I finally have my laptop back so hopefully this blog has arrived in your inbox. For the past 7 months I’ve been travelling around Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand having a wonderful time. I’ve been gathering lots of foodie inspiration ready for when I get home and I now know that I’ll be back in Lincolnshire in June. I am now taking catering bookings for the summer, starting from June, so please email me to make any enquiries as I already have a few events booked in.
If you haven’t been onto my blog in a while, head over to read all about my travels in the many different places I’ve been exploring. This latest blog is all about my time in New Zealand.
The past five weeks have absolutely flown by and it’s been such a joy to explore this beautiful country with my parents. It all started with an emotional reuniting at Christchurch airport where Mum and Dad were waiting for me with plenty of hugs. We had a night in Christchurch catching up with an old friend who I haven’t seen in 15 years before heading off to pick up the campervan. It’s definitely the best way to see the country and also a lot of fun too. Living in one room all together for 5 weeks was certainly going to be an adventure.
Meeting Mum and Dad at the airport after 6 months apart.
First night in the camper van.
Mum visited NZL 30 years ago when she was 24, so the same age as me, with one of her Friends, Jane. By coincidence, Jane was also in NZL so she joined us for our first week. Mum had brought her diary from the last trip so it was great to hear what they got up to all those years ago at all the places we visited, especially as they hitchhiked around the country.
Lake Tekapo has to be the most amazing lake I’ve ever seen. It was such a vivid blue and the whole place felt really tranquil. We did a lovely walk along the edge of the lake climbing up the steep Mt John to the observatory and well needed café at the top. The view was spectacular and we were lucky to have a clear sunny day.
Celebrating we made it to the top at Lake Tekapo.
Mt Cook was next on our list and we had our first view of the snow-capped peak over the stunning Lake Pukaki. We stayed in a site at the foot of the mountains where our campervan came under attack from Kias, large birds who tried to strip the trimming off the van. It took Dad throwing water at them to scare them off which was very entertaining. Here we did the lovely Hooker Valley walk to the glacier where Mum and I dipped our feet in even though there were ice burgs floating around.
The drive to Queenstown was one of the most memorable of the trip. Anywhere you drive in NZL is pretty amazing but this stood out as we passed beautiful lakes, went through a huge fruit growing area and many many vineyards. In Queenstown we were joined by our family friend Sarah Fowkes and said bye to Jane. This seemed like a foodie destination with my favourite café being Vudu and restaurant Blue Kanu. I would highly recommend going to both if you ever visit. We had two nights here before heading off to Doubtful Sound, an area in the Fiordlands where we did a boat tour to see the very steep hills surrounding the water. It had rained a lot the night before meaning we were lucky enough to also see lots of waterfalls. Back in Queenstown we headed up on the gondola, a must do, and did a steep walk. We also had a go on the luge which Dad of course won as he raced past me nearly knocking me off my cart.
Breakfast at Vudu Cafe.
View over Queenstown.
From here it was just the three of us and we drove up to Arrowtown, a quaint little place with lots of lovely cafes and shops. Here we did a mammoth walk of 16 miles, kind of by accident, walking from the town, around Lake Hayes and back again. We had gone with no picnic or sun cream and only one bottle of water between us. We survived but I did look like a tomato by the end.
Wanaka was next and another huge lake where we walked to visit the famous ‘Wanaka Tree’ where everyone was taking photos. I think it’s so popular as it grows out the lake or it could be just because it takes a pretty picture. We spent a day here walking around part of the lake and down a river which was such a clear, sparkly, greeny blue. It was a boiling hot day so we cheekily hitchhiked a lift back to the town. Throughout the trip we picked up quite a few hitchhikers ourselves and it was strange to think that this was how Mum had travelled all those years ago.
'That Wanaka Tree'.
The emerald river walk.
The West Coast of the South Island kept to its reputation of rainy. It felt like we were driving through the rainforest a lot of the time, slowly making our way around the bendy roads up and down the mountains. The Franz Josef Glacier was a little bit of a shock at the amount it had retreated, with signs along the walk to it showing where it started 10, 20 and 50 years ago (not that Mum could remember it looking any different).
A few days later we arrived in Abel Tasman where we set up camp just outside the National Park. It was another stunning area where we walked and had a day out sea kayaking. We were also joined by the dreaded mosquitos here which we made into a mission to kill each evening. We always missed a few meaning Mum and I were covered in bites by the mornings. For some reason they didn’t like Dad…maybe it was the snoring.
Sea kayaking in Abel Tasman.
Sunrise in Abel Tasman.
I can’t believe I’ve got this far through the blog without talking about cooking in the camper. Every night I would create some yummy, mostly veggie, concoction to serve up to Mum and Dad on our little stove as we didn’t have an oven. It was one of my favourite times each day and I really felt like it was a way to treat Mum and Dad seen as they were treating me to this incredible trip. For breakfast Mum did overnight oats soaked with different seeds and we topped it with fresh fruit, coconut yogurt, bee pollen, a seed mix and more. It was a banquet every day.
Dinner outside the camper.
Carrying on the food theme, we went on a mussel farm tour in Havelock where a boat took us out to see the process mussels under go to grow. These aren’t just any mussels, these are the gigantic green lipped mussels, 3 or 4 times the size of the common blue mussel. The mussels are washed up on to NZL beaches where they are collected and put into long nets with a rope in the middle and placed into the water. They then begin to grow little beards which attach to the rope and the nets eventually dissolve. After 13 months, the mussels are harvested by a boat pulling the ropes out the water and cutting the mussels off. Of course there was a tasting where we took great advantage of the all you could eat supply.
The crossing to the North Island by ferry was luckily very smooth and we had a beautiful clear day. Out on deck at one point we saw so many dolphins swim by. We then had a 5 hour drive up to the Tongariro National Park. This is the home of the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is 19km long where you pass between two volcanoes. We set off just after 8am and it took us 7 hours to complete but it was amazing. We had sections of steep up hill and just as we thought the hard work was over we had a very very steep descent where Mum and I clung to each other as we slid down the shingle. It was certainly a day we’ll never forget.
Steep climb down on Tongariro Crossing.
Sulphur pools on Tongariro Crossing.
Taupo was another lovely lake where we swam and explored the town. We also made use of the hot spring pools, some of which were 42 degrees, and are said to contain lots of beneficial minerals. Next we drove to Rotorua which is famous for its stinky mud pools. Dad took a particular dislike to the smell at the pools we visited, trying to walk around holding his breath before leaving early because he couldn’t cope any longer. Mum and I found this hilarious as you can imagine. The sulphuric, bubbling mud pools were very interesting to see but going to one site was definitely enough. We spent a morning walking through the great Redwood Forest where the trees are gigantic and relaxed by a little lake in the afternoon.
Our last camper destination was Hot Water Beach. Here when the tide goes out you can hire a spade and dig a hole on a certain part of the beach where you reach water from hot springs. Dad dug a hole right at the front so ‘our sea view wasn’t blocked’ and Mum and I enjoyed lying in the surprisingly hot water. It was a funny site to see on the beach as everyone is in a very small area doing this. We also did a lovely walk to Cathedral Cove which is an archway formed in the rocks by the sea.
Hot Water Beach.
We loved the campervan so much and were very sad to hand it back in Auckland. I’m sure Mum and Dad would agree that we would all recommend the company Britz who we used.
I can’t pretend however I wasn’t happy to see my big double bed when we arrived in our Auckland apartment. We explored the waterfront and had some lovely food whilst there. For our final day together we caught the ferry to Waiheke Island where we enjoyed the beach and did a lovely coastal walk. Again, we ate lots of good food and Mum and Dad made the most of the sunshine before heading back home. Our final morning together we went out for a lovely breakfast and then came time to say bye bye for another couple of months which was very emotional.
My plan now is to head back to Syndey and work for a couple of months before flying home. Please don’t hesitate to ask about any catering enquiries for the summer.
The three of us together. What a trip - Mum and Dad I'll make you endless meals to repay you when I'm home!