Como Villa Estate Vineyard

Como Villa Estate on the outskirts of Alexandra is the most interesting place we’ve ever done a wine tasting. The cellar door and museum are in a stone house that was built in the mid 1860’s by Thomas Oliver.

Thomas was one of the first to plant grape vines in the area, but his primary business was building and operating water races for gold miners, some of the races are still used today for irrigation.

Thomas was a successful entrepreneur and he sold Como Villa in 1874 and moved to Dunedin to run a hotel. The property was bought and … Read the rest

Kaimanawa Wild Horses

I opened the envelope of one of the best birthday presents ever last year – I was going on a bus trip to see Kaimanawa wild horses roaming on NZ Army land in Waiouru. The Ranges Trips are organised by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and while waiting for the trip I spent time wondering  …

How far would we travel to see our first horse? Not far at all. How many wild horses would we see? We photographed 57 but I’d estimate we saw around 100. How close could we get to the horses? They kept a safe distance but often … Read the rest

Art Deco Napier

It’s all about Art Deco in Napier, the architectural style that typifies many of the buildings that rose from the devastation of the Hawkes Bay earthquake. The earthquake shook Napier’s business district from its foundations on the morning of 3 February 1931.

More than 250 people died in the Hawkes Bay region and buildings that didn’t collapse in Napier’s city centre initially were then mostly destroyed by fire and subsequent aftershocks.

But like the Art Deco image of the rising sun, Napier’s city centre rose again and by 1933 was almost entirely rebuilt. Four local architecture firms worked together … Read the rest

The Cat Lounge in Glenfield, Auckland

*Unfortunately The Cat Lounge closed on 21 August 2018. Barista Cats in Auckland city is still operating.*

New Zealand’s first cat cafe – The Cat Lounge, opened in Glenfield, Auckland in early November. I went along last week for a look see. I stepped into a smart black and white cafe with a big Thank You wall acknowledging all those who contributed to The Cat Lounge via crowd funding platform Kickstarter.

Two glass doors separate the cat lounge from the cafe, you can take food and drink in with the cats but I chose to have coffee and … Read the rest

Curious Christchurch – October 2015

It feels like the Christchurch inner city rebuild is starting to take shape. The Re:START container shopping centre now feels like the temporary shopping solution it was always meant to be and construction is going on all around its edges. The new bus interchange is fully operational and its facilities for cyclists (more below) help lay the foundations for a very bike friendly city, the city’s flat terrain is a bonus as well.

The restored Isaac Theatre Royal has been open nearly a year and takes pride of place on Gloucester Street, the calendar is stacked with events for November. … Read the rest

Whole House Reuse – Exhibition & Charitable Auction

Christchurch based Rekindle is a social enterprise that has rescued wood from earthquake damaged houses and turned it into furniture, childrens toys and artworks.

In 2013 Rekindle took on the ambitious project of reusing a whole red zoned house. Number 19 Admirals Way, New Brighton was a 1920’s California bungalow that was home to six families between 1925-2011. With the blessing of the last home owners the bungalow was deconstructed by hand, the materials were catalogued and photographed and filled six garages. Unsurprisingly the project wasn’t without its challenges – the discovery of asbestos and borer made some parts … Read the rest

Wacky Wellington

Wellington has a few wacky and well known attractions like the Cuba Street bucket fountain, the lobster loos on the waterfront, and the political puppets at The Backbencher Gastropub on Molesworth Street. These attractions are mentioned in our A-Z Travel Guide to Wellington on $10 or less. We recently spent a couple of days in the capital looking for more wacky attractions that don’t necessarily fit a $10 budget …

Carlucci Land Mini Golf, 281 Happy Valley Road
Carlucci Land mini golf course is built into the hillside on Happy Valley Road. Rock staircases led us around the wackiest mini … Read the rest

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

The star attraction at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is The Champagne Pool with its sun burst orange edges and tiny champagne like bubbles on the surface.

Elsewhere in the park sulphur colours the landscape yellow and adds a pungent and uniquely Rotorua smell to the air.

Kanuka grows wild along wooden walkways that hug cliff faces and take you over steaming ground to the miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall.

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you can hear it swishing violently like an angry washing machine. In contrast the delicate and pretty Primrose Terraces have … Read the rest

DIY Mud Masks at Hells Gate, Rotorua

We took advantage of a $39pp Grab One deal at Hells Gate for a mud bath and sulphur spa (usually $75pp). When I think of a mud bath I think of a thick pool of mud like this one in Colombia. At Hells Gate you step into a pool of hot muddy water and then scoop mud out of a container with your hands to give yourself a mud body mask ….

There’s a 20 minute limit in the mud bath due to it causing a rise in body temperature, it’s long enough for a mud face mask to … Read the rest

WOMAD Festival 2015

More than 300 artists from 22 countries performed at the World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD) in New Plymouth from 13-15 March. The sprawling Brooklands Park near the city centre is an ideal festival venue, four stages are set up in the big garden and festival goers can roam between them with stops for food and drink. Detours can also be made to the Village of Wellness for a meditation or yoga session, or to see what’s cooking at Taste the World.

WOMAD is a 3 night / 2 day event, I went on Sunday – $109 for … Read the rest