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.

 

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.

 

 

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 · 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.

Kaikoura · Lifestyle · New Zealand · Picton · Road Trip · South Island · Travel

Kaikoura, Picton

We decided to take the Kaikora route  in the hopes of seeing the seal colony. We drove past  the Pelorus River so beautiful

J took a detour and decided to drive around Picton . Picton is the main link between South and North Island we had heard.

 

 

However , at the first mention of Picton , you might not hear that ,from us or the boys. What you would hear is…” Have you been to Billy’s Burger in Picton? oh, you must go there, they have delicious burgers there!” I’m not joking.

 Someone actually asked us , ‘so what did you do in Picton’? and one of my boys , piped “Ate some really good burgers at Billy ‘s Burger, and they have some good milkshakes with some funny names too”

Incase you didn’t figure it out yet… our family’s love for food is very well and throughly documented now!

  At one point we thought we missed the Seal Colony when J spotted one on a rock… we stood there for a while and looked at them wondering if we would see more.As we drove further down the road, we were rewarded with the sight of perhaps the largest Seal colony ever!

 so many seals ! So exciting!We just stood there for a long time watching them in the drizzling rain, taking pictures,putting up with stench coming from these animals obviously

There’s something about seeing animals in their natural habitat, don’t you think?

If you were to ask me , I would say seeing these  Seals frolicking around was the highlight of my trip.IMG_0912IMG_0904

Budget · Life style · Road Trip · South Island · Summer · Takaka · Travel

Takaka

Takaka took us completely by surprise!We were not expecting a little colorful Indie artist/hippy/boho town when we first saw the  road sign . Even  when a fellow traveller told us at Hawke’s Lookout about Salmon fishing at Takaka, and that we should check it out,we did not have a clue that we would greeted with so much vibrant colours in a little town.DSC_8614DSC_8615

My kids thought that the town had my name written all over it. “Mom ,you should try convince dada to live here ,rather than in Motueka , your inner hippy /boho self will be very happy here “they joked .

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The reason why Takaka will remain etched in our memories for a long time , however ,is very different.

We were hungry and were in a dilemma trying to choose a place to have a quick snack. That is when The Dangerous Kitchen caught our eyes.

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To be honest ,we were a little skeptical about going in to dine at first, we kept going back and forth but then got brave and decided to go anyway. Boy!Were we glad we did!

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I thought these wall art  there were cute and funny

DSC_8627The grilled chicken with cranberry and Brie pizza we had here ,was just so amazing that we haven’t stopped talking about it!IMG_0838.jpg

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Its always  all about food ,for our family.

India · Lifestyle · Road Trip · South India · Travel

Bent not broken

Rope 

I was going to write about our impromptu trip to Cochin and our long awaited trip to Pondicherry. The glorious time we had in these places, enjoying the company of J who was visiting India for some work assignments in Cochin.

Revisiting our old favorite places in Pondicherry. Reliving fond memories , eating at our old favorite regulars and doing a wee bit of shopping there.

There were a few more places we wanted to visit. I wanted the children to know their culture and their heritage, the history of the land they come from.  And then something totally unexpected happened and all  of our other travel plans came to a screeching halt! 

On fourth May mid afternoon ,when we were returning from Pondicherry , going towards Thanjavur, a bus coming from the opposite end of the road, didnot see our little car coming in the curve of the road , overtook a bus in front, and collided head on into our car. By Gods great mercy , we all came out alive to tell the tale of the mishap without a single broken bone!Oh yes , there was blood ;lots of it and shattered glass everywhere. A disbelief that it really happened that followed, when  the what really happened message, reached the brain. A bus load of kind strangers stopped to help us even as the bus that hit us fled the scene; and I couldn’t remember where we were coming from or going to!

Being stranded in the middle of nowhere , our car smashed up  completely in the front, my severely bleeding mom , my stuck in the car and  visibly upset dad,my hysterically crying nine year old, my unfazed fifteen year old ( who usually screams he’s bleeding to death on sight of a drop of blood!) offering words of encouragement and comfort to my parents, standing like a rock support by me, running around to gather our things , unaware of the fact that he himself had a deep cut on his leg that required four stitches,complete strangers who were nothing short of Angels in disguise  rushing to help us , with not even one person trying to take advantage of the situation,the ride in the ambulance to an unknown hospital, the kind doctors, the exploitive hospital helpers, help from unknown quarters,my children sleeping on the hospital floor without a murmur or a sigh for the first time ever, my cousins  rushing  to my help early next morning  ,after a coincidendal call one of them made to me, while I was waiting for my mom to finish her CT Scan. Taking over from me completely from there…are some of the things ,I know,  are not going  to get erased out of my mind  in a haste.

This incident will also stay in my mind for ever as the one point where I realized that there was a role reversal happening .It was time to take over the charge of handling things. There was no one but us-my cousins and I  

to handle things and we had to step up to the plate! and we did just that We’ve seen our parents take care of their parents and us and it  somehow it never struck me, we will be there one day doing just that! 

When I hear of stories of how entire families have died in accidents, how severely injured people were robbed by way side dacoits,( who I am told lay in wait for accidents to happen )   I shudder and thank God over and over again for protecting us through the mishap .Even though our car was completely crushed  and  is useless now, I cannot be grateful enough for having each of my family alive and well.