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Kua rite koe?

Pack those bags and let's hit the road..!

We are headed to Martinborough, another great wine region in this beautiful territory in the south end of the North Island. We will head further south towards the the deepest southeast quadrant of the North Island. This is known as the “Land of Glistening Waters” or the Wairarapa in Maori. This is also the land that is famous for the food and wine of the area.

Today is Sunday, May 3rd and we visit one winery only but it's worth 10 wineries combined. This is a fantastic day as we enjoy the afternoon to ourselves at this estate. Ata Rangi is an amazing choice, we're lucky to slip in a visit here

The valley of Wairarapa and Martinborough in particular is rain shadowed by the mountains on three sides. During ripening of the grapes the days are sunny and warm, but nights cool down dramatically with crisp and sharp breezes from the southern ocean.  This diurnal effect contributes dramatically to the the quality of the fruit, not only by preserving intensity of aromas but by allowing the long, slow and steady ripening throughout their extended autumns. We climb a short hill that hosts their stony river terrace where most of the vines are planted. The stones are quartz-threaded greywacke and there is some volcanic basalts. This is known to be the windiest and driest climate in the North Island.

We are so enamored with this estate that it's difficult to leave the vines - even if it's to taste the wines, the land is glorious and fertile, but not where the vines lie, there is so little soil due to the quartz and basalt. We gather ourselves together and chatter as we wander off to taste in their quaint facility.

Martinborough is a tiny rural village nestled at the bottom of the Remutaka Mountain range, about one hour’s drive from Wellington and across from a spectacular view of these mountains. 

What another great day, the Pinot Noir is amazing, and even those who are in love with big reds (DENISE BENDER!) are convinced of the delicious-ness of Pinot Noir and it's enhancing abilities with food. Even Bender is now a fan of Pinot Noir, and maybe even the biggest fan thus far.

It's a sunny and warm afternoon, but soon turns chilly as the sunshine hides behind the clouds coming in from the sea, we slip inside their charming tasting room (or cellar door as they refer to it) for our exciting tasting.

Our day was filled with vineyards and wine, winemakers and science, and friendship of course. We enjoyed lunch in Martinborough, the sweet tiny village loaded with Colonial charm, and we discovered excellent cafes and restaurants, where the local produce was featured. Many wineries have vineyard cafes where you can make the most of the autumn weather and relax outside. Several decide to visit the Martinborough Wine Centre, where you can taste many wines from the region. Wines can also be purchased here, and shipped back home, which is a plus for these travelers.

We end the day on our own, enjoying the sea, the vines, the fresh air and now the stars show up, it's the most clear and bright skies that just about all of us have ever experienced. Another great night under the stars and a relaxing and restful Sunday together. We bid each other good night, taking our wine cups to bed, nibbling our chocolates purchased in town, and promise to never forget this day.

Good night sweet travelers, we are all so gratified and sleepy.

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Koa Rāhoroi! (happy Saturday)

Friends, Travelers, Wine Lovers, welcome to Hawkes Bay wine country!

And here we are, enjoying the beauty, harvest, grapes, sea breezes and wines of Hawkes Bay. This beautiful wine region is located on the south-east coast of the North Island. This region is one of the oldest regions with very famous wine producing Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Merlots, and Sparkling wines.

Our first stop on this day is Craggy Range, one of the most premier wineries in this region, highly regarded and diverse in their selections. They enjoy excellent scores for their wines, but that's not our reason for visiting. Most importantly they have amazing Bordeaux Blends, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, and although we cannot find it in Seattle, Thousand Oaks or Indiana or anywhere in the United States for that matter, the Sparkling wine that they make is EVERYONE's Favorite! We had to stop going back for seconds - but we did walk away with several bottles that we will share on the bus, on the beach and in our collective gatherings throughout the next few days.

The vineyards are calling us, say hello to our Bike Tour! Ken and Terry lead the way! We love the bikes that are available to us. Too bad that only two of them are pink, and many of us enjoy an afternoon of biking through the vines and trying to maintain a straight path (Terry and Reggie) as we "taste" along the route. There is so much to see, experience and taste, it's hard to decide who's wines we enjoy the most. We did get a lot of sunshine, exercise and wine bellies.

Some of us had the afternoon off, some of us are exhausted from our bike tour and our sergeant of a leader (KEN!) who has much longer legs than the rest of us. UGH! I need Colleen's magic hands. Okay, an afternoon off for several, or a hike for some, or those of us who decided to bike it, whatever we did this beautiful afternoon, it was perfect. The long and low sun that gives the orange-yellow glow of light with long shadows remains for seemingly hours this evening and it's already 7pm but this golden light lingers. We watch the wind blow the vines, we see the workers picking ripe grapes as the sun starts to finally set. What a glorious day, what a romantic evening, and oh what achey muscles!

We sleep like angels, dreaming of this beautiful light and our amazing time in the vineyards.

Tena po pai dear travelers... see you tomorrow.

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Ma Te Rotorua pai, we will miss you!

As we depart our beloved village in Rotorua, we return back to our tour of the North Island as we veer south and east, we are headed towards the south-eastern seaboard of the North Island where we find hot springs, spas, farmland with baby animals, and of course vineyards.

The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of the largest lake in New Zealand and is filled with an abundance of trout. Here you will find all that our travellers could want, the beauty of the lake, the surrounding mountains and forests mixed with farmland and an excellent array of restaurants. But one of the most desirable amenities is the underground thermal activity that provides hot spas for relaxation. And this is where we will experience the relaxation and therapeutic properties of the Polynesian Spa excursion. Sit back in the pools, relax and rejuvenate the aching muscles, strong bones and mental benefits that come from these magical waters.

The amazing road trip from Taupo to Hawkes Bay is all about the fantastic scenery. There is a mix of everything awe-inspiring, powerfully breathtaking, and astonishing with a mix of rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and magical vistas.

We enter the town of Napier in late afternoon as we find a spot for lunch, enjoy some time exploring and refreshing. In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly destroyed the city of Napier. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered one of the Art Deco Capitals of the world.

The vineyards of Hawke's Bay are within walking distance to the town of Napier. This is where we will enjoy the well-regarded wines of the region, enjoy the architecture, the land and the gannet colonies that are known nest on these beaches.

Hawkes Bay is the appellation that lies along the south-eastern seaboard of the North Island, the land here is green, the slopes gentle and the grapes ripe and plump from intense sunlight and cool breezes. The Hawke’s Bay Wine Trails have over 100miles of flat, easy-riding trails throughout the region, connecting the award-winning wineries, unique cafés, quaint country pubs and artisan shops. In addition there are mountain bike parks that are very highly-regarded and boast some very spectacular scenery.

Scenic Hotel Te Pania Napier

We relax for a lovely overnight stay at the hotel in Napier, and as the name implies the scenic landscape surrounds us as we enjoy the region's beauty and elegance. Our laundry is refreshed, our hearts filled with love of the land, and our bellies hold the treats of the day, delicious Chardonnay, luscious Merlots, and the regional food to match. Don't forget to thank Colleen for the back rubs while lazing in the hot pools, who knew she had the magical fingers to relax and refresh us!

We have the evening to ourselves, we decide to gather in the outdoor areas of the hotel, or across the street at the beach, we'll bring our wine cups, wine, some nibbles that we picked up along our tour, and laugh about the activities we enjoyed thus far. I will have the battery operated disco lights, and illuminate our conversations as we feel the Southern Hemisphere breezes, wait for the stars and moonlight to invade our gathering and adding to this glorious evening. Say goodnight my sweet travelers... until tomorrow!

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