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Wright & Co

Wright & Co

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Wright & Co (10 Joll Road)

When Fleur took Jordan out on her home date (a reference to the New Zealand Bachelor show) everyone said to me “oh you must know that cafe!”. I was thinking “no… I do not” – which is most unusual for me. But when I went home a few weeks ago Dad introduced me to Wright & Co – yet another fabulous addition to Havelock North’s ever improving culinary scene. It was light and spacious with a well thought out interior design. The menus were proudly on display behind the counter, which was stacked high with freshly baked goods. Parts of the menu were paleo-friendly, and although I aren’t paleo myself, I always endorse a menu that supports various dietary requirements. I ate there twice in as many days, and I look forward to visiting again next time I am home.

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Pho
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Classic bacon and eggs
Cafe 88

Cafe 88

 

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Cafe 88 (88 Maunganui Road, Mt Maunganui)

If I lived in the Mount, this place would be a muse. Every time I go to the Mount I find an excuse to come here because I will not work my way through their mouth-watering assortment of goodies otherwise. Everything in there excites my taste buds; even food that in normal circumstances I would not have any interest in. Its quite long and skinny, with a courtyard out the back and good wifi. Oh, to spend my days blogging here…

For nourishment, I would highly recommend any of their smoothies (which come in mason jars, of course) and ANY of their cakes. I am a lemon lover, so I always opt for whatever involves lemon – and make sure that others around me order something that involves chocolate.

There is also an actual brunch menu; again, anything can be a recommendation.

A must-visit when you are in the Bay of Plenty.

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Major Sprout

Major Sprout

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Major Sprout (21 Graham Street, CBD)

I actually stumbled across this place by accident, and boy am I glad that I did. I knew straightaway that it was going to be a good decision: their exotic smoothie menu, the mouth-watering plates of food zooming past, the efficient use of space, not to mention the queue of people out the door. Sold. I had a bit of a dilemma deciding what to eat, and after ensuring that everyone at the table ordered something different so that I could essentially get a taste of everything, I was ready to go. The food was served extremely quickly considering how full the place was, and it was presented so beautifully; there was so much colour with the bright orange egg yolks spilling across the plentiful greenery and this was only emphasised by the black plates. Everything was priced reasonably and it caters extremely well for various dietary requests.

Little & Friday

Little & Friday

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Little & Friday 

Yum, this place is amazing! I have  now visited the cafes in both Ponsonby and Newmarket, and both are great – next time I’m in Auckland I’ll be sure to check out the others. Started almost ten years ago by a passionate, talented lady called Kim, it used to only be little, and only open on Fridays. Thus, “Little & Friday” was born. It became massively popular, incredibly quickly and it now flourishes on the Auckland foodie scene. With great coffee, and a fantastic selection of cakes and treats as well as various quiches, sandwiches and other savories, this place is a haven for foodies and coffee fans alike.

Loretta

Loretta

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Lemon meringue pie = to die for!

Loretta (181 Cuba Street, Te Aro)

Hands down, it is one of my favourite places in Wellington. As a sister of Floradita’s, you know it’s going to be good! Whether it is brunch, dinner or anything in between, Loretta does it all, and it does it all extremely well. Tucked away on Cuba Street, I walked straight past it the first time. But once you go in, you see it’s skinny entrance extends into a long and narrow funky restaurant. When you arrive you walk straight past a gorgeous table set up with all of their daily baking; the lemon meringue pie and the hazelnut, pear and chocolate tart are both sensational. Scattered around the place are assortments of fresh produce; whether it be coconuts and pumpkins, or the crazy flax plant down the back – once you start noticing it, produce is just everywhere! If you have to wait for a table you get to sit right in front of the open kitchen, which is an absolute tease to the taste buds because you see all this delicious (and sometimes unusual) food being made right in front of you.

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Best dish: If I’m there for brunch, I seriously struggle to order anything but the waffles. Alongside Prefab, I think Loretta does the best waffles in Wellington; their toppings are such that you never walk away feeling like you’ve absolutely overeaten. The pizza is delicious, and if you are there for dinner I would highly recommend anything involving artichoke or cauliflower.

Price range: If you go for brunch, just your standard $20, but if you go for dinner allow a little more; probably between $25 – $40.

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Miyabi Sushi

Miyabi Sushi

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Beef Soba $13.50

Miyabi Sushi (142 Willis Street, Te Aro)

Located on Willis Street, this little place is extremely close to where I work so I pop down here often. It is tucked away in the Willis Street Village (opposite the Capital Market) alongside other shops such as a Vietnamese place as well as Sweet Release Cakes and Treats (which offers heaps of delicious vegan treats!). Like most Asian places it is pretty cheap, and is certainly great value for money. It fills up quickly at lunch time, but their service is so quick that you never have to wait long for your food or for a table. I have also been to a few BYOs here; they take big groups, and always seem well organised. It features in the Entertainment Book, which is a bonus. If you are ever in the area, I would definitely recommend visiting – it does some of the best Japanese food in the Willis Street area.

Best dish: Beef soba and yakisoba are both hard to go past.

Price range: $15 – 20 for a standard meal.

Auckland – New Zealand’s big smoke

Auckland – New Zealand’s big smoke

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At over 1 million, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city, and the country’s business hub. But it is not the capital, and as a Wellingtonian (and therefore undoubtedly biased) I think it lacks the exceptional vibe and culture that Wellington offers. But it is an obvious and almost inevitable stop when one visits New Zealand, and if you don’t know what to do when you visit, it is easy to leave feeling both underwhelmed and unsatisfied. I love visiting Auckland, and have thought up a list of 10 of my favourite things to do there. I have tried to include a variety so there is something for everyone.

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  1. Ponsonby. Less than a 30 minute walk from the CBD and waterfront, it has shopping and delicious eateries in abundance. If you are feeling a bit indecisive, Ponsonby Central allows you to prolong that decision with its huge array of choices – ranging from Mexican and Italian to South American and Japanese. Mekong Baby specialised in modernised Vietnamese food, which was so incredibly fresh and tasty; although I would recommend making a booking. For those who need a health kick, the Little Bird Unbakery has an Insta-worthy cabinet and a shop with some of its delicious treats for sale. Ponsonby is also home to Orphan’s Kitchen and Little & Friday – two classic brunch eats.
  2. Eat. When in doubt, eat. Auckland’s culinary scene has evolved so dramatically in the past few years, it almost rivals Wellingtons. Depot by Al Brown sits firmly at the top of my list for fine dining, but if you want Al Brown on a casual basis head along to my absolute favourite spot at City Works Depot. Not only does Al’s Best Ugly Bagels feature, but so does The Food Truck, Odette’s and The Botanist – and not one will disappoint. Also nearby is Scratch Bakers and Major Sprout – both options are almost worth dying for. In Britomart my vote lies with Amano, although this is still relatively fine dining – great for brunch though.
  3. Shopping. If you want the chain stores then Queen Street and Britomart are where you should head. Otherwise, Ponsonby offers some exceptional boutique shopping, and with Newmarket thrown into the mix it’s hard to go wrong.
  4. Markets. There is an abundance of themed markets dotted around Auckland. One of the best is La Cigale; a French themed market on Saturday mornings in Parnell, as well as the Matakana market located about an hour north of the city.
  5. Rangitoto Island. A return trip will set you back $30, but it’s money well spent. It takes about half an hour to get there, and it is essential that you take food and water because there is nothing available on the island. The ferries head over a couple of times a day, and there is emphasis on making sure that you make it back to the wharf in time to catch the last ferry back; unless you want to spend the night on the island! It is a relatively easy walk to the summit (about an hour) and there is plenty of other tracks available, including past some historic baches, and lava caves (take a torch!).
  6. Auckland Zoo. I love animals, and I love the zoo. Auckland Zoo never fails to please either; it has basically everything – including a hippo! Located in Western Springs it is pretty easy to get to; buses run frequently and there is free parking if you want to drive. Definitely allow at least a few hours and there are plenty of picnic spots to break for lunch.
  7. Sky Tower. No trip to Auckland is complete without one to the Sky Tower. At 328 metres high it is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Dine at Peter Gordon’s The Sugar Club, or if you are feeling slightly more daring, feel free to through yourself off the side by doing the SkyJump. Adrenaline rush, need I say more?
  8. Catch a ferry somewhere. Whether it is for a mere harbour cruise, or across to Devonport, it can be extremely liberating escaping the big city life for even just a day. Devonport is pretty amazing; I stayed in an Air BnB there recently and it is such a cute spot. The views looking back to the city are also unreal. A prime destination is Waiheke Island; which is one sweet getaway. About a 40 minute ferry from Auckland’s CBD it is a great place to unwind. Whether you want to swim at the beach, bike the vineyards sampling wine or just kick back in in the sun Waiheke has it all.
  9. Rainbow’s End. The pot of gold at the end of my list, Rainbow’s End is New Zealand’s only real theme park, and is sure to provide a great day for the whole family. If you can go there on a week day, there will like be next to no-one at the park (meaning you don’t have to queue up for anything, and you can ride things multiple times in a row!) Or visit Kelly Tarlton’s for some Antarctic fun.
  10. Beaches. The one thing that Auckland has which Wellington doesn’t is the beaches to go with its improved climate. Visit Mission Bay, Omaha, or if you feel like a drive make your way north. The further you go, the better it gets.

 

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A local encounter in Naples, Italy

A local encounter in Naples, Italy

I had been warned of three things in Napoli: pizza, scooters, and petty theft. My understanding of the city was that it was one of those places that travellers tended to love or hate; probably influenced by their experience of the combination above. I had time to ponder such thoughts, as I sat for three hours in the police station. I was massaging my bruised neck and shoulders, straining to catch any snippet of the English language. Here I was, only five hours into my stay in Naples, and I had already experienced pizza, scooters and petty theft, in that exact order.

I arrived on an overnight train, approximately twelve hours after leaving Milan. My shower needs were outweighed by my desire for pizza, and being in the birthplace of pizza I wasn’t about to waste any time. I left the station with my backpack in tow and was instantly hit with the vibrant energy that defines Napoli. The grit of the city was undeniable; scooters weaving through crowds of people who were moving everywhere and nowhere at the same time, the all-encompassing aromas of pizza that overwhelm at every corner and the passion that somehow saturates the entire city.  It was intense, and I intended to embrace it.

A pizzeria was not hard to locate (in fact, nothing would prove to be easier), and after satisfying my belly with what can only be described as some of the best pizza ever, I headed off in search of my hostel. It didn’t take long to learn that merely crossing the road would be an accomplishment in itself; it’s astounding to watch the locals’ just barge right on through and somehow emerge without a scratch.

I stepped out to cross the street, when I saw a guy on a scooter zooming towards me. It was too late to get out of the way. He was going too fast to stop. I stuck my hand out in an attempt to fend the scooter off. He reached out too, but instead of it being a protective gesture (don’t be so naïve) he yanked my handbag from around my neck and put his foot on the gas. The straps of my bag snapped instantly and less than twenty seconds later I was without my passport, wallet, camera and phone. I gave chase, but I soon realised this was pointless and began to panic.

Fortunately, like anywhere, there are always good people amongst the bad; a lovely couple stopped and directed me to the police station. A series of communication breakdowns later, my bruised, aching body emerged and I tenderly made my way to the hostel (and shower) that I had set out for so many hours before.

Australia

Australia

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The Land Down Under

Across the ditch from New Zealand lies Australia, one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. As a New Zealander, I think most of us take Australia for granted, because it is easy to travel to and similar to New Zealand in so many ways. The rivalry remains strong, especially in sport, but at the end of the day Australia is a fantastic neighbour and somewhere that I always get enjoyment out of visiting. With something to suit everyone, and a land mass greater than that of Europe, there is SO much exploring to be done.

  • Capital: Canberra
  • Population: 23 million
  • Currency: Australian Dollar ($)
  • Language: English
  • Highlights:
    • The Outback: Australia’s specialty, Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is a must visit. There isn’t much else to do in the outback, so I’m sure you’ll find time to be there for both sunrise and sunset.
    • Melbourne: With a culture like you’ll find in no other Australian city, Melbourne specialises in food, coffee, shopping and sport. With some of the city’s biggest sporting arenas featuring as prominent attractions in the CBD, it is hard not to embrace the atmosphere of an upcoming rugby or Aussie Rules game. It is also home to one of tennis’ four grand slams, the Australian Open. There is loads of street art, markets and galleries; allowing travellers on a budget to easily pass the time just wandering the area.
    • Sydney: with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House leading the way in some of the world’s most well known icons, this city is Australia’s largest and has plenty to offer. From beaches (Manly and Bondi) to eateries, fascinating neighbourhoods to explore (Think The Rocks and King’s Cross) and culture aplenty, there is something for everyone. But, if you do want to escape the city, hike the Blue Mountains or sip some wine in the Hunter Valley.
    • Brisbane: a gate-way to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Brisbane is more business, less culture. Southbank is still a pretty cool spot, but once you get bored, head up the coast to Mooloolaba, Eumundi and Noosa, or downwards to Surfers Paradise, where you can get your adrenaline fix visiting DreamWorld, SeaWorld, MovieWorld and so on…
    • Cairns: a tropical city; where you should stay when you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Also nearby is the Daintree rainforest; another great place for hiking and scenery.
  • Did you know?
    • More than 85% of the population live within 50km of the coast
    • It has more than its fair of crazy animals – wombats, kangaroos, koalas, sharks, alligators, snakes, box jellyfish and spiders – just to name a few!
    • The Great Barrier Reef is the planets largest living structure, but sadly it is rapidly dying
    • 63% of Australians are overweight
    • Canberra was created in 1908 as a compromise to both Melbourne and Sydney wanting to be the capital
    • An Australian man once tried to sell New Zealand on TradeMe (the cheek of it!)
    • Tasmania supposedly has the cleanest oxygen in the world.
  • Useful tips:
    • Despite being known as a backpacking/road-tripping destination, the country is HUGE. It isn’t that great an idea to mission it across Australia in a vehicle – unless you have WEEKS to spare
    • Despite speaking English, the slang can feel like a whole other language
    • The sun is extremely forceful and dangerous due to a massive hole in the ozone layer – slip, slop, slap and wrap with care!

 

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New Zealand

New Zealand

13579969_10209315661235728_663714210_oLand of the Long White Cloud

From snow to sea, and mountains to lakes, New Zealand undeniably has some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the world. Overseas people often ask questions in awe, about the isolated little country at the bottom of the world, which is NOT connected to Australia, and which I am lucky enough to call home.

  • Capital: Wellington (fondly known as the world’s cutest little capital, and it is the world’s southernmost capital)
  • Population: 4.5 million
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($)
  • Language: English. Other official languages include te reo Maori and sign language
  • Highlights:
    • Northland: some of our country’s most beautiful and untouched beaches (don’t be surprised if you encounter dolphins)
    • Rotorua: Maori cultural shows, mud pools, geysers
    • Wellington: coffee and culture
    • Queenstown/Wanaka: snow, adrenaline, scenery and nightlife. Don’t miss checking out Fergberger – once you visit (and survive the queues) you won’t want to eat anywhere else
    • Te Anau: gateway to some of New Zealand’s greatest hikes
    • Napier: HOME, wineries and of course, art deco
    • West Coast: Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers; get in before it’s too late
    • Stewart Island: nature, walking and Bluff oysters
  • Did you know?
    • Its people are colloquially known as “Kiwis”
    • It is famous for its champion rugby team, and their cultural dance “the haka”
    • There are 9 sheep for every person
    • Dunedin is home to the world’s steepest street
    • Lord of the Rings was filmed here
    • It was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1893
  • Useful tips:
    • Security and customs is one of the strictest in the world
    • Drive on the left hand side of the road
    • Tipping is not common practice
    • Eating out can be expensive, but you can cut costs on transport (except for flying – a lack of domestic competition means internal flights can be costly). Embrace the concept of BYOs – double-check the restaurant offers it first, but lots of restaurants let you Bring Your Own bottle of wine to dinner

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Links to related New Zealand posts that I have published: