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Queenstown is an absolute beauty. There are mountains in your backyard, burger shops that open till 5am, water so clear it makes you want to drink it. The city is a true tourist destination, there are next to none locals and the supermarket is the tiniest thing ever. It’s very busy, there are people hopping onto water jets constantly, a steam boat that drives off into the mountains, live music, markets, frisbee golfers, bicycles. Honestly, it’s the best place ever.

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Long summer nights are the real deal in the South Island. The sun goes down at 10pm, people eat dinner at 9pm and ice cream at 9am. In Queenstown that is. Amisfield is a mere 15-minute drive from the tourist hot spot. Lake Hayes is just across the road, Morven’s Hill is the backdrop, and the Remarkables stand on the side. With the Trust the Chef menu, dishes change according to what is fresh that day, and probably how the chef is feeling. We ordered the $65 option and an extra glass of wine. It came with nine items where two were starters, two were mains, two were sides, two complimentary mini items and one sweet treat. The gazpacho and mousse starters we didn’t enjoy because they were so strongly flavoured and salty. Our favourites were definitely the smoked salmon and the potatoes. And dare I say you haven’t had roast potatoes until you’ve had these.

You may choose from three Trust the Chef options, all of which are very well priced. I recommend that you book ahead of time and arrange transport or veto a sober driver.

If the potatoes don’t come, screw it. Order it a la carte.

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We started off at Mudbrick for lunch. The restaurant was very beautiful, with brilliant views and interior. I enjoyed the Fish of the Day with Soft Shell Crab, Thai Curry Cream, Mango, and Coriander ($47). It came paired with the Viognier 2014 Waiheke Island which we weren’t particular fans of. The Buffalo Yoghurt Mousse was lovely and perfectly matched with Ned Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough ($18). Oh, and the truffle mash is amazing. Definitely get the truffle mash.

We then headed off to Cable Bay just down the road. Where Mudbrick was the traditional, prestigious brick house, Cable Bay was the large, classy modern house. Walking through the massive double doors it felt almost like a demo unit, like those setups you leaf through in design magazines. There is a large lawn with full 180 degree sea view, a helicopter, beanbags and a courtyard. The courtyard came with a French singer and his guitar, double thumbs up. Since we were well satisfied from the food at Mudbrick, we settled for wine and some shoestring fries.

Our last stop was Little Oneroa Beach before heading back on the ferry home.

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There goes the cliche – can you believe it’s the end of the year already. Once it hits December, Merry Christmas greetings are entirely acceptable. Really, it would be rude not to. Franklin this year, albeit some grinch houses, was great. There were snow machines, diving penguins, cute snowmen with earmuffs, naughty Santas, and a giant snowman snowing inside his belly – snowception.

Franklin Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

IMG_4573IMG_4580 IMG_4591 IMG_4596 IMG_4598 IMG_4608 Lunchtimes at Dear Jervois usually consist of lines and waiting, but also creamy mushrooms and delicious smoothies. The food is great. Our favourite is the Portobello mushrooms with potato hash stack ($19), but it’s often sold out if you go late. The Creamy balsamic mushrooms are a slightly heavier alternative but still tasty with toasted ciabatta ($18). We also love the Soba noodle salad with free range chicken ($22) and the Cacao maca smoothie ($9). Service is very slow and inattentive. We had to ask at least four times for water and the mushrooms came without the extra poached egg we’d ordered – not the place to go if you are in a hurry. Parking is reasonably easy and there are some beautiful stores to shop at next door before or after your meal. Hopefully service is better next time round so we can come back to try the famous waffles.

I’d forgotten about these photos, or maybe I just didn’t want more people joining the queue for a table…have a great week ahead!

Dear Jervois
234 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, Auckland

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Photos by: Rebecca Ng
Edited by: Kelly

Three weeks ago, I did the Tongariro Crossing with a bunch of friends. We had the most amazing weather, sunny, not too cold, with a little bit of breeze. There had been a fresh dump of snow two nights prior so most of the mountain was covered in snow – which made it more difficult to walk up and that the side trips like Mt Ngauruhoe i.e. Mt Doom from LOTR, were off limits. It took us the full 8 hours to do, 2 hours in I was wondering why I put myself through this. The views are amazing, and you feel great afterwards for having conquered it.

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Taste 2014 battled a change in location and stormy weather. Parking was insane, we went through the usual hope of thinking we would be lucky, then it slowly deteriorated to us trying every tiny spot we could find on the side of a street, to almost giving up and paying $10 to park in someone’s driveway, and finally to stalking a family as they walked up the hill. That aside, this year’s event was was beautifully decked out with florals and green lush signs. Our favourite plates were crayfish risotto from The Oyster Inn, oysters and tuatuas from Depot, and Lucky Taco minis (Taste 2013 food was more interesting and better). You have to be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of money and time at Taste, dishes are usually around 8-12 crowns ($1 = 1 crown) – though there are some odd ones out, like the 20 crown sandwich from Harbourside. See you next year, Taste!

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