8 Best Short and Easy Hikes in New Zealand (South Island)

Being Slovenian means that I was born with hiking shoes on and spent my childhood being DRAGGED up the local hills. As a teenager, binge-watching Gossip Girl was just way more appealing than getting the sweat on with my parents every weekend, you know? Back then a hiking-heavy holiday would make me pull my hair out, but my move to London has left me with a newfound appreciation of the rugged landscapes of my old stomping ground – and beyond. After four years in the big smoke, a trip to New Zealand couldn’t have come at a better time. Its scenery is absolutely breathtaking, but just as with anything else in life, the best views come after the climb. If you’re short on time, or simply don’t have the will or the fitness level to do one of the challenging day(s)-long treks, I’m here with my 8 best short and easy hikes you can do on the South Island of New Zealand. Some of these could even be described as walks, and can easily be done with kids or a dodgy knee – I can vouch myself for that one!

8 best short and easy hikes in new zealand Mount Cook New Zealand Hikes

HOOKER VALLEY TRACK IN AORAKI/MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK

The first on the list of my 8 best short and easy hikes in New Zealand is the Hooker Valley Track, one of the most popular hiking trails and the longest of the bunch I’m going to mention today. The 10 km return walk takes about 4 hours to complete, however, the terrain is mostly flat (apart from the steps at the start) and requires the lowest fitness level.

Once you make it past the first viewpoint at Mueller Lake and cross the first of the three suspension bridges, there’s a nice wooden walkway leading you to the views of Mount Cook (the tallest mountain in New Zealand), snow-capped Mueller Glacier and Hooker Lake with floating bits of icebergs.

Don’t let all this ice talk fool you, though! If you’re visiting during the summer months, have your hat, your sunscreen, your sunglasses and your water bottle ready! I’m serious. I’ve learned what the New Zealand sun can do to you the hard way, right on this track. It can get scorching hot, and unfortunately, there’s no shade you can escape to – I found that to be the hardest part of the hike.

P.S. To reach the start of the trail, make sure you drive past Mount Cook Village to the White Horse Hill Campground. There’s quite a lot of parking space there, as well as toilets and drinkable water – super convenient to fill your water bottle before and after your hike.

8 best short and easy hikes in new zealand Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook New Zealand Hikes
Mueller Lake Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook New Zealand Hikes
8 best short and easy hikes in new zealand Hooker Valley Track Mount Cook New Zealand Hiking

PUNAKAIKI PANCAKE ROCKS AND BLOWHOLES WALK

This easy 1.1 km coastal loop walk beings right across the Punakaiki visitor centre and takes you around some of the most unique limestone formations – the rocks stacked like pancakes and blowholes, which put on quite a show when the tide is high! Trust me, you’ll be hanging around for more than 20 minutes the paved path officially takes you. The information panels will keep you busy reading all the interesting geological facts, and the views itself are worth slowing down your step too. Oh, and don’t forget to look across the ocean – you might spot a dolphin or two!

Punakaiki Pancase Rocks and Blowholes Walk New Zealand

FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER WALK

There’s not a lot of places in the world that will let you walk through a lush rainforest, only to find yourself right underneath a terminal face of a glacier 45 minutes later! The Franz Josef and the nearby Fox Glacier are most known for heli hikes on the glaciers themselves, but since they’re not the cheapest and often get cancelled due to bad weather, you might be better off doing one of the valley walks below the glaciers.

The Franz Josef Glacier Walk is a two-hour, 5.4 km long round-trip that will take you within 750 m of the glacier’s terminal face. It gets a bit ‘rocky’ at the end, but the first viewpoint at the end of the Forest Walk is super easy to reach within 15 minutes, with practically no incline. It takes you past streams and you get to see a nice waterfall too!

This is actually where I ended my mini hike, as it was raining and the glacier was dressed in fog, but if you do continue yourself, just make sure to follow the rules and stick to the track, as there are dangers of landslides and flash floods even in moderate rain.

Franz Josef Glacier Walk New Zealand

BLUE POOLS TRACK

The Blue Pools of Haast is where you’ll find some of the clearest fresh water in New Zealand, looking almost neon turquoise on a sunny day. A boardwalk takes you through an ancient forest, over Makarora River via a swing bridge, right up to the second bridge with the best views of the blue pools. If you’re brave enough, you can even go down to the beach area and take a dip in the freezing cold water!

Once again, the walk is completely flat and with only 1.5 km each way takes less than an hour from start to finish. It does get quite busy during the peak season, though, and since some parts of the path are quite narrow and the bridges only allow a limited amount of people to cross at the same time, allow some extra time to wait around for other people to pass you by.

One more piece of advice – cover every inch of your skin with an insect repellent before you head into the forest. The sandfly situation is crazy out there! If you don’t know what being bitten by a sandfly feels like, imagine being bitten by dozens of mosquitoes on steroids at the same time.

Another thing to note is that there are no facilities nearby, so if you need a toilet, you’ll have to hop in a car and drive a few kilometres down the road. Speaking of driving down the road, 20 km up north are also Thunder Creek Falls, which you definitely shouldn’t skip! The waterfall is truly majestic and only a 5-minute walk from the road.

Blue Pools Track New Zealand Hike
Blue Pools New Zealand Hikes
Thunder Creek Falls New Zealand

CAPE FOULWIND WALKWAY

The Cape Foulwind Walkway takes you along the rocky coastline, a spectacular sandy beach and a lighthouse, all the way to a seal colony at the end! The whole panoramic walkway is 3.4 km long and takes you an hour and a half to complete, but if you’re only coming for the seals, there’s also a shorter, 15-minute walk uphill to the viewing point, starting from the Tauranga Bay car park.

Cape Foulwind Walkway New Zealand
Cape Foulwind Lighthouse New Zealand
Tauranga Bay New Zealand
Cape Foulwind Seal Colony New Zealand

PITT HEAD WALK AT ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK

The Abel Tasman National Park is located on the north of the South Island and couldn’t be more different from the glacial landscapes of the southern end. The turquoise sandy beaches make you feel like you’re on a tropical island – until you actually dip your toes into the cold Tasman Sea.

The 51 km long Coastal Track, which can be done in 3-5 days, is the main star of the show, but you don’t have to commit to the whole thing. The Pitt Head Loop Track gives you a nice taste of what the park has to offer in only an hour and a half/4 km.

To reach the track, you’ll have to catch a water taxi from either Marahau or Kaiteriteri to Anchorage. I suggest the latter, as you get to see the Split Apple Rock, New Zealand’s most famous rock formation, on the way too.

P.S. You will be hopping on and off the boat in water, so I suggest you to wear flip-flops, but have your running shoes in your backpack, as the track does go uphill a bit and can be slightly slippery.

Pitt Head Walk Abel Tasman National Park New Zealand Anchorage
Split Apple Rock Abel Tasman National Park New Zealand

HOKITIKA GORGE WALK

For even more bright blue waters, head to Hokitika Gorge. The return walk is just as short (1.3 km to be exact), but a bit more ‘foresty’ compared to the Blue Pools of Haast. After the first viewing platform, there’s a swing bridge to cross over the Hokitika River, but for the best views, you’ll have to go to the very end of the trail. You can also climb the rocks there, which makes for the perfect Insta shot, but do be careful. I don’t think falling in would end well…

The Hokitika Gorge Walk and the Blue Pools Track are quite similar, so if my vote for the list of 8 best short and easy hikes in New Zealand could only go to one, I would go for Hokitika Gorge – simply due to the fact that the water is more blue (though milkier) even when it’s overcast.

Hokitika Gorge Walk New Zealand
Hokitika Gorge Walk New Zealand

BOB’S COVE TRACK

For the best views of Queenstown, taking a gondola up to the Sky Centre is well worth the money, but if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists for a day and see the area from a completely different perspective, head over to Bob’s Cove, just 15 minutes outside the city. It’s on turquoise fresh water Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the forest and the mountains, where you can just sit down and relax or hike up to the viewpoint on the top of the hill.

Bob’s Cove Track, the last of my 8 best short and easy hikes in New Zealand, starts right at the parking lot and first leads you to the cove. There you then turn left and continue your way past a historic lime kiln and a jetty, after which the track starts going uphill. It doesn’t take more than 50 minutes to reach the top, but unlike the previous tracks I’ve mentioned, it does get quite steep and there’s a lot of slippery gravel on the path nearing the end too.

If you can, I’d suggest you to do the hike in the morning for two reasons – the parking lot is tiny and gets full very quickly, plus a good part of the track doesn’t have proper shade, despite being surrounded by trees, and we all know how strong the sun gets later on.

Bob's Cove New Zealand Queenstown
8 best short and easy hikes in new zealand Bob's Cove Track New Zealand Queenstown Hikes

For more information and the video footage of the hikes take a look at my New Zealand vlogs below!

Have you already been to the country? Are there any more trails I should add to the list of my 8 best short and easy hikes in New Zealand?

What to Pack for Namibia: Camping in the Desert

Considering how many times I’ve packed my suitcase in the last year alone, I may very well put ‘pro packer’ on my CV. Wake me up in the middle of the night, and I can throw together my stuff in a matter of minutes, with the light still off. Well, most often. When I was wondering what to pack for my trip to Namibia, the situation was slightly different. Not only had I never been to Africa before, but I’d also never been camping. My childhood summers spent in a caravan on the Croatian coast don’t count. This is sleeping in a tent in the middle of the desert we’re talking about. Now throw in limiting baggage allowance as well, and you’ve got yourself one very stressed out Sandra.

what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia sesriem

Just when I did tons of research, bought every never-owned-before item on my to-pack list, and thought I finally had everything under control, the reality set it. I put my sleeping bag and my sleeping mat in my suitcase, and there was about 5 centimetres of space left for the rest of the hundred items I was supposed to take with me. Luckily, four meltdowns and a genius idea later, I somehow managed to squeeze almost everything in. Who would have thought you could turn a hole of the sleeping mat into a snack drawer, a closet AND a beauty cabinet?! With my suitcase full to the bream (although as light as ever at only 15 kilos), I hopped on the plane and hoped for the best.

what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia spitzkoppe

Here’s what I ended up taking with me. Turns out, I did quite alright! I only had to buy a couple of extra items in Namibia, so I can now confidently say, below is the list of things you’ll need to survive three weeks of camping and traveling around one of the most magical places on planet Earth.

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON

  • Passport
  • ID
  • Plane tickets
  • Accommodation confirmations
  • Driver’s license
  • International driver’s license
  • Travel insurance
  • 2x copies of all your important documents in case your documents get lost or stolen. Upon arrival, I always keep one copy in my backpack and one in my suitcase.
  • Wallet with at least two credit cards and cash to exchange into local currency.
  • Pen to fill in the customs declaration form on the plane.
  • Notebook that carries all your important travel information and passwords, plus you can use it to jot down your memories.
  • Mobile phone + charger
  • Power bank + charger
  • Camera equipment, which in my case includes two cameras (Nikon Z6 and Canon G7X Mark II), extra lenses, extra SD/XQD cards, extra batteries (take as many as you have), battery chargers, a microphone, card readers, etc.
  • Laptop if you’ll need it to transfer photos, otherwise don’t bother. Also note that the sand gets everywhere, so I would avoid any laptops on the expensive side. I wasn’t brave enough to take my MacBook Pro with me, so I bought a cheap, basic Asus Notebook for this trip.
  • External drive to transfer photos (if you wish).
  • Charger with 3 usb slots is my favourite to travel with, as I can charge several devices at the same time, without occupying extra sockets. There’s never enough sockets! Especially when you’re camping – one per camp site is the standard.
  • Car charger to charge your phone and camera batteries while driving. We didn’t have access to electricity for three days in a row, so it came in very handy.
  • Travel adaptor is of course a must, just make sure it’s the right one – Namibia has unusual sockets. If you can’t find it in your homeland, you can just get one from a supermarket in Namibia. They’re not hard to find.
  • Headlight to be able to function once the sun goes down. Making your way to the toilet, setting up a tent or cooking dinner is mission impossible if you don’t have one. The reason you should put it in your hand luggage is because batteries of any kind aren’t allowed in hold luggage.
  • A few days worth of clothes just in case your luggage gets lost. Unfortunately, you can’t just pop into Primark and quickly gather some clothing essentials in Namibia, so pack a few pairs of underwear, socks, two T-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of long, comfy pants.
  • Jumper and a warm (winter) jacket, as it gets absolutely FREEZING at night in the desert. You can wear both on the plane.
  • High protection sunglasses
  • Contact lenses (if you wear them)
  • Multi-purpose cream/balm that can treat chapped lips and dry skin – the desert climate really wreaks havoc to your skin. I took a tube of Paw Paw Cream, which is also great for bites and hair finishing. Love a good multi-tasker!

P.S. For my carry-on I always use the Herschel’s Retreat Backpack, which doubles as my day-to-day backpack on pretty much all my travels. I take a considerate amount of camera gear with me, so I need something spacious, but small enough to fit under my seat if I’m flying with a low-cost airline. I can squeeze A LOT into it. It’s almost like the Mary Poppins bag!

what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia
what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia

CLOTHES & FOOTWEAR

  • Underwear for as many days you’re going.
  • Socks
  • T-shirts
  • Jumpers
  • Shorts
  • Long travel pants
  • Leggings or sportswear
  • Swimsuit (some camping sites have pools)
  • Fluffy socks to sleep in when it gets super cold.
  • Beanie to sleep in when your ears are freezing at night.
  • Summer scarf mainly for sun protection in the car.
  • Sun hat/cap to wear in the desert during the day.
  • PJs
  • Towel that dries fast. If you take a shower at night and leave in the early morning hours (which you probably will all the time), you won’t be able to dry a big, fluffy one properly. I went for a microfibre towel that not only dries fast but also takes a lot less space in the suitcase.
  • Small towel to wash your face/hair. I just took a normal one.
  • Bag for dirty clothes, which also comes in super handy for taking your clothes to wash at the campsite and to put them away when you’re in the shower.
  • Sneakers – you don’t need proper hiking shoes, just something comfy to walk in, with a closed front (the sand is HOT). I had my Nike Free Runs.
  • Flip-flops is what I wore most of the time, and they’re essential for taking a shower in the shared camp site bathrooms too.

How many pieces of clothing you’re going to take with you obviously depends on the length of your stay and whether you’ll have the opportunity (or the will) to wash them. I took a week’s worth, as I didn’t have space for more in my suitcase, and hand washed them at every opportunity. One piece of advice, though – don’t pack anything nice. The sand goes everywhere and all your clothes will get dirty and turn orange at one point or another. Basically, take the things you’re okay with being ruined.

what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia deadvlei

COSMETICS AND TOILETRIES

  • Tissues for nose blowing (dry air ain’t kind to nasal passages) and toilet going needs.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Sunscreen with SPF 50
  • Aloe vera gel in case you get a nasty sunburn.
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair brush
  • Dry shampoo in case you won’t have time to wash (and dry) your hair.
  • Hair ties
  • Shampoo + conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Baby wipes to come to the rescue when you don’t have access to water and can’t shower.
  • Super hydrating cream (desert dry skin alert)
  • Travel laundry detergent
  • Medicine – whatever you can think of, as I haven’t seen a single pharmacy. Some of the things I took are plasters, pain relief pills, allergy pills, cold/flu medicine, rehydration salts, probiotic powder, active carbon, nasal spray, insect repellent, eye drops, tea tree cream…
  • Makeup and tools – I didn’t end up wearing/needing any, but I had tweezers, a nail file, nail scissors, CC cream, a brow pencil, mascara, concealer, makeup brushes, an eyelash curler, and a little mirror.
  • Micellar water that you can use as a makeup remover. I just used it to clean the dirt off of my face. Lol.
  • Cotton pads
  • Face wash
what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia

CAMPING GEAR

  • Sleeping bag for below zero temperatures – I was told the one for down to zero degrees Celsius was alright, but it was not enough to keep me warm whilst we were sleeping in the desert. My whole body was shaking from the cold despite putting on my winter jacket and my beanie as well! When we moved up north, a thinner sleeping bag was enough, though. I even slept in nothing but shorts and a T-shirt in the end.
  • Self-inflating mattress – I took a sleeping mat with me, which turned out to be the worst idea ever, as it did NOTHING. I felt every rock on the ground and every bone in my body! Luckily, my fellow travellers had a spare self-inflating mattress, and they’ve kindly let me borrow it. It saved my life!
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Reusable cutlery
  • Reusable cup
  • Reusable plate
  • Reusable bowl
  • Zip-lock bags to protect items like food and camera gear from the sand.
  • Massive bin bags to cover your suitcase with, again, to avoid the sand getting everywhere.
  • Rope and pegs for drying clothes.
  • Extension cord with several outlets.

We rented a tent and all cooking gear at the same company we rented a car from.

what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

  • Binoculars for safari
  • Food – I’d advise you to take some with you in case you have special dietary requirements. The big supermarkets have a decent selection, but special items are harder to find. The food can be brought into the country without a problem. There’s no need to declare anything.
  • Alcohol to ‘disinfect yourself’ – I had a bottle of vodka with me, but didn’t have a single sip. Potential dehydration freaked me out more than bacilli.
  • Reusable water bottle – we were buying the 5 litre water bottles to share for cooking and drinking, and gave the empty ones to the locals. They really appreciate it, as they use them to carry the water from the well/river to their home.
  • Pencils and candy for local kids
  • Tripod in case you want to do some astrophotography.
what to pack for camping in the desert in namibia milky way
Booking.com

Internet in New Zealand: Mobile Data & WiFi for Tourists

Even though I’ve been actively trying to spend less time online, staying connected whilst on the road is still essential for me. A career in social media means having to be available around-the-clock, holidays or not, and let’s face it – Google Maps is definitely the way to go when you’re trying to find your way around new cities.

Internet in New Zealand: Mobile Data & WiFi for Tourists - iVideo Portable Wifi Device

PORTABLE WI-FI DEVICE

In Europe, getting online is thankfully pretty fuss-free for us Europeans, but whenever I’m off to explore another continent, a portable Wi-Fi device is my go-to.

iVideo is the company I’ve been loyal to ever since my trip to Sri Lanka a few years ago. Their pocket Wi-Fi turned out to be a wonderful companion then, and has come in even more handy this time around for my New Zealand road trip.

I love that it lets me avoid buying and switching SIM cards all the time, allowing me keep my own phone number as well as cut down the cost I’d normally spend on data, especially if I’m hopping from one country to another – the Global WiFi with 4G speed and 500 MB of data per day I had with me doesn’t only work in New Zealand, but in 86 different countries across the globe! Plus, you can connect five devices at a time, cutting down the cost even more if you’re sharing it as a group. Speaking of savings, you can use the code ‘SANDRAPOTISEK’ at checkout and save 10% on your iVideo order.

While public wifi isn’t hard to find in bigger cities across the country (coffee shops, restaurants, museums and i-SITE Visitor Information Centres are always a good shot), I often found it very slow, even in hotels, so I ended up using my portable Wi-Fi almost exclusively.

Not to mention it was great for road emergencies too! Once we made our way to the North Island, we quickly discovered our rented GPS hadn’t been updated with any of the new roads (and by roads, I mean major highways) in quite a while, so being able to connect to the portable WiFi and use Google Maps for directions instead was godsent.

One thing to note, though! A pretty large portion of New Zealand has bad signal or no signal at all. Zero, none, niente. You can spend hours driving without being able to go online (or call for that matter), so naturally, the portable WiFi won’t work in those remote areas either.

Internet in New Zealand: Mobile Data & WiFi for Tourists - iVideo Portable Wifi Device

SIM CARDS

If you’re visitng New Zealand for a longer period of time (lucky you), getting a local SIM card might be a better option. Spark, Vodafone, 2Degrees and Skinny are the main providers, all offering travel SIM cards for tourists.

I ended up getting one from Vodafone for the second half of our trip, as I had a whole bunch of phone calls to make and their shop was the most convenient to find at a time. It got me 4 GB of data for $49, same as it would if I got one from Spark. Skinny (4.5 GB for $36) and 2 Degrees (10 GB for $49) are cheaper, but harder to get a hand on.

P.S. Do check if your SIM card works before you leave the shop. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in my iPhone even though it’s unlocked and has worked with foreign SIM cards before, but the unlocked Samsung we had with us saved the day.

Autumn Beauty: Oldies But Goldies

Autumn Beauty: Oldies But Goldies

Beauty-wise autumn has always been my favourite season. Earth-toned eyeshadows and dark bold lips are the two makeup trends I’ll never get tired of, not to mention my skin is totally loving the in-between stage of oily face central and dry patch galore. The products I’ve been loving this summer (and wrote about HERE) are still on my weekly agenda; however, there’s a few oldies but goldies that have come to play along for the time being.

Essence Need Your Love Nail Polish Review Swatch

Is it even autumn if you don’t whip out all the burgundy shades you own? I think not. Starting with nails, my go-to nail polish is either Essie’s ‘Bahama Mama’ or its cheaper, darker alternative – ‘Need Your Love’ by Essence. Both have a great thick consistency, are completely opaque with two coats and stay on more than just a couple of days. The only issue I have with darker shades in general is that they’re a mess to remove. Anyone else sporting burgundy fingers every Sunday night?

Another burgundy gem I’ve dug out from the depths of my beauty drawer is Bourjois’ Rouge Edition Velvet in ’24 Dark Cherie’, one of the very few dark liquid lipsticks that doesn’t apply patchy. Even with high end brands I find bold shades to be ultra streaky more often than not, but this one layers very nicely (I put on two coats). The velvet consistency is also extremely comfortable to wear and doesn’t dry out your lips even a tiny bit, but it does have one downside – it takes ages to dry and doesn’t fully set like a proper matte normally would, so you do need to reapply it after meals. I do like the fact that I can remove it without scrubbing half of my face off, though!

 Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in 24 Dark Cherie Review

 Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in 24 Dark Cherie Swatch

Wearing Bourjois’ Rouge Edition Velvet in ’24 Dark Cherie’

I remember trying La Roche-Posay’s Effeclar Duo(+) Unifiant a couple of years back, but I had it in ‘Medium’, a shade too dark for my then pasty white skin, so even though I loved the product itself, I didn’t end up using it a whole lot. This time around I got it in the shade ‘Light’ and the story is completely different – one month on, I’m already running out! My sister and I are both all over it. I love it for the days I need some coverage but don’t necessarily want to wear a proper foundation, as it provides just enough to even out your skin tone, without feeling heavy on your skin. It’s basically a tinted cream with the benefits of La Roche Posay’s cult product Effeclar Duo(+), which works wonders on blemishes! Thanks to the fact it never clogs my pores and the simplicity of application (you only need a few seconds and a hand to blend it out) I find myself using it even on the days I would normally go for a ‘heavy duty’ product. To cover larger imperfections like spots and the annoying redness I get on my cheeks, I simply pair it with a concealer.

La Roche-Posay Effeclar Duo(+) Unifiant Review

La Roche-Posay Effeclar Duo(+) Unifiant Before After Swatch

La Roche-Posay Effeclar Duo(+) Unifiant Before & After

As soon as the temperatures drop below 15ºC, a hand cream gets a permanent place in my hand bag. Let’s just ignore the fact I always take it out and forget to put it back in… The one I keep returning back to year after year is L’Occitane’s hand cream for dry skin with shea butter. It’s quite thick and sinks in slightly slower than I would like, but at the end of the day, it always gets my sand paper hands back to normal, and that’s all that matters. Plus it smells amazing!

P.S. For those of you who can get your hands on Soap & Glory’s products and prefer more of a lightweight formula, their Hand Food is also a great option for the colder days.

L'Occitane Hand Cream for Dry Skin with Shea Butter Review

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

By popular demand, I’m back with another recipe post today! Fear not, The Puzzle of Sandra’s Life isn’t turning into a food blog anytime soon, but not sharing the recipe for THE YUMMIEST Cinnabon inspired cinnamon rolls I’ve made last week would be the world’s biggest crime. Just don’t blame me for the extra pounds! I’ve warned you. Funny thing – I’d never actually made cinnamon rolls before, but my first attempt turned out so well I’m starting to believe opening a patisserie is my secret calling… Who knows? Maybe one day!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

INGREDIENTS

3 tsp of yeast

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup of white sugar

1 cup of brown sugar

1.5 cup of icing sugar

a pack of butter (250 g)

2 eggs

5 cups of all-purpose flour

3 tbsp of cinnamon

1/2 cup of cream cheese (Philadelphia)

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tbsp of salt

a few drops of oil

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the dough from scratch, warm up 1 cup of milk, pour it in a bowl, and mix in 3 tsp of yeast as well as 1 tsp of white sugar before leaving the mixture stand for about half an hour, until it froths up.

In another bowl, first mix 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/3 cup of butter, 2 eggs, 5 cups of all-purpose flour and a tsp of salt. Then pour in the yeast mixture and mix everything together with a dough hook until you get a compact ball of dough. Next, put the dough into a large oiled-up bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise for about an hour, until it doubles in size.

When the dough is ready, roll it out (aim for 30×40 cm size) and spread it with 1/3 cup of butter. Then take a smaller bowl and mix 1 cup of brown sugar and 3 tbsp of cinnamon with a spoon. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the buttered dough and start rolling the dough from one side to another (take the longer side). Then cut the rolled dough into 10-12 pieces, each approximately 4 cm wide, and place them in a buttered baking tray. Cover the tray with the kitchen towel and leave the rolls to rest for about an hour until they double in size.

Next put the tray in the oven on 180°C for about 20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown. In the meantime you can prepare the frosting by mixing 6 tbsp of butter, 1.5 cup of icing sugar, 1/2 of cream cheese, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until you get a spread-like consistency.

Once the rolls are baked, cover them evenly with the frosting and leave them to cool off, so that the frosting really sinks in and hardens up a bit.

P.S. Make sure to book off the whole morning or afternoon for making these. The process is fairly simple, but there’s a lot of waiting around and a lot of mess to clean up afterwards.

P.P.S. The rolls can be kept in the fridge for a few days, but do pop them into a microwave for about 30 seconds before you take a bite – it makes them super fluffy and so, so good!

P.P.P.S. For the video version of the recipe, see below!

The Best Pumpkin Soup Recipe

The Best Pumpkin Soup Recipe

I don’t know about you, but autumn to me tastes like mushrooms, apple strudel and as of late – pumpkin soup. Growing up, I don’t remember it ever being on my plate, but starting this year, I’m making it a part of our family tradition! I’m already dreading the day pumpkins go out of season, making me wait a whole year to taste this delicious goodness again, but whilst the markets are still overflowing, below is the yummiest pumpkin soup recipe I encourage you to give a try.

The Best Pumpkin Soup Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 hokkaido or muscat squash

 2 potatoes

olive oil

1 onion

1/3 garlic

salt

pepper

ground red pepper

ground cumin

1 chicken stock

sour cream

The Best Pumpkin Soup Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

Dice the pumpkin, onion and garlic into smaller pieces and fry them on a little bit of olive oil in a soup pot until the pumpkin starts to soften up. Then add two peeled and diced potatoes, one vegetable stock (I use the gel one) and pour in lukewarm water, just enough to cover all the ingredients, or more if you’d like the soup to be more liquidy. Lastly, add a a few pinches of salt, a tiny bit of pepper, ground red pepper and ground cumin to taste. Leave it to boil and cook for another half an hour, until the potatoes are fully done. Blend the whole thing with a hand-held blender and pop in some sour cream before serving. Enjoy!

Copenhagen Food Guide

Copenhagen Food Guide Torvehallerne Review

Despite being the home of noma, one of the best restaurants in the world, I never though of Copenhagen as a foodie destination per se. One goes to Tokio for phenomenal sushi, Italy for the yummiest carbs… but what does Copenhagen have to offer? High quality ingredients, heart-eyes-emoji presentation (instagrammers, you’re in for a treat), and incredible flavours, it turns out. What Disneyland is to kids, Copenhagen is to adults who love their food. Once you get on board with the Scandinavian prices – they’ll have you with your first bite, fear not – I warn you, you’ll never want to leave. I would quite happily munch my way through the Danish capital for life. Unfortunately, my munch affair only went on for five days this time, so I can’t possibly give you the list of ALL places and dishes worth trying just yet, but here’s some I would highly recommend.

Copenhagen Food Guide Torvehallerne Review

LOCAL SPECIALTIES

Let’s start with a local specialty – smørrebrød, an open sandwich with buttered rye bread and plethora of overflowing toppings. If you’re miss indecisive like me, you’ll have a hard time picking just one, because they all look SO good. ‘Shrimp salad’ and ‘chicken salad’ with mushrooms and bacon were the ones that eventually ended up on my lunch plate, but I wish I only picked one. Don’t get me wrong, both were 10/10, but so rich and filling I felt like I was pregnant with triplets until midnight. You can find smørrebrød all over Copenhagen, however, I do recommend you go to Torvehallerne. The Hallernes Smørrebrød stall at this a chic covered (street) food market has plenty of fresh options; you can sit and eat right by the stall, observing how sandwiches are being made; and if you still have some space in your belly, check out the rest of the stalls too.

Copenhagen Food Guide Hallernes Smørrebrød Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Hallernes Smørrebrød Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Torvehallerne Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Torvehallerne Review

Speaking of local staples, did you know hot dogs are a big thing in Denmark? Again, it’s all about the toppings. The classic normally comes with remoulade, mustard, ketchup, raw onions, fried onions and pickled cucumber. There’s a few different hot dog stands around the city to choose from, but DØP got recommended to me the most. They pride themselves on all-organic ingredients, and while the hot dog I tried was a great afternoon pick-me-up, I wouldn’t say it was the best I’ve ever tried – I found it slightly dry and awkward to eat in the middle of the street. Let’s just say the pickles were flying everywhere… If you’re in the area and looking for a quick bite, do give it a go, but I wouldn’t go out of the way to try it.

Copenhagen Food Guide DØP Hot Dog Review

BRUNCH

Brunch is my favourite meal of the day, and boy, do they know how to do brunch in Copenhagen! Mad & Kaffe was my favourite spot. You basically decide for the number of items you’d like to order and then mix and match from the menu as you please. I had blueberry soy yoghurt with müsli and berries, scrambled eggs with chives and fried champignons, smoked salmon with smoked cheese mayo, rye and sourdough bread with organic butter, and a cinnamon bun to top it all off. Oh, and one of the best homemade ice teas – peach flavoured with fresh mint. It all tasted as good as it sounds, and I walked out feeling pregnant with triplets again – it was a reoccurring theme all week.

Copenhagen Food Guide Mad & Kaffe Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Mad & Kaffe Review

If I had to pick one meal to order for brunch every single time until the day I die, Eggs Benedict would be it. The Eggs Benedict I had at Granola to be specific. While my friends’ meals weren’t anything special (I think they ordered pancakes and the breakfast platter), mine passed with flying colours! I mean, just look at the bucket of smoked salmon below. Perfection! Note: could easily be shared between two people. Yup, you guessed it, another food baby…

Copenhagen Food Guide Granola Review

DINNER

If I had to choose the top five dinners I’ve had in my life, three of them would be from my trip to Copenhagen. I knew I was onto something good the moment food was laid in front of me at the first restaurant we went to, but I didn’t expect things to only go up from there. We started our dinner adventures with Spisestedet FEED’s tasting platter featuring a crabcake; tomato bruschetta; seared scallops with smoked cauliflower puree, bacon and watercress; beetroot cured tuna; and prawn tartar with dijon, apple, trout roe, creme fraiche and rye bread crostinis. The presentation, which is the detail I always appreciate, was A+, and so was the taste! The main didn’t disappoint either – I went for a beyond generous portion of cannelloni with salmon and scallops. Another thumbs up goes to our lovely waiter, who was attentive throughout, and kindly prepared another table for us when requested. On that note, if by any chance you’re visiting Copenhagen during the heatwave like we did, I recommend you to go for the open window seat, as the restaurant has no air con.

Copenhagen Food Guide Spisestedet FEED Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Spisestedet FEED Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Spisestedet FEED Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Spisestedet FEED Review

Madklubben Vesterbro was a dinner spot we discovered completely by chance, as the restaurant we initially wanted to go to (Cofoco) was all booked out. It’s truly massive, so no need to worry about making a reservation with this one, and has a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere – they even bring you pork cracklings to munch on while you’re waiting for your food. Similarly to the brunch place I mentioned above, you choose to pay for the number of items you order from the menu, rather than individual dishes themselves. I opted for three – caprese salad to start things off, grilled chicken with veggies for the main, and brownie with ice-cream for dessert. The portions were just right, and you could really taste the high quality of food with every bite. I can’t decide what my favourite part of the meal was, but I liked how the chicken was incredibly tender, while the side gave it an interesting sour kick.

Copenhagen Food Guide Madklubben Vesterbro Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Madklubben Vesterbro Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Madklubben Vesterbro Review

Last but not least is Barabba, another unplanned pit stop that actually got recommended to us by the staff at Barr, the restaurant we had on our to-do list before finding out the kitchen was already closed upon our arrival (normal people don’t eat their dinner at midnight, I guess). At Barabba the orders are accepted until 2 am, so perfect for us late birds, and it’s apparently where the chefs go after work, which is always a good sign. Whether it’s actually true or not, I quite frankly don’t care, because it exceeded my expectations. The atmosphere is really low key and quirky, from staff to interior design, which is totally up my alley, and the Italian style food is in-cre-di-ble. I really wish my photos did it justice, but it was close to pitch dark inside (great for the vibe, not so great for photography), so that’s the best I could do in post to show you what was actually on my plate. Speaking of which, I had spaghetti with scampi and – surprise, surprise – grilled octopus. It was so soft it melted in my mouth! Oh, you know what I loved as well? The head chef coming out to our table to explain every dish – it’s a simple gesture that makes you feel extra special.

Copenhagen Food Guide Barabba Review

Copenhagen Food Guide Barabba Review

DESSERT

More often than not, the mains made me too full to try the restaurants’ sweet offerings, however I do need to mention a mid-day pick-me-up that was the perfect refreshment in the mids of the heatwave and so delicious I came back for more. Vaffelbageren in Copenhagen’s picturesque district Nyhavn is where you have to stop at, no matter the season. Their gelato is one of the best I’ve tried, with many classic as well as unique flavours to choose from! They also do soft serve ice-cream with different toppings and apparently very delicious waffles, if that’s what you fancy more.

Copenhagen Food Guide Vaffelbageren Review