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 :

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.

 

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way

Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Method
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam

 

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

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

Nelson

Nelson was closed for Christmas  , so we just walked around townIMG_0810IMG_0812IMG_0776Did a little bit of shopping at an antiques storeIMG_0785

Had our Christmas feast at Istanbul… we were all missing our turkish/ middleeastern food and were so happy ,we found some authentic food ….kababs, kubooz and hummus… here….not to mention the very midwestern ambiance they had too.IMG_0794

the food was good

 

all we did through the holidays ,was eat, sleep, wander, repeat, repeat…. and don’t regret it one bit!

 

Collingwood

When we were browsing some brochures at Bethany Park,we learnt that Collingwood is the Northern Tip of New Zealand’s South Island. So we decided to drive there and see how it looked.

Collingwood is a beautiful coastal village.DSC_8567

It had started drizzling and the boys didn’t want to get out of the car being half sleepy, so J and I decided to go around and see the place.

DSC_8568DSC_8571we were pleasantly surprised and disappointed to find a  closed chocolate shop DSC_8580DSC_8583

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