Last Saturday I made the long-awaited trip to The Bodhi Tree, Nugget Point’s resident Burmese restaurant, and what a treat it was. I had little prior knowledge about anything Burmese, let alone the food. What I had in mind was something similar to Chinese cuisine, what I got was a perfect marriage of fresh and exciting flavours … a pleasant surprise! We arrived at the hotel’s welcoming lobby which even featured an open fire (a nice wee touch that was also present in the restaurant) and were shown to The Bodhi Tree.
Being vegan there’s always the worry that I won’t be able to find something suitable on the menu. Usually I call ahead and always fear the dreaded response when I ask about their food, ‘you can have a garden salad… or maybe the soup but I’m not sure’. The Bodhi Tree however, was a totally different story. Not counting specialised vegan restaurants, The Bodhi Tree has the widest and most varied range of vegan friendly food I have ever seen. Over half of their menu is either already vegan, or able to be customised sans animal products. I was literally spoilt for choice. The knowledgeable and friendly waiting staff explained that the dishes were entrée sized and meant for sharing. She recommended 2-3 dishes each plus a portion of rice to share. Me being me I ordered 4, but hey, no regrets!
One of the starters on the menu was described as ‘our famous tea salad’, so naturally I had to give it a go. Even now I’m not 100% sure what I ate, all I know is the mix of lentils, peanuts and tea leaves was a taste sensation. I then ordered crispy tofu, roasted mushrooms and shallots and split blue peas. Dishes came out as they were ready and I really appreciated this aspect of Burmese dining as we weren’t inundated with food and were able to enjoy each dish individually. It also meant the food literally didn’t stop coming so I was one very happy customer! I personally loved the sharing atmosphere and smaller portions as it meant I could try more things off the menu. The waitress’s recommendation of 2-3 dishes was also spot on!
After we were suitably full to the brim… we ordered dessert! Now I have to say, on paper, semolina cake doesn’t sound all that exciting, however in reality it was one of the nicest vegan cakes I have had the pleasure of eating. My boyfriend chose the muddy mud chocolate cake which would usually fill me with envy, but on this occasion the dairy-free option came out on top! Everyone try this dessert!
I really could not fault anything with The Bodhi Tree. The food was outstanding, the service quick and friendly and I would happily recommend it to vegans and meat-eaters alike as there is something for everyone on this menu. The flavours were intense and the obvious freshness to all the dishes made for a 10 out of 10 experience. I urge anyone making the trip to Queenstown to take the time to try out this unique gem and experience the delights of Burmese cuisine… trust me you won’t be disappointed!
Since arriving in Queenstown I have been waiting impatiently to try out the Onsen Hot Pools. Not only do I love a good bath, but looking at images of the views from the pools over the Shotover River had left me green with envy. After 3 months here today was finally the day and it was easy to see why the demand is so high for this unique experience!
Waking up to -2 degrees I literally had to drag myself out of bed. I drove to the hot pools with the air con turned up full only to be met with a pathetic stream of semi-warm air (Queenstown second hand cars … enough said). When we arrived at the hot pools we saw some work going on outside which we found out was the construction of two new massage rooms. There was a little noise from the drill but as soon as we got downstairs it wasn’t noticeable. We were given a jug of water on arrival, which turned out to be a life saver so I urge you to accept the offer, and the most amazing passion fruit scented candle! We then headed to the pools. You get your own private pool with a maximum of 4 people per room. There are benches and hooks to hang up your clothes and a shower in the corner. The first thing you notice when you walk in is, without a doubt, the view. The Shotover River once again left me enchanted!
Luckily by the time we had arrived the weather had picked up and although it was still freezing, the sky was clear and the view outstanding. The water was hot but not uncomfortably so and there is an option to add cold water as well as a button which controls the retractable roof. Once we had settled in and opened up the roof we were able to really appreciate the views. The snow-capped mountains, crystal blue water and occasional jet boat whizzing past coupled with a silence interrupted only by the sounds of nature, made for a truly unforgettable experience. When I first arrived, I thought I could stay there for hours but in hindsight I think the 60 minute slots are just perfect. Before we knew it, our buzzer was ringing which signalled the end of the most relaxing bath I have ever taken.
I am so glad to have finally gotten to experience all the Onsen Hot Pools have to offer. The concept is simple and it is executed so well. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the pool area was clean and tidy and the whole experience was top notch! I would highly recommend this activity to singles, couples, friends or families – but be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out!
Queenstown, like most of New Zealand, is spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful walks and hiking trails. Living right beside the lake I often take a dander down to the Frankton Trail to walk beside the water. A few weeks ago, I was feeling more adventurous so I did a quick search for Queenstown walks and happened upon the Tiki Trail. Now, whilst I would say I enjoy the odd walk or two, I’m certainly no avid rambler. According to the website the Tiki Trail is moderately difficulty and should take around one hour all in. Spoiler alert – it was neither moderate nor one hour in duration. In saying that though it’s worth doing and you’ll soon see why!
The trail starts at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola. The incline is steep from the get go and the first 20 minutes or so are probably the most difficult. Despite my lungs feeling like they were going to burst and my heart literally beating a mile a minute, the hike through the forest was very refreshing. We passed some other people along the way but for the most part it was just ourselves, the trees and probably hundreds of possums. About half way up we came to a clearing with the most breath-taking views of Queenstown I have seen to date. From this awesome vantage point you can see Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables and we were lucky enough to have the autumn sun on our side which made the view like a postcard.
After an impromptu photo shoot we headed back into the forest and continued uphill. The Tiki Trail winds upwards criss-crossing with the Queenstown Track used by mountain bikers. Take a minute to watch them fly past at top speed but watch your step to avoid a collision! Eventually we arrived at the top of the trail, red-faced and out of breath but feeling very accomplished. At the top we were greeted with the smiling faces of the cool, calm and collected gondola goers who had raced up the hill in 5 minutes and I can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw me emerge from the bushes.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to give luging a go so we just spent some time taking in the view. After a quick 5 minute debate on the merits of walking back down rather than taking the easy option of the gondola, we began our descent. The views from the top are still outstanding but if you’re after amazing photos of Lake Wakatipu I recommend hiking up to the first vantage where there are infinitely less people around. The walk down was of course much more pleasant and as it was getting towards mid-day we passed a lot more people. Throughout the whole descent we were asked ‘how far to the top?’ and my response remained the same ‘not too much further’. Something tells me the guy in the car park wasn’t convinced by my answer…
All in all it took us around two hours to get up and down the trail, with a 20 minute rest at the top. If you’re after a moderate hike, and I’m using this term loosely, with great views of Queenstown then this is the one for you! And if the ascent sounds a bit too challenging then you can always take the gondola up and walk back down. Despite the fact that my calves, knees and ankles would disagree, I have to say that Tiki is definitely a trail worth tackling!
I’ve always been a massive lover of rock-climbing so when I heard about Via Ferrata in Queenstown I was intrigued. Last Saturday when I went to their office on Camp Street to get kitted out, I admittedly didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Thankfully the front office girls and our guide, ML, were really informative and explained exactly what we would be doing. Via ferrata means iron road in Italian and apparently, it originated in Europe as a way for farmers to easily traverse the rocky terrain. It consists of iron ‘steps’ which are fixed into the rock – basically a huge ladder up the mountain!
The starting point of the climb is a car park about 5 minutes outside of town but even there the views are amazing. When ML pointed out the spot we would be climbing I remained sceptical. Staring up at a vertical cliff face I was wondering if it was too late to change my mind! ML went over some safety points with us and before we knew it we were off the ground. Via Ferrata offers a variety of different routes to suit every ability. Our group only had 3 people (I think the max is 4), and we chose to do one of the harder routes – or rather, my group chose and I responded with an uncertain nodding / shaking head manoeuvre. I have to say that throughout the climb I felt very safe. You are strapped into your harness and are always attached to a safety cable that runs beside the steps. There is also a third carabiner which you can use to attach yourself to a step and take the weight off your arms if you need a rest.
The day alternated between climbing and walking which was good as it gave you a chance to place your feet back on solid ground and catch your breath. I wouldn’t say that our climb was easy but rather it was just the right amount of a challenge. On our way up I saw some of the easier routes and they would be perfect for younger or less experienced climbers. The highlight for me was the views. Even from ground level the Queenstown mountains don’t disappoint but the higher you climb the more breath-taking it becomes. Given that I would have undoubtedly dropped my phone, ML was happy to keep it and take loads of photos. By the top of the climb we had reached 300m and I was absolutely knackered. Thankfully, the descent was just a 15 minute walk down the other side of the mountain which joins with the Queenstown Hill track. The trip lasts around 3 hours in total and it flies by! I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves climbing or wants to give it a go. I would say the climbing is easier physically than normal rock climbing and a great alternative if you want to try something a bit different! A huge thanks once again to ML for being such a great guide and to all the team at Via Ferrata for providing a great day out!