Today was the day for our biannual yum cha. My friend Mel and I go to a different venue each time. We are also on a quest to go to as many restaurants with the word red in it’s name. Red Emporer ticks both those boxes. It has also been featured in the 2013 Good Food Guide, given a rating of 14 out of 20.
We arrived at 1.30 for the second sitting of the day to find a long queue. However we were seated quickly and were able to see the view of the CBD from the middle of the restaurant. The trolleys quickly started their procession past our tables. The waitresses seemed to assume we would want everything they were serving but we like to try just one or two dishes at a time. They would put them on the table then have to take them away. It quickly became tiresome having to tell them that we didn’t want everything. We love to drink jasmine tea with yum cha and the waiters were constantly filling our tea pot with hot water, thereby weakening the tea, which got annoying.
We ate ten different dishes and while they were nice there was nothing that really stood out. Some of the larger pieces of calamari were quite tough. Most of the dumplings were really nice but not so different to some we had eaten at other restaurants. We wouldn’t have minded so much except the bill came to $97 for the two of us. For that price we expected outstanding food.
Today is Grand Final Day, one of the most (dare I say THE MOST) important days on the Aussie sporting calendar. Many of you will disagree but that’s fine. I’m a footy fanatic and Sydney Swans supporter.
My team played Hawthorn and won. Yippee. It was a very close game with the lead see-sawing a few times but the Swans held on. I’m over the moon and off to celebrate so no other posts today.
On January 12th, we left Christchurch to begin our journey north. Our first town on the journey was Hanmer Springs which is known as New Zealand’s spa country but also has a lot of adventure activities like bungy jumping. Climbing into the mountains inland, the scenery changed dramatically. In and around Christchurch it was quite brown and dry but as we were heading to the alpine areas the terrain became, well more alpine. After about 90 mins of driving we arrived in the pretty little town. First of all we found our accommodation which was at the Village Lake Apartments. We had to wait because the apartment wasn’t ready so we drove back into town and had a look around. Being a small town it didn’t take us long to walk from one end to the other but we were able to appreciate its beauty. Everything looked green and lush; so different to what we were used to during a Melbourne summer. We looked in all the cafes and pubs trying to decide where we would eat that night. We decided to eat at Robbie’s Bar and Bistro. So with that decision made we headed back to the apartment. A little while later we were able to go in.
Talk about luxury!! One step inside the modern apartment had us all saying ‘wow’. We entered a kitchen/lounge room with a balcony. The doors folded back to be flush with the door creating a larger room. The view was gorgeous.
View from our balcony
After unpacking we walked the short distance to the Thermal Pools and Spa for which the town is so famous. Within the complex are 12 open-air thermal pools, 3 sulfur pools (which I’d never tried before) and 6 private thermal pools that are availalbe when you bought packages. We started in the coolest pool which was a nice 28 deg celsius and worked our way up to the warmest pool which was about 42 degrees although we didn’t stay in that one for long because it was too hot. Some of the pools also had jets placed in different places so the water was concentrated onto our legs or shoulders. We spent about 2 hours there altogether. We would have liked to come back but we were only in town for one day before driving to Kaikoura. I’d definitely recommend trying the spas and pools. We didn’t have any massages but there are a variety of packages for people interested in those and other treatments.
At dinner time we walked back to Robbie’s Bar and Bistro. We had requested a table in the beer garden because it was a nice, warm day and it was still warm in the evening. I had a small list of wineries I wanted to visit or at least try their wines. One of them was Brancott Estate. We visited them when we were in the Marlborough region but for now I decided to try one of their wines.
We ate a lovely dinner and an even lovelier Sav Blanc. Luckily we had walked over because we had a few drinks. After dinner we walked back to the apartment and opened a bottle of wine and sat on the balcony enjoying the view and wine.
The International Antarctic Centre is located opposite Christchurch airport and is designed to give “visitors of all ages with an interactive, fun and exciting experience on Antarctica”.
There are lots of displays showing what it’s like to live in Antarctica, from both animal and human perspectives. My favourite section was watching a 17 minute video Beyond the Frozen Sunset which showed the view from a small plane. The scenery is so beautful and because they strapped a camera to the underside of a helicopter they were able to capture the beauty. It really made us feel like we were there which is what they wanted us to feel.
The most challenging thing we did was go into the Snow and Ice Experience where we felt our first snow storm. We donned the heavy jackets and not-so-trendy boots before stepping into the room. Although my Dad didn’t want to join Mum and I because he grew up in northern England so has more than enough experience of snow storms. The temperature in the room is normally -5 celsius but every hour they simulate an ice storm where the temperature drops to -18 celsius. They also provide a commentary from the operations room to show what they say during the storm. They described the conditions as they worsened, then we saw a lightning and heard thunder then communication all but stopped due to the high winds (40 kms per hour) that were blowing around us. We couldn’t hear a thing. I don’t like cold weather but was happy to try it out for the 5 minute duration. It did nothing to endear me to cold weather though. I’d love to fly over Antarctica one day but it would never be warm enough for me to spend time on the continent.
We also saw some fairy penguins playing (and sleeping) in what was designed to be their natural environment. Penguins are so cute.
You could easily spend almost a whole day here. There is so much to do including a Hagglund Ride and a 4D movie. If you are looking for something to do in Christchurch, it’s a great day out. There’s also a cafe and souvenir shop.
Taking a break from my New Zealand album today because I’m finishing off a big scrapbooking project and I have a deadline of Thursday night.
In July, a friend and I went to the Yering Farmer’s Market in the Yarra Valley. It was the first time for both of us so we didn’t know what to expect. The market had been featured on an episode of Postcards earlier this year so we put it on our ‘to do’ list.
They run the market from a barn but since it’s become so popular they now have stalls outside both entrances. You can buy everything from fresh pasta to cupcakes, jams, sauces and fudges. Oh and of course they also sell fruit and vegies. There are also butchers that sell very popular meats. I couldn’t get near any of the butcher stalls.
Beautiful cupcakes are made by Little Red Wagon Cupcakes, a Yarra Valley business. They were delicious.
Lyttleton is a port town on the Lyttleton Harbour on the outskirts of Christchurch. Until the earthquakes caused severe damage the town was a popular destination for cruise ships. Now passengers disembark further south at Akaroa. To get to Lyttleton most people drive through the tunnel through the Port Hills. The idea of doing that scared me and originally I wasn’t going to go down there but my parents were so I eventually changed my mind. Some people were temporarily trapped in the tunnel during the Feb 2011 earthquake and that scared me. We made it through without any problems though and came out just outside the town. There was a lot of damage everywhere. We drove through and out the other side, wondering how far we could go before the road to New Brighton was closed. We passed the site of the old timeball, debris still lying where it fell. We passed these concrete ‘walls’ where they have filled these gigantic cylinders with concrete to stop any further landslides and prevent more houses slipping.
We parked the car in a deserted street. Normally it would have been very busy. Walking the length of the street gave us a real insight into what it used to be like. It looks like it was a hub of the town. There was a display outside the library that showed before and after the quake photos of buildings in that street.
Wanting to support local businesses we looked for somewhere to buy something for lunch but there wasn’t much open. I found a pop up juice bar and bought a beautiful cup of juice. Further up the street we found some other pop up businesses in containers including The Porthole but that was closed. A Petanque Club has also been formed on one corner. Locals have taken advantage of cleared sites to launch new businesses. I hope they are able to move into more permanent venues soon.
Punting on the Avon River was high on Mum’s must do list while we were in Christchurch. We weren’t sure if they were open due to being so close to the red zone but although two of the other courses were closed, this one was open. Our punter, Tom, gave us a commentary as he punted a few hundred metres north through the Botanic Gardens.
A punt is a flat-bottomed boat that is propelled by a pole. You can see the boats in the photo above.
It was a lovely, warm day and so relaxing drifting along in the punt. It was idyllic. On one side of the river were the well-manicured Botanic Gardens. The city council is still paying for the upkeep of the gardens as they are a real showpiece of the city. However on the other side of the river is Hagley Park which were a little more, shall we say, unkempt. They are still beautiful though, with lots of trees and bulb displays in spring but the lawns aren’t mowed as often. The Council obviously has a lot more to spend its money on these days.
One of the bridges we punted under used to be a flat bridge but the earthquake caused a lift in the centre of the bridge. the strangest thing is that the lift is perfectly centred. We thought the bridge had been built that way.