Karikari Estate – New Zealand’s Northernmost Vineyard & Winery

If it’s a sunny, still day on the Karikari Peninsula near the top of the North Island then it’s a good day to visit Karikari Estate Vineyard. Sitting up high on a hill with flowers spilling down its slopes, Karikari Estate is a beautiful spot for a glass of wine. The Karikari wines on the list included two chardonnays, a rose, and two blended reds – Toa Iti and Hell Hole, all $10 a glass.

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Platters are always our choice at wineries and there are two – Artisan ($35) and Antipasti ($65). Seafood dishes, a … Read the rest

High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate

If the sun’s shining at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton it’s nice to sit outside under an umbrella overlooking rows of lush tea plants. Zealong is New Zealand’s only tea plantation and the five flavours of tea produced are certified organic.

Oolong tea leaves can be used up to 8 times

Oolong tea leaves can be used up to 8 times

Tea is the star of the show at Zealong, but lunch and high tea are also served. A Signature High Tea and a Classic High Tea were on the menu for us. Tea is infused in a lot of the small dishes that make up the high tea, including … Read the rest

Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

If ye happen to be travelling through Gore on a dreich day, a wee dram of Old Hokonui, and Hokonui Honey Moonshine is included in the $5 entrance fee to Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

Have a wee dram of Hokonui Moonshine

The Museum documents the first distiller in the area as Irish carpenter Owen McShane. In the 1830’s Owen made a potent spirit from cabbage tree sap known by a few names including the brilliant ‘McShane’s Chained Lightning’. Fond of more than a wee dram, Owen McShane may be the only person ever to build a jail, go out on a … Read the rest

Como Villa Estate Vineyard

Como Villa Estate on the outskirts of Alexandra is the most interesting place we’ve ever done a wine tasting. The cellar door and museum are in a stone house that was built in the mid 1860’s by Thomas Oliver.

Thomas was one of the first to plant grape vines in the area, but his primary business was building and operating water races for gold miners, some of the races are still used today for irrigation.

Como Village Estate - cellar door and museum

Como Village Estate – cellar door and museum

Thomas was a successful entrepreneur and he sold Como Villa in 1874 and moved to Dunedin to … Read the rest

She Universe, Governors Bay

We lived in Christchurch for a couple of years and often on summer weekends we’d drive to Governors Bay and veer right to Governors Bay Hotel for a beer in the garden. On this sunny spring day we veered left to She Universe Cafe & Chocolaterie. There are a few unusual aspects to She Universe, one is the splendid view it shares with the hotel, another is the spiritual element of their chocolate enterprise.

Hot chocolate with a view at She Universe

Hot chocolate with a view at She Universe

She stands for Spiritual Human Evolution. The staff at She Universe practice a moving meditation called ‘The Form’ … Read the rest

Cool Kai & Coffee Carts

The grande dame of kai (food) carts in New Zealand is The White Lady. Owned continuously by the Washer family since 1948, The White Lady has been serving thirsty and hungry Aucklanders 7 nights a week for more than 60 years. You’ll find The White Lady (mark III) doing the late shift every night on Commerce Street in the CBD.

The White Lady on Commerce Street in Auckland

The White Lady on Commerce Street in Auckland

Food trucks are becoming popular on our city streets, especially in Auckland and a few photos are included along with the carts. One website that can keep you up-to-date with who … Read the rest

Dinner at Urbano Bistro, Rotorua

We had dinner at Urbano Bistro this week and both agree it is worth recommending on the world wide web. Urbano is one of Rotorua’s smarter dining options, the decor is dark and stylish and we felt really comfortable, they have created a nice atmosphere. It is at the pricey end of the dining spectrum, most mains are over $35 and entrees $17+.

Smart dining at Urbano Bistro

Smart dining at Urbano Bistro

One of Mike’s favourite entrees is pork belly but he finds it a dish that is a miss as often as it is a hit – Urbano hit a six and he … Read the rest

Sweet Wellington – Louis Sergeant Sweet Couture

Louis Sergeant Sweet Couture is a little bit fancy with the large portrait of Marie Antoinette coordinated with the light fittings, couch, and cushions.

Louis Sergeant, Wellington

Louis Sergeant, Wellington

French staff added to the fancy vibe as they took my order for a halloumi and caramelised fig sandwich. I was surprised at the number of savoury options on the menu as I had gone prepared to eat pastry. Eat pastry I did though and the chocolate eclair was the stand out for me. Choux pastry is filled with dark chocolate mousse and a wide stripe of chocolate fondant is painted on top … Read the rest

Drinking for good in Wellington

Recently I wrote about Ngopi in Auckland, a Malaysian cafe that donates its profits to charity. In Wellington there is an espresso bar in a container on lower Cuba Street called Stories. Stories Espresso Bar was set up by youth organisation Zeal to provide employment and work experience for young baristas.

Stories Espresso Bar, 40A Cuba Street

Stories Espresso Bar, 40A Cuba Street

Zeal run barista courses, but the young people who completed the training often found it difficult to get a job and gain experience. This is where Stories Espresso Bar steps in, young people get work experience under the tutelage of an experienced barista, … Read the rest

Back to the 50’s in New Plymouth

New Plymouth hosts Americarna, an all American car event, and also has its own American style Deluxe Diner. We pulled in to Deluxe Diner for breakfast and were impressed with the mint green and red decor, comfy booths, and big menu.

Deluxe Diner, New Plymouth

Deluxe Diner, New Plymouth

I’m a shocker for taking too long to choose my food but buttermilk pancakes always make it easy for me, Mike settled on the breakfast hot dog, both good choices. The drinks menu is almost as big as the food menu and stretches from cherry cola floats to Spirulina, VIP malted shakes to alcoholic … Read the rest