Places to Visit near Auckland: Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Just a 30 minute drive from North Shore is Puhoi — a lovely little area where you’ll find the amazing Puhoi Valley. There’s probaby a lot more to see in the area and the drive up is just amazing, but the reason we’ve been up there twice is really the Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store. So it’s a cheese store with a lot of amazing, delicious cheese. But is it kid-friendly? The answer is a resounding yes!

Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

First, they have great food that kids will love. They even have meals especially for kids. We ordered a platter with 3 kinds of cheese, sliced baguette and a few sausages and the kids loved it just as much as the adults. The cheese was just remarkable — whether you go for hard cheeses, soft ones or aged ones with a strong flavour, you really can’t go wrong. Not sure what to get? You can ask them for a suggestion and they’ll give you their most popular options.

Mediterrenean Platter from Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Mediterrenean Platter from Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Second, they have a play area so keeping the little ones busy is not a problem. If they’re not into playgrounds, there’s always the pond with ducks and a lot of running space just outside the cafe.

The playground area for kids.

The playground area for kids.

Kids area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The kids enjoying the playground at Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store.

The outdoor area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The outdoor area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Grounds at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The kids running around the extensive grounds at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Third, the ice cream is just amazing — and what kid can say no to ice cream? They have award-winning flavours and selections for both ice cream and sorbet.

 The award-winning ice cream at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Jellybean loves the ice cream at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store.

If you’re looking for places to visit near Auckland when you’re on your North Island trip, Puhoi Valley is a must.

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For Our Filipino Fans: Van Sulitas Travel Memes

Filipinos find humour in everything, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when our travel memes from comedian Van Sulitas became one of our most shared posts on our Facebook page. We’re sharing it here for our non-Facebook fans. Please feel free to share the laughter with others!

More after the jump.

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Auckland Events: Disney on Ice at Vector Arena

One of my favourite shows is in Auckland! I was super excited when I heard that Disney on Ice will have a four-day run at Vector Arena and just had to get front-row seats for the little girl. We’ve seen it before in the fabulous Smart Araneta Theatre in the Philippines, so this time I wanted the little girl to be really close to the stage.

It really surprised me that even with the same line up, the show was an entirely different experience. When we watched it in the Philippines, the most amazing act they had was for Tangled — the skaters were hanging in the air most of the time. Here, they also had Tangled but with different songs.

Disney on Ice Stage Set Up

Disney on Ice Stage Set Up in the Philippine

When we saw it last time, the show had Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel.

 

Disney on Ice Cinderella

Disney on Ice Manila: Cinderella in her coach

Disney on Ice Tangled

Disney on Ice Manila: The cast of Tangled

Disney on Ice Snow White

Disney on Ice Manila: Snow White

This year’s Auckland line up still had Tangled but with a different set of songs. It had Beauty and The Beast — which as a fantastic stage set-up by the way.

Disney on Ice Beauty and the Beast

Disney on Ice Auckland: Beauty and the Beast

 

Then there’s

Disney on Ice Little Mermaid

Disney on Ice Auckland: Little Mermaid

And of course, there’s Frozen. They had snow!

Disney on Ice Frozen

Disney on Ice Auckland: Snow for Frozen Set

Disney Frozen

Disney on Ice: Has and Ana of Frozen

Jellybean had so much fun watching Disney on Ice in Auckland. Can’t wait for the next run!

Jellybean

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Auckland Events: Aotea Square Ice Rink

Who doesn’t love ice skating? This is the perfect way to celebrate winter in the city. If you’re looking for Auckland events for winter, the ice rink is back this year. Run by Paradice Ice Skating, this yearly set-up will only be up from June 17 to July 24 so catch it before it’s gone!

Auckland Activities: Ice RInk

Inside the rink

skate frame

They have skate frames for rent and skates for kids, too

It comes with a 3-meter long double laned ice slide as well as the Penguin Kid’s Zone. Check out the different events and themed weekends happening. Aotea Square is truly a winter wonderland with life-size polar bears, penguins and seals created by Rawstrone studio.

Life-size polar bears at Aotea Square

Life-size polar bears at Aotea Square

The rink looks lovely at night

The rink looks lovely at night

This is defnitely one winter Auckland activity you shouldn’t miss!

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Travel & Adventure Subscriptions For Kids

We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of subscription boxes. While this has been around in the US for quite some time, its relatively unheard of in the Philippines and is just growing in popularity in New Zealand. We’ve decided to start exploring it just recently. Since we’re pretty fond of travelling as a family, it is only appropriate that our Jellybean’s first subscription box be travel-related. While there are only a handful actually based here in NZ, we did find some good ones in the US that even offer free shipping. Here’s our top pics for her travel and advnture subscription boxes:

1. Little PassportsThis one of the first true travel-related subscription boxes for kids. We love it so much! We’re planning to get this very soon for Jellybean. There are three subscription types: Early Explorers, World Edition and USA Edition. Pricing varies depending on your subscription but as an example, if you go with Early Explorers for 12 months, it only goes for $14.95 a month — you pay a one-time fee for all 12 months + the delivery fee to your location. It looks like the characters change depending on your subscription, for the pre-schooler version, the characters are Max, Mia and their dog Toby. The World Edition, which is recommended for ages 6 to 10, has Sam and Sofia as the characters. The welcome kit comes with a suitcase, stickers, a world map, a bag tag. The monthly package comes with an activity booklet, souveniers, trading cards, letters, photos and more.

2. Surprise Ride  – This montly subscription offers pre-planned activities to cover arts, STEM, geography and history. Boxes iinclude supplies, instructions, a snack, fun facts and more. It is designed for kids aged 6 to 11. The website also has boxes that are sold as Single Rides. They have some country boxes like Costa Rica, Italy, Paris and Australia. Then there’s packaged adventure boxes like Ancient Egypt, Amelia Earhart, A Day at the Beach and more.

Amelia Earhart

 

3. Junior Explorers  – This another cool one. It’s a mission-themed subscription. You can do a monthly subscription for $19, a 3-month subscripiton for $49, 6 monthly missions for $95 and 12 monthly missions for $185. Each month, the program sends a Mission Kit to prepare little explorers for their monthly mission. This includes activities, collectibles and cool facts about the ecosystem. There is also an online part which can be accessed with an unlock code sent with the Mission Kit. Some missions done in the past include the Arctic, Serengeti, Amazon and more. It’s great for kids aged 5 to 11.

junior-explorers-1

4. KiwiBop Postcard Pals  – I think this is the easiest and the cheapest one to start with. Monthly subscription is only $3.99 and payment can be made via PayPal to make it recurring until you decide to unsubscribe. For Jellybean, this is what we’re starting out with just to see if she can already appreciate receiving mail at this age (she’s now 4 years old). When you sign up, you will get a welcome kit, followed by 4 postscards a month. This is meant to engage their reading skills and teach them about the world. Since I’m a new member, I get to give my friends 10% off if they decide to subscribe, just use this link: http://kiwibop.refr.cc/K448XV8

how-it-works-welcome-kit

There you have it! Some great exploration/adventure/travel-themed subscription kits. We can’t wait to receive our welcome pack. If you subscribe to any of these, we’d love to know more about your experience.

 

 

 

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Dreaming of Seychelles

It’s mid-March and the beach seems to be attracting the ocean-lover in me. With the Fall season starting in Auckland comes some nights of biting cold. While I work in the Britomart area of the CBD, it really isn’t the same even if I see a portion of the sea just out the office window. I often look to Facebook with a hint of envy when I see my friends and relatives posting their beach vacay pictures. After all, Conde Nast has rated our very own Boracay and El Nido beaches among the world’s best.

So, I spent this weekend looking for the best villa getaway that would satisfy that travel itch that’s starting to creep in. Then I found a few articles online about Seychelles. This looks like a gorgeous beach destination! There are two main places to choose from when planning a visit to Seychelles: Praslin and Mahe.

sunset at seychelles

Beautiful beach sunset at Seychelles

Can’t wait to do / try the following in Seychelles:

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Kids Activities in Auckland: Snow Planet

If you’re ever in Auckland, NZ with a kid, one thing you shouldn’t miss out on is Snow Planet. We love this place. We took the snow play package thinking our 2 toddlers (both aged 3 years old) would only spend a few minutes in the snow. Coming from a tropical country, that was a pretty safe assumption. So it was really a big surprise to us that we spent 4 hours there.

snowplanet 4

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Things to do in Auckland for kids: Butterfly Creek

It’s suprising that Butterfly Creek isn’t more popular as one of the fun things to do in Auckland for kids and toddlers. There’s really so much you can do in this place. Only about 2 minutes away from the airport, it’s fairly easy to get to from the city. This is a place for kids who love animals and have a fascination for dinosaurs.

Butterfly Creek is host to New Zealand’s only giant saltwater crocodiles. Goldie and Scar were imported from Australia in 2009. The world’s apex predators weigh half a tonne each! You can catch them in action at the daily croc show at 1pm.

butterfly creek crocs

Giant Crocodiles at Butterfly Creek

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Last Week in Auckland: Pride Festival and Lantern Festival

Last week was a great week to be in Auckland with two events spanning a few days long: Pride Festival and the Chinese Lantern Festival.

Although we weren’t really able to join any events for the Pride Festival, we did notice some cool things going on in the CBD that’s worth sharing. The most traditional of institutions — banks took part in the celebration in different ways.

First we saw this ad from W bank on their digital signage.

W Bank

W Bank: Are you open?

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Kids Activities in Auckland: MOTAT

Like most little boys, my nephew loves anything related to transport — cars, trucks, buses, trains and even construction vehicles. This . amazing 3-year old can tell the difference between a bulldozer, a tractor, a crane, a digger and other vehicles that I will never bother to find out the right names for.

Imagine his delight when we took him to MOTAT. The Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland is every little boy’s dream come true. As New Zealand’s largest transport, technology and social history museum, it has literally everything you want your kid to see. The entire place is spread across 40 acres, so make sure you’re ready to do some exploring.

MOTAT

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13 weird things about New Zealand only a new immigrant would notice

auckland

We’ve been living in Auckland, NZ for a little over 2 months now. I found a job in my second week but didn’t start working until early January (owing to the long Holiday break here). So far, we’re loving life here. It doesn’t mean that the move hasn’t been difficult. It has, especially with a three-year-old. But, we did notice some cool/weird things about New Zealand and its culture that visitors wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Here’s our list of 13 odd things about NZ that only new immigrants would notice. Enjoy!

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Exploring Auckland, NZ

So far, we’re enjoying our New Zealand trip. Unlike most of our family trips with our baby, we’re looking at this from a different perspective. We’ve decided to migrate here so we don’t have our tourist glasses on. But while I’m out hunting for a job, I decided to make the most of it and see it in a way someone new to the country does…with food trips and beach trips!

One major thing to love about this place when you have a kid in tow is the fact that there are so many parks with playgrounds. For instance, in Central Auckland, we’ve already been to three major parks: Victoria Park, Meyers Park and Albert Park. Each one is unique and my daughter loves the open space where she can just run around.

Meyers Park in Auckland CBD

Meyers Park in Auckland CBD

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Nickelodeon Takotown: A Pinoy Halloween to Remember

Jellybean had a blast at Nickelodeon’s Takotown held in SMX. We were invited by Nickelodeon to the event via Mommy Bloggers group. The set-up was pretty amazing. They seem to be having problems with the number of people who wanted to go in as some of them misunderstood that the tickets from ToyKindom was only valid for one person and there was a line snaking out all the way to the Hall entrance. Just shows how popular the event was and why there should be another one next year!

Twisted Tales

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Our favorite time of the year is coming!

Hands down, Halloween is my favorite time of the year. I’ve been doing the cosplay route for a few years before giving birth. We introduced Jellybean to her first Halloween event last year where she was Snow White. This year, I gave her a choice of costumes. She wanted to be a black cat and Mal of Descendants. Perfect!

Black Cat

Black Kitty costume

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Why we travel the world with our toddler

A little girl in a big world.

A little girl in a big world.

She’s only 3. People have told me a million times that traveling with my kid is a waste of money because she won’t even remember it. I beg to differ. If you’ve never tried it, you really won’t know the difference.

Yes, it can get difficult – especially when they reach the age of meltdowns and tantrums. Yes, it is expensive – we started paying for her plane fare at 24 months. Yes, you will get those looks – most flyers want peace and quiet in a plane and don’t want to be seated next to a crying kid. But above all, it is a wonderful experience.

We started traveling with Jellybean when she was only a year old and we’ve done so two or three times a year thereafter. At her age, she’s already been to 7 international destinations and countless local ones. So why do we do it? Here are my top reasons:

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What are OECD visas and why do I need one?

If you’ve wanted to go on a quick visit to South Korea, Taiwan or Turkey, you may have heard of OECD member country visas. These are three countries we know of that uses valid or used OECD visas as supporting documents for visa applications for their countries.

OECD Member Countries

OECD stands for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. If you are interested in finding out which specific countries are members, you can visit: http://www.oecd.org/

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Traveling with a Baby: How to get a New Zealand Visa from the Philippines

2015-08-27 14.55.08New Zealand is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places in the world and is often found on many travel bucket lists. This scenic country is where most of Middle Earth was shot for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If you plan on visiting this country located in the Oceania continent, you will need to get a visitor visa if you are a Philippine passport holder. Here are the steps we took to get ours. As with any visa-related post we have in this blog, it is based solely on our experience and maybe totally different from yours.

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Baby, JetSet, Go Review: Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival at Kia Theatre

Just got back from today’s run of Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival at Kia Theatre and we’re still on a musical high. I loved everything about that show — fom the songs, to the interactive elements and down to the perfect venue.

Blog_All Characters

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Don’t Quit! You Can Travel Even with a Full-time Job.

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I have to admit, there’s a hint of envy every time I hear that one of my 30-something friends quit his or her job to travel full time. After all, that has been my dream since my late teens.

But life happens.

I got married, bought a house with a 25-year mortgage and had a kid. Although that hasn’t stopped me from the heeding the call of wanderlust, I need to be a bit more realistic. I need my full-time job. In fact, I need the two full-time jobs that I have. They both pay well. I get to buy what I want and I get to travel often. So there really is no downside to keeping your job while enjoying an adventure-filled life. It’s really all a matter of planning.

So how do I do it? I set goals and invest what I make from my full-time job to build some expendable income for travel. Sounds simple? Not really. Haha. So let me break it down for you.

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