Glide Time – Taupo Gliding Club

Mike’s keen to learn to fly a plane, but lessons are expensive, so instead I bought him a voucher to go gliding with the fine folks at Taupo Gliding Club. It costs $205 for an instructional flight that lasts 20 – 40 minutes depending on the weather. You get to take control of the glider, in Mike’s case for about 5 minutes.

Seat belt on and under instruction at Taupo Gliding Club

Seat belt on and under instruction at Taupo Gliding Club

The glider was a GTG, Mike sat at the front and the qualified pilot behind. Mike found it easy to understand the instrument panel and flying … Read the rest

Northland Kauri

Northland is a region at the top of the North Island starting just north of Wellsford and continuing to the top of the Northland Peninsula.

There are many reasons to visit Northland, one is to see the mighty kauri tree Tane Mahuta and to learn about the kauri industry. The kauri industry played a key role in Northland’s history and development and kauri trees continue to draw visitors to the area today.

Kauri boats and furniture at Matakohe Kauri Museum

Kauri boats and furniture at Matakohe Kauri Museum

Below is a list of kauri related places to visit, website links and books for those interested in a kauri … Read the rest

Artists Open Studios Whanganui 2017

If you want to fire up your creativity visiting Artists Open Studios in Whanganui is one way to do it. It was my second trip to Open Studios (2015 blog post) and this year I allowed two days instead of one, a good move as there was lots to see including …..

Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre, 83 Maria Place Ext.
Inspiration started here – what do you think you can do with plastic milk bottle tops and peanut butter lids? Make this brilliant mural. (The Maori words translate to “The river flows, From the mountains to the sea, I … Read the rest

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, Rotorua

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is home to five fancy cat breeds including Ragdolls, a British Blue and a Bengal. On 13 May some little kittens moved in too. The fancy felines have two rooms full of cat gyms, hidey-holes, and furniture to climb.

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, Rotorua

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, Rotorua

Most of the cats at Fancy Meow are Ragdolls as they are an especially people friendly breed, they also have the most beautiful blue eyes.

Dennis the Ragdoll at Fancy Meow Cat Cafe

Dennis the Ragdoll at Fancy Meow Cat Cafe

It’s a rule at Fancy Meow, and a good one I think, to let sleeping cats lie so timing … Read the rest

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco is at the less unusual end of the unusual accommodation spectrum, but it’s a charming red brick complex built in the style of English terrace houses. The Grand Mercure isn’t in Nelson, but in the suburb of Monaco, it’s five minutes drive from the airport and about 15 minutes drive to Nelson city centre.

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

The Grand Mercure has a mix of hotel rooms, one bedroom studios and one and two bedroom cottages.

We’re members of the Accor Plus programme and last year I wrote about some of the advantages to Read the rest

Forest Cafe, Samoa

Forest Cafe, Philipp Road, Apia (look for the sign opposite Baha’i Temple on Cross Island Road)
Have a cup of coffee with the butterflies and birds at Forest Cafe. The cafe is on a sturdy wooden platform that sits over a ravine and looks into the forest. It’s all about the atmosphere at Forest Cafe, it’s a small and simple set up but that also makes it a peaceful and relaxing place to be.

Forest Cafe, Apia, Samoa

Forest Cafe, Apia, Samoa

The temperature drops slightly the higher you go in Apia so it feels a few degrees cooler at the cafe, we … Read the rest

Kauri Walks and Kauri Dieback Disease

Travelling State Highway 12 in Northland takes you through Waipoua Forest dotted with kauri, rimu and northern rata trees. Department of Conservation (DOC) list seven walking and tramping tracks in Waipoua Forest including Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri  tree and he is an awesome sight to see. The tree stands over 50 metres tall and has a girth of more than 13 metres.

Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest

Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest

Some people may be tempted to wrap their arms around the majestic giant, but Tane Mahuta is fenced off from his thousands … Read the rest

Oi YOU! Want to see some art work by Banksy?

If so, you’ve got until 15 June to get to Paradox Street Art Festival at Tauranga Art Gallery, it’s free. The Oi YOU! Collection is on display and includes 22 works by UK artist Banksy as well as works by FAILE, Paul Insect and Swoon.

Big walls of the gallery have also been taken over by street artists including New Zealanders Askew One, Jacob Yikes, and Charles & Janine Williams.

Paradox Street Art Festival - art work by Askew One (left) and Charles & Janine Williams (right)

Paradox Street Art Festival – art work by Askew One (left) and Charles & Janine Williams (right)

Banksy’s powerful ‘Flower Thrower‘  is part … Read the rest

Pacific Jewell Garden Cafe & Gift Shop, Samoa

Pacific Jewell Garden Cafe is a gem of a find in a small industrial park in Apia. There is plenty of seating and a lush garden full of tropical plants.

French toast, waffles and omelettes are on the breakfast menu, there are sandwiches and sweet treats in the cabinet, as well as a bagel menu with the option of designing your own.

Pacific Jewel Garden Cafe, Apia, Samoa

Pacific Jewel Garden Cafe, Apia, Samoa

I loved the coconut table accessories, the hand held fans on the tables, and insect repellent are thoughtful touches too.

Coconut table accessories at Pacific Jewell Garden Cafe

Coconut table accessories at Pacific Jewell Garden Cafe

We visited for an … Read the rest

Nourish Cafe, Samoa

There are some good cafes in Samoa in lovely locations. This blog post about Nourish Cafe is the first in a series of Apia cafes that will include Pacific Jewell Garden Cafe, Forest Cafe and Le Petit Cafe. (If you’re travelling to Samoa or are thinking about it, see our Samoa Travel Guide).

Nourish Cafe, Mulivai Street, Apia
Nourish Cafe serves good food in a modern and stylish setting. Produce is bought from local organic farmers so if you like to support local producers your money is well spent here.

Nourish Cafe in Apia, Samoa

Nourish Cafe in Apia, Samoa

The menu at Nourish … Read the rest