A ride on the wild side of the Waikato River, Taupo, New Zealand

Strictly speaking, we simply did the riding – not the driving – but I can assure you – it was WILD (erm, thanks – *I think* – to Jeremy, our guide).


I didn’t really comprehend the adrenalin rush that the Huka Falls Jet Boat would give me, until I tried to stand up straight – after half an hour of being swung in an uncountable number of 360 degree spins and sudden thrusts, from left to right (& every which way between).

Before the jet boating (and before my legs turned to jelly!).

Before the jet boating (and before my legs turned to jelly!).


After the ride my legs were jelly, literally. I walked off the boat having to focus on sending messages from my brain to my legs to move in the direction I wanted to go – away from the water to dry land as quickly as possible!

The river Waikato is stunning and a paddle down the gentler parts, in a scenic boat trip or kayak, would be beautiful – but this ride – let’s just say – it’s ‘beauty on speed’!


If you like a shot of adrenaline and want to see the Huka Falls ‘wild side’ then this is the best way to do it (though I did witness some ‘cray cray’ kayakers going down the falls once – and held my breath when one nearly didn’t make it!).



This beautiful river is somewhere I yearn to spend longer exploring. I would happily take days to enjoy this river in a multitude of ways, if time allowed (and my children were all game!). In fact, in past years, I have enjoyed a beautiful kayak on the calmer parts of the river (with Taupo Kayak Tours), and a walk along side it, where the Aratiatia Dam opens to send water cascading down every couple of hours.


There are amazing mountain bike paths running parallel to the river and opportunities to white-water raft on parts of it – with different options to suit all ages.

It really is spectacular, and so much so, that parts of one of the Hobbit movies were filmed on the river!

Anyway, no barrel rafting for our kiddos, just a bit of jet boat action, (which was enough for our Miss 5 – who really thought she was going for a scenic boat trip to see a pretty water fall and some baby ducklings… but coped remarkably well with the experience!).


We were all glad of a warm meal and a hug with, the one an only, Shawn the Shrimp afterwards at the Huka Prawn Park Restaurant!



Linking up with the wonderful…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Magic Moment – reunited with the man of the house & prawn fishing!

After eight sleeps away on business, the man of the house is back! He was away in the UK and flew the long haul to LA, and on to Auckland, before the ‘hop’ down to Taupo to meet up with us on Sunday.

Taupo Airport is a gorgeous place to hang out, especially in the sunshine with all the small aircraft to watch and the sky divers parachuting down!

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Waiting to see their Daddy fly in at Taupo Airport.

There was huge excitement when the man of the house landed and as his plane taxied around on the runway we caught a glimpse of his beaming smile through the window.

Our youngest couldn’t wait to take him prawn fishing! She made a sign, with the help of her oldest sister…

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Welcome back Daddy!

And after a quick stop to admire the gorgeous views over Lake Taupo, and climb on some rocks, we headed off to the fun Huka Prawn Park for the afternoon!

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So wonderful to be reunited again and see the girls with their Daddy.

Finding some geothermal hot spots at the edge of Lake Taupo.

Finding some geothermal hot spots at the edge of Lake Taupo.

Onto the prawn park….!

We have visited the restaurant at this beautiful spot on the Waikato River many times over the years, but have never tried our hand at actually catching a prawn.

Preparing to go prawn fishing, whilst hugging some hot prawns!

Preparing to go prawn fishing, whilst hugging some hot prawns!

We spent a while grimacing over the bait on the hooks and dangling our rods in the water. We could feel the prawns latching on with their claws and tugging at the bait, but none of us managed to snare a crafty prawn.

Prawn fishing in Taupo.

Prawn fishing in Taupo.

On a warm summer’s day I could definitely see the appeal in sitting there a lot longer and being more patient with our luck, but as the spring air had a bit of a chill in it we kept moving and had so much fun on the adventure play areas in the prawn park.

Prawn cyclist at work!

Prawn cyclist at work!

The prawn cycles were fun (spraying out water as you pedalled) and the hot tubs of geothermal water to soak our tootsies in were so relaxing.

Alice soaking her feet in a geothermal foot bath.

Alice soaking her feet in a geothermal foot bath.

We had great fun running the gauntlet over stepping stones with water intermittently showering down above us, testing out our strength on a rope-pull system, and our weight on another activity. A few highlights on this video…

After having a lot of fun running around the park we headed off for a late lunch at the restaurant (well, it was the first day of daylight saving, with the clocks having sprung forward the night before).

Family lunch at the Huka Prawn Park.

Family lunch at the Huka Prawn Park.

Our oldest daughter turned out to be the biggest fan of the prawns (Daddy was happy he didn’t have to share them with all his daughters!).

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Man of the house meets prawn.

A great afternoon, finished with a relaxing chill in the pool at the apartment, whilst watching the sunset over beautiful Lake Taupo.

Swimming in the pool.

Swimming in the pool.

The colours over the lake of the setting sun really were magic! It was like the sky was celebrating our family being together again.

Sunset over Lake Taupo

Sunset over Lake Taupo


Linking up with…


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Road trip, Wellington to Taupo, from beaches & playgrounds to volcanoes and snow!

What a road trip (in a good way)! I was dreading it many ways (5 hours driving with three children), but also quietly confident (as they’d been incredibly awesome for me all week – whilst their Daddy was working away overseas).

We left our home in Wellington at 9.30am on a Saturday morning, trying to keep how nervous puppy reassured that good friends were arriving soon to stay with him in our absence (he kept trying to escape out the front door and into the car every time we loaded another bag in).

We drove off with the car bingo sheets held enthusiastically in each child’s grip (though my 12 year old is more of a young adult – in a good way, than a child) and I was wondering how long the game would last. I’d chosen quite a Kiwi themed car bingo (thanks Kiwi Holiday Parks), which included spotting a Maori carving, someone wearing jandals, shorts and gumboots, a volcano, an All Blacks flag and some road kill…!

They had ticked off the Maori carving before we’d even left Wellington!

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that the car bingo was still ensuing, in a harmonious, team spirited way, for almost an hour into the five hour drive. My youngest daughter, Alice (aged 5), got a bit tired at that stage (trying to look for a black sheep in amongst the thousands of white will do that).

As we drove along the stunning Kapiti Coast I reminisced about day-trips we’d had there in the past and a couple of memorable holidays staying at a bach on the beach in Te Horo. There were so many places I wanted to stop off at – Lindale, the Nikau Forest, the beaches, Queen Elizabeth Country Park for a tram ride and horse ride, the Southward Car Museum, and many more, but we ended up pulling up at Peka Peka Beach, where ‘Happy Feet’ (as he was later named) the Emperor Penguin was found and rescued one bitterly cold winter’s day in 2011.

Peka Peka, Kapiti Beach

After a brief pit stop we got back in the car for half an hour longer, stopping at the amazing Levin Adventure Playground. WOW! What a place! If only all towns in the world could have a playground like this one – it would definitely deter children away from the screens and keep them fit.

Levin Adventure Playground

My girls and I spent at least half an hour climbing, running, balancing, swinging and even doing a few sit ups, pull ups and other weight bearing exercises (oh and there was an awesome flying fox too!).


Feeling fresher and well exercised we got back into the car, loaded up with a latte for the driver and refreshments for my girls.

I planned to put my foot to the pedal and motor on for as far as I could for the next hour to two hours, as my youngest was ready to have a nap.

Though she held out just long enough for us to see the windmill in Foxton and take a road-trip pit-stop photograph (the windmill wasn’t on the car bingo list, but it was one of those ‘got to be seen’ iconic things on a road trip)!


She then promptly fell asleep to the beats of Imagine Dragons, alternating with my oldest daughter’s love of Pentatonix (which has become a firm school run favourite), as well as various songs from Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz – a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman.

Our next stop was ‘The Brown Sugar Cafe’ in Taihape (a memorable stop for hubby and I in our before children days – as we used to stop off there on a Friday night, driving up to Ohakune, for a weekend of skiing). We arrived early afternoon, after the lunch-time rush, and enjoyed a good feed and a browse of the wonderful array of items they have for sale.

We couldn’t leave Taihape without taking a photograph of a gumboot (the girls took some convincing as I told them about the annual gumboot throwing contest and that Taihape was indeed the gumboot capital of the world!). They wouldn’t all get out the car for a photo in front of the gumboot (though my 9 year old daughter, Sophie, got out and took a selfie of herself in front of the giant sculptured gumboot), whilst I took a standard postcard shot for posterity.


Back on the road we got, with a full tank of petrol, toward volcano country (one for the car bingo!).

Just as the snowy terrain of the distant Mt Ruapehu rose to greet us on the horizon, we approached the Waiouru Army Museum.


We made a quick stop here, for a visit to the toilets and a climb on a tank, planning to visit properly on our return road-trip on Friday.


Driving along Desert Road, through Rangipo Desert, we were all awake and focused on the snow clad volcanic terrain rising up to meet the ominously heavy cloud cover sitting heavy atop it. The land around us, only inhabited by the strongest of flora and the Kaimanawa Wild Horses.

The amazing ‘chocolate like’ layers of different rock sediment had us all fascinated.


By this stage of the journey we were becoming more aware of the reaching our final destination, Taupo. It was with great excitement that we turned a corner and got a glimpse of the giant lake ahead of us.

IMG_7580Memories of earlier holidays came flooding back to me and I smiled in hearing my youngest daughter’s reactions at seeing new territory with her own eyes for the first time (my older girls had vague memories of earlier trips, kept fresh with the copious photos I’ve taken over the years and stories I tell them, over and over again of ‘Do you remember when…?’).


The girls were all very keen to reach our lake front apartment before sunset – so they could enjoy a dip in the swimming pool (but I was personally focused on stopping off at the supermarket in Turangi to stock up  on supplies and much needed wine for the night ahead!).

After a quick supply stop we drove onto our final destination, spotting the trout fishermen,  along the way.

We reached our gorgeous apartment (hubby had really surprised us with an amazing place to stay!) with a good hour to spare before darkness. The girls helped me unpack the car before diving in the swimming pool (which was thankfully heated!).

The sunset colour, reflecting back from the surface of the lake, were absolutely glorious. After a swim, a bath / shower and a few board games we were ready for bed and so excited to go to sleep knowing we’d see the man of the house the next day, after a long eight sleeps of missing him.


Here’s our road trip video. We did it!


Linking up with:-

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A fun time, making colour changing drinks

The New World Little Kitchen is continuing to inspire and prompt experimentation in our kitchen at home. We had a lot of fun boiling up a red cabbage to make a dark red, nearly black, liquid.

We used the liquid, once drained, to make some colour changing drinks and ‘potions’ !

We experimented with milk, lemon juice and orange juice, amongst other things we found in the kitchen…


We also made some blue ice-cubes, by adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to some of the red-cabbage liquid, which turned the liquid blue. Then we poured the blue liquid into an ice-cube tray, and left it overnight in the freezer, to turn to ice.

The next day we made up some homemade lemonade, mixing the juice of 3 lemons with a litre of water and around 140g of sugar (or to taste).

The fun came in adding a blue ice-cube to the lemonade drink and seeing the colour change from lemon to pink!

IMG_7035Brilliant fun!

Check out the New World – YouTube channel for more ideas to experiment with in the kitchen.

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A wonderful visit to Singapore Zoo

Whilst on a sunshine holiday, in the midst of New Zealand’s winter, we enjoyed a fantastic day-trip to Singapore Zoo, along with Chinese Grandma and Granddad, who flew in from the UK to meet us for a holiday.


The Zoo is set in a rainforest (so take an umbrella!), though there are a vast array of animals from all sorts of environments. More than 2,800 animals representing over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles call Singapore Zoo home.

We took along a couple of animals of our own, tee hee!

A real highlight of the Zoo is the free ranging Orang-Utan area.

‘Two free-ranging areas, an island and a boardwalk complete with tall trees and thick vegetation, have been created for visitors to view these fascinating creatures. The absence of walls and the inclusion of the raised boardwalk allow guests to have an almost entirely 360 degree view at an elevated angle.’ Singapore Zoo – Exhibits & Zones – Free Ranging Orang Utan.


We were in awe to see the orang-utan living so freely in such a beautifully natural setting, with a thriving community of young and old. The Zoo is home to Bornean and Sumatran orang-utan.


The Zoo has long been acclaimed for its environmentally friendly styled enclosures – with natural barriers, rather than cages and bars, providing a much more appealing space for the animals to be cared for.


It isn’t easy to be on your feet for long in the tropical Singapore heat (especially visiting from a temperature climate), but the Zoo has a little tram to transport people around and there are plenty of shows, throughout the day, mostly in the shade, where a chance to sit down and be ‘lizard like’ in the heat is given!


We drank a lot of water all day and were delighted with the children’s water play area (half way around the Zoo).


It was positioned at the perfect ‘half-way’ point of our Zoo visit – or an easy tram ride from any of the various stations positioned around the Zoo. Our daughters had a great time cooling down and enjoying a bite to eat.

There was also a fun obstacle course area, with a raft to cross a pond.


Sophie and Alice did well to work the ropes and pull themselves across. Fun!


In the late afternoon I enjoyed seeing the reptiles with my oldest and youngest daughters, Charlotte and Alice. Whilst I as equally fascinating about the animals we were seeing, I also loved seeing the expressions on the faces of my daughters.


At the end of a wonderful day we met up at the entrance area to the zoo, where there were a few cafes and drink bars to choose from – a great rendezvous place. We were too tired to contemplate doing the ‘Night Safari’, at least the younger members of our family group were, but we were more than content with the wonderful day we’d experienced.


I’m linking up with the wonderful ‘Country Kids’ at Coombe Mill, in Cornwall in the UK – a place I’d love to visit one day. Though it’s been a while since our Singapore holiday, in July, I needed a fix of sunshine this week (as our newly sprouted Spring – in New Zealand – still has winter’s sting in its tail!).

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Sponsored video post on New World, ‘Little Kitchen’, inspired experiments!

Walking down the New World supermarket aisles it is impossible to miss the ‘Little Kitchen’ inspired products, merchandise and ideas at every turn. Throw in the cute ‘Little Kitchen’ collectables at the counter and my children are hooked and wanting to know more.

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My youngest daughter, aged 5, proudly tells people, ‘I was born in the year of the iPad’ and she can’t imagine the world before ‘YouTube‘. Naturally, it didn’t take long for her to discover the fun experiments in the kitchen being wonderfully demonstrated by Bompass and Parr, for example, this awesome ‘Glowing Jelly Experiment’…

I haven’t had a chance to get together the ingredients to do the glowing jelly experiment yet, but we have already had fun making slime!


Full instructions are on the You Tube channel, simply using cornflour and cold water to create a fun gloopy mess (we chose to add a dash of green food colouring!).


The videos are really inspiring, but leave me feeling a little nervous and exhausted too… let’s just say that after making and playing with the gloop (and then cleaning up – 99% of the time ‘Mum’s domain’!) I didn’t want to spend another second in my kitchen to cook dinner (so sent hubby out to buy take-away and wine!). Thankfully, at the bottom of the videos there are easier, ‘try this at home’ experiments, listing simple ingredients and instructions.

Forgetting the mess for a moment (excuse me whilst I slowly count to ten and meditate, ‘OM’!) it is immense fun to experiment like this in the kitchen with children.

Parent + child in the kitchen = a recipe for fun (and a lesson in patience, maths, reading, comprehension, science and more!).

Whilst making the gloopy slime tonight, with my extremely enthusiastic five year old, I was joined by my 12 year old daughter and our neighbour’s daughter. Later on in the evening, when I’d cleaned up for dinner (said take-away, with wine for me), my 9 year old daughter discovered the bowl of gloop and… after dinner was eaten, there was yet more fun to be had, learning about the amazing substance that isn’t really a solid or a liquid… it’s just fun and amazing (and very scientific, if you know how to speak ‘science’!).

With each new collectable that I bring home (with every $40 I spend on my shopping I get a sealed package containing a mini grocery collectable and a Little Kitchen activity, Lab Note) there’s new inspiration for fun and learning in the kitchen. My children are enjoying how the collectables have their own special properties, such as ‘scratch and sniff’ pineapples, magnets to keep their artwork on the fridge door and (a personal fav) a colour changing elephant!

I’m forever surprised at what ingredients I’ll be sent back to the supermarket for next – for example, the other day they headed off to school reminding me to buy a red cabbage – so they could boil it up and make cabbage juice for a colour changing drink experiment (I am now heading to sleep with cabbage juice & bicarbonate of soda infused ice-cubes in my freezer!).

By the way this post has been presented by New World, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I only do sponsored posts once in a while, when the products really hit a groove with my family and I. This was one that ticked all the boxes! Happy experimenting!

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