New Zealand – Searching for Winter in June…continued

Part two of our travels we learned more, played with animals, chilled with the locals and took a day to check out the mountains closer, all while making each other laugh. Always looking for a giggle, I found the non-smoking sign on our room cynically humorous since I just quit. Like a reminder saying, you know you want another. Of course the sign at the petrol station was ironic for us, the newlyweds.

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Since we were farther south than we had ever been, it was only appropriate to check out the International Antarctic Centre and learn about cute little blue penguins. The Antarctic Storm experience was a blast! Learning about Scott Base in the Antarctic and viewing the museum set up with figures of living creatures, base camp and Hagglund rides made for an exciting excursion.

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As a huge animal lover, I heard about an open range zoo close to Christchurch, Orana Wildlife Park. Seeing these beauties up close and sometimes personal, like the giraffe droll bomb, was a day to treasure. We saw just how nasty, Asian small-clawed otters could be when hungry…oh, that is what hangry is. We had a few animals that sensed the paparazzi and gave me the talk to the butt pose. Even nature has a great sense of humor. This is a must stop if you are in the area. I’ve even donated toward the efforts since our visit.

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During the trip we dined on lobster, duck, lamb, and discovered a little Thai restaurant, as it was on our list of things our loved ones wanted us to do. We decided to go grocery shopping for snacks, breakfast travel food and discovered new crazy energy drinks (it’s a weird thing we do, wherever we travel). After some fancy dinner dining, we found ultimate comfort in a local joint, Speight’s Brewery. On our, head toward the mountains, adventure we ran into a small place where I discovered Speight’s beer while chowing on lamb sausage pizza. The lovely lady feeding us told us to go to the brewery before we left. The husband was mostly cocktail indulging as the wine and beer thing is more my wheel house. Not saying I don’t love making or drinking a good cocktail! Ironic how this former anorexic become such a food lover.

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Every day we walked a different direction in exploration of our area.  On the last morning we stumbled into the Christchurch Botanic Garden. In the cool of winter, I yearned to see it in early fall, when still lush from summers bounty. Guess that is the season I should schedule the next trip for.

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Hope you enjoyed this brief trip, stumble, but a lady does not fall, vacation experience. Not to worry, I take pretty good notes now so our future adventures may include more embellished details.


New Zealand – Searching for Winter in June

I know that this is a wine blog, but I feel a travel topic derail, abounding in my brain. It just is in need of being let out of the station. This is a trip I want to redo, with a few changes, sooner than later. At the time of this get away, I was dabbling as a travel agent and not the best about writing down or photographing all my wine with food adventures so, though it happened, you can’t see it. Oh, how times have changed. Now I’m behind my camera or phone clicking away. Keeping up with the cultures need to visualize also, appears to help keep the memories, so they don’t run away too rapidly.

This trip was literally planned because I wanted to go somewhere cold in June, I wanted my currency to be of better value and for whatever reason I thought the 1st overseas experience with my husband should be English speaking. We had a limited time table so the decision was almost immediately the south island of New Zealand.

The trip was based in Christchurch, with travel to different areas, exploring what we could in the time provided. I don’t generally do the tourist thing that is on the pretty brochure, yet we fit a few things in that where on the honeymoon registry. Oh, this was my honeymoon destination…not a Caribbean island girl. We felt like if people donated to our registry, part of the adventure was making all those items come into fruition. We did that then became a little more, where do the locals hang out? This is how I still travel. Hot points to local joints!

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Not too bad for one of the worst snows they had in years. Yet, we did crawl into our rental car from the trunk after chipping off the ice around the boot, but us winter babies just enjoyed the cool air.




A few people wanted us to go on a romantic horseback riding adventure so, booked it! My horse decided to leap over a puddle. Not like the jump that I was prepared for, more of bunny hop landing me on its neck for a few seconds. I just said sorry to the horse while scooting back into the saddle. Half an hour later, while crossing the river, my husband’s horse felt like the minute we were knee deep in cold winter water, it was the best time to splash around. Cold, yes. Funny, absolutely! Since we traveled off season this adventure, that could’ve been shared with 20 or more other people was just us. It was a giggly few hours of sightseeing, learning about the area, fresh air intake and silly moments to tuck in the memory bank for future laughs.

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A few people, ahem, are aware I enjoy the fruits of the vine. So the next to do item on the list was wine tasting. Since I paid full price for two, I notified the non-wine loving spouse that he would need to enjoy the sweet stuff he loves, whenever it was offered. However this guided venture in the Canterbury/Waipara Valley region ended in a shop full of Schnapps type spirits, which appeared to be my husband’s boozy candy store adventure. I enjoyed discovering the flavors of the region, yet nothing jumped in a bag to fly home with me other than a few types of flavored spirits. I foresee a future trip.

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I contacted New Zealand Wine prior to our trip, requesting anything they thought would be useful for wine discoveries. So with wine maps and other information in tow we decided to drive north to explore the wines in the Marlborough region. We started at the other Mud House Winery location so that I could discover if I could taste the difference in the regions. Then we wound our way around seeing what we could find. Views that had snow peaked mountains meeting sandy beaches caught my heart. We stopped for a late lunch at a natural food restaurant where I bought a lot of homemade fruit leathers to snack on during our road trips. There was a small tasting room that was attached to the restaurant, pouring five different wineries juice, and that was when the bottles decided they wanted to fly home with me. I can’t shake my taste for the small producer that pours their love into the bottle. Beautiful Pinot Noirs filled with young, delicate strawberry flavors and Sauvignon Blanc that enraptured me with tropical fruit baskets of guava and passionfruit. Truly tastes too be remembered.

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From here we decided to visit closer attractions to the town for a few days with one more mountain driving excursion. For now, I’ll leave this as a too be continued until tomorrow story.