Well, here’s another reason to spend some time here.
Nelson is home to so many great wineries that you could visit a different one every day for three weeks and still not hit them all.
We paid a visit to Neudorf Vineyards on a sunny warm Wednesday afternoon and had the place to ourselves. I loved the comfortable ambiance of the winery, and my glass of the Moutere Chardonnay was so delicious. They even ship their wines worldwide.
After a few hours here, we were hungry and headed to the Grape Escape on the way back to our AirBnB in Nelson.
We just made it before closing in late afternoon, and while they weren’t serving lunch anymore, we did snag a delicious piece of hazelnut and kahlua merengue cake.
This cottage cafe was so charming. I’m always taken in when greeted by a lazy cat sunning itself on the front steps!
A fun quick breakfast from the Auckland area was this egg salad and bacon bagel from Best Ugly Bagels. The name is strange, right? But ugly is fine by me when the bagels are so tasty.
Perhaps the most indulgent things we ate in Auckland were the creative ice creams from Giapo (the Afghan cookie version is pictured above). This one below is hazelnut and toasted merengue. The selection changes every few months and I’d love to see what new versions are concocted each season.
Moving on to Queenstown, we loved the burgers there including the famous Fergburger and Devil Burger, both of which I recommend.
However, everybody goes to those places, so I want to highlight two other great meals we had. The first was this giant steak and fries platter with herbed garlic butter from Atlas Beer Cafe. Yes, that slab of butter melts all over the meat and fries… and it’s a bargain for less than $20 New Zealand dollars. (NZ beef ain’t cheap, ya’ll).
The other was this halloumi cheese avocado toast and ice milk from Vudu Cafe and Larder. The ice milk has all the components of a milk shake, but it’s not blended.
Everything is plopped put in a glass and then time works it wonder, gradually melting the ice cream into the milk and chocolate syrup.
I already talked about our wonderful road trip day through Otago region and our stop at the Cardrona Hotel. This garlic knot was recommended by some people we met and it came out of the oven piping hot and salty and buttery.
Nelson, New Zealand was home to some of our best dishes on our trip. First up was this giant turkish food platter at Paasha. We thought there’d be no way we could finish this much food. Um… it was inhaled in about 10 minutes.
I also discovered hazelnut merengue cake with kailua frosting from the Grape Escape. Turns out these merengue style desserts are popular in Australia and New Zealand, so there’s lots of great recipes for them online. I’ve since researched how to make this exact version at home.
Finally, in Rotorua, we visited the Wednesday night Night Market and enjoyed a whole range of things including this pita with venison, couscous, greens, and spicy sauce.
Our last special meal of the trip was our breakfast at the Hamurana Lodge. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Warm croissants. Charcuterie. Cheeses. Fresh berries with cream.
Incidentally, we were the only people at the inn on this day and we got such fun service and attention. There’s a lot more to say about this place, so stay tuned for my upcoming Rotorua post.
I recently read an article about the benefits of spending money on travel, rather than say, material things.
The research shows that even if you have a less than perfect time, we tend to remember it in a more positive light as time goes on, making us feel that our money was well-spent. Our brains look back on that experience fondly unlike a material thing we bought, which quickly bores or disillusions us.
This certainly rings true when I think about the tiny resort town of Kaikoura (or Kai-crappa, as my husband liked to call it at the time). We stopped there on our way from Christchurch to Nelson on the south island.
For the record, I don’t think Kaikoura was crappy at all. It was just a low point during our travels.
In the warmer months, Kaikoura is packed with visitors who come for the dolphin excursions and water activities. But we arrived at the beginning of winter, so it was gray and dreary.
But the funny thing is that although the weather felt really dismal at the time, now when I look back over the photos, Kaikoura looks rather pretty to me with its muted hues of blue and gray.
We stayed at a nice bed and breakfast overlooking a walk that runs several miles along the ocean. This was the lovely view from our balcony window.
We knew the rain was coming in soon on that day, but we decided to walk along the ocean to find the seal colonies. It was cold and misty, but the terrain was nice in a stark severe sort of way.
The best thing was that finding the seals was so easy, and because there were few people around, we got the chance to get up close and personal.
Okay, not that close- (Have you seen their teeth?), but nice to observe them without people everywhere.
Some of the seals are rather bold too, and wobble out into the road, which makes driving around them pretty exciting.
Eventually, it started sprinkling on us, but we made it back to our room without too much damage. That night, we found a strange pizza place (that’s a whole other story about how they didn’t seem to have anything on their menu) and turned in early for bed.
As mentioned, reflecting on our stay, I’m glad we stopped over in Kaikoura. In the moment, we felt disappointed with the melancholy weather, but when I look over the pictures now, I see we were actually really fortunate to be in such remote and oddly pretty place.