New Zealand


New Zealand – Easter 2011

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This April we were supposed to go to Japan for a 3 week family holiday, but we had to cancel after the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit that beautiful country.  While we are not giving up on the idea of visiting the Land of the Rising Sun as soon as the situation improves, we still felt like we needed a break from our everyday life.  So we decided to spend our Easter break visiting a part of our neighbouring country and booked our flights for New Zealand’s North Island.  We only had 6 nights, and as we did not want to spend all our time driving from one place to the other (especially having our 2 very young girls with us), we narrowed down our itinerary to Auckland, Rotorua and Lake Taupo.

Unfortunately I could not take almost any pictures of the wonderful food we ate during our stay in New Zealand, because the lights at the restaurants were almost always dimmed and the photos would not have come out well anyway… so my descriptions will have to do! 😉

We only spent one evening in Auckland, so we did not get to see much of the city, but we managed to see the beautifully lit Sky Tower that was right in front of our hotel!

Sky Tower

We ate dinner at a restaurant on the Quay called Mecca.  We had:

Trio of dips and olives with warm Turkish pide
Char-grilled Eye fillet on parmesan potato puree with asparagus, roasted vine tomatoes, béarnaise sauce and Shiraz glaze
Crème Brûlée with tuile and watermelon sorbet… YUM!

The next morning we started our drive down to Rotorua.  We wanted to see a little bit of the countryside so we did not take the shortest way… We saw beautiful green landscapes and lots and lots of sheep and cows.

When we arrived in Rotorua, we went to see the Te Po at Te Puia.  Te Po is a Maori cultural experience that includes Maori singing and dancing and the famous “Haka”.

Te Puia

Te Po

The Te Po also includes a typical hangi dinner.  Hangi is a traditional Maori method of cooking that uses the geothermal heat of the area: you can cook meat, veggies and even pudding by putting the food in a pit oven… a couple of hours later, your meal is ready!  And it tastes fantastic and slightly smokey.  We had pork, lamb, chicken and vegetables (potatoes, kumara and pumpkin).

Pork and Lamb Hangi

Chicken Hangi

Vegetable Hangi

After dinner we went to see the eruption of the Pohutu geyser, which was quite impressive all lit up!

Pohutu Geyser at night

It was a very pleasant experience and we all enjoyed it, especially our little girls who were enthralled by the dancing and haka!

On our second day in Rotorua we visited some geothermical areas: Wai O Tapu, Lady Knox Geyser, Waimangu.

Wai O Tapu

Wai O Tapu

Wai O Tapu

Lady Knox Geyser

Lady Knox Geyser



We also visited the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, where we saw some more dancing and another haka.



In Whakarewarewa we also saw a Hangi oven and a Hot Pool used to cook vegetables.

Hangi Oven

In the evening we had a great dinner at the Amora Lake Resort’s restaurant.  We had:

Hot smoked salmon with pear and pine nut rocket salad, white balsamic dressing and melba toast
Beef eye fillet with Yorkshire pudding, creamed kumara and truffle mash, vine tomato and caramelized onion jus
Pineapple tart tatin with orange compote and orange date ice cream.

The following day, Easter Sunday, we went to see the Pohutu geyser during in the day time.

Pohutu Geyser

Then we headed off to Lake Taupo, where we stopped at the Wairakei Terraces, the Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Rapids.

Wairakei Terraces

Huka Falls

Aratiatia Rapids

We also had a little stroll along the lake where 2 nice Easter Bunnies gave the girls a chocolate fish each, courtesy of Taupo’s Council!  :-)

Lake Taupo

That night we had the only disappointing food related experience of our entire stay.  We ate at an Indian restaurant in Taupo called Indian Affair.  We ordered:

Lamb Kebab and Seekh Kebab
Lamb Korma and Butter chicken with pulao
a naan and mango lassi for the girls

We got our lassi and entrees, but it took them more than 1 hour to get our mains out AND the naan for the little ones who by then were exhausted, hungry and crying.  To make matters worse patrons who had arrived after us received their entire meal before us while we were left watching.  Needless to say we were not happy at all as we had to quickly eat our mains and rush out to put the girls to bed!  Very bad service… especially considering that we had 2 very small children with us.

The next day we had planned to go to the Tongariro National Park, to see where parts of the movie “Lord of the Rings” had been filmed.  We drove all the way there, but the weather was so bad that we literally could not see anything… just rain and fog all around us!  Sigh… But we saved our day with the best dinner of the holiday.  We dined at Bistro Lago where the menu has been created by executive chef Simon Gault.  We had:

Ciabatta w truffle & mushroom mascarpone, extra virgin olive oil & Pukara caramelised balsamic
Cream of carrot soup w curry & coconut for Clint and Twice baked blue cheese soufflé served with a salad of pear poached in Dilmah earl grey tea, young watercress & candied walnuts for me
Eye fillet w grilled zucchini, butternut squash fondant & prosciutto roasted green beans
Smoked paprika buttermilk battered onion rings
Caramelized mango & white chocolate samosa, Kensington mango ice-cream for Clint and Chocolate fondant w a cardamom & orange fudge centre served w a chocolate sorbet for me

Doesn’t that sound AMAZING??? I can assure you all that it was as good as it sounds!

The last day, we just drove back to Auckland in the rain and had dinner at the hotel.  We had some nice lamb and a remarkable kumara and feta cheese pie.

We really enjoyed our time in New Zealand and we will definitely be back to see the rest of the country… hopefully next time we will have better luck with the weather! :-)



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  1. says

    Manu, gosh it’s hard to believe you’ve been and gone and back already! What an amazing looking holiday en famille and you all look so gloriously happy in spite of the climes. Lovely looking menus: I love the reference to shiraz glaze, in particular 😉
    Thanks for sharing your travels: need to take note since would love to go there someday!

  2. says

    Amazing trip manu! and all snaps very nice . U and ur family is looking beautiful!! and ur two lovely little dolls r looking soooooo sweet. I like ur all snaps.

  3. says

    Manu! Im jealous what an amazing collection of pictures from you vacay with the family – beautiful family by the way! when I make my way to New Zealand Im gonna try the Indian restaurant you mentioned!

  4. says

    Looks at those pics !!! SO SO SO beautiful :) I remember seeing this dance in hawaii (Polynesian Culture.. to be precise) and it was one fun dance !
    You had fun …

  5. says

    Manu!! What a beautiful post! Your photos are magnificent, you have such a beautiful family. I have never been to New Zealand, It is high on my list of places to visit. The dinner at Amora sounds just wonderful!! Glad you had such a great trip!

  6. says

    Wow! It seems you had an amazing easter. I love volcanoes in general. Your pictures are gorgeous especially the ones from wairakei terraces and the waimangu crater. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures and your story.

  7. says

    Hi Manu!

    I didn’t have a chance to take a look at this page till now. It seems like you guys had a great time there. My friend from Japan now lives in NZ and he sometimes share beautiful pictures. I wish I can visit Australia and NZ one day…..all the scenery looks so gorgeous! Heehee, your kids are so adorable! And you and your husband look cute together. :-) Thank you for sharing!

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