Arrowtown and Wanaka – hidden gems of New Zealand

Last month I visited Arrowtown and Wanaka for the first time. All for work but it was hard to miss the amazing scenery and even in meetings, spectacular views were found from almost every office window.

 

Arrowtown is a charming riverside town steeped in gold mining history. Well-preserved cute cottages and overhanging shop fronts reminiscent of an old western town is the main drawcard but the best way to explore this area is to hire a bike from Arrowtown bike hire and discover both the town and surrounding nature at a leisurely pace.

 

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3 New York must-see attractions

Start spreading the news: nine days isn’t a long time and if you’re in one of the world’s best cities its barely enough time to scratch the surface. About a month ago I packed my bags and left behind shaky, miserable wintry Wellington for the bustling streets of Manhattan in New York City. Those nine days are almost a blur, I packed in as many attractions as I could but didn’t get close to seeing and doing everything that I wanted to do let alone everything that New York City has to offer. I highly recommend taking as much time as possible if you’re planning on going but here are three attractions that no matter how short your stay you must check out.

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Golden archer lady has good technique at the MET

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Eating out – hidden treasures of Auckland

I’m not sure if these places are well known to Aucklanders or not, but as an out of towner there are a few things I always recommend to people travelling to New Zealand’s biggest city.

Most recently I stayed in Parnell and I was impressed at the number of choices along Parnell Road for brunch, lunch and dinner. Verve Café does a generous $10 special menu consisting of mini versions of some of their most popular dishes as well as brunch favourites like pancakes and bacon and eggs.

The Chocolate Boutique is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. I was originally drawn to the divine Italian denso hot chocolate they serve, it’s like drinking melted chocolate. Their selection of fresh, handmade chocolates is extensive (I particularly recommend the hazelnut praline cones) and the menu of drinks is both delicious and varied. As long as you like chocolate, anyway. The cafe has a number of seats out on the brick patio as well, so on a muggy Auckland day you can enjoy chocolatey goodness in the fresh air.

Chocolate Boutique amazing chcolatey goodness

Chocolate Boutique – amazing chcolatey goodness

If you’re staying right in town there’s a couple of places I’ve really enjoyed around the CBD as well. Vulcan Lane down the Britomart end of Queen St has a wealth of places to eat and I definitely recommend checking it out.

You can’t beat a Belgian pub for waffles and the Occidental is a great example right in the heart of town at the Queen St end of Vulcan Lane. The waffles were perfectly cooked and generous servings mean you leave satisfied – or stuffed!

Waffles from the Occidental

Waffles. That is all.

If you’re looking for somewhere that’s a tapas restaurant by night and an excellent breakfast place in the morning, then I have just the place for you. I’ve been to Tasca a number of times and it has never disappointed. The breakfasts are generously portioned and tasty and along with exotic dishes like Piperada and Moorish eggs they serve my personal favourite pancakes with bacon and banana, made extra delicious with added berries.

Tanuki’s Cave is a little yakitori bar downstairs from the Tanuki Japanese restaurant on Upper Queen St. They have Asahi on tap, a huge range of sake and some of the best Japanese barbeque around. They don’t take reservations so you need to time it just right, but it’s well worth the effort. The atmosphere is friendly and easy going and the food delicious. My personal favourites are the takoyaki (deep fried balls of octopus), whole garlic clove skewers barbecued to perfection and anything which includes beef sirloin.

Takoyaki from Tanuki's Cave

Auckland has a huge range of excellent food and I’ve just barely scratched the surface myself, but I can recommend these places wholeheartedly if you’re after something delicious and maybe just a bit different.

Golf courses aplenty in Taupo

Whilst in Taupo recently our group decided on a round of golf so visited the  Taupo i-SITE for some local information. I was pleasantly surprised to find four 18 hole golf courses all an easy drive from the Taupo township.

Taupo Golf Club is situated on Centennial Drive, a 5 minute drive north east of the town. There are two 18 hole golf courses on offer. We decided on the Tauhara Course which is a 68.1 par eighteen hole course with short smaller greens. Play continued amongst the thermal activity on the course and by the 18th I was happy with the 1 under par I had averaged.

Taupo Golf ClubTaupo Golf Club Read more…

Weekend Excursions to Great Lake Taupo

Great Lake Taupo has long been a family favorite for weekend excursions. Not only is the Great Lake Taupo region bursting with activities to keep every member of the family active and busy, it also satisfies everyone’s hunger by offering some of the best regional and international cuisine available anywhere in New Zealand. There’s no need to feel guilty about eating heartily at one of Great Lake Taupo’s world-famous restaurants, or indulging in a few at the convivial sports bars and pubs here because you can work off the calories enjoying a wide variety of fun family activities.

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Free things to do in the Great Lake Taupo

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could explore the whole of New Zealand without breaking your budget? New Zealand has plenty of activities that are worth paying for but as they say, the best things in life are free.

Situated right in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Great Lake Taupo is one of the rare destinations that offers plenty of wonderful fun activities for adrenaline seeking junkies right through to safety conscious families. With the sunny days already here, why not head on down to Great Lake Taupō where you and your mates and family can spend the summer holidays without burning a hole in your pocket.

Here is our pick of the top 5 free things to do in the Great Lake Taupo region:

 

1. View the mighty Huka Falls

This thundering waterfall is one of the most visited and photographed attractions in New Zealand, and for good reason. The volume of pure water flowing through the rock face of the mighty Waikato River often approaches 220,000 litres per second; enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools, per second! This huge volume of water forms a spectacular visual feast of powerful falls and rapids over a grand 11m drop.

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An Antiques Roadtrip: secondhand shopping in NZ

My best buddy and I share a not-so-guilty magpie tendency to collect second hand ‘upcycled’ furniture and art. Our homes are happily full of super eco, quirky retro ‘conversation pieces’ that we know our hubby’s are secretly proud of, despite them saying otherwise!

A few months ago we decided to make a roadtrip of it – second hand shopping from Wellington to the Hawkes Bay and back via Palmerston North. Luckily we both have husbands that give us a wide-berth, who simply nodded, sighed and prepared for their bachelor weekends.

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Head West, it’s best: a Taranaki weekend

TaranakiThere are plenty of reasons for heading out West to Taranaki – quiet roads once you turn off highway 1, gorgeous mountain, warm black sand beaches with wild surf, and green paddocks full of friendly cows as far as the eye can see…

Having grown up as a Naki girl, this is all common place coolness to me. What really makes me want to head back home these days though is all the great things that have happened over recent times to transform New Plymouth and surrounds into a pretty groovy place. Read more…

5 things to love about Paihia

Need a break and love a seaside getaway? Forget saving for a Rarotongan Island holiday, a tropical paradise is only a 3.5 hour drive away (from Auckland) and with discount domestic flights coming up so frequently, a trip to Paihia in the gorgeous Bay of Islands can be very affordable. My partner and I flew from Wellington to Auckland and took a rental car from the airport. Pack your togs, sunhat and make sure your dancing undies are firmly in place!Paihia Wharf

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