A weekend in Little River

Silo Stay

Little River is a quaint township that lies in the valley at the head of Lake Wairewa, it was a thriving coach and railway stop in its hay day, today, it’s known for being on the rail trail cycle route, its heritage, the art gallery and the quirky Silo Stay accommodation.

Georgia and I have always driven through Little River en route to Akaroa and wondered what the Silo Stay would be like, the concept of 9 eco-friendly apartments, inside a Silo, really intrigued us so we were so excited when we were invited to spend a night in one

Silo Stay

On arrival, you’re greeted by a drop box that you use a pre received code to access the keys for your Silo. You walk into the village of Silos and were like school kids finding their bunks on school camp, eager to see which one was ours. Entering the bottom floor of the Silo you’re acquainted with a mechanics tool box style Kitchen with industrial fittings, a steel spiral staircase and can instantly feel the quality of the award-winning architectural design. The warmth from the heating is like a cabin that had the fire roaring for hours as it’s heated by a gravity-fed pellet-boiler that also provides hot water for the units.

The top floor fits so much into one space, a comfortable bed with word class views of the mountains and overhead you can pop the top up and stargaze as you fall asleep. We enjoyed a bottle of champagne on the private balcony as we listened to music played through a car stereo that’s connected to built-in speakers. Your bedroom shares the shower and basin in the same area. Oddly, the concept works, it’s something you never see but makes total sense for the space. Sounds good? Use our code for $40 off with booking.com shayde35

The Little River Gallery

It’s hard to miss the Little River Gallerywhen you’re driving through town. The unique design of the building stands out and what’s inside is just as much of a treat on the eye. The gallery that’s been owned by the same owner for 20 years is situated on the same site as a sculpture garden, gift store and Little River Cafe that always hums like it’s in the heart of a city.

When we visited we sat down for the best eggs bennie and coffee we’ve had in a while and had the time to relax outside as the town woke up, then head in to take a look around the gallery.

The Little River Gallery is the home for New Zealand talent to showcase their masterpiece and creation. Jewellery, canvas, prints and everything in between can be found here. The Gallery has monthly rotations exhibiting all levels of artists, while we were visiting the talented Lisa Grenell was launching her ‘Fantastic Beasts’ exhibition so we went along for a look. Lisa, for example, lives a humble life on a lifestyle block in Nelson and draws inspiration for her artwork from her animals, creating unique perspex reverse painted masterpieces!

After admiring/browsing for half an hour, Georgia and I went home with a print by Amber Smith and can’t wait to have it framed and up on our wall! We were pleasantly surprised by the two places we visited in Little River and found it to be a place where we can unwind and relax, enjoy each others company and embrace the slower paced atmosphere.

Little River Art Gallery – http://www.littlerivergallery.com

Silo Stay – https://www.silostay.kiwi.nz

Discount code for Silo stay through booking.com – “shayde35”

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Isolation Bay – Georgias Surprise Weekend Away

Isolation bay Tekapo

With Georgia’s Birthday coming up I wanted to do something special for her. It’s been a massive year with losing her mum, her grandad, getting married and renovating our house. I thought about a weekend away with the pooch, but shes just spent 4 months straight renovating with me, there’s so much more she needs than just me: family, friends, relaxation, a change of scenery and laughter.

I was keeping tabs on a weekend close to her birthday and locked in the location of Tekapo with everyone coming as it’s only a 3-hour drive from Christchurch. I got talking to the team at isolation bay and we teamed up to give her the best birthday surprise I could have imagined – and she had no idea what was happening.

I told Georgia on Saturday afternoon to pack her bags because I’m taking her away for a few nights. All she was concerned about was where Frankie was staying! A couple of colleagues from her work helped me organise an additional day to the public holiday off so we could stay two nights.

After dropping Frankie off at her own accommodation at Eyrewell forest en route to Tekapo we stopped at Lake Tekapo Farm Tours where Nicole, Georgia’s sister met us, followed by my sister Ashlee, her partner Dylan and their son Weston, Georgias friend Brooke, Jax and her daughter Blake and my sister Hayley.

Lake Tekapo Farm Tours

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We kicked it off with feeding a few Alpacas and a couple of friendly Merino Sheep, after that we had a tour of the original Mt John woolshed then got in Janes mystery machine and headed in-land to check out the views and history that Balmoral and Mt John stations had to offer. Our guide Jane talked us through the land use throughout the last century and the farms use today. The views along every stop were incredible, my camera couldn’t keep up. The milky blue water which Jane explained was created by rock flour from surrounding glaciers. The glaciers grind rock into a fine dust. This rock dust is floating in the water and causes the turquoise colour you see. I loved stopping at the glacial creek and having a glass of possibly the freshest water. The kids loved this too, Weston and Blake were right in there scooping a few glasses to drink/throw.

Isolation Bay

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The vista that this accommodation offers is like no other, I’ll have to write another post on this alone because I have a lot of photos to share! We were guided there by the lovely Bonnie. As you drive down a shingle farm road toward the isolated bay, you’re greeted by this oversized house that mirrors the surrounds with its giant glass front and wooden exterior. Walking in your breath is taken away by the grand size of the inside and the panoramic views of the lake.

The house was clearly designed to follow the sun, in the morning you enjoy a coffee, soaking up the atmosphere from the front. In the evening you head to the back where you have a BBQ and open up the largest stacking doors you’ve ever seen to create a tunneled view out the front before retiring to the luxury feel in the center of the house where you literally can’t stop looking at the lake and mountains.

The beauty of isolation bay is that it’s designed with families and large groups in mind. Sleeping up to 18 the house is large enough that a large group just seems like a small gathering. It really was the perfect retreat with our family and friends!

Silver River™ Stargazing

This one really blew us away. None of us had been stargazing before so we didn’t know what to expect. Jane, the tour guide from the earlier tour comes backed with years of experience in star gazing, there wasn’t a question she couldn’t answer and they were being fired at her from all angles once we all got behind the telescope.

The views of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the moon were really something else! I’ll be doing this again and I really hope with Jane because she was so helpful and enjoyed a good laugh at all the different reactions to what we were seeing. The groups favourite was, of course, the moon because of the detail but my sister Ashlee was VERY impressed by Mars. There was even a shooting star to top the night off.

We had the most amazing time and it wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the company of our friends and family. I recommend you check out the places above because they really are the perfect example of what makes Tekapo so special.

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Road tripping in the Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

With all the renovations we have on the go at the moment, we were well overdue for some time away. Where better than Queenstown to spend the weekend away!?

Cockram Nissan mentioned that they had a new Nissan Qashqai N-TEC on their yard and we were lucky enough to take it for a spin on our weekend away. We both have hatchbacks and have traveled the central road many times with my parents living in Te Anau, so driving an SUV on this road was well received.

Nissan Qashqai

 

A QUICK RUN DOWN ON THE NISSAN QASHQAI

It’s an SUV that isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. It’s the ideal commuter for people that need convenience and space, but still want to look the part so basically Georgia and I.. Sleek LED daytime running lights that pack a punch in the dark with an aerodynamic very easy on the eye body and 19″ Alloy wheels. The panoramic roof makes traveling more exciting and creates a spacious atmosphere.

Competitively priced, you’ll be safe in the Qashqai with Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Driver Alert and 360-degree around-view cameras. Load up in a flash with an interior that adapts to any situation, which we all know is just what renovators and people on the go need! Wherever you’re going, you can get there safely knowing Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies have got your back.

Nissan Qashqai

HOW’D WE FIND IT?

Driving from Canterbury to Central Otago in winter is always interesting. This time the temperature was -4 degrees and we saw more than 8 crashed vehicles across the Lindis Pass. We felt extremely safe in the Qashqai with its blind spot warnings and driver alerts. I especially enjoyed the roof, traveling for 4-5 hours in a car soon feels like you’re in a box, however, the Qashqai’s panoramic glass roof made a huge difference and I didn’t feel that fatigue you usually get from long distance driving.

Nissan Qashqai

Georgia is often bribed out of the car for a hot coffee in Tekapo (hates the cold) so the heated car seats meant we could have more photography stops along the way – happy husband! When in Queenstown, we had to find our accommodation, generally this would involve an argument, a U-turn, and a phone dieing. We used the inbuilt nav that displays via the centre display and also on the driver’s dash it prompts the lanes coming up and directions – extremely handy!

The Nissan is the perfect size vehicle for us, we had Frankie in the back the previous night with the boot liner that Cockram Nissan put in for us and then neatly packed our luggage in the back on the way down to Queenstown.  The boot can even be customised if you have groceries so you only have half the floor compartments to use to avoid the rogue pasta sauce and eggs playing corners from slipping out of the bag.

Nissan Qashqai

Another feature we made full use off was the 360 cameras when parking, and the assisted park. Now I’m off a farm so can back and park like a pro using my mirrors however I’m not going to turn down the precision parking that the Qashqai can do itself.

The one feature that we missed was Apple Car Play, having an Apple watch and an iPhone it would have been nice to sync them up, but it still has Bluetooth that you can control from the steering wheel so no biggy!

The Qashqai well and truly impressed us both. Georgia was impressed most with its comfort and leather finishings and I enjoyed the additional features like stationary braking instead of having to put your foot on the brake, the panoramic roof and the aesthetic of the exterior.

See the Nissan Qashqai in action on our Vlog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15DD-tAlplI

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Cockram Nissan is donating $100 to The SPCA Canterbury with every purchase in June 2018.  If you’re like us and have a pooch, take them in when you pick up your car and get a free boot liner!

www.cockramnissan.co.nz

Traveling on a “vibe” – Auckland

Mudbrick vineyard

When we travel, even to a neighbouring town, we like to soak up the atmosphere and the sites the area has to offer. Because we don’t get the opportunity to be away very often we like to pack as much as we can into our short trips.

On a recent long weekend away with friends in Auckland, we travelled to a few spots that caught our eye either from the road or on Instagram.  We love travelling like this and it always pays off!

Here’s an overview of our trip, based on travelling on a vibe. If you have a holiday coming up, keep reading for a sweet discount code on your next stay with booking.com

Dear Jervois

CafeA good brunch spot is easily the most important start to a weekend in our view.  When you’re with friends it allows you to sit down, have a laugh, some good food and plan out your day.

Dear Jervois is our new favourite in Auckland.  Located in Herne Bay on Jervois Road’s most convenient corner, for parking and right beside the amazing Father Rabbit homewares store! We had a huge sense of home at this location, nestled among villas and funky stores. It’s the sort of cafe your order a muffin before your brunch because there is so much atmosphere to soak up so you want to stay longer (yes I did this). Blacks, whites, rustic lighting and soooo many plants – just amazing!

The menu offers a number of dietary requirements and the most amazing eggs bennie which is always a must at a good cafe. It’s no wonder there was a 15-minute wait after arrival when you see what comes out – Instagram your hearts out folks, there are matcha waffles. We could easily live in this area and we spotted many villas that looked just like ours, Dear Jervois – you’ve won our hearts.Dear JervoisDear JervoisAuckland brunchAuckland BrunchAuckland Gluten FreeDear JervoisDear JervoisDear Jervois


Mudbrick Vineyard and Fenice – Waiheke Island

P1210159While sitting in Dear Jervois we were discussing what we should do for our last day in Auckland. The answer was Waiheke Island, the best call we made all weekend.

Boarding the boat we made a beeline for the bar and then got settled on the top platform of the fullers catamaran. The uber driver on the way there told me to keep an eye out for the beautiful pohutukawa in Devenport.  I see what he was saying, what a photo opp location!

When we arrived at Waiheke we went looking for bikes to hire but got there a tad late so just set off on foot up to Oneroa. We decided we would go check out the beach and then head to a winery for a wine tasting. When walking down the main road I could see Georgia was in love with the place and already looking at day spas and accommodation that her and her sisters can come back to. There is so much to soak up so we earmarked a few places for when we got back from the winery.

On Instagram, we could see that Mudbrick vineyard had amazing views and have heard great things about their pinot gris, so caught a $12 cab out there. Wow – just wow was our first impression.  Think Tuscany blended with untouched New Zealand, this is where we were. We decided to do a few wine tastings which were very affordable and gave us an opportunity to learn more about the local wine from their own vineyard. While sipping on bubbly we walked above the buildings, through a lavender garden and up to the heli-landing where we had 360 views of Waiheke. The story of how the owners set up what is there today is so humbling so do ask about when you are there too.Mudbrick vineyardMudbrick vineyardMudbrick vineyardDevonport AucklandFullers Waiheke IslandWaiheke IslandWaiheke IslandWine tastingMudbrick vineyardLater on, we caught a cab back into the town centre and finished at Fenice. Fenice sits in the heart of Waiheke Island’s main village, Oneroa. An authentic Italian and Mediterranean restaurant reflecting the seasons. We sat down to enjoy a few cocktails, authentic polenta fries and cheeses to finish.

Fenice was the perfect place finish our trip at it was so cosy with a warm and intimate atmosphere.  It actually tied in nicely with the Mudbrick location with the stone walls and plants. For some reason Georgia and I always finish trips away with Italian, it could be the comfort of their food that draws us in.Fenice Waiheke IslandFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeAuckland City


Scarecrow

Photo 6-11-17, 9 56 44 AMScarecrow was spotted by all of us as it was not too far from where we stayed. It’s an urban farmers market, contemporary kitchen and florist, who celebrate the very best of the Auckland artisans. Everything from their kitchen is prepared from scratch, including the stocks and sauces – you can always taste this in food so I loved this place!

While we waited for our coffee we had a look at their farmers market style shelves, you can choose from things such as fresh fruit, oils and honey. They even have their own florist which caters from standard bouquets to event flowers. We love the concept of this store.  It’s humble and so refreshing for a cafe that is among the hustle and bustle of the Auckland CBD.Scarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow store

 

If you’re travelling soon and want to check out spaces like these.  The brunch is on us…

We’ve teamed up with Booking.com so you can save $40 off your next stay.

Click here to book your next trip! https://www.booking.com/s/shayde35

 

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A night out in Ponsonby

When in Ponsonby, you either shop, eat or drink. Home of New Zealand’s finest boutiques and restaurants we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  After a full day of browsing designer boutiques, I went bar hopping with the well-traveled Vanessa Ortynsky.

There are so many bars you can choose in Ponsonby but three of them had a distinct vibe about them that we wanted to check out. Mea Culpa, Fhloston Paradise, and Revelry. The three of them also turned out making sense in terms transitioning through the evening.

Mea Culpa

A well-established name on Ponsonby Road, Mea Culpa is an intimate narrow “blink and you miss” bar. Treasured by locals, it’s obvious that this cocktail bar is Ponsonbys jewel. Stop in after work for a debrief or sit at the bar and enjoy one of the many cocktails their award-winning mixologists can put in front of you. We decided to sit outside in the rustic Mediterranean style setting and soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying a cheese board and my very first negroni. If you’re like me and prefer something drier, ask their friendly staff to surprise you. They ask you a series of questions about what you like.  The drink they come back to me with was an amazing Hemingway daiquiri which was absolutely on point. You’ll see all sorts of people here, most people the staff know by name and then the first timers not so subtly pretending like they know what they are ordering (me) and then the boozy enthusiasts who can taste every hint of whats in the cocktail.

Something that this notable bar doesn’t boast about enough is their sustainability efforts, the limes they squeeze are all used for hand soaps and they try their best to source all fruits and products within 100km of the bar.

 

Fhloston Paradise

We took an uber further up Ponsonby road to Fhlotson Paradise. the nineties inspired bar is everything for a good night out. 90’s bangers and an extensive drinks menu will see you and your friends a good night! From the moment you walk in you see a pink haze muted by dim lighting bouncing off brickwork. As you step inside the pink neon Fhloston lights up the room and the cocktail list is calling. When I think back to this bar I think Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Espresso Martinis.

The outdoor courtyard with the heaters adds for a fun environment and head on inside to cut some shapes and have a boozy night.

Revelry

Finishing at Revelry we got there earlier on so familiarised ourselves with the bar. It was obvious that the quirky decorated bar would fill up as the night progressed so we sat at the bar and got to know the staff’s talents. There was a familiarity between all three bars and that was the exceptional service from the staff, the sense of a family unit and damn they could make a drink!  We had the most amazing shots (the banana my fav). Your cocktail and drinks options available here are endless as their collection is HUGE. After the assortment of drinks I had had I ended up with a glass of Little Creatures Pilsner – turned around and the place was packed.

These bars are a must for drinking in Ponsonby!

 

Checking In – Grand Mercure Auckland

Attending New Zealand Fashion week I wanted to stay somewhere that was more than just another hotel, I looked high and wide for something different and landed on the newly refurbished Grand Mercure Auckland. Located in the heart of the Auckland’s waterfront, surrounded by designer boutiques and award winning restaurants of Britomart, Grand Mercure Auckland embraces all of these elements.

With 207 guest rooms, lifestyle spaces, both ground and top level dining/cafe bar options, Grand Mercure shares an intimate ethnic mosaic of Auckland with every traveller.

Grand Mercure Auckland is the ideal base for travellers looking to explore Auckland city in comfort and style. Greeted on entry by a grand tribal style partition, Oversized gold lighting, a bar and a seating area with a custom made glass feature of birds displayed on the wall by the talented Luke Jacomb.

Killing time before check-in

The hospitable staff on entry made me feel so comfortable, I was early so I checked in my bags and being from Christchurch I was instantly drawn to their complimentary bikes that I spotted walking through their laneway (Custom lane).

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My friend Vanessa Ortynsky and I took a leisurely bike ride to Ponsonby while I waited for my room to be ready. The roads in Auckland don’t accommodate cyclists very well but we made it work and it was a stunning ride all the same.  While in Ponsonby I toured a few homeware stores and visited a few boutiques and cafes with our friend and so talented, Robyn from Anywhere I Roam Photography. As we returned to the city we rode to Britomart and had a drink with the amazing Carmen Huter at Amano in Britomart where there were actually bike parks! On my return, I bumped into the General Manager, Zac Lumsden who welcomed me to the hotel and wished me all the best for my stay and then a very nice staff member assisted us with the returning of our bikes.

While I was away the staff had checked in my bags and moved them to my room which was 3/4 of the way up the building. Lead by a Ferrari red lift and classy halls I opened the door to a suite that had everything for me, it’s like this room was tailored to my style. Black and white offset with greens and yellows, masculine cabinetry and all the complimentary condiments for a comfortable stay (even a Nespresso machine). It was the view that topped it off, a view of the ocean and city, overlooking Britomart and the docking – exactly what I wanted for chilling out in my hotel.

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After a comfortable sleep with quality linens and bedding, I found my way to the gym for a quick morning workout followed by a coffee at the Vue bar and restaurant. This was an amazing way to end my fast-paced NZFW experience, I soaked up the vistas seen from a full glass surround, watching a cruise ship dock and unload whilst enjoying a fresh juice, yoghurt and granola.

I recommend anyone travelling to Auckland stay at Grand Mercure Auckland. A hotel within close proximity of many great local attractions, including Vector Arena, the Iconic Sky tower ANZ Viaduct events centre and Britomart shopping precinct. The Story tellers on entry and fit out will ensure you have the most comfortable of stays. See the video of our adventures here

See my stay 

 

Locations over the summer

2016 was a challenging year for us to say the least.  We had some really great things happen like the engagement and buying our first home, but then some really curve ball things that took us by surprise. The Summer holidays this year were exactly what we needed to hit refresh.

In New Zealand we holiday in the Summer generally from just before Christmas till a week or so after New Years. Shaydens family religiously holiday at Glendhu bay Wanaka, a beautiful bay nestled among the roots of Mt Aspiring and Roy, so many fond memories have come from there. Back here in Chritchurch we decided to have Christmas at our place. There were Christmas crackers, beautiful cuts of meat, duck fat roasted potatoes and deserts to die for… Georgias family really know how to step up when it comes to entertaining.

The whanau

Following Christmas we HAD to catch up with friends, we have the best friends and it had been far too long with the trip to Melbourne and buying our home, December packed with birthdays and events it had been a while since we all got together. Out came all the left overs and deserts on boxing day it was so great knowing that they were helping our waist lines as well as helping us relax haha.

On the 30th we were en route to Wanaka with our friends Myles and Nadia (camping without family this year). We had an amazing time together, copious amounts of alcohol, laughter and banter, it was exactly what a holiday is for! The weather wasn’t full sunshine like most years but it was warm and the rain stayed away so thats all that matters. We decided we would give Roys Peak our best effort and boy was it a stunner, if you are ever in Wanaka we highly recommend it if you have 3-5 hours spare and a good camera. Just be prepared to wait 15 minutes at the top for a pic – there is literally a line haha.

Wanaka is a stunning town and a great alternative to Queenstown if you are are like us and prefer to lounge at the lake and have beers at the camp. Two of our favourite eateries are also in Wanaka, Urban Grind and Federal Diner are worth the trip alone haha.

We popped down to Te Anau to visit Shaydens Parents, Sisters and our gorgeous Nephew. They have the kiwi dream location down there, a big house with stunning views, remote but not too far from the town and wide open spaces. Te Anau is always a great trip, we always bypass Queenstown now because we can’t wait to get amongst the walks along the lake and be in some of the most un-touched land on earth. Our family down there are always a laugh too – we don’t get down enough!!!! We stopped in at Wapati Cafe where Shaydens sister works and the whole whānau ended up popping in haha (must be the local). Shaydens dad had the standard “two hotdogs and sauce” hahaha.

Saying goodbye always sucks because you wish family were closer but we had to head off early to catch Shaydens Nana and cousins in Winton and other grand parents in Gore. It was about 1pm and we were en route now to Mosgiel to stay with Shaydens Mum, step dad and siblings.  It was so great catching up with them too.  It was a stunning evening and they treated us to a beautiful meal at Harbour side bar and Grill in Dunedin.  Was quite nice having time to stop by a few places on our way home like Oamaru …. who knew it was such a nice town haha.

When we finally got home 1720km later we literally crashed haha. having 3 days at home was a great opportunity to take a look at the house now that we are all relaxed and appreciate it…. but we were noticing things like the gardens had big spaces and where Shayden pruned a tree the past owners didn’t paint the fence behind it haha – so It gave Shayden something to do for the next three days.

2017 is looking great already.  It will be dedicated to getting fit and shredding for the wedding. We are also looking forward to whatever opportunities come for Mooch Style!

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Shayden and Georgia