There are still many things I wish we could have done or visited. A short list would include:
- Tramping (Kiwi for Trekking) the Milford Track, a 3 day hike across the Southern Alps that represents itself as the "finest walk in the world"
- Tramping the Tongariro Crossing, a single day hike (it takes 11 hours) across the 3 volcanoes in the central North Island
- Basking on the fine beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula
- Exploring the Waitomo Caves, near Hamilton
- Touring Northland & Bay of Islands Regions
|Our apartment for the weekend|
On Saturday, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Cafe Medici and then set off to explore Cape Palliser, the most southerly point of the North Island.
|Surfing Palliser Bay|
|Surf crashing on a nameless deserted black sand beach off Palliser Bay|
|Cape Palliser and Ngawi|
At the end of the road, we found the Cape Palliser lighthouse.
|Harrison and the girls trying to look excited about the climb.|
There wasn't much interest in making the 252 step climb, but I swung the momentum by setting out alone - couldn't resist the photo op! Cassandra then Mackenzie then Harrison & Trish soon followed.
|... can't breathe ...|
The views from the top were fantastic!
I am far from a wine connoisseur, but have always been satisfied with my tendency to prefer wines in the $20 - $50 range. The Ata Rangi winery produces some of New Zealand's most available wines. This might not be a good thing, but figured I would drink as close to the source as possible. I broke my usual rule and bought Ata Rangi's signature wine, the 2009 Pinot Noir priced at $75 NZD ($60 Can).
WOW! It was fantastic! It may be one of the best wines I've ever tried and stood well on it's own as well as with Molly's cheddar and the lousy BBQ ribs we ordered in for supper.
So why travel to a hotel in order to stay in for dinner? Well, our weekend rental was more of an apartment so came with a kitchen and a dining room. The weather outside was cold and rainy, the fire in our apartment, nice and warm. Harrison was not feeling well. I was starting to feel pretty damn good with my Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. And yes, we had pay TV (Sky TV) and there was a ton of great movies slated for Saturday night.
I know what you're thinking. Lame. Another factor was that although Martinborough is gifted with many good restaurants, most of these are based on the vineyards and their menus feature delectable gourmet choices paired to the wines they produce. What's the problem then? Harrison, Cassandra and Mackenzie. NZ diners would probably not have a problem with kids intruding onto their gourmet experience, but my pocketbook would object to paying top dollar for food that the kids would instantly judge as "disgusting".
Then it was back to the vineyards, particularly Ata Rangi, to buy some wine to bring home. I ended up purchasing another bottle of the 2009 Pinot Noir. The good news is that my palate didn't lie. Most wine critics rate it either a 96 or 97. The bad news is that the same wine critics estimate that it will be at it's best in 5 years.
|Castle Point on a nice day. Our day was much worse.|
So I kept driving back to Palmerston North and wondered when our next New Zealand adventure would present itself.
With 4 weeks to go, we're now fully focused on coming home to Canada. This idea dominates our thoughts with all the things we need to take care of before we leave on July 16 and the excitement at seeing friends and family and sleeping in our own beds, swimming in our pool and playing with our toys.
Tune in again soon for our opinions on the Best of New Zealand and my advice on How to Plan Your Visit to New Zealand.