Aggy's Shack

30 December 2014

For our first meal in Queenstown, we headed straight to Aggy's. Luckily for us, we arrived at around 2 PM so the lunch crowd had already left and we were able to get a table (they only have three).


Fish & Chips (NZD 12)

Earl and I both enjoyed this dish as it was not too oily and it didn't have a fishy aftertaste.


Hotdog & Chips (NZD 9)

Aside from the Fish & Chips, I also wanted to order the Battered Muscle Meal (NZD 14), but Earl had other plans. As he's not too fond of seafood, he ordered the hotdog instead and we agreed it's not worth the money we paid for it.

All in all, with Aggy's Shack overlooking the lake, it's a nice outdoor spot for a quick meal (or a leisurely one - up to you).

Queenstown: Part III

25 December 2014

We went on yet another Lord of the Rings (LOTR) tour, but this time with Nomad Safaris exploring the Wakatipu Basin area. It started out well - our guide was friendly, but unfortunately more intent on cracking jokes than giving information on LOTR.

He only pointed out two movie locations and totally skipped where the loss of the One Ring at Gladden Fields was filmed while we were at Arrowtown and the Ford of Bruinen filming site. Needless to say we were very disappointed. We came all the way from Singapore so it’s not like we can easily go back anytime soon.


WARNING FOR PREGNANT WOMEN: Before booking this tour, I called their office a few months ago to check how safe it would be considering I’d be six months pregnant. They told me that it should be fine and that we would just be crossing a river.

I thought it would be a short and slow one to two minute crossing like the one pictured on their website where you just cross to get to the other side. Turns out, we went up and down the river (even went in circles for the fun of it) going over large rocks. That it was bumpy was an understatement (roller coaster rides are smoother) and half the tour was on rough roads. It would be best to check with your doctor before going on this trip.


Also, the afternoon tea provided by Pure Glenorchy was much better than the one we had on this tour (which was more expensive). Nomad Safaris served an assortment of cookies and hot drinks (coffee, tea and hot chocolate) while the other tour provider had those along with sandwiches, pastries, canned drinks and bottled water.

The one good thing though is that even if you're not a fan of the trilogy, you can still enjoy this off-road adventure as you'll get to see the local scenery just outside of Queenstown. You'll even get to try your luck at gold panning.


Above left is the filming location for the Argonath or the Pillars of the Kings and basically across the street, you'll find the Kawarau Bungy Centre (above right), where commercial bungy jumping first started.


Merry Christmas everyone!

Queenstown: Part II

20 December 2014


For our first full day in Queenstown, we went on a four hour tour with Pure Glenorchy visiting some of the filming locations for Lord of the Rings (LOTR). The areas covered were Isengard, Amon Hen, Lothlorien Forest, the Misty Mountains and Ithilien. We also stopped by the spot where Beorn’s House was located (from The Hobbit movie) along with locations from X-men Origins: Wolverine.

Tea is provided on this tour and our guide served hot drinks, soda, pastries, and sandwiches (which according to Earl was really good and filling). We both really had fun on this excursion and would recommend it to all LOTR fans.


Area where Sam and Frodo were captured by Faramir


Lothlorien Forest

Queenstown: Part I

15 December 2014

We LOVED Queenstown!!! It was such a relaxing place to be in - even when you're in the middle of town.

When we told people that our plan was just to spend three days there (inclusive of the days we fly in and out), they all advised us to extend. They were so right! It's the perfect environment to just chill, but still have plenty of outdoor activities to choose from (e.g. ride the luge, go jet boating, see glaciers, etc.).


A charming town with a lot small shops (no tall buildings here) and home to one of the cutest candy stores I've ever seen. Put it this way, my sister described The Remarkable Sweet Shop as coming straight out of an Enid Blyton story.



We bought their Creme Brulee Fudge and Chocolate Hazelnut Nougat - loved both so much that I am planning to buy some online and have it shipped to Singapore. Earl says though that I can only do this once the baby is born as she's getting quite big already (he's trying to limit my sugar intake).


Another wonderful shop is Patagonia Chocolates. Great place for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, but what we ordered instead was a scoop of their Vanilla and Cookies ice cream despite the temperature being 8 °C outside. It won the gold during the 2013 New Zealand Ice Cream Awards so we had to try it.



Earl and I would definitely love to come back, but probably when our daughter is a little bit older - or maybe we'll leave her with Grandma...

Crowne Plaza Queenstown

10 December 2014

Hotels abound in Queenstown, but many are either an uphill climb (literally) or expensive. A happy medium is the Crowne Plaza. It has a great location and you won't be huffing and puffing just to get there.



Pros:

- The room is clean and the bed is comfortable.
- Gift shops and restaurants are all a very short walk from the hotel (some are across the street).
- There's a convenience store next door. More expensive than the supermarket (which is 10 minutes by foot), but great in an emergency.
- Free wi-fi (just sign up for membership which is also free).
- There's a laundry room - cost is NZD 3 per machine. Total washing and drying fee is NZD 6 for one load.


Cons:

- It was hard to get a hold of housekeeping - it seemed like only the number for the reception desk worked.
- In the three days we were there, the breakfast buffet never changed and the options were mediocre at best. Basically, it's just so that you have something to eat without having to walk out in really cold weather.
- The temperature in our room was either cool or cold as the thermostat had no heater option (either that or it wasn't working).
- The in-room safe was located at the bottom of the closet - good thing my husband was around as it's hard to bend down when you're pregnant.
- The laundry room was very musty and needed airing. They provide free detergent, but the machine will only dispense about a tablespoon of liquid soap. We ended up buying our own as I could not imagine how such a tiny amount of detergent could clean a large load of dirty clothes.


For the location alone, I wouldn't mind staying here again, but I'd also be willing to try out some place new if our budget permits.

Hobbiton

05 December 2014
Before we were even married, Earl had this tradition of watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition) every December during his holiday break. He has also read all the books. Thus, there was no question as to where we were going for our next vacation.


After much research and given our time constraints, we decided to go with Bush and Beach's Hobbiton Express Tour. At the rate of NZD 280 per person, it's not cheap - Earl even wanted to skip the tour, but I insisted. Was it worth it? Put it this way, my husband was so glad I didn't listen to him!




Technically this place is about a two hour drive from Auckland, but it's an easy day trip from the city. They will pick you up from your hotel, give a running commentary along the way and drop you off at a cafe for a quick break (both ways). The lunch was buffet style and pretty good - you could go back for seconds (and thirds) if you so wished. At the end of the tour, each guest is given a NZD 10 voucher to use at the gift shop.

As to the drop off, it will depend on where your hotel is located. Our driver decided to have people get down at common areas. We were lucky that our hotel was along the main road so we got off across the street while the others had to walk a bit. Those staying in Ponsonby were told that they would be dropped off at the central business district and they would have to find their own way back.


Bag End


Samwise Gamgee's House


Party Field

All in all, this tour is definitely worth the money if want to see the Shire and get back to the city as soon as possible.
 
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