Friday, October 9, 2015

New Zealand - North Island Day 6 (Part 2 - To do/see, to stay, to eat)

To do:
Skyline - Gondola and Luge rides
Fairy Springs Road (PO Box 2353), Rotorua, New Zealand

Our first stop for the day is skyline. This place is located minutes away from OGO Rotorua. We took the gondola (cable car) to the top of the hill. From the gondola, we are able to view Lake Rotorua and its surrounds.

We also tried the Luge track. This track has various levels of difficulty which the driver decides which route to take. We choose the intermediate track and its quite fun and more enjoyable then the Luge track at sentosa.

After the race on the track, we headed to volcanic hills winery for some wine tasting.

Other activities to try are the Ziplines by soaring through the tree tops. For the mountain bikers, they have very adrenaline rushing bike tracks. Another fun adventure is the sky swing.

New Zealand

The Te Whakarewarewa thermal valley
17 Tryon Street, Whakarnewarewa Village, Rotorua, New Zealand

We joined an hour guided tour of the village (hangi meal) not included. The guide shared with us interesting facts of the region.

The full  name of the village is Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahao meaning the Gathering Place of the Army of Wahiao.
Area for cooking a hangi meal

I was pretty amazed that even the ground that we walked on is warm (its a very cold day). The highlight of the village is the maori cultural show. It is something that should not be missed and a must to attend. Showtimes are 11.15 am and 2 pm and includes the ferocious Haka (war dance), Waiata a Ringa (action songs), long and short stick games and Poi dancing.

I was able to view the huge Ponhutu (big splash) geyser from the village though not as close up as from Te puia. Ponhutu erupts at least once every hour and varies from 10 - 40 meters.

There are plenty of hot springs and mud pool to view. For the adventurous, there is also a 3 walking tracks to explore. Unfortunately for us, the track was closed to us when we visited. It was indicated that the tracks only require a low level of fitness

To Eat:

Le cafe de Paris - 3 stars, budget 
38 White St, Fenton Park, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand  
Simple cafe decor at Le cafe de Paris

We ordered omelette in 3 fillings (cheese, ham and mushrooms). The serving here is huge. Fortunately, i have someone to share. This dish is at least passable.

Since its a french cafe, our expectations for the croissants are naturally higher (think Paul in Paris). We are quite disappointed as the crust is not very crispy. It is nowhere comparable to what we tried at Ciabatta Bakery. Even the pain au chocolate is bad with the chocolate being hardened and not very rich.

I am not so impressed with this place and it is better to have my breakfast at Ciabatte Bakery again.

Volcanic Hills Winery Wine Tasting Room - 3.8 stars, budget 
Fairy Springs Road (PO Box 2353), Rotorua, New Zealand

This is the first place we tried for wine in NZ and the quality of the wine is pretty good.
I love the fact that the wine tasting paddle is offered for NZ 7.5 - NZ 12.50.

The wine is not sold in Singapore but should you like the wine you can also buy the wine and shipped them over to Singapore. There are various freight options to choose from.

From the tasting paddle, i love the Pinot Gris the most. Its not too sweet and also light on the palate and quite smooth to drink.

KFC - 4 stars, budget 
15 Fairy Springs Road, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand  

I am not very certain if it is this outlet we went for our lunch but the 2 KFC located in Rotorua aren't very far from each other.

Somehow, i always felt that KFC always tasted better overseas. Not sure why? But it sure is finger licking good.

The Brantry - 4 stars, luxury 
45 Rifle Range Road, Taupe 2730, New Zealand  

This place is strongly recommended online so i had to check it out. I certainly didn't expect it to be a fine dining place for dinner and we are pretty dressed down for the occasion. Pretty odd when all the patrons are dressed in their Sunday best. Well, since we are tourists is guess dress code doesn't really apply.

Pricing wise for the ambiance its highly reasonable with entree and mains at NZ$45 for a set meal.
For myself i ordered coconut tamarind prawn tails for the entree and fresh market fish (salmon) for the mains. SO decided on crispy squid with spiced salt  and Eye fillet of beef.

The prawns are pan seared and mixed with mayonnaise with a tinge of curry. Very succulent and flavourful.

Base of the squid is mayonnaise, sausage and vinaigrette and topped with peppered coated fried squid. The pepper flavouring is too strong but with the squid this fresh, i am willing to overlook the overpowering peppery flavour.

Beef is well done but still very tender and juicy.

The fish is fresh and juicy and cooked to medium well. This is a first when a restaurant asked us how we want our fish to be done. The onions that came with it is well sautéed. This dish is served with mashed potato.

I am highly satisfied with this simple meal and all the serving size is just about right.

To Stay:

Hilton Lake Taupo Hotel
80-100 Napier Road, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
The outdoor heated pool to lounge for guests.

The room is quite big and has very comfortable beds. There is a small courtyard with hedges for privacy.

The bedroom

The bathroom is also warm, though i cannot remember if the floor is heated as well.
All amenities are provided including bedroom slippers. This is the only place we stayed that provided this.

There is no free wifi at Hilton. Fortunately, the public areas in the main lobby and near the dining areas have free wifi for guests. Free parking is available at guests own risk. There is secured basement parking at the hotel premises but this comes with additional cost.

Outdoor parking at the Hotel

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