Tag Archives: NZ

7 Fun links

These have been keeping us entertained in our house….

We don’t have Evian water here – our local tap water is fantastic tasting, but it was my preferred water to drink when we lived in the UK.  Can’t imagine buying water now, or even having a preferred taste!

Something else we don’t get here is Britain’s Got Talent – here’s a surprising group…

We’ve been watching Frozen today as it’s just been released on DVD and we missed at the cinema.  Here’s that song…

And just cause every time I hear this song my toes tap and I smile…

And I’ll be making these two ingredient pancakes over the holidays…..

25 April here in New Zealand is ANZAC Day, the day we remember those who have fought.  Here’s where to find your local dawn service

And these are my all time favourite ANZAC biscuits from Annabel Langbein that I make all year round.



Review: The Collective’s Yoghurt Suckies


My boys love yoghurt but normal yoghurt pottles seem to be beyond their ability to manage.  They make a MESS!  They’re invariably spilt all down their uniforms or on the ground, not to mention the yoghurty mess that ends up in their lunchbox and backpack by the end of the day.

The lovely folk at The Collective have pretty much solved this problem for us with their cool suckies range of yoghurts.  They come in either 100g pouches or 70g tubes.  There are no fruit bits or seeds to be rejected, no artificial flavours or preservatives – just the good stuff.

I’d been a fan of The Collective’s gourmet yoghurt range and loved their flavour combinations and branding.  You’ve probably noticed them on the chiller shelves.

The boys choosing their suckies

I got in contact with the PR team at The Collective and organised for the boys to review their suckies.  They loved the extra bits that came – a hessian bag, tattoos, badges and of course the yoghurt.  The boys had been restricted to small bowls of yoghurt at home but had had lunchbox envy when friends had the pouches and tubes and were dead keen to have them in their lunch boxes.

Each day they took a different flavour in their lunchbox and reported back on what they thought.  The littlest one liked the Nommy Banana flavoured pouch and Bonkers for Bananas tubes the most, whereas the biggest one liked the Honeycomb pouch the best.  They both happily scoffed all the other flavours we had as well.

From a mum’s perspective these are great – highly practical size and shape so I don’t get leaky leftovers in the lunchbox, you can freeze them so they’re cool for break time, easy for the kids to open (one twists and the other tears or snips), a good range of kid friendly flavours with no fruit bits or pips, no preservatives and no artificial flavours.  Personally the practical packaging and healthy yoghurt (with no preservatives or artificial additives) is what sold them to me, oh and I’ve got a real thing for funky branding.

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Lunchbox for the biggest one

From a kids perspective they look cool, taste fab, are healthy and are easy for little fingers to manage.

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They loved the tattoos!

The full range of 100g pouch flavours are: Nommy banana, Blueberry, Honeycomb, Peach and Apricot, Sassy Strawberry, and Heilala Vanilla.

And the 70g tube flavours are: Sassy Strawberry, Bonkers for Bananas, and Bouncing Berries.

The tubes come in a box of 8 and the pouches are sold individually.

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Happy sucking

The Collective as a company is super cool.  They launched into the NZ premium yoghurt market in 2010 and made their presence known pretty quickly.  There’s a great range of innovative flavours and a limited edition yoghurt that is changed every three months – currently it’s raspberry and amaretto.  You can buy The Collective yoghurts in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and NZ of course.

The Collective supplied the yoghurt pouches and tubes plus the super useful bag, fun tattoos, funky magnets and badges, but the views are all my own.

Day Trip: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools



Once a year my father likes to treat us to a day trip to Hanmer Springs.  Every year the boys look forward to it, and this year it was a surprise phone call the night before announcing that Dad had been looking forward to it all week and wanted to go the next day.  So we went.

Thermal rock pools
Thermal rock pools

Hanmer Springs is an alpine village, a very pretty 90 minute drive from Christchurch.  It is most famous for its thermal hot pools.  The thermal springs were discovered by the Maori, and then by a local farmer in 1859, and in 1883 the Government Lands Department excavated the natural springs to create the first swimming pools.  Over the next hundred years the pools and Hanmer have grown, and are now a popular tourist destination.  Many friends prefer to stay the weekend and enjoy the walks and mountain biking in the surrounding hills and mountains, but we tend to make it a day trip.

Original hexagonal pools
Original hexagonal pools

There’s something calming, relaxing and luxurious about sitting in piping hot water up to your neck.

I remember coming to the hot pools as a child on the end of a weekend church camp at the local forest park, then it was three uninspiring hexagonal concrete pools, but we still loved it.  Now, there are twelve thermal pools, three sulphur pools and a fresh-water family pool, lazy river and kids activity area, as well as two hydro-slides and a SuperBowl.  The thermal water is drawn from a bore adjacent to the pool complex.  This means you have to remember NOT to put your head or ears under the water!

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We reckon the best time to visit is in autumn.  In summer it’s too hot to sit in hot water up to your neck, in winter your feet go numb hopping between the pools and I can’t think of a good reason not to go in spring, but in autumn you’ve got the beautiful leaves changing colour.  The main street is lined with lovely big trees so it makes a nice entrance to the pools.

Selfie with the boys
Selfie with the boys

Now that the boys are a bit older we can negotiate with them.  As youngsters they wouldn’t sit still in the hot pools for long enough, which is what I like to do, and wanted to play in the kids area, which is decidedly cooler!  This time we took a picnic, having seen others do so, and this was a great idea.  It broke the day up nicely giving us two long swims.  There’s lots of picnic and seating within the pool complex, and as the cafe is really bad, it’s the much better option.  We stopped for coffee and slice at the end of the day in the cafe, the staff were surly, bordering on rude, the hot drinks were very average and the slice was decidedly awful.  The changing facilities could do with an upgrade too, but I’m prepared to overlook that as the pools really area fab.

We start in the hexagonal pools, move to the rock pools, then indulge the boys in the lazy river, family pool and kids playground.  After lunch Dad and I took turns in the adults only (bliss!) pools and then we all sat in the incredibly hot sulphur pools before finally getting out and heading home.

The SuperBowl
The SuperBowl


This year my eldest son went on the hydroslides and SuperBowl which he’d been keen to try for a few years.  He loved it and was able to ride them alone and pop back once in a while to check on us.  They have cleverly positioned the family pools and an end of a rock pool close by so parents can now sit in relative warmth and keep an eye on the youngsters.

The pool complex also boasts a spa which I’d LOVE to try……one day.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools cost us $50 for a mini group (2 adults and up to 3 children) and the hydroslide cost an extra $10 for unlimited rides.  The complex is open 10am-9pm every day except Christmas Day.

Pool feet
Pool feet

Review: Camelbak Water Bottle



As you know I can be pretty picky about some things, and one of those things is water bottles, another is hot chocolate, but that’s a previous blog post!

I’ve now decided that they fall into different categories.  Car bottle – must fit into the drinks holder in my car, and be easy to use one handed (for obvious reasons) – I use a Tupperware one with a slim body and a flip up lid.  Bike bottle – must be able to be used one handed without stopping (a hydration pack would be a good idea…).  I use the one the bike shop gave me when I purchased my bike and it works just fine, but I worry about the dust all over the mouthpiece.  But, my general take everywhere with me, use at home, and especially walking on the hills water bottle has been been hard to find.

I’ve tried the throw away ones from the supermarket – not good.  I tried the Tupperware one – not big enough.  I tried various Kathmandu bottles – a really annoying little bit keeps falling inside and there’s a top you have to screw off and then hold making it way too fiddly.

In Bivouac recently I spied a new range of Camelbak bottles.  The over enthusiastic sales assistant was so eager to tell me all about them, and there was a discount, AND I really liked the vibrant colours, though that’s not really a good enough reason to buy a drink bottle…  I left with a purple one with orange trim.

The Camelbak Chute has turned out to be the best bottle I’ve had so far.  Great 750ml capacity with handy measurements on the side (for those of us tracking our fluid intake), nifty bottle top that screws off easily and then slots (with a bit of practice) into the lid so it doesn’t get lost or bobble about in your face.  The spout is just right, not too big and not too small.  Funny how the lid and the spout have become something I look for.  No tubes to clean, and the main lid screws off for general cleaning.

So there you have it, the closest so far to the perfect water bottle.  Dad went and got one the next week, in another lovely vibrant colour.

By the way, we’ve been asked if we’re sponsored as we have a fair bit of gear that’s the same.  The second time it happened we worked out a story – we’re in a multi-generation adventure racing team.  The third person who asked (almost) believed us, but we couldn’t keep our faces straight for long enough!

Latest walk on the hills revealed these toad stalls
Latest walk on the hills revealed these toad stalls

Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market


It was SUCH a grey morning, and is now a grey day.  The sort we lived with for six winters in London, I’ll never forget them.  Grey that is impenetrable and lowers the sky so you feel you could touch it.  I learnt in London not to let this spoil my day.  So with various options put forward to the boys, they picked to scooter to the Farmers’ Market, choose a favourite lollipop, walk through the native bush, and home again past the playground.  I hoped the market would bring a little colour to our day and the scoot a hit of endorphins for my screen obsessed sons.

Through the park
Through the park
Riccarton House and the Farmers Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers’ Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers Market
Riccarton House and the Farmers’ Market

Through the park, over the stream and wind through a few quiet streets and we emerge into the grounds of Riccarton House which is home to the Christchurch Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.  It’s also one of the original farms of the early settlers, the Scottish Deans brothers, who built their original cottage here in 1843 using wood from the surrounding bush.  Their original cottage is still here, it’s now the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains.  The Deans brothers kept their little cottage, and built the Victorian and Edwardian mansion (it survived the earthquakes, though still undergoing repairs) Riccarton House in 1856 with subsequent significant additions.

The farmers market has started with a mere handful of stalls, which was a great disappointment when we first visited as we’d been used to the thriving Borough Market in London.  But over the years it’s grown to a bustling hive of producers with their wares.  There are strict rules surrounding who can have a stall and where their produce can come from.  Personally I’d love to see more stalls with food you can eat as you browse, and a few more seats would be good too as the riverbank can get a little damp…

At markets my preference is to slowly browse the different stalls and taste as I go.  The boys however (no longer restrained to prams) prefer to head straight for the lolly stall, taste one, choose one and head away to eat.  I managed withstand the grumbling to buy eggs and apples from my favourite stalls, but couldn’t stand it much after that.  I love that the eggs are free range, the apples are organic, both are local and both are cheaper than the supermarket!  We also adore the pastry perfections that come from Bellbird Foods, and the Pain au Chocolat is our favourite – pronounced correctly of course not with a kiwi twang.

We’ve been walking round the loop track in Riccarton Bush since the boys were little as it’s a totally different environment for them, in the middle of our city.  In 2004 it was fenced to keep out predators and now has a thriving native bird population.  The boys take their binoculars to keep an eye out for them.  There’s a caged door entry which intrigues the boys, and then they follow the little path round.


We headed home to stop for a play in the playground and a ride on the leaf sculpture in the park.  It’s called ‘Serenade’ which is appropriate as the leaves look as if they’re dancing, with a bit of effort you can push it round. After all that we hadn’t even noticed that it was a very grey day.

Review: Nude Yoghurt



When the PR at Piako said she’d send me a natural unsweetened yoghurt I must admit I groaned – it’s not exactly fodder for superlatives or a taste sensation I thought.

Foodie friend was far more excited “But it’s so much more versatile!” She exclaimed and happily took a pottle home. The next day she was raving, “Its sooo creamy!”

I dug into my pottle and I have to admit she’s right. Piako Nude yoghurt, commonly known as Greek style yoghurt is actually really very nice.  It’s naturally higher in protein and lower in fat so it’s a good healthy option.  It’s a far better alternative taste wise than lite vanilla tub yoghurt which has been my standard supermarket purchase. I’ve had my pottle with fruit (particularly nice with pears), maple syrup, brownie and just scooped from the pottle when I’m peckish.

Foodie friend however has far more interesting suggestions for using a pottle of Piako Nude yoghurt;

  • Make Tzatiki – add mint, cucumber, garlic and lemon juice, then dip crudités or bread
  • Use it plain with a Caesar salad
  • Ideal with with fruit compotes, crumbles or pies for dessert
  • Use as a replacement for cream in many recipes
  • Drizzle with honey and eat with fresh fruit
  • Try it in Annabel Langbein’s Lemon and Ginger Ice-cream

Our take on Piako Nude yoghurt: This is our go to alternative to cream or vanilla yoghurt. Thick and creamy it has a wonderful texture and is spot on in terms of flavour, spanning the sweet and tart line beautifully.

If you’d like to see my Foodie friend in action check out one of her cooking classes.

Yoghurt was supplied by Piako but all views are completely my own.

Late night treat - bananas, maple syrup and Nude...
Late night treat – bananas, maple syrup and Nude…

The beach in autumn

Solo sandcastle
Solo sandcastle

I don’t know about you but I find the beach in summer is often hot, and sticky, sandy (of course), FULL of people and the last straw is often trying to find a car park.  We tend to surf in summer and walk in winter and in autumn we play.

Hanging houses and arty shipping containers
Hanging houses and arty shipping containers

We’ve had a stunning run of autumn weather these last couple of weeks with chilly mornings and sunny days and marvellous afternoons.  So on Sunday we headed to our favourite playing beach, Sumner.  Sumner has been hit pretty hard by the earthquakes and the raw damage is still evident to some beautiful homes once perched on the edge of the cliffs, now literally hanging off them.  Lines of shipping containers have been brought in to protect the main road to Sumner, and these are now the site for an art exhibition in the form of canvases stretched over a container.  Clever, as they’re pretty ugly.

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The boys and I took their best buddy and headed across town.  The aim of the afternoon was to make sandcastles, well that’s what I wanted to do, but boys being boys, were keener to dig holes and ‘quarry’.  The littlest one and I made a small sandcastle, then I left them to it, digging happily away.

The littlest one and the ball
The littlest one and the ball

Being autumn the wind soon became chilly so after a while we headed back for ice creams – there’s always such a good selection with cones, and licked away watching the kite surfers.

Next time you’re wondering what to do on an autumn afternoon try the beach – it’s often better than the height of summer.

Seashore treasures
Seashore treasures
Three friends
Three friends