Saturday, 7 June 2014


As mentioned in my previous holiday post I did a fair bit of travelling by myself in New Zealand and chose to do it with Kiwi Experience - in the North Island I hopped on the Bay of Islands tour to visit the very top of the North Island...

I was picked up early one morning off the street (pre-arranged I wasn't just hanging around the streets waiting to be picked up!) in the middle of Auckland with a feeling of pure terror in the depths of my stomach; not only was I going on a three day tour alone but I had to get on a full bus and find somewhere to sit! I handed in my bags, was ticked off the list and climbed up the large steps to the bus - looking down the isles I noticed everyone had the same idea; sit in a seat alone if you can. So I slowly started walking down the bus and chose a seat next to a lovely girl called Alice and to my relief we became fast friends.

The journey to Paihia was about 3 hours but chatting the whole way with Alice it felt more like 1. On the way to Paihia we stopped at the Manginangina Kauri Walk to see the Kauri trees - "Kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to more than 50 metres tall, with trunk girths of up to 16 metres and living for more than 2000 years." ( 

All parts of the Kauri trees were used throughout history - the wood for building and the gum for glues and fire starters however due to the immense amount of time it takes for the Kauri trees to grow they started becoming extinct and New Zealand authorities put all remaining Kauri trees under protection in 1987.

We arrived in Paihia dumped our bags in our rooms and went straight out onto the lake to go Kayaking - something I have never done before. We were taken out for about 5hours by a local guy and spent the afternoon intermittently drifting and chatting and paddling around the waters, stopping for tea after we saw this beautiful mini waterfall. It was fabulous if a little tiring!  

Paihia is a very small very quiet little town so after Kayaking and the mixer BBQ the accommodation put on we returned to our rooms for an early night - we had a very early start up to Cape Reinga in the morning. 

First thing the following morning we hopped back on the bus ready for a busy day of 90 mile beach, sand boarding and sight seeing and this day certainly didn't disappoint!

Starting with 90 Mile Beach - we didn't drive along the whole beach in the bus as there is a high change of the bus sinking in the wet sand but the drive that we did was great fun, sand spinning up from the wheels, waves splashing closer and closer to the bus and eventually pulling over and dipping our toes in the water.

Next stop was sand boarding - you probably can't tell from the pictures but these dunes were absolutely humongous! Climbing to the top was an achievement in itself! Once at the top the true height and steepness (is that a word?!) hit you as you were given instructions on how to go down the dunes face first. You lean on your elbows, tuck your feet in and use your knees to steer and slow down. Speeding down those dunes face first was thrilling but unnerving - awaiting at the bottom was a stretch of water and nettles, if you didn't stop in time you were sure to go in! Fear of doing this myself and going to fast meant I spent the entire ride with my knees dug firmly into the sand which resulted in splitting my favourite trousers - that's what you get for being a thrill seeker haha!

After we dusted ourselves off as best we could (we had sand in places you should never have sand) we piled back onto the bus ready for the peak of our day trip - Cape Reinga. There are literally no words to describe how stunning it was there, as we arrived the rain clouds spread and made way for the blue sky and sunshine, the pictures here can do the talking.

Below was the money shot; everyone qued up for a photo on the edge:

The lighthouse and famous sign post stating the distance from that point to popular countries.

How staggeringly beautiful is Cape Reinga? Looking back over the photos I can't quite believe I was there, seems like a dream. 

The following day before we headed back to Auckland we took a quick dolphin boat trip back in Paihia with the possibility of swimming with dolphins. 

Being the animal lover I am I was naturally beyond excited at potentially swimming with these immense creatures but unfortunately the weather turned once we were out there and it wasn't possible. However seeing so many beautiful dolphins swimming next to the boat just about made up for it (just about!). 

As always with my experience of New Zealand on the return journey to Auckland we stopped on the side of the road and saw a beautiful waterfall:

And that concludes my trip to the North Island, next stop the South and the Bottom Bus; see you there!

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Hello loves!

(Firstly apologies for the huge delay in getting this post up, I've been incredibly busy with sorting my move to Manchester and my Mums wedding. Anyway without further ado here is part one of my holiday diaries to New Zealand!)

After a long and hungry 26 hour flight (the vegetarian options on the plane were unfortunately lacking) I arrived in the beautifully sunny New Zealand! My lovely school friend Kim and her boyfriend were nice enough to let me stay with them for part of my trip, they picked me up from the airport and brought me back to their gorgeous apartment. The majority of homes are built with wood and tin roofs with inspiration from classic villa style homes.

My first day consisted of lots of chat, laughter and food - the usual catch up scenario after one of your best friends moves away and you see her for the first time in a long time! That evening Kim and Chris treated me to dinner at Mexico an incredible little Mexican restaurant in the heart of Ponsonby where all the waitresses wear Mexican flowers in their hair, it was fantastic! 

I was travellling round New Zealand by myself most of the time so I chose to hop on the Kiwi Experience tour in two separate places to see as much as I could with the little time I had there, because of the dates of the tour I was backwards and forwards from North and South to fit them in. However for the purpose of this post and for ease I am splitting the posts into North Island and South Island.

Kim and I took a road trip to Rotorua to visit the famous Hells Gate hot mud spa and take a tour around a Mauori tribe. It was so much fun at the spa, sitting in gurgling hot mud baths with the sunshine beating down on your skin felt incredible, the sulfur baths you go in afterwards were very relaxing but stank to high heaven!

The Mauori tribe greeted our tour with a traditonal dance and proceeded to take us around their grounds showing us different areas of their lives; tradition games, trades and dances. We were then treated to a special performance, half an hour of traditional dance rituals and songs followed by an out of this world feast consisting of traditional meats, breads, potatoes, vegetables and puddings.

Driving back home the following day we stopped a few times to stand in awe at the beautiful scenery, Rotorua is known for its thermal activity as it lies on Rotorua caldera, the town is covered in bubbling mud pools and steaming lakes. 

Next stop was the Karanghake Gorge - one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever been too, it was so tranquil, the weather was stunning the the scenery was incredible. 

Next stop on our journey home was  a climb up/around Mount Maunganui, you could see for miles and it was littered with holiday makers and sheep!

And finally we stopped for lunch in Paeroa the town where New Zealand's famous L & P lemonade originated.

My first road trip ever was pretty spectacular! Other highlights of my time in Auckland were walking along the viaduct and watching the boats and the city pass us by, the botanical gardens, the fashion exhibition at the local museum, Mount Eden, the beach and my big jump off the highest point in Auckland, the sky tower! 

Mount Eden and The Viaduct - from the top of Mount Eden you can see everything, it was stunning and so interesting to see the city layout, so different to the UK such vast spaces of greenery and fields dotted between high rise buildings and housing estates.

Base jumping off the Sky Tower - I'm not going to lie, I was petrified! It was a beautiful day and I was standing with my toes over the edge of the platform looking down thinking why have I just paid to jump of a building?! They counted down 3, 2, 1 JUMP! and I just stood there, feet frozen to the spot shaking my head and then something came over me and I stepped over the edge and got the most incredible rush it was phenomenal! The jump was over in seconds and I landed on my feet at the bottom desperate to relive that moment, the utter sense of freedom I felt falling from the building with the wind rushing past my face and the array of huge buildings and water around me, perfection. 

The beach, a live band in central Auckland, the gorgeous vintage town Parnell and the Botanical Gardens - beach day was wonderful, slightly hungover from the party the night before we lay sprawled out on the beach for the majority of the day! Parnell is a gorgeous vintage style town with ice cream parlours, fabulous independent cafes and restaurants and a string of (expensive) little shops. The Botanical Gardens we visited on my second day along with the local museum which was so interesting and beautiful, an array of colours, smells and some of the tallest peculiar looking plants you will ever see.

Auckland is such a vibrant, busy, exciting city and one of the most fantastic things about New Zealand is that one minute you will be in the city centre and the next you are on the beach or climbing a fabulous mountain to see the views of the city, it really is the best of both worlds. 

A massive thanks to Kim and Chris for being amazing hosts and tour guides =)

Next stop on my holiday diaries is Paihia and Cape Reinga....

See you there!

Friday, 17 January 2014



Hi dolls.

Last weekend I went to Canary Wharf, London to visit the 6th annual Ice Sculpting event.

Ten teams from, Africa, Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom &USA competed in a fun filled and action packed competition. Carving to the themes ‘Fabulous Fashion’ and ‘River Life’, sculptors used chainsaws and chisels to battle it out, in a variety of contests. 

We arrived around 11.30 and walked around to view the works in progress. The competition spans three days, the Sunday supposedly being the busiest as the winners are announced. The day was bright and crisp and the crowds few and far between at this point. 

Here's what we saw:

At this point this particular sculpture was my favourite - a little girl blowing bubbles. 

Here you can see how they are carving out the bubbles, unfortunately we were told by this artist that because of the UV rays from the sun the inside of the ice has cracked whereas the day before it was completely see through making the bubble design even more spectacular. 

The food available was immense - various cuisines from all over the world including Portugal and India and my favourite part the bakery counter. Now unfortunately due to my excitement of all things sweet and baked I didn't picture the stall but I wish I had; macaroons in all the colours of the rainbow, chocolate chip cookies as big as my head, giant flavoured meringues and much more. (I went for the giant cookie, FYI it was superb, plenty of vanilla flavouring and a huge amount of crunchy chocolate chips, mmm!).

At two we left for lunch at ZiZi's about a 20 minute walk from the festival, although the food looked incredibly inviting we were all frozen solid and wanted an opportunity to warm up before the evenings events. 

When we returned the sun had gone down and the ice sculptures were lit up with blue lights - it wasn't until then that you could see the beautiful detail in these pieces. 

A little girl blowing bubbles

And the winners were:
Big Block Competition – theme ‘Fabulous Fashion’:Africa
Single Block Competition – theme ‘River Life’:Spain
Freestyle Competition: Burr ‘Buddy’ Rasmussen(USA)
Public Choice Award: United Kingdom

This was such a great family day out and really interesting - all the tools and hours spent sculpting these huge blocks of ice to create a beautiful piece of art. 
Next year, I would definitely recommend you go!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014



Now this post does exactly what it says on the tin and is about tea - shocker!

 I'm a massive tea fanatic and love to try tea from all over the world. Two years ago I spent a few weeks in Vietnam and picked up rose tea, Vietnamese tea and artichoke tea (an acquired taste!) and loved the variety. I drink a lot of fruit teas in the uk and am always on the hunt for new flavours on trips abroad.

For Christmas my wonderful dad bought me a gorgeous glass tea pot with some mango marigold flowering tea from who offer a fabulous selection of tea's and tea-wear (completely made that word up trying to sound like a tea connoisseur!).

I tried a flowering tea once before on a birthday trip to a local Chinese restaurant and have been taken with it ever since. 

The flavour is very delicate and I absolutely love watching the flower bloom in the tea. 

Que a stream of photos of the flower blooming...

"Each blossom is hand crafted by artisan tea masters in Fujian Province, China".

If you love tea I would definitely give this a try whether it's for a relaxing evening on your own or after a dinner party with friends it's a great finish to any evening!

Until my next exciting tea adventure ......