Laurie Eats Sometimes-New Zealand Edition

Welcome to my first Food Post. In this edition, I’ll highlight favorite meals and treats from around New Zealand.

We had lots of great things to eat while visiting New Zealand but these are some of our family favorites!

We enjoyed a very fun and entertaining meal thanks to the extremely outgoing staff at The Shucker Brothers restaurant, located in the ferry building in downtown Auckland. We had gnocchi, calamari, oysters, prawns, fish cakes, ahi carpaccio. Absolutely delicious!

We thoroughly enjoyed brunch at Yonder in Queenstown. We especially loved the Blueberry Stack and mouthwatering Lamb Flatbread (craving it now!)with a beet spread!

In Queenstown, we stopped into Patagonia Ice Creamery for a sweet treat-a dipped mint ice cream bar, covered in white chocolate and sprinkles. Mmm.

You wouldn’t expect such high quality food in the middle of the woods but it’s here at Pio Pio Cafe in the Milford Sound Lodge. We especially enjoyed the Arancini 4 ways, the venison and the goat cheese croquets with honey (pictured here). It was washed down nicely with a bottle of Fiordland Sauvignon Blanc!

We had seafood chowder multiple times while touring New Zealand but we think the best one was at Slip Inn in Havelock (which happens to the the green-lipped mussels capital of the world). Delicious!

Another place that surprised us was Redcliff Cafe in Te Anau. Everything was good but the venison was especially outstanding!

Lastly, it’s the Christchurch, New Zealand based company Cookie Time. I don’t know how good their cookies are but their mascot, The Cookie Muncher, is very cute and you will see and small the shops and cookies everywhere!

It seems that if you love spicy food or are craving really good Mexican food, you won’t find it in New Zealand. However, there is seafood galore, delicious Sauvignon Blanc, plenty of game and burgers the size of your face!

Stay tuned for the next Laurie Eats Sometimes

Bay of Many Coves Resort-Picton, New Zealand

This stunning sunrise picture was taken by Harry on our first morning at the beautiful Bay of Many Coves Resort in Picton Bay. (I woke up about 10 minutes too late to see this amazing sunrise in person!) We had 2 great nights at this resort. More on the resort in a minute…

So, after our wonderful stay at the Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets, we drove about 3 hours over to Picton to spend one night there before heading to the Bay of Many Coves. The drive was lovely and we drove past sheep and wineries.

On our way to Picton, we stopped at the Slip Inn Cafe in Havelock (the green -shell mussel capital of the world) for their famous green lipped mussels-they also had delicious seafood chowder!

We booked a last minute one night stay at the Picton Waterfront Penthouse Apartment through This apartment was totally fantastic, affordable and in a superb location overlooking the harbor! It was the perfect place to stroll around and chill out before more chilling out even more at the resort! Score!

We drove to Karaka Point Reserve (simply by chance) to kill some time before catching our afternoon water taxi to the Bay of Many Coves. It was really cool!

In Picton, at the harbor, we caught our afternoon water taxi to the Bay of Many Coves. We were on the Cougar Line, which not only transported us to the resort but also delivered bags and foods along the Queen Charlotte Track as well as pickups from private homes.

We loved the amazing view from our 2 bedroom cottage.

When we weren’t just relaxing in the room and soaking up the views, we hiked to a waterfall and kayaked. We soaked in the cedar soaking tub, fed fish, saw lots of birds, seals, dolphins and a stingray. We also took a nighttime hike to see glow worms-super cool!

We took a water taxi back to Picton after 2 nights at the resort and then drove about 1/2 hour to Blenheim.

We had time to kill before our flight from Blenheim to Auckland so we checked out the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center. It was a really well done exhibit of Peter Jackson’s collection of WW1 aircraft and artifacts.

Then it was off to Auckland before the next leg of our journey!

Next up…Brisbane, Australia

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest National Park but I can’t imagine a prettier one!

It’s about a 6 hour drive from Christchurch. You will see fabulous and diverse New Zealand scenery. Everything from rivers, mountains, rolling hills, forests, sheep, farms and of course, some very windy roads all packed into one day of driving.

Abel Tasman is located on the north end of the South Island and it is famous for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, which will take you up and down through native bush and awesome beaches and all along your walk, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views.

The coast track is well marked and easy to follow. It’s also very popular and you must book the campsites and huts in advance!

You can get information on fees and bookings along the coast track here.

You can also stay at accommodations that aren’t on the coast track but close to the hikes and kayaking. (This is what we did.)

There are a variety of places from backpacker friendly options to luxury homes etc.

We stayed at the Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets for two nights. Three nights would have been even better!

We loved the cute chalet (we had a two bedroom) with outstanding views! Our host, Rodger, was wonderful and took care of everything for us from booking our kayaking adventure, making our morning coffee and eggs to order at breakfast, recommending places to eat and things to do.

This was the view from our chalet at sunset the first night.

We were pretty happy!

The next morning, we were picked up at 8:30am for our combination kayaking, lunch, hiking, beach and water taxi adventure. We got so lucky with the weather!…smooth water, blue skies and temps around 60 degrees.

We used Marahau Sea Kayaks company for our guided day in Abel Tasman and we chose the “Abel Tasman Platter” option. This worked out perfectly for the four of us.

After a safety demonstration and some kayaking tips, we loaded up the very heavy 2 man sea kayaks onto the trailer.

We kayaked about 3-4 miles (about 2-2 1/2 hours of nonstop kayaking) out to Adele Island, which is a wildlife sanctuary with cool looking limestone rocks and green water. We kayaked around the whole island and saw fur seals and tons of birds.

Next, we headed north to Observation Beach. We beached our kayaks and had lunch with our guide, Jazz.

After that, we set off on our own for an hour and a half walk to Anchorage. This was an easy walk with gorgeous views and a beautiful beach at the end.

Tip-bring water and wear sunscreen. Wear a hat, good walking shoes (which you will store in your kayak while you kayak barefoot) and wear pants or shorts that dry quickly because your butt will most likely get wet. You will be given a dry bag to store your important stuff and some of us wore a waterproof windbreaker provided by Marahau Sea Kayaks. We did not need any bug spray, which was great!

Here we are walking to dinner with the chalets in the background. And a picture of the amazing sunrise from the chalets!

Off to Picton Bay and the Bay of Many Coves Resort next…

Queenstown to Christchurch -8 days in a Campervan

Have you ever taken a campervan around New Zealand? You might also call this as an RV or a Motorhome…but in New Zealand, it’s called a Campervan.

And, if you want to stay overnight somewhere, you can stay in a Holiday Park. (Or see rules on freedom camping)

Holiday parks usually have electricity, water, dump stations, showers, laundry, kitchens and playgrounds.

Some are actually kind of fancy too. Maybe stellar views, hot tubs, cabins, a TV lounge, game room and cool amenities for the kids etc.

If you require electricity and are traveling during peak season, you need to make reservations at your desired destination. Otherwise, wing it. (The girls were completely shocked at my “wing it” approach as this is totally not my usual style!)

You can find holiday parks and their descriptions here:

Holiday Parks New Zealand

Top 10 Holiday Parks

Freedom Camping

We rented our campervan through Maui but there are several other options available. You will also see a lot of Britz campers on the road. For younger couples, you should check out Jucy.

We explored the North Island by Campervan several years ago and we loved it! We knew we wanted to come back and do the South Island as well.

Our first stop was Te Anau. This was about a 2-3 hour drive from Queenstown.

We stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park there. It was very nice, clean and just a short walk to the beautiful lake and the center of town.

The next morning, we ate breakfast, did dishes, secured everything and headed to Milford Sound. This is about a 3-4 hour drive depending on stops.

We arrived at Milford Lodge-our home base for the next two nights. We had a nice spot in the trees and purchased the Campervan Package, which worked out great!

After Milford Sound, we decided to ditch the rain and cold and head to the east coast for warmer and sunnier temps! We did a power drive for about 6 hours to Dunedin.

The Holiday Park was older and not my favorite but it was good for a stunning one mike beach walk to St. Clair’s Beach. We ate Italian food for dinner at the Esplanade.

Staying in Dunedin can be a good choice. People love the fact that it’s a college town, it’s a larger town of over 100,000 and the downtown has great architecture. It’s also known for its beaches.

After Dunedin, we headed north towards Oamaru, which would be our home for the next two nights.

About 1/2 hour south of Oamaru were the Moeraki Boulders. These round rocks are concretions have been exposed from shoreline erosion. They are fascinating and worth a stop!

In Oamaru, we stayed at The Harborside Tourist Park by the harbor. We chose this small park for its proximity to awesome stuff. (Not to mention the fact that it was spotless!)

The Steampunk Playground -right next door might just be one of the coolest playgrounds ever!

The harbor is practically just out the door. One evening, we listened to the small blue penguins and their cute little noises but only saw part of one peeking out from under a boat. (Normally, when they aren’t molting, there are hundreds to see here).

We enjoyed an awesome pizza dinner at Scott’s Brewery one night and lunch at The Galley. Both were a short walk away, (less than 5 minutes).

We really loved the super cool Steampunk HQ. Definitely worth a trip and make sure you put in the $2 coin to “run the train” at the entrance.

Walking around downtown was charming!

Our last stop in the campervan was Christchurch. On the way, we stopped in Timaru to stretch our legs in the lovely botanical gardens and have lunch at Speights Alehouse.

While in Christchurch, we stayed at the Top 10 Holiday Park about 7 km from the airport. They really packed us in like sardines though and and it was kind of unpleasant. (But a speaker with our favorite bossa nova music playing, a game of cards and a nice glass of local sauvignon blanc made it all better!)

I will give the place kudos for the clean showers and tidy common kitchen areas. And-the main reason to stay there is if you are dropping off or have just picked up your campervan in Christchurch. Convenient location!

Taking a campervan around New Zealand is very different here than in the US. Lots of people take campervans, not just retired people! Campervans of all sizes are everywhere-especially the hot tourist spots of Queenstown and Milford Sound.

There are tons of places to stay, many well marked areas to just pull over and picnic and even designated campervan parking in towns. It’s so campervan friendly.

You just bring your clothes and food and you can get everything else included for you when you rent it. (Bedding, dishes, pots and pans, outdoor table and chairs etc.) So simple right?!

Tips– a few other handy items to bring are your toiletries, paper towels, paper plates, trash bags, cleaning wipes, deck of cards, Bluetooth speaker, air freshener, shower shoes, earplugs and coins/soap for doing laundry. Bring long underwear or something warm to sleep in and to wear for cold mornings if traveling outside of summer. Also, use easy to stow soft sided luggage or duffel bags-space is limited in a campervan!

Cons– you are sometimes in close quarters with other campervans. Some travelers are slobs and leave bathrooms and common areas a mess. You have a lack of privacy and if it rains a lot, well, I hope you like together time!

We originally were talking about 2 weeks in a campervan. Lola talked us out of it and said we would be sick of each other. She was kind of right! 8 days was good-more would have been too much close family time!

You can easily spend a few weeks in a campervan cruising the South Island. Or, you can do a combination of campervan, hotels and apartments like we did on our almost 3 weeks in the South Island.

Anyway you work it out, you won’t be disappointed in New Zealand. It’s really amazing!

Have fun and remember to keep left!

Milford Sound-it’s actually a Fjord!

Milford Sound, often referred to as The Eighth Wonder of the World, isn’t a sound at all. It’s a fjord. It sits in Fiordland National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is a geographical distinction between a fjord and a sound and I’m going to tell you all about it…

Psych! I’m not going to try to explain that but you can check out these links for in depth information!

Milford Sound

World Atlas

After our lux stay in Queenstown, we picked up our Campervan (our home for the next 8 days) in Queenstown and headed to Te Anau, where a lot of people stay or stop before heading to Milford Sound.

We stayed in Te Anau for the night and and were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the lake the next morning.

I’d say we were pretty lucky because the skies cleared for our drive up to Milford Sound and it was spectacular!

The recent snowfall made it even more beautiful. Every time I thought the drive couldn’t get any prettier…

These pictures don’t even come close to capturing how beautiful the drive was!

We weren’t expecting this huge tunnel-Homer Tunnel on the road to Milford Sound. Work began on the tunnel in the 1930s by a couple of men with pick axes and after delays during WW ll, and because of an avalanche, it was opened in 1953 and it’s 1.2 km long.

It’s pretty amazing!

We weren’t expecting bus loads of tourists either! My tip-take the early cruises on the sound to avoid the bus loads of tourists.

Fun tip-3 short honks by the bus driver means that you better stop taking selfies and get your butt on the bus because it’s going to leave!

Another thing we were not expecting were all of the Kea Birds. These clever and rather large birds were everywhere. They are the world’s only alpine parrot.

There were other birds too-like the Weka or Maori Hen. This flightless bird seemed to enjoy the company of the Keas and it is about the size of a chicken.

Milford Sound is wet! I thought we might get lucky with the weather for our cruise, but no. It has an average rainfall of over 250 inches, making it the one of the wettest places in the world. The odds were not in our favor!

We stayed at the Milford Sound Lodge at one of their Campervan sites.

I took this picture on our second night. I thought it looked like an ad for Maui Campervans! (We chose the 6 berth model so we could keep 2 beds made full time and then have the table in the middle for games and meals.)

The restaurant at the lodge, Pio Pio was well run and delicious! Goat cheese croquettes, arranchini, venison and salmon were our favorites!

When we booked our stay at Milford Sound Lodge, we selected the Campervan Package which included our breakfast, Southern Discoveries Milford Sound Cruise, lunch on the boat and admission to the Underwater Observatory (which was pretty cool!).

We stayed 2 nights and loved our dinners at the lodge as well. It was all organized and very easy!

We cruised Milford Sound on the Southern Discoveries boat “Lady Bowen”. It had the capacity for about 100 passengers but was only about half full so that was really nice.

The weather was misty and cool but I guess that was good because we saw so many waterfalls. Tons!

And we even went right under some, stood under them and got soaked. Pretty fun!

It’s nicknamed a “Glacial Facial”!

The boat crew were all super friendly too! We got to see fur seals and Southern Bottlenose Dolphins during our tour.

Cruising Milford Sound reminded us a bit of cruising the Inside Passage in Alaska only this was better.

What an adventure! I’m glad we traveled here!

Queenstown- New Zealand

Stunningly beautiful! Queenstown is truly remarkable!

Queenstown is a resort town on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s located in the region of Otago and has fantastic views of The Remarkables Mountains. Incredible!

Flying into Queenstown was pretty amazing. The mountains were huge and seemed to go on for miles and they were very close to the plane! This picture doesn’t begin to capture how cool it was flying in.

We stayed right in town in a penthouse apartment on Shotover Street. We didn’t need a car because we could walk to everything!

This is the view from our apartment. Not bad huh? From the hot tub I felt like I was on an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous-remember that show with Robin Leach?

We are suckers for cute mountain towns so naturally, we love Queenstown! It reminds us a bit of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s fall here and the colors are gorgeous!

We had a really nice walk around the Queenstown Gardens with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu.

This cool bronze fern sculpture greeted us at the entry to the gardens. The Fern is a symbol associated with NZ-it’s on the dollar coin and used by the rugby team, the All Blacks.

There are lots of opportunities for extreme adventure in Queenstown -jet boats, zip lines, bungee jumping and even extreme play-grounding…

We found our own little bit of excitement…

During our walk around the gardens, Lola got a major nosebleed. (Of course, I had removed my pack of Kleenex from my purse that morning.)

A passerby gave us some napkins, which was very nice of her but not enough for the gusher that was developing.

We continued the walk and ahead of us, they were filming a TV show. Proving that New Zealanders are super friendly, a medic (cute with the amazing accent btw) from the set gave us gauze and helped Lola out. We totally appreciated it!

Lola doesn’t care for birds much. Imagine if this South Island prehistoric giant Moa bird still existed…yikes!

The Kiwi Bird is a national icon of New Zealand. (Luckily, isn’t this big!) It has hairlike feathers, is nocturnal and can’t fly. We haven’t seen any this trip but we did see some several years ago when we visited Te Puia, Rotarua on the North Island.

Harry and Helena walked up the Tiki Trail to The top of the Skyline Gondola. It’s about an hour hike up the mountain and they rode the gondola down from the top of Bob’s Peak. They loved the incredible views!

Harry felt pretty welcome in town too!

Yes! We would come back to Queenstown in a heartbeat!

Next up…getting the campervan and driving to Milford Sound.

Auckland day trip-Hobbiton

Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans will love taking a trip to The Shire!

We drove from Auckland to Matamata to visit Hobbiton. It’s a long drive-so be prepared! It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get there.

The drive takes you through beautiful farm country and then rolling hills and finally you arrive at Alexander’s Farm just outside of Matamata. It really is absolutely stunning…rolling green hills, sheep, beautiful trees…it’s totally The Shire!

We had a tour with about 20 other people. You aren’t allowed to wander around The Shire unattended but you have time to explore and you get some good trivia from your guide.

We stayed and did the buffet lunch and even had a drink at the Green Dragon!

We consider ourselves pretty big fans as we’ve seen all the LOTR movies and read the books but some people were even more into it!

If you are a fan, I highly recommend making a day out of this trip to Hobbiton!