Monday, November 25, 2019 @ 10:00 PM in 2019 New Zealand
Sam and I woke up with a plan to go for a run. We got started and ran down to the south side of the area where we saw the beaches on the Cook Straight. It definitely reminded me of some of the towns you'd see in Northern California along the coast. We continued to loop around and ended up running through a really cool little downtown in Island Bay. We weren't ready for how steep some of the hills here were. We're used to some steep roads and trails in Santa Fe, but holy cow, these were to the point where you were really just walking. It's amazing cars don't just go flying out of control down the streets here.
After our run, we drove up north to Paraparaumu beach where we had brunch at Marine Parade Eatery. We checked out the beach (which was full of driftwood) and then started a drive over to the Martinsborough winery area. We had two options to get over to Martinsborough... 1) Backtrack an hour and then drive more established roads. 2) Take the mountain roads (Akatarawa Rd) and save ourselves a ton of miles of driving. We ended up taking option #2 which in retrospect was probably a pretty poor choice.
The mountain road we took was a very narrow one lane with extremely steep grades and cliffs on either side. This made any attempt at passing almost impossible, but at least we only saw one other car the whole drive. Fortunately we didn't die and made it out of the mountains and into the plains of the wine country. The first winery we stopped at was called Poppies. We did tasted some samples and then got a bottle to share along with some cheese and bread. They had a really nice seating area overlooking the vineyards and it was a really nice experience.
From there, we went to a winery called Schubert where we sampled some more wine and bought a few bottles. We joked with the guy serving our samples that we were on a shared honeymoon and I don't think he knew how to take it, lol. We also told him how we got here via the Akatarawa Rd and he said we were extremely brave. The locals avoid that way at all costs due to frequent landslides and closures. I guess we did get really lucky! In chatting with him, he was talking about how a lot of Chinese people were buying up vineyards in the area as a way to get their cash out of China, but they weren't taking care of the vines properly and were generally running the vineyards they purchased into the ground.
We should have taken that last point a little closer as we were on our way to our last vineyard of the day, Vynfields Wine. We pulled into the place and noticed all the vines were either dormant or dead. This was a stark contrast to all of the other vineyards we stopped at and saw along the way. The second clue was that we couldn't find a dedicated parking area anywhere. We just kinda parked by the big white house that we assumed was the winery. The third clue was when we got in the winery and couldn't find anyone to help us. We called around a little bit and finally an elderly Chinese man who couldn't speak any English came out and showed us a list of some wines we could buy (no samples here). Between the four of us, we sampled a red, a white and a Rose. The red and whites had definitely turned and the Rose was extremely harsh. We didn't even finish the wines and left rather disappointed. (Note: I just checked and apparently the place is under new management as of early 2022 and hopefully has turned their operation around).
Rather than eating out tonight, we thought we'd get some groceries and cook something back at the Airbnb. We picked up some meat to grill, some asparagus, mushrooms and fries. It was a pretty nice dinner which we had with some beers.
Posted from: New Zealand