| An Autumn Holiday |

We took the boys on a mini holiday over ANZAC weekend.

We spent a day in Queenstown, watching boats, climbing trees, and buying wine.

We did our first whole-family walk up Mt Iron (the littlest one made it all the way to the top; the biggest faceplanted onto a rock and is now sporting an impressive black eye), scootered alongside Lake Wanaka, and climbed things we thought we couldn’t climb.

We recharged our batteries, ignored much of the outside world, enjoyed the autumn sunshine, and returned home feeling rather relaxed.

It was blissful.



Tales of {NZ} Travel: the journey so far

Tales of NZ TravelAs I’ve been writing about the various places in New Zealand that we’ve visited, it suddenly occurred to me that some of you may not be able to visualise where this this journey is taking you. As I picture our country and map out a route that makes perfect sense to me, you might be left scratching your head.

Well, dear reader, wonder no more! Here is a very badly edited* map of New Zealand for your viewing pleasure.

NZ MapSo far, we’ve gone bush in The Catlins, eaten delicious seafood in Invercargill & Bluff, admired stunning landscapes in Fiordland, been adventuring in Queenstown, journeyed through Central Otago, relaxed in Wanaka, explored the rugged The West Coast, and enjoyed wine and sunshine in Nelson-Marlborough.

Now that we’re at the top of the South Island, we’re going to jump islands and tiki tour around the North Island, before heading back over the strait to visit the east coast of the south.

*I usually use PicMonkey to edit images, but it seems to be having a wee barney with the laptop at the moment. Sigh. Paint it is then.

Tales of {NZ} Travel: the journey through Central Otago

Tales of NZ TravelThe journey from Dunedin to Wanaka or Queenstown takes you through a variety of little towns and landscapes. By car, it takes between three and three-and-a-half hours, unless you decide to stop along the way. It’s a journey I have been on countless number of times, but one I never tire of.

From Dunedin, the first little town is Waihola, a sleepy lake town that has a holiday-feel all year round. It’s a popular place for boaties, and during the summer months, the lake teems with people, jet skis and boats. There’s a small fish shop where you can buy fresh salmon and blue cod, or freshly-battered-and-cooked fish and chips (best eaten on the shore of the lake, as long as it isn’t windy!).

Teeny tiny Tiny - aged 19 months

Teeny tiny Tiny – aged 19 months

Past Waihola, the next place you could stop is Milton. Most people don’t stop here, but if you feel like Subway, by all means do. Of note is the big kink in the road, which is apparently from roadworkers’ planning to meet in the middle, from either end, and each working to their own right side. Otherwise, poor Milton gets a bit of a bad wrap from Dunedinites, mocked for its slogan, “Town of Opportunities”. Because it’s not, sadly.

Lawrence is a pretty little town along the way; stop for giant ice creams at the first dairy you come to, or for delicious teas and cakes at The Wild Walnut Café. Legend has it that a pair of circus lions were once on the loose in Lawrence, plus it lays claim to being New Zealand’s first free Wi-Fi spot – phoar!

After Lawrence, you’ll drive for about an hour before hitting Roxburgh, the next most-likely place to stop (aside from Ettrick in the autumn, for deliciously sweet pumpkins). Unless you’re travelling through on a Sunday, you should really stop for a world-famous Jimmy’s pie, although there are a few other takeaway joints further down the main street. Roxburgh is also a good place to stop and let the kids stretch their legs in the playground (conveniently located opposite Jimmy’s).

Not far past Roxburgh is Alexandra; you’ll know when you’re approaching as the hillsides suddenly become full of schisty rock formations and wild thyme. Known affectionately as ‘Alex’ (and why not?), there are loads of nice cafes and bakeries along the main drag, as well as a few in the town centre. Look out for Jack Frost lurking in the corner of the playground. During September, there’s the annual Blossom Festival, and the summer months see local tourists flocking to holiday homes and camping grounds in this dry, hot paradise.

Merely ten minutes from Alex lies Clyde, a sleepy township that is slowly growing and gaining in popularity. The old township was flooded when the Clyde Dam was built, and lies deep below Lake Dunstan. The Post Office Café has a great reputation and is a good spot for taking children, and there are a number of gorgeous old buildings to be seen.

Lake Dunstan

Teenier tinier Tiny – aged 4 months

The drive from Clyde to Cromwell is breathtaking, and never fails to take my breath away. As you wind along beside the vividly-coloured lake, the mountains open up before you, and the hills to your right become parched and dry. The lake is a popular spot for water skiing and boating, and there are sheltered bays for swimming in. We often stop at a bakery or the supermarket in Alex, and have a picnic lunch in one of the viewpoints above the lake.

Cromwell is landmarked by the giant fruit (and one year, when there was an infestation, with a giant wasp), and is known for it’s beautiful stone fruit during summer. However, if you do stop for fruit, don’t go for the biggest, busiest stalls – the best fruit is to be found in the little stalls (some still with honesty boxes), or on the back roads (the best cherries are on the back road to Bannockburn!). Cromwell is home to a new speedway, and is a good halfway point between Wanaka and Queenstown.

At the main T-junction, turn left to head towards Queenstown and Bannockburn, or right for Wanaka and Hawea.

Bannockburn is home to some of the country’s best (in my opinion, anyway!) wineries, along with stunning vistas. You’re spoiled for choice here, but we always stop at Carrick (they also have a divine restaurant with an awesome kids’ menu), Mt Difficulty, Amisfield, and Desert Heart.

Mt Difficulty WineryA new cafe has recently opened in Bannockburn – The Kitchen Bannockburn – and while Tall found the menu a bit confusing, I liked that they were open to making virtually anything for kids (except for deep-fried anything).

From Bannockburn, it’s roughly an hour to Queenstown, depending on how many stops you make along the way – for wine, cheese, bungy jumping, sightseeing, jet boating… My personal recommendations for wineries are Peregrine and Chard Farm; Gibbston Valley is by far the busiest at any given moment, popular with tour groups and big buses, but apart from the wine cave, I don’t think it’s worth the stop (although they do make a mighty fine – but very expensive – Masadam cheese which you can buy from the Cheesery).

BannockburnIf you choose to go right at that T-junction, you’ll be in Wanaka in roughly 45 minutes. There are wineries to stop at on the way (Aurum does a lovely dessert wine; The Lazy Dog has a nice cafe), as well as various other sights; you’ll also pass through Luggate which is a quiet (very quiet!) little spot with a camping ground that gets packed over the summer months.

{Review} Breastmates Nurture Top

Regardless of where your thoughts lie on the “breastfeeding in public” spectrum, it is a subject which always causes a stir. I’m not about to start a debate here (y’all are welcome to your opinions, but this is not a discussion about that, ‘kay?), but I will say that when a mum feeds her baby in public, the last thing she wants to do is flash everyone. She wants to be discreet; for her sake, for her baby’s sake, for everyone’s sake.

No matter how old her baby is: 15 days old, 15 weeks old, or 15 months old.

Pickle will be 15-months-old at the end of September, and he is still a very enthusiastic breastfeeder. I’m lucky; I’m surrounded by incredibly supportive family and friends who don’t bat an eyelid when I nurse my almost-toddler. However, I’m starting to get the “isn’t-he-too-old-for-that?” looks if I feed him when we’re out, and sadly, it makes me self-conscious.

Lovely Franny from Breastmates sent me one of her delicious new nursing tops (from her own Bump’n Boob range) to review, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. While Pickle is (sometimes) easily distracted from needing his milky drink during the day, there are times when we’ve just got to feed. The Nurture top is so discreet; there’s no lifting up or pulling down. It has side access, which means there is very little flashin’ of the flesh. It doesn’t look like a breastfeeding top, which is a bonus, and I know I’ll continue to wear it when my boobs are my own again.

Breastmates Nurture Nursing Top

Every mum – brand new, or more “seasoned” – needs nursing clothes in which they feel comfortable and pretty (because let’s face it, being a stay-at-home-mum ain’t glamourous, so we have to make ourselves feel good somehow, right?!). The Nurture top definitely fits the bill. It is incredibly soft, beautifully designed, and a great fit. It will flatter every stage of breast fullness and belly roundness – during pregnancy and the course of mum-and-bub’s breastfeeding journey.

Breastmates Nurture Nursing Top

I love the way it drapes from the detailed neckline, the snug sleeves, and the elasticated hem – you can adjust where the top sits on your tummy or hips, which is a huge plus. I love the feel of the fabric, the colour is simply divine, and the fit is spot on. The design is so clever and thoughtful; you can tell Franny designed this with her mum hat on.

IMG_3881Outfit details: Breastmates Nurture Maternity and Nursing Top (in slate grey), black Doosh pants (which are probably 12+ years old and still firm faves), After the Rain blue leaf skeleton earrings
Awesome backdrop: the mountain ranges of Queenstown (Coronet Peak ski field is  to the right, out of shot)

The first time I ventured out on my own with Tiny, when he was about three weeks old, I rang a friend to ask her where I could breastfeed in the city. If I’d had this top, I wouldn’t have worried about any of that – feeding a screaming, over-tired, reflux baby would be a dream with the Nurture top. It allows for fuss-free feeding, which is so important when your little one is fussing!

(While this top was provided to me for the purpose of review, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.)

For the first time in aaaaages, I’m linking in with beautiful and stylish Kelly for


Tales of {NZ} Travel: a family holiday

We’ve just been on a little family holiday.
A week away from work, internet, kindy, the humdrum of everyday life.
A week of four-in-the-bed lie-ins, frosty mornings, lazy afternoons, relaxed bedtimes.
A week of reading, playing, wine drinking, too much eating.
It was just what we needed, after a hectic winter, and I feel like my soul has been refreshed a little.

Frost in Wanaka Warbirds & Wheels Museum Warbirds & Wheels Museum Warbirds & Wheels Museum Lake Hawea Playtime Upper Clutha River Gibbston Valley Masadam Cheese Sandpit Fun Queenstown Lake Hayes Springtime at Lake HayesBeanbag Perch Giant Hand in Wanaka Pairs on Wheels Card Game Autumn in Wanaka

Tales of {NZ} Travel: Queenstown

Tales of NZ TravelQueenstown. Adventure capital of New Zealand. The place high on every tourist’s ‘Must Visit’ list, and well-worth this status. It is a place I have visited often, as a child when my grandparents had an old cabin at the camping ground, and now with our own children. Living just over three hours away makes Queenstown – and indeed all of Central Otago – a regular haunt. Lucky? I think so 🙂

Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown is nestled on the shores of this bitterly-cold lake; various boat tours operate throughout the year, with the most famous being the TSS Earnslaw.


Gondola and Luge
A ride in the gondola affords stunning views of Queenstown and her mountains, while the views from the top of the hill are breath-taking. There’s a luge track which is hugely popular; Tiny went on a couple of runs with his daddy and liked it, but I imagine he will LOVE it in a few more years.

1980  Queenstown  January (14)

The gondolas have changed a little since 1980…

Queenstown is best known for being an outdoor playground; the skiing is fantastic, the whitewater rafting is thrilling, and the bungy-jumping is still going strong. There are walking tracks of varying levels, most within a short drive of the township. On a more sedate level, the Queenstown Gardens are pretty to wander through (or play frisbee-golf in), and the shopping is good.

Wine Touring
The Gibbston Valley is home to a number of very good wineries and vineyards; Chard Farm, Peregrine and Amisfield are among my favourites. You can pick up a wine map at any information centre in Central Otago and do your own tour, or book yourself onto one of many organised tours.
A short drive from Queenstown, this gorgeous little settlement is a highlight of visiting the area. A former gold-mining village, Arrowtown has retained its quaint charm and slow pace. The breakfasts and pastries at Bonjour are divine, and there are some lovely galleries to visit. My favourite time of year to visit Arrowtown is autumn; the colours are so beautiful, and a walk around the Arrow River is lovely with the golden leaves fluttering down on your head or crunching underfoot.



The Kingston Flyer
If, like us, you have a train-obsessed child, it is worth driving to Kingston and buying tickets for The Kingston Flyer (warmer months only). This beautiful old steam train chugs along from Kingston to Fairlight; the mountains loom high above, and the sheep graze alongside. It’s not a cheap outing, but the look on Tiny’s face when he saw the train was priceless, and therefore it was worth every penny.

IMG_0444IMG_0451We’re heading back to Queenstown for a holiday soon (our wine stocks are terrifyingly low!); it’s a great spot in which to recharge the batteries and forget about “real life” for a while.

Things I’m Loving

Our batteries have been recharged after a wonderful four-day mini-break in Central Otago.

I grew up holidaying in the area with my aunty and her family, and it’s one of my favourite places in the country.

The mountains, the poplars, the weeping willows; the drive through the winding Manuka Gorge; the views as you drive alongside the Clyde Dam and Lake Dunstan; the hills dotted with vineyards; the fruit orchards; the ruins of gold miners’ huts.

We stayed at a “quaint” motel in Arrowtown; loving spending the days playing tourist.

We met up with friends for lunch at Carrick Winery; loving good food and good wine enjoyed with good friends! (Thanks so much for coming across to meet us, Em xxx)

We rode the gondola in Queenstown; loving tacky touristy photos!

Tall took Tiny on the luge; loving my hesitant boy’s bravery!

We ate divine French breakfasts at Bonjour; loving authentic French pastries and coffee!

We visited Chard Farm and Amisfield; loving delicious New Zealand wines!

We rode on the Kingston Flyer; loving being moved to happy tears upon seeing the excitement on Tiny’s face when he saw the train!

We had two sleeping boys on both the journey from and to Dunedin; loving the chance to talk to my husband uninterrupted!

Linking up with Meg and other loving lovelies