Discover Macau with Your Kids

Ruins of St Paul from the bottom of the steps.

Ruins of St Paul from the bottom of the steps.

Macau (also known as Macao) is a shining gem in Asia. It’s so surreal to find stunning casinos that sparkle late into the night in the midst of Asia — which is known for it’s traditional architecture and culture that dates back to hundreds of years. Macau is no stranger to culture though. It traces its roots to  the Qin Dynasty of China and later on to the Portuguese Empire, where it was once a colony.

It was a trading post of Portugal — so the flavours and a lot of the architectural influences of its past are still alive in Macau. In 1999 it was returned to China and now stands as a special administrative region with a separate political and econoimic system from the mainland.

Macau is currently known as the gambling capital of the world — which has fueled its econoy making it one of the world’s richest regions with a highest GDP per capita by purchasing power in the world.

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Family Trip to Wellington: Itinerary

 

Wellington Sign

So my husband had this silly idea to drive straight to Wellington from Auckland with two kids and several adults in the car. It was not easy! We had to stop several times so what would normally take 8 to 9 hours took around 12. I’d have to say it really was worth it.

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand — often called the “coolest little capital in the world.” We really enjoyed our trip here. And we discovered why they call it Windy Welly! It is literally so windy and cold, even in the peak of summer. If you’re visiting, make sure you check the weather and bring warm clothes and jackets.

There’s a lot to see and you’ll enjoy just walking around town — a 30-minute walk will have you seeing the Beehive on one end and the very boho Cuba St on the other.

Our itinerary for our 3-day stay after the jump:

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

A Family Road Trip to Napier, New Zealand

One of the most beautiful cities we’ve seen in our North Island road trip from Auckland to Wellington is the Art Deco city of Napier. Everything about it was so glamorous. It had the vibe of 1930’s Hollywood. Everything from the street signs to the architecture was so Instagram-worthy.

The city was rebuilt in the Art Deco style following the deadly 7.9 richter earthquake that destroyed most of the commercial buildings on the 3rd of Feb 1931. The motif has several influences from the Stripped Classic to Spanish Mission. It also has Maori elements. The pine trees that grow throughout the city really give it that Hollywood-esque feel. With a border of dramatic hills and sweeping South Pacific shores, you’ll easily fall in love with this little city.

  • Art Deco 1
  • Art Deco 2
  • Art Deco 3
  • Art Deco 4
  • Art Deco 5
  • Art Deco 6
  • Art Deco 7
  • Art Deco 8

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Brickman Wonders of the World at Te Papa Museum

Brickman Wonders of the World exhibit is on display at Te Papa from 09 Dec to 11 Feb. If you have kids or if you’re a Lego fun, you must visit! While entry to Te Papa is free, there is a fee to see the exhibit. It’s a bit hefty at $19.50 for adults and $9.50 for children (aged 3-15 years). There’s a concession rate for senior and students at $15.50 (must present an valid ID) and a family rate of $49.50. If you’re going to ask if it’s worth it, the answer is a resounding YES!

Brickman Main

 

There’s a line to purchase tickets at Te Papa, so you might want to grab yours off the website before heading there. All ages are welcome, but children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult — this is important as the actual pieces must not be touched. There are interactive areas for kids so it’s all good.

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Things to do in Wellington: Weta Cave

 

Smeagol

Did you know that Weta has been creating movie magic for more than 20 years? They’ve done everything from costumes to props to miniature sets. What started out in back room of the Wellington flat of owners Richard and Tania, now has over 400 employees working hard to deliver the magic behind movies such as the classic TV series Xena and Hercules and The Freighteners of the early 90’s to the more popular films like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, Van Helsing, Hellboy, King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, Indiana Jones, District 9, Avatar, Man of Steel, Elysium, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Krampus, Warcraft, The Great Wall, The BFG, Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner 2049 and Thor: Ragnarok. They’ve even won Academy Awards for Best Make Up and Best Visual Effects.

So if you’re a movie buff or you just love props and costumes, the Weta Cave and the Weta Cave Workshop Tour are a must when you’re in Wellington.

Weta Cave is in the unassuming (but pleasant) suburb of Miramar, just at the bend of Wellington Central’s harbour, past the airport. You know you’re there when you see two huge troll just outside the wall, and one inside. Entrance to the Weta Cave is free. You can take photos of the life-size reproductions, so don’t miss out on snaps with Smeagol, Lurtz the Uruk-Hai, and the opportunity to place your head under the foot of the troll in the entrance. It also doubles as a store where you can purchase professionally handmade items at very reasonable prices. If there’s one place in New Zealand here you should spend money on souvenirs, this is it.

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

New Zealand Christmas 2017 – Franklin Road Christmas Lights

Franklin Road 1

Looking for something free to do in Auckland for kids this Christmas season? A visit to Franklin Road in Ponsonby is always on the top of the Christmas to-do list in this part of New Zealand. The area is popular for its impressive Christmas lights display, courtesy of the residents of the tree-lined stretch of road.

For the last 20 years, it has been a community tradition to turn on the festive lights from the 1st of December until Christmas Eve, from 6:30pm to 11pm. It’s best to see it when it’s fully dark at around 9pm. You can see the lights by simply driving down the street but walking the road gives you an even better view. It’s a pretty short and safe trek for families — you’ll see a lot of mums and dads with little kids on their shoulders. It’s about a 15-minute leisurely walk going one way and another 15 going up the other side of the street. It’s such a magical setting, especially with buskers singing carols.

Definitely worth a place on your Christmas to-do list in NZ.

Check out the gallery of Franklin Road Christmas Light houses after the jump.

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

New Zealand Christmas 2017 – Skycity Christmas Wonderland

This year, Skycity set up a Christmas Wonderland at the bottom of the Skytower and it truly was wonderful. The small space turned into a magical place where kids can ride the carousel or take picture with Santa on his sleigh. It’s open 24/7 with Christmas lights lit from 7:30pm onwards. When we visited it yesterday, there were pretty elves, dancing Santas and lollies for the kiddos.

Skycity Christmas Wonderland

 

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

New Zealand Christmas 2017 – Farmer’s Santa Parade

This is the second year we’ve experienced Farmer’s Santa Parade and Jellybean was just as excited as she was with the first one. This year, we got to spend a little more time at the Aotea Centre, where she even got a picture with one of the Disney Princesses. Most of the floats were the same as last year, but here are some pictures from this year:

Disney Princess at Santa Parade

 

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula

As the last leg of our NZ motorhome trip, we decided to check out Coromandel Peninsula — you should never miss out on Narnia when you’re in New Zealand! We’ve heard a lot of good things about this place — particularly Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. What we didn’t hear about was how difficult it was to actually get there. The GPS said it’s roughly 2 hours from Auckland, so we thought we can swing by on our last night. The road wove through mountains and it was a good hour and a half of zigzag road.

At the end of this dizzying drive, was a pristine beach which was secluded. There was absolutely no one there.

  • Secluded 3
  • Secluded 4
  • Secluded 5
  • Secluded 2
  • Secluded 1

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Planning a Family Motorhome Trip in New Zealand

One of the most iconic travel experiences you can have in New Zealand is taking a motorhome trip. They say its the best way to see the country. If you’ve never been in a motorhome, it is quite a terrifying idea– but once you get used to being on the road in one, you’ll want to spend the rest of your road travel days in an RV. First off, it gives you the independence. You can wake up any time and just drive off from one spot to another if you are freedom camping — no hassles of check in and check out from hotels. Second, you have the luxury of waking up to sunrise by the lake — a view you’d have to pay a hefty sum for if you were renting a room. Third, it’s simply the perfect vehicle for a family roadtrip, even when you have young kids travelling with you.

There are many motorhome rental companies in New Zealand, offering vehicles ranging from small two-berth with no permanent beds, to bigger six sleepers with permanent beds at the back. I’ve done some research and based my decision on pricing, quality of vehicles and review and I’d have to say that Wilderness Motorhomes was the company that always topped that list. So we went with them and it was really the best decision we’ve made for the trip.

Motorhome External

 

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Things to do for Kids Around Auckland: Rainbow’s End

What kid doesn’t like an amusement park? Rainbow’s End has over 20 rides and attractions, so there’s something to enjoy for any age. So first off, let’s talk about the entry price. It’s a bit steep at $62 for an adult superpass and $52 for a superpass for children aged 2-13. If your kids are below 5, you might want to get just the Kidz Kingdom Pass or the combo with the AA Driver’s Town. For just Kidz Kingdom, the gate price is $32 for Kidz Kingdom with AA Driver’s Town, the price is $41. If you have no intention of getting on the rides, a spectator pass is between $7 to $18 for adults. They also have family admission pricing (with different prices depending on the number of adults and children)

You may want to get your tickets online, because it is a little cheaper to do that. You can visit Rainbow’s End online here: https://rainbowsend.co.nz/

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

10 Crazy Adventures Our Family Survived in New Zealand

Last year, my sister and I along with our partners and our kids all decided to move to New Zealand from the Philippines. Migrating is a huge adventure in itself and we’ve learned many things along the way. One of the biggest benefits of moving to New Zealand was exposing our kids to the love for adventure. New Zealand is rich in untouched nature with rivers, beaches, white water rapids, mountains, trekking paths and numerous land and water sports for both kids and adults.

So, how do you enjoy the adventure capital of the world with toddlers in tow? Take them with you! Here are 10 insane adventures our family of four adults and two four-year-old cousins survived in the last 12 months:

1. Luge down a mountain – A tiny plastic cart careening down a mountain path sound cool to you? It was! Our four-year-olds rode along with their dads and loved it. There’s really nothing to fear except pulling the brakes too fast and flying off the cart – and the ski lift going back up if you have a fear of heights. The gravity-fueled ride has been in Rotorua around since 1985. The Skyline Luge track has three levels winding through a beautiful redwood forest.

Luge

  • Roll down a hill in a giant plastic ball. This is one of those amazing things invented in New Zealand. Since the country is rich in rolling hills, someone thought it would be a good idea to roll down one in a giant plastic ball. And we thought it was a genius idea, too! There are three levels that go from mild to wild. The fast track, the zigzag and the drop.

Zorb

  • Jetboat – Here’s another New Zealand original that requires skill to pilot and guts to survive. The high-octane sprint course goes as fast as 100 kph (62 mph) and is perfect for kids over 3 years. The one in Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotorua is the world’s first-ever jet-sprint which weaves through islands and finishes with a full 360 degree spin.

Jetboat

  • Swing towards the earth – We decided to let the kids sit this one out while the adults try it. If the thrill of bungee doesn’t quite do it for you, why not double the fun pendulum-style? Kids 6+ can already do this and we’ve seen some of them trying it that day. Agroventures calls this ride the Swoop. You will be elevated to a height of 40 meters (141 feet) where you will release the rip-cord that will send you plummeting down at a speed of 130 kph (80 mph) just before the cable catches you and swings you back and forth in the air.

Swoop

  • Trek in a redwood forest – For kids who were raised in the city, bush walks and forest trails are a must-try adventure. Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is just five minutes from downtown. It’s a sprawling 5,600-hectare haven for trekkers, hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers. The view is amazing from the ground where magnificent towering native and exotic trees surround you. This is also where Disney’s Pete’s Dragon was shot – which was a plus for our tiny adventurers. For a different experience, you can also try the Redwood Treewalk – a series of suspension bridges traversing between 22 Californian coastal redwoods giving walkers a view of the native undergrowth from 12 meters above ground.

Redwoods

  • Sledding in the snow at Mt. Ruapehu – If you lived in a tropical country all your life, snow will definitely have a special appeal to you. So, we took the kids to see snow for the first time. While we were at it, why not get them to sled? They really enjoyed the speed in the slopes. We went sledding in Whakapapa ski fields of Mt. Ruapehu – the largest active volcano in New Zealand.

Sledding

  • River Kayaking in Bay of Islands – One adult plus a preschooler in a river kayak near waterfalls sound like a crazy idea? It’s actually pretty safe! Plus kids get to practice their balance and team work (if they choose to help with the rowing). We kayaked to Haruru Falls, a horseshoe-shaped waterfall in Bay of Islands. The water on the Waitangi river is cool and calm, but I recommend going before low tide hits as kayaking becomes more difficult in shallow water.

Kayaking

  • Parasailing in Paihia – This is a great starter adventure for pre-teens. They have height limits so the little ones couldn’t join the fun but they can ride the speedboat and be spectators. There are several operators in the area, but we went with Flying Kiwi Parasail because they offer the highest parasail in New Zealand with a tow line of 1,200 feet.

Parasailing

  • Walking through steaming earth – You would think parents of little ones would veer away from steaming earth and hot bubbling pools? Not us! Thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu is a stunning geothermal wonderland with colourful volcanic areas such as the world-famous Champagne Pool. Before stepping through the path make sure that kids are properly oriented. No running and be careful when they go through the paths that meander through pools reaching over 100 degrees.

Waiotapu

  • Sand surfing Lake Wainamu’s black sand dunes – Just 40 minutes west of central Auckland is a hidden gem that just begs to be explored. This is one of the best activities to do for free with kids. Load up the car with a boogie board, an airbed or even just a scrap of cardboard and start enjoying the rolling black sand dunes that sit right beside the lake. The sand here is luxuriously soft and rich in titanomagnetite from the volcanic rocks of Taranaki, which gives it the dark colour.

Sand Surfing in Lake Wainamu

What family adventures have you tried in New Zealand? We’d love to know. Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Child-friendly mall features the world needs right now

Was walking around the mall yesterday and I just realized we have so many child-friendly features available to parents in New Zealand. Here are just examples we see in one mall. Have you read our Bored Panda Article? Please feel free to upvote the article if you liked it.

You’ll find it here:

  • Inside the parents room
    Inside the parents room
  • Are for babies and toddlers
    Are for babies and toddlers
  • Feeding area
    Feeding area
  • Parents Room, where dads are also welcome.
    Parents Room, where dads are also welcome.

http://www.boredpanda.com/5-kid-friendly-mall-features-in-new-zealand-that-the-world-needs-right-now/

Enjoy!

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Mini Japanese Food Sets: Popin’ Cookin’ Bento

The finished product: Popin' Cookin' Bento Box

The finished product: Popin’ Cookin’ Bento Box

This is the second in our series of mini Japanese food set English instructions. This time, we’re doing it for the Popin’ Cookin’ Bento Box. Unlike our first post on the Kracie burger set, this one is more of gummy candies shaped into food rather than tasting like the actual thing. The base is pretty easy to work with, it looks like a mix of sugar with gelatine powder. Some taste like sour gummies, others a sweet (but not too overpowering) and one actually tasted like lemon drops.

More after the jump

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Smart Parenting Features Our Extended Family Set-up

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share the good news about Smart Parenting magazine publishing the story about our move to New Zealand and how the extended family set-up has helped along the way. In our family, we always say it takes a village to raise kids. I wrote this story after a moving scene with my nephew Connor on New Year’s Day.

photo-1

 

Hope you enjoy the read:

http://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/preschooler/two-pinay-sisters-move-abroad-one-roof-a1561-20170102-lfrm

XOXO,

Mommy Jade

 

 

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Kawaii Mini Japanese Sets: Kracie Burger Set

happy-beans

Happy Jellybean with her finished work.

While this is not quite related to travel, I wanted to post about my daughter’s love for the Japanese culture and anything related to it. She really loves anything kawaii and has been obsessing about those videos of tiny Japanese candies and food that you make.

I recently found the Kracie mini Japanese food sets in Auckland and had to get a bunch of them for my daughter for Christmas. They’re so cute! The box has no English translation so I had to watch some videos in YouTube and make a guessing game out of it. We’ve done several before this and they turned out great. BTW, they’re all edible and pretty easy to make.

More after the jump

Continue reading →

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Farmer’s Santa Parade in Auckland

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Before the day ends I wanted to share the awesome experience we had at Auckland’s Santa Day Parade. I decided to take my daughter to the parade the day before I flew to Manila for a short trip. There were two things I really wanted to share with her that day: her first public bus ride — which was quite an adventure in itself — and the annual Christmas event.

There were a lot of great floats this year which was met by a roaring crowd of several hundred people lined up along Queen Street from Aotea Square all the way to Britomart. The parade was due to start at 1pm but it was drizzling that day so even if we were 30 minutes late, we still caught a glimpse of a lot of the floats. The great thing was, when we got to the city the bus service was free. Parking was also free for those with cars.

Here are some of our best photos of that day:

Auckland Santa Parade - Trolls

Cute little kids dressed up as the Trolls.

Auckland Santa Parade - Whitcoull's Float

Whitcoull’s Storytime Float

Santa Parade in Auckland - Willy Wonka

One of my favourites, the Willy Wonka float

Santa Day Parade - Pukekohe Pipe Band

The Pukekohe Pipe Band

Auckland Santa Parade - NZ Herald Float

New Zealand Herald’s Train

Farmer's Santa Parade - ICG Kaleidoscope Float

ICG’s Kaleidoscope float

Auckland Santa Parade - Children of the World Float

ACTA’s Children of the World float

Farmer's Santa Parade - Santa's Float

Last but not the least, Santa’s Float

Jellybean and Daddy enjoying the Santa Day Parade

Daddy and Jellybean really enjoyed Farmer’s Santa Parade in Auckland CBD.

 

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Jellybean’s Japanese Themed Room

Kids Japanese Themed Rooms

It’s finally happening. My little girl is growing up and she’s now ready for her own room. We’ve been busy the past couple of days looking at inspiration pictures for her room. We’ll focus the design on two of her favourite things: Hello Kitty and Japan!

I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to show everyone the final result. We already have some elements of the design. I recently came back from my very short solo trip to Manila and was able to take the baby kimono we purchased in Japan back to Auckland. I’ll have this framed in a shadow box. We also have a Shoji screen (that Japanese paper folding screen and a Japanese hand-painted umbrella. We already have some paper lanterns from that party we had in November.

Then, I just purchased a Sakura (cherry blossom) wall decal off TradeMe. And I couldn’t help myself from adding on that light switch decal with a sleeping cat to remind her of her visit to Nekobukuro.

Last but not the least, I plan on purchasing the Japanese prints from MossyJojo on Etsy. I think they look lovely. It’s a great way to teach Jellybean some Japanese phrases. She’s closed for the holidays, but I’m so happy that she’s based out of Australia so shipping won’t be a killer.

Will post again once the room is done. Hope you all have a festive holiday break.

Merry Christmas!

–Mommy Jade

 

 

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Saving on Travel with Groupon Coupons

sponsored-post

Groupon Coupons

Oh, the art of couponing! There’s so much to be said about it.

I’ve always been a coupon girl. While in the Philippines, these weren’t exactly the big saver you’d see in other countries such as the US, I have fond memories of coupons from fast food stores that they give out every Chinese New Year (hello McDonald’s and Jollibee!).

While living in the US, couponing has become of those odd habits one develops that allows you to save a ton of money if you really get into it. It can bring down the cost of everyday groceries such as toothpaste or a can of tomato sauce down to like 5 cents, the downside is you need to get them in bulk, but these non-perishables are always good to keep for years anyway.

I remember seeing the show Extreme Couponing on cable and loving every minute of it. After all, who doesn’t want to save money, right? And these people found a way to do it to the extreme! Some are saving thousands of dollars on food every month.

So why do I talk about couponing in our family travel blog? Like many things in the real world, couponing has translated to the digital arena. I first discovered it when I was getting my domain name from GoDaddy and the site asked me for coupon codes. Naturally, I became addicted to looking for coupons online.

Travel and Couponing

As most of our readers would know, I spent about a third of my life doing digital work for a travel company. It was only the most natural transition to do all my travel transactions online. This is when I found out that sites like Groupon Coupons also cover travel!

Groupon Coupons is actually a wonderful site in itself, even without the additional travel perks. They offer huge coupon discounts on many big retail brands that I already love. (Hint: Be on the lookout for their fashion items. You’ll go gaga over the selection).

For travel, they offer coupons to two sites that I usually use:

  • HomeAway Coupons – A great site for vacation rentals — they have 1 million listings all over the globe. Save even more with coupons.
  • One Travel Coupons – Cheap flights, hotels and vacation packages, made even more affordable with coupons.

If you haven’t yet, I urge you to check out Groupon Coupons. Do you use any other online couponing site for your travel deals? Let us know about it in the comments below! As always, thanks for stopping by and hope you give us some love on social media by sharing this article or our page.

XOXO.

Your travel mama,

Jade

 

Share Me: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone