If the sun’s shining at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton it’s nice to sit outside under an umbrella overlooking rows of lush tea plants. Zealong is New Zealand’s only tea plantation and the five flavours of tea produced are certified organic.
Oolong tea leaves can be used up to 8 times
Tea is the star of the show at Zealong, but lunch and high tea are also served. A Signature High Tea and a Classic High Tea were on the menu for us. Tea is infused in a lot of the small dishes that make up the high tea, including … Read the rest
Before getting to Waitomo Big Bird B&B I’m going to put some context around our B&B (bed and breakfast) experiences to date. Our first B&B stay was in Northland six years ago, we were so impressed with the quality of the property that we decided to stay in B&Bs more often. All B&Bs are not created equal though which is part of their appeal, and on occasion, our disappointment. Sea Breeze B&B in Napier stands out as our favourite and it’s the most immaculate B&B we’ve stayed in, our least favourite cost $255 a night and we didn’t think it … Read the rest
I’m a fan of house trucks and after a night at Wacky Stays in Kaikoura I came home and Googled house truck stays in the North Island and found Waitomo Farmstay and Gardens. In late March we booked a night in their big house truck with its rusting Thames Trader cab and higgeldy-piggeldy designed living space on the back.
House truck at Waitomo Farmstay and Gardens
The interior of the house truck is full of honey coloured wood and there’s a good sized kitchen and a couple of couches to sit on. As the truck is now in its … Read the rest
Plenty of Kiwi blokes have sheds, but not many sheds house a multi million dollar collection of classic cars and automobilia. Hamilton businessman Tom Andrews has turned his shed into the Classics Museum at 11 Railside Place. We counted more than 60 cars plus motor bikes, petrol station memorabilia, and a treasure trove of bonnet emblems, badges, tricycles and pedal cars. The vehicles on display come from the Andrews’s private collection as well as car clubs.
1947 Packard painted Envy Green
I’ve picked a selection of some of the more unusual vehicles in the museum like the 1964 Model 770 … Read the rest
Seeing wild Kaimanawa horses on their own turf will be at the top of my bucket list when I make one. My dream came a step closer recently when I met 16 year old Jose. Jose was a wild Kaimanawa stallion at 4 years old, now he’s as quiet as they come – put up an umbrella near him, stand on his back, drag something behind him, he’s not bothered.
Jose, a Kaimanawa horse at the Horse Magic Show in Cambridge
Jose was part of the Horse Magic Show at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge. Riden by ringmaster for the show, and … Read the rest
“Oh, you can search far and wide, You can drink the whole town dry, But you’ll never find a beer so brown, As the one we drink in our hometown …” so goes a song written by the film writers of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you like dark beer the Oak Barton brew may be your choice of complimentary beverage at The Green Dragon Inn. You visit The Green Dragon for about 20* minutes as part of a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. The four Green Dragon beverages are brewed by Good George Brewing. If you … Read the rest
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to”, so wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. After visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set I can see why the hobbits were content with life in The Shire, but I’m glad we ventured out our door and onto the road to Matamata.
Hobbiton themed Matamata i-SITE
Heading to the Hobbiton Movie Set from Shires Rest Cafe
Lots of people start their tour from Matamata i-SITE. From there … Read the rest
One of my aunts has a photo of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The photo was taken at Wanganui Airport in 1983 during her Royal Tour with Princes Charles and baby Prince William. I used to look at the photo as I was growing up and think ‘wow, the Prince and Princess went to Wanganui’. While in Wanganui they visited Prince Edward who was a house tutor at Wanganui Collegiate which I thought was pretty wow too.
The Duke & Duchess arrive at the Cambridge Town Hall
Thirty one years later Prince William has returned to New Zealand with … Read the rest
Te Kuiti bills itself as the ‘Shearing Capital of the World’ and has a 7.5 tonne sheep shearing statue to prove it. What gives the town more shearing capital kudos is that David Fagan, a multiple World and NZ Champion Shearer, is a local. David’s son Jack followed him into the woolshed, he’s a gun shearer too, so Te Kuiti should hold its title for a while yet. Every year Te Kuiti hosts the NZ Shearing Championships where you may see one or both shearers at work.
Shearing statue in Te Kuiti
If you visit the shearing statue you’ll … Read the rest
When I saw a little mushroom house on Solscape Eco Retreat’s website I knew that was where I wanted to stay. What I call a mushroom house is actually an earth dome. Solscape has two earth domes, both were built by hand using materials including earthbags, lime plaster, barbed wire and bottles.
Large earth dome at Solscape Eco Retreat
We booked the large earth dome which has the added extra of a mezzanine floor – useful for stowing luggage or better still, lying back on the cushions and getting lost in a good book. Part of Solscape’s philosophy is to … Read the rest