It had to be an official visit alone, instead took few days off to enjoy Auckland on a personal front too.  After 3 official days, time to roam around.

One of my senior friend took me directly to one tree hill, only because it was closest to his home . We rode past the cornwall park  on a Friday evening . Cornwall was a pleasant park with lot of health freaks around. It was a bit cold out there on top of the one tree hill. Not an amazing view, but relaxing to look at the sun set. Could see heaps of sheep here and there. New zealand is a country of sheep. For every human in New Zealand there are three sheep.

I resided at best western president hotel, conveniently opposite to sky tower. Hotel was comfy. Taxi fares were too high. Every now and then I was forced to do a mind forex, converting NZD to INR.  Did some home work and found out that the hop on and hop off was cheaper and covered most of the important locations I wanted to see.

Went to the museum first so that I can cover museum and start my hop on hop from there. Museum definitely will have something for every age and interest. Volcano, dinosaurs, army and air force might, all put in a beautiful display. Volcano model house was excellent.

There are two routes, red and blue lines to hop on and off. I chose blue. Though commentary was unclear, free WIFI helped google the missed ones.  Spent few dollars in westfield and moved on. MOTAT was an interesting place to visit. Took free tram ride to the aviation museum.  If you are a plane lunatic like me, You will never want to come out of this place. Variety of models on exhibit.  Don’t even remember the number of shots in the camera. Simply loved it.

The final destination was sky tower. It was an awesome view and professionally managed location too. Circle around to see a 360 degree view of Auckland and few of the islands too. Couldn’t resist stepping on the glass, to check if it was as strong as it was mentioned on the notice.  Food at the Dosa plaza reminded me of my home town.

Just to repeat myself, that the entire itinerary was planned as a loner and keeping in mind to avoid places I will visit in near future with family.



Mt.Batilamu pure bliss

We were a family of two with three kids under age 10.

The road from Lautoka to the village is a bit muddy, hence advice to take a 4WD. Though the villagers asked us to avoid kids, we took the risk of taking them along (I have had previous trekking experience with them and know their limits).

Post paying the entry fees, we said we will stay up there overnight and return next day. We were accompanied by 2 local villagers. It took us 4.30 hours for us to reach the top. Villagers helped us in carrying the kids for a while. It is a dense rain forest but the beauty is that mother nature spared Fiji from wild animals. Hence the least we bothered was to reach up-hill before dark. The uphill walk definitely tested our mental and physical strength.

When you reach on top, you are able to see a small plane’s view of three major cities- Ba, Lautoka and Nadi. BREATHTAKING!

There is a small hut which can contain up to 15 members over night. Simply nothing to do. But we loved the no-electricity, no-mobile place and extended another day of stay. The villagers brought all amenities required for the next day from the village.

If you are a person who is not inspired by thrills, mountains , trekking..etc this is not the place to be.

On the way down we were led to a falls and barged on a Jamoon fruit tree.

Awesome experience.

Kids friendly resort in Fiji

Ship journey to the resort took us 35 minutes from Denarau. It is as usual a warm Fijian style welcome. They made us wait for more than 45 minutes. But ensured that we are comfortable with a glass of juice and a place to sit and relax. My kids were so happy to see the swimming pool with slide diving. They wanted to go immediately and I had to trade it with a bottle of Coke and pastries with them.

The Bure was awesome and was just few metres away from the beach. They had bicycles to roam around, 1 out door Kids area, 1 in door kids area, one more kids swimming pool, 1 trampoline and few activities based on the kids. Helped me to keep them engaged, while me and my wife grabbed beer and few interesting topics.

I started to believe that the day just began by 9 P.M when they begun the dance program followed by fire performances. Incredible stuff. But I am sure this is not available on all days. Please do check with them in advance.

Food was average and snorkelling was good. Courteous staff. Enjoyable stay. One of the best resorts in Fiji.

Warwick resort Fiji

Having been to lot of other resorts of Fiji, Warwick on the mainland seemed to be a wise decision, considering that I need to travel by road from Suva.

Property is excellent in terms of
1. Customer service – Real bula spirit with all of the employees.
2. Food was awesome with lot of options ( particularly on the breakfast buffet)
3. Room service took only 10-15 minutes, even though the hotel seemed to be fully
4. Well maintained swimming pool
5. White sand beach.
6. Free food for Kids ( in the main restaurant)
7. Free wifi ( but didn’t want to get hooked to internet though)

Property lacks

1. Kids play area / park
2. a sizeable balcony
3. Beer and spirit seems to be costlier

Stayed with 2 kids aged 10 and 7 for 2 days.

  • Stayed April 2017, travelled with family

Weekend from Chennai

Thanks to my generous boss, I left office by 11.30 a.m on 14-Jan. 10 minutes I reached home to find all three of them at the doors awaiting my arrival. Bike keys turned car keys and I was there on the roads. Trip to Yelagiri. Even I was a bit excited this time. I accelerated past my office worrying what my numbers would end up today. Only in sales You will have these day(night)mares.
Pammal to poonamalle drive was driving me crazy with roller coaster roads.My gals were yawning and letting themselves slip to a doze. My initial plans to take lunch in poonamalle was revised, hearing the back seat snores. I lost all the little excitement crossing poonamalle. Man, for this kinda traffic You should have an overbridge there.
I checked google maps if I was right on track, but my mobile refused to get connected saying that there isn’t a connection at all. I dialed airtel Cus care to know that it will not work for the next 4 hours. I bothered to tell her what is the purpose? I would have reached yelagiri and had a cup of tea or a beer for that matter.
An hour’s drive and I wanted a petrol bunk and a motel together, so that I need not park twice. Oops ! . I somehow convinced myself finding a hotel near a bunk. Gotcha, I fed my santro full tank and checked her legs for air. Woodlands was the hotel name and their exteriors were bigger than the hotel itself. My wife was upset when the waiter said “only meals sir”. Somehow she convinced him to bring chappathis and as usual I preferred full meals. I am sure swallowed is not what I did. I was washing my hands, still confused which one I ate was sambar and which one was rasam.
It was usual to pay tolls, but was unusual to find dents here and there even in the tolled highway. But for that, accelerating at 130 – 140 km is something every driver will enjoy and so did I. After crossing Vaniyambadi, sign board asked us to deviate from highways to a road which should be between a single and a double road. A bus and a car will definitely fill the road.
A Tea / coffee shop was inviting for me. Parked there for a while and filled my darling’s tummies with boost, tea and a pack of biscuit. Tea shop owner said “7 kms from there and 14kms uphill You will reach Yelagiri”. We hit the roads discussing that how big a hill was Ooty ( we lived there for 2.5 years) compared to yelagiri. Was surprised to see modern pillows being sold on the sides of the roads, say some 6 – 7 shops.
My daughter was wondering which one of the visible hills was Yelagiri. I was a lot confused on how to explain her all of them are. My wife started praying Gods not to vomit and as usual began counting ‘one crossed’ on the first hairpin bend. 14 bends and Govt have named them with 14 erstwhile poets, 2 of them whom I haven’t heard about. This is also a 1.5 kinda road but with very less traffic. Unlike coonoor the roads were well fenced and were clearly visible.
We jumped of at a spot where we can park our car and took some time to take snaps. Think there are only two or three places where we can park over. Bikers never mind. “Monkeys, Monkeys” yelled both of my kids reminding of the same words I used to yell and some time back was yelled at. I was crossing the board sign ‘welcome to yelagiri – State Bank of India’. ‘Bang’ hit something on my brain, OMG there is only one ATM in the hill and crowded days there is a biigggggggg queue, to add turmoil to that my hotel is against plastic cards”. I was driving towards my ATM, while pondering alternate ways like fund transferring to the hotels account in a browsing centre and kinda stuff.
ALAS ! SBI ATM, didn’t carry a ‘machine broke down / No cash’ board, zoom went I and filled my wallet with few thousands. I have never filled so much cash for a long while, long live plastic cards. I thought I would break few cards if I sit with the bulgy wallet, hence took the even more risky option ‘handover the wallet to my wife’.
Just when we crossed the main doors of hotel landmark, “kids park ! kids park ! shouted my elder one“, I wonder how kids are able to see what they want however smaller, however farther they are. Check-in formalities were over in a minute or two. French fries for both of them, coffee and tea for us. Kids area is where the whole evening was spent. “Another 2 years and we need not escort our second kid too”, I convinced my wife.
We preferred room order for the buffet. Just when we were about to go to bed, they ran an open theatre here with a warming campfire. Climate was against my expectation, so cool. My daughter asked if we can go to theatre and enjoy the movie. I said “why not, we will have fun”. When the campfire started hovering, we moved to our rooms leaving the movie half way. Who minds that anyway?
Morning, began in the children’s park again. Buffet breakfast, we let idli’s, dosa’s, pongal, vada and a cup of tea pour in. Being a pongal day, my home minister preferred Murugan temple for boat house. The small hill was just about 100 metres near our hotel. We said hi to Murugan and his brother to begin the day with.
Boat house- post following all the ritual queue formalities we hired a row boat for 10 minutes. I don’t hire a boat more than that because in 10 minutes you get bored and the rest of the time people will make their boat stall in the water not knowing what to do.
Fish fry 20 rupees, Archu said “Good fish”, “good or bad buy it” I said after checking the cleanliness part. Park inside the boat house was not much different from the Hotel’s. But they played another 30 minutes there. Lunch time. We took a decent road side hotel to complete that formality. What is good about Yelagiri is that you travel just a km or two to see spots.
My second daughter’s time to sleep, but she refused to and cried. We drove back to the hotel and all three slept for 2 hours. Thought, yesterday’s late night sleep might be the reason behind. We started by four to the nature park. My daughter and I would have been wet in the artificial falls if at all we were there before 2 hours. Green grass, we let them rock and roll. Me and my wife, had some time to chat.
We settled down for curd rice, which was so good the previous night and considering that we have taken enough of the living things day in and out. Late night campfire accompanied by movie- Vettaikaran. Good day too. Climate was so chill, that I enjoyed roaming on the lawns.
“Appa, why don’t we take a home here and join a school here itself?, should we really go tomorrow?” -I expected that the next day and started briefing her why that is not possible. 8.30 was the time we were awake. Post breakfast, we waved goodbye to Yelagiri and zoom started my car towards Chennai. I even, was not in a mood to leave this climate, but all that was convincing was that the next day was a holiday.
My wife and daughter said they were so happy and relaxed and wanna make a trip again in term holidays. I touched my wallet to find that it was very lean and compact now. ALL IS SO WELL.