The Square Restaurant- Novotel Auckland Airport

Sometimes transit times can be dull. But, should you be on flights which transit through Auckland, then take some time to dine or stay, at Novotel Auckland Airport. The Square Restaurant will not disappoint. Here there are comfy booths or stand alone dining settings, all situated under the massively high ceiling with a living wall sprouting from the bar..Delightful melt in the mouth fish made for a fantastically filling, yet light on the stomach meal, for this late evening traveller.

Room service is 24 hours, if you are looking for some peace and quiet. Or stop on in the restaurant, the friendly, professional staff will do all they can to make your meal enjoyable.Mind you the view from your room at night might be quite enticing!

Lunch was also an enjoyable meal, again with fantastic staff.

I really enjoyed this Calamari. Tender enough to chew, with a crispy exterior.

However, check out the brilliant colour on this NZ salmon bagel! The eye catching pop of colour gave a hint of how tasty this fish was.

Or, continuing on the fish theme, how about a hearty fish and chop meal? Impressively large this lunch was another tasty dish.Even the children’s meals are enticing..On a couple of occasions now we have stopped by this restaurant. Never yet have been disappointed. Stop by, the staff will look after you!

Sky Lounge Rooftop Venue – Ibis Brisbane Airport

Exiting the lift into the Sky Lounge Rooftop Venue, the first thing that strikes you is the massive photo on the end wall depicting a bygone era.

Across the expansive room you can already see a stunning, uninterrupted view across Brisbane Airport and surrounds. Dine Live Travel was fortunate to be invited to a private function this week, hosted by Travel Massive and the Brisbane Airport Hotels Group.

Available for private hire, the spacious, comfortable and inviting area has its own impressive bar, which at night, reflected the airport lights in the big mirrors behind.

Glass and stainless blend seamlessly with the comfortable muted surroundings. Here inside, meets outside, leading on to that incredible view, where the sky is pierced regularly with planes arriving and leaving Brisbane Airport. If you’re a plane enthusiast, this will give you one of the best views in Brisbane. Even if you’re not, you cannot help but be impressed by the ever changing scene below as those long, metal, cigar shapes busily play out their orchestrated movements, leading to a symphony of precision.

Staff on site this evening were friendly, obliging and professional, ensuring everyone was looked after at all times. Finger food served was superb. An array of of food choices was constantly circled through the mingling patrons.We were also lucky enough to be given a tour of the onsite hotel rooms. Now keep in mind this venue is at the airport, you could have guests fly in for a function, stay the night and fly out the following morning if they were on a tight schedule. Having only opened in October, the rooms are fresh and clean.

This room above was in the Ibis. Plenty of room, quiet, comfortable, a large bathroom, and to top it off, a fabulous large window framing the Airport. In here, there was not even a whisper from those massive jet engines traversing the runway.

Next stop, the Pullman right next door, where we were treated to a tour of a couple of suites and standard room, as well as the executive lounge.The suite above is popular with business executives flying in for meetings. In the suite you have a large dining table with half a dozen chairs, meaning you can have a private meeting without having to hire a boardroom. The impressively large pod coffee machine would be a sure bet hit with those meeting attendees too!

Keep this venue in mind should you be looking to host a function on a rooftop in Brisbane. Or, for anyone stopping over briefly, these hotels are perfect should you not wish to go into the city or leave the airport. For those of us who are Accor Plus members, here are another couple of venues for utilising those membership advantages.

Thank you to Travel Massive and Brisbane Airport Hotels Group for giving us the opportunity to check out this venue.

Blenheim / Picton

Finally finishing the New Zealand story with our end destination, Blenheim.

Sprawling over a flat area, Blenheim’s best viewing point is from the Wither Hills walkway looking towards the Richmond Ranges. This popular area hosts a number of tracks through a local farm. Some steep gradients will have you at a good vantage point with 15 minutes.

Wineries, the Marlborough Sounds, mussels, where do I stop. . Marlborough is synonymous with all of these and more. Cafes, restaurants, if you’re looking for food you won’t go hungry. We were on a very limited time span, however did manage to fit in a couple of places.

A quick catch up, called for breakfast at Speights Ale House Springlands.

Service was nice and adequate with interesting surroundings, plus we had a room to ourselves. Nice when you want to have a catch up. Food was definitely good quality and generous serves. We never had the opportunity to return for other meals but can definitely recommend breakfast.

Take a drive to Picton, either directly from Blenheim or via the Queen Charlotte drive and Havelock. With limited time, we did manage a quick trip to Picton for lunch. Cafe Cortado was the recommended choice for another enjoyable catch up. Located on the waterfront with a South American infused menu, lunch was enjoyable. Choosing an outside table with a view across to the Waterfront, we settled in for a nice lunch . Plenty to see here, with the daily life of locals and tourists alike unfolding before your eyes, with a pleasant sea breeze keeping the suns rays at bay.

Loved the fresh herbs in pots!

Service was adequate and meals arrived in good time. Pizza was popular today, plus I chose a very appetising salad. Well to be fair the trip is coming to end, you start to feel like it’s time to pull back.

As I said, time was limited on this trip. However when you visit take the time to visit the many places this region has to offer. No wineries in this trip, but if you have the opportunity to take in a winetasting or lingering lunch there’s many to choose from. Or take a boat trip down the sounds. Take your time and relax, there’s a lot to see!

Queenstown and surrounds = New Zealand

We have recently returned from a quick trip to NZ.   You cannot be anything less than impressed with stunning scenery as you fly into the tourist destination of Queenstown.  The rugged mountains, plunging into deep crevasses where clear rivers flow, smoothing the rough rocks to pebbles, lends itself well to the many film backdrops these breath taking landscapes have been used in.Everywhere you look something is happening. Jet boats  thrill their patrons with high powered fun on these crystal waters, skimming sideways over shallow gravel before speeding up the deeper water.  Ride the gondala, to the skyline for a birds eye view over Queenstown.  Up there you will more activities including the luge.  Take the time to drink in this amazing view, with viewing decks and so much to see you will wonder how one can ever describe this portrait. Photos never do it justice.

We had brief drive to Alexandra, stopping along the way to see the sights.  In Arrowtown, mere minutes from Queenstown we stopped in at local bakery for breakfast, eating our delicious purchases with this scenic backdrop, traces of snow still topping the mountains.

Arrowtown is quaint, retaining the look from yesteryear.   This was a quick look for us as time was of the essence, however take the time to look around.  There is much to see in this history soaked township.  

Next stop was the AJ Hackett bungy jump.  Wind your way down the spiralling ramp to the busy activities below.   Should you feel the need to jump off a bridge or whiz down the swing, all the while suspended high over the river, now is your chance.  Personally, I was happy to watch.

The iconic Clyde Dam, a most amazing feat of human engineering.   Here we stopped to marvel in this mass of concrete hydro dam, suspended above Clyde.  This huge dam supplies the north island of New Zealand with power.  Locals are supplied by the Roaring Meg.

Heading back to Queenstown our next stop was the most intriguing Motorsport Park at Cromwell. Here there are go carts, V8s and some very impressive vehicles on show, or take a ride, that option exists too.  You may prefer to take the Jurassic Park bus and look for dinosaurs!  Very cleverly designed, there is much to entertain here.

Stop at the Roaring Meg hydro power scheme.  Fabulous photo opportunity abounds as Meg obligingly roars in the background.

Enjoy your visit here, so much to see, so much do and scenery beyond belief.  Oh and don’t forget the food!  Here you will not go hungry with many eating establishments to cater for all.

You may even be lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful views with your meal. Enjoy!

I’m leaving with this this shot from underwater viewing, directly off the wharf at Queenstown. Yes this is real!  Keep an eye out for the next NZ road trip blog, a lot more to come yet.

Air New Zealand

Our recent trip to Ne Zealand, was booked through Air New Zealand.  This is an airline we have never had any issues with.   And this trip, was no exception.

Brisbane ito Auckland leg was uneventful, with the two of us the only passengers flying Works Deluxe.   Seated directly behind Business Class, we were comfortable, with the guaranteed empty seat between us.    Plenty of elbow room for all.  Behind us were empty rows, with a handful of works passengers seated near the back of our section on the plane.   

We certainly felt Works Deluxe was worthwhile, meals drinks, movies, everything included.   Air NZ flight attendants, treated us to business class glasses for our drinks as they felt for us being the only Works Deluxe travellers, plus a row with screens that didn’t work. We were offered alternative seats but being an evening flight, we weren’t particularly concerned.  Arriving in Auckland around midnight, we headed across the tarmac  to The Novotel, for a brief stopover until our morning flight to Blenheim.

Domestic flights with NZ are different to the International.  Here you are offered water, tea coffee and given a biscuit package.  Now me personally, I’m not that fussed on the prop planes, so it was lucky that whilst snapping photos, I didn’t check them until we landed. The light retractions on this one were unbelievable, giving the illusion of the propeller bending.
Surprisingly, given the photo above, this flight was relatively smooth, with a bumpy descent into Blenheim the worst part.   From the air, you can see the majority of Blenheim.  After a week of wine tasting, touring and visiting, we  were off to Wellington on the Interisland Ferry.  More reviews are on this blog to keep you updated on the details of the places we visited.

Wellington turned on its best windy, wet weather for our flight to Auckland.  Very quickly though we ascended into what was a beautiful day.  It appeared the dark clouds were low and thin.  Some fabulous views were to be enjoyed as we quickly flew up the North Island.

Again we enjoyed a smooth flight, descending into Auckland in what seemed like no time at all.

To finish our holiday, we had managed to procure Premium Economy for the flight to Brisbane, have to love Air New Zealand’s sales!

A whole new world here, with big comfortable space seats.  Each seat had a pillow, headphones and bottle of water waiting.  Again all meals, drinks, and movies were included.  Service was to Air NZ’s typical high level, certainly there could be no complaints with friendly, professional flight attendants doing everything they could to make our flight comfortable. Food quality wasn’t too bad for airline food.  

Perhaps they even organised this lovely little rainbow for our flight!

Moreton Bay looked stunning as we headed into Brisbane.  Thank you Air New Sealand for contributing to making our trip comfortable and enjoyable.  If you haven’t travelled Air NZ, give them a try, and, if you want to try those upgrades, keep an eye out for the specials!


Air New Zealand

After a holiday trip to New Zealand, I’m giving Air New Zealand a huge tick. If you’re considering booking flights and have plenty of time to do so, then book early, as you can pick up some good deals. Last minute flights can also include really good deals. It really does depend on your requirements. We knew we had to be somewhere on a certain date, hence the forward planning, booking our tickets nearly a year in advance, during a sale.

Keep an eye out for the regular sales and why not treat yourself to Works Deluxe. Taking into consideration the extras you receive, it just might be worth it. Given we were flying at Christmas, the extra baggage allowance included in the price, plus lounge access, extra leg and seat room, we decided it was worth trialling Works Deluxe.

Prior to boarding, we spent over an hour in the Koru lounge as part of our ticket inclusions. Brisbane Lounge is spacious, providing, private phone booths for those wishing to make or receive phone calls on their mobiles, charging stations in case your phones or iPads need a top up, a good selection of self serve, juices, wines, spirits, beers and softdrinks, buffet food which varies depending upon the time of day, clean rest rooms including showering facilities, all of this set amongst comfortable, roomy seating choices.

Seated in the front row, seats D & F, (the middle seat is left empty in Works Deluxe as part of you ticket), whilst leaving Brisbane, we were treated to a storm sky as in the photo I snapped below. Rolling in towards us, whilst the other side of the plane could see bright blue sky out their windows, lightening was cracking over the city as our plane prepared to depart.

Moments prior to this storm preparing to engulf the airport, our plane headed down the runway, and, with not as many bumps as expected, soared away from the clutches of the angry clouds, bolts of lightening and rumbling thunder.

Cabin crew were very good on this flight. after the initial bump, rattle and roll, the plane settled into a steady path towards Christchurch. The crew took an interest in the photos they had seen me snapping, as the view out their porthole window was clear blue sky. As a side note, the Pilots did a great job of keeping the plane comfortable during the first bumpy ride. I’m sure it would have been a lot worse without their skill.

Settling in to watch the sunset over the sunset above the clouds, we were delivered our choice of dinner and beverages. Now I would have to say the meals were enjoyable, well above the standard one would expect from an airline.

Our flight arrived in safely into Christchurch at midnight. Thank you to the crew in this flight, who, despite the time of day were all fresh, friendly and helpful.

As with any holiday, they eventually come to an end. Unfortunately, so did ours. Returning to Christchurch for the flight home to Brisbane, we had an early start on Saturday 3 January.

Christchurch Koru Lounge is also impressively clean and roomy,with the facilities similar to Brisbane. Here we were able to enjoy a lingering breakfast, which included scrambled eggs and mini sausages as we waited for our flight to board.

Upon boarding, it wasn’t hard to see, the cabin crew on our flight NZ803, departing at 8am were as fresh as daisies and delightfully friendly.

On this return flight. We had chosen to try the front row seats 1A & 1C, directly in front of the two crew seats. This puts you facing the crew members who are seated here during take off and landing. Today we had Candy and Catherine, seated opposite. Candy was overseeing the onboard cabin crew today, with two other cabin crew in addition to Catherine, who were Michelle & Georgina, fresh out of training.

As I mentioned earlier, the first flight had very good cabin crew, however now bing seated in direct contact with the cabin crew, we were able to interact more with the crew. This made the flight more personalised, enjoyable and a lot of fun.

Breakfast followed soon after takeoff, whilst we soared over Mount Cook National Park.

Champagne breakfast, ah why not, the holiday is coming to an end. Time for some final treats – thanks Catherine for anticipating my choice👍. I must note the bubbly paired quite nicely with the frittata. Plus where else would you have a champagne breakfast with a view like the one below.

Mount Cook National Park mountain peaks, rising majestically out of the clouds they appeared to be bathing in. Quite breathtaking, in fact it seemed a shame to view it through a camera lens whilst taking shots.

I really do want to give a huge thank you to the cabin crew who were tremendous. The Pilots provided a wonderfully smooth flight, whilst Candy ran a top crew with ease. They all worked efficiently, as part of a team and easily, without going about their duties mechanically. We were really impressed.

A big shout out to Catherine Sayce, Candy, Michelle and Georgina. Thank you for the friendly banter, your exemplatory service and for such a wonderful finish to our holiday. You were all fantastic.

If you’re looking to book flights on a path used by Air New Zealand, then don’t hesitate to book with this airline. Treat yourself to those front row seats, even if it’s just once, you never know who the crew will be 😄. I do know that if it is any of the crew we encountered you are in for a fabulous flight. Enjoy!

(Note, crew names were used with permission from those named)