September 12, 2013

Eden Gardens, Sweet Hello Kitty Cafe, Bloom Cupcakes, Ivy Cottage and Auckland Zoo Bird Enclosure

We've been visiting lots of lovely new places around Auckland over the last month or two which I've been looking forward to sharing with you.  I'll apologise in advance for the photos (or lack there of) - it's quite tricky to look after two littlies and take photos with a big adsl at the same time.  I've been resorting to the little point and shoot that I keep in my baby bag or even my phone at times as well for convenience.  Anyhoo...

First up is Eden Gardens in Epsom.  Mum and I took the girls to explore this old quarry that was lovingly turned in to an amazing garden over 45 years ago.  Spanning a huge 5.5 acres, it is an amazing place to visit with kids as there is so much to explore.  There are paths running off in every direction just waiting to be explored.

There are several different types of gardens with in the quarry including New Zealand native, perennials, vireyas (rhododendrons), camellias and bromeliads so there is always something blooming.  We were just a few weeks early of their annual tulip festival which would have been gorgeous.

The bird life is amazing.  There are Tui's flying in every direction, Fan Tails dancing all over the place, Chickens running about plus amazingly tame Wood Pigeons.  We got within a metre of this huge one.  Amazing!

There are thousands of little black and gold plaques carefully placed through out the gardens in memorial of people who have passed away (there is one to the left of the chicken in the photo below).  It is such a beautiful and peaceful place to be remembered.

After exploring allot of the gardens and paths we decided to follow the path to the top of the quarry.  The path to the top is almost vertical and it is not an easy climb - especially when your three year old wants to be carried and you're pushing a heavy pushchair.  But its worth the view at the top.  You forget how big Auckland is.  The photos don't do the view justice.

It really is a beautiful place to visit and a great way to spend a morning or afternoon with the kids.

Eden Gardens
24 Omana Ave
1 September - 30 April 9.00am to 4:30pm
1 May - 31 August 9.00am to 4.00pm

We were famished after that climb so we decided to head in to Newmarket to the Sweet Hello Kitty Cafe.

This place is seriously worth visiting if you have a little girl who loves pink.  I loved it for its novelty factor (I loved Hello Kitty when I was small) but Madeline completely fell in love with the whole experience.

The ceilings are strung with red, pink and white balloons, the lights are covered with pink feathers and the chairs are covered in plush pink velvet.  Even the wallpaper is Hello Kitty print.

Where possible your food is served shaped like Hello Kitty.  Mum's toasted sandwich which was cut out in the shape of Hello Kittys head with a little carrot bow attached!  The food was much better than I expected it to be and the staff were really sweet and friendly.  And yes, they do host children's birthday parties which would be a really sweet.  If you're in the area it is definitely worth stopping in.

Sweet Hello Kitty Cafe
1/17A Remuera Rd
09 529 9921

The following week we visited Bloom Cupcakes in beautiful Birkenhead Point.  I worked in Birkenhead Point for three years before the home ware company I worked for moved premises.  It was a stunning place to work surrounded by amazingly restored villas and boutique stores.  It's gorgeous!  Anyhoo...

Bloom Cupcakes is located at 219 Hinemoa Street, opposite the new Birkenhead Library and next door to Hola Mexican Restaurant.  We are huge Mexican fans and I was so tempted to pick up a burrito for lunch.  But I digress...

When you enter Bloom Cupcakes the first thing you notice is a huge fuchsia painted wall with a massive chalk mural drawn on it and plush chairs and tables in front for tea which you can purchase to be served is beautiful gold rimmed china tea pots and trios.

I got talking with the owner of Bloom Cupcakes (who was so lovely) and she said her brother in-law is an artist for the NZ Herald and he comes in and draws the murals for her.  They are amazing!

On the opposite wall to the chalk mural is the counter and serving area which is lovely, bright and fresh.

The cupcakes are displayed on frosted shelves behind clear glass.  Bloom Cupcakes has a huge range of flavours available.  They tend to make six flavours per day which they announce on their Facebook page each morning but all flavours are available for catered and corporate orders.   If you are eating in, each cupcake flavour also has a carefully chosen coordinating tea to compliment it.

Here is the selection we came home with - Red Velvet, White Chocolate and Raspberry, and Black Forest (Maddy wanted the one with the cherry on top).  We also grabbed a Lemon Curd and Black Forest for my parents.  (My Mum usually joins us on all our little trips.  She was busy this day so we dropped them off as a surprise).

And most importantly, Bloom Cupcakes are delicious!  They were moist and the flavours were amazing.

If you want to make a morning of heading to Birkenhead Point, the Wallace Cotton Outlet Store is just around the corner from Bloom Cupcakes.  Then head on further down Hinemoa Street where there are some great boutique clothing and gift stores including Primrose Cottage who offer lovely courses on gift wrapping.  Keep on going and there is a great playground at Little Shoal Bay which is located next to a small beach, boatyard and looks at the reverse side of the Harbour Bridge.  And finally up and over the hill is Northcote Point which is lovely as well.  There is Potential Unlimited which is an excellent second hand kids store, the Birdgeway Cinemas which is an excellent independent cinema showing lots of international films that don't make it to the big cinemas, The Engine Room which is one of my favourite restaurants and Antiques and Angels which is an lovely french import antique store.  Plus head on further down the road and you can go underneath the Harbour Bridge.  Phew!

Bloom Cupcakes
Bloom Cupcakes Facebook Page
219 Hinemoa Street
Birkenhead Point
Open Tuesday - Friday 9.30am-6pm and Saturday - Sunday 10am-5pm
09 950 6775

That weekend we also celebrated a friends 4th Birthday at Ivy Cottage.  You might remember her 2nd Fairy Garden Birthday Party and 3rd Princess Birthday Party that I've mentioned on previous blog posts.

For those who have never been heard of or been to Ivy Cottage, it is a property in Greenhithe which has been entirely converted in to a fairy grotto, both inside and out.  We visited Ivy Cottage this time last year for another party but at 2 years old Maddy was more interested in exploring on her own rather than participating.

This year at 3 years old, while still quite shy, she eagerly participated.  Each party follows the following format.  The children meet inside the fairy house and write letters to the Fairies.  Then they go outside to post them in Pooh Bears letterbox and visit the secret door in the tree.

Then the children go on a treasure hunt.  Following a series of clues, they eventually find a treasure chest full of surprises including a little sweetie and a handful of fairy wishing dust each.

After they eat up their sweetie, they take their fairy wishing dust to the wishing well and the fairies teach them how to make a wish and blow their wishing dust in to the wishing well.

Then they have a little free time to explore the fairy garden which is absolutely full of magical things including a boat, fairy houses, lady bugs, toadstools and a dragon!

Everyone is then called in for the birthday tea party where everyone drinks out of brass goblets!

Once everyone is finished you head out the back of the fairy house to decorate your own fairy biscuits to take home.

Once everyone is finished they are called back in to sing Happy Birthday to the birthday girl or boy and eat cake!

Finally, all the party guests sit down with the head fairy and everyone is given a special wishing bead, fairy wishing dust and a little goodie bag to take home.

That wishing bead is one of Maddys most treasured items.  It lives in the little purple bag it came in, inside her music box with a little jewel from Princess Loveheart at a Dancespace Party she went to.  Oh how I love the little treasures she collects!

I found the parties at Ivy Cottage really well planned out.  The activities were really age appropriate and the children were fully occupied for the whole two hours they were there.  I really recommend this venue.

39a Churchouse Road
Available 7 days a week from 9.00am to 6.00pm

And finally, we went Auckland Zoo to check out the new bird enclosure or Te Wao Nui.  Someone was more than a little excited to get their own map to follow...

And we were in the right spot at the right time to see Burma have morning tea right in front of us.

Just round the corner from Elephant House is the new bird enclosure but unfortunately this is where the photos tapper off somewhat.  Maddy was super happy to be inside the bird enclosure...

With the "baby crocodiles" (native lizards)...


And the dancing kea - this little guy was going crazy!

And that is pretty much all of the photos that I got inside the new bird enclosure.  Don't get me wrong - the new enclosure is huge and there is heaps to see.  But we didn't take a pushchair with us.  Maisie was in the front pack and Madeline was walking and starting to get tired so photos went by the way side.

Motions Road
Western Springs

Admission Details:
Winter (1 May to 31 August)
9.30am - 5pm
Last Admissions at 4.15pm

Summer (1 September to 30 April)
9.30am to 5.30pm
Last Admissions at 4.15pm

Adults (15 years+) $25
Child (4 to 14 years) $10
Infants (under 4 years) Free
Family pass 1 (1 adult, 2 children) $40
Family pass 2 (2 adults, 2 children) $63

Phew!  I think that about covers it for now.  But I hope that gives you a little inspiration for things to do over the weekends.  Let me know if you try any of the places we've visited and what you think or if you've visited anywhere you think we should try too x

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