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

Karikari Estate – New Zealand’s Northernmost Vineyard & Winery

If it’s a sunny, still day on the Karikari Peninsula near the top of the North Island then it’s a good day to visit Karikari Estate Vineyard. Sitting up high on a hill with flowers spilling down its slopes, Karikari Estate is a beautiful spot for a glass of wine. The Karikari wines on the list included two chardonnays, a rose, and two blended reds – Toa Iti and Hell Hole, all $10 a glass.

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Platters are always our choice at wineries and there are two – Artisan ($35) and Antipasti ($65). Seafood dishes, a … Read the rest

Merry Christmas in lights from Franklin Road, Ponsonby

Every year on 1 December the Christmas lights are switched on in Franklin Road in Ponsonby, Auckland. These photos were taken in December 2015 but the road will look similar this year.

Franklin Road Christmas Lights

Franklin Road Christmas Lights

The lights are popular and this can lead to traffic queues. Our tip is to catch an InnerLink bus to Ponsonby, exiting near Franklin Road. Walk down one side of Franklin Road and up the other, you see much more this way and are also part of the festive atmosphere. When you’re done, catch the bus back to your starting point, happily dazzled. Thanks … Read the rest

Photos over Cathedral Square in Christchurch – 2014 & 2016

On 22 February 2011 a large earthquake and aftershocks caused significant damage in Christchurch and tragically took the lives of 185 people and left thousands injured. The city centre and eastern suburbs of Christchurch sustained the most damage, and five years on the city is still rebuilding.

In November 2014 I took photos over Cathedral Square from our room on the 11th floor of the Novotel Hotel. Two years on, I took photos of the same areas to show how the rebuild is progressing.

November 2014 - Demolition and rebuilding in progress, Camelot Hotel on Cathedral Square still closed

November 2014 – Demolition and rebuilding in progress, Camelot Hotel on Cathedral Square still closed

The … Read the rest

What’s New & Curious in Christchurch – November 2016

Pet friendly Fino Hotel & Suites, 87 Kilmore Street
The newly refurbished Fino Hotel & Suites has two dedicated pet friendly suites for house trained pets under 50kg. They supply a bed, water bowl, and for those taking man’s best friend, a map of local dog parks. See Pet Friendly Suites for more information. (PS. Scenic Hotel Te Pania in Napier is dog friendly too).

Fino Hotel & Suites, Christchurch

Fino Hotel & Suites, Christchurch

Play Pong at the intersection of Lichfield & Colombo Streets (outside the Bus Exchange)
Local company SmartCross are responsible for the devices with touchscreens that are attached to the traffic … Read the rest