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 :

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.

 

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.

DSC_1242

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

DSC_1235

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

DSC_1254

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

DSC_1346DSC_1306

 

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

DSC_1479

Had an ice ceam

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

DSC_1495DSC_1534

 

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.

Budget · New Zealand · Out and about Christchurch · South Island · Spring · Travel

Day Tripping: Waikuku Beach

When the weather gets gorgeous ,the school break starts, and the day light savings kick in,then its  time to go exploring out and about Christchurch.

This time,we decided to drive upto Waikuku Beach… its just a half an hour drive from Christchurch in the Waimakiriri district.

Waikuku Beach is a very beautiful beach.

The weather was gorgeous for the drive, but walking out on the beach, I needed my jacket on…. to protect me from the chilling wind.

Lil B loves the water and wanted to swim . With the terrible cough he has been having for over a week now, walking up and down the sand dunes was the sensible option.

The drift wood on the beach offered to be the perfect walking sticks and a boy definitely needs two of those for scaling up the ‘mountains’

Seemingly untouched, we saw a couple of surfers on the beach .However, the Surfers Lifeguard watch house makes me believe that the Waikuku beach must be  a surfer’s paradise. Plus a great place for kids to frolic around in the sea.

 We drove around spotting water birds

 and enjoying the rustic charm of the area.

when this board caught our eyes

A hidden little gem that we thoroughly

enjoyed exploring

First things first though…as soon as I saw the word craftworks, I made a beeline  into the store.

We were greeted with the friendliest of smiles and an array of glorious handmade glass beads, jewellery, tableware. The owner told me,she made them all out of test tube heat resistant by blowing the glass.

 I searched up and found their website! I do want to go back there.

This large antique mill that was built sometime in the 1870s, houses a large assortment of things .From Antiques ,trinkets, homewares and Kiwiana Memorabilia to gorgeous clothes , accessories and collectibles.

 I just adored the exposed brick walls and the gorgeous, friendly resident dog inside. oh and not to forget the old fire place adding on the vintage charm and warmth to the place .

The drive back was dedicated to spotting babies…

Btw,where did September go? seems like it whizzed past when I blinked!

Budget · Hamner · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Road Trip · South Island · Travel

Hamner


When a friend invited my son and I to spend a long weekend with her at Hanmer, we jumped at the chance. She asked son to invite a friend along and Lil B was thrilled that he would be able to  spend time with his friend.


 I had heard that Hanmer is a lovely little town , an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. Famous for its Thermal hot pools.

Once there, I realised  thats not just what Hanmer has to offer.

A walk up conical hill while being a test of your fitness level,


will also treat you with some of the most breathtaking views .

After a little rest and food, you could do the walk in the picturesque forest


 and enjoy the gorgeous tall trees,

ponds

the one piece of wisdom that I will not forget in a hurry

 and meadows.

Do a bit of shopping in some of the quaint boutique shops; there is a lovely little shop the name of which slips my mind, where I saw some stunning jewellery and other handmade things along with art by local artists featuring native subjects.

there is a bit of history hidden there too in the Queen Mary hospital where war veterans from the First world war were treated. Even though its closed at the moment, it is worth a peek to get a glimpse of the past.DSC_0158

And ….then, one can go and soak up in the thermal pools all day long to relax those tired muscles, while  the children zoom down tirelessly on  hydroslides there.

Arrowtown · Autumn · Budget · Camping · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Singapore · South Island · Travel

Arrowtown

Over the Easter Weekend, we decided at the last minute to visit Arrowtown, a quaint little town.

J was not sure if he would have to work or not . By the time we learnt that he would also not work on the holidays, the Holy week was almost upon us.

Big B and J  decided to try their luck finding last minute accommodation in Queenstown when the search showed us that there was a vacancy at the Holiday Park in Arrowtown.

Being Budget travelers,we decided to take it ,as it was very budget friendly for us,even though we had no clue about the place or where it was . Thank God for Technology and GPS!

As we started on our trip, we learnt that Arrowtown was a Gold Mining Town, with remnants of the 19th Century history well preserved in the town.

When we got there,we were so taken in by the old world charm the little town boasts of.

The weather as we drove the scenic route for nearly five hours was just gorgeous!

We stopped to have a look at the Kawarau Gorge . As much we would have liked to explore the gorge and all it had to offer, we put it off for another trip. This time, however, our hearts were set on reaching  Arrowtown as early as we could .

The gorgeous Autumn palate of gold , orange ,fiery red, purple and greens greeted us as we drove into Holiday Park Arrowtown .IMG_1965It offered the perfect backdrop for the surrounding mountain ranges

Set in this picturesque setting is a very well maintained park with several kinds of accommodation, right from tent and powered camper van grounds to ensuite studios, self-contained flats, lodge rooms , to suit every budget.

 

DSC_2120.jpg

We stayed in the Oregon Lodge.

It has an all sufficient kitchen, with fridge, freezer, microwave,T.V, stove and utensils with ample space to cook and have our meals right there. And also sinks and hot and cold water taps to clean and take water from.

I had taken lime rice, cutlets and chicken fry, our standard picnic food along with eggs and bread. Which we could store in the community kitchen. This came in handy as I could store the food in the fridge and heat up at lunch time in the microwave.

Our rooms were heated, with bunk beds. We hired the bedding for a small fee. It was spacious, warm and cozy  for the four of us.IMG_1936

 

On Day 1, after long drive, we had a long nap when we finished unloading all our stuff. It was almost dark when we went to explore the quaint little Arrowtown on feet.

IMG_1993IMG_1994IMG_1996IMG_1998IMG_2001IMG_2010 (1)

We had dinner at this little pizzeria called Off Piste. It was almost closing time.IMG_2019.jpg

chicken , brie , apricot.pizza. We were not too hungry .

IMG_2026

 

On seeing the beautiful little town , reminiscent of old English villages we have read about in books,we knew without doubt, that we had we found our own little pot of gold !

We did the actual exploring of the little town only on Day 3.

The historical character of the little town is very well preserved.

Est. 1862!

Est.1862 .

On the fringes of this charming little town is the Chinese settlement. I read in a pamphlet I found at the park, that these Chinese came to work in the goldmines and were racially discriminated from buying things from their stores. But these very self reliant folk set up their own stores much to the annoyance of the European settlers.

There is a fun gold panning activity you could do, there at the settlement memorial.

We mostly walked around in the town and enjoyed it very much.It was just absolutely lovely!

If you are into visiting places with historical character then Arrowtown is a must visit. There is a lovely Museum and one could get dressed in period clothes and get photographed.

Moreover, there are lovely little cafes one could pop in for some coffee and relaxing time.

A few minutes of arriving at the Park, Lil B had made friends with the kids there at the park and spent many hours happily playing with his new friends there

Day 2 was Easter Morning. There was an Egg hunt and Pancake Breakfast at the community kitchen in the park.IMG_1930

IMG_1928.jpgand then there was a very fun Easter Egg Hunt

mom! stop being a paparazzi

After we were done with the egg hunting, and all the treasures demolished, we headed off to Queenstown.Which was like, a 15 minute drive.

DSC_2183DSC_2205.jpg

 

Full points to you if you guessed what we did there!

The only thing we wanted to check out first thing, was not any of the many adventure stuff that Queenstown is famous for, but the Fergburger  Burger.

So undaunted by having to walk quite a long distance from our parking

and the long queue

and the 45 min wait,We got our Easter lunch at Fergburger. And we were not disappointed at all!and the wait didn’t seem that long either.

On the way back,  we decided to take our family picture at this ethereal spot with a help of our tripod.