Weekend Away in Winter

The chilly blast of rain, wind and snow blanketing the country has rapidly wiped summer from our minds.  Winter sport fanatics grin ear to ear; summer lovers consider hibernation.  With next weekend the last long weekend until October – yes that’s five whole months away, sometimes it is best to simply rug up and enjoy the change of season.

Queen’s Birthday weekend provides the perfect excuse to head north – little holiday traffic to battle, no queues of people and if you’re lucky clear blue sky days.  In recent years, Russell in the Bay of Islands has provided the perfect winter escape from Auckland.  Heading off Friday lunchtime and even with a coffee stop, you arrive with plenty of time for a walk along the waterfront before dinner.

The Foodie Inc’s Top Picks

Whether your plan is to simply get away and recharge or you’re after an action-packed weekend, you’re spoilt for choice for things to see and do.  Here’s a few of our favourites:

Coffee or wine on the deck at The Duke of Marlborough hotel watching the ferries come and go. The Duke of Marlborough on Russell’s waterfront was granted New Zealand’s first liquor licence in 1827 and offers accommodation and dining too but don’t forget to book for dinner on weekends.

Wharf view from Duke of Marlborough Hotel balcony - June 2012

Wharf view from Duke of Marlborough Hotel balcony - June 2012

Parasail in the Bay of Islands with Flying Kiwi Parasail – getting wet is optional so perfect for the winter months and provides a bird’s eye view of all the islands.

Parasailing between Russell and Pahia  - June 2012

Parasailing between Russell and Pahia - June 2012

Take a cruise out to Piercy Island’s Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett.

Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and enjoy the culture and the fabulous views. You might even fancy a round of golf at Waitangi Golf Club or for a once in a lifetime experience, splash out and head to Kauri Cliffs Golf Course.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds  - June 2012

Waitangi Treaty Grounds - June 2012

View from Treaty Grounds - June 2012

View from Treaty Grounds - June 2012

Bay of Islands Farmers' Market every Sunday from 8.30am to 12 noon in Hobson Ave, Kerikeri and if you’re in Paihia on Thursdays you’ll find many of those same stallholders at the Village Green between 2-5:30pm.

Drive to Kerikeri Mission Station and enjoy a visit to Kerikeri Stonehouse and Kemp House – New Zealand’s oldest building.

Kemp House, Kerikeri - New Zealand's oldest building  - June 2012

Kemp House, Kerikeri - New Zealand's oldest building - June 2012

And on your way back from the Stonehouse, stop in for a chocolate tasting at Makana Chocolate or a vineyard lunch at Marsden Estate Winery.

Marsden Estate vineyard Autumn 2013

Marsden Estate vineyard Autumn 2013

Holiday parks, baches, hotels, luxury accommodation and everything in between you’ll find plenty more information online:

Make the most of your next long weekend.

Michelle

Long Weekend at The Mount

For many, Mt Maunganui, affectionately know as 'The Mount' is synonymous with the kiwi summer, surfing the waves and rowdy New Years parties.  Long after the summer holidays, with little planning other than booking accommodation, we headed off with two 10 year olds in tow.  Our last holiday(s) at The Mount was a very distant memory for both my sister and I so we were open-minded about what to see and do.

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Steps, surf and sunset

The vista from the summit of The Mount after the strenuous 347 steps climb, at times teetering close to the edge, is simply breathtaking – it’s worth the exertion. And while watching the paragliders float effortlessly down from the summit at sunset was quite spectacular, I’m sure they hung around for a little longer simply to enjoy the glorious view before landing on the sandy beach.

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

From the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui and Papamoa to the Hot Salt Water Pools and the Bay Wave Aquatic Centre, water will always be a huge attraction. The kids were excited to have a pool and spa at the apartment too.

The Foodie Inc’s top picks for eating out

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Shopping and Markets

The main strip is lined with fashion retailers, specialist homewares and gift shops and an amazing assortment of eating places to suit everyone’s tastes.  Take time to meander down one side of Maunganui Street and back up the other, stopping for a coffee or cold drink along the way.

Sundays would not be complete without a visit to the farmers market; held rain or shine 9am - 1pm in the main street car park. Stalls crammed with locally grown fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, chutneys, relishes and honey, cheese, fish and meat; and not forgetting the freshly made to order pancakes, hot Cornish pasties and great coffee too.

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

And if you time it right (and we didn’t) the first Saturday of every month is The Little Big Markets. Look out for Food Truck Friday, a new winter event happening fortnightly from Friday 8 May. For more information on Bay of Plenty events click here Little Big Events

Mount Manganui Beach

Mount Manganui Beach

Go on, you know you want a long weekend away, especially now winter has appeared with vengeance! The Mount caters for everyone, any time of the year.  We won’t be leaving it so long to visit Mount Maunganui again.

Michelle

Breaking up the Road Trip

It’s hard to believe that people were still swimming in the ocean over the weekend. Waking to discover a wintry blast blanketing us this morning, an extra layer pulled on, a gentle prod to polish those boots and a timely reminder to put the winter duvet on the beds.

Long weekends away are good for the mind and body, and a wonderful excuse to catch up with friends and family. In New Zealand we’re spoilt for choice for destinations close to home.  A car journey of less than three hours is perfect for a weekend away.  Any longer and you lose too much time travelling; and the kids start to ask “are we nearly there yet” way too many times.

Child friendly stops

When you are travelling with children, inevitably someone gets hungry, wants a toilet stop or simply needs to run around for quarter of an hour so it makes sense to plan ahead to ensure there is somewhere child friendly along the way to break up the trip. 

Heading for Mount Maunganui last Friday we stopped twice on the way down (once on the way back).  Getting out and having a photo taken holding up the giant L&P bottle was something we did as kids too.

The girls holding up the giant L&P bottle - world famous in New Zealand

The girls holding up the giant L&P bottle - world famous in New Zealand

The Goldfields Railway train was pulling in as we stopped for lunch at Waikino Railway Cafe so luckily we bet the lunch rush.  It’s an old-fashioned place with homely fare: thick toasted sandwiches, freshly baked scones, home-made bacon and egg pies and quiches.  The aroma of logs burning in the open fire warmed what would have been the station’s waiting room, crammed with tables and chairs it made for a cosy welcoming place.

Lunch stop - Waikino Station Cafe

Lunch stop - Waikino Station Cafe

Top picks between Auckland and Tauranga

  • Woodturners Cafe, 750m along Highway 2 towards Tauranga from intersection with Highway 27
  • Paeroa – L&P, world famous in NZ
  • Waikino Station Cafe

If you have more time, walking or cycling along the paths through the Karangahake Gorge would make a fun family day out.  Finish with a swim in the natural pools underneath the bridge at Karangahake Domain carpark (near Waikino Station).

Swimming underneath bridge in Karangahake Gorge

Swimming underneath bridge in Karangahake Gorge

Or visit the Waihi Gold Mine – you can walk the perimeter and stretch your legs for free, or tours of the gold-mining museum and working mine are available too. Waihi, Southern Coromandel, New Zealand's Heart of Gold

Waihi Gold Mine - view from perimeter

Waihi Gold Mine - view from perimeter

For what to do over a long weekend at Mount Maunganui, look out for Wednesday’s post.

Michelle