Red Box Chinese New Year Takeaways From Hong Kong

Singapore is so accustomed to the Lunar New Year cookie scene – plastic boxes with red lids packed with the most delightful goodies. The scene shifts slightly in Hong Kong as the eats come in pretty red boxes with a different flavour and premium packaging, Feast your eyes on what we got in our IN box this week from the fragrant harbour

The BonBonist

Newly opened at Pacific Place, The BonBonist combines playful, fun and decadent into delectable little treats. Founded by French confectionery expert Olivia Niddam, the shop is the latest sweet-tooth craze to hit Hong Kong with over 70 delicious selections of sweets and chocolates.

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Their Lunar Year gift set is a classy  “Auspicious Treasure Trove” highlighting four new enticing bonbons, a trendy tote bag and laisee packets. ((priced HKD628),  a perfect manifesto of Eastern tradition married with Francophone chic.  Each bonbon is  also available for purchase individually, priced from HKD48 to HKD68. Customers can opt to create their own special bonbon box with colour stickers and ribbons to add a simply sweet personal touch to gifts.  Order placed between 18 to 25 January 2018  will be treated a delightful discount of 10% off the first box purchased, 15% off when two boxes are purchased; and 20% off when five boxes are purchased.

Moreish 

Moreish is a contemporary Hong Kong brand driven by a passion to celebrate classic favourites  transforming them into fresh and exciting gourmet treats. Their treats are Malaysian inspired and based on ‘Mum’s secret recipe’, beautifully repackaged. The unusual name stems from the informal British word used as an adjective to describe a food that is so pleasant to eat, that one wants more.

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Their reinvented pineapple shortcake is made with pineapple sourced from small farms in Thailand and they use native Patavia pineapples that are selected by hand just before they fully ripen to ensure that the filling has the right balance – not too sweet with a tropical tang. Their pineapple treats are wrapped like square shortcakes at HK138 a box and are pina colada flavoured.

 

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Long standing veteran French chocolatier, La Maison du Chocolat has an exclusive Flourish Gift Box (HKD680) and a number of refined hatbox gift sets – all prettily packaged in French hatboxes. Alongside the main box, the Propitious Hatbox, Blossoming Hatbox, and Fruitful Hatbox – are tailored to fit every celebration during this festive time.

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The Flourish Gift Box offers a scintillating variety of sweet and crunchy La Maison du Chocolat treats presented in a beautifully designed box embellished with a sophisticated dog graphic.

Green Common

Launched four years ago, Green Common has really upped its game from health-conscious all-green organic-led supermarket to a restaurant and now a retail store offering lunar New Year vegan pastries that they have termed “food 2.0”.

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Filled with red quinoa and a variety of super food options like nourishing Cordycep flowers and peach gum, as well as purple sweet potato, each ingredient is nutrient-rich with no artificial colouring or flavouring agents. Everything is also manufactured fresh, locally-packed and vacuum sealed. There are four Chinese New Year puddings in-store to take away with names like “Purple east”, “Continuing success”, “Ma spirit” and “Well known household names” each named after the main ingredient – purple sweet potato, carrot, water chestnut, taro.

The Peninsula Hotel

Hong Kong’s Grand Dame hotel, The Peninsula (known fondly as ‘The Pen’) honours the season at their Spring Moon Chinese restaurant with their celebrated Lunar New Year puddings (HKD298) each available in Taro, Water Chestnut, Turnip and Spring Moon New Year Pudding flavours.

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Each pudding arrives in elegant packaging, making them ideal gifts for relatives and business associates – or simply for your own enjoyment. Order between 16 January 2018 and 15 February 2018 and collect from Spring Moon the following day. Guests purchasing 20 or more puddings are entitled to a 10% discount, while a 20% discount is applied to orders of 50 or more.

Cordis, Hong Kong

Cordis at Langham Place in Mongkok has also pulled out all the stops at Ming Court, their Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, with an array of suspicious festive pudding takeaways with an innovative range of flavours including Aged Pu’er, Dark Brown Sugar and Coconut Chinese New Year Pudding (HKD238); Pumpkin and Coconut Chinese New Year Pudding (HKD268) and the all-time favourite Abalone, Conpoy, Air-Dried Preserved Meat and Turnip Pudding (HK288).

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All puddings are elegantly packaged in Ming Court’s unique New Year prosperity box. Available to order from now. For orders of 30 boxes or more before 5th February 2018, guests enjoy a 20% discount.

 

The Intercontinental Hong Kong

With a prime view of the Victoria Harbour, The Intercontinental has gift boxes and puddings galore. The Hotel goes a step further. Here, you can actually learn to make your own Chinese New Year Savoury Kagoshima Thick Cut Daikon Pudding and Peanut & Sesame Dumplings under the expert guidance of Yan Toh Heen Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai and his team. Chef Lau will demonstrate how to make this savoury seasonal treat, along with Peanut & Sesame Dumplings.

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Date/Time: Saturday, February 10, 2018 (12:15pm – 2:00pm)

Venue: Yan Toh Heen Private Room

Price:  HK$1,488 per person + 10% service charge                   

Takeaway gifts: A box of Savoury Kagoshima Thick Cut Daikon Pudding, a package of traditional Peanut & Sesame Dumplings, a bottle of Yan Toh Heen Homemade X.O. Chili Sauce and a Yan Toh Heen apron.

Participants:     10 persons maximum

For Restaurant and Chinese New Year Pudding Class Reservations call +852 2313 2323 or E-mail: fb.hongkong@ihg.com

Elaine

Comida Mexicana – Mexican Fare & Margaritas We Can’t Get Enough Of

Newly opened in Katong, Comida Mexicana is technically not new — it was formerly Margarita’s East Coast. In its refreshed branding and new menu, proprietress Vivian Wee continues to serve up top notch Mexican fare with a focus on healthy cooking, quality ingredients and fabulous flavours. I’ll admit, this post is particularly enthusiastic because hers has been our favourite neighbourhood restaurant for well over 15 years (ie. we’ve put our money where our mouth is), and we are very familiar with her as well as the food she whips up.

Oh, but Mexican is so heavy, and it’s all just refried beans and tacos, you say. Well, rest assured, not here.

For those who like their tipples, let me just state that they serve the best margaritas on this earth. There are several grades on the menu. The higher grades are smooth and well rounded, but the house pour margarita’s ($18) are good enough for me — I like them with a bit of an edge. And you’ll definitely feel the buzz from these. I like them classic, but if you fancy a twist, the tamarind margarita — as odd as it sounds — is actually very nice. There’s also sangria, mojito and daiquiris if you prefer.

Food portions are very generous here and meant for serious sharing. Not like the trendy ‘sharing plates’ that are actually two-thirds the size of full main courses, these are genuine, generous, hefty dishes. As a guideline, if there’s three of you, you’ll just need two appetisers and two mains to share, and get a jug of margarita. If you still have space for desserts, order two again to share. We promise you’ll be rolling out the restaurant after that.

So, on to the food. To start, share the mashed avocado sopes ($20), little tarts (made from scratch) piled with refried beans, guacamole, and a lime wedge, and my must-have, tortilla chips with home-made red salsa ($6), tangy, rich, with a substantial chillied kick. The mushroom fritters are great too.

From her main courses, the Mexican Yucatan chicken ($28) is a must have, comprising five large pieces of grilled leg meat on skewers. Marinated in achiote, garlic, orange and lemon juice, they are tasty, juicy with a zippy tang, served in a tortilla ‘bowl’ filled with salad and four steamed tortilla. Get hands-on and assemble your own tortilla wrap, filled with meat, salad and pieces of fried tortilla bowl. Since it made its debut, this dish has been making ‘instagrammed’ countless times and has won many over. And it’s large enough for two to share.

The carne asada ($52) is a drippingly juicy, boldly flavoured grain-fed beef marinated in brandy, tequila and orange juice, served with tortilla, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, salsa rojas, and black beans. It comes to the table sizzling, and is absolutely delectable. We love the carnitas, too, comprising delectable pulled pork slow-cooked for two and a half hours and served with tortilla, salsa rojas, salsa verde, and guacamole. Like the chicken, these are meant for hands-on assembling fun. If you fancy seafood, the cornflakes crusted baby snapper fillets ($32) with roasted tomatillo sauce is good – crisp, zingy and generous. The chicken burrito, and the braised lamb shank ($38) are also favourites.

If you’ve still got space for dessert, have the salted caramel pina colada bread pudding ($15). Unapologetic and not for the faint at heart, this is made of brioche soaked in dark rum and cream, with chopped pineapples, coconut ice cream and lashings of salted caramel sauce. Divine. And there’s the kahbrita ($14), a moreish composition of homemade coconut ice cream coated in chocolate powder, kahlua and a shot of espresso. A Mexican version of the affogato.

A passionate cook who is also totally health conscious, Vivian makes everything from scratch in her restaurant kitchen, from the sauces and salsas to ice cream. She imports most of her ingredients from Mexico and the USA, including avocadoes, chillies, beans and tomatillos — and most of them organic as far as possible. Canned ingredients are avoided as far as possible. Another thing worth noting, with three days advanced notice, she offers made-to-order reduced-sugar cakes such as Kahlua Tiramisu, Carrot Cake, Banana Cake, and Bread & Butter Pudding ($80-$150 for 3kg, takeaway only). And did we say they serve the best margarita’s on earth?

404 East Coast Road, Singapore 428998
Tel: (65) 6440 8030
(Closed on Mondays unless they are public holidays or PH eve)

A Very Early Christmas Listing – Takeaway Feasts in Singapore

Atypical of our usual ways, we are making an early start on Christmas this year. Many Christmas goodies are available from 1 November  and if you decide early enough, you’ll get early bird discounts, and less stress in the run up to the season. Here’s a selection of Christmas takeaways in Singapore this year.

Goodwood Park Hotel
The hotel’s new Chinese style 12 Treasures Turkey ($268, for 8-10 people) is a delectably tender moist bird stuffed with luxe ingredients like roast pork, abalones, chestnuts, conpoy, lingzhi and salted egg yolk, slow cooked in lotus leaves and served with vegetable fried rice. Also good are the roast turkey roulade with pork and chestnut stuffing, brussels sprouts and turkey gravy ($168, for 4-6 people) and the slow roasted Ibérico pork belly ($320 for 6 to 8 pax, limited to 25 orders per day) with its crisp crackling, white cabbage pickled with honey, granny smith apple sauce and smoked bacon-infused pork jus. For desserts, the Merry Mosaic Cakes ($48 for 500g) are a treat, comprising 16 little square cakes of six assorted flavours and iced delightfully for Christmas. Flavours include raspberry earl grey, tiramisu and green tea.

We always like Goodwood’s takeaway meals for convenience and value. This year, the Traditional Christmas Combo ($298) includes traditional Christmas turkey with stuffing, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, honey glazed boneless ham with vanilla-pineapple sauce and traditional Christmas chocolate log cake. The Local Christmas Combo ($338) consists of Twelve Treasures Turkey, Turkey Gyoza (20 pieces) and Goodwood D24 durian Christmas log cake.
Available at The Deli from 1 to 26 December, five days advanced order required.
Tel: (65) 6730 1867 / 68 or email: festive@goodwoodparkhotel.com

The Fullerton Hotel

We like their nasi lemak Christmas turkey ($190), complete with ikan bilis, coconut rice, sambal, egg and cucumbers, and the roast turdunken — a chicken is stuffed into a duck which is stuffed into a turkey, stuffed with a yummy stuffing of dried fruits, pumpkin, sausages and lots more, based on a more-than-60-year old recipe. At $233.26 (6-7 kg), it’s a decent price considering all the work — including boning the birds—that goes into this spectacular treat. Tastes really good too. The third recommendation, the luxuriously comforting truffle mac & cheese with parmesan, mozzarella and gruyère cheese topped with freshly shaved black truffles. The panettone are good here too.
Available from 15 October 2017 to 1 January 2018 via shop.fullertonhotels.com Tel: (65) 6877 8943/8178

Intercontinental Singapore

Our favourites here are the tender juicy premium roasted kurobuta bara ($148 for 2kg) from Kagoshima, and the Bultarra Australian saltbush lamb ($148 for 2 kg), both of which come with roasted potatoes, mint jelly, tomatoes on the vine and mushrooms. If the bird is a must, have the succulent maple orange roasted tom turkey ($168 for 5kg) served with baked potatoes, vegetables, mushroom stuffing and giblet gravy.

For sweets, have the cChocolate sandwich biscuits—just like high class Tim Tams —filled with assorted flavours like raspberry gingerbread, pistachio amaretto cherry, mont blanc and chocolate peppermint. The madeleine croquembouche makes a nice centrepiece, and if you’re cutting down on sugar, go for the sugar-free framboise chocolat bȗche de Noël. That should keep the kilos in check!
Available from 18 November to 25 December 2017. tel: +65 6825 1224 or email sinhb-festive@ihg.com.
15% early bird savings when they place their orders between 18 November and 10 December 2017, with an added 5% off for online orders.

Hotel Indigo Katong

You can guess the kind of creative spin this hotel’s mod-Peranakan restaurant Baba Chews will be offering for Christmas this year. For a locally flavoured Christmas, we recommend their turkey breast “assam curry” ($78+) slow-baked with tamarind, rempah and creamy curry sauce; and the mouthwatering USDA prime beef short ribs rendang ($168+ for 2kg) served with Hainanese rice and achar. For endings, the chendol log cake ($63, 1kg) was excellent. 3 days’ advance order required.
Tel 6723 2025 or email hello@babachews.com.sg
8% early bird discount applies from 1Nov – 8 Dec. Orders available until 25 December.

Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
Spicy is the word here, with the hotel’s two fiery turkeys. Bring home the tandoori turkey with masala potato ($117.70 for 5kg) or the Szechuan turkey ($107 for 5kg). We hear the tandoori turkey is particularly fabulous. But if you’re still into the classics, they do have a tom turkey with chestnut stuffing, thyme sauce and cranberry relish ($107), and for sweets, a nice guanja yule log with banana confit, and rich chocolate biscuit.
Tel +65 6733 8333 or email fnb.hisinorchard@ihg.com

Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium
Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium’s Christmas package takeaways are full meals with a local flavour. The Shiok Christmas package ($388 for 6-8 people) comprises a 4kg salt baked laksa turkey with stuffing and gravy, barbecued platter of roast duck, pork and char siew, prawn platter, and desserts is a chilled mango pudding with mango coulis, pomelo and sago, and six bottles of beer. The Traditional Christmas Package ($328) has the predictable traditional roast turkey with all its stuffings and sauces, mashed potatoes, tropicana yule log cake, red wine and my favourite, a most delectable sa cha-infused meatloaf. It was excellent. It’s other classic takeaways are notably well priced : a 3kg roasted leg of lamb with roasted baby tomatoes, brussels sprouts and vegetables ($92), and 1kg roasted Australian beef ribeye with mustard jus and all the vegetables ($62).
Available from 1 November to 27 December.
Get 30% early bird discount for orders before 30 November.
singaporeatrium.holidayinn.com/festive

Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Apart from the classic Christmas takeaways, they also offer an unusual Chinese style roast goose with apple and chestnut stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts and potatoes, plum sauce and giblet gravy ($140 for 6-8 pax), and oven roasted suckling pig ($250, for 8-10 pax) with potato salad, braised red cabbage, thyme and rosemary jus. For dessert, the matcha yaki-imo Christmas tree is too cute, comprising matcha mascarpone anglaise, sweet potato cream and sable Breton ($70).
Available from 30 November to 26 December 2017.
Email mosin-festive@mohg.com or tel: +65 6885 3081

 

 

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

For those who live in the eastern end of the island the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is a convenient place to get your turkey takeaways. It’s traditional roast Christmas turkey is priced at pretty good value($98+, 6kg), with cornbread stuffing, roast potatoes, braised brussels sprouts with bacon, braised red cabbage, maple caramelised chestnuts and vegetables. For a smaller party, get the turkey roulade ($68+, 1.2kg) stuffed with spinach, minced chicken and cranberry, and truffle sauce. Its punny Merry Berry Cheese-mas Yule Log Cake ($68+) was pretty good too, with moist Manjari chocolate sponge cake, layers of raspberry cream cheese frosting, crunchy strawberry pearls and almond flakes.
Available 1-24 December.
http://changiairport.crowneplaza.com/festive-takeaways-christmas-2017 or tel: +65 6823 5367

Capsuled Drinks for the Babes

Step aside Nespresso, here comes BabyNes, available now in Hong Kong. We think it’s a great (and stylish) gadget & nutrition system for expectant mums and babies. Created by Wyeth, it’s a Nespresso-like machine that dispenses specially formulated beverages via capsules for pregnant ladies and babies (from 7 months old). These are meant to supplement their nutritional needs along the different stages of their development.

The BabyNes capsules come in six formulations according to their developmental stages and contain different proportions of protein, fats and active probiotics, as well as other nutrients to support their immune system, digestive system, brain and nervous system, as well as eyesight, etc. Choose capsules for babies according to their age: for 7-12 months old, 13-24 months and 25-36 months (HK$548 for 26 capsules). There are two formulae for moms, which go under the name of Mom&Me: preconception & pregnancy (HK$369 for 26 capsules) and for breastfeeding ($388 for 26 capsules). The machine itself costs HK$2088. It is wifi and blue-tooth enabled — which means you can prepare the formula remotely anywhere in the house — has a touch screen interface and comes with a personal MyBabyNes dashboard, where parents can set up feeding alerts, track the growth and development of the child, for instance.

The machine’s water pressure technology gets you a cup of formula milk in one minute at a perfect 37C, making sure that milk powder is all fully dissolved. For hygiene, the system is also designed so that there is no contact between the powder and the machine. What’s more, each capsule contains a 0.2 μm filter to allow the formula to flow directly to into the cup.

The very comfortable-looking flagship store of Wyeth BabyNes is at ifc mall in Central; but other partner retails outlets are located at various MotherCourt outlets, Seraphine Paris-Mongkok, and Mothercare-Sogo Counter at Causeway Bay.

More details at http://www.babynes.com.hk

Quick and Delicious – Healthy Indian Eats in Wanchai

Elizabeth Purdey, Simply Fabulicious’ new Hong Kong contributor pops into Masala Train in Wanchai for a taste of Indian food on the go. 

Next time you crave for spicy Indian food, make sure to stop off at a new takeaway in the heart of lively Wan Chai. Despite being located around the corner of busy Lockhart and O’Brien Road, this small place is easy to miss. But as soon as my companion and I spotted the menu signs outside the Masala Train, we were instantly drawn to the fragrant aroma of Indian food cooking. This simple takeaway offers a surprisingly wide range of North Indian style fast food dishes, with daily and weekly specials.

The inviting menu left us in a dilemma. We wanted to try it all. Tiena, the owner, came to our rescue and was very helpful with her suggestions. While working in the finance industry for over 10 years in Mumbai, New York and Hong Kong, Tiena saw an opportunity to provide healthy, home cooked Indian food to office workers. And in Hong Kong, what better location than in Wan Chai. And we liked the idea of takeaway food that we could enjoy without feeling guilty afterwards.

Tiena started us with one of Masala Train’s most popular dishes, the minced Lamb Keema roll. We immediately could see why this was such a favourite dish. The lamb was moist and tender, cooked with a nice balance of spices and wrapped in a thin tortilla with fresh vegetables that complemented the lamb perfectly. The portion size was substantial and good value, with your own choice of spiciness to boot. This wrap would be ideal for a quick, tasty and light bite on the run.

Next we tried Vada Pa, one of the new dishes on the menu. This popular street food of spicy potato was served in a small bun with chutney. The dish was simple but delicious; it reminded us of an American slider but with a healthy take and was a big favourite with my companion. We also couldn’t resist sampling two of our favourite dishes from the meal box menu. My companion had the Chicken Tikka Masala (HK$58) served with rice and vegetables which he thoroughly enjoyed. The spiced curry was mild tasting and the sauce was light in texture. I tried the traditional Chicken Biryani (HK$60) with salad. This definitely delivered in the home cooked style stakes. The pilaf rice was generously layered with chicken and had a good spicy kick. The portion size for both meal boxes was substantial and well-priced.

For drinks, the Mango Lassi — a full flavoured mango and yoghurt beverage — was a very refreshing accompaniment to the spicy Indian food, and a must try. We finished with a masala chai. This spicy tea was not overly sweet and we enjoyed the taste of cloves and cinnamon. My companion had room to try the Kheer or rice pudding, one of the two sugar-free desserts at Masala Train. The Kheer had a nice creamy consistency and was a good way to cleanse the palate after all the spicy dishes we ate.

Tiena calls Masala Train a humble takeaway, but what is so enticing is that the simple, home style Indian fare there is also healthy. Although the level of spiciness has been toned down for the Hong Kong palate, the dishes we tasted still delivered on flavour. We were not disappointed in the quality of dishes and value for money. Masala Train is definitely worth a visit, particularly for those who want a touch of exotic while on the go. Deliveries are also available via Deliveroo.

G/F Yue On Building, 146-148 Lockhart Rd. Entrance is on 2A O’Brien Rd (A1 exit of Wan Chai MTR). Tel: +852 2415 3000

Uniqlo Launches Mums And Babes Collection

Forget fat and frumpy! The preggars amongst us battling the office air-con, the hospital chill or just taking off on a winter holiday need not despair. Winter is not going to be about hiding the layers but accentuating them.

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Uniqlo, our favourite Japanese basics retailer has just launched a Mums and Babes collection which includes comfy leggings and ultra-stretch jeans for mums at good price points that start at only S$19.90 for maternity leggings. Soft, comfy and easy to fold – they look great for just folding into your travel bag or keeping handy.

 

If you are picking up a gift, there are sleepers, bodysuits and onesies for baby which effectively wrap babies in warmth and softness. Pieces are designed to be durable enough to withstand daily washing without losing shape while remaining delicate enough for newborn skin.

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Available this month at UNIQLO Suntec City and online in Singapore here, while all other items are available in selected UNIQLO stores including UNIQLO’s Global Flagship Store at Orchard Central and online. Prices range from $9.90 for Babies & Newborns’ Bib (2pc) to $59.90 for a pair of Maternity Ultra Stretch Jeans.

The baby range is also available now in Hong Kong stores and online here. 

 

Road Trip To Rotorua, New Zealand

The next time you are in Auckland, New Zealand put a 2 day road trip to Rotorua into the itinerary. It’s a rare opportunity to get out of the city, a fairly leisurely drive and just enough activities to get you busy, immersed in both nature and a bit of Maori culture for two plus days.

I love how the Kiwis just get to the point with their quick deals.

This was evident pre-trip, when we headed to JUCY rentals and emerged having rented a car from their El Cheapo range of budget cars.

Our trusty rental was a great deal – a 1.6 litre sedan at about NZ$50 a day. We added on a rental GPS (although you could use your phone if you have data) and we were off out onto the open road with a rough itinerary in mind.

Can you see the rainbow in the distance on our front windscreen?

Day 1

From Auckland to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves 

The drive to Rotorua is about 3 hours long. Leave in the morning and stop for lunch,  coffee and cake along the way. New Zealand coffees are just the best – perhaps its the weather or the fact that you have enough time to savour your cup of joe instead of hastily gulping it down before rushing to your next meeting.

 

Our first stop was Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. I would rate this a must-go, something you do before it gets dark (closes at 5pm) and a max 1.5 hour stop. Don’t expect a glitzy theme park experience from this nicely set up, modern looking ticketed attraction with a gift shop ensuite. This is definitely all-nature and all about your experience taking a peek into it. You are literally brought into the experience, rather than having it present itself to you so it takes a bit of an open mind to appreciate the visit. First up, you are ushered by a guide into the cave where there is a request for silence or minimal noise. Leave the bawling babies and noisy kids at home. You listen to stories told in first person by an experienced host about the history of the cave and how it was discovered. After a short walk in, you get on to a boat and ride the rest of the way into cave – all mobile devices on silent, in complete darkness – right into the heart of the cave where you see glow worms nesting in the recesses of the cave ceiling above you, their tiny bodies giving off an eerie faint blue light. You look up and it seems that the night has come and all you see above are a million stars. Surreal!

Check into Hotel and have dinner at Food Street

Staying along the Lakeside – would be my advice as the main city of Rotorua is built along the lake. You know that you have arrived when you wind down the car windows and the pungent smell of sulphur greets you head on. The closest description of the smell is rotten eggs. We stayed at the Novotel, Rotorua Lakeside. Very comfortable, has its own mineral spa (think onsen) inside the Hotel which is free for guests and is right next to the pubs and eateries along the next door main dining thoroughfare known as Food Street in Rotorua.

Day 2  

Tepuia Hot Spring Geysers

Tepuia, is the closest hot spring geysers to visit in Rotorua, This is a ticketed attraction with a walking guided tour, a visit to the Maori cultural centre in side and gift shop.

The pools are hot enough to cook food in and most definitely not safe for a swim or leisurely dip of any kind.

After the walkabout, wander into the Maori craftsmanship areas where weaving and boat building techniques are explained and demonstrated.

Expect to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours here. In perfect time for you to drive back down to the Lakeside area and check into the Polynesian Spa which we did not visit this trip as we were already too spa-ed out at the Hotel spa.

Tamaki Maori Village 

Our dinner highlight on Day 2 was boarding the bus arranged by the Tamaki Maori Village which took us to the village, about half an hour away.

The Maori villages are actually run and owned by existing Maori families here in New Zealand.

Here, we were given the works – a Maori traditional welcome ceremony, an explanation of the significance of each tradition. This was followed by an engaging evening of Maori folk songs, dancing and performances which ended in a traditional Hangi meal.

The Hangi is a meal much like the Hawaiin Luau where the food served has been buried in a pit below ground and using the natural volcanic heat and a combination of steam heating, meats and veggies are cooked and served in a large communal buffet style spread.

Day 3 

To Hobbiton and then back to Auckland 

We wanted to get our trip time’s worth so with some Trip Advisor Forum advice, we managed to craft a detour from our original trip to Hobbiton and the Shire, before heading back to Auckland.

Make sure that the day you head to this ticketed attraction is dry as there is a fair bit of walking to conquer around Peter Jackson’s set which apparently was torn down after the movie and recreated again on premises.

A stop by the village pub – The Green Dragon is mandatory.

Definitely a must-visit for all LOTR fan’s.  With that under our belts, we drove back to Auckland back to the safe haven of The Langham Hotel and the comforts of its marvellous Club Lounge.

Below – the round-trip route for anyone who wants to brave the journey.