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Day 15 – Wanaka, Lake Hawea and Warbirds and Wheels

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Categories: New Zealand, South Pacific, Trip 2014, Tags: , , , ,

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Well, we’ve almost finished our last day in Wanaka.  It’s been one heck of a vacation, so sad to close it out on a sad note.  Damian’s still quite sick, although Toni seems to have recovered.  This will make travelling tomorrow a wee bit more complicated than it otherwise would be.

Although this was our last day in Wanaka (and, indeed, the South Island) we did actually get around a little bit.  The balance of the day was spent at the resort trying to consume our remaining food and also to take a last dip in the pool and get our luggage in order.  With Damian being sick, it’s made the day a bit difficult – he is throwing up and has loose bowels as well.

Jake and I took a trip out to the Wanaka airport while Damian slept and Toni did some packing.  Our destination was the “Warbirds & Wheels” attraction which was a little bit further down the road from the Toy and Transport museum.

Warbirds & Wheels


This location houses a collection of fighter planes (mostly replicas) and a decent collection of luxury classic cars.  Although W & W lacks the gross volume of vehicles that the Toy & Transport museum boasts, it does have an exceptionally classic and rare collection, i.e. what it lacks in volume, it makes up for in quality.  If I had to pick between the two, I’d probably go with the Toy & Transport museum because it was NZD $5 cheaper and covers a broad range of classics, plus all the toys.

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Lake Hawea


On the way back into town, Jake and I took a ‘slight’ detour north and checked out Lake Hawea in more detail.  Unfortunately for us though, the wind was blowing gale force and it was not wise to even consider getting JB out of the car.  So I took a few strategic shots and pretty much moved on to the local beach.  Same problem here, so a quick couple of shots and then I returned to the car and we headed back to Wanaka.


Lake Wanaka

We naturally couldn’t make it back to the resort without a stop at the Rotary playground on the lakeside.  I took an opportunity to snap one last panorama of the lake, with weather very similar to our first day here.  Jake enjoyed the play equipment and eventually we made our way back to the resort.


Back into town

Back at the resort and we decided to take one last trip into town.  We parked on Brownston street and walked the small central area on foot, with Damian in the stroller.  Our objective was to acquire some additional gifts/souvenirs. 


People were getting ready to head out to a concert up in Cardona, so it was exceptionally busy and all the bars and restaurants were packed.  We picked up a few things and headed back to the car.  I took a few last photos with Toni’s iPhone, and then we bid a final adieu to Wanaka.


Tomorrow we’re ‘in transit’ and will be that way for.. quite some time.  Oh, and tomorrow just happens to be New Year’s Eve!

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Day 9 – Wanaka


Categories: New Zealand, South Pacific, Trip 2014, Tags: , , , ,

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Today was a bit of a slow day again, as we creep ever so closer to Christmas Day.  We started the day early, around 7am as Jake was up and Damian followed not long after.  I managed to keep the boys occupied a little while (until sometime after 8am) so Toni could get a bit of a sleep in.  After a lazy breakfast, we eventually got ready and headed out the door around 10am. 


Our first (and only) planned stop was near the Wanaka airport – a place called

The National Transport Toy Museum


It costs NZD $15/Adult in admission (kids under 5 free), and for this sum you gain access to a number of aviation hangers which are almost jam packed full of heritage/antique planes, cars and other things of a bygone era.  We start in the shop/museum which houses the majority of the toy part of the museum. 

Toy Museum


Papa Smurf greeted the boys at the entrance, and inside there were a collection of vintage cars surrounded by glass cases containing all manner of toys from the past five or six decades.  They were loosely grouped into categories, and there were three or four aisles before it broke out into a very large Star Wars/Toys of the 80s section.  I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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There were also Barbie and figurine displays as well as more and more cars, including this Ferrari, and this ‘furry’ number..

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In the next hangar was a massive collection of vintage cars but also heaps and heaps of old fire trucks, most from the 1970s or earlier.

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In the next hangar there was a distinctively military theme intermixed with heaps more classic jalopies.  The highlight was the massive plane which occupied a huge portion of the hangar area.

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In the final hangar, more planes and classic cars, but some woofers too, like a mid-80s Laser.  The highlights were some very early cars (1910s), an F.J Holden and a car which had attempted the world speed record!

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We finished off the visit in the playground outside the cafe/shop, where Jake and Damian engaged all their skills to navigate a hodge-podge of equipment.

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Once we’d finished, we had about an hour to kill, so we headed back into town, and veered slightly north to arrive just a bit above Beacon Point. 



Here we found a beautiful part of the lake with crystal clear water where Jake and I went into the lake up to our knees whilst Damian and Toni looked on.  We lingered a little while as I took a few photos before returning to the resort.


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Back to the resort

Back at the Wyndham, Jake was chomping at the bit to get back into the pool, so we got everyone into swimming gear and went promptly downstairs.  We spent about 15 minutes in the pool before our friends Toni and Matt arrived from Queenstown, and joined us in the pool.  We had a fun time going down the water slide and taking turns with Jake and Damian, helping them to swim (or launching them into the air).


Once we’d been in for about a half hour or more, we all got out and went up to the room and got changed.  We all went into town and parked opposite the lake.  We walked across the road to a cafe and had lunch there, which was quite nice – pulled beef burger with hoisin sauce!


Lakeside Photography

Toni (not wife Toni) and I spent some time practicing photography against the backdrop of Lake Wanaka whilst Matt, Wife Toni and the boys went to a nearby kid’s playground.  After a bit of moving around, we all ended up back in front of a large hand which graces the lakeside.

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While everyone caught a brief shady respite from the warm sun, I took Jake back to the park and watched him navigate a giant dinosaur slide.



We crossed the road again and obtained some delicious gelato to cool us as the day started to ease into late afternoon.


We eventually headed back to the resort for some more pool time and as it hit around 6pm ended up back in the room as Toni and Matt bid us farewell.  Once the boys were fed and ultimately put to bed, Toni and I enjoyed a Christmas Eve BBQ dinner on the balcony of the room as the sun slowly shrunk behind the mountains.


Map of our itinerary today



Check back for a Christmas Day edition tomorrow!

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Day 5 – Rotorua

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Our last full day in Rotorua was a slightly shorter day than our average.  As we had some prep work to perform to be ready to depart tomorrow, we time boxed our activities until 2pm, which means that we were back at the resort around 2:30pm.  Today was also unique for the fact that it was the only day we’ve spent exclusively in Rotorua/Mourea.


Today’s activities

We  started the day at our usual 8:15-8:30am timeframe, with all showered and fed by 9:30am although we didn’t get underway until just after 10am.  We arrived in downtown Rotorua at 10:30pm and to our first destination of the day.

Kuirau Park

It turns out that the park hosts local markets every Saturday, so we were blessed (unexpected bonus) and cursed (lots of parking/traffic issues).  The park is a free public space which also happens to be on top of more geothermal activity.  Although there are no hot springs which you can swim or bathe in, the park does feature a foot washing facility which is quite pleasant.

Local Markets

Geothermal park with sculptured gardens

Enjoying the foot spa

Sulphur comes from somewhere!

After the foot spa, the boys found a splash pool for kids and decided to enjoy it a bit too much – Damian in particular ended up soaked. 

Kid’s splash pool located conveniently next to a geothermal area 

We spent an hour and a half at Kuirau Park noting that the time was fast approaching midday.  The boys were starting to get irritable, so we decided to drive a few blocks into downtown Rotorua.

Downtown Rotorua and lunch

The first logical stop was the Rotorua visitor’s centre to pick up some more detailed maps and a brochure on eating options.

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Rotorua Visitor’s Centre/Jake gets new threads

We decided to try a place not far from the centre, two blocks away.  We moved the car and eventually found parking – 90 minutes free.  As both Jake and Damian were still quite wet from the splash pool, and we happened to park almost directly opposite a children’s store which was having a up to 50% off sale, both boys got new shorts and Jake a new T-shirt.


Capers Epicurean / Smoked Salmon omelette

We had lunch at Capers Epicurean which featured a kid’s room and plenty of space.  It wasn’t exceptionally cheap but it did have the ambiance of a boutique brasserie, and the food was pretty good.  Jake had an iced chocolate and some chips, whilst Damian enjoyed part of a crumbed schnitzel.

Once everyone was done, we did some window shopping up and down the street before returning to the car.  Our next destination was decidedly prettier..

Government Gardens

Occupying first rate real estate on the lake’s edge, the Government Gardens are home to the Rotorua museum, a theatre, an events centre and manicured gardens. 

You enter through a set of wooden arches which lead to to lawns and a roadway which takes you up to the impressive looking museum which looks suspiciously like the visitor’s centre.  If you turn your head to the left whilst looking at the museum you’ll notice a children’s play area, which is exactly what Jake did.


Wooden arches form the entrance/Rotorua museum


Jake charges the camera / roses in the Rose Garden


Damian peeks through the play equipment

So naturally we killed about half an hour watching the boys scamper around the playground.  Jake in particular was fond of the multiple slides, shooting down each one in short time.  Damian is getting much more adept at climbing up to, and sliding down the slides as well.

By this stage, the weather looked ominous, so I decided to backtrack and get the car which was parked near a heritage hotel just outside the gardens.  I brought the car into the gardens and parked it closer to the lake.  Toni and the boys met me and we walked to the lake side.

Lake Rotorua

We didn’t linger too long at the side of the lake because the weather looked like it would turn at any moment.  We rationalised that we needed some quality time back at the resort to get ready for packing, so after a brief time near the water, we headed back to the car.

Rotorua Lake

Lake side

As we were on our way out, Jake noticed a sea plane preparing for take off.  At the same time I noticed an old riverboat steamer coming in to dock, so I put the car in reverse and we took a few minutes to watch the water craft.

Maori boat

Toni spied a covered Maori long boat, so I stopped and got out to take some photos.  It was quite a magnificent specimen, very large and sturdy looking, inlaid with shells.  After taking a few shots and trading exchanges with an older foreigner who jokingly expressed a desire to move the bars around the boat cage, I returned to the car.  We drove back to the resort stopping by a Gull petrol station which featured car vacuuming and car washing facilities which we took advantage of.

Back to the resort

Once we were back at the resort, I downloaded photos onto the laptop.  Not long after, I proposed a swim and spa – Damian and I went down to investigate the water temperature and returned with a report of ‘acceptable’.


The Resort

Pool and Spa

The whole family went down to enjoy some time at the pool.  There was a slide to one side for children 3-7 to launch themselves into a wading area, which Jake (and surprisingly Damian) thoroughly enjoyed many, many times.  In between, we took turns in the spa to warm up.

Resort pool / Spa fun

We spent an hour in either the pool or spa before deciding to call it a day.

Dinner and packing

Toni cooked a lamb rack for dinner and Damian went to bed early after a day without a meaningful sleep. 

We have much to do to be ready to fly out tomorrow!

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