Showing posts with label travel in New Zealand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel in New Zealand. Show all posts

Welcome to Whakapapa - It’s Snow Time at Aotearoa New Zealand

It’s Snow Time at Aotearoa New Zealand 

Kia Ora,

Apa kabar semua? 

Welcome back to and let’s continue our adventure here in New Zealand. This time, I have a little story about how us, the Frakarsas, enjoys winter time in the land of the long clouds.

This year is the second winter we have here in the Kiwi land. Yet, last year’s winter was a but fuzzy and blurry as we had so many things going on in July- September 2022. I somehow remembered cold, wet winter days last year, which is not too different from now. However, this year we manage to drive up North to see the snow and enjoy a bit of fun out there.

On our way to Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park

So on one long weekend, we drove to Tongariro National Park and went to Whakapapa, a ski area in this beautiful place.It took us 4 hours to drive there and we decided not to stay over night in Ruapehu, the nearby village. After that long drive, welcome to Whakapapa - it's snow time at Aotearoa New Zealand !

We got our ticket for 1-hour sledding in Happy Valley, Whakapapa. The ticket for the 4 of us cost NZD 89.54, including taxes and surcharges.

Got our ticket and we were ready!

Obi and Bo were excited, as the last time we played in the snow was back in New York City. When we arrived, it was foggy and rainy, yet we managed to enjoy riding our sled and go up with the magic carpet ride. Bo actually wanted to try the snowboarding but we were a bit late due to the traffic up to the Whakapapa ski station. Well, fog and rain are not helping.

Bo posing with his sledding board

Yet, we arrived and directly got our ticket at the machine. After that, we went down to the Happy Valley (What a perfect name for the place :) ) and lined up to get to the area for sledding

There were three lanes we could use and it was again fun to play in the snow, screaming around and hitting the snow piles. One hour flew fast and although we wanted to continue, it was too cold and freezing already. So, we called it a day and just wrapped it up the same time as the Happy Valley was about to close.

Cardrona, A Unique Stop at South Island, New Zealand - South Island, Here We Come

As we continued the trip in our South Island, New Zealand road trip, here's one of the special place I'd like to share to you all.

To those who have been following the stories of our travel recently, you know that we had a road trip starting from Christchurch to so many cities along the way to the southern part of South Island Aotearoa New Zealand. Some of the cities we visited include Akaroa, Fairlie, Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook, Twizel, and Cardrona, then down to Wakana, Queenstown, Invercargill, Bluff, Balclutha, The Caitlins and Dunedin. A lot of cities indeed and we were 11 days on the road!

Anyway, on our way down from Mt. Cook area heading to Queenstown, we stopped at Cardrona. Cardrona is famously known as the ski-resort area dotted with amazing landscapes and slopes, with historic spots deriving from the gold mining era in this region. 

We drove here from Twizel, after enjoying our remarkable stay near the Aoraki Mt. Cook area and tasting various delicious salmon plates.

Welcome to Cardrona

We didn’t really stop for a long time in this city but we managed to stop at Cardrona Hotel and one unique stop, Bradona.   

Cardrona Hotel is one jewel in the middle of picturesque valley, famous for its rustic and charming setting as well as historical episodes, originating from the gold rush era in this area. 

the story goes back in 1863...

I have to admit I was so intrigued to see what's inside the hotel. Imagine throwing yourself on the gold rush era, starting from 1863, while people were flocking from different corners of the world and tried their luck. Having this hotel as one of the hubs, I can imagine the merry and colorful stories from those episodes of history.

Obi and I in front of Cardrona Hotel and its antique car.

We didn't stay here and although I was originally planning to sit down for a quick coffee or tea, we were already behind scheduled and tired. We managed to take quick pictures in front of the hotel and even when I tried to get some souvenirs, the shops were closed for a while. Well, just our luck. So we skipped enjoying this unique hotel and hopefully we will get a chance to visit this place again. 

There is an Olde School House next to the hotel and we managed to have a quick look as well here. 

Judging from the name, perhaps it used to be the school building back in the days. But now, it becomes shop, art gallery, and artisanal hub where we can get souvenirs and merchandise.

I just love this green corner

After a quick photo at Cardrona Hotel and the surroundings, we stopped at Bradrona.

the panoramic snap of Bradrona

Beautifully placed in the middle of picturesque valley of Central Otago, between Wanaka and Queenstown, the fences in Bradrona were packed with hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of bras serves as a great reminder about the importance of taking care of ourselves and at the same time spreading the awareness about breast cancer.

Many left their bras with some writings and notes on it, telling a little story and where they are from. Some stated the countries they were originally from, some shared stories about the fight against breast cancer, others wrote the memoirs of their loved ones. So much love in there. It really warms my heart.

Posing with Obi at Bradrona :)

As a breast cancer survivor, I feel like this is the spot that I should not miss while visiting the area. Bradrona is not just a quirky place where people put and left their bras as a form of solidarity to breast cancer survivors, but it also signifies the strong support and love to all cancer fighters. In the reel that I have shared in my Instagram account @insav, you can see more of the place. 

There is a box for donation for New Zealand Breast Cancer foundation @pinkribbonnz so you are welcomed to contribute to the fight against breast cancer as well.

the donation box at Cardrona

Btw, World Cancer Day 2023 is celebrated in February each year. So when I stopped by here at the end of January and witnessed the overwhelming support to breast cancer fighters and survivors, I feel so blessed that I have received so many supports, help and assistance from my friends and family. Lucky me indeed. And hopefully, in the future, there will be more breakthrough in cancer treatment so we can witness the world with less or even with no cancer. 

In sya Allah.

Right after Cardrona, we stopped by at Wanaka and relaxed at Lake Hawea, and even briefly enjoyed Lindis Pass. Will get back with more stories on those marvelous places.

will get back to you on this...

Lake Tekapo continued and Twizel - South Island - Here We Come

Kia Ora..

Hope everyone is fine and I would love to continue our trip to the South Island.

So far, I have shared some of our trip to Christchurch, Akaroa, Hooker Valley, Lake Tekapo, and Queenstown. I certainly still have so many cities and beautiful spot to share here.

Let’s go explore more of Lake Tekapo, shall we?

Frankly speaking, I have so many lasting memories in this place. We might only stayed for 2 nights but there is something about Lake Tekapo. I have always a big fun of amazing natural landscape and here, I felt at ease and peaceful. I guess my family felt the same too.

Coming down to Lake Tekapo area from Christchurch and Akaroa, we spent our first night at Mountain Chalet Motels

Welcome to our room at Mountain Chalet Motel..

We got the room for 4 people, which costs us NZD 245 a night. We love this motel, which more like a chalet and very comfy as well. I guess I will share the review of this place separately.

collage of photos of the Mountain Chalet Motel where we stayed in Twizel

After making a stop at the Church of Good Shepherd by the bank of Lake Tekapo, we also manage to explore the area. I have shared many photos of the Church during the twilight hours and even midnight with the star trails. Since we have to wait until almost midnight to get the star trail and the night photos, my kids and I also walk around the lake.

On the first day we arrived in Lake Tekapo area, we already stayed in Twizel. It took us around 20 minutes to go the Lake Tekapo from our hotel.  We kept coming back to the church of the Good Shepherds as this charming church is really a beautiful landmark in this area. 

We considered ourselves lucky as it was a bit cold and windy so we didn't really have many people flocking around. Or they have visited this spot in the middle of the day when the weather was far more friendly. I tried the water in the lake but it was freezing, at least for me and my kids. So instead of getting into the water, we just strolled around the bank and enjoyed the view.

piles of rocks by the bank of the lake

Weeks before we arrived, the bank of Lake Tekapo was packed with lupins.

It's the type of flower which are typically found in this area and when all of the lupins were blooming, it looked like a tapestry of purple and pink lupin fields. The real name of this flower is Russel Lupin, or Lupinus polyphyllus.  And even though it looks beautiful (and mostly purple, my favorite color!), it is considered as pests!

Too bad we arrived rather late in this area and most of the lupins were gone already. But we still saw a few flocking separately in different spots here and there.

the remaining lupins

cann you imagine when lupis are covering this area? :)

My daughter and I..enjoying the lupins

The next day, before we continued heading to the next stop, we explored Twizel city. It’s the city between Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook, so we can easily go back and forth between these 2 amazing places.

And what we love most is that Twizel is famous for its salmon! 

High Country Salmon is where we stopped by to get our brunch before heading to Wanaka and Queenstown. This cafe is very well known for its salmon dishes, including fishing and catching salmon yourself at their pond. Quite famous among tourists and visitors coming to this area.

By the time we arrived at this cafe, we immediately ordered the brunch as we were quite hungry. I was so tempted to get into their fish shop but the kids and my hubby directly took me to the cafe. 

And this is what we ordered...
Big salmon breakfast and salmon with eggs Benedict.
It was super delicious indeed!
I also ordered sashimi and salmon rice ball and salmon sushi for our lunch later.
Everything was so good feels like you want to get more and more. The salmon was fresh, soft yet very tasty, and it was cooked on the spot.
I was actually thinking to bring home the smoked salmon but considering that we were still on the road for some times, I didn't buy it.

Once we were happy with our salmon - infused brunch, we continued the trip. This time, we stopped by at Cardrona and Wanaka, before heading down to Queenstown.

To be continued...

WW: Queenstown from Above - Road Trip in South Island NZ

Still on my series of stories about the Frakarsas' road trip in South Island, Aotearoa New Zealand and this time I will share some photos of Queenstown, particularly the view from above. 

Many have claimed that coming to New Zealand is not complete without visiting this remarkable city. Queenstown has certainly won many people's hearts due to its remarkable landscapes (one of the mountain areas here is named the Remarkables! ), tranquil ambience, clear blue sky, hiking trails and tons of adrenaline - junkie and back to - nature activities you can do here.

For me, our last summer road trip in the South Island was my second chance to visit Queenstown. Last November, I managed to visit this place and enjoyed some parts of it, amidst the meetings that I have to make  together with my Ambassador and my team.

So this time, when I visited Queenstown again with my family, we ensured that we went to Skyline Queenstown. This is the popular place to those loving adventures, including riding the luges and trying bungee jumping! Well, I skipped the bungy jumping but we all took the gondola up to the higher ground and enjoyed unlimited luge rides!  We did try the Skyline luge in Rotorua back in 2022 but at that time, we didn't take the unlimited one because we went to the Hobbiton, the movie set of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbits on the same day. So, my kids had specifically requested to have more time in the Skyline luge Queenstown and indeed, tt was really fun to do so

These are some of the photos I took up there, on top of Skyline Queenstown, showing Queenstown from above.

Cheers from the Frakarsas

the other side of Queenstown

We certainly had so much fun here, with the whole morning gone with endless climbing up the gondola and go with the luge again and again. We took many pictures as the view from up there is amazing.

Queenstown, or Tahuna in Māori, is indeed beautiful. 

I’ll be more than happy to go back again here, preferably during winter or fall, to see different faces of this picturesque city.

Btw, for our summer adventures, You can see the short video I prepared from the action camera we put on my son's helmet while enjoying the luge ride here in Skyline Queenstown

Join us on (almost) Wordless Wednesday and have fun with the linking party

South Island, Here We Come - Hooker Valley Track - Road Trip in South Island NZ

Hooker Valley Track - Road Trip in South Island NZ 

The roaring sound of water got our attention, as the four of us, the Frakarsas, continued walking on the gravelled track. I looked at my husband and asked, "did you hear that?", with an obvious nod. He instantly took his phone and our action camera while saying,"we're getting close to bridge." And there, in front of us, the swing bridge, beautifully and, at the same time frighteningly, stretched over the valley and the river, was waiting for us. Hooker Valley, we're coming!

Hooker Valley at the mid section of our hike

Let’s continue our trip, after visiting Christchurch and Akaroa as well as Lake Tekapo in the South Island, Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Are you ready?

This time, I will share our stories while enjoying Mt. Cook  and Lake Pukaki area, especially Hooker Valley track.

So ..South Island, Here We Come - Hooker Valley Track - Road Trip in South Island NZ.

Mt. Cook is indeed a famous and must-see landmark in the South Island. Its amazing landscapes, with snow-capped mountains, curvy roads frame with clear blue sky and turquoise water lake, has captivated people’s attention and admiration. That includes the Frakarsas.

Even on our way from Twizel to Mr. Cook, we have been swayed by amazing landscapes along the way. As many others, we stopped in the middle of the road and took pictures! Of course while carefully looking at the traffic and make sure we didn't obstruct it!

We are lucky that when we visited the area the weather was friendly. Not too hot nor too summery, yet it was a bit cloudy but still sunny. As we reached the area, we stayed in Twizel ,- approximately 30 minutes from Mt. Cook and 30 minutes to Lake Tekapo. So it is strategically located in  the middle.

We drove early morning to Mt. Cook as we planned to track and hike in Hooker Valley. It takes 3 - 4 hours return from the parking lot or the starting point to Hooker Lake and back. And we had an amazing hike indeed.

my Nadine and the walking stick :)

happy me on the second bridge.. taking photos in the middle of the swinging bridge 

Let’s take a look at the pictures I took along the way.

the second swing bridge we went through

cheers from the four of us..

We passed 3 swing bridges along the way, with roaring rivers and semi-frozen lakes which are a combination of thrilling walk and magically beautiful views. I was a bit scared as we passed the first bridge but then finally got accustomed and felt a lot more relaxed on the next ones.

So that’s our little story about Hooker Valley and wait for more South Island adventures in South Island, Here We Come  - Road Trip in South Island NZ series.

the pristine nature is so overwhelming