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

The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

​The Kauri Museum in Matakohe has 4500 square metres of exhibits, including a full size, and furnished kauri boarding house.

Thousands of pieces of kauri gum are displayed, kauri gum was initially used by Maori to light fires, to chew, and as a pigment for tattooing. By the mid 1840’s the gum was being collected and exported to England and America to be used to make high quality varnish. (See the blog post Gumdiggers Park for more information about kauri gum).

Kauri gum was also carved and the museum has a few gum carvings including a bust of a Maori … Read the rest

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

The man who runs Opononi Beach Holiday Park is a no nonsense kind of guy. He knows how he likes things done and he isn’t afraid to tell you. This can include giving specific instructions on how to park your caravan. Fortunately Mike was behind the wheel and he knows what he’s doing, if I was in the driver’s seat I’d be telling a different story.

Once the caravan was parked exactly where the owner wanted it to be, he rode off on his motorbike leaving a trail of awe behind him.

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

While the owner is … Read the rest

Gumdiggers Park near Awanui

I’ve always been curious about gum digging and wondered what the gum was used for. I could have gone to Google but there is no better place to learn about the industry than the Gumdiggers Park near Awanui.

The park is set on an original gum field and preserves the history of the gum digging era. You’ll see the tools and equipment used in gum digging as well as what a typical gumdiggers village would have looked like – sack huts with chimneys that caught fire.

Gumdiggers hut - note the gumboots

Gumdiggers hut – note the gumboots

There are also big holes where the diggers … Read the rest