More Wine and a Wellington Pub Crawl

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
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Trip End Jun 11, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, June 4, 2011

We woke up to a family of chickens greeting us in the campground so Adam fed them some of our old bread and museli bars.  That was a nice wake-up!  We got up kind of early as we wanted to hit up some more wineries before leaving the South island via the Interisland Ferry which left from a town 30 minutes north at 1:45pm.  So once we got started we headed to Cloudy Bay winery, one of the most famous wineries in the NZ Marlborough region.  They won the gold medals and awards for their sauv blanc in 1995 and that really put this area of the world on the map.  We got there right at 10am when they opened and weren't even the first ones there.  We did enjoy all of their options although we didn't purchase any on the spot as we could get some of their varietals back in the States.  After leaving Cloudy Bay we wanted to try the brewery next door but it didn't open until 11am so we went to the winery across the street, Scott Family.  It turns out that the Scott Family son is the creator of the brewery we were headed to so it was nice to sample their wines first.  It was an interesting tasting as they had a gift shop with some unusal finds.  Eventually it was 11am and we headed back across the street to Moa brewery.  A Moa is a now extinct flightless bird native to New Zealand and a fun name for the brewery.  The gentleman working there was an ex-pat from North Carolina and explained the origins of the brewery and the beers to us. You can get the beer in the US and their distribution is growing so maybe you'll see it near you soon! 

We then got back on the main road and before heading out of town stopped at the Makuna Chocolate Factory where these little ladies hand roll chocolates.  It was so refreshing to see the hand-made process and you can tell the love that goes into making these candies.  They had several kinds made also with local pinot.  They were all delicious and we so that was the one place where we definitely made a purchase!

We headed north towards Picton, the small northern shore town where the ferries operate between the two islands.  We found the entrance to the Interislander Ferries and we were over an hour early since they had told us we had to be there early for check-in with Britzy Spears. So we parked in line and right there made sandwiches and ate leftovers for lunch while cleaning out the van a bit.  Eventually everyone started their campervans and cars and we drove onto the ferry which was as large as a cruise ship.  Once we parked we got out of the car and went up to the top decks to find seats.  It was pretty cold so we didn't go all the way up to the sundeck but stayed below inside in very nice lounge seats where there was also a TV.  Luckily, I had another seasickness pill so I was in good shape although it wasn't nearly as rocky as it had been on the whale watching cruise.  We passed the beautiful scenery of the bays between the islands and also took a bit of a nap onboard.  Right on time we docked in Wellington and could see the skyline from the port.  We got back in our cars and exited the boat and headed right into the city.  It took us a few wrong turns (but this way we got to see the Beehive - the parliament building), and we found the Novotel.  We had stayed in a Novotel previously and liked it so decided to give it a go again.  We valet parked Britzy Spears which is when we realized how inconvenient having her in the city was.  The hotel was great, we checked in and relaxed for a bit and then went out in search of a nice dinner and night out as it was Adam's last night on the trip.

We wandered through the CBD where much was already closed so we headed to Cuba street where we knew there were lots of restaurants and bars.  It looked just okay so we kept walking to Courtnay Place where there were cuter restaurants and bars and decided on Stone Grill for dinner.  It looked like a nice steak place where you can get your meat raw and they give you steaming hot stones where you can cook it yourself.  After a brief wait we were seated and although the food was delicious, the service was super slow so dinner was a 2+ hour event.  Adam enjoyed lamb chops that he cooked on the stone (we were in New Zealand, after all), and Dave enjoyed a meat sampler with lamp chops, steak and pork that he cooked on the stone.  I opted for a local fish which was pretty good and I didn't have to cook myself.  We also enjoyed some delicious local wine (for a change).  We then headed further down Courtnay Place and there were so many cute bars we decided to make our own pub crawl and stop in at a different bar for one drink and then move onto the next (for those of you who aren't familiar with a pub crawl).  We liked the first and fouth places but the second and third were just okay (don't as me their names I don't think we even knew them).  It was fun to see the local Saturday night party culture here - sports bars playing rugby and lots of local slang.  We had a great time and what a wonderful way to bid Adam farewell!
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