JANUARY 12, 2009 (4/128) - WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
After landing and clearing immigration and customs, we caught our 07:00 flight from Auckland to Wellington. It was on time and we landed in Wellington just before 08:00. Our rental car was waiting and we were at the Holiday Inn in downtown Wellington and checked in by 09:30.
We both cleaned up, changed clothes and decided to head up NZ Highway 2 to the town of Martinborough, the center of the north islands wine growing region. It is only 80km but it is up and over a steep, twisty mountain pass and it was raining up in the pass so the road was slick. We arrived in Martinborough at noon and stopped at the information office. They gave us a map and recommended four different vineyards that served food as well as providing wine tastings. We selected, from the description, Tirohana Estate and were not disappointed. We were seated in a very pleasant dining room and were waited on by a young man who had immigrated to New Zealand from England.
We have been married much too long and once again wound up ordering the same things. We both had:
~ A warm brie salad with fresh strawberries, croutons and a red wine vinaigrette
~ French lamb chops on smashed minted peas with baby new potatoes
~ White chocolate bread and butter pudding served with caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream
The food was excellent and well presented. Dick sampled two of their wines: a 2007 Chardonnay and their 2008 Premium Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc was unusual and very good so we bought a bottle to take with us.
Beginning to get in the swing of things, we stopped at a shop in town called "Ingredients" and bought a loaf of sourdough bread and some cheese. Supper was now in the bag. A glass of wine, good bread and cheese! What more do you need to end a very nice day?
We drove north up through the valley to Gladstone and then circled around, back through town, and drove down to the coast to check out the Putangirua Pinnacles. The country side is very pastoral, quiet and beautiful. The coast is pasture land right to the bluffs overlooking a calm turquoise sea, the Cook Strait. We saw very few people outside of the towns and passed only the occasional car or truck. We did, however, see too many one lane bridges and sheep, sheep and more sheep! We passed a shed where several men were busy shearing sheep. Since it is shearing time, the sheep must be gathered in close to be available to the shearers.
We then took the alternate route around the south end of Lake Wairarapa up to Featherston. This is a huge natural lake in another pastoral setting with many thousands of sheep grazing right up to the shore edge. For such a pretty setting we were surprised at the lack of development and activity around the lake. Around the bottom of the lake, we passed by the Wharekauhau Country Estate, a 5000 acre working sheep station over looking Palliser Bay, the place where I would have loved to stayed, but at something over $500 a night was way to rich for our pocketbook! The setting does live up its description though. Maybe next time!
This being Monday afternoon and having been up since Saturday morning, we returned the 80km to Wellington and prepared to call it a day. January here is like July in the US as far as the sun goes. We are told it won’t set until 9:30 or so. It may be summer, but the weather is cool, the sun is bright and Wellington Harbor, just outside our window is glistening in the evening light.
I think I will have another glass of that Sauvignon Blanc and maybe some bread and cheese!