Thursday, February 9, 2017

Martinborough to Wellington

Martinborough is surrounded by vineyards and over 20 cellar doors, most within walking distance of the township. We decided to tandem bike it yesterday morning - in perfect cycling conditions: light cool breeze and very clear conditions.
This would have to be one of the prettiest wine regions we've visited - the vineyards all look like well tended gardens - it's easy cycling too - with the roads all flat and few vehicles.
We can see the vineyards are pretty busy this morning with teams of people out netting the vines - in readiness for ripening and picking next month.


 This region specialises in Pinot grapes(no wonder as it is rarely very hot here!)
 ...and yes there are a lot of sheep on the North Island even in the midst of this wine country.
After a few hours of picturesque cycling - and not too much tasting - as we find that a bit of a challenge before lunch (especially being in charge of a bike) - we finally stopped for lunch at the picturesque Palliser Estate winery on the main road leading in to Martinborough.
In the warm sunshine it seemed that a 2015 Rose was the order of the day - and a great choice with its intense strawberry flavours and watermelon undertones!
 ...and a superb NZ cheese platter to set off the gorgeous flavours of the Rose. Our lunch was made even more enjoyable with the company of two US tourists from Washington DC. They were both articulate, intelligent and insightful older guys - we had a great conversation about the situation in the US (as well as sharing NZ tourist tales).
After lunch it was just a little over an hour's drive south, through winding mountain roads, to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. We had to return our rental car to the airport and make our way back to our city hotel - so it was quite late in the afternoon before we ventured out for our first walk around the city.  We started at the government building, corporate and "big shops" end of town but fairly quickly came to areas of inner suburbia that reminded us a lot of the timber San Francisco style houses....perched high on the hills overlooking Wellington Harbour.


 with some Art Deco in the mix....
 Around the groovy Te Are area it is a bit more urban grunge...........
With a real mix of architectural styles around Hannah Lane and the Egmont precinct.


We made it all the way up to Aro Street - past the famous "Garage Project", Wellington's premium boutique brewery (in the premises of a former garage!).
.........Before settling in for a tasting at the crowded Garage Project Bar just a bit up the road from the Brewery. Rob had a lot of advice from the friendly locals (everyone is SO friendly here) about which beer to try......
We ended up with a Garagista (me) and a Red Rock Reserve with Nitro (Rob).......
 .... and then a delicious meal of whole flounder with cherry tomatoes, raisins, oregano and lemon with a glass of Te Kairanga Pinot Noir (from one of the vineyards we cycled past in the morning) at Cafe Aro, just opposite. We managed to stagger the just under 2 kms back to our hotel, after another wonderful day in NZ!


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