Tag Archives: auckland

Sculpture in the Gardens 2013

Auckland Botanic Gardens
9 November 2013 – 16 February 2014

The beautiful flowers and nicely trimmed trees have been taken over by horses, rabbits, crabs, giant ants and a magpie. Nope, I’m not having bizarre dreams. The weird and wonderful world of art has appeared in the Auckland Botanic Gardens, with twenty nine sculptures installed for the Summer. These sculptures are set upon a two kilometre trail that meanders through the picturesque gardens.

They’ve even gone ‘techie’ this year. QR codes are available at each installation for you to scan and view videos on the art work, creative process or artist.

Opening day was bustling, with many families and groups of friends packing a picnic and making a day of it. Our group of four adults and four children had a blast, enjoying a gentle stroll in the sun.

Here is a run down of some of our favourite sculptures on display this year;

I believe that you should be able to touch and feel art. None of this admire from afar business. And, the kids in our group agree. So, they absolutely loved Oliver Stretton-Pow’s ‘Rooks‘. They could chase each other around the sculpture and pop their heads (and bodies) inside the pieces. Loads of fun! The big shady trees make this the perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch and a spot of people watching.

CelesteReviews Rooks Oliver Stretton-Pow

Rooks by Oliver Stretton-Pow

Nearby, just waiting for the knight in shining armour to jump atop, is ‘The White Horse’ by Ben Foster. An angular creation of aluminium and epoxy automotive spray, I loved it’s stark contrast to the greenery surrounding the sculpture. I also love the intrigue this piece causes, as you can glimpse it in the distance from the main entrance of the Gardens and you catch moments of white between the trees as you walk the trail towards it.

CelesteReviews The White Horse by Ben Foster

The White Horse by Ben Foster

According to Bryan Verey, Magpies say “Quardle Oodle Ardle Wardle Doodle”. The beady eyed magpie sitting atop a rustic farm gate in ‘Over the Farm Gate’ brought back a lot of childhood rural memories. I was careful with my glittery jewellery as I passed!

CelesteReveiws Bryan Verey

Over the Farm Gate by Bryan Verey

A picnic in the park isn’t complete without some ants. Three giant bronze ants happily march along the patio of the Visitor’s Centre towards Jim Wheeler’s two ‘Regeneration’ installations.
CelesteReviews Samantha Lissette Sculpture

Part of “Atta Mediae” by Samantha Lissette

CelesteReviews Jim Wheeler Sculpture in the Gardens

Regenration: Oak Garden Fork & Regeneration: Oak Garden Spade by Jim Wheeler

The talented Llew Summers was invited to exhibit his work again this year, developing ‘Ariel’ from his fascination with wings. Be sure you also view his gorgeous ‘Butterfly’ bronze situated on the lawn in front of the cafe. It’s one of my favourites and is a permanent sculpture at the Gardens.

CelesteReviews Ariel Llew Summers

Ariel by Llew Summers

Croc Dundee would be proud of size of the knife served up by Michael Klaja and Gordon Smith. The hubby particularly liked this piece of art, aptly named ‘Carving up the Land’. (Image to follow – sorry, my photo was blurry).

My nieces (aged 4 and 6) thought the ‘rabbit and the crab’ were fun, but the crab was a little scary. Rabbit and Crabby have a great position, looking out over the rose gardens.

CelesteReviews Jamie Pickernell

Oh Crabby I do believe we’re rather last! by Jamie Pickernall

Clever use of woven corrugated iron and timber create ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Jeff Thomson. This fun installation is vibrant among the trees.

CelesteReviews Jeff Thomson

Home Sweet Home by Jeff Thomson

I would have loved to have been able to get up closer to ‘Flotilla’. I enjoyed Lucy Bucknall’s Otter piece on the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Snells Beach, so I was really interested to see this installation. However, set in the upper lake, you couldn’t quite make out all the animals and facial expressions that I’m sure make this sculpture delightful.

CelesteReviews Flotilla by Lucky Bucknall and Andy MacVicar

Flotilla by Lucky Bucknall and Andy MacVicar

Spring is a magical time of the year to visit the Gardens.  The smells and colour on show are a feast for the senses. Don’t forget to also take a peek at the permanent art works that are also on display around the property.

Top Tip: It’s FREE to visit the Auckland Botanic Gardens, so pack a picnic and make a day of it.

In a Nutshell: A wonderful way to spend a Summer’s Day.

Lost in Time…

Metro Centre, Sublevel 3
291-297 Queen Street, Auckland

Firstly, I’d just like to announce that “I am the current Twinnies Mini Golf Champion“. Those of you who know me will understand that it’s not often that I can claim a sporting title. Even if it was only against a few other twin mums from my coffee group. However, you have to make the most of these situations when they arise, so excuse me while I sing it from the rafters.

The last time I played mini golf was under a black light at Transylvania in West Auckland. So, it was time to dust off the putter and have another laugh at the poor golf ball’s expense and check out the new course in town.

Lost in Time opened in July 2013, and is located in the basement of the old Queen Street Borders Bookshop. The 18 hole course takes you on a journey through kiwi history.

CelesteReviews Lost in Time

No pressure!

CelesteReviews Lost in Time

The first few holes are set in the middle of a WWI battlefield. I mean, as if the pressure of sinking the ball wasn’t enough, add troops with machine guns and rifles pointed at you during the process!

Stepping through the doors to the Gold Mine, the next two holes are located in a dark narrow corridor under black light. Luckily the golf balls are painted in day-glow colours.

Based on Waihi’s Martha Mine, thankfully they’ve themed it from a historic mining angle, complete with glow worms in the tunnel/mine shaft, rather than making you play in the depths of the huge hole that the open cast mine resembles today.

CelesteReviews Lost in Time Marae

Next up is a natural setting with native New Zealand bush and imagery, with a soundtrack of bird calls and running water. Look out for the automated kiwis rummaging around near the Marae.

One hole is shaped like a koru (tricky spiral course) and another depicts a kiwi with an egg.

Finally, we enter the piece de resistance of this course – the Dinosaurs. The automated creations are very cool – you can even see their stomachs move as they breathe. Is it wrong (or a bit sad) for a mid thirties woman to get excited about dinosaurs?

CelesteReviews Lost in Time Triceratops


Four dinosaurs are present in this section of the course, including everyone’s favourite vegetarian historic creatures; Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

CelesteReviews Lost in Time T-Rex

Although, the T-Rex is probably the most popular critter on the course, I was introduced to a dinosaur that I didn’t even know existed. Who’s heard of an Ankylosaurus?

CelesteReviews Lost in Time

Ankylosaurus – apparently roamed New Zealand

According to the fossils found in New Zealand and Antartica, the Ankylosaurus would have been milling around our country about 65 million years ago. These dinosaurs were herbivore, and the special fermentation compartment in their stomachs aided digestion, but unfortunately made them produced large amounts of gas!

And you thought this blog was boring … I’ve just introduced you to a local farting prehistoric beast. The things you learn while mini-golfing.

So, as well as putting my way to a victorious six shot lead, and managing a hole in one, I also increased my knowledge with a few facts from the informative plaques as I putted my way around the course. A humorous and fun filled evening.

Open 10am-10pm, 7 days a week.

In a Nutshell: Loads of good old fashion family fun.

This One Time, At Blog Camp…

After 14 months, I finally took a day off to do something for just ME! No kids. No distractions. No massive ‘to do’ list. Just the opportunity to better myself and learn more about something I really enjoy – writing this blog.

blog camp

So, yesterday, I packed my bags and went to Blog Camp.

Those of you that know me will be well aware that I’m usually not much of a camper, so it was lucky that Camp Mother, Vicki Jeffels (of Digital Discussions, Parents Online NZ and Vegemite Vix fame) was there to hold my hand and teach me a thing or two. It was the 2nd Blog Camp she’s presented in Auckland in recent months, and I’m now very sorry I missed the first.

This blog (and blogger – mum of twins remember) was feeling a bit tired, and I needed some motivation to get my blogging mojo back, Blog Camp was just what I needed. My head is still buzzing from the inspirational information overload and I can’t wait to get cracking on making a few changes to this site. I was also lucky enough to win a major door prize, which includes some quality time with Camp Mother, so watch this space!

The other fantastic thing about the day was having the chance to meet some wonderful NZ blogging women. Somehow I found myself plonked in the middle of the fashion/designery bloggers. Sitting next to Kelly (Kiwi Women Style), Erin (Jogging Pants Must Die) and the funky Jess (Foxes Blog), I was glad I’d had the time to put on a hint of make up before leaving the house.

Some attendees had been blogging for years (Siobhan from A Little Bit Mummy), some were writers by trade (Rachel from South Sea Island Home and Simone of Great Fun 4 Kids Blog), and a handful were bravely attending to find out where to start in the big bad world of blogging. Many of the blogs were quite personal insights about life journeys and family (Lisa – All in the Daze, Elizabeth – To Find a Silver Lining). But no matter what the subject material, everyone had unique advice, experience and wisdom to share. There was so much to take in; from developing your blog, to building community, to iPhoneography. I’m sure I’m going to have at least a small mountain of questions on this journey that will require answers.

At the end of the day, four of us shared a post from our blogs. The first three were incredibly deep, personal, and very well written pieces. My reading was the last of the day, and although I quite like my recent Steampunk post, I felt a bit of a fraud! I’m definitely going to have to work on putting more of myself into my words, if I’m going to grip my audience in the same way. I’m not sure the world is ready for it, but you have been warned.

Armed with some great ideas, and an overseas holiday on the horizon (which should provide some fantastic content ), I’ll be back into the swing of things in no time. I look forward to entertaining you some more then.

And We’re Racing…

Fisher House
117 Kerwyn Avenue, Highbrook

South Auckland seems to be a little lean on fine dining establishments, so with an important occasion to celebrate, we set off to Highbrook’s Fisher House.

We’d once previously attempted to dine here, albeit unannounced, but were turned away as the kitchen had closed due to no reservations. So, this time, I made a reservation and was informed their latest sitting was 7pm. Who’s ever heard of a restaurant that closes their kitchen at 8pm on a Saturday night?  Luckily the babysitter was adventurous and accommodating. But, my concerns was raised, and I’d already decided that I probably wasn’t going to enjoy my dining experience.

Boy, was I wrong! Maybe it’s our lack of dining experiences of late, or maybe Fisher House is just THAT good.

Built by Sir Woolf Fisher in 1962, Fisher House was set on a 177 acre horse racing stud farm, and known as the Ra Ora homestead. Rich in equine heritage, it has been refurbished with the grandeur of 60’s and 70’s entertaining with a grand curving staircase, and epic wallpaper. Such elegance seems slightly out of place among the growing industrial sprawl of the corporate head offices of Highbrook, though the location could explain the early closing time of this establishment.

The service was outstanding, with the waitress answering (or gladly finding the answer) to all my annoying wine and vegetarian questions. The food – one word – divine.

We started on a very flavoursome bruschetta topped with mouthwatering vine tomatoes and basil, drizzled in balsamic and topped with micro greens.

Fisher House Brushetta CelesteReviews


As the ever annoying vegetarian, I was a little disappointed that both my entree and main options were based on goats cheese (tart or torte). So we opted to skip the entree and move straight to the main event. This ended up being a very wise decision, because there was no way I would have been able to consume both.

The torte consisted of a large ramekin layered with Mediterranean veggies and goats cheese. A delicious combination of flavours and oh, so filling. The dish was accompanied by baby greens, an interesting salsa verde, and a slice of garlic bread.

Fisher House Vegetarian Torte CelesteReviews

The Vegetarian Torte

The husband, with gleeful mutterings of words such as ‘awesome’, obviously enjoyed his pork dish. The generous cutlet, glazed in cranberry, was served with apple braised red cabbage and a particularly tasty mustard potato mash.

Fisher House Pork CelesteReviews

The Pork

Now, I’m not one to rave about side dishes. I often only order these to ensure I have ample vegetables on my plate, however you must save room for the beans. Perfectly crunchy, cooked with lemon and topped with almonds. I’m salivating just thinking about how good they were.

Fishe House Beans CelesteReviews

Beans with lemon and almonds

I usually take a quick peek at the dessert menu, just to see what’s on offer, but 95% of the time I never order anything. Blueberry tart, chocolate tart, pavlova – ho, hum. And then, “Hello” – peanut butter layered mousse with a biscuit crumble and a shot glass of chocolate sauce on the side. “Yes, please. Don’t mind if I do”! It was rich (glad I talked the hubby into sharing), but a fantastic balance of sweet versus creaminess. Think creamy Reese’s Pieces and uncooked cookies and cream biscuit dough, covered in chocolate. Yum!

Fisher House Peanut Butter Mousse CelesteReviews

Peanut Butter Mousse

Neudorf Pinot Rose Celeste Reviews

Well and truly satisfied, I was done! I almost couldn’t take the final sip of my Neudorf Pinot Rose.

I’m even going back next weekend to try out their High Tea!

Top Tip: Make a reservation, so the kitchen will be open. Also, don’t plan for it to be a late night.

In a Nutshell: What are you still reading this for? Saddle up and make your reservation.

PS: If anyone has any other favourite South Auckland dining ideas for me to try, please let me know.

Crazy Mother

Mama Loco
219 Don McKinnon Drive, Albany

Just to clarify, my mum’s not really crazy. Well, I certainly wouldn’t be confessing to such things in a public forum. But, I’ll tell you what is crazy… Mama Loco. Get it? Crazy Mother … Anyway, this funky Mexican Restaurant is definitely wacky, but in a good and tasty way!

You’ll find Mama Loco located at the very end of the ‘food establishments’ on the exterior of the Albany Westfield Shopping Mall. Being big fans of Mexican cuisine, I’m surprised we hadn’t heard about this eatery before, so I’m super excited we stumbled across it.

Mama Loco Bar CelesteRevews

The Bar

Inside the decor is vibrant and quirky, with the most colourful bar I’ve ever seen, yellow ‘leaf’ chairs, and cheerful greenery on the walls .

Mama Loco Albany Celeste Reviews

Inside Mama Loco

Outside, on the sunny deck, they have huge wooden tables with deck chairs that you literally sink into (complete with a skull face cutout on the back of them, of course). Even the salt and pepper shakers are fun, along with the “Pure Death” hot sauce.

Mama Loco Salt & Pepper CelesteReviews

Piggy Salt & Pepper Shakers

Mama Loco were more than happy to create a vegetarian version of their burrito ($17.50).  It was ginormous, filled with salad, cucumber, re-fried beans, Mexican rice, corn and silverbeet. It was accompanied by home made corn chips, that were so good, I could have just feasted on chips alone.

Mama Loco Albany CelesteReviews

Vegetarian Burrito

The husband scoffed his Braised Lamb Quesadilla ($16.90), so it must have been good.

Mama Loco Quesadillas CelesteReviews

Braised Lamb Quesadillas

The staff were very friendly and helpful. Watching one waitress (who assures me she was born in stilettos  teetering around at a brisk pace while carrying a fully loaded tray of drinks was totally awe inspiring!

Check out their flavoursome menu (below) or download their smartphone app (Mama Loco). I did chuckle at their tongue-in-cheek term for happy hour.

Mama Loco Menu CelesteReviews

The Menu

In a Nutshell: Go! Eat! Enjoy! Yum!

Catalina Cafe

Corner of Buckley Ave & Hastings Crescent
Hobsonville Point, Auckland

If you haven’t been for a nosey at the new Hobsonville Point development, it’s definitely worth a trip.

With the disestablishment of the Hobsonville Air Force Base, this prime real estate is being transformed into a fun, family friendly community. Houses are quickly being built, and the landscaping is beautiful with big trees, plenty of walkways and even a wetland. There is also an award winning (and very arty) playground for the kids and the Farmers Market (which I visited earlier in the year) is so popular there is now even a market held mid week.

At the hub of this new community is the Catalina Cafe. The Cafe is situated in a renovated Air Force building, with the Hobsonville Point Information Centre attached. The space has a cosy yet spacious feeling, with a high ceiling and tall glass windows letting in lots of light, and polished floors.

Catalina Cafe

The husband and I sprawled out on a corner of the huge communal wooden table to read the newspaper. A latte set us back $5, but I loved the cheerful red crockery that my Hot Chocolate ($4.50) was presented in.

The Cafe has a good selection for breakfast or lunch, and regular readers of my blog willl be pleased to know that we didn’t order Eggs Benedict for our breakfast on this particular day. The husband thought his Big Breakfast was one of the best he’s ever had, especially the potatoes, but at $24 we thought it was a tad pricey. Luckily we were using an ‘Entertainment Book‘ voucher (buy one main, get one free) or this would have been a $50 breakfast.

Big Breakfast

Big Breakfast

I ordered the Spinach and Ricotta Omelette on grain bread ($17). This was a very big and very rich dish, with far more ricotta than egg. I didn’t even get through half of what was on my plate. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty, just a bit over the top for that time of the morning.

Spinach & Ricotta Omelette

Spinach & Ricotta Omelette

The outdoor dining area allows the adults to enjoy their coffee, while keeping an eye on the kids enjoying the playground. The walkways meandering under and huge trees also make for a pleasant stroll to work off some of that omelette.

In a nutshell: A great setting, but a little overpriced.

On the Fan Trail

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past six weeks, you may not know that there is this little sports tournament happening in New Zealand – The Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Fan Trail StepsThe city of Auckland has been buzzing with international rugby fanatics, and even those who aren’t rugby mad (like myself) have been caught up in the atmosphere.

The husband and I were lucky to be invited along to a Pool B match. So, off we went to the city centre to gain an authentic Rugby World Cup experience.

We kicked off our rugby afternoon with a few hours at Party Central, where we checked out The Cloud, all the interesting food stalls, and enjoyed a few beverages in Shed 10 at the Fan Zone. The Australian vs Russia match was playing on the big screen, so while we waited for our English supporting friends to arrive, we joined the throngs cheering at the screen.

Start of the Fan Trail - Rugby World Cup 2011We could have taken the train to our main event, however for an authentic experience we had to follow the fans. So, with cape flags flying in the wind, we set off on the official Fan Trail, following the big green footprints. The Fan Trail is a 4.5km walk from Queen Elizabeth Square (downtown Auckland) to Eden Park. The first kilometre of the trail leads straight up Queen Street to Aotea Square. There was an interesting performance from some wanna-be Spice Girls on the way, but I’m sure this was all tied to the England vs Scotland theme.

By Aotea Square we were a little thirsty, so we stopped to rehydrate at The Playhouse (which happened to be the cheapest beers that we found for the entire day). Perched on an outdoor table, with ale in hand, we had a great view of the festive trail walkers streaming past, kitted out in kilts, flags and facepaint.

England Rugby World Cup Fans by CelesteReviews

England Fans - on the Fan Trail

The archway (Waharoa by Selwyn Muru) in Aotea Square proved to be a popular photo spot by fans.

Waharoa - Archway in Aotea Square

Waharoa by Selwyn Muru - Archway in Aotea Square

The next stop in the trail was to view the interesting student art collection, named ‘AMPED in the Park’ in Myers Park.  This installation consisted of seven pieces of work. ‘Recasting’ played homage to the humble umbrella (much needed with Auckland’s unpredictable weather), and changed each time the Fan Trail was active. On our late afternoon stroll through the park, the umbrellas were matched with black ghost figures with white masks. I’m glad it wasn’t dark, or it would have been a little ‘Scream’ like scary.

Recasting by CelesteReviews

'Recasting' (AMPED in the Park)

On this particular day, we were also accompanied by the magical sound of bagpipes.

The step aerobics from Myers Park to St Kevins Arcade on Karangahape Road worked up a thirst again, so about 2km into the trail we were once again forced to stop for rehydration. We were also happy to find a ‘convenience’ stop, conveniently located along Great North Road. On Bond Street we stopped for a compulsory photo pose in front of the “I walked Auckland’s Fan Trail” sign, while enjoying the live band.

Scotland Rugby World Cup Fans by CelesteReviews

Scotland Rugby Fans

We dog-legged into Kingsland for a quick bite to eat, and experienced the best kebabs we have ever tasted, courtesy of Gyros Kebabs. Another culinary gem was to discover how well hummus goes with garlic bread, but that’s another story.

It was then time to hit Sandringham Road, find the correct entrance to Eden Park, and Bob’s-your-Uncle, we were seated and ready for a thrilling game of rugby.

The fans definitely made the Fan Trail a much more interesting and entertaining way to get to the rugby than catching a train or taxi.