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    9 New Zealand Secrets To Visit | Sponsored by Flight Centre

    In all these years of blogging, I’ve left one massive hole in my travel secret sharing. An insiders view of my very own home country – the beautiful shores of Aoteoroa, land of the ‘Long White Cloud’. New Zealand is an incredible place to explore – it’s beautiful, friendly and the brunches are world class – and I never really discovered that until I moved to the other side of the world.

    Piha Black Sand Beach Auckland Secrets of New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I’ve written tasters here and there, snippets of fun that we’ve had between visiting family, celebrating weddings and snuggling with new nephews, but I’ve never actually put them all together in one place. I usually just patch together emails to friends and readers who have asked for recommendations as they have travelled – and who have probably seen more of my home then I have. So, when Flight Centre contacted me to about writing a bit of an insiders guide to New Zealand Holidays, I dusted off this post and filled it with a bit of home wonder.

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    Magical Train Journeys Around the World – A Few Of My Favourites.

    It may be a cliche, but sometimes the journey can be just as astonishing as the destination.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I love catching trains. The ease, the ability to wander around whilst speeding through the countryside, the sweeping corners, the friendly people dispensing hot tea, staring out the windows for hours as the world chugs past, generous luggage allowances and the whistling engineers with grease smudges in their eye and rosy cheeks.

    All you need is a train ticket, a snack and a sense of adventure.

    Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand
    Crowning my list is one of the top railway journeys in the world – the 4-hour Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at every turn.


    See, magic.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Munich to Wendelstein Mountain, Germany
    Very, very vague plans made via an internet tipoff, we hopped onto one of the regional services (the Bayerische Oberlandbahn GmbH or BOB).

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Watching the sports-mad locals unfold their hiking sticks and uncap their beer bottles (seriously) as they strode up along rocky paths, at that point we realised that we’d definitely gone off the map. Luckily spotting a small cut-through path wending under the train station and over a trickling stream, we found the cable car that winched us up 2,000 metres literally into the clouds.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chesham to Harrow-on-the-Hill, England
    This was a very rare treat and a relatively brief one – but no less enjoyable.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The weekend started with a delicious cocktail in a glamorous London bar, but by the end of it, I was found on a tube station platform, eagerly awaiting an original London Underground Steam train running especially for Chesham’s 125th birthday.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan
    For us, Japan was a country of two halves (oh, and they’re getting pretty good at rugby) the old, beautiful traditions and a new modern world adapting itself to the future. It’s all the more amazing for how easily they seem to meld the two.

    Catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Kyoto to Tokyo Adventures of a London Kiwi 1


    As we turned a corner, in front of us – cloaked in Winter splendour – Mount Fuji revealed herself. Her peak mostly bare of clouds we took several long moments to simply breathe in the auspicious and rare sight.

    Catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Kyoto to Tokyo Adventures of a London Kiwi 1

    London to Broadstairs, England
    The most of this trip is pretty enough rolling countryside, but it was the last 20 minutes that I really loved. The jewel-like sea giving way to snow white cliffs.

    Magical Train Journeys Around the World Travel Linkup Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What are your favourite journeys so far? 
    (Ps. keep scrolling for the travellinkup and then a Pinnable image.)


    An InLinkz Link-up


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    10 things to do in Wellington, New Zealand

    The capital city of New Zealand is my spiritual heart (I fell in love whilst at university there) and with more cafes per capita than any other city in the world, it always feels like home. Walking down Wellington streets, my mind overlays so many memories – and I’m always amazed at how after a decade I still know how to get around without a map. I suspect it is indelibly etched on my heart.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I could actually suggest a zillion different reasons to visit Wellington, but for me, the most important ones are my brother, sister-in-law, two rosy cheeked nephews and my best friend (who I managed to also get to see up in Auckland!). Even if you don’t possess such filial ties, Wellington is a brilliant city.

    Capping off the bottom of the North Island, and overlooking the Cook Strait towards the hills and valleys of the South Island, Wellington is a compact city surrounded by tree shrouded valleys and hills. 

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    1:- Sit on the harbourside and people watch.
    Honestly, it is one of my favourite things to do, coffee in hand. Simple things huh?

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    2:- Brunch. 

    I have so many recommendations of old classics that I wrote an entire post of my favourite Wellington brunch spots. Wellington brunches are simply at a sublime level of flavour and inventiveness – and that’s before we even begin to look at the delectable dinner options.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    3:- Explore Te Papa Museum.
    Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum and gallery. You can explore the great treasures and stories of my home country – the unique natural environment, Maori culture, art heritage, and fascinating history. There are always innovative and interactive exhibitions both changing and permanent – I always lose hours here.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    4:- Meander along the quays and do a little shopping.
    There is art on practically every corner and excellent coffee on every other. What more could a person ever need?

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    5:- Ride the cable car up to the Botanical gardens and nibble a picnic.
    Once you’re there, I’d also recommend stargazing and check out the amazing planetarium show at Carter Observatory. There are exhibitions that explain the significance of Matariki and the role of the star cluster for the Māori New Year, and the importance of the stars in Polynesian and Māori navigation.

    6:- Take in a Parliament tour at the Beehive. 
    Our national seat of governance is infamous for having a tractor driven up the steps in protest of a methane tax. Because, New Zealand… I’m also rather proud that it is where women were granted the vote – we were the ifirst

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    7:- Visit the Bucket Fountain on Cuba Street.
    You get bonus points if the university students have poured dishwashing liquid to bubble it. Many of the more bohemian shops and characters inhabit Cuba Street – I have vivid memories of juggling fireballs here as a student.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    8:- Hike up the steep lanes of Wellington Zoo.
    Not only do the animals have amazing views over the valley, there is a great kiwi exhibition and they have several unique animal experiences – I got to pat a Lion a few years ago.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    9:- Visit Weta Workshop.
    Get an inside peek into Wellywood at The Weta Cave in Miramar – it is the multi-award winning special effects workshop set up for filming Lord of the Rings. Did I mention that I was in one of those films as an extra? It’s usually my party piece. (Nb: image is unrelated, but of my gorgeous, tousled haired nephew.)

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10:- Pop around the harbour to Petone.
    Not only is the train ride stunning as you skim the sea, Petone is becoming a real foodie hub with fantastic cafes and restaurants. We popped into Comes & Goes for an exquisite array of brunch dishes.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I do have a little disclaimer to sneak in – the weather in Wellywood can be extremely tempestuous and living there you soon learn to walk sideways, but with the fantastic vibes, the bohemian underbelly and really friendly atmosphere it is well worth a visit. And on a sunny day? The city is utterly unbeatable!

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    An InLinkz Link-up

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    Orbit 360° Dining – Restaurant Review – SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand

    “You spin me right round, baby right round” Ahem, sorry.

    In my experience over the years, restaurants with amazing views have more often than not have low quality food. There have been a few exceptions; Hutong at the Shard, Duck and Waffle brunches and Peninsula Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel. It seems as though the restauranteurs know they can get away with this because the view is so beautiful and restaurant goers are usually tourists who have money to burn and won’t go back any time anyway.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand

    Sorry, grouch over. The Auckland Sky Tower is totally different (and that’s not just national pride kicking in). I’d been there a long while ago for their sumptuous buffet, but my sister visited a couple of years ago and pronounced that it hadn’t lost any of the quality.

    So, when arranging to meet up wth Ngaire @ KiwiFootprints (she moved back to New Zealand from London a while ago, much to my dismay) we bandied about a meal overlooking the beautiful Auckland skyline, and booked into the rotating Sky City Orbit 360° Dining in the Sky Tower with gluttonous glee.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Truth be told my sister and I ran a little late – there was the slight problem of being stuck at the base of Rangitoto Island (a dormant volcano) that we had surprised ourselves by hiking, so a little later than planned and just as the sun began to set we sped across Auckland Harbour.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Sky Tower used to be the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the 23rd tallest tower in the world

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (Sorry, I’ve learnt over the years that I’m not very good at writing straight up restaurant reviews – my experience is so coloured and brought alive by the company I keep and the reason that we are there, so not recording those details would be like a song without any music aka a dude thumping into a drum and shouting ‘nice food!!’. This conjures images of George Dawes.)

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I met Ngaire (or Na-gar-eeee as she usually gets called – her name is a beautiful Maori name pronounced ‘Ny-ree’ and means silver fern in the original Hawaiian) back in London, when we were both expats struggling to meet nice people. And thanks to a little stalking over the internet we became friends and got up to all kinds of fun before she booked in an epic journey back to New Zealand to be nearer her family.

    Oh right, yes, dinner. Having quickly changed our shoes, applied a little face paint and put our glad rags, we met her at the base of the Sky Tower.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our meal was delicious. From my starter of Duck liver parfait, smoked duck ham, duck confit roll and doris plum chutney, to Ngaire and Alice’s chicken to beef and right through again to my duck breast, each dish was executed with delicacy and panache.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My dessert of Cheesecake with a twist, served with orchard apricot and lime fruits, cheesecake cream, oat crumb was ridiculously good…

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …and Ngaire demonstrated the delicious deconstructed Jaffa cake – a chocolate sphere filled with orange and chocolate.
    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    By the time we left, satiated and content, the sun had completely disappeared and the Southern Lights were sparkling above our heads. The lighting inside was subdued to make the most of gorgeous 360 views, so apologies for the image quality. I just had to share this.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We stopped to look over the lit up harbour, and stopped for a quick selfie.

    Orbit 360° Dining - Restaurant Review - SKYCITY Auckland, New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A perfect night.

    What is your experience of restaurants with a view?

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    That time we went out for brunch and accidentally hiked the Rangitoto volcano crater

    Nothing seems to surprise my husband anymore. I must come out with ridiculous scenarios so regularly now, he doesn’t even lift an eyebrow. Case in point, when I video called him from New Zealand. (He knew I was in NZ by the way, my whereabouts haven’t become that surprising. Yet.)

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    “How was your day?” ‘Good thanks, we went out for brunch with Ginni and Alice, and then hiked up a volcano crater.’ “That’s nice dear. It rained in London today” (sic)

    Not only does my bestie/bridesmaid/co-mischief legend Ginni lives a good 8 hour drive away from Auckland where I happened to be hanging with my sister for a couple of days, but for me to then tell him that after bunching and sending Ginni back to her Auckland office, my sister and I decided to hop on the Rangitoto ferry in Auckland harbour and explore a dormant volcano only made him laugh.

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We began the day with hugs and a breakfast array at Federal & Wolfe Cafe in the viaduct (and it was scrumptious). Us Kiwis are rather obsessed with brunch (no surprises there for readers) and we hoovered up pretty well every crumb from our plates.

    Escorting Ginni to her nearby office, my sister and I then both looked at each other and shrugged about what we would do that day. I had my laptop in bag for an afternoon of freelance work, and we kinda tossed the idea around of going to a museum. Somehow (see the first paragraph) we found ourselves boarding the ferry for the colonial town of Devonport.

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Only a 12-minute ferry ride away from the central business district of Auckland, “tthe picturesque historic village boasts stunning views of Auckland city unseen from any other location and a number unique attractions.” We simply wandered through the misty, sleepy streets before settling in for a wharf side coffee.

    So far, so normal.

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    An hour or two later we boarded our ferry connection to Rangitoto Island.

    The 5.5 km wide island is an iconic and widely visible landmark of Auckland with its distinctive symmetrical shield volcano cone rising 260 metres (850 ft) high over the Hauraki Gulf. Rangitoto is the most recent and the largest (2311 hectares) of the approximately 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. Created by a cluster of several small volcanoes around 6,000 years ago, the most recent Rangitoto eruption is thought to have occurred around 550 years ago – and considered dormant for the most part.

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Rangitoto is Māori for ‘Bloody Sky’, with the name coming from the full phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua (‘The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua’). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka (canoe) and was badly wounded on the island, at a (lost) battle with the Tainui iwi (tribe) at Islington Bay.

    Hopping onto the island ‘train’, a tractor with padded seating, we were spared the hours of trekking through the pathways and taken around a fair amount of the island to a spot where we could start to climb the boarded walkways to the crater.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Stopping to admire the view, sip on our bottles of water (kindly advised to buy before we got to Rangitoto by the Devonport ticket guy) and admire the breathtaking views, we probably took around 20 minutes of trudging up the well kept stairs wrapping around the summit of Ngā Pona-toru-a-Peretū Scenic Reserve.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Best decision we’ve ever made.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A number of Māori myths exist surrounding the island, including that of a ‘tupua‘ couple, children of the Fire Gods. After quarreling and cursing Mahuika, the fire-goddess, they lost their home on the mainland because it was destroyed by Mataoho, god of earthquakes and eruptions, on Mahuika’s behalf. Lake Pupuke on the North Shore was created in the destruction, while Rangitoto rose from the sea. The mists surrounding Rangitoto at certain times are called the tears of the tupua for their former home.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Mr Kiwi and I often jokingly bicker about which the best place in the world is, but I know the truth in my heart.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pausing to drink in the incredibles views back over Auckland and around the Hauraki Gulf, we slowly made our way back to the train. Wearing polkadot flats and hauling around my laptop wasn’t the best hiking gear, so we couldn’t take in the beautiful tracks around the island and wander through the lava tunnels and caves.

    Instead we just sat back and clutched our seatbelt as the train jerkily drove over tracks and pathways created through the lava rocks. We listened in as our guide told us all about the island and soaked up the sunshine.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My country is amazing.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Unfortunately our return ferry ran a fairly late, but one of the day trekkers waiting on the pier with us who had cellphone reception just called Fullers who apologised and came to pick us up.

    Auckland Day Trip Rangitoto Island New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Top Tips:

    • This is definitely do-able as a day trip from central Auckland – just make sure you time your walk to the ferries. No-one is allowed to stay on the island overnight.
    • Take water, snacks, suncream and wear sensible shoes. Polka dot flats are ok for what we did, but it limits where you can explore.
    • Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the moment.
    • Chat with the ticket people at Fullers, they are really helpful.

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    Rangitoto Island Auckland Day Trip New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

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