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    5 Day trips from Christchurch, New Zealand

    Once you have had your fill of exploring Christchurch (and drinking the cracking coffee) there are 5 places you have to make a day trip of whilst at the tip of the South Island.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Crowning the list is one of the top railway journeys in the world – the Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.


    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.

    Descend through thick stands of native beech forest to your
    destination, Greymouth – a great base for exploring this unspoiled
    region with its mighty glaciers, wild rivers and famous Punakaiki
    pancake rocks.

    I couldn’t put it better myself!

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    We unluckily ran into a few problems insofar as a hour into the comfortable 4 hour train ride (we breakfasted on Afghan biscuits and sipped Flat Whites – oh how I adore being home) an elderly gentleman drove over the train tracks ahead of our train but sorely misjudged the timing.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The train couldn’t slow quickly enough, hitting the car and damaging the locomotive engine. Luckily he was absolutely fine, walking away just with shock, but it
    meant we were transferred to a coach for the remainder of our trip to
    Greymouth. Ironically enough my Uncle had recommended getting the
    Transalpine train one way, then catching a coach to see a slightly
    different view of the incredible scenery.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The view no matter what transport you take is breathtaking. With winding
    roads hugging the side of sheer moutain sides and running over shingle
    river beds we were entranced.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Due to the short turn around time, once we arrived in Greymouth we just grabbed a sandwich and hopped back onto the coach, but had considered staying the night to pop into the Monteith Brewery and explore the Punakaiki “Pancake” rocks. Next time, next time.
     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.
    I wanted to stay in that Campervan. Imagine waking up to that view! i

    Swim with dolphins or whale watch in Kaikoura
    I have always dreamt of doing this – and sadly foiled at Christmas in Tauranga due to stormy seas, we booked in with much excitement to travel up to Kaikoura (all my kiwi friends will be grimacing with the tourist-yness of this statement) but alas also owing to stormy conditions, our trip was cancelled whilst we were in Christchurch. It will be third time lucky, right?

    Relax in the Hamner Hot springs
    A 90-minute drive from Christchurch is one we weren’t able to fit in (no thanks to our dolphin cruise being cancelled and the operator pretending to have notified our hotel, but hadn’t) but remains on the must-do list. Leyla from Cutlery Chronicles has though…  

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour
    This is more of a half day trip, but beautiful nonetheless. We relaxed in the cliff top restaurant with a coffee and a beating heart (I do not love cable cars) but the view was more than worth the journey.

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Enjoy a beer in Akaroa
    Who doesn’t love a relaxing sunset beer before returning to their hotel for pies a lovely meal?

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Have you been to Christchurch? (ps this is in no way a sponsored post, just sharing a little travel joy we found in New Zealand).

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    10 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Christchurch broke our hearts. 4 years after the 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake, there are still families affected by the violent tectonic shaking and insurance companies running out of budget to get them back on their feet. Everywhere you walk through the quiet city there are reminders of the devastation – a half standing Cathedral surrounded by fallen masonry, orange construction cones barring entry and staircases leading to nowhere.

    10 things to do in Christchurch New Zealand

    On the flip side, the ‘number-8’ wire sensibility – the particularity Kiwi knack for making do and succeeding with whatever
    is to hand (and if you’re a farmer it’s usually 8-gauge fencing wire) – is everywhere. Take the surprisingly beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, the stunning murals painted on the exposed walls of buildings, wire fences set with colourful patterning and the ReStart mall made from shipping containers.

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    New Zealand, Lord of the Rings and confessions of a guilty expat

    The most I had ever seen of New Zealand’s South Island was in Lord of the Rings movies. There, I said it, my guilty secret.

    For all the world that I’ve been lucky enough to travel, I’ve carried a skeleton in my travel wishlist with me that made me ashamed to call myself a New Zealander. Most Brits that I’ve met remark on how Kiwis and Aussies on their OE have explored more of the UK in their (usually) 2 years, than the Brits have in their entire lives. It’s the hometown tourist enigma – why would you want to travel there when it will always be there, right?

    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Pastoral farmland…
    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to alpine mountain ranges…

    Well, New Zealand has two main islands (not to mention a few smaller,
    isolated ones). I grew up in the North Island – as an ex-navy kid we lived in a
    few towns – I guess you could say I was raised with travel in the blood. But,
    despite living for a stint in Wellington, our capital city at the end of the
    North Island and only a short ferry to the South, I had never bridged the gap between the two.

    Yes. Despite hopping to Paris for lunch, exploring a
    continent on the other side of the world, cruising around America and a few
    short trips to Singapore and Australia, I had never managed to explore one half
    of our island nation. Luckily, my passport hasn’t been seized despite this and the Kiwi border agents kept letting me in…

    Nelson New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …tropical islands to…
    New Zealand Volcanoes Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to snow capped volcanic lakes, all in one 2 hour flight.

     Most tourists are told to fly into Auckland before hopping
    to the South Island for the truly gorgeous scenery Aoteoroa is famous for. Compared to the picture postcard magnificence south of the Bombay Hills, Auckland
    gets a rap that it doesn’t deserve, but when we flew home recently, having
    caught up with family at Christmas with a return trip planned in 12 months, our
    surprise short trip on the cusp of Autumn and Winter provided us with an
    unexpected opportunity to discover some of the other half of my home.

    Cardboard Cathedral New Zealand
    Christchurch’s now infamous cardboard Cathedral

    Public transport is a little skeletal in the North Island,
    and whilst it is possible to navigate without a private set of four wheels, it
    makes for much less of an experience in the South Island, where like Skye,
    Scotland, I’m told you want to stop every 5 minutes to admire the ever changing
    view. As an unexperienced car driver and a Mr who doesn’t drive, it did present
    a few problems in a country where car is king. As such we decided to condense
    our trip a little (fitting in more room for family hugs) to puttering around
    the top half of the Island, leaving a few surprises for another time.

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    We decided to make Christchurch our base for the whirlwind
    trip (literally 2 days in Auckland, 3.5 days in Christchurch, 3 days in
    Tauranga and another 1.5 days in Auckland before flying back to London – the joys
    of an annual leave entitlement restriction – hey, can’t complain at
    circumnavigating the globe 3 times in 12 months though!).

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    Still very much recovering from the devastating Earthquake 4
    years ago, Christchurch broke my hear twice – once with the rubble strewn building sites and a second time with the wonderful can-do spirit of city-dwellers, some who still don’t have their homes back.

    Christchurch Earthquake damage New Zealand


    We witnessed a couple of wizards enjoying a coffee, experienced a train crash, had our breath taken away, discovered kindness, ate way too many pies and experienced a touch of disappointment. More to follow soon…

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    Ripe Coffee – an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Speciality coffee in New Zealand is simply booming. And I LOVE it! Inde-Roasters are beginning to pop up everywhere, rocketing up the standards of flavour to be found in our mugs, on our kitchen benches and most importantly fuelling brunch sessions. I mean important work things.

    It’s not often that a caffeine junkie is invited, nay, driven to exploring the hallowed ground that is a coffee roastery. Ripe is a small owner-operator set up just on the harbourside of foodie boom-town Petone, Lower Hutt in Wellington. I do have to make a small confession here. I’m not the only coffee junkie in my family. My Dad mainlines his with as much sugar as he can get away with, my sister takes hers in soft-drink format, but my brother is the worst of us all. He works for Ripe, testing freshly roasted slurps of coffee hot off the roaster.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Out the back is where the magic happens. A mischievous team of roasters cast their spells over selected green coffee beans, in an alchemical recipe of flavour, texture and deliciousness. My bro explained to us in depth the processes they go through to retain complexity of flavour, uniformity of batches and experiments of seasonal roasts that they’re known for. Alas, I hadn’t remembered to pre-load with a cup of Joe so my note taking was scanty at best. Ok, I admit it, I only took photographs.

    Bad blogger.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    So come with me, on a wee tour of their HQ; a scatter of retro design, passion, humour, delicious taste, mysterious brewing equipment, chocolate fish and last but definitely not least, Betsy their gorgeous mobile coffee van.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Their refurbished and modified 1923 Whitmee coffee roaster. Credit.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana


    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Ubiquitious, essential Chocolate fish – a kiwi staple

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    They supply to a growing number of North Island cafes, hotels, coffee bars and home roasters. Just listen to the mouthwatering description of their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe;

    “The coffee is spicy & fragrant, with a slightly chocolatey or nutty
    quality. This washed processed coffee produces a bright & clean
    acidity with subtle peppery notes with lemongrass & tangerine, with a
    medium to light body.

    • Roast Depth: Light

    • Aroma: Rosy, Cardamom, Apricot

    • Sweetness: Preserved Orange, Paw Paw

    • Acidity: Citrus, Clean & Bright

    • Body: Silky & Light

    • Flavour: Peppery, Palm Sugar, Tangerine

    • Finish: Toffee & Honeycomb”

    Yum.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ironically I never managed to photograph any of the coffees we drank over the course of the week I was on the fair shores of Wellington; too busy enjoying that incredible taste, childhood treats and baby cuddles. I wonder how long it will take my nephew to realise what kind of a family he’s been born into…

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Didja think I was kidding about Ripe’s dreamy location?

     Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    There ends the tale of a fortnight in my home (New Zealand). It was with a heavy heart that I left her shores, but a paradoxically a happy one excited to be headed towards my hearth and home in the sprawling urban chaos that is the London I love. Seeing New Zealand’s shorelines disappear slowly from the corner of the
    plane was utterly bittersweet. Every single expat will know exactly I
    mean.

    My trip was short, sweet, wonderful and I was a very lucky girl to be able to spend so much time with my family; a relaxing Christmas, enjoy a day at the beach, enforce hairy-toed stereotypes visiting Hobbiton, realise a lifelong dream feeding a Lion, snuggle my beautiful Nephew and literally take a stroll down a foodie memory lane in Wellington.

    What a country, eh?

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    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites – a delicious trip down memory lane

    You know that thing parents where are encouraged to introduce their children to studying foreign languages are youngsters – their minds are like sponges, they aren’t jaded by the pressures of the world and learning is fun. Well, brunch is the language I learnt as a young, fresh out of High School student skidding along the pavements of Wellington.

    Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Brunch at Fidels with the lovely, just returned Jenna

    I was young, I was poor and boy, was I impressionable. Luckily, and much
    to my parents relief it wasn’t drink (even though I worked in a pub),
    drugs (the hardest thing us architecture students took was caffeine
    tablets to keep up all night to get the work done and attempt to get creative juices
    flowing) or the fire poi dancing I spasmodically did (on weekend
    evenings when I definitely should have been sleeping). 

    Fidel's Cafe - Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    It was however a growing appreciation for creamy Hollandaise neatly
    ladled over golden muffins, oozy beautiful poached eggs and prefectly
    crisped slivers of bacon. The Art Of Eggs Benedict.What is it about eggs
    Benedict, Sweetcorn Fritters and Bacon & Egg Pie that so captures the heart of antipodeans?

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Soho Brown’s – a new to me cafe.

    Is it the ability to rise a little later after a full evening out, and
    eat a luxurious meal with good friends? Is it the perfectly legitimate
    ability to drink pints of ice cold vitamin drinks or champagne? Could it
    be the sheer possibility of eadible joy – muesli? sure! pancakes with
    maple syrup? sure! hamburger? go for it! Or could it just be the
    enjoyment of lingering over a leisurely meal with loads of laughter at
    the previous evening’s antics? I reckon it could also be the divine flat
    whites promising energy and flavour. I’m no expert, but I’ve certainly tried to work out the answer. Practise makes perfect after all!

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    To the left, the kiwi classic Neenish Tart, to the right Ginger Crunch.

    All I do know, is that walking through the streets of Wellington was literally walking a foodie road of memories. The infamous Fidels where we argued the finer points of architectural theory, insane art psychology and where to buy the best paint over Eggs Bene. Midnight Espresso where we spent many a late night, hunched over the best milkshakes trying to work out why our lives were just so random. Espressoholic who had hands down the best Ginger Slice in Wellington.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    Wellington is blessed with a plethora of delicious eateries – especially when you head up Cuba Street – just go hungry.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Espressoholic
    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Midnight Espresso

    And the best hangover/fire poi dancing cure? Satay Kingdom. Tucked down a tiny alley, it’s a place where you think might give you 3 strains of salmonella but native Wellingtonians simply swear by it. It is impossible to get a weekday lunch there if you don’t rock up super early or super late and weekend brunch hours can be even worse. Their Roti Chanai is simply out of this world.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    And a new, rather interesting addition – the Homies cosy teahouse. I’m only disappointed I didn’t get to properly pop in…

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    And when all else fails? Bake your own & take them down to the waterfront on the glorious days of sunshine (where the wind mysteriously dies down) and enjoy the view. My favourites?

    ANZAC Biscuits
    Bacon & Egg Pie
    Fudge Slice
    Ginger Crunch Slice
    Sweetcorn Fritters 

    Lolly Cake 

    Melting Moments (Gluten Free, with Pumpkin Spice Icing)

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    How could you ever say no?

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