I have just returned from a relaxed, warm Christmas in New Zealand, visiting my daughter who lives in Nelson, a small city at the top of the South island, right in the middle of the Marlborough wine area – how lucky is she? After the New Year we did a whirlwind tour of the North Island and so here are some of my favourite foodie spots.
The Cod and Lobster In Nelson itself is a relatively new restaurant with, as the name implies, a focus on seafood so I had delicious red snapper and Rachel had oysters. They do a mean Gin cocktail too. Gin seems to be one of England’s chief exports to New Zealand, a fair exchange for their Sauvignon Blanc I think!
A wonderful day out near Nelson is to drive out into the hills and do a tour of the vineyards – we visited the Kahurangi Estate for a wine tasting accompanied by a cheese platter – perfect combination!
Across on the North Island, we spent a couple of days in Napier, the Art Deco city which was rebuilt in the 1930’s after a devastating earthquake, followed by a cycle trip around Hawkes Bay. The best way to tour the vineyards – hire a bike, get a local map and wind your way slowly around the lanes, tasting as you go. We really enjoyed the Reserve Chardonnay at Clearview Estate as well as their Te Awanga Sauvignon Blanc – perfect for a hot day’s cycling. Their Karaka wine, produced without any preservatives, has to be drunk immediately once opened – not a problem! After lunch we cycled onto a delicious Pinot Noir and Rose at Elephant Hill and Beach House, so we managed a fair sampling!
After a weekend in laid back Wellington, we moved onto Rotorua and the famous Eat Street where at Atticus Finch we chose small sharing dishes of including wonderful chargrilled lamb and a halloumi platter. This town is a tourist destination for the hot springs, but our main reason for visiting was to have a flagon of cider at the Green Dragon Pub in Hobbiton!
Our final stop was Auckland where we made a wonderful discovery – The Gin Room. A small bar run by two English guys, whose knowledge of Gin is second to none – it was so good we had to go back on our second night there. It has wonderfully decadent decor and I never knew there were so many different gins!
We took a ferry trip across to Waiheke Island where they have a hop-on-hop-off bus service so you can easily visit any of the dozen or so vineyards. We had lunch at Batch Winery which is up in the hills so you have wonderful views across the island to Auckland waterfront. We combined lunch with wine tasting sitting out in the sunshine – just perfect. We also visited Cable Bay Vineyard – I particularly enjoyed their Viognier – and Mudbrick vineyard.
Our final meal of the trip was in the Botswana Butchery on the waterfront, a real meat lover’s restaurant but we also managed to choose the prettiest Strawberry Eton Mess I have ever seen!
There was a lot more wine imbibed and food eaten along the way but these were my favourites, just wish I was back in the sunshine with a cold glass of Sav!
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