8 Things to do in Te Aroha and its surroundings

Te Aroha is maybe not the most famous place in New Zealand but it deserves to be known a bit better. So I ended it up to this town because I found a job to spend my first month of my working visa. It’s a bit difficult to go around without a car but I have always managed to find a way to explore the area. So here, I will give you a non-exhaustive list of what you can do.

In Town
Climb mount Te Aroha

I had the view of the mountain every day so the temptation was too big to not climb it. So I did it. The walk takes usually around 4hours to go up and come back. But for me, it happened to be a bit compromised. Indeed, I started walking. I stopped at the lookout of the town, which is about 35-40minutes walk. The weather was not great, it was grey but I kept going. And while I was not so far from the summit, the rain had started and the thunder rumbled. So I decided to go back because the path was really steep and I was alone without a phone. .. But from what people told me, on a clear day you can see the sea and also the Mount Maunganui, situated on the East near Tauranga.

 

Foot Pools

Small tip after climbing the mountain, go to the foot pools! Those hot water are made of Natural Soda Water and it is really nice to relax your foot.

Wetlands walk

Situated at the entrance of the town, the walk goes around a small lake in the wetland. You would not expect such a park in this area. And it has a beautiful view of the mount Te Aroha.

The visit of the area
Waiorongomai, Gold mine trails

Waiorongomai Valley is situated in the Mountains that overlook Te Aroha. The mountain offers different trails. I did the “Low-level track” which includes the “Piako County Tramway”. The first one offers an amazing view of the Valley as well as the area around Te Aroha. The second offers you to walk along the rail with on it some old piece of wagons.

This walk also shows the importance that New Zealand has to protect its environment. For example, there were signs asking to clean the shoes to remove the soil that could bring diseases to the forest!

 

Karangahake Gorge

Karangahake is situated around 20 km north of Te Aroha. Once there, you will also have the choice of different walks. We picked the” Rail Tunnel Loop” that goes alongside the old rail and which also goes under a 1km railway tunnel.  The scenery is really nice as it is in between two mountains with a river passing through. I really enjoyed the walk because it gives you the opportunity to explore a bit of the cave situated in the mountains.

Wairere Falls

The falls are situated 20 km south of Te Aroha and they are the highest falls on the North Island with 153metres. The walk to reach the summit is about 1h and a half and the lookout is situated 45 minutes but as the path is really steep, it actually takes longer.

Morrinsville

The town is situated between Hamilton and Te Aroha and it has the particularity to have around 42 sculptures of cows which are located all around the town. Why Cows? Because Waikato is where you will find the biggest production of Milk in New Zealand. Actually, at the entrance of the town, you will see a huge cow, the symbol of this productivity.

The big sculpture of the cow

 

Hobbiton

To be honest, I am not a fan of “The Lord of the ring” or “The Hobbit” but I really enjoyed the visit. It is quite expensive but I would say it definitely worth it. The way they recreated such a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, gives some magic and fairy. Not one details are missing, it is amazing. You have the possibility to have a quick look at the inside of one of the Hobbit’s house. During the tour, which is guided, they explain and give some stories about the shoot which is quite interesting. But the bonus of Hobbiton is the gorgeous landscape!

 

 

 

 

 

So yes, Te Aroha might not be well known from the travellers. But it still has some attractions that worth coming or, staying for a couple of days.

Spice Alley : Asian taste in the middle of Sydney

 

 

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to start the Australian adventure thanks to a working visa. So I landed in Sydney. The plan was not to stay too long in Sydney. But I found a job in Spice Alley and I stayed there for more than 6 months. Spice Alley is actually a food court but I worked there as a cashier. Indeed, I worked at the drink station so I sold drinks but I also had to handle all the cash of the restaurants. And the place was cashless so you could not pay cash at the restaurants.

Spice Alley is hidden in a middle of a random street, in the centre of Sydney near Chinatown. It was created after the Singaporean street food. Which is a row of restaurants in boxes with, in front of them, space with tables and chairs where you can sit to enjoy the food. So I will focus on the 5 street food restaurants that compose the Alley. And, also known as “Kopi-Tiam”, which means “coffee shop” in South-Eastern Asia. The Alley also hosts, a Vietnamese restaurant “Lower Mekong”, a bar “Bar Chinois”  and a dessert bar owned by one of the former winners of Top Chef Australia.

As I mentioned before there are 5 restaurants that I want to focus on: Alex Lee Kitchen, Old Jim Kee, Bang Luck, Hong-Kong Diner and Kyo-To.

Alex Lee Kitchen

So the first and the most popular street restaurant was called “Alex Lee Kitchen”, it offered Malaysian cuisine. This restaurant was famous for its roti, a kind of bread which is often eaten with different dip sauces and called Roti Canai. Or a Roti that can also be spread of banana and Nutella, served with an ice cream. It is eaten as a dessert just like the Breton crepes! It was a good discovery and I used to eat the roti with their chicken curry which was grassy but really good as the rest of their meals. I think for the first two months I must have gained 2 to 3 kilos.

Roti Banana Nutella
Roti Cheese
Old Jim Kee

The second restaurant was called “Old Jim Kee” and was in a strong competition with “Alex Lee Kitchen”. Both of them were cooking Malaysian food but in a different way. In this restaurant, they had crunchy chicken wings that we ate with a sweet chilli sauce. I remember eating a lot of them so as my colleagues! But the meal that had given me full satisfaction every time was, the Char Kway Teow. It is stir-fried flat rice noodle with chilli, prawn, Chinese sausage and crunchy pork lard, a delight! The only fact to mention it makes my mouth water! Moreover what I liked about this restaurant is that they offered typical Malaysian drinks and desserts. For example, Cold coffee, Longan Ice made of the dragon eye fruit or Ice Kacang, a typical ice cream made of beans, jelly and crushed peanut.

Bang Luck

Bang Luck was the third restaurant, the kitchen was way smaller than the previous but I think it was my favourite! They offered Thai food; I could recommend the full menu as it is the only restaurant where I tried all the food. But I really had a crush on the crispy pork belly, a portion of rice with on top the crispy pork belly, some Asian vegetable and a lot of chillies. Of course, you can ask for light spice but be aware that Thai people don’t know how to cook without chilli! The second dish I would recommend is the Pad See Ew. Which is stir-fried noodles with crispy greens, garlic and sweet soy choice and you have the choice of chicken, beef or pork. But as I said earlier I could also recommend the curries. Or for people who really like spicy food, Som Tum also called papaya salad. It took me two full days to recover from the hotness of the dish. And believe it or not, I don’t usually have any problem with hot food…

Pad see ew
Hong Kong Diner

The further you walked in the alley the more authentic it got. Indeed at The fourth restaurant of the alley which served Chinese food and was called Hong Kong Diner. You could see on the walls some drawings of typical Chinese ladies with their outfits and their umbrellas. Their main sales were the Dim Sum which is bite-sized portions filled with chicken, prawns or vegetables and which can be steamed or fried. They also had buns and I have to admit that I particularly liked the Barbeque pork bun which I ate with this Chiu Chow sauce, made of chilli and soy sauce. It was nothing special but the sauce made the difference!

BBQ Bun
Kyoto

As for the previous restaurant, “Hong Kong Diner”, “Kyoto”, the last and fifth restaurant, was a bit isolated from the rest of the restaurants but It had its own identity. Indeed it has is own space and a typical Japanese music that you could hear from the covered dining area. When people think of Japanese food in our society, they probably think about sushi, rolls. But Kyoto had the particularity to offer all kind of Japanese food except for sushi. You could find Udon soup, Miso, and some other strange dishes as the Takoyaki which is Octopus balls often served with mayonnaise. And that’s something I have noticed, Japanese people love mayonnaise, they add it to every meal! The first meal I had was at this restaurant. I had a Don, the Shogayaki one, and a stir-fried pork slice with ginger, sliced leek and dry chilli on rice. It was quite good but I mostly enjoyed the Salmon Teriyaki Don and the Teriyaki Tofu Don. I also liked their Bento, a takeaway box, in which you will find different Japanese dishes. For example, a teriyaki chicken with a miso soup, a Japanese omelette and rice.

Bento
Salmon Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from food, what I will mainly keep in mind are the people. Loving your job is one thing but working with amazing people is something else and it usually makes the difference.

So if you are lucky enough to be in Sydney or planning to go to Sydney do not hesitate to stop by this Alley. It is really worth the walk!