Another Queenstown Adventure

Queenstown has quickly become my go-to travel destination when I’m looking for a getaway that makes you feel like you really got away from home, even though it’s not that far away at all. With its quaint little streets and laneways, and people visiting from all over the world, it almost feels like you’re in a different country.

During winter, Queenstown turns into a bit of a winter wonderland, with its snowy mountains, cold temperatures, and the bustling little town. It was about 2 degrees for the majority of the time we were there, which was a great opportunity to bust out the various beanies and gloves sitting in my draw that don’t get much wear here in Auckland.

Having been to Queenstown a couple of times already (which you can read about here), and feeling well in need of a relaxing break after a busy semester, Mum and I decided to skip the adventure activities and opted for a long weekend of hot pools, wine, and good food.

Our first stop upon arrival was Vudu Cafe, which has quickly become one of my favourite spots for a bite to eat in Queenstown. The coffee is delish, and even though I haven’t tried any of it, the cabinet food is beautiful. On this visit, I tried the vegan samosa which was pretty nice, and huggge.

Of course, a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools was a must. This is such a luxurious, relaxing experience. With beautiful views of the Shotover River, a glass of wine in one hand, and ice cream in the other, this is an ideal way to escape the cold weather.

Whilst in Queenstown, a trip to Arrowtown is always in order too. It’s such a cute little town, with tonnes of cafes to choose from. We sheltered from the rain in the Bonjour french cafe, and had delicious coffee and a late breakfast. I went for the scrambled eggs in a croissant which was the perfect option for me – it warmed me up but didn’t leave me feeling too full. There were little games at each table, which resulted in an inter-table competition. Such a cute little place that I would 100% head back to.

One of the things that we really wanted to do whilst in Queenstown was to find a vineyard where we could have a delicious lunch and a nice glass of wine. We decided to go to Gibbston Valley. I had been here previously and loved it, so was keen to go back. We ordered the Harvest platter to share, which had all the good things on it, and I had a nice glass of Pinot Noir on the side. With its relaxed and cozy atmosphere, Gibbston Valley was the perfect spot to while away a rainy Friday afternoon.

Another trip highlight was our Saturday morning drive to Glenorchy. I had remembered this being an easy 20 minute drive around the lake, but turns out it was more of a 45 minute drive (sorry Mum!). I particularly wanted to go to Glenorchy because of the spectacular views of the lake and mountains, but sadly when we got there, the rain and clouds meant that we couldn’t see much of anything. Instead, we found a busy little cafe called the Sugar Loaf Cafe, where I had the veggie breakfast. Having been opting to eat vegetarian meals more often than not these days, I’ve noticed that decent vegetarian options are lacking in a lot of places, so I was thrilled to see a vegetarian breakfast front and centre on the menu. It was absolutely delicious. When we left the cafe, the cloud had lifted a little, so we were able to get some photos of the scenery after all.

Our final dinner in Queenstown was at the My Thai Lounge. We were drawn in by the lakeside views and numerous pretty umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. The food was all so tasty, and the ceiling was totally gram-able.

Before we flew home, we stopped for brunch at Bespoke Kitchen. I actually found this when I spied a photo of their beautiful food on the Queenstown Instagram story. My orange spiced pancakes were a treat for the tastebuds, the coffee was great (seems that coffee in Queenstown is just good everywhere), and the cabinet food looked amazing. The cafe was so busy that we were only able to get a spot outside in the 3 degree weather, but it was totally worth it. It turns out that Bespoke Kitchen is run but the same people who own Vudu, which totally makes sense, as the menus were kind of similar (different meals but similar in style).

So there you have it – I did warn you that the trip was spent eating and drinking, and having written it all down, I definitely wasn’t wrong. Have you been to Queenstown? Where’s your favourite place to go?

Pancakes at Bespoke Kitchen

My Thai Lounge

Glenorchy

Lake Wakatipu

Harvest Platter at Gibbston Valley

Lake Wakatipu in the rain

Onsen Hot Pools

Vegan Samosa from Vudu Cafe

Advertisements

Whirlwind Weekend in Wellington

A couple of weeks ago, I jumped on an early morning flight to Wellington, for a quick little weekend getaway. The primary purpose of our trip was to visit the Te Papa Museum to see the Gallipoli exhibition, but other than that, we skipped the touristy stuff and opted for a weekend of eating, drinking and window shopping. Here are the highlights:

Gallipoli: The Scale of War Exhibition at Te Papa Museum

Te Papa is one of those “must do” things if you’re a first time visitor to Wellington. It’s a cool museum, perfect for a rainy day, like the day we went. This time we went specifically to the Gallipoli exhibition, which we had heard was amazing, and it absolutely went above and beyond my expectations. This exhibition would be fascinating for anyone, but for those of us New Zealanders who grew up learning about Gallipoli, and commemorate it on ANZAC Day each year, the exhibition is truly worth seeing. I was amazed by how much I learned, how much I didn’t know, and how emotional it made me feel. Truly amazing, and truly worth the trip. I believe it is on for at least another year or two, so definitely check it out.

The Arborist

This popular bar and restaurant was next door to our hotel, so it was the perfect spot for an afternoon wine before heading out for dinner. The decor was very cool, and the menu looked delicious. If we had been hanging around Wellington longer I would have been very keen to come back for a meal. It also has a rooftop bar, but sadly as it was raining, the rooftop was closed when we were there. Next time we are back in Wellington I will be heading back here for a meal and a glass of wine at the rooftop bar.

Neo Cafe

We stopped in here for a morning coffee, and the Whittakers chocolate cake caught my eye, but it was far too early for cake at that time (is it ever too early for cake though?). The cake stuck in my mind all day, so before our flight home, I dragged us back to Neo Cafe so that I could pick up a slice to take home with me. This was the BEST. CAKE. EVER. For those of you who are not from New Zealand, Whittakers chocolate is pretty much our pride and joy, and is the most delicious thing ever. So you can imagine that a cake made from Whittakers is truly delightful. To top it off, it even had salted caramel icing. And I’m not even really a cake person.

Our whirlwind weekend trip totally reignited my love for Wellington, and I can’t wait to get back there asap (mostly for the cake). Are there any places that I need to hit next time?

IMG_3832

Summer in Sydney

Well, I’m back from Sydney and getting back into the swing of everyday life. I read somewhere recently that the third week of January is one of the more difficult ones for people, because for most of us, our holidays are over, the novelty of a new year has worn off, and the reality sets in that we have a whole year to go until the fun of the next festive season. Personally, I found this week a bit of a struggle, for all of the reasons above, as well as the fact that the weather is cold and miserable (must I remind you again that it is the middle of summer here?). Thank god for my little get away over the ditch last week, where the weather was in the 30s the whole time, otherwise I would be feeling severely sun deprived.

Anyway, back to the point of this post, which is to give you a little update on my trip to Sydney. It’s worth me pointing out, that we decided this would be more of a beachy, relaxed holiday, rather than a sightseeing trip, as we had both been to Sydney before and had done a fair bit of the touristy stuff. Where we were staying was in North Sydney, which is a beautiful area with beaches dotted all the way up the coast. We were lucky enough to be house sitting for family, and so we had access to a car and bikes, as well as beach gear like surf boards and snorkels, which meant we could fully make the most of our trip and explore the area (when we weren’t napping or laying on the beach).

I won’t give you a play-by-play, instead i’ll pick out my favourite things and list them below.

Palm Beach – North Sydney

We took a drive up to Palm Beach which is north of the Sydney CBD. This is an absoulutely beautiful beach, with some great cafes, but I’ve got to say, the main draw card for me was the fact that this beach is where the popular Australian show Home And Away is filmed. Whilst I don’t watch this religiously, I’ve been watching it on and off for years, so being able to see where all the magic happens was so exciting, including the likes of the surf club, the lighthouse, the beach and Alf’s bait shop. We had a delicious brunch at The Boathouse, which is built over the water, giving us some beautiful breakfast views. The exterior of the building, is actually the Home and Away “diner”, and if you watch the show you’ll recognise the surrounding scenery too. This is a must-visit location for anyone, but even better if you’re a fan of the show.

Taronga Zoo

It had been years since I’d been to a zoo, and this one came highly recommended, so we checked it out one very hot afternoon. Note to self for future reference, sunscreen and many, many bottles of water are always required on a zoo day.

Taronga Zoo is situated on the side of a hill, looking over the Sydney harbour, and features stunning views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (as well as amazing animals of course). Once you get to the bottom of the hill, you can catch a cable car back up to the entrance, so you don’t have to hike back up the hill after you’ve seen all the animals. This was ideal in the 30+ degree heat.

Surfing at Manly Beach

Manly is well known for it’s surfing, so a lesson at the Manly Surf School was a must. The guys who teach these lessons are amazing. So amazing in fact that they had me standing up on my first try (note that I had literally never been on a surf board before so this was a pretty big achievement). I am now hooked, and can’t wait to go for another lesson asap.

Food

There was so much good food, that I can’t pick a favourite, so I thought I’d give you a quick list of my favs:

Jah Bar, Dee Why

This is a tapas restaurant in Dee Why, which was one beach north from where we were staying. The fish tacos were one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t even like fish that much. We were lucky to be there on Monday which is “Happy Day”, meaning that all day is happy hour, which means extremely cheap food and drinks. We also got a table outside, so we were able to people watch and look over at the beach which is across the road. Definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area.

Manly Wharf Hotel

Situated over the water, next door to the Manly ferry terminal, the Manly Wharf Hotel is the perfect place for a drink in the sun.We ordered a drink from the Jetty Bar which is built over the water, and enjoyed the Thursday special which was $10 steak. You can’t say no to that! If we had had more time in Sydney, I definitely would have gone back here.

Donny’s Bar

Whilst heading back to Manly Wharf Hotel on our last night of the trip, we stumbled across Donny’s Bar. The sound of live music pulled us in, and it turns out that this is quite the popular spot for a Saturday night drink. We sat there for a few hours, enjoying a jug of Rose Sangria and the Barman’s platter. It was all delicious and the singer, whose name escapes me now, was singing all my favourite songs. Wine + live music = my happy place. So glad we found this place, it was the perfect way to spend our last evening.

So there you have it, a list of my holiday highlights. See a few of my snaps below.

What did you get up to over your holiday break? Comment below!

What’s Happening in 2017

Hello lovely readers! It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog for the last few weeks. I’ve been off enjoying the festive season, and a little bit of sunshine when it comes out from behind the clouds, which hasn’t been happening enough considering it is the middle of summer, if you ask me. My holidays were very busy, spent driving around various parts of the North Island to spend time with family and friends. My holiday is taking a pause for a few days while I am back at work, but next week I am off to Sydney to continue my summer holiday, and I cannot wait!

Before I jet off again, I thought I’d check in, to say hello, happy new year, and give you a bit of an update on whats happening with me, and the blog this year.

Life

After my Sydney trip, it will be time to get back to business as usual, and to reinstate my usual routines. Before the holidays hit, I was doing so well with exercising regularly, so my intention is to get this habit back on track as soon as I am back from holiday.

In March, things are going to change a little bit for me, because I’m going back to uni! The thought is exciting, but also quite terrifying, as it’s been a few years since I was last at uni. As I’ll be crazy busy with studying full time, and still working in my normal job, I’ll do my best to keep updating the blog regularly, but if there are times when you don’t hear from me for a while, you can safely assume I am holed up in my room trying to get an assignment done.

Travel

As mentioned above, I’m off to Sydney next week! I’m looking forward to a warm, beachy holiday, some delicious food, and a bit of shopping here and there.

There won’t be any major trips this year, but I’m sure there will be plenty of little adventures to look forward to! There is still so much of this country I need to see, particularly in the South Island, so exploring my own country will be my travel focus this year.

Blog

Can you believe This Girl in Her Twenties is nearly a year old? I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I finally sat down and wrote my first post. I also can’t believe that it took me about three years before that to actually start this blog. But here we are.

This year, I plan to keep posting regularly(ish), with my thoughts on beauty trends, pop culture, travel, life and all that stuff. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve already, but you’ll probably have to wait until I’m back from holiday to see these.

As I said above, this year is a big year for me with returning to study, but I’ll do my best to keep the blog updated as much as possible.

That’s enough of an update from me! Thanks to everyone for reading in 2016, here’s to an even better to 2017.

If there’s anything you would like to see more of on here in 2017, comment below 🙂

Remember, if you want to keep up with me between blog posts, you can follow me on Instagram

20170501-blog

A snap from my Christmas Day

Long Weekend in Queenstown

Recently I took a couple of days off work and headed down to Queenstown, for an extra-long weekend getaway. This was my second trip down there in the space of year, but before that, I had never ever visited in my 25 years of living in New Zealand.

It’s a two hour flight from Auckland, which is pretty far by New Zealand standards (although it probably seems like nothing to those of you who live in large countries), and flights can be pretty pricey if you don’t grab them during a sale, or months in advance like we did. It’s totally worth it though. Queenstown is easily one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

I thought I’d put together a little list of things you might like to do if you ever find yourself in magical Queenstown.

Ride the gondola

For the prettiest views of Queenstown, I would highly recommend taking the gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak. Once you’re up the top you can take in the views, eat at the restaurant, or ride the luge (which is super fun, so I would strongly recommend you give it a go).

Wine tasting

On my most recent trip to Queenstown, we visited a few different wineries for wine tasting. On a beautiful sunny day, there is nothing better than sitting outside, sipping a glass of wine (or three), and admiring the stunning scenery. My favourite vineyard was Gibbston Valley. It was very relaxed, with picnic tables dotted amongst the blossoms – perfect for an afternoon of wine tasting with good company.

Hire electric bikes

If you’ve never ridden an electric bike before, you are in for a treat. These things can get up to 50kms per hour, and are so much fun to zip around on.

We hired electric bikes for a couple of hours and went for a ride around Lake Wakitipu. It’s such a great way to see more of the sights of Queenstown.

Rent a car

Although you could probably do most of the things on my list without a car, renting one makes it a lot easier to get around. The centre of Queenstown itself is very compact, and you could easily walk around the town in less than five minutes. But there is so much to see outside of Queenstown, that really does require a car. You’ve got picturesque Glenorchy in one direction, and Arrowtown and Wanaka in the other. All of these little towns are worth the drive and the scenery along the way is unbeatable.

Note, if you do make the trip to Wanaka (a little over an hour each way), you should definitely stop off at the Cardrona Hotel. This is a fantastic historic pub with a huge outdoor sitting area amongst the garden.

Onsen Hot Pools

The Onsen hot pools are the ultimate in luxury. Located on the edge of a hill, looking over the well-known Shotover River, you will have your own private hot pool for one hour. For a bit extra, you can pay to have wine, ice cream and candles, which makes it all that little bit more special. This is super romantic, but also a fun thing to do with friends.

All the adventure activities

SO MANY ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES. Queenstown is the home to bungy jumping, high speed jet boat rides, paragliding, zip lining and so much more. During our most recent trip, we did a jet boat ride around Lake Wakatipu, which was thrilling and scenic at the same time.

Even with all I have done above, I have only scratched the surface of Queenstown. So much to do, so little time. I think next time I visit, I might have to do a bungy jump.

That’s it for today, I hope you will find my suggestions useful 🙂

I Left My Heart in New York City

When you travel, you gather a lot of memories, stories, trinkets and new friends along the way.

Some places you will love, and some places you won’t want to rush back to. But there will be those few places that keep your heart long after you leave, as cliche as that may sound. The ones that you’ll long to go back to, and that you’ll return to time and time again.

It’s pretty easy for me to name my favorite three places that I have visited (so far):

1. New York City, USA

NYC had always been top of my bucket list. The art, the shopping, the music, the landmarks where Gossip Girl was filmed. So when I booked myself a tour on the west coast of the USA, I just knew I had to fly across the country to NYC while I was on that side of the world. It would have been rude not to.

Within the first day of my trip, I fell in love with New York City, and now when people ask me where my favorite place is, I absolutely always, without a doubt, say New York City. Why? Maybe it was the shopping, the Broadway shows, or the world famous museums that I had always dreamed of visiting. It was probably a little bit of all of these things. All I know is that NYC worked its magic on me in a big way. And I cannot wait to get back there.

 2. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of those places I knew little about before visiting, and to be honest, if it hadn’t been a stop on the organised bus tour I was on, I may not have even made it there.

But I am so happy I did. It is the most beautiful place with amazing castles, churches and cobblestone streets. I spent my days there walking the streets drinking coffee, admiring the buildings, and drinking hot wine at the Christmas markets with great company. When I think back on my time in Europe, I always remember my time in Prague as the best time.

Like NYC, it was absolutely magical, and I would go back in a heartbeat.

3. Melbourne, Australia

Every time I go back to Melbourne, I fall in love with it a little more. Fortunately for me, this city is just a four hour flight across the Tasman, and a perfect long weekend destination. I posted about my most recent trip there here.

It’s cool and quirky, with amazing food, coffee, shopping and street art. The art galleries are fantastic, the beaches are beautiful, and the city just radiates good vibes. I have been there a handful of times in the last few years, and I never ever get bored. I’m already keeping an eye out on cheap flight deals so that I can plan my next trip over.

So there you have it, the three places in this world that I love most of all. Do you agree with these? Where are your most favorite places?

Bali Bliss

It’s winter here in New Zealand right now, which means the weather is freezing cold, there is lots of rain, it is generally uninspiring. 

So what better time than to escape the daily grind for a week of relaxing in the sun, than in the middle of winter? 

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I put away the puffer jackets, dusted off the jandals and flew over to Bali, Indonesia. 

Everybody raves about Bali, and although I had been there once many moons ago as a kid, I was very excited to check it out as an adult, and I was not disappointed. 

What a wonderfully beautiful place it was. It was gloriously warm, and there was so much to see and do. It was also incredibly affordable. I’m talking $6 massages and $2 beers, what could be better??

We based ourselves in Seminyak, and went on some day adventures to other parts of the island. Between the lazy hours spent drinking cocktails by the pool, we explored temples, hiked to a waterfall, visited countless beach bars and ate the most delicious food.

Below are a few snaps from the trip, if you would like to know more about the wonderful Bali, drop me a comment below! 


Tegenungan Waterfall


Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple


Beach bar in Seminyak

Throwback Thursday – Fun in Fiji

Thursdays are all about throwing it back to times gone by. Right now here in New Zealand, it is the middle of winter. And these dreary days have got me dreaming of sunnier times. With this in mind, I’m going to throw it back to exactly two years ago, when I was recovering from a terrible flu, and decided to trade in the rainy Auckland winter for the blue skies of Fiji with four of my girlfriends.

We rented a two bedroom apartment in a resort, and had eight amazing days of sun, cocktails, swimming and all those things you do on an island getaway. It is still one of my favourite holidays to look back on.

Fiji is an amazing place to go if you just want a few days of pure relaxation, where your biggest concerns are which pool you are going to lounge beside that day, and where you will go for happy hour. Based on my experiences, the food wasn’t especially exciting, it was all pretty similar to what I can get here in Auckland, but twice the price.  But hey, you don’t go there for the food.

We stayed at the Wyndham Resort on Denerau Island, and spent our days pool hopping around the various resorts in the area. Absolute bliss. We also did a boat cruise out to Tivua Island.

Check out a few of my snaps from the trip below. Soon I’m going on another winter getaway, and I’m pretty glad about that, otherwise I’d be feeling seriously sad looking at those blue skies.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions for sunny holiday destinations, for anyone looking to escape the winter?

 


Melbourne Exploring

Last weekend I took a quick trip across the ditch to one of my favorite cities, Melbourne. Every time I’m there, I fall a little more in love with the place.

I was there primarily to attend a friend’s wedding, but of course I made time to wander and explore, as I love to do.

The thing I love most about Melbourne is all the little hidden and unexpected gems you come across. One moment you’re shopping in H&M and the next your in an alleyway covered in colorful street art.

So below are a few of my favorite things from my little weekend escape.

Hozier Lane

This colourful lane is hidden away just near Federation Square. The walls are covered from top to bottom in amazing designs. It is an Instagrammer’s paradise.

img_0555

Hozier Lane

Wild Timor Coffee Co.

This tiny little cafe is situated in a quiet area in Carlton, and is a nice little escape from the busy city, even though it is only a few minutes from the centre of town on the tram. The coffee beans are from Timor, and the slice that I had was raw and vegan. It was all delicious. More info about the cafe is here.

img_0531

Wild Timor

Fed Square Book Market

We stumbled across the Fed Square Book Market where we spent a good half hour (and could have spent a lot longer), looking at the thousands of books they had. My favorite was this  little one which included cute quotes like the one below. I’m a sucker for a cute quote. You may recognize this one from the classic Taylor Swift song, “You Belong With Me”.

img_0548

Fed Square Book Market

Something I spotted from the window of Topshop

Lastly, here is one which I noticed whilst browsing in Topshop. As mentioned above, I can’t go past a good inspirational quote.

img_0536-1

Travelling Alone – The Best Thing You’ll Ever Do

If you follow any sort of travel blog, you have probably heard it before – travelling alone is possibly the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself.

A few years ago I went on my first ever big travel adventure, and I went all on my lonesome. Before setting off, I was absolutely terrified, to the point of holding back tears at the airport. But I can tell you now, this was absolutely the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I would one hundred percent recommend solo travel to anyone.

So why is this is such a valuable experience? Below are a few reasons why I absolutely love travelling solo.

The people you will meet

When you’re travelling alone, you have two choices:

  1. Talk to that person and potentially make a new friend, or at the very least, have an interesting conversation.
  2. Don’t talk to that person, and spend the day alone.

Some days, you will be completely happy in your own company, and on other days you will miss the company of other humans. Travelling pushes you out of your comfort zone, to speak to people you might not usually speak to. The people you meet while solo travelling are truly special, because they will be the people that you can look back and share those experiences with. I’ll always fondly remember the Singaporean girl who became the person I explored various European cities with. We were two people from completely different life backgrounds, who bonded over a mutual love for Taylor Swift and coffee.

The people I’ve met while travelling will forever hold a special place in my memory banks.

The things you will do

When travelling alone, no one else can choose how you spend your day, but you. The freedom of choice to do whatever you like, whenever you like, is the best. Feel like spending your day shopping? Then do it. Feel like going to a museum? The choice is yours. Feel like sitting in bed and eating snacks? Do it!

The trip will be full of all the things you ever wanted to do, and none of the things you didn’t want to do.

The realization that you can do anything

Travelling is not always easy. There will be flights that get delayed, tours that aren’t quite what you expected, and days when you just miss home.

When you’re alone though, all that you can do is get on with it and sort it out, one step at a time. You will be amazed at what you are capable of, when you have to be.

The discovery that you are your own best friend

My solo adventures have shown me just how okay I am in my own company. There are many hours and days spent alone when traveling on your own. There will be long layovers in airports, walking through cities, and sight seeing all on your lonesome. As long as you have some good tunes, a good book, and a passion to explore, you will be totally fine.

You will learn to appreciate how rare and precious those moments when you are completely alone really are, without the responsibilities of everyday life.

So go on, explore. Just you, your iPhone and a Lonely Planet guide. Have fun.

 

Yosemite National Park, California