A Day Trip to Glenorchy

Glenorchy.

We have been here before. Only 5 months ago in fact, but we loved it so much, we just had to visit again. You can read about our last trip here.

This time, we are on 4 wheels. A Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG which we have hired from Luxury Car Rentals in Queenstown. Daniel is normally pretty slow to get up and going in the mornings, but today it’s a different story. He can’t wait to take the Merc for a spin.

Its such a beautiful stretch of road to Glenorchy. It twists and turns, moving with the lakeside. Being winter, there are less cars on the road, but there is also grit and ice. Not quite the perfect place to open up the throttle! I have to say though, as much as I enjoyed the car, there are some roads that are just made for 2 wheels. This is one of them.

We only spend a little bit of time at the lake as we have been here before. I enjoyed being able to see it in a different season. (Surprisingly the place was quite flooded when we were here in Summer, but not now in Winter) The place is much quieter too, hardly any people and no hum from the jet boats.

We take a few photos, I ask Daniel to take a picture of me in front of the Glenorchy sign. I get ‘Norchy’ instead!

There are a few different walks you can do here and if you are into walking or hiking, I would suggest you check them out. However, walking isn’t really Daniel’s thing so we do the Glenorchy Lagoon Loop Track. A short, easy stroll around the lagoon. Some of it is along a boardwalk that goes over the lagoon which adds to the experience. It is meant to be a great place for bird spotting. We didn’t really see any, but maybe that’s more in the summer. We are here in the middle of Winter!

I am surprised at how little water there is in the lagoon at this time of year. The trees are bare, the mountains are dusted in snow. I love how distinct the seasons are here in the south. In Wellington it’s pretty common to have 4 seasons in one day. The landscape is gorgeous and yet again, I take soooo many photos!

I walk slowly around the track, breathing deeply, taking in the fresh, cool air. I am trying to take in as much as possible. I love the slower pace of life that South Islanders seem to have. The stillness, the quiet.

This is Glenorchy. Welcome to Paradise.

A Nostalgic Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw

1912.

The year the TSS Earnslaw set sail on her maiden voyage.

A twin screw steamer based on Lake Wakatipu, she is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago. It is also (according to Wikipedia) the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

When we were in Central Otago earlier this year, we made a trip up to Glenorchy. In the old boat shed, there are pictures and stories about The Earnslaw. I learnt that it used to travel between Queenstown and Glenorchy, transporting sheep, cattle and passengers to the surrounding high country stations. (The road to Glenorchy wasn’t built until the 60’s)

Today, she is still cruising Lake Wakatipu, showing off the beauty of Queenstown to local and international tourists.

And so we climb aboard for a nostalgic evening cruise on the lake with Real Journeys.

Instantly I am taken back to a bygone era. We are welcomed aboard with a glass of bubbles. The decor is what I would describe as ‘old elegance’ – timber floors and walls with art nouveau styled fixtures and pictures. A band is playing and we settle into our booth seats to enjoy the experience. There is a rhythmic banging coming from the engine, combined with the water lapping at the hull of the boat, it’s all very soothing.

It’s 6pm and the sun is going down.

Fast.

I head out onto the deck to enjoy the view of The Remarkables while I can. Lights are reflecting off the water. It’s dreamy and beautiful.

The Earnslaw is coal powered and I make a stop above the engine room. It’s an open floor with a walkway suspended above so you can look down. Watching the pistons move up and down and staff shoveling coal, for a moment, I feel like I could be on the Titanic. It’s a strange thought to think both ships made their maiden voyage in 1912.

It’s a cold evening, but I head outside again and take a few moments to myself, remembering my Granddad. Knowing that he too stood on this deck warms my heart.

It’s a clear sky tonight (no wonder it’s so cold) the stars and milky way are beautiful though. I remind myself that I should really start learning about astro photography.

I really enjoyed my trip on the Earnslaw and I would certainly recommend it, but perhaps not the evening cruise. Seeing the light slip away behind the mountains and the lights reflect off the lake is lovely, but there is so much beauty in this area. Most of this cruise was in the dark. I would have been able to enjoy a lot more of the scenery on a day cruise.

Wine tasting in Queenstown

What do Burgundy, Oregon and Otago have in common?

They all make outstanding Pinot Noir.

So when in Queenstown, no trip is complete with out visiting the vineyards and sampling some of the delicious wines produced in the area.

We are booked onto ‘The Wine Trail Tour’ with Queenstown Winery Tours. We are picked up from our hotel by our fun and knowledgeable host, Susana. There are 7 of us on this tour, plus Susana, and within minutes we are all chatting away like old friends.

Our first stop is not to a vineyard. Susana take us to Lake Hayes. A beautiful, picturesque lake just outside Queenstown’s center. While taking in the scenery (and Daniel is photographing ducks) we play a little game to help prepare us for what lies ahead.

You may recall in a previous post, I smelt a range of wine fragrances then tried to match them to their scent without much luck. You can read that post here. Even with my previous experience, the results were no different. I wont be giving up my day job!

We smelt many fragrances, from sweet smelling strawberry to pineapple to lychee to some less expected ones like mushroom and peat. We were also educated in the art of wine tasting (it is very technical) so we could all at least pretend that we knew what we are doing.

Sorted.

Our first vineyard is Akarua. With a beautiful outdoor dining area, set amongst mature trees, it is not only the perfect place to taste some wine, but also to enjoy an exquisite meal.

I love travel shows and on a Canadian travel vlog, I heard about something called ‘ice wine’. A dessert wine that has been made with grapes that have frozen on the vine.

I have wanted to try it ever since.

My lucky day – I was informed that Akarua is the only place in New Zealand that produces it. (The grapes are artificially frozen as they don’t get enough consecutive freezing cold days to produce it naturally) Deliciously sweet and sticky, needless to say a bottle of this came home with us.

After our wine tastings we delved into a scrumptious shared lunch which provided a great opportunity to chat with our fellow wine tasting tour buddies and get to know them more.

The food was amazing, as was the company.

We then headed to Chard Farm by way of a narrow winding road next to a very steep drop. (I feel like our 4 wheel drive trip to Skippers Canyon the day before prepared us well for this!) The scenery at Chard Farm is gorgeous!

Chard Farm produce another of my favourite wines, Gewurztraminer. It was not on the tasting list that day, so I purchased a bottle. I am still yet to try it.

Moving onto Gibbston Valley we go on a short tour around the vines, learning about the wine making process. We then head into their wine cave (The largest in New Zealand) for our wine tasting experience.

Our last stop for the day is Wet Jacket located in a beautifully done up wool shed. The wines we tasted were all exquisite. We tasted 6. I was about to suggest to Daniel that we buy one of each when he spotted another wine, not available for tasting, called ‘The Pirate’. An exclusive Pinot Noir in a leather bound bottle complete with a map of Dusky Sounds (Where Wet Jacket Arm is).

Instead of 6 bottles of wine, we walked away with The Pirate, number 893 of 929.

We purchased this on our 10 year wedding anniversary, I think we will be saving this for our 20th anniversary. (Or another level 4 lock down)

Speeding up the Shotover River

Queenstown, known as New Zealand’s ‘Adventure Capital’ has no shortage of activities for thrill seekers.

I don’t like heights and I am certainly not an adrenaline junkie but a jet boat ride on the iconic Shotover river is a thrill I was keen to experience.

There are several different tour companies offering jet boat rides in Queenstown, needless to say, I did my research.

We did our tour with Skippers Canyon Jet. It is one of the more expensive tours (I did manage to get it on sale) but I would consider it the best value for money. The other jet boat tours are just that, 20 – 30 minutes on the jet boat. With Skippers Canyon Jet, you are driven out to the Upper Shotover river though some absolutely stunning scenery. The whole tour lasts around 2.5-3 hours.

We are picked up from the center of town in a 4-wheel drive by our guide Willie. Willie has grown up in the area and during the 1 hour journey to the jet boat he shares his wealth of knowledge with us about the land, the people and the history.

In 1862, Thomas Arthur found the first gold at Arthurs Point on the Shotover River. 2 months later, 4000 gold miners had flocked to the area seeking their fortunes. The Shotover is one of the richest gold bearing rivers in the world and it was mined up until 1992.

At Skippers Road we make a quick stop so that Willie can put chains on the wheels.

Not a bad place to stop.

Uninterrupted views out over Queenstown.

Incredible.

There is plenty of snow to play in but I am regretting my footwear choice. Even with 2 pairs of socks, my canvas shoes let in all the cold.

I’m a snow rookie. But it doesn’t stop the child in me from reaching out and grabbing a handful of snow. I have never felt fresh snow before. I am so astonished at how powdery and soft it is, I insist that Daniel has to also pick some up.

Our 4 wheel drive adventure takes us past snow lined roads with winter bare trees. We weave our way along a narrow windy road with very steep drops. There are moments where my stomach churns. I find myself shifting my weight in my seat – as if I can counterbalance us rolling off the road should a wheel slip off the edge. Astonishingly, the speed limit here is 100kmh, although I am sure anything about 30kmh is asking for trouble.

We pass through Hell’s gate, a pathway through large rock that was made by hand drilling and explosives. Hand drilling! I can’t even imagine how painstakingly challenging that must have been. The rock face at Hell’s Gate is gorgeous though, covered in all its icy stalactites.

We arrive at the Upper Shotover River and get prepared for our jet boat ride. We are provided with life jackets, beanies and gloves. Kitted out and ready to go, we get into the boat. I am pleased to discover that the handrail in the boat is heated.

It’s pretty cold down here in the valley.

It’s even colder once we get moving, I mean teeth chattering cold! I am shrunk down into my scarf as far as I can go to stop my face from going numb. A word of advise, if you don’t wear glasses, make sure you bring sunglasses to wear. The combination of the cold and speed makes it virtually impossible to keep your eyes open without some form of protection!

We speed up the river through narrow canyons and beautiful scenery. Reaching speeds of 80kmh, the ride is thrilling. We approach many cliffs at great speed, you think you are going to collide and then the boat makes a quick turn. The jet boat twists and maneuvers so swiftly.

We even do a few 360’s.

Back on land, we start the journey home with a couple more scenic stops along the way.

It’s been a great afternoon.

A magical winter wonderland

24th July 2020

The day Daniel and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.

It hasn’t been an easy 10 years, but we have stuck at it, continually learning about each other and growing as a couple. I have to say, I am pretty proud of us and it was really important to me that we celebrated this milestone.

To say that I love travel planning is an understatement. The research, the planning, the dreaming, it’s my happy place. I can spend HOURS absorbed in travel books, blogs and vlogs without even realising how much time has actually passed.

So it’s fair to say, that even long before Covid-19 raised it’s ugly head, I was well into the planning stages for our 10 year celebration trip. I had briefly looked into some overseas options but was quick to rule them out. Daniel is not a tropical island person, I really dislike long haul flights (aka fear of flying) and the East Coast of Australia just didn’t really appeal for this trip.

So I decided, since we were not going to be going anywhere warm, we may as well embrace the winter.

Its time for another adventure.

We leave the Wellington rain and grey behind. Above the clouds there is only sunshine. Our journey begins with the most scenic flight I have ever been on. Truly, it is spectacular. I have never taken so many photos from an aeroplane window before. I realise on the flight that this is the first time I have flown further south than Christchurch.

Our destination? You guessed it, Queenstown.

A pretty alpine town in the heart of Otago, built on the shores of lake Wakatipu and surrounded by The Remarkables mountain range. I have been here once before; in 2010 when we did a day trip on our Fireblade. I am looking forward to having time to explore Queenstown properly.

It’s a cool 3 degrees when we arrive, but honestly, it doesn’t feel that cold. It’s a very different cold to what we get in Wellington. You just layer up and you’re good to go.

No chilled, annoying wind.

We are staying at Nugget Point Hotel. It’s a little bit out of town but views make it worth it. Our room looks out over the Shotover river, a sight I could never get bored with.

The hotel has an unexpected and pretty cool spa room. Think modern Roman baths – mosaics and statues surround the plunge pool and hot tub. There is even a sauna and marble bath.

I quite often would make a trip here in the evenings to warm up after a day out exploring.

We wake up on the first morning to snow.

Oh my soul.

What an incredible experience. In a flash I am dressed and outside; delighting in the small, delicate flakes silently floating down. There is a beautiful silence that occurs when snow falls. Time stands still while a peacefulness settles on the land. The only sound is the noise of the pebbles beneath my shoes as I dance around in childlike excitement.

I had been dreaming of a magical winter wonderland and Queenstown, you have exceeded my expectations.

New Zealand, through the eyes of my Grandmother – Part 2

Continuing on from last week, if you haven’t read it yet, you can check out last week’s post here.

Tell me about some memorable holidays you have had in New Zealand

3 sons and 4 grandchildren later….

In 1989 your Granddad and I packed up the car and headed away on a trip around the South Island.

It was a trip that took us down The West Coast and back up The East Coast, visiting many beautiful New Zealand places; Picton, The Buller Gorge, Greymouth, The Glaciers at Franz and Fox, Punakaiki and Hokitika.

We stopped in Okarito to look for white herons but only found wasps!

Lake Matheson, a Mirror Lake, near Fox Glacier on the West Coast

We then headed onto Queenstown. There we took a ride on the gondola and had a meal at the top with million dollar views. We also took a cruise on The Earnslaw (which is notorious for its black smoke) to Walter Peak Station. We did a trip out to Arrowtown and Glenorchy and even did a day trip by bus to Milford Sound.

I have always thought this photo was so funny.  Taken on the Earnslaw, which is notorious for its black smoke.  It looks like Granddad has the smoke is coming out of his ears!

We then made our way back up the country travelling through Lake Tekapo and Fairlie with a side trip to Akaroa. We stayed a couple of nights in Christchurch. The night before we left there was quite a big storm. It turned very cold and we woke the next morning to see the Southern Alps covered in snow. 

A sight to behold! 

We headed back to Picton, spending a night in Kaikoura on the way. The Kaikoura Ranges were also covered in snow – a perfect finish to our South Island Odyssey.

I remembered thinking back to the trip we had done to Canada the year before when we went to Banff and I thought Queenstown and surroundings were much prettier.

In 2010 we did another trip around the South Island. This time on a group trip. It included a trip to Doubtful Sounds which was lovely – crossing Lake Manapouri then over a pass to the Sound – in the rain! When we got onto the boat though, the sun came out. We got right out to the Tasman in beautiful calm weather. On the way back they beached the boat on the shore, turned the engines off and told us not to talk.  Nothing to hear but the lapping of the water on the shore. 

Magical! 

That’s what they call the Sound of Silence. 

On the way back to Te Anau we stopped at the Manapouri Power Station and got on a bus that took us 2 kilometres under ground.  I HATED it and couldn’t wait to get back up into daylight. It was so dark and damp and surrounded by solid rock. The power station was impressive but I couldn’t imagine how people (some girls doing clerical work as well) could bear to spend their days under ground.  I remember my mum did a trip there in the 70’s and she loved it! 

Not for me. 

From Queenstown we went to Cromwell and the Clyde Dam and then crossed the Maniototo Plain. It’s unusual, scrubby, rocky country. The wind was so strong our poor lady driver had trouble keeping the little bus on the road and she had sore arms for days. 

One of the best things about that trip was we got very friendly with the couple running it and kept in touch with them for quite a long time after. 

You have now lived in Aotearoa for over 70 years. Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you would love to see?

I have just been listening to a chap being interviewed about Great Barrier Island. It sounds like somewhere really different and I would like to see it, though I guess I never will.  A half hour flight or a 4 1/2 hour ferry trip from Auckland. It’s a semi tropical place with a very laid back life style. 

Maybe you could do the trip on my behalf?

Do you have any travel tips or advise for kiwi’s or foreigners who are wanting to explore ‘The Long White Cloud?”

The best way to see the West Coast is in the rain! It makes the scenery mystical!

Next week I will begin my Queenstown Series. My husband and I have just recently returned from a 6 day trip in this stunning place where we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.

New Zealand, through the eyes of my Grandmother – Part 1

I thought I would try something a little different in this post. Instead of sharing a travel story of mine, I have interviewed my Grandmother. She is, after all, my biggest fan, and editor (Thanks Granny!) Today I share some of her stories and experiences of Aotearoa.

Tell me about your journey to New Zealand

The first trip I did to New Zealand was with my mother after finishing school in June 1948.  I turned 19 in July and we sailed from Vancouver on the first post-war trip of the Aorangi in September of that year.  The ship had been refitted after service as a troop ship during the war.  She was 13,000 tons which seems minuscule compared to the floating apartment buildings you see now, but she was comfortable and I would describe the atmosphere on board as gracious. 

The Aorangi

The trip took 2 1/2 weeks from Vancouver to Auckland and life onboard was very relaxed and pleasant; gorgeous weather, sparkling deep blue seas and plenty of entertainment. We made some good friends during the voyage and some of those friendships lasted many years.  One of the girls I met then was my matron-of- honour at my wedding.

Life on the Ocean Wave

It took a week to the first port of Honolulu with an overnight stay and another week to Suva in Fiji. It got a bit cooler as we got nearer NZ and we arrived in Auckland on a grey day in October.

What were your first impressions of New Zealand?

I seem to remember we approached Auckland on a rather dreary day in early October and we gathered at the rail for our first sight of Godzone. People were asking where others were bound for and when someone said ‘Wellington’ there was a general expression of sympathy and I thought what an awful place Wellington must be.

Arriving in Auckland I felt I had landed in a place where time had stood still.  The Harbour Bridge had not been built. There was nothing much to buy in the shops and people had to have overseas funds to buy a new car.  Carpets and other furnishings had to be ordered and came by sea from the UK etc. after a long wait. There were even still some of the same people in the shops that were there when my mum left more than 20 years earlier.

Even her postman was still the same!

My first experience of Wellington was 18 months later when I returned to New Zealand to marry after a shipboard romance. Wellington put on a perfect day with the sun glinting on the harbour and the surrounding hills looking like they had been sprinkled by some giant hand with colourful little houses (“little boxes on the hillside” as the song went.) I fell in love with it then and there and have loved it ever since.

Tell me about some memorable holidays you have had in New Zealand

In 1948, my mother and I took a little trip to Rotorua. We stayed in a guest house – no motels in those days. We did a trip to Whakarewarewa and also to see the Aratiatia Rapids.  I remember the tour guide/bus driver saying as we walked through scrubby bushes to the Rapids “This is Injun Country”. 

On one of the days we were on the bus going to the Whakarewarewa Village and noticed a Maori lady sitting near us stripping flax. The following day we did a sightseeing trip to the village and lo and behold, here was our lady from the bus as our guide for the day. She turned out to be none other than the famous Guide Rangi. She was a very well educated lady with a beautiful speaking voice and very knowledgeable about Maori culture.  It wasn’t till later that we realised she was really quite famous and had guided tourists from all over the world. 

We felt very privileged to have met her.

Guide Rangi

To be continued next week.

The Bucket List – North Island Edition

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called The Bucket List, my 5 top New Zealand experience I want to have. After writing it, I realised that every item on that list was in the South Island. Correction, I mean the South Island and Stewart Island.

What I am getting at is that there were no North Island experiences on my list, and it’s the Island I live on. Shame on me!

Te Ika a Maui, aka, The North Island, has some stunning beaches, natural hot springs and some interesting Geo thermal areas. It is certainly a place worth exploring.

So, without furthur ado, here is my top 5 North Island Bucker List items:

Staying a night at Wharekauhau Lodge

This one has been on the bucket list for 11.5 years! An Edwardian style lodge, set up on a hill, it looks out towards stunning views of Palliser Bay and farm land in the Wairarapa. I first came here in 2009. It is where Daniel and I got engaged and has always held a special place in my heart. We visited again late last year, again just for lunch. When Daniel proposed, he had looked into staying a night, but at over $3000 a night, it was off the cards. A bucket list item for sure, but perhaps more of a dream.

Not anymore. In September we are making this dream a reality. I managed to grab a bargain when they were offering a ‘Back your backyard – NZ residents special’. It was too good to pass up.

Wharekauhau is luxury at it’s finest. The food is exceptional, the location stunning and the staff are so warm and welcoming. To say I am excited about staying here is an understatement.

Tongariro Crossing

I actually had plans to do this walk in March with my sister-in-law. The trip was all booked and then Covid-19 happened. The first weekend we spent in lockdown was the weekend we were meant to be hiking this trail.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in the Tongariro National Park, located in central North Island in the Manawatu-Wanganui region. The walk is just under 20km and is often described as being NZ’s best day walk. The walk is said to be challenging but incredibly rewarding. The trail takes you past craters, lakes and landscapes like no other.

I am yet to rebook this one but will need to do some fitness prepping first. I will confess that I didn’t do much exercise during lockdown and took up the hobby of baking. Needless to say, I have put on a bit of lockdown weight.

Northern Explorer

One of New Zealand’s great train rides. This journey goes between Auckland and Wellington, stopping at some great locations along the way. The journey takes around 10 hours, but I would take the opportunity to get off at some stops along the way to further explore.

Fancy staying in a Chateau or visiting Hobbiton? Black water rafting at Waitomo or a trip to Kapiti Island? These are all locations that are accessible from the stops it makes along the way.

The Northern Explorer is not currently operating, I am waiting for that email it’s back up and running and then (if I haven’t already spent all my money on other trips) I will make a booking.

Camping with the pups

I have wanted to do this for a while now, what’s stopping me I hear you ask? Well the main thing, I don’t own a tent. An essential piece of equipment for this adventure.

I have always loved camping but haven’t done it in ages. I would love to take Frankie and Eddie camping with me too. There are a few campgrounds around that allow dogs.

The other issue stopping me is that Frankie and Eddie, AKA The FrEddies, although small and cute, are very vocal. The love to alert us of people arriving, birds on the porch and neighbors turning on their lights. We would need to trial the camping somewhere close, like Wainuiomata, so if The FrEddies felt the need to alert us to everything going on at the camp site and we needed to make a quick exit in the middle of the night, we wouldn’t need to drive too far.

First thing I need to do is locate a tent I can borrow. I don’t want to invest in one if it’s going to be a disastrous family outing.

Wanganui River Kayak

I have a thing for kayaking, I am certainly no pro and I don’t do it very often, but given the chance I love to jump in a kayak and go exploring.

This Wanganui River tour is a multi day tour, I think actually in canoes, rather than kayaks. I haven’t done too much research into this, so I don’t have a tour company picked out, yet.

This would be a tour with stunning scenery and informative local history in a area that I am not too familiar with.

What’s on your bucket list?

Searching for Seals

In February, when we were in Kaikoura, I went on a massive walk in the morning out to Ohau to see the seal colony.

There were 2 seals.

Recently (thanks Facebook) I learnt that Turakirae Head Reserve in Wainuiomata is home to the largest seal colony in Wellington.

So off we went.

Our walk took us past farm land, green pastures with sheep, framed with huge cliffs. There were even some little lambs, bless them, it’s not lamb season, they will be so cold.

On the other side of us we have the coast, dotted with flax and tussock near the shoreline. I really enjoy the scenery. It’s not what you would describe as being pretty, and I am sure there are people who wouldn’t be able to see the appeal. It’s wild and rugged, but also untouched and beautiful in it’s own way.

The signpost said it would be an hour’s walk but it only took us half that. The walk is flat, but quite challenging. It starts out easy, walking along gritty sand, but this changes into gravel, then shingle, then rocks and at the end we found ourselves having to Macgyver over and around boulders and scrub.

Our efforts were rewarded though, there are plenty of seals here and lots of big boulders to sit upon and just watch. Our furry friends aren’t particularly active. The sun is out, so they seem pretty happy just lying around sunning themselves.

They take no notice of us.

It’s quite an exposed place and we experience a lot of different weather on this walk; bright blue skies, eerie misty weather with sun breaking through the clouds, a sun shower, followed by a beautiful rainbow and then just rain.

Persistent heavy rain.

There is no shelter, nowhere to hide, we just have to take it. But it’s these types of experiences, being exposed to the elements, that I find really invigorating – when I know there are dry clothes and a hot shower available at the end of it!

If your looking for a local adventure and don’t mind a bit of ‘rock climbing’ you should check out this place.

A Rainy Day in Petone

Every week, unless the weather is horrid, my weekend always begins with a walk at Hikoikoi Reserve in Petone. It’s a favourite spot for Frankie, Eddie and I.

It’s a very misty day, I can’t see Somes Island or even the end of the beach, but there is no wind and the rain is mostly holding back.

I love this place, partly because it’s an off lead dog friendly place, but a walk along the beach, whatever the time, is a great way to clear the mind and re-energize one’s self. Frankie and Eddie love it, there are always lots of interesting things to smell (and pee on) and it’s not nearly as crowded as the other end of the beach (which is also an off lead dog area)

The air is cool and crisp, the sea birds are gliding in the sky and soothing tidal sounds follow us for our walk. It’s a great way to start the day.

The rain arrives so I decide to drop Frankie and Eddie at home and have a day exploring Petone. I have lived in the Hutt Valley for over 6 years now and I had never visited the Petone Settlers Museum on the Esplanade before.

Today is the day.

On a cold wet day, the museum is warm and inviting

I must admit, I am not very knowledgeable about New Zealand history. This museum, although small, gives a really good introduction and paints a picture of what life would have been like for those early settlers and Maori in the area.

There are displays, pictures and a really interesting video, full of information.

Life in England in the 1800’s was harsh; over populated with not enough work, low wages and poor working conditions. There was lots of crime and unemployment.

New Zealand was a rich, fertile land, full of timber, whales and seals. It was painted as ‘The New England’ a place of opportunity and chance at a better life.

The first settlers ship, The Aurora, arrived at what was then known as ‘Port Nicholson’ in Pito-one (Petone) on the 22nd January, 1840, carrying 140 passengers. The first of many passenger ferry’s that would bring people to New Zealand.

My ancestors first arrived in Christchurch in 1856 aboard ‘the Duke of Portland’. My time at the museum really got me thinking about what life would have been life for them, settling in an unknown, foreign land and building their new life here in Aotearoa.

There is just far to much information that I learnt to be able to do it justice here. It was such an interesting place and fascinating to be able to learn about the history specific to the area that I live in.

I highly recommend you check out this museum.

I then headed to Jackson Street for some lunch and ended up at one of my favorites, Comes & Goes. The decor has a Scandinavian styled vibe, blonde wood, neutral colours and simple, minimalist design.

Serving Instagram worthy food, I had a hard time deciding. I went with the Waffle Banana – what a gorgeous meal, for the taste buds and they eyes. They say you eat with your eyes first. I know I certainly did.

You could spend a day shopping on Jackson Street, there is such variety. From designer boutiques to thrift stores, cafe’s, bakeries and even a chocolatier, there is something for everyone.

After a quick look at the shops, I was onto my next stop….

Light House Cinema Petone. My favourite cinema. It’s warm and intimate with comfortable 2 seater couches, perfect for snuggling up next to your other half. Take a wine or a cup of tea in with you while you enjoy the flicks.

It’s the perfect way to spend a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon.