Huka Falls + Lava Glass Blowing Studio

This weekend was such great weather that I couldn’t resist making the most of it. No way was I going to stay indoors ! I decided to go have some prawns at Huka Prawn Park which is an hour’s drive from Rotorua. You can do more activities there such as prawn fishing and prawn feeding but we only stayed for a meal. The prawns are super juicy and fresh, it’s delicious! But if you’re not prepared to fork out some big money for the meal, I suggest you go eat somewhere else or bring your own food ! It cost us $50 for 500gm of prawns, and $20 for a prawn chowder. The view there is amazing though and you get to see all the people that line up for the Huka jet as well.

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Huka Prawn Park

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Lunch at Huka Prawn Park

After lunch, I drove down to Huka falls and the water there is just amazingly clear. Its very aqua blue and you can hear the roar of the rapids from the carpark. Its a very short walk to see the rapids and falls itself so its great for people who hate walking. Theres also tracks there (I saw a 2hr one) for people that enjoy tramping or mountain biking. It was very busy the day I went as it is a very popular destination.

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Huka Falls

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Huka Falls

On the drive towards Huka prawn park, the Lava Glass Studio caught my eye so I decided to make a pit stop there on my way back home. When you go in, there is a beautiful array of glass creations on sale which are very unique that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. They make great gifts and they also do free shipping to other countries if its too heavy/big for you to take back. Unforunately you aren’t allowed to take any photos in the studio so I couldn’t show you how beautiful they are. The guy who makes these creations is very popular and is often asked to make specific items on request. They also have a little cafe for you to enjoy a drink or some snacks. His wife handles the front of the studio and you can pay $5 to go into his workshop and watch how the lava glass is made. I thought that was very affordable and very interesting as it’s not something you get to see everyday. They are happy for you to take photos inside his workshop as well as the outdoor lava glass garden. The lava glass garden is $7.50 and if you want to see both its $10. They also give you a $5 discount on any purchase you make if you do pay to see either of these activities.

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Lava Glass Workshop

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Lava Cog Creation

The lava glass studio is quite small but it’s a nice walk to see the array of art that hes made. There were some beautiful flowers, spheres, trees, fish trap, mushrooms and lilypads all made from glass!

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There is just so much to do in Bay of Plenty with everything so close to each other, you feel like you want to do everything. This area of New Zealand is great for tourists and visitors so try and stop by this region for a few days if you can. It doesn’t lose the cultural festivity and traditions of New Zealand even though they thrive on tourism. You can still sense the amazing local community and witness the friendliness and kindheartedness that NZ is famous for.

-medlabgeek

White Water Rafting Okere Falls

A few days after New Years, I went on a road trip with some friends before driving back to Rotorua for work. We decided to all go white water rafting, which I was super keen to try because I’ve never done it before. Boy was I missing out! I loved it! I was really nervous beforehand because I knew we were going down a 7 metre waterfall which sounded hugeeee to me and I was scared of all these rapids on the river. But our guide Jamie was great and made everyone feel so hyped and ready to take on this challenge! The place we went to was called Rotorua Rafting (they are number 1 on trip advisor if you search rafting at Okere falls). I highly recommend this place ! It costs $85 pp but if you come with a group you get a discount. They do take some photos of you and you can see all of them before deciding if you want to purchase the photos which are $40 and given on a USB. If you come as a group like I did, you can split that cost and share the photos to each other so it would be even cheaper.

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We were given a quick intro on how to manoeuvre the paddles and what to do for certain commands and away we went. The rapids weren’t as bad as I thought and we even got to jump out the raft and slide down the rapids with our bodies lying flat on our backs! They gave us heaps of opportunities to experience the river and take some pit stops. We all got to climb up a mini cliff and jump off it into the river and swim towards our raft. Everyone had life jackets and a helmet on so I felt perfectly safe with them. They also had two solo kayaker’s that came along to help anyone if someone couldn’t swim or anything went awry. You can definitely tell that all the guides are very experienced on the river so you don’t feel like you’re in danger at all.

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I sat in the front with my friend but they all picked me to sit on the front of the raft and hold on to some ropes while they all sat on the back and paddled me through a mini waterfall and that was amazing! I made it through without falling but my “friends” pushed me off afterwards haha

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The guide also tries to paddle you head first into some rapids to experience the water pouring over you, I got to sit in the front and ended up literally sitting under a mini waterfall with the water pouring in front of me which was surreal! The whole trip took around 1.5 hours, we started at 4.30pm and it finished at 6 but after getting changed and looking at the photos before leaving, it was a good 2 hours. During good weather their last session is at 4.30 but during winter when the days are shorter, their last session is at 3. I recommend you book in advance as they are really busy. Even though we had 29 of us at the 4.30 session, we still had heaps of fun because all the groups were split off with their own guide and raft so we felt like we were still by ourselves.

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After having dinner, we all decided to relax. What better way to relax than a thermal spa 😀 We went to the infamous Polynesian spa in Rotorua which opens till 11pm and on a good night you can lie in the hot pools and look at the starry sky. I can honestly say that the pools there really do work wonders for you. My skin felt amazing after the soak. It was silky smooth and they had signs for each of the pools that tell you what they are generally used for such as aches and pains etc. The only downside is the smell of sulphur that gets into your hair so tie it up if you have long hair! (It still smelt after I washed it).

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I can’t wait to go white water rafting again, maybe even try black water rafting in the future !

-medlabgeek

Julian’s Berry Farm and Cafe

It’s almost Christmas! I love the atmosphere during this time of year, everyone gets so into the holiday spirit. For most of you, your Christmas is probably a lot different to mine. For me, it consists of relaxing at a park or beach, going on road trips, getting a tan, picnics and BBQ’s and a nice refreshing cold beverage.

My best friend came down to visit me over the weekend and I thought what better way to start off the Christmas season than berry picking. This time of the year is the perfect time for berries but just make sure to go earlier during the day to avoid the sweltering heat! And DON’T think you can get away from wearing sunscreen. Protect yourselves people. The sun can be very dangerous, especially in NZ.

Julian’s Berry Farm is an hour away from Rotorua, down in Whakatane and it is very busy and popular. However you don’t feel crowded at all when picking so there’s plenty of time and room to pick without feeling rushed or cramped. What’s so great about this place is that they don’t just have one kind of berry, but a whole variety of berries to pick from. It’s also a great place for kids as they have a mini golf course and a little farm zoo where you can go in for free or pay $1.50 if you want to get some animal feed. If you get hungry from all the picking (which I doubt from all the berries around you), they have a cafe which is settled under a really nice covered outer deck. They also sell fresh berry ice cream / frozen yoghurt and packaged fresh fruit if you don’t feel like picking them yourselves. When we went, strawberries were really juicy vibrant and sweet. I tried the other berries (i.e. blackberry, raspberry, ranui berry etc) but they were too sour for me so I just stuck with good ol’ strawberries 🙂

You can find this all on the website but it costs $18 for around 1kg of PYO; $26 for 1.8kg and $40 for 2.8kg. If you pick only strawberries it’s a bit cheaper. They also show you what is the best time of the year to pick certain berries on their website.

Views of the strawberry fields

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There are more photos of the berry section and kids farm below.

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Queenstown Trip (4)

Date : 3rd July 2016

We woke up quite early today because we had booked an Elm Wildlife Tour in Dunedin at 1pm. The tour is around 5 hrs long during winter and they take you around the coast of Dunedin to see the natural wildlife. It costs $109 for an adult but if you have a student ID, you can get a $10 discount 🙂

We arrived in Dunedin by 12pm and had a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant at the Octagon. The shuttle arrived a little late but it was probably due to a delay from picking up other’s from different locations. From what I saw, they do pick ups at certain hotels but we were picked up at the i-Site visitor centre in the town central.

There were two guides, one that did all the driving and the other which did some commentating whenever she saw certain landmark features or wildlife nearby. They were very informative and didn’t talk extensively, which I prefer. The scenery was amazing, one of the most beautiful scenic places I’ve been to. Especially the inlets that we drove past, as it was in the afternoon, and the skies were very calm, there were hardly any ripples at all so the reflection on the water from the mountains and hills were perfect.

We got to see some wading birds, but due to the lack of wind, we were unable to see any Royal albatross at the Royal Albatross Centre. The stay up at the Royal albatross centre is around 30 mins and that is the only place you can buy some food and make a toilet stop (that is more modernised). They then lead you to a private section where they have a longdrop for people to use and we stay for around 2 hours there to visit two different beaches. Here you can see sealions, yellow eyed penguins and fur seals. By the time we had arrived to see these animals, the sun was beginning to set and the sky was glowing red and purple. Just amazing.

Tomorrow morning we return our rental car and take a 9am flight back to Auckland, so this is the end of our trip 😦

Hope you enjoyed the blog posts as much as I enjoyed the trip!

-medlabgeek

Queenstown Trip (3)

Date : 2nd July 2016

Today my best friend and I had a 2 hour horse trek planned in Cardrona. It took around half an hour to get there and it was so much colder than Queenstown (the guide later told us that its because we were about 350m higher up). The place we went to is called Backcountry Saddle Expeditions and usually costs $90 for a 2 hr ride. We booked for the morning session at 10am and found it on bookme for a discounted price of $75.

When we got there our first sight was beautiful. Below is a photo of what we saw. All the horses were lined up in front of a beautiful landscape with a warm dusky glow. We went into the horse stable to sign some papers and get our helmets fitted. If you didn’t have a beanie or gloves they happily provided them for you to wear on the trip (trust me your feet and hands will get mighty cold so wear thick socks if you have them).

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They set us up with a horse they thought would be suitable for our skill level and height. On our particular trip we were with another group of 4 from Melbourne, totalling 6 of us not including our guide Leanne. The horse that I was set up with was a mare called Chocky and my friend was set up with a mare called Frosty.

The trek took 2 hours and was among the valleys in between Cardrona. The surroundings were beautiful, and we saw many wild rabbits along the way. The horses are so easy to handle and very gentle so if you are nervous, you will very quickly forget that you ever were and just enjoy the beauty around you during the trek. Leanne does a great job of teaching you how to trot and tells us a lot about the surroundings as we go by and we were given plenty of opportunity to trot (if our horses behaved :P).

After our ride my boyfriend came to pick us up as he went to do rifle and claybird shooting at Have a Shot in Wanaka which is only 20 mins away. Below are some photos of the claybird target shooting, these photos are from when we went last year. We had decided to do all of the activities; claybird, rifle, archery and golf. But if you only feel like doing one or a few of the activities, they do have singular prices which you can find on the link I provided above.

We then stopped at the famous bra fence. It all started when a local farmers wife died of breast cancer and after she passed , her husband and his friends were mourning her and decided to hang their wives bras on there as commemoration. This all lead to many others doing the same and now a donation box for breast cancer is built there too.

We also stopped by Cardrona hotel. Though people say it’s one of the oldest hotels in NZ, the truth is that the front facing board is only the oldest part and everything else was built in the 70’s or later with many refurbishments. Nevertheless it is a famous spot and great for touristy photos. There were constantly people stopping by on the opposite side of the road, waiting for their turn to get a photo but it wasn’t so badthat you felt like you couldnt take your time to get the good shot without anyone standing around it.

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-medlabgeek

Queenstown Trip (2)

Date : 1st July 2016

Today was a fairly relaxing day as we had no plans booked and we just went with the flow.

Our first mission was to drop off my boyfriend at the top of The Remarkables so that he could snowboard all day. It took around half an hour just to drive up to the drop off zone from the bottom of the mountain! Thank goodness the weather was on our side which made driving up a lot easier. We had also gotten his day pass and rental gear fitted out and taken back to our motel room the previous day so all we had to do was wake up, get ready and begin driving up towards the mountain.

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On our way back down, we made a few stopovers at the lookout zones and boy oh boy was the view to die for !

By the time we finished taking photos and made it back to road level, it was noon so we decided to go try out the famous Vudu cafe. As expected, the cafe was really busy but had such a wonderful homely and cosy feel. We were lucky enough to get a table straight away. The coffee was quite nice but a bit too sweet for my taste.

After that me and my best friend just did a bit of window shopping and went into Ferg bakery to buy some bread for our breakfast the next morning. By now it was already 3pm so we had to get going and head back up The Remarkables to pick up the sore yet happy man.

Due to very heavy traffic, it was already 5.30pm by the time we arrived back to the town centre. Since my bf didn’t eat anything the entire day, we decided to eat dinner before heading back to our motel room to relax instead of having to drive back out.

We already knew that the wait would be long but you can’t go to Queenstown and not eat at Fergburger ! I ordered the classic Ferg burger with cheese. I must admit that though the burgers are good, it’s not so special that there would constantly be a huge line for it. I’m not sure about other countries, but in NZ there are many burger joints that make just as good if not better, burgers. Maybe, like me, most people go because of its “fame” and novelty.

After that, we just headed back to our room, made a cuppa tea, and relax. As of now it is 9.30pm but I feel sooooo tired that it feels as if it’s almost midnight. I’m going to bed now so that I can fully enjoy my day tomorrow. Really excited! Will write about it soon (though all of these will be uploaded together once I get back to Auckland).
Goodnight all!

Below are some more photos we took as we explored the town during the day.

 

-medlabgeek