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

Surcharges and an unexpected travel booking fee

Monday 24 October is Labour Day and for some cafes and restaurants that means adding between 15-25% to a diner’s bill to cover extra wage costs incurred by opening on a public holiday. New Zealanders are used to public holiday surcharges but they will probably come as a surprise to visitors from overseas. NZ Public Holidays list all the dates that surcharges may apply so it’s a useful reference for visitors.

Fortunately, for every cafe that has a small sign inside saying a public holiday surcharge applies, there’s likely to be a cafe nearby with a big sign outside saying … Read the rest

Blooming Rotorua – Tulip Fest

The Government Gardens in Rotorua are beautiful at any time of the year, but especially when the tulips are blooming during the annual Tulip Fest. Te Runanga Tearooms in the gardens is Tulip Fest HQ and it’s the meeting place for a lot of the events held from 1 – 9 October 2016.

Tulip Fest - Government Gardens, Rotorua

Tulip Fest – Government Gardens, Rotorua

I went to hear Maree from Galaxy Travel talk about Avalon River Cruises, one of the cruises includes a visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Holland. I’ve always associated tulips with Holland, but I learned from Maree that tulips were imported … Read the rest

High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate

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

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

Detour to Tonga

We recently returned from a week in Tonga and have updated our Tonga Guide. It was our third visit to the island nation and we spent our time on the main island of Tongatapu and took day trips to ‘Atata and Pangaimotu Islands.

Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa

Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa

If you’re looking for a good value destination Tonga is a good choice, although flying to the outer islands will make a stay more  expensive. We paid NZ$125 per night for accommodation and breakfast at Little Italy Hotel in Nuku’alofa and thought it was good value for money. More Tonga Accommodation.… Read the rest

Yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins

If you see something that looks like a duck in the water at Roaring Bay* in the Catlins, chances are it’s a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. By the time you realise that ducks don’t belong in the sea, the penguin may be upright on its bubble gum pink feet and swaying across the stony shore.

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

The yellow band that stretches around the top of a hoiho’s head and into its eyes marks it as one of the world’s rarest penguins, and a breed unique to New Zealand. Hoiho translates to ‘the noise shouter’, … Read the rest

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

There are a few uniquely New Zealand experiences you can have for $5 or less – you can hire a spade and dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, visit Weta Cave in Wellington (free), and see all the curious creations at The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai, the Catlins (seasonal hours*).

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

Blair Somerville is the resident ‘organic mechanic’ and creator of The Lost Gypsy Gallery (free entry), and The Winding Thoughts Theatre of Sorts ($5 entry – R13). If you like unusual attractions definitely pull over in Papatowhai, your time … Read the rest

Teapot Land in Owaka

I’m not sure there are many towns that have more than three tea pots per head of population, but Owaka in the Catlins area does. In summer, there are more than 1200 tea pots in the garden at Teapot Land on Main Road.

Vegetable tea pots at Teapot Land in Owaka

Vegetable tea pots at Teapot Land in Owaka

The owner of Teapot Land is actually a coffee drinker, I’m not sure whether the unusual collection started with a tea pot, a coffee pot, or a kettle, but Teapot Land it is.

Teapot Land in Owaka

Teapot Land in Owaka

Visitors are invited to put a koha (donation) in the kettle and … Read the rest

Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

If ye happen to be travelling through Gore on a dreich day, a wee dram of Old Hokonui, and Hokonui Honey Moonshine is included in the $5 entrance fee to Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

The Museum documents the first distiller in the area as Irish carpenter Owen McShane. In the 1830’s Owen made a potent spirit from cabbage tree sap known by a few names including the brilliant ‘McShane’s Chained Lightning’. Fond of more than a wee dram, Owen McShane may be the only person ever to build a jail, go out on a … Read the rest

Dunedin Street Art

The last time we were in Dunedin I photographed and wrote about the art work on bus shelters on Otago Peninsula. Two years on, there are more than 25 walls of art in Dunedin city. Much of the art work was facilitated by Dunedin Street Art  volunteers who have helped bring art and artists into the streets. You can find the street art at random or download a Street Art Trail map, or pick up a copy from the i-SITE on The Octagon. A two hour Street Art Tour may also be an option (ask at the i-SITE).

Mural by Filipa (the Fairy) Crofskey

Mural

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