, holding our breaths until we got back downDSC_0042

and getting a certificate at the certificate shop was indeed an experience that will stay in our memories for a long long time.DSC_0430

Ashley Gorge · Budget · Family · Glentui Waterfalls · Life · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Road Trip · Seasons · South Island · Summer · Travel

Glentui Water Falls

Do you have special traditions for the New Year’s Eve?

Back in India and Kuwait, we always had the Watch Night Service at Church, which we attended without fail.

Here in New Zealand, we don’t have that and so J and I had our own version at home.

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Then later in the day, we joined friends for a walk around the Glentui waterfall

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The Glentui Water Fall is about an hour’s drive from Christchurch. It is so serene and lush .

(At  the waterfall, my friend showed us the little Fan tail nest they had discovered there.If you looked closely at the nest,in the picture below, you might even catch a little orange open mouth, demanding to be fed. The little miracles of nature never cease to amaze me.)

and later for a sumptuous picnic lunch of sandwiches, cheese , crackers and pesto dips

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It was a warm and sunny day DSC_1251 and the children had a blast swimming and splashing about in the Ashley Gorge river.

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Akaroa · Budget · New Zealand · Road Trip · South Island · Travel

Day Tripping :Akaroa

Akaroa, which means Long harbour, is an hour and a half  drive from Christchurch. we had heard that it was once a French Colony. Having lived in Erstwhile french colony , Pondicherry in India and still cherishing the fond memories gathered there, we were more than eager to visit the place.

We might have taken a little longer than that as we stopped in a couple of places

We stopped at the first  picnic spot we spotted, took some time watching the Swans glide gracefully on the Lake Ellesmere

and then continued on

Enroute, we stopped at Little River and a little dose of history awaited us at the railway station now converted into a little craft store.

Taking one on a trip down memory lane of a bygone era.

We sauntered around entranced by the antique memorabilia on display…

Lanterns,

ticket collecting booth ,

A couple of stops at a few scenic views , later we were in Akaroa.

This picturesque town is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll around , stopping by the Museum to get an understanding of the historical heritage of the erstwhile French ColonyDSC_1351

 

The old church.. where the choir was just starting practise for the next day’s Church service.

The French street names and the antique buildings bear witness to the  bygone era.This is the only thing that bore any resemblance to Pondicherry.

A French bakery, Cooking school and loads of souvenir stores  in the town centre are a sure giveaway for the  French flavour that is still very much prevalent in the town.

The mosaic place …. which was closed as we were there late afternoon… were all very interesting to look at. we heard this was a must visit ,maybe next time.

Other than the idyllic old world charm of the town, 

a walk down the beachfront lounging  listening to the sound of the water and the sea gulls is extremely relaxing.DSC_1298DSC_1299DSC_1318

Drove to  the lighthouse

watched the boats on the bay.DSC_1435

The views were just magnificent specially at the golden hour,It must be a  popular wedding destination , as we did see a wedding party getting some photos around the town.

 We seemed to be running into them around the town.

we fell in love with this little car. … guess it belonged to the wedding party

Admired some old buildings

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Had an ice ceam

before heading back. The drive back was just as beautiful.

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we do plan to go back sometime in the summer.

 

 

Ashburton · Budget · Camping · Lake Heron · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Travel · Uncategorized

Fishing Trip : Lake Heron

We  went on a Fishing camp to Lake Heron.

It was a freezing but also a very heartwarming trip.

 The boys had so much fun

This time Big B had company and he enjoyed kayaking with some friends in the river. Like always J made sure that I was snug as a bug in our tent.

This trip  immediately puts a smile on my face as memories of good times, laughter ,conversation, fellowship and food come scrambling by, just like that ,when I’m doing something as simple as a making a sandwich! And I get transported back to those mountains again. 

Akaroa · Budget · French Fest · New Zealand · Out and about Christchurch · Road Trip · Travel · Uncategorized

French Fest 2015 : Akaroa

Picturesque Akaroa  came alive with festivities and fanfare,sporting a very French look with berets, nautical stripes and neckscarves

to celebrate its French Connection that started 175years ago in 1840.

The weather was perfectly perfect and in a very well organised event, 

there was live music,

yummy food, street markets,costumes,

embracing the  french culture and heritage.

The streets decorated with Frenchflags and colours of the French Flag, were abuzz with locals and tourists alike, eager to get a taste of French culture and revel in the  joie de vivre  that was in the air.

 

 I was so interested with a couple of games, versions of which we have in India too… its called Palaankuzhi,

and Kozhikai .

Infact ,I have seen this game played in Pondicherry too.

Our exposure to French culture started with Pondicherry and I have been in love with the simple elegance of the French ever since.

Which reminds me that I should go search the Pondicherry pictures I took when we went there in  Summer 2014 ,India.

It was just the thing we needed to unwind and get enthusiastic about the coming last and final term of school while giving the Spring break a  finition fine.

New Zealand · Out and about Christchurch · South Island · Travel · Weekend Moments

Day Tripping: Mount Hutt

The last day of season arrived , the weather was just magical and it was the weekend.When everything aligned so perfectly , the much longed for trip had to happen! DSC_0010Mount Hutt is the largest ski area in the South Island, about an hour’s drive from Christchurch. The views up hill and down were just spectacular.

DSC_0230The parking area is very neatly organised and so we found a parking without much difficulty.

DSC_0141.jpgSnow jackets , pants and boots plus the ski/ snowboarding gear are all available for hire. DSC_0102.jpgQuick lessons are offered for people without skiing/snowing boarding experience as well,so that no one feels like they’ve missed out. DSC_0167And of course there are events held for the more experienced to compete in.Simply awestruck by the control and skill displayed by some of the participants. DSC_0160DSC_0161The cafe there offers a nice variety of hot food and the view from the deck and inside the cafe of the ski field is just fantastic.