Craven NZ 2021

craven morehead

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G'day folks it's been a while. Well in my case it's been 738 ✈️ 🤔 yes 738 days since I've departed Oz 🌏 I booked a J fare to NZ as soon as the DSC promo reared its head and booked Mrs.CM on a J Classic Reward. Some of you may remember my home airport is EMD which they have spent a few million dollars on since my last TR and this is where the journey begins. We left home at 7.00 as we are 100kms from Emerald AP and flew down this morning 19/06 on the one and only flight ex-EMD on a Saturday QF2403 departing @ 8.55. Checked in online and was given 1A which I rejected and then got allocated 2A. The wife was on a separate booking and copped 12D which was soon changed to 2B at the counter. Dash8-400 with a lady pilot and male first officer.

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Departed a few minutes ahead of schedule and not long after they announced that the urn wasn't working so no tea & coffee would be availble o_O anyway it miraculously fixed itself not long after and the normal rations were then provided with a hot beverage option. This was my 5th flight for the week after an EMD-BNE-NTL return during the week for work. It was a standard Dash8 flight up until we came into land 10 minutes ahead of schedule and it started getting wobbly from a strong cross wind and the pilot aborted landing only 10' feet above the tarmac. They hit the gas and took off again to do a lap and come in for another approach. Mrs.CM nearly had kittens and I have fingernail marks to prove it. Eventually we landed pretty much on time ~10.15 and all was well. I thought the pilots did a great job as the crosswind had the nose of the plane up to 20 degrees off straight at times as they approached the second time. It was a first for me doing a fly through.
Tomorrow BNE-AKL on QF119 which is still showing as an A330. Now we just have to fill the day in in BNE.
 

craven morehead

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Landing in BNE so early in the morning I decided I didn't want to hang around the ibis BNE AP (Pullman BNE AP has been closed to the public for over 12 months) for near on 24 hours. So for our overnight stay I decided to try a different Accor property in the city. I often stay at the Pullman King George Square for work, so just for the hell of it I chose Mantra Terrace Hotel Brisbane for something different. Being an Accor WP which doesn't amount to a huge lot of benefits I was able to check in at 11.00am. So that actually worked well. After dropping our bags to the room we decided to head out for lunch.

The Mantra Terrace Hotel Brisbane:
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Only a 10 minute walk to the Sofitel.

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Some minor WP perks.

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Just a Queen bed. Balcony is small but a welcome bonus.

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Bathroom is not a lot bigger than an ibis but at least it is a full shower. No complaints.

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Room is basic but serviceable, especially at $125/night.

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Verdict: On par with or half a star better than the most modern ibises I've stayed at and a full star better than the rest. At the same time it is cheaper by approx $25/30 per night.
 

craven morehead

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After ditching the luggage we headed out to Donna Changs' Modern Chinese restaurant for lunch.


This was my third time here and the food has always been of a very high standard.

Lovely setting and the Adina Hotel is above:

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Dim Sum, Char Siu Pork Ribs, Prawn Chive & Garlic Spring Rolls and Pork & Prawn fried rice. Brilliant feed.
I had a Dalrymple Pinot Noir (Pipers River Tassie) so as not to overpower the food. I selected the wine based on previous purchases of Pinot Noir from Pipers Brook (Tassie) which I have enjoyed for many years and wasn't disappointed 🍷

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If you're in BNE and partial to good Modern Chinese Cuisine I would recommend a visit.
 

craven morehead

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7.30 pick up for transfer to BNE International Airport :D ✈️🌏🏆 how good it feels saying that again! Quick 20 minute run in and only about 4 other vehicles at the drop off zone. There were 4 security people kerbside checking that we hadn't been to Victoria. Once confirmed it was straight inside. What a strange feeling seeing the place so empty.

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Not a lot going on.

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We checked in at the J counter and basically walked straight up. Wouldn't have waited 30 seconds o_O

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From check in to the lounge was 10 minutes and that was with me stopping to take photos ✈️

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Righto let's go!

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craven morehead

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Even under the circumstances we were still excited at being able to actually go some bloody where besides domestic destinations. So off to the lounge we went.

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Some sort of natural order was now being restored 😁

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The bottom floor was perhaps 2/3 full.

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Not sure if the top floor was closed off or just no one could be bothered going up there. I imagine it was closed.

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The empty terminal.

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A quick breakfast which is still being served up by the lounge staff. I also ran into Norton who has made me many coffees over in the domestic lounges. Said he was mostly at the International lounge these days and really noticed a different/more pleasant mood from the punters ;) who would have thought 🤔 😁

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craven morehead

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Boarding commenced at 9.15 so we left the lounge at 9.30 and basically only had to line up behind 8 people on the air bridge.
Scheduled departure for AKL was 9.55 ✈️

Selected 4E & 4F : It felt good to park my backside in an International J seat again :cool:

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PDB's 🍾🥂

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The pilot announced that there would be a slight delay as they were refuelling WTF? Like wouldn't that have already been done? Anyway we all had to undo our seatbelts just in case. The explanation was the extra fuel was a contingency for some bad weather predicted in AKL. Keeping in mind they'd had a tornado of some sorts the day before ( one life was lost ☹️ ) so I imagine it was incase we had to do some circle work upstairs. Pushback was 10.25 and take off was 10.33 ✈️

I plugged in the Bose QC35's and had already started watching "The Dry" an Australian drama thriller film prior to take off. Highly recommended.

Lunch was served about an hour after take off. Both the wife and I picked the Braised Pork with Kipfler potatoes and pickled cabbage.
The pork was melt in your mouth and the meal all up very tasty and just the right size. I had a Shiraz with a funny name which IIRC was something along the lines of " The naughty girl killed the lamb" or something similar. Tasted just fine 🍷🍷🍷 I had to play adult and watch my comsumption as I was driving at the other end. Thankfully it was a short flight 😉

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Nice and comfortable flight and I really enjoyed the movie. Ultimately we touched down at 15.05 only 5 minutes late.

Todays bird was the "Tenant Creek"

The weather was not the best but who cares we're OS!

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Not a lot of activity going on in AKL

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I went to use the ePassport machine and it told me to go to counter for assistance 🤔 anyway I think it was a random thing as the lady at the counter asked me if I'd been to Victoria to which I replied in the negative and then she let me straight through.

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Up to immigration. The border patrol chap asked me a few minor questions pertaining to my occupation etc but we were through in 90 seconds and on the way to collect baggage. Retrieved bags within 5 minutes and headed off to Avis counter.

I had booked a Toyota Corolla through Qantas. I was led to believe I'm entiltled to a one class upgrade per year as part of PC+
Anyway I'm not sure this was an upgrade but it was a Hybrid vehicle and all we needed to be honest especially when fuel is $2.15 - $2.25 per litre for regular unleaded.

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Took a dozen or so photos of minor scratches etc for proof.

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The car had 26k kms on it and drove very well. Now, off to Auckland proper to catch up with family.
 

NSun

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Brings back some memories for me as I had that same dish when I flew SYD-AKL in J back in late April. I was also catching up with family I hadn't seen in over a year.

Interesting to hear you were only asked if you'd been to any hotspots upon arrival in New Zealand, I wasn't even allowed to board without answering that question to the gate staff (I was able to check in on my mobile out of Sydney so skipped the desks).
 

craven morehead

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Plugged address into Google maps and headed off to St. Heliers to visit the family for a night. So the family connection is a story of 4 siblings ex-Scotland who emigrated under the old 10 pound Pom scheme. Only thing is the oldest ended up in NZ and the other 3 in Oz lol. So my wife's oldest cousin lives here long story short and we're all pretty close. Arrived in St Heliers unpacked the car said hello to all and sundry and then all the blokes ducked down to the local for 2 quick pints while we were gettin' takeaways. Had a lovely dinner and copious amounts of beer and wine and talked into the early hours. Next day we did Brunch before heading off to our accommodation in Pauanui.

Local knowledge had us going down the road to the waterfront at St. Heliers and eating at La Vista Spanish Mediterranean Restaurant

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Great view across to the water
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The "Big Breakfast" was indeed Big as well as reasonably priced and tasty. Put it this way. Lunch was not required o_O Good coffee as well ☕

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Heading to the Grand Mecure Puka Park Resort at Pauanui a little later.
 
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craven morehead

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How would you rate La Vista? Photos look good; what are your thoughts on the service, taste, quality, etc?

@Jacques Vert - I would rate La Vista very highly. I had one of the best filet mignons I've had anywhere down there last night. Service is quite decent and the breakfasts are also quite awesome. Good coffee ☕ More pictures to follow when I can catch up on my TR. I actually had brunch today with this scallywag you may recognise @Mattg we spent a quality 2.5 hours chatting and could have carried on all day except I had prior commitments for a late lunch. Watch this space.

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Started with a nice coffee. Then Matt had a version of Eggs Benedict on hash browns with mushrooms and I had the smashed avo on sourdough with salmon, poached eggs and cherry tomotoes washed down with a Pineapple juice.

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craven morehead

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Hit the road about 12.30 and it was pretty much 2 hours spot on door to door. The trip from Thames across to Pauanui was a good introduction to winding mountain road driving.

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I pinched a couple of photos to give an overview of the Grand Mecure Puka Park Resort. Reception is on the lower level.

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Chalets are all hidden among the trees.

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Great spot on a sunny day.

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Back to my photos;

The lounge.

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The Bar.

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The Deck.

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Morning views from the Deck.

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Mattg

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@Jacques Vert - I would rate La Vista very highly. I had one of the best filet mignons I've had anywhere down there last night. Service is quite decent and the breakfasts are also quite awesome. Good coffee ☕ More pictures to follow when I can catch up on my TR. I actually had brunch today with this scallywag you may recognise @Mattg we spent a quality 2.5 hours chatting and could have carried on all day except I had prior commitments for a late lunch. Watch this space.

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Started with a nice coffee. Then Matt had a version of Eggs Benedict on hash browns with mushrooms and I had the smashed avo on sourdough with salmon, poached eggs and cherry tomotoes washed down with a Pineapple juice.

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It was great catching up, as always! :)
 

craven morehead

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Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort is a secluded hideaway located at Pauanui Beach. Situated 800m away from the 3km long sandy beach and nestled into the slopes of Mt. Pauanui select from 48 romantic chalets surrounded by native bush.
So there are 23 x twin (side by side) chalets if that make sense and 2 only stand alone Toi Toi Apartments at 40 m². I originally booked the normal rooms at around AUD $800 with Accor discount for 3 nights and after utilising 22k Accor points it ended up costing me $100. At check in we were upgraded to one of the Apartments which was valued @ $980 for the same period. On top of that it was the absolute closet accommodation to the restaurant & Bar which was awesome as it was a hilly setting with lots of paths and steps.
Opened the door to the room and there was a nice cheese platter and bottle of wine along with 2 bottles of spring water. Good result and finally a tangible result for being Accor Plat.

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Only used the bar fridge, microwave and kettle.
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Nice King size bed
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The bath was sort of in no mans land but it sat there nicely on heated tiles and got a run on the last night when I couldn't be bothered going down and using the sauna.
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Bathroom was great with a huge double rain shower behind frosted glass.
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Toiletries were replenished daily with with all the unused/unopened stuff going to a domestic violence service in Emerald.
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The shower was huge and provided really hot water at great pressure. It was a beauty!
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The resort also has a tennis court, swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and a gym. Great set up.
 
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craven morehead

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Apartment cont:

Heated towel racks.

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Dunny which also had its own frosted glass door.

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Plenty of room to chill out.
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Nice little patio which got a run in the evenings for a couple of quiet reds. Couldn't eyeball another chalet or person from here. Just bush.
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After we unpacked we went for a drive down the road and within 2 minutes we were here at one of the local beaches.

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Soon started to get dark.
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craven morehead

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It was time to head down for the first nights dinner and abuse the Accor 50% discount card. We'd had a brief shower of rain for maybe half hour prior. We had literally a 2 minute walk to the restaurant :D

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There were only about 10 people dining the first night even though they could probably handle 100. However it was a Monday night 🤔
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French martini for Mrs. CM and a Tahbilk Shiraz for me to start with. The Butter Fried Crab pancake Entree was shared (Crab, chorizo, chipotle, radish, citrus peel & cabbage pickle)
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Duck Confit for me: (Duck leg, carrot puree, beans and plum compote) It was delicious!

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Mrs. CM went for the Petto Di Pollo - (Chicken breast, stuffed dates, lemon confit, silver onion, creamy polenta and corn salsa) She also really enjoyed her meal.
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We didn't bother with any dessert tonight and headed back to our chalet for a couple of quiet (literally) ones in our lovely tranquil setting.
 

craven morehead

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The next day after a nice breakfast we decided to head up the East coast and have a look around. The weather was pleasant and the max temp was going to be 17c

Breakfast for me was Eggs Benny with Salmon and Mrs.CM had the Streaky bacon with scrambled eggs.

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First place we decided on was Hot Water Beach : Hot Water Beach, The Coromandel | Things to see and do in New Zealand

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Unfortunately we missed the tide by about half an hour so didn't get to dig a hole and sit in the hot water. The springs are just around where I've marked.

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Next stop was Hahei Beach

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We only stopped here for half an hour to soak in the spectaular view: Things to see and do in Hahei, New Zealand

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After that we headed for Cathedral Cove which is located only a couple of kilometres from the town of Hahei.
Cathedral Cove is a famous cave/rock formation on the Coromandel Peninsula.
 
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