We're back in Canada. Now that I'm adjusted to the time difference, the trip is starting to feel like a distant memory, so I better get on with posting about it.
If you haven't read my first post about New Zealand, fill your boots.
After leaving Rotorua, we took a brief detour into Taupo, home of the largest lake in New Zealand.
Taupo has similar geothermal activity to Rotorua and is a popular tourist location. That little dot amidst the falls is a jetboat that will make quick twists and turns around the falls, a popular extreme activity in New Zealand.
After the detour, we drove to the Hawke's Bay area. This area wasn't originally on our list, but advice from a friend convinced me to add it to our route. The region is one of ten wine regions in New Zealand.
We stayed at Paradise Palms B&B, which is owned by lovely hosts, Geoff and Marion. The rooms are simple (and the price reflects that), but the common space is nice and the continental breakfasts were better than I expected (with a variety of cereal, fruit, yogurt, jams, etc.). During their continental breakfasts, we were introduced to feijoas, a fruit that can be found all over New Zealand. To me, it tasted like a more acidic kiwi, but the flavour can vary depending on its ripeness. Marion makes a great preserved feijoas and vanilla.
The day after arriving, we grabbed a winery map and made as much of a dent as possible. We started at Black Barn Vinyards.
Their estate was so lovely, I really regretted not making a reservation for lunch in their Bistro. Tip: Make reservations in advance if you're there on a long weekend or during the summer.
Our next stop was the nearby Te Mata winery. There, we found this sign for Sustainable Winegrowing NZ, an organization that promotes sustainable winegrowing in NZ.
Just down the road, we caught sight of Te Mata Cheese Company. Everything looked up and running and their trees were full of fruit, but a sign on the door indicated that they were forced to close their doors just a couple of days earlier.
It was actually pretty sad to see all of the ripe fruit and a sign on the door insinuating they left with little notice and were not happy about it.
After contemplating picking a bunch of fruit from their tree (I didn't), we continued on to a nearby winery, Craggy Range.
They charge for a flight of wine, but will deduct that cost if you choose to buy a bottle. Since R was driving, the 6 (or was it 7) "healthy" tasting glasses pretty much assured that I was drunk before noon.
You only live once, right?
We continued on to Abbey Cellars, which was a personal favourite. We bought a bottle of their Malbec, which, at $32, is more than what we usually spend on wine. But it was soooo good. It's the only bottle that we bought that we've saved and brought home with us. Knowing my tendency to hoard items that I really like, to avoid the sadness associated with the items being gone, it'll likely spend quite a while on our wine rack before I find an occasion worthy of it.
Next, we went to Alpha Domus. R really liked the more rustic, unpretentiousness of this place.
Here's a picture of one of the things I love about New Zealand, sheep in the grapevines. Of course, it's really challenging to get a picture of anything except for sheep butt (once they see you, they bolt).
By the time we had visited all of the above locations, along with a trip to the lovely food and wine room at Seleni, we were really on a mission to find food.
We were really sad to see that the Chook and Filly was closed. Still disappointed about that, the menu looks good.
Next, we tried Mission Estate, the first winery built in Hawke's Bay. But, by this point I was over-hungry and hungover and didn't think it would be worth paying for such a fancy meal. Their grounds are lovely, though. It would be very cool to attend one of the concerts held on their grounds. Check out this link, for a list of the major recording artists that have performed here.
In the end, we decided to go back to the port at Napier for lunch at the Thirsty Whale.
We spent the rest of the day, walking along the port and by the beach area before recuperating back at the B&B.
With a bit of a heavy heart to be leaving the region, we departed early the next morning to make the four hour drive to the Interisland Ferry.
South Island, here we come...
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