[New Zealand 2014] Almyra Waterfront Lodge

Ever since my honeymoon in France where I was pampered to bits staying in 5 star luxury hotels, I’ve found myself wanting to replicate the experience again when I was looking for accommodations for my trip to Nelson, New Zealand. The inevitable question, do I go for a cheap motel lodge in the heart of Nelson city, or do I splash out on a luxury B&B with great views but located in a more idyllic and further away spot?

I searched through a great number of hotels in Nelson, but the website that I kept going back to was Almyra Waterfront Lodge. It was really love at first sight looking at the pictures of the property. Almyra Waterfront Lodge is perched on a slight hill, overlooking the Kina Estuary and Mount Arthur Ranges in the distance. Imagine, waking up to such views, while sipping coffee and having breakfast?

Well, to cut the long story short, book with Almyra Waterfront Lodge we did. It cost about NZ$400 for our room which was the Tasman Suite, for the 2nd week of December. We had to change our itinerary a little, cutting short the time spent in Marlborough and making full use of our location north of Nelson by visiting the Abel Tasman National Park as well as the small towns of Motueka and Mapua.

Almyra Waterfront Lodge Montage 2

It’s a pity we were out for the greater part of the day for the 2 days that we were at Almyra. Otherwise, I would loved to have enjoyed the grounds a little more. There is tiny pond which Almyra has installed. It’s a nice spot to have afternoon tea or just relax as demonstrated by the Partner above.

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Favourite foods to serve for your English Afternoon Tea Party

I have a soft spot for all things British, and I think there’s no better way to spend the weekend than partaking in a spot of afternoon tea. Unfortunately, while there may be cafes galore in Singapore, 2 or 3 hundred I heard, there are precious few places to enjoy a good English afternoon tea. Most of the 5-star hotels in Singapore offer afternoon tea, usually ala-carte on weekdays and buffet-style or all-you-can-eat ala-carte style on weekends, and these are usually costly affairs limited to special occasions.

I’ve been wanting to create my own afternoon tea at home. Been having this idea for several years actually! But since my return from New Zealand where I had a really good scone plus iced chocolate sitting in the gardens and facing some hills, the idea of throwing my own afternoon tea party has been rolling at the back of my mind. It’ll double up as my house-warming party too. Instead of the usual catered buffet of beehoon, fish-balls and stuff, what do you think of the idea of a afternoon tea housewarming party?

I was googling what I could serve for this tea party, and the options were plentiful! It took a little bit of effort to remind myself that a few dainty dishes would go a long way and it’s not about creating a Guinness world record in afternoon tea party dishes. I reckon 3 savouries, 2 scones, and 3 sweet treats would do the trick, just like what you would get in a 3-tiered tea service at the hotels.

Here’s my top picks on what to serve for the quintessential British afternoon tea party.

1. Plain scones with lashings of jam and clotted cream

theknollssconewithclottedcreamandjam

Scones are from my visit to The Knolls at Capella Sentosa

Every afternoon tea has got to have scones in the menu, otherwise, it just won’t be English afternoon tea! Here’s a recipe for plain scones from Mary Berry.

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[New Zealand 2014] Driving from Picton to Nelson

After disembarking from the InterIslander Ferry that took us from Wellington at the bottom of the North Island to Picton at the top of the South Island, and getting settled into our nifty little rented Toyota from Avis, we got cracking on the journey to Nelson. The ferry ride took almost 4 hours instead of the usual 3, due to some loading issues, so we were keen to make up for lost ground.

There are two routes to Nelson. The scenic route takes you through curvy mountainous roads but rewards you with a spectacular view of the land, the straighter route takes you through flat wine country. Apparently both routes take about the same amount of time, as you have to drive quite slowly on the curvy mountain roads.

The route to Nelson goes through a little bit of the Marlborough region (ie wine country) but we weren’t intending to go for any wine tastings this time round, having already had ample opportunity during our honeymoon in Alsace, France last year. This time round, the focus of the holiday would be nature and scenery, and of course, lots of relaxation.

Vines Village

The Vines Village (Website , Google Map)

However, we did stop at The Vines Village, which is still along the route to Nelson. As the name suggests, the Vines Village comprises of a mish mash of several shops showcasing Marlborough’s arts, craft, food, wine and design. We were really absorbed in this shop selling numerous jams, honeys, liquors and what not. Really good place to stock up for last minute gifts or souvenirs. If you have the time, you could also rent a bicycle to explore the area.

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Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya at Orchard Central

A very Happy New Year 2015 to all my readers out there! Hope the countdown and celebrations have been a blast for you, and here’s to more great eats and good food finds in the coming year.

I had a pretty memorable December 31 myself, starting the day with a art jamming session with my colleagues followed by an impromptu lunch at Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya with the Partner. My colleague happened to rave about her dinner at Sumiya. I thought I would check it out some time soon, but since our art jamming was in Dhoby Ghaut, no better day to check out Sumiya in Orchard Central than the day itself!

I was a little apprehensive at the cost, since my colleague said she spent $140 for 2 pax for dinner! But when she told me the number of dishes she’d ordered, each dish being about $15 – $20, that sounded a little more manageable. Well, turns out it was a great decision to visit Sumiya for lunch. They have these fantastic set lunches such as assorted tempura and sashimi, grilled eel etc going at very affordable prices.

Sumiya Charcoal Grill Izakaya - Mix Bara Kaisen Don $18.80 (11)

Mix Bara Kaisen Don $18.80

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[New Zealand 2014] 5D4N in Nelson Abel Tasman / Picton

How time flies, my 17 day trip to New Zealand is officially over! I had intended to post a few blog posts during my time in New Zealand, but there were so many distractions ranging from Facebook, Instagram and just plain relaxing that I decided to heck it. To this day, I am amazed I managed to push out a number of posts while on holiday in Norway and Denmark!

Although the this trip may sound long, in actual fact the touristy stuff happened in the 1st half of the trip, with the 2nd half being more of family stuff as the Partner has family in New Zealand (aka my chance to live like a local). This is actually my 5th trip to New Zealand but only my 2nd time to the South Island. Since I had already covered the usual favourites such as Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound etc, our focus this time round was to spend time in the Northernmost part of the South Island, ie the Marlborough / Nelson Abel Tasman areas. This is not an area that is usually covered by the tour groups but is picturesque in its own right. We spent about 4 glorious days in this region, as well as about 1.5 days in Wellington (capital of New Zealand) before flying back to Auckland. 

Journey-wise, we opted to fly into Auckland first from Singapore via Singapore Airlines, followed by JetStar to Wellington. We spent a night in Wellington before waking up at the crack of dawn to catch the 3-hour InterIslander ferry from Wellington to Picton. For those of you who are keen to explore the same area I did, you could also take the 10 hour Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington, followed by the ferry ride. I hear the train ride is super scenic and we almost opted for this to enjoy the scenery, but decided to skip it in the interest of time and factoring in additional nights in a hotel etc. Also, the train only goes 3 times a week. We also almost took the option of flying to Christchurch (South Island) from Singapore, followed by driving up to Marlborough / Nelson Abel Tasman, but because air-tickets were fast running out back in September, we opted to fly into Auckland instead of Christchurch in case we changed our minds about going down south.

Kaitaki - InterIslander Ferry

The Kaitaki which we took to Picton. Snapped this picture when I spotted it on my return journey back to Wellington.

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