Our Tramping Essentials in New Zealand

Tramping is one of the many activities that we love doing especially during summer. New Zealand is dotted with lush parks and reserves that makes it one of the best places on Earth to explore by foot. And during our travels, we always make sure to bring the following essentials to make our tramping trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

1. SUN PROTECTION; The works; including sunscreen, UV protection clothing, head-wear , and sunglasses.

Wherever you are in the world, sun protection should be a priority. And its importance is particularly magnified when you are exposing yourself under the harsh New Zealand sun.

2. A good pair of FOOTWEAR.

While tramping, don’t ever forget to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Regardless of the difficulty level of the track/s, do not take your feet for granted. Tough but comfortable footwear can mean the difference between being able to go out and do it all over again the next day, or being stuck at the hotel/camp nursing bruised and blistered feet. Our choice of footwear during summer, particularly when we visited Tutukaka Coast, are the Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals. These footwear are very versatile, lightweight, and comfortable; they allowed us to explore the dry tracks and mountain trails straight from the beaches and streams, without that slippery feeling of wet shoes.

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3. Towels and Spare Clothing

Towels and extra clothes are very handy for a number of different situations; whether you wish to avoid feeling cold after a quick dip in the water, feel refreshed after getting sticky with sweat from all that walking, or (depending on your location) when you decide to go directly to the cafe or the restaurant for a quick meal after a day of exploring.

4. Water/ Coconut Water

Keeping hydrated while hiking is really a no-brainer, your body needs fluids for it to be able to function normally. Always remember to bring enough fluids to keep you hydrated all throughout the trip, keep in mind that it is very easy to get dehydrated without even realizing it, specially during hot days. We try to avoid sugary energy drinks and opt for plain old water or coconut juice instead. We love the taste of cold coconut water, and it also has the added benefit of replenishing the electrolytes that your body loses through sweat.

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5.FOOD!

Do not ever forget to bring some snacks because you are about to embark on a physical activity that can quickly deplete your energy stores. And it is when you’re tired and hungry that you are most prone to making silly mistakes that can cut your trip short. We always pack plenty of fruits, sandwiches, chips, and chocolates (just for that extra boost of energy 😉 ).

6. A Reliable Backpack

Because we only hike for two to three hours at a time, we usually carry one reasonably sized backpack each. Our criteria when we chose our bag, which is the Under Armour VX2-T Backpack, are the padded straps (because comfort is everything!), its water repellent finish and water resistant zippers (which means that we can explore rain or shine), and its ability to accommodate all of our essentials without being too big or bulky.

7. Camera

We use three different cameras when travelling, two for taking photos and one dedicated camera for taking videos. We use the GoPro Hero 4 for videos because it is handy, straightforward, and can come in a variety of cases to fit whatever setting/weather you want to use it in. But because it has that fisheye effect, we still use different cameras to take still shots. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, which is a mobile phone, and the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are very handy for taking photos when you are outdoors; they are not too bulky nor too heavy to include in your backpack. They also take good quality photos (refer to all the photos in the blogs, although some have already been edited in Photoshop).

Wherever you are and whatever your tramping plans are, always keep in mind to pack and bring all the essentials; because sore feet, a dehydrated body, and badly sunburned skin are all easily avoidable inconveniences that have no place in your holiday.

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The North Island Road Trip

Planning a trip for a family of 20 is not easy, but it was worth it. It was a week-long adventure after our wedding day. Although it didn’t begin on time, we had to forego the trip to Tutukaka Coast because of the unpleasant weather, it was still an experience that we will always be thankful for.

Day 1: Matakana and Goat Island
Day 2: Hamilton Gardens and Hobbiton
Day 3: Rotorua
Day 4: Rotorua
Day 5: Tongariro National Park
Day 6: Waitomo Caves

* Watch in HD.

Camera: Go Pro Hero 4

Editing Software: GoPro Studio

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Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store Review

Puhoi Valley Cheese Store and Cafe is a good escape if you are in Auckland.  The cafe is about a 45-minute drive if you are departing from the CBD and is tucked in a small town up north called Puhoi (as the cafe’s name entails). People travelling to Matakana, Goat Island, or anywhere north of Auckland are highly recommended to grab a bite at the cafe before getting back on the road.

The cafe boasts a lush green scenery and a beautiful water feature. We consider the cafe as typical when it comes to the food and the drinks option, but what sets it apart is its ambiance and (of course) the abundant selection of dairy products, particularly cheese.

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Pumpkin Soup
Top: Seafood Chowder | Bottom: Pumpkin Soup

Puhoi Valley Cheese Store and Cafe will not be complete without the cheese! Here are some of the cheese selections available to order or purchase in-store.

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An enclosure full of cheese!

We definitely recommend the Vanilla Bean Custard. Try it as a filling, together with a generous amount of Nutella and sliced bananas, in a croissant.

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Custard, yogurt, cheese, and milk.

On some days they offer customers a free 500ml milk to take home for every purchase of $50.00 at the cafe.

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Dad trying to figure our which milk to get.

 

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Puhoi Valley Cheese Store and Cafe
275 Ahuroa Road, Puhoi
Open everyday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

 

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Chop Chop Noodle House and Ben & Jerry’s (Ponsonby) Review

Featured Image: Photo credits to the Chop Chop Noodle House Website

Because it’s SaturDATE, it only means one thing,… eating out !!! On this day, we’ve decided to skip the usual Sushi Train lunch date and since winter is starting to creep in, we thought that it would be the perfect time to get some ramen. One of our favorite noodle places is Chop Chop Noodle House. It is among the many food places located in Ponsonby Central – a hub composed of cafès, bars, restaurants, and a fresh produce market.

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Chop Chop Noodle House has an Asian “kung-fu/beach bar” vibe. Patrons can select a seat around the bar, or on one of the independent tables out front. We always prefer the former option because we enjoy watching the chef prepare our meals.

 

The main reason why we keep coming back to this place is the unique and rich flavor of their ramen. There are five different options, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables (tofu, mushrooms, kimchi), or a combination of almost everything; we haven’t tried the chicken and the vegetables on their own, but all the other three are just superb. A single order guarantees you a very generous amount of noodles, flavorful broth, and your chosen protein.

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Cobra Kai Super Mega Ramen – Crispy Fried Chicken, Pork Belly, BBQ Pork, Kimchi, Mushrooms, and Rye Noodles | $25-

Another good thing about this restaurant is the fact that since there are limited items on the menu, it’s not overwhelming or confusing when it comes to selecting a dish. And you know that the dishes are always flawlessly executed because the chefs can focus on just a few recipes that they’ve perfected over time.

The bar also offers a range of  alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages which compliment their dishes quite well.

And because we were already in Ponsonby, we didn’t want to miss the chance to grab some dessert at Ben & Jerry’s. It ended up being a good and bad experience for us. It was GOOD because the combination of the ice cream, hot fudge/ caramel, brownies/ fresh-baked cookies, topped with whipped cream was absolutely perfect! And BAD ( well, not really…) because we didn’t know how big the servings were and we ended up getting two HUGE sundaes that neither of  us can even eat halfway through. Thankfully, it was quite a chilly night so we managed to take the rest of the ice cream home without it melting, popped them in the freezer, and ate them all the next night.

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Brownie Special and Cookie Cookie Sundae.

Chop Chop Noodle House
140 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

Ben & Jerry’s Ponsonby
160 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

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Mentatz Japanese Noodle Restaurant and Bar Review

Mentatz is one of our go-to restaurants whenever we are in the city. It is strategically located in one of the busiest streets in the CBD, Lorne Street. It offers a wide array of Japanese food and drinks at very affordable prices (from $8.00 and up). The food portions won’t let you down either, thus, customers really get the value for their money.

As for the food rating, it differs based on a variety of factors like the type of food, the customer’s preference for flavors, and the number of customers in the restaurant at the time of dining.

First of all, we can both attest to the robust flavors of the restaurant’s ramen. Our go-to selections are the Wafu Tonkotsu Ramen and the Seafood Tomato Ramen. The balance between the quantity of noodles, soup, and meat/ seafood is just right especially when you visit the restaurant on a quiet day; which is rarely the case.

Wafu tonkotsu ramen @ mentatz
Wafu Tonkotsu Ramen

Secondly, the side dishes/ appetizers are just as good as the mains. The serving size for some of them are big enough to pass for a meal. We’ve tried the Salmon Pot, Spicy Shrimp Salad, Gyoza, and Takoyaki; and the ingredients in each dish just complement each other really well.

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Salmon Pot – Salmon chunks with tofu and some vegetables in miso (?) soup.

Third, the rice meal that we usually order, which is the Teriyaki Chicken, in our opinion, is average. The taste and the serving size is really good and satisfying, however, the chicken isn’t always tender. We always get this issue during the busy hours — dinner time.

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Apart from the aforementioned information (as based on our dining experiences), the pros still triumph over the minor cons. This is a restaurant that travelers must dine in when visiting Auckland especially this winter season.

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