Nelson: Abel Tasman

 

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Last week we had the privilege of being able to explore the lovely little town on Nelson, NZ. This was our first time to the south island of NZ and we were very excited. The rumors are true: the south island really is majestic.

Our flight landed a little after noon on Saturday. We rented a car, checked into our hotel, and did a little bit of cruising around before dinner. We stopped by¬†Tahuna Beach Reserve and took a little walk on the beach. So romantic ūüėČ

Abel Tasman

Sunday we booked a kayak tour to explore the Abel Tasman National Park.¬†There was a ton (at least ten) companies that offered kayak tours, I’m sure they were all very similar, but we loved Sea Kayak¬†(just in case you were looking for a recommendation). ¬†The Abel Tasman is know for its beautiful secluded golden beaches, world famous coastal hiking trail, and granite cliffs. The hiking trails range from a couple of hours to a couple of days (I like hiking, but no way would I even be interested in a couple day hike.) To check out the trails offered click ¬†H E R E.

Our tour started with a three hour sea kayaking adventure through small little caves, and around Adele island (aka Seal Island in Olga’s mind). Our go pro was acting up and we couldn’t get close enough to the seals to get a good picture of them. We saw a few little seal’s bathing in the sun, and a little family with four little baby seals. It was so sweet. Can you tell I like seals?

After the kayaking portion of the tour, we docked our kayak at the Watering Cove to have lunch (included in the tour we purchased). After lunch we went for a swim and lounged on the lovely little beach. After we were done bathing in the wicked New Zealand sun, we started on our 3.5¬†hour hike back to Marahau. The weather this day couldn’t have been anymore perfect, a little on the hot and humid side.¬†The hike through the brush offered some shade from the sun and a nice little breeze to cool us off. Of course we ran out of water half way through our hike and felt like a cartoon character stranded in the dessert. We had plans to meet with some friends for dinner, but right at the end of the trek was a perfectly positioned wood fire pizza place (talk about a perfect marketing strategy). Needless to say, we apologized to our friends for bailing on them while we stuffed our faces with the most delicious pizza known to man.

Blenheim/ Marlborough

Day three we spent exploring the Marlborough wine region. I’m sure those of you following our blog are starting to think that we¬†have an obsession with wine. Yeah, we kinda do. New Zealand is a very new wine growing region, but their wines are to die for! Marlborough is the top wine producing region in NZ, soooooooo we had to do a few tastings.

The vineyards we visited:

  • Allan Scott Family Winemakers: The property is very homey and Spanish inspired.
  • Fromm Winery: The whites were all very tasty, reds were not too impressive.
  • Seresin Estate: Every single wine was unreal. Favorite: Chardonay
  • Te Whare Ra: A married couple of winemakers own and operate¬†this vineyard. Loved every single wine. They are very talented &¬†you can taste that in their unique wines.
  • Nautilus Estate : First time trying the “Albarino” grape. Super tasty.
  • No 1 Family Estate: All champagnes/sparkling wine. They were very good, I’m just not a fan of sparkling wine.

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After our wine tastings we head to a bar to watch part of the Super bowl. Both teams were so awesome it was hard to pick a side. Congrats to the Denver Bronco’s.

From here we head to Picton and caught the ferry to Wellington. More to come on those adventures ūüėČ

 

 

 

The beginning of 3 weeks of travel

First Stop: Hawkes Bay

We spent our first hot Christmas indoors watching Arthurs Christmas (which is our NEW favorite Christmas movie), making Christmas cookies, and drinking hot chocolate.

We began the three week trip the day after Christmas. First thing on Boxing Day, we packed our tiny Yaris to the brim and set our sights on Hawkes Bay. Before even moving to New Zealand, Hawkes bay was on the top of our list of things to do. We both love wine, therefore we had to taste some of the world famous New Zealand wine.

 

After driving approximately 5hours, the first thing we did was to head straight to dinner for some green tip mussels. Even if you don’t like mussels, trust ¬†me, you will like these mussels. After dinner we wandered around the quiet deserted little town. I’m sure this little town is crawling with people on an every day basis BUT on boxing day it was a ghost town.

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After dinner we drove up to Bluff Hill to watch the sunset. The view was absolutely lovely. On top of the hill there were an abundance of flowers and there was no shortage of views.

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The beautiful view of Napier!

 

Wine Tasting:

The next morning we woke up early and head straight to “On Yer Bike.” Hawkes Bay is unique in the sense that it has bike trails constructed by the city that connect all the vineyards. The bike trails are separate from the road so they are safe and the trails are in excellent condition.

We picked up our bikes and hit the road!

The vineyards:

Sileni Estates– In 1997, Graeme Avery established Sileni as an export oriented producer, committed to crafting world-class fine wines. This was our favorite vineyard, we really enjoyed all of the wines here.

Favorite Wine: Merlot & Gewurztraminer

Favorite feature: Gift Shop

Abbey Cellars– Established in 2002 (woah! Doesn’t it¬†feel like that was just yesterday?), Abbey focuses on making rich reds with smooth tannins in a middleweight style that is barrelled in 100 percent oak. This property is also a brewery. We sampled the beers here as well as the wines, which were also delicious.

Favorite wine: Riesling

Favorite feature: Outdoor area & live music

Alpha Domus– Established in 1991, “Alpha Domus winery produces world-class wines from a wide range of varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and¬†Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier and¬†Syrah.”

Favorite Wine: Viognier

Favorite feature: The quantity of wines available for sample.

Ngatarawa– In the union of two families, this vineyard was established in 1981. This vineyard makes a large variety of wines varying from reserves to softer every day wines.

Favorite Wine: Pinot Noir

Favorite feature: The barn like cellar room and the entire estate.

Te Awa– This vineyard has three sub-brands: Leftfield, Te Awa, and Kidnapper Cliffs. This was our second favorite vineyard, and a close tie with Sileni. All the wines here were exquisite, and the artwork on the labels was beautiful.

Favorite wine: Rose and Merlot/Cabernet blend

Favorite feature: The staff

Ash Ridge–¬†The youngest vineyard we’ve ever been to, Ash Ridge was established in 2008. Not even a decade ago! Even thought the vineyard is fairly young, they just won New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year award! Congrats!

Favorite wine: Premium estate Chardonnay

Favorite Feature: Outdoor restaurant area

 

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Recommendations:

Out of the 8 vineyards on the trail, we toured¬†6 of them! With over 100 vineyards and 70 wineries, there is plenty to explore. We are certain that the best way to go wine tasting is to do it via bike. You would be missing out if you came to Hastings and did not go on a vineyard bike tour. Thank you to the awesome Kiwi’s that gave us this recommendation!

If your looking for a company to use, we would recommend “On Yer Bike.” Their website is awesome, and the service couldn’t have been any better.

Also, don’t forget that this is only one of four tasting trails. If you don’t like wine, there are also other waterfront and scenic trails available. If your interested in exploring all the bike trails Hawke’s Bay has to offer, click here!¬†

Last recommendations: don’t forget to make some super cool friends & have fun!

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Our friends from Holland: Miranda & Menno

 

 

A few extra pictures:

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