Lake Roto Kohatu

Lake Roto Kohatu


Looking for a place to cool off on these hot Christchurch summer days?
Try Lake Roto Kohatu.  This lake is situated in North West Christchurch in the Sawyers Arms Reserve and is a popular recreational area for water sports.
Roto Kohatu is made up of two lakes, Tahi and Rua.  Tahi is the western lake and is leased to the Jetski club for their sole use.  Rua is the eastern lake and is often used for dragon boating, sailing, fishing and swimming.

The Roto Kohatu Reserve is accessed off the end of Sawyers Arms Road.  There is a carparking area but if the gate is open you can also continue driving up the gravel road, over a hill and then down to the lakes.  It is about one kilometer to the lake (past the first Jetski lake).  You are not able to drive in a complete circle around the lake as there is a barrier at the main swimming area at the very end of the road but you can access this main swimming area from either side of the lake.


It doesn’t have typical sandy lake shores but does have multiple little ‘bays’ where you can find some shallow areas for kids to splash around in, and some little wooden jetties which you can jump off into deeper water.  There is a rope swing for the adventurous and for the athletic it seems a popular place to swim ‘laps’ across the lake.


Roto Kohatu is a man-made lake.  It was once a quarry and was filled in and repurposed as a recreational reserve.  Roto Kohatu meets water quality standards and is tested regularly over the summer months.


We took Fish and Chips for dinner and walked alongside the lake until we found a quieter spot to eat our dinner and dip our feet in the water.


We went on a very hot Friday night and found there were a lot of boy racers hooning around the lake roads kicking up a lot of dust.  There were also several groups of young adults playing loud music and drinking and we noticed a lot of rubbish scattered about.  I didn’t see any rubbish bins around.
There were several young families with little children enjoying splashing and swimming in the lake so we didn’t feel entirely out of place!
I also noticed the noise from Jetskis on the other lake and a few planes flying overhead so between them and the boy racers it wasn’t exactly peaceful but that could have been mainly due to the fact we went on a Friday evening.

Don’t make the mistake we did while exploring the area; we took a road going along the back side of lake Tahi and reached a locked gate. There was no way to turn around so we had to reverse all the way back to the fork in the road taking care not to reverse into a ditch on one side or the lake on the other!


It was pleasant although not peaceful and nice if you’d prefer a fresh-water dip to an ocean splash!

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

Recently my Mum, daughter, a friend with her daughter and I visited The Mona Vale Pantry for brunch before my daughter went off to a year 12 exam.

The beautiful historic Mona Vale Homestead houses the cafe with views out toward the Avon River.  On a sunny day there is outdoor seating available.


The Full Breakfast was my choice.  I asked for the gluten free option so was given GF toast in place of the regular toast and was interested to see that the black pudding croquette was simply omitted and not replaced with another item ( I asked for the GF option and was not told which items in the dish would need to be replaced or omitted).  I was looking forward to trying the black pudding croquette as it sounds like something so out of the ordinary but was still very happy with this dish.  The scrambled eggs on toast, bacon, sausage, mushroom and tomato really hit the spot.


My Mum chose the Brioche Waffle with caramelised banana, bacon and rose yoghurt and said it was absolutely delicious.  The presentation was beautiful and it tasted as good as it looked.


Confit Duck Omelet was my daughter’s choice and she thought it was absolutely delicious.  She wanted to try something different to the eggs benedict she’d usually choose for breakfast and she was so glad she tried this.  The Confit Duck Omelet came with pickled cucumber, hot and sour salad and XO sauce and is also gluten free and dairy free.

img_3968-1The beautiful fire place in the entrance foyer of the Homestead.

img_3969-1Looking through a door into one section of the dining area.  We loved the archway nook and the rich furnishings and decorating which gave the place a comfortable and homey feel as well as lending an air of luxury.

img_3966Another dining room with access to the outdoor seating area.  You may just be able to see the tiered plates with delectable high tea indulgences on that centre table.  The High Tea looked amazing.


Looking happy with our brunch.  My friend and her daughter chose the Devonshire Tea (two scones with jam and clotted cream with your choice of hot drink) as they’d already eaten breakfast.  My friend said the scone was the best she’d ever had!

The Mona Vale Pantry has an all day breakfast with caters for breakfast, brunch and lunch, morning and afternoon teas and the boutique high teas.
With lots of gluten free options (including a gluten free high tea) we will definitely be back.

After our brunch we enjoyed meandering around the gardens.  Mona Vale is truly stunning and well worth visiting, either to enjoy the gardens, the cafe or both.
Check out this post on the Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens for more information.


Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

img_3972The Mona Vale gardens and historic homestead are a beautiful place to visit for tourists visiting Christchurch and local Cantabrians alike.
Accessed by foot from Fendalton Rd, or by car from Mona Vale Avenue (free carparking on site), these stunning gardens are situated on the banks of the Avon River near Hagley Park.

The gardens comprise of Rose Gardens, an historic Fernery dating from 1907, Lily Pond, Iris Gardens and significant plantings of European and English trees with well established woodland style plantings.  The daffodil gardens are a must-see in spring.

The historical Mona Vale Homestead was built in 1899-1900 and has been restored following the Christchurch Earthquakes in 2011.  Other historical buildings on the site include the Gate House and Bath House.


Prior to the earthquakes the Homestead was a popular wedding venue and cafe.  Following repairs after damage sustained in the earthquakes, the cafe has reopened as The Homestead Pantry and I would highly recommend a visit.  We recently enjoyed a lovely brunch but they also serve breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea and indulgent Boutique High Teas (including gluten free).

We have been visiting Mona Vale Gardens since we moved to Christchurch in 2002 and have many happy memories wandering through the gardens with our children and in fact our eldest daughter who was married this year had her wedding photos taken at Mona Vale!





COGranger_568_of_784All wedding photos taken at Mona Vale in the gardens and in the Homestead
are by the very talented Agnes, of Agnes Grace Photography

img_3973-1The land on which Mona Vale Homestead stands was once owned by the Deans brothers whose own homestead was Riccarton House.  Frederick and Alice Waymouth purchased 4 acres of land and commissioned architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison to design their homestead now known as Mona Vale which was originally named Karewa by Waymouth.


In summer there are often Shakespeare plays held on the lawn which forms a perfect outdoor theatre with performers on one gently sloped lawn and the audience reclining on fold-up chairs and picnic blankets on the other side.

Take your time wandering through the gardens, following pathways and exploring this gorgeous historic homestead.  The weir built in the Avon river in the 19th century, which became the Mona Vale Mill Pond still exists today.  This was built by William Derisley Wood and the Riccarton Flour Mill was situation on the site that is now Christchurch Girls’ High School.

Looking through and archway to the Rose Gardens with the Fernery in the background.

img_4009-1Lush green Rose Garden in spring with peonies in the foreground.


img_3994-1Looking through the open gates to the historic Fernery which was reassembled on this site following it’s display at the New Zealand International Exhibition held in Hagley Park in 1907.  The owner of Mona Vale at that time, Annie Quayle Townend, purchased the Fernery complete with it’s plants and had it reassembled here.  Annie renamed the homestead Mona Vale, after her mother’s house in Tasmania, when she purchased it in 1905.

img_3997A towering fern inside the Fernery which also has a pond with stepping stones.

img_4001Cool and shaded, the Fernery is like a secret garden, begging to be explored.  I love these cast iron window grates through which you can look out into the Rose Garden.

img_4003-1The underside of a silver fern in the Fernery.

If you’ve never been to Mona Vale I would highly recommend you pack a picnic and spend an afternoon relaxing on the lawn and exploring the grounds.  A visit to the cafe The Mona Vale Pantry is also highly recommended (review post coming soon!)

The Good Home Wigram: Review

The Good Home Wigram: Review

Having witnessed this restaurant being built from scratch, we have wanted to try this restaurant for a while now. Situated in the Landing area of Wigram Suburb, in Christchurch,the Good Home , Wigram restaurant has a spacious outdoor seating area . img_4110One is greeted by a warm, relaxed atmosphere as one walks in. The large open space with comfortable sofas for seating, dark modern art deco floral wallpaper ceiling, the wooden bead board on the side of the wall,the display cabinets with little knick knacks and books, the large TV above an artificial fireplace, not to mention the white piano ,all create a  homely, relaxed and very pleasing ambiance.The  friendly and attentive staff in their checkered blue, red and white shirt  and jeans uniforms (which was a welcome change from the drab black and white one usually sees in restaurants) added on to the cheery and easy vibe that the restaurant exuded. We ordered the Summer Salad, and requested the Gluten free version for the toasts and Mussels steamed in thai green curry. The service time was good as we had enough time to catch up on all the weekly news,but did not have to wait too long.

The flavours of the salad with Gluten free toast, goat cheese, salad greens, toasted walnuts, pear and beetroot with lemon vinaigrette all worked very well together . It was a fresh and refreshing side to have with the other dish we ordered .img_4318.jpgThe other dish we ordered was the Mussels steamed in Thai green curry. This Mussels dish came with toast and fries. Again we requested Gluten free toast which the staff accommodated for us.Speaking of the Mussels dish, the Thai green curry was so flavourful and yummy, that we wiped the plate clean! The mussels themselves were seasoned just right, juicy , tender and cooked just right. The Good Home Wigram offers great value for money as the portions are quite large. Plus they offer a good selection on the menu to cater to all the ages, with a kids menu and pizza too on their Menu.

The Good Home Wigram is definitely a great place to visit for lunch or dinner with friends or family.

Kawa Cafe: Review

Tucked away into a quiet spot off Halswell  area, leading to the country side, is a little getaway spot called Kawa Cafe.
Kawa Cafe is a nice little local cafe with neat parking spaces.
All of the fresh produce they use at the cafe is organically cultivated right there on site.

It has beautiful seating arrangement on the outside  with children’s play area nearby. There is also indoor option for people who like to sit in a more cozy setting.

When we went for brunch, we opted to sit inside. There is seating in the enclosed porch area and also seating space inside .The space inside is limited though. The decor is simple with wooden tables inside with emphasis on natural decor.
The fresh flower arrangement in glass bottles on the tables give the space a homey charm.The staff were friendly and the service was good too.
The mocha coffee I ordered was good . Rich  and creamy just the way I liked it.
The  Danish pastry. we ordered  was not overly sweet . the whole blackberries on top of the jam,was a nice addition.
The Harissa Chicken salad  was  fresh with the subtle taste of the dressing coming through .Really good ,big serving for one person .
The wedges were crisp and yummy on the outside and soft inside. The sour cream was so yum and fresh.
The Eggs Benedict was my favourite though.I will definitely order it again.Fresh and flavourful.It was lip smacking good.

They do offer Gluten free options for all the bread. They also have some of their Organic produce for purchase along with some handmade jewellery.

The country style ambience of the cafe is very inviting and refreshing . Reasonably priced, this place is definitely on my to -go again places, for coffee, breakfast , lunch or a quick snack for some relaxed catch up.

The Curator’s House |Review

The Curator’s House |Review

Today’s review is of the Curator’s House restaurant, set on the corner of the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River, near the Antigua Boat Sheds and the Hospital.

We wandered through the Botanic Gardens from Riccarton Ave to get to the Curator’s House, however, it is located on the edge of the city centre, on Rolleston Ave at the main entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The quaint Old English Tudor style building in which the restaurant is housed is surrounded by cottage style fruit and vegetable gardens.  This heritage building was the original 1920’s residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Prior to this there was a Head Gardener’s cottage located within the footprint of the present day building built in 1872 and before this a small Government Gardener’s cottage existed on the same site.

Wandering down the garden path…..

There is plenty of outdoor seating with large sun umbrellas to provide shade.  We chose to sit outside as it was a very warm sunny day and it was just lovely sitting outside enjoying our surroundings.

My eldest daughter and my Mum (whose birthday we were celebrating over lunch).

The staff were friendly but rushed and barely had time to stop and we had to ask for them to explain what tapas are and how to order from the tapas menu.
To start we ordered bread with a selection of dips and a tapas platter so we could taste a variety of tapas dishes.  I was pleased that a lot of these dishes were gluten free so I was able to try most of them.
The calamari was the stand out tapas dish, the patatas bravas with aioli a close second along with the yummy dips with bread.

We could have chosen more from the tapas menu and shared several tapas for lunch but we were so tempted by the a la carte menu we decided to choose a main dish each.
My husband chose the venison with vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and potatoes.  He enjoyed this dish, the venison was cooked to perfection and the crunchy vege crisps were delicious, but he didn’t find the meal amazing (and he tells me for this price he expects to be really ‘wowed’).

My Mum and I both ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Falling off the bone, this lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection.  The portion of lamb is huge!  I would have loved a few more spring greens with this dish.
Mum loved the wine she bought to accompany her main so much that she ordered a second glass!

This delicious flavourful and fresh salad was the dish my daughter chose.  I nibbled on her salad and really enjoyed the strong Mediterranean flavours.  The price was reasonable too.

None of us thought we’d be able to fit in dessert but when we looked at the dessert menu we changed our minds and decided to splurge!  We all ordered the Pannacotta de Chocolate – a silky chocolate pannacotta with morello cherries, candied almonds and espresso syrup, this really was the cherry on top!

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal but due to the prices it isn’t a restaurant we can visit often.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens, located in Hagley Park in the heart of the city, are one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited.

This week I took a walk with my Mum and eldest daughter. We started at the West Bridge next to the carpark off Riccarton Ave (free parking) and walked along the river until we reached Rolleston Ave (where we had an amazing lunch at The Curator’s House).

This pathway takes you along the Avon river,


Past Water Gardens,

Through the New Zealand Gardens,

Beautiful shaded native bush pathways,

With stunning displays of native NZ trees like this Kakabeak in flower,

Tall stands of NZ native trees on the edge of the river,

Gently shaded pathways and gardens,

Opening out to beautiful green spaces.

Arching bridges over the clear Avon River.

Wide pathways with lush green lawns.

Dappled light under tall trees.

At this time of year you will be certain to spot ducklings.  We were delighted to spot several groups of ducklings, especially these silver and brown Paradise ducklings with both their parents nearby.

Their parents marched them across the path and down the the river just before us, their Father in the front and the Mother duck following closely behind, quacking as she walked.

Into the clear water they went and delighted us with their diving antics.  We also spotted several trout in the river.

A very common scene on the Avon river is Punting,

A leisurely boat ride up the river, pushed by a friendly guide’s long pole.

Tiny ducklings!

We paused our walk at the Curator’s House Restaurant where we had lunch before walking back to the car.

There are multiple pathways and directions one can walk throughout the gardens, all of them beautiful and most enjoyable.

After our lunch punting would have been a relaxing way to get back to the car!  We contended ourselves by watching the boats on the river as we strolled back along the path at a leisurely pace.