Archive for the 'destination' Category

Katiki Point

March 14, 2013

moeraki lighthouse

Many people visiting New Zealand skip Coastal Otago for the grand mountainous splendor of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago, but from the Waitaki down to the Catlins is one of my favourite parts of the South Island.  It’s only a five hour drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, and there are plenty of places to stop on the way.

One of the best places to visit is Moeraki, but don’t just go see the Moeraki Boulders and eat a delicious lunch at Fleurs Cafe.  One of Moeraki’s best kept secrets is Katiki Point – a short cliff top walk with beautiful ocean views and lots of wildlife.

From Moeraki town center, drive down Lighthouse Road.  There is a public carpark at the lighthouse.  Walk from here through the long grass and fields towards the point.  Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins do nest here, so try and keep your voices low and watch out for holes in the path (Little Blues often build their nest in abandoned rabbit holes).  You can often see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the beach, or standing on the hills around the beach moulting.  There is also a reasonable sized seal colony here and huge numbers of NZ Shags (Cormorants).

Katiki point is also the site of an old Maori Pa.  If you go at low tide you can walk over the rocks to the pa site.


5 ways to spend your Singapore mornings

January 23, 2013

markets chinatown

The day is slow to get going in Singapore… Singaporeans start work at about 9.30am and shops usually don’t open until 11am. The good news is that this means the shops are also open really late – it’s not unheard of for people to go shopping at midnight!

But if you’ve just arrived from Australia or New Zealand, you’ll probably be awake at the crack of dawn.  When you’re in a city for a short period of time, every day is valuable.  You don’t want to waste a minute.

Here are some things in Singapore that you can do during the morning before the shops abnd museums open

  1. Spend a peaceful hour with the 1000 buddhas in the rooftop garden of the Buddhist Temple in Chinatown.  The ground and top floors are open from very early in the morning, and then at 10.30am the other floors open, including a museum.
  2. Find your local wet market and have a walk around looking at all the produce that’s available.  Find a vendor to buy some of the ubiquitous packs of tissues you see everywhere in Singapore.  You’ll need them for #3
  3. Go to your nearest Hawker Centre and queue up with all the Singaporeans buying takeaway food for later in the day. You can have a second breakfast or get something wrapped up to eat later.  It’s a great way to check the Food Centres out before it gets crazy busy later in the day.
  4. Make an early morning trip to Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park.  By the time you get there the park will be open and ready for business.  You can have breakfast with the fauna while all the stores on Orchard Road remain closed.
  5. Go for an early morning walk (before it heats up!) at Macritchie Reservoir or Canning Fort Park, or sneak your way into a hotel to go swimming.

Finding Wilderness in Singapore

January 21, 2013

Macritchie Reservoir

You might think that Singapore is all skyscrapers and shopping malls, but there is a quiet little oasis in the middle of the island called MacRitchie Reservoir that is perfect for an escape from the city one afternoon.  By catching a train and then a short bus ride, you can find the start of a bush walk that takes you on swing bridges across bush canopy, past cheeky monkeys and other wildlife, to a large network of boardwalk around the edge of Singapore’s main water supply and then through a public park.  You will meet lots of joggers and other walkers, but for the most part this 10+ kilometer walk is very peaceful, and teeming with wildlife (we saw monkeys, birds, terrapins and giant water lizards).

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Singapore City Guide

January 19, 2013


If anyone tells you that Singapore is sterile and boring, ignore them.

This cosmopolitan island may have a lot of shopping centres, flash hotels and fancy restaurants, but it also has an incredible local food scene, a rich and multi-layered cultural history, and lush wilderness.  And with a brilliant (and cheap) public transport system, it’s easy to get around and explore.  I spent 10 days in Singapore in November, and didn’t come close to running out of things to do.  I felt really at home and all the locals I met were very enthusiastic about their city.  I think that rubbed off on me a little bit.  I’ll definitely go back.

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Sydney Food Gleanings – The CBD

September 26, 2012

It can be expensive eating in the Sydney CBD.  If you’re travelling through Sydney and are spending time in the city, but don’t want to have to eat greasy food court fare, here are some of my favourite cheap and stylish places to eat within walking distance of Pitt Street Mall.

I didn’t intend for them to all be asian, but that’s how it worked out (the bonus for me is that this makes it easy to avoid gluten!)

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How to travel New Zealand for free

September 3, 2012

New Zealand is a beautiful shape.  It’s not called the land of the long white cloud for nothing.  As NZ Poet Cilla McQueen described it, it’s just a long green spine, sticking out of the ocean.  The country is no longer than 15 hours drive from tip to tail of each island, and only 6 hours across.  As well as offering you beaches and mountains in the same day, it’s this geographical fact that can help you stretch your travel budget while in Aotearoa.

The key piece of knowledge to have about New Zealand is that most visitors travel from North to South.

All you need to do to relocate rental cars the length of the country for free is travel in the reverse direction.

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Sydney Food Gleanings – the Inner West

August 22, 2012

If you are in that part of Sydney known as the Inner West, these are some of my favourite places to eat.  Go on… make a day of it.

Illawarra Road, Marrickville

A simple menu of poached eggs on toast and ploughman platters that changes depending on what seasonal produce is available.  Every time I eat something from Cornersmith, I find myself going home and trying to recreate it – beetroot pickle, pear and ricotta muffins, and quince and clove ice cream.  I think that’s the best compliment I can give this place – the food inspires you to create and to keep eating well.  Try to ignore the hipsters.

Bourke Street Bakery
Mitchell Street (off Victoria Road), Marrickville

More laid back and less crowded than the Surry Hills original.  They have different breads on different days, which encourages our household to mix up our bread buying routine.  My favourite take home treat is the sour cherry and fennel bread.

Addison Road Organic Food Market, Sundays – 8am-3pm
Addison Road, Marrickville

Great chai.  I have a friend who makes a breakfast gozleme here a weekend ritual.  My favourite thing to do is to get a delicious fruit ice block or the really fresh corn fritters and sit on the grass and watch the miniature horse rides.

PHD Vietnamese Restaurant
Illawarra Road, Marrickville

Considered by most to be the best Vietnamese restaurant on this strip.  Especially the Pho.  I’m rating Queyen Restaurant next door lately, too – great vermicelli rice noodle salads.

Zhenghao Restaurant
Enmore Road, Enmore


The only place so far in the Inner West where I’ve found xiao long bao.  The fried lamb dumplings are really just incredibly good.

Black Star Pastry
Australia Street, Newtown

This is where you go in Sydney when you want to buy someone a birthday cake, okay?  This one had sugar balls, roses, figs, quince and pistachios on top.  That many toppings on a cake is just pure decadence.

Everleigh Farmers’ Market, Saturdays – 8am-1pm
Carriageworks, Wilson Street, Everleigh

You can eat for free here with all the different tastings on offer.  Don’t be shy.  The smoked trout with pickled red onion is my favourite.  You will meet all the dogs and see all the flowers.  It’s that kind of market.

Big Brekky
Stanmore Road, Petersham

Their french toast is so big I have nicknamed it cake toast.  Great corn fritters and a fantastic big breakfast that has merquez sausages, potato gratin and a pear relish that I just want to order as a side on everything.

Girl in Papatowai

January 8, 2012

One of my favourite places in the entire world is a place called Papatowai in the Catlins, south of Dunedin. We spent Easters there when I was a child, and I still love to visit whenever I go back to New Zealand.

papatowai estuary

This part of the South Island coast has rock pools and tide pools, an estuary that drains out at low tide, South Island Rata that hang low over the sand and old growth Totara. It’s one of those places that you go to stay and not leave. Just get out your map, drawn a circle around where you are staying and go out explore a very small part of the world – climb your way around rock pools, walk up and down the coast, wander across the estuary in zig zags like the spoon bills that live there, sit inside by the fire.  Eat good food, go to sleep and then get up and do it all again.

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