Bubbly Grape Wine Tours, Blenheim

I like a good name and tagline so ‘Bubbly Grape Wine Tours – we’ll drive you to drink’ had me at the start. Drive us to drink they did – our Gourmet Wine Lunch Tour took us to 6 cellar doors for tastings and lunch at Brancott Estate.

When you sign up for a Bubbly Grape Tour they ask if there are any wineries you’d like to visit, there may also be some flexibility on the day, so the summary below just gives an idea of where you could go. Visit Wine Marlborough to see all wineries and cellar doors … Read the rest

Scope, Rotorua

Scope – Wild About Flavour, add the hunting magazines on the rack and you have a few clues that wild food is a theme here. The menu includes a  Mai Mai Duck Open Sandwich ($23) and a Venison Burger ($23). Venison and blue cheese pasta is sometimes on the specials menu, and a venison sausage is part of the Hungry Hunter Big Breaky ($23.90).

A large deer antler chandelier hangs over the counter and stag heads feature on the unusual wallpaper. There are also handy stag head coat hooks on the back of the toilet doors.

Wild food is a … Read the rest

Feasting at Hobbiton – Evening Banquet Tour

Let’s get into it – The Evening Banquet Tour includes a tour of Hobbiton Movie Set and costs $190 for an adult. Our tour started at 4.30pm from Shires Rest Cafe where we boarded a bus to Hobbiton. Our guide Belinda then took us on a guided tour through the magical Shire.

We arrived at The Green Dragon Inn around 6pm, chose our complimentary beverage, then waited for the big feast reveal at 6.30pm.

The curtains were parted to show a table laden with food – beef and ale stew with dumplings, salmon, duck, a whole chicken, a pan of … Read the rest

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.

Platters are always our choice at wineries and there are two – Artisan ($35) and Antipasti ($65). Seafood dishes, a burger, chicken salad, and pizza … 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.

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 the aromatic mousse in a chocolate cup, and the black … 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.

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 bender to celebrate its completion, get arrested, … 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.

Thomas was a successful entrepreneur and he sold Como Villa in 1874 and moved to Dunedin to run a hotel. The property was bought and … Read the rest

The Cat Lounge in Glenfield, Auckland

*Unfortunately The Cat Lounge closed on 21 August 2018. Barista Cats in Auckland city is still operating.*

New Zealand’s first cat cafe – The Cat Lounge, opened in Glenfield, Auckland in early November. I went along last week for a look see. I stepped into a smart black and white cafe with a big Thank You wall acknowledging all those who contributed to The Cat Lounge via crowd funding platform Kickstarter.

Two glass doors separate the cat lounge from the cafe, you can take food and drink in with the cats but I chose to have coffee and … 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.

Food trucks are becoming popular on our city streets, especially in Auckland and a few photos are included along with the carts. Where possible links are included for the trucks and carts so you can find them on your … 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.

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, and customers get a good cup … Read the rest