Adventures in Middle Earth – Mountains, Food and Books

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know from my recent posts that the Mister and I had a recent trip to the South Island of New Zealand AKA Middle Earth for Lord of The Rings fans out there.

In this post I’ll be sharing a few of the highlights of our trip and what we read while we were away. Enjoy!

Where did you go?

We had two weeks available for our trip so we decided to not try and cram too much in. We’re relaxed people and don’t really like to rush around on holiday. Anyone else like that?

We started in Christchurch, and drove in a camper van down the west coast of South Island NZ to finish in Queenstown.

What did you see?

So many mountains! We visited South Island’s west coast which is rugged and beautiful. The drive from Christchurch through Arthur’s Pass was stunning. We camped our first night in our van here.

Another major highlight was our overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound in Fiordlands. This area is world heritage protected and it’s easy to see why. We had the opportunity to kayak and swim. We saw bottle nose dolphins, seals and penguins in their natural habitat. Truly wonderful.

The nature in New Zealand is diverse, we went from beach to mountainside within moments.

Food recommendations?

In our van we mostly cooked for ourselves, but there were a few major foodie highlights worth mentioning from when we did eat out.

Good Day – Arrowtown

Good Day is a neat little cafe tucked away behind the main street of Arrowtown. Arrow town itself is a beautiful historical town, and Good Day sums up the experience here pretty well.

From the hand planted marigolds on each table to the attentive staff you can tell people here really care about the experience you have as a customer. And the food… so good! I ate the best banana pancakes I’ve had a long time. Delicious. The Mister vouches for the coffee here. We’d recommend to anyone heading to Arrowtown.

The London – Queenstown

So we’d heard about the famous Ferb burger in Queenstown and come lunchtime headed down Shotover street to investigate… to find a giant queue.

We did expect this, as we’d been pre-warned. However, our grumbling tummies would not cope with the hour wait just to get into the restaurant. Disheartened, we turned aside and saw an entrance for an underground bar and diner. Curious, we investigated down the stairs and were not disappointed.

The London offers great value, timeliness and a fun almost underground railway chic. I had pizza and the Mister had the King Richard burger which he highly recommends.

Saigon Kingdom – Queenstown

This Vietnamese restaurant is in the wharf area of Queenstown. The ambience is lovely, with table and a few cosy booth seating area options. The food itself was delicious, we actually came back a second night because we enjoyed it so much. I had the pho bo both times and the Mister and I shared the summer spring rolls. The Mister tried pho bo the first night, and the second he had the Vietnamese pancake.

If you’re looking for delicious casual dining, Saigon Kingdom is well worth checking out.

What The Mister read?

Now we get to our favourite part of going on holiday anywhere. The reading! The Mister really enjoyed this time to get back into his reading habit. Here’s a few of the books he read.

The Enemy – Lee Child

“The Mister found this to be an enjoyable plot but with unlikeable characters.”

Looking for Alaska – John Green

“An enjoyable read, but with unpleasant reminders of high school. A lack of consistent plot throughout the novel.”

Collected Lovecraft – H.P Lovecraft

“I love his stories, but hate his writing.”

Do You Dream of Terra Two?

“I liked this one. Thrilling space adventure.”

After beginning Lovecraft’s stories and deciding they weren’t well suited to the holiday mood, we picked this sci-fi up in a bookstore in Wanaka. I helped the Mister pick this one out after seeing it recommended on Bookstagram by a few people. I’m looking forward to reading it myself.

What The Missus read (aka me)?

Here are my reads from this holiday. I didn’t get through as much as the Mister this time around, but I tend to fall asleep earlier too.

The Awakening – M.J Hawkins

Hawkins kindly sent me a copy of his debut fantasy in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on this one read the full review here.

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R Tolkien.

I really enjoy the Lord of the Rings films, but prior to this holiday I hadn’t been able to get into reading the books. I had the run up to this book in reading The Hobbit as was suggested to me by some fellow readers. I think that helped, as did being several years older than my last attempt.

I am around half way through The Two Towers now. The edition I took on holiday with me has all three books in the one. It did take up a good chunk of my carry on, but it was worth it.

What We read?

As our holiday was a road trip, we decided to take the opportunity to listen to some audiobooks together.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

This was a really fun read! Especially as on our Doubtful Sound cruise we discovered there is a fish in Fiordland that is named after Startiblartfast. It seemed a nice ode to the fiord designer. Stephen Fry narrates, and he gives a wonderful performance.

Fry is without a doubt one of my favourite narrators. He also narrates the audiobooks for the Harry Potter series.

The Mister has decided to carry on with the series and has picked up a physical copy of the sequel, The Restaurant at the End of The Galaxy.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green

Another sci-fi novel this was a different experience to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The plot was less bizarre and Green’s brand of humour is different to Adams. Green offered some great insight in this book to the power of social media and fame.

Recommendation?

If you get the chance to visit New Zealand’s South Island, DO IT! It was breathtaking. A truly amazing experience. The locals are friendly and helpful, the food tasty and the scenery…I’m still not over those mountains.

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Hi! I'm Steph, a freelance writer for hire based in Australia. I'm an avid reader and love all things bookish! My blog is all about the written word.

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