:: adventure :: New Zealand part 2 :: Queenstown

As I’m inching towards the edge of the 154ft precipice, my ankles tightly bound, my mind is blank with fear & excitement. I no longer remember my mantra “It’s better to look back on life and say: “I can’t believe I did that”, than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.”  I focus on the quick hammering of the heart in my chest, the wind whipping around my face and the stranger’s hand gripping my arm.

I am bungy jumping.  


I stick to the pact my husband & I make; “three, two, one” then jump! I see him standing far below, already having taken the soaring plunge himself and waiting for me to join him. I don’t realise it but I scream during the three second free-fall before my scream turns to joyous whoops. The multiple bounce-backs are an amazing, indescribable feeling. I am chained to a life-saving rope, yet I’m free. Then it’s over and I am pulled into the landing boat and taken ashore to climb the 150+ stairs, my legs like jelly from the adrenaline.

  I’m bungy jumping!!! @ AJ Hackett, Queenstown

  Me from the viewing monitors   The view from the Observation Deck; Jay jumping

                                                          Jay jumping!


Queenstown is a place of staggering beauty. Officially the adventure capital of the South Island it has so much to offer. 

For 5 days and 4 nights we explore the delights of Queenstown. Apart from bungy jumping we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a ride up the Skyline mountain gondola, a wander & wine tasting at Gibbston Valley Winery and soak in the most luxurious bathing experience at Onsen Hot Pools.

We eat at some amazing restaurants. We revisit Fergburger twice to ensure our fill of NZ’s best burger (it’s pretty damn good!). We eat tender and gamey venison, fresh crayfish, oversized oysters and creamy local cheese. 


Fergburger (#drool)

We laugh and scream our lungs raw on the Shotover Jet and walk around the immense Queenstown foreshore.  

 Freezing our butts off on the Shotover Jet


Our hotel is bliss; part of the Accor Group of hotels, Hotel St Moritiz M Gallery is 5 star luxury.


Our room is gorgeous with an incredible view out over Lake Wakatipu. I wrote a review on TripAdvisor which you can find here


 Onsen Hot Pools   Lunch & tastings at Gibbston Valley Winery

 Steak & seafood at Captain’s Restaurant
 Dinner in The Library at our Hotel St Moritiz 

   More pics from Hotel St Moritiz
 Birdseye view over Queenstown from The Skyline.


A rainy day leads us 2 hours south of the township to the very end of Lake Wakatipu, through Arrowtown, to the remote picturesque shores of Glenorchy and Kinloch. 

   Roads like this are meant to be travelled.

 Cabin lakeside

The wildness of this region is consuming; we barely see another soul the further we travel out of Queenstown. The beauty of the mountains and the vastness of the lake merge into one beautiful foggy landscape as the rain settles in and the clouds loom low so even the tops of the mountains can’t be seen. 

The townships of Glenorchy and Kinloch are merely a suggestion to gather people close by. Farms are sprawling and teaming with flocks of woolly sheep, lambs fresh from the newness of Spring, herds of blackJersey  cows and studs of horses wander the lush countryside and rocky shoreline.

 I manoeuvred myself around a large cow to take this picture! I also managed not to step in any cow paddies!


The sheer beauty and heart pounding adrenaline inspired by Queenstown stays with you long after you leave her stunning shores.

[Read Part 1]

(Note I’ve tagged most of my photos with my Instagram handle @thisismelly)

birthday week eats

last week i celebrated a birthday! i turned 40 minus 3. i also decided that i deserved to eat and drink special things cooked by other people and not in my kitchen.  here are a few delicious morsels i savoured for you…

birthday dinner @ Chiswick

birthday dinner @ Chiswick

a meal of delicious seafood at Matt Moran’s Chiswick.

twilight cocktails @ Bar 36

twilight cocktails @ Bar 36

i’ve always maintained that Bar 36 (aka Blu Horizon bar at the Shangri-la) makes the best vodka martini. a birthday martini is becoming my yearly tradition!


paleo-friendly brekkie @ the local

paleo-friendly brekkie @ the local

brekkie at Sotto in North Sydney

Veuve & blooms

Veuve & blooms

because birthday girls drink bubbles!

lunch @ Cooh

lunch @ Cooh

i read about this new organic, sustainable cafe (Cooh) and had to go! i had smoked trout with roasted beets, radish, goats feta mousse and a seed crisp. soooo good.

i’d definitely have a birthday week do over!!!

:: adventure :: New Zealand part 1 :: Wanaka

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote “It’s a funny thing, coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realise what’s changed is you.”

Being that New Zealand is only a 3 hour flight from Sydney, I didn’t expect to be so profoundly effected by my recent trip. My soul is renewed. I feel more centred and at the same time, closer to my husband. I feel like a fog has been lifted from myself.

I’ve been to NZ four time before; once when I was 15 to the South Island (and a few of the locations I visited again this trip) and 3 times to the North Island, but this time was different. My husband and I decided to travel around the South Island for 2 weeks to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. The below yellow stars are the planned points of our journey:

We flew into Christchurch late afternoon, collected our hire car and headed out of the city towards our first destination…

WANAKA and surrounds

Under the cover of the Super Moon, we made the drive through some of the most beautifully treacherous countryside on our journey from Christchurch to Wanaka past Tekapo, Twizel and the mountains inbetween, under the glow of the largest moon we’d ever seen.

A signpost told us we were passing through the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. We opened the car windows, the cool night air streaming over us, and marvelled at a landscape; beautifully and eerily illuminated by the Super Moon and a billion bright stars with the blackest backdrop to contrast their brilliance. It is the largest light reserve in the world and is almost totally free of any light pollution. It rivals the night skies I’ve seen in the Australian Red Centre.

Despite our 11pm arrival at the Manuka Crescent Motel, which we booked just for the night, the motel staff were lovely and accommodating. It’s a cheap & cheerful stay (also the title of my review on TripAdvisor found here).

[clockwise from top left: end of Wanaka’s Main Street overlooking Lake Wanaka, mountains surround Lake Wanaka and the deer grazing lakeside, farmland, panoramic of Lake Wanaka & surrounds, Lake Wanaka from the town beachfront]

We awoke refreshed, checked out the cute town centre of Wanaka for breakfast (my TripAdvisor cafe review on Relishes) and then buzzed with sufficient caffeine (Kiwis make all regular/small coffees with a double shot of espresso we later found out!) we head off to trek to the Blue Pools located in the Mt Aspiring National Park.

[clockwise top left: me on the swing bridge on the track leading to Blue Pools, part of the track through the forest, my husband on the swing bridge, part of the glacial river feeding Blue Pools]

The scenery is so consistently awe inspiring that we are constantly uttering “OMG this is amazing!” or exclaiming “look over there! look over there!” or reverently sighing “oooh my god” as we drive just over an hour out of Wanaka into the Mount Aspiring National Park to reach the walking track to Blue Pools.

It’s an easy 20 minute gently-downhill-sloping walk through native Kiwi forest of beech trees, ferns and mosses, before getting to a long swing bridge which passes 40ft above a beautiful flowing glacial river. We re-enact Indiana Jones as we cross and feel all the more adventurous for it!

The smell of the rainforest surrounds you; clean, earthy, peaty. At first the rush of water can be heard in the distance, and increasingly gets louder until suddenly the forest splits open to reveal the rushing river.


The water is so crystal clear with a turquoise hue. It’s fed from a pure glacier up river. Part of me wants to dive straight in for a swim, but it would be unbearably freezing!!!

The Blue Pools takes your breath away; its the colour of the most intense azure. It’s mesmerising to stare into and incredibly deceiving in depth because of the clarity. It is truly stunning.

Here is a short video my hubby uploaded:

The Landing Bar & Restaurant 

That evening we ate at a lovely restaurant in Wanaka with a view over the little town and lake.

I ate the most delicious lamb dish (quinoa & pea purée with blue cheese crisp) followed by an affogato for dessert.

We stayed the remaining two nights in Wanaka at the Mercure Oakridge Resort. You can read my review on TripAdvisor here.

Hiking to Rob Roy Glacier

We planned for a few small hikes (couple of hours) and one or two longer ones (full day) during our time in NZ, with Rob Roy Glacier being the first of the decent walks.

We drove south-west out of Wanaka, past the ski locations like Treble Cone and the calm waters of Mirror Lake. To get to RRG, which is also in the Mt Aspiring National Park, you drive through several private farms and get to see an abundance of sheep, cattle and deer all with their spring babies!

The Kiwis rate this hike (aka tramp) as ‘average’ difficulty but I have to admit I found it hard. It’s a 16km return walk, with a steady incline the whole way on the ascent (you are climbing a mountain after all!) and in some areas you are almost rock climbing up vertical faces to proceed. There were a few recent avalanches in spots that made passing a little treacherous but we persevered.


It took us 3 hours ascent, 30 mins rest at the summit and 2 hours descent. I almost vomited once but I didn’t fall over! There were so many times I wanted to turn around but I am so glad I had my ‘squad leader’ husband who wouldn’t let me give up and even tolerated my singing ’99 bottles of beer on the wall’ (except that I started from 200) and poorly reenacted Pulp Fiction along the way out of exhausted silliness!

The reward was incredible; stunning scenery that changed several times as we passed through different micro-climates, and an honour to see a hanging mountain glacier with my own eyes. While we were sitting in awe (& building lactic acid) at the summit we witnessed several serac falls, where large chunks of ice break off and start mini slips and avalanches. It sounds like thunder rolling right over you. Sitting in the tussock grass at 4900ft, at the base of a glacier, you realise how insignificant you are, how small your body is within nature. It was truly breathtaking.

My short video of the walk is up on YouTube here:

:: end part 1 ::

note: I’ve tagged my photos with my Instagram handle @thisismelly

a flock of seagals

“We might need a grenade launcher.”

Let’s bask for a moment in the awesomeness of Steven Seagul.

I miss his corny one-liners and over the top violence.

Let’s just forget about his real life troubles with the FBI, organised crime, weight gain and being choked out at his dojo by his stunt double…

…and just remember that pony-tail!

[pics via]

choc fudge coconut bars | paleo recipe of the week

Chocolate & coconut. 
How could a dessert possibly get any better?!!

I found this delicious, gluten-free, paleo-friendly sweet treat via Swiss Paleo.

choc fudge coconut bars IMG_20130507_221312


Malcolm Turnbull will become Australia’s next prime minister after defeating Tony Abbott in a vote for the leadership of the Liberal Party, winning with 54 votes to 44, last night.

Arguably the worst PM in history, this man set Australia back 30 years with his sexist (3 women in his cabinet), misogynist (appoints himself as Minister for Women, consistently winks and condescends female journalists), racist (“Stop the Boats” is his most common catch phrase), anti-environmental (underhandedly trying to sell off the Great Barrier Reef to the mining industry) and anti-marriage equality agendas.

Good riddance to this out of touch and arrogant man.

It’s not all positive though, this is our fifth Prime Minister in five years. Both main political parties continue to ignore the Australian electorate’s democratic choices, to treat the Prime Ministership as a revolving door. We’ll see if this new incoming PM changes the direction of the leadership and introduces policies more in line with the majority of the Australian public’s opinions on critical issues such as immigration, same-sex marriage and the environment.

These are my fave memes circulating social media! (I put together The Simpsons #hailants meme!)



31 random observations

  1. split ends are the most noticable when bored on a conference call
  2. Jay’s surliness is proportionate to the amount of lapsed time since his last meal
  3. one’s cheerful demeanour is directly related to the number of stupid questions one gets asked during the day
  4. cheese = happiness
  5. Saturday winter afternoons are best spent internesting (nestling in a blanket cocoon while reading the internet)
  6. Harley and possums do not like each other
  7. I am the missing link in Amy Shumer & JLaw’s BFF squad
  8. a red sock will almost always end up in the whites load
  9. Moths operate by osmosis. how else could they possibly end up in the unequivocally-airtight flour jar?
  10. Cow and the Moon gelato in Marrickville deserves a Michelin star 
  11. everyone on Instagram has a better life than me
  12. you never correctly insert the USB on the first try
  13. routers only break when the William’s IT support is unavailable
  14. the older you get the more bedgasms you have (that euphoric feeling you get when finally falling into bed at night)
  15. Stating the obvious here, but Australia desperately needs a new Prime Minister
  16. successfully opening a coconut is a distinguished talent!
  17. you’ll desperately need to pee just as the last movie trailer before the actual movie starts
  18. when you have to leave early from work, a senior manager will always bail you up for ‘just a couple of minutes’ as your rushing out the door
  19. life’s greatest epiphanies come when your drinking Old Fashioneds at 1am in the Shady Pines Saloon
  20. there is no situation in which its OK to talk to me about work before I’ve had my coffee
  21. fading chicken pox spots look like acne 
  22. tights are not pants.
  23. zoodles (zucchini noodles) are the greatest health food creation
  24. Russian food is underrated
  25. you can never have too many pairs of ankle boots
  26. three year olds say the darnedest things!
  27. Delta Goodrem is way cooler than she gets credit for 
  28. one really does sound awesome singing in the shower!
  29. knuckle rings from Lovisa are the new favourite
  30. the corniest line in the universe is at the end of the film ‘Letters to Juliet’ (“can you move?”…”only my lips”)
  31. cereal makes a perfectly acceptable dinner, no matter what your Mum says!