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North Island, New Zealand Part 1

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and to lots more eating in 2015 – I certainly know there will be a lot of it happening! It’s been a while since I last blogged, we had a nice 2 weeks break, just hanging in Hong Kong. New resolution this year is to blog a little more, not nearly as much as pre-Dragon but definitely a little more than post-Dragon! Below is a family photo from our trip in New Zealand which I absolutely love!

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It seems like forever since our last trip to New Zealand (have yet to blog about Kaoshiung, and not to mention some eateries from Helsinki and Prague!), we were there just over a week. I have previously been to New Zealand, South Island to be exact – Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and had a wonderful time. We did the awesome foursome which includes bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing and shotover jet. This time though, we were in the North Island, for a wedding in Auckland and thought we would check out the nearby towns. We stayed a couple of nights in Taupo, then Napier (my favourite!), Auckland and then Bay of Islands.

We arrived quite late to Auckland and ‘The Mother’ drove straight away to Lake Taupo, so by the time we got there it was quiet late, bed time for Dragon and we didn’t do much. We had something quick to eat on the way which I can’t even remember, either Mc Donalds or KFC!

Where we stayed: Hilton Lake Taupo, 80 – 100 Napier Road Taupo and we got the suite. It was very spacious, separate bedroom and living room. It was a shame we were there in Winter, would have loved to have gone swimming. The water was warm, but outside was freezing!

What we did: We had lunch and dinner at Lake Taupo town. We took photos in front of the lake and it was beautiful. Even our little photographer couldn’t wait to take photos of us and order us around!

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What we ate: We had breakfast twice at Dixie Browns, which was located on the shores of Lake Taupo. It has one of the largest fresh water lakes in the South Hemisphere and there was also the view of Mt Ruapehue, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the hot chocolate

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With a large dollop of chocolate which I couldn’t help but eat on its own! YUM!

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I opt for the kiwi farmhouse breakfast (NZ19.90) – fried eggs, Kransky sausage, mushroom, hash browns, smokey bacon and grilled tomato served with hot buttered toast. It was a pretty large serving (bacon and tomato not on the same plate) and pretty decent.

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‘The Mother’ opt for a sweeter breakfast, truck stop pancake stack (NZD15.90) – blueberry pancake stack drizzled with maple syrup and cream. Oh my, it was good but sickly sweet in my opinion especially with hot chocolate, but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Service at the Dixie Browns was excellent and food was good, that we came again the next day to try out their lunch menu!

After brunch, we took a quick drive to Chateau Tongariro Hotel – it’s a BEAUTIFUL Chateau, ‘The Mother’ originally wanted to stay here, but I was against moving every single night as it wouldn’t be too relaxing.

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We went inside and had some afternoon tea, scones and tea and some bread for Dragon at the Ruapehu Lounge Bar.

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The scones were beautiful, I have missed good scones, I have tasted some horrid ones here in Hong Kong, guess I can just make my own?

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And we got some bread with dips for Dragon

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We went for a drive to the top of the mountain, and the views were spectacular. I love how there were still snow which was amazing and yes it was STILL VERY COLD!!!!

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For dinner, we ate at Taupo town centre, Plateau Restaurant & Bar. There was even a kids menu which was awesome – drink, food and dessert for NZD15! Dragon opt for the meatballs, tomato sauce with steamed rice (weird combo I thought but she seemed to have enjoyed it). And she of course enjoyed her ice cream sundae which we took some also.

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I was a tad greedy and ordered the 2 things – the crispy fried chicken with chipotle mayo (NZD12.50) – it was a little bigger than I anticipated. I was expecting drumsticks and wings, however, it was chicken breast fried, which was a little disappointing.

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The steamed pork bun, braised pork, coriander, hoisin sauce (NZD9.0) was a little dry, I liked the steamed bun but the braised pork was a little on the dry side which was a shame.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the fresh market fish with some saffron pasta which he utterly enjoyed.

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The next morning, we had brunch at Replete Café and store which was also located in the town centre.  It was a relatively busy when we rocked up,  you pay at the counter and food will be delivered to your table. I absolutely LOVED the banana smoothie – very creamy and had a pretty strong banana taste which I liked.

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For breakfast, I opt for the field mushrooms on megagrain farmhouse toast with sausage (NZD16.00). Dragon ate most of the sausage, as I was happy to just have the mushroom.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the complete Replete breakfast (NZD17.50) – eggs, chargrilled bacon, roasted field mushrooms, grilled focaccia and tomato relish. I stole some bacon but he pretty much demolished this on his own.

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We left for Napier just after lunch and arrived at about 4.30pm. Now have I mentioned how much I LOVE NAPIER? From memory it was about 4 hours drive from Lake Taupo. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Napier. It’s located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island.

Where we stayed: Art Deco Masonic Hotel, 2 Tennyson Street, Napier South, Napier 4110, New Zealand. It was a very ‘cool’ and funky hotel. There’s a pub downstairs and we got the pacific suite, again separate living and bedroom and overlooking the ocean – it was indeed beautiful!

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What we did: We arrived early afternoon, and we walked along the Marine Parade, again taking photos. This time jump shots which Dragon absolutely loved!

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We also went to the National Aquarium, it’s not a big aquarium but worth visiting, especially since it was raining. Dragon found this ride and didn’t want to leave! We walked around town, I wanted to do a bit of shopping but ran out of time. Definitely worth staying at Napier a bit longer. We also went for a drive, about 1 hour drive to a mountain, it was so windy that Dragon couldn’t stop laughing- she loves the cold weather! There were some jump shots also!

We had breakfast at the hotel both days as it came with the package, nothing too fancy but it was pretty good – eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, cereals and fruits.

For dinner on the first night, we ate at Emporium eatery and bar which is located at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

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We shared a couple of things, including a pizza – roast chicken, chorizo, brie, pesto mayo and rocket which Dragon thoroughly enjoyed. The crust was thin and there was a generous serving of chicken and chorizo.

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I loved the fried polenta, cauliflower puree, smoked tomato salsa and parmesan (NZD15) – ‘The Mother’ wasn’t a huge fan of polenta, which meant more for me!

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The pork, fennel and lemon meatballs, hummus and tzatziki (NZD16) was good but I still preferred the polenta.

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We were too full for dessert, and it was almost Dragon’s nap time, so we waddled upstairs and had a wonderful sleep!

The next day, we had lunch at Salt, which is also known as the ‘round house’, a Napier icon. It has a lovely view of the inner harbor of Ahuriri and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch we had the lunch menu which was a great deal! I think for NZD20, you get soup or salad or garlic bread and a choice of main.

We had the cream of mushroom, which was deliciously creamy

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The garlic focaccia which Dragon demolished!

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‘The Mother’ opt for the steak, which was served with herb butter and chips! The steak wasn’t too bad for the price, and cooked just the way he likes it.

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I opt for the chicken and mango filo pastry with a side of salad. It was ok, the filing was quite rich, it was a little too creamy for my liking.

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Service was good, and pretty decent value. Pity my chicken filo pastry was a little on the rich side. There were a lot of seafood on the menu if you preferred (which is also their specialty!).

For dinner, we made reservations with Mister D and I have to say, it is one of the best food I have eaten in a while! Mister D is ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, we believe in fresh, local produce delivered with great service but no fuss’.

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We started with some fresh bread which was hot and fresh – yum!

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The waiter suggested the potato gnocchi, cheese sauce and coffee (but without the coffee) (NZD13) for Dragon. It was a very cool presentation, gnocchi served on a stick, which creamy and cheesy sauce. Unfortunately Dragon didn’t take a liking to the gnocchi or cheese sauce – I should have known. She is not a big fan of potatoes and she hates cheesy food, cheese on its own she loves, but cheese on food, not so much!

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I couldn’t go past the bone marrow ravioli, beef juices, salsa verde (NZD24.50) – OMG! THE BEST! Even Dragon ate half of it (maybe more). The ravioli with bone marrow was just superb, tender and delivious and the beef juice – my my. I could have definitely eaten a second serving on my own!

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‘The Mother’ opt for fist in a bag, new potatoes, asparagus, Telegraph Hill smoked olives parlsey butter (NZD29.50) – it was quite a novelty. The fish was incredibly tender and ‘The Mother’ definitely enjoyed it.

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For dessert, we shared the ginger beer crème caramel, poached rhubarb and gingerbread (NZD15). Dragon ate most of the gingerbread on her own, she wasn’t a huge fan of the crème caramel but it’s probably due to texture. ‘The Mother’ and I fought for every single last piece – it was delicious!

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I really enjoyed my meal at Mister D and wished we came back the next day for breakfast! I heard the donut was too die for and always runs out!!!! Definitely worth going if you are in Napier, service and food was excellent!

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Next… Auckland and Bays of Islands

Dixie Browns – GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

38 Roberts St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand

Tlp:+64 7-378 8444

Dixie Browns on Urbanspoon

Chateau  Tongariro Hotel – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

State Highway 48, Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7892 3809

Ruapehu Restaurant Chateau Tongariro on Urbanspoon

Plateau Restaurant & Bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

64 Tuwharetoa Street Taupo Town Centre, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 2425

Plateau Restaurant & Bar, Taupo on Urbanspoon

Replete Café and store – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

45 Heu Heu St Taupo, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 3011

Replete Cafe on Urbanspoon

Emporium eatery and bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 0013

Emporium Eatery & Bar on Urbanspoon

Salt – GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

10 West Quay Ahuriri, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6833 6035

Mister D – GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

47 Tennyson Street Napier South, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 5022

Mister D on Urbanspoon

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