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12 Day New Zealand
Food & Wine Tour Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough,
Queenstown, Central Otago, Waipara and Christchurch
by Bonnie Shane
26 Apr 2010
fabulous time on our
Grape Escape wine tour in the South Island with Greg. My husband Guy
I, joined by our daughter Julie, who lives in Guam, spent 9 awesome
days in New Zealand tasting wonderful wines, eating great food and
having exciting adventures. I usually plan our trips abroad, myself,
but I was so glad I chose Grape escape’s wine trail this time.
Greg willingly worked with us to modify one of his regular advertised
trips to meet all our interests and our time schedules. It was
absolutely fabulous. Greg started us off in Marlborough at Mahi where
we were treated to tank samples - something I had not done before on
previous food/wine tours. Next it was “bubbles” at
No. 1 – fun! By the end of the day we had visited 7 wineries,
and the Makana chocolate factory. We ended the day with a wine/food
degustation at Herzogs; great flavors and but tiny food samples were a
disappointment to all of us. After more wine the next day, (loved
Howard, at Gibson Bridge,) we headed to Abel Tasman National Park. My
daughter talked me into a 10.5k hike, and I was really glad. It is a
magical place The next day while Julie went kayaking , Greg, Guy and I
took a water taxi to the park lodge for lunch. We were really fortunate
to see a huge school of dolphins on the way. And that was just the
start! After four days in the Marlborough/Abel Tasman area, we flew
south to Queenstown. For five days we drank awesome wines, including
some really good Pinot Noirs, and also had several fun adventures. Greg
arranged for us to fly in a small plane and a Milford Sound cruise in
the Fiord National park. Beautiful does not begin to describe it. We
drank wine in many wonderful wineries in the Otago region, including
Felton Road, Olssons, Mt. Difficulty and Chard Farm. For our final
adventure we flew in an even smaller plane, landed in a meadow, hiked
in Mt. Aspiry National Park and then took a jet boat back to our
starting point. New Zealand is truly magical and we can’t
thank Greg enough for showing us wonderful sights, cooking lamb on the
“barbie” and green lip mussels, staying in
beautiful lodgings everywhere we were, eating at outstanding
restaurants, including The Butchery in Wanaka and the Boat Shed in
Nelson. Thanks, also, for sharing many very tasty wines with us. Wish I
could wriggle my eyebrows like Greg when we found a special wine. In
fact, wish I could do it all again!
start the day with a drive to the top of Te
Mata Peak, taking in panoramic
views of Hawke's
Mid morning we visit
the Craggy Range winery for a tour of their winery and a barrel
tasting. The Craggy Range philosophy is to select and source the very
best vineyards in the country, plant them with only the vines that are
perfectly suited to that terroir and then bottle them all as single
We visit Brookfield's, a leading winery making premium wines. The
Brookfield's wine making philosophy is to make fruit-driven wines that
are enjoyable in their youth, go well with food and for those that can
resist temptation, wines that respond well to cellaring. This winery is
renowned for aromatic wines as well as full bodied Bordeaux blends and
a hillside Syrah.
travel back out to the Gimblet
Gravels and the Western Plains
and dine at the Te Awa` Winery and
Cousins Alwyn and Brian continue a 100 year heritage and craft of the
Corban family of wine makers at Ngatarawa in Hawke's Bay. Meet
owner/wine maker Alwyn Corban and wine maker Peter Gough and enjoy the
Ngatarawa wine makers reserve and Glazebrook range of wines.
Discover the secrets of the Gimblet Gravels with John and Rosemary
O'Connor owners of the Matariki
Winery home of gold medal
such as Matariki Quintology a blend of five varietal's.
Finally we visit Trinity
Hill famous for Chardonnay and
blends. This winery is at the forefront of experimenting with new
varietals such as Pinot Gris and Tempranillo which both have a great
future at this winery and in the Gimblet Gravels District.
tonight will be at the Terroir Restaurant Craggy Range.
This morning will start with an escorted walk with Clarence Bertram St
John Fitz Montague through the city of Napier Art Deco Capital of the
World. Including visits to private homes built and furnished in the
classic Art Deco style.
afternoon is yours. Choose from a range of activities available.
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
Local Golf Course
This morning we fly down to Wellington
the nations capital. Spend the rest of
the day enjoying everything this great city has to offer, excellent
cafe's, shopping, cable car and New Zealand's National Museum Te Papa.
Te papa (Our Place) is a ground breaking museum offering a look at the
History of New Zealand and Maori Culture. The museum is full of Maori
Treasures, interactive rides and national treasures.
will spend the night at the Intercontinental Hotel in the center of
evening is yours or why not spend the
night at the Karori Wildlife
Reserve. See Kiwi and other New Zealand wildlife up close and in their
afternoon we arrive Herzog
where Head chef Louis Schindler will be delighted to unlock the secrets
of gourmet cuisine for enthusiastic novices. This hands-on workshop is
a unique opportunity for all foodies to learn about the preparation and
presentation of a fresh market 3-course gourmet menu that can easily be
put into practice when entertaining at home. The class will be
conducted in an informative and entertaining way in Herzogs state of
the art European kitchen.
we enjoy a BBQ at The Vintners Retreat
5: Blenheim (Marlborough)
Vineyard Tour Marlborough
The morning is yours. Late morning we pay a visit to winery Domaine
Georges Michel where you will
taste some of Marlborough's most stunning Pinot's, Chardonnays and
next door at La Veranda.
Maria is George Fistonich's
award winning wine group founded in 1962. Villa is 100% Kiwi owned and
has been New Zealand's most consistent wine award winner since the 80s.
Taste wines from Marlborough as well as Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.
Bay. No other Kiwi wine has
found such a following, continually the most sought after Sauvignon
Blanc in the world. Cloudy Bay was masterminded by David Hohnen and
realized by Kevin Judd. Taste the well balanced Sauvignon that has put
the winery on the world map in such a short time.
Hatsch Kalberer has formed a dynamic team at
Fromm to produce exceptionally
full-flavored wines. The emphasis may be on Pinot Noir, but he
produces an eclectic range of wines, with Sangiovese in the pipeline.
is an exceptional boutique winery producing fruity styled Sauvignon,
Alsatian style Riesling and Gewürztraminer, watch out for the
new release 2001 Montepulciano. Rex and Paula Brooke Taylor established
this vineyard in 1981 only to release their wines under the Framingham
label in 1994.
River has a fantastic range of
aromatic wines and Sauvignon Blanc. Try their Stump Creek Pinot Noir
soft cherry fruit and toffee flavours.
Tonight we dine at Gibbs Family Restaurant
6: Nelson 02 FEB
Abel Tasman National Park
We take an early morning flight to the beautiful region of Nelson
arriving mid morning, allowing enough time to wander around the City of
Mid day we dine at
the Boat Shed
Restaurant and Cafe. Their passion for food is reflected in their menus
which combine Mediterranean with a Pacific Rim blend which come
together in a fusion of food styles. The Boat Sheds team of chefs are
currently experimenting with Kai Aotearoa (traditional Maori cuisine)
and believe that New Zealand is entering an indigenous food revolution
which they see as becoming more prolific in restaurants here.
After lunch we
travel to our
accommodation in the heart of the Abel Tasman park taking time to stop
and check out local food producers and arts and crafts.
This evening is
Abel Tasman National Park
Take time out and explore the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park
visiting pristine beaches and bays. Choose from walking, a boat cruise
or a guided sea kayaking trip with Wilson's
Experiences Abel Tasman.
We take an early morning flight to Queenstown
mid morning. We spend the rest of the morning exploring Queenstown.
This afternoon we travel out to Arrowtown
an historic gold mining town and a great place to spend the afternoon
shopping and exploring local history.
Tonight we dine at The
Post Masters House Arrowtown.
This is such a delightful restaurant that i just cant keep away
whenever I go to Arrowtown.
Day: 9 Queenstown
First we explore the wineries of the Gibston Valley. Amisfield
Lake Hayes' is stunning new
winery. Taste wine maker Jeff Sinnott's delicious Rieslings and
Next stop Peregrine
Wines. Their prime focus is on
growing premium Pinot Noir and white varieties from their estate
managed vineyards. These are all meticulously hand-tended and farmed
under a sustainable philosophy. Peregrine has its vineyards in the two
top regions of the area, Gibston and Cromwell. These areas typically
produce intensely flavored wines of finesse and elegance with the
predominantly schist soils adding mineral complexity.
We continue on further up the valley to Bannockburn and for lunch at Mount
Difficulty and taste some of
their award winning Pinot Noir. The views of Cromwell and its
surrounds from this winery are nothing short of stunning.
After Lunch we visit Felton
Road the vineyards of
Bannockburn are nestled into small macro climates totally surrounded by
high mountains, many of which are snowcapped all year round. Though the
location is on the edge of sustainable viticulture these macro climates
consistently combine hot days, cool nights and long dry autumns:
perfect for the creation of fine Felton Road Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and
Finally we make our way down to Cromwell and visit Two
Paddocks a vineyard owned by
actor Sam Neil. Two Paddocks is a family vineyard that specializes in
premium quality Pinot Noir wine. Sam is a great believer in Terroir
which is evident in all his wines. Two Paddock vines are planted in two
different locations around Alexander and one in the Gibston Valley and
each vineyard is prized for the its unique grape growing potential.
Day 10: Queenstown 08 FEB
Milford Sound is situated on the West Coast of the South Island of New
Zealand. It is a world renowned area of extraordinary beauty. Milford
Sound is actually named incorrectly a sound, it actually is a true
Fiord, which measures 12 km long and is up to 320 meters deep. The
Fiord receives an average yearly rainfall of approximately 7.5m (300
inches) because it is situated on one of the world's most formidable
coastlines, which is subject to rapidly changing weather conditions.
The weather is famous for its ability to deteriorate or improve within
a very short period of time. These dramatic weather patterns result in
some of nature's most amazing scenery transformations, especially when
viewed from one of our scenic Milford Sound flights. At any time on the
Fiords visitors may see seals, dolphins, penguins and other New Zealand
Tonight we dine at
The Bath House. This is probably
one of the most delightful locations and restaurants you will ever
find. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with stunning lake and
mountain views. Menu
Day 11: Christchurch
2 NightsThe George
morning we fly to Christchurch
City. The English garden city of Christchurch is treasured by
locals and all who visit. Our city tour begins with a brief orientation
and city highlight overview. During your tour, you will see Cathedral
Square, Victoria Square, Thomas Edmonds former the Band rotunda (now a
restaurant) and the Avon River, Town Hall, the Floral Clock, Law
Courts, Provincial Chambers, Christ's College Museum, Botanical
Gardens, Arts Center, Worcester Boulevard and the Bridge of Remembrance.
morning we take a punt ride along
the Avon River. We start from the historic Antigua Boat Sheds you will
drift past the quaint Curator's House restaurant, then through Hagley
Park and the leafy Botanic Gardens. The
ride goes up past the Woodland
Bridge and the Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda. Along the river you see a
variety of wildlife: swans, scaup ducks, paradise shell ducks, Grey and
mallard ducks, eels and trout.
will be at the Antigua Boat
Shed Cafe. You will have the rest of the afternoon to explore and enjoy
the beautiful city as you wish. Explore Canterbury Museum or
a stroll though Hagley Park.
evening we dine at Saggio di
Vino. Owners Lisa and Yommi believe in cooking seasonally, sourcing the
freshest produce from asparagus and berries in summer to oysters and
porcini in autumn. And of course there are the truffles – a
treat in the cool winter months and incredibly sought after.
Day 12: Waipara
is renowned for its Riesling's and spicy Pinot Noir's. With its
predominantly chalky, loamy and enriched limestone soil, the wines from
this region display rich, intense, full-bodied wines.
Established in 1986, Daniel Schuster Wines Ltd is a small, quality-
focused producer of classically structured wines with individual
character that reflects the unique growing conditions of their Estate
Vineyards. I love Daniels wines they express everything a
wine should be. They are made to age gracefully but still quite
drinkable now my particular favorite is his Riesling a variety that
just excels in Waipara.
Pegasus Bays intention, is to give their diners a total food and wine
experience. They have an emphasis on freshness and simplicity, using
predominantly locally grown ingredients. The menu is created around
their wine list, with each dish matched with a suggested wine. Last
time we dined at Pegasus we enjoyed the beef with a Pegasus Bay 1991
Cabernet Merlot blend it was outstanding and an amazing match with our
We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waipara Valley.
This evening we will dine at the world-renowned, "Pescatore Restaurant"
located in our hotel.
Pescatore has a commitment to excellence and has won international
recognition for its inspirational cuisine and fine Pacific Rim dinning!
I am a big fan of the Evolution Menu a nine course, degustation
gastronomic delight, you will need to loosen your belt for this. Bon