After a great night’s sleep and feeling a mild aftershock while laying in bed, Eric got up to work out and I caught up on computer stuff. For breakfast we walked over to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen where Eric opted for the scrambled eggs on toast with a side of potato hash and I got the poached egg on baguette with creamed spinach. I forgot how orange the yolks are here! Before hitting the road, we stopped into the local grocery to purchase some chocolate bars and snacks.
Highway 2 out of Wellington is a beautiful drive that takes you through the Pakuratahi Forest mountain pass.
Our first stop was C’Est Cheese in Featherston – a little cheese shop with lots of NZ options. After trying a few items we choose an aged gouda and a tasty blue. Unfortunately the local bakery is closed on Mon/Tues so we had to wait to get bread at a grocery store in Martinborough.
Our first wine stop was Poppies. The winemaker and namesake of the winery was pouring her wines and was very friendly. Our favorite was the rose (we bought two bottles) but the rest of the wines were very drinkable too. Given the nice outdoor surroundings we decided to book a table to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. Glad we did as it turns out it was the only place that we could do so in the valley due to permitting laws.
Our second stop was Martinborough Winery but they were closed. However, the cleaner there recommended Te Kairanga winery. So glad she did! We really enjoyed our tasting with Paul and chatted about politics, history and other various stories while trying several nicely valued wines. Our favorites were the Estate Pinot Gris, Reserve Chardonnay and the Runholder Pinot Noir. Interestingly, the Pinot Gris in this area seems to have a pleasant banana-bread fragrance.
Ata Rangi is only open from 1-3pm during the week so we made that our next stop. We thought the wines were pretty good but their Pinot Noir was overpriced at $75. We got a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc because it was a good value at NZ$24 and we wound up drinking it later in the trip. After our tasting, we sat in the shade nearby and ate some of the cheese and bread to soak up the wine. Permitting is a bit strange here: free wine tastings are allowed but many places don’t serve food and so they can’t sell wines by the glass either.
At this point we headed back to Poppies for a glass of wine each and a lemon tart with raspberry syrup. I sat right next to a wonderful-smelling citrus tree and spent the time being lazily buzzed by bumblebees.
On our way back to Wellington we stopped at two waterfalls and both proved to be a bit tricky to locate. The Broadwalk Waterfall was located after a very scenic drive north into the hills of the Lower Hutt area. We followed an old road straight uphill on foot for about ten minutes before I realized that we should have seen the cascade by then. We doubled back and found a faint trail to the base of the small falls.
Percy Waterfall was a bit more challenging. We found a shorter trail near a small parking area with poison warning signs but when we tried to follow the trail it became impassable as it followed the stream. We decided to call it and try again from a different parking area the next day.
For dinner we headed back into Wellington, this time to Chow. We were a bit worried we wouldn’t get a table as they do 2 for 1 mains on Mondays, but we walked in and were seated right away! I ordered a Mansion House rose from Marlborough and Eric had a Kemau River Village Pinot Gris. We split four dishes: chicken satay, pork and mushroom dumplings (our least fave), tuna sashimi (all me) and pumpkin and cashew fritters. With the special pricing it came out to $58 which is an excellent deal in NZ.
On the way back to the room we grabbed a waffle from a small corner stand. The Snickers version had chocolate sauce with salted caramel and toasted peanuts. Mmmm.