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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -35.2616, 174.122
Poor planning - that's why we ended up in a small town like Kerikeri on New Year's Eve, because some basic research led us to plan an additional day in the area, for some wine tasting around the town of Russell. Had it not been for Russell, we would've made our way down to Auckland one day earlier, which surely would have a fairly substantial celebration to ring in the New Year.
The plan was good in theory, but in reality, it wasn't the best choice - while Russell does have a couple of decent wineries, there really isn't much wine tourism compared to NZ's more famous wine regions. Russell really isn't a place to plan a full day's worth of wine tasting - only an hour or two, at most, was enough for us to hit up both Paroa Bay and Omata Estate. We did receive a good tip at Paroa Bay's cellar door, which led us to a little oyster shack down on Orongo Bay.
Beyond that, there wasn't a whole lot more happening in the town itself - while cute and quaint, there wasn't a whole lot of interest for us there. One of the lowlights
was the local chocolate shop, seemingly of the tourist rip-off variety, whose high-pressure sales tactics were off-putting, but we somehow fell for it. Having finished up our tour of Russell and its surrounding area much quicker than anticipated, we decided to cut our losses and head back to Kerikeri, for some shop browsing there.
Today wasn't a complete loss, however, as we had pre-booked New Year's Eve dinner at Provenir, the restaurant at the Paihia Beach Resort & Spa. Even though we did miss out on New Year's Eve in Auckland, our quiet little evening in Paihia was still a more-than-adequate consolation prize, with a stellar gourmet tasting menu that was surprisingly reasonably-priced, at least when compared to Calgary standards.
We had planned to take in the fireworks display down at Paihia's waterfront, but alas, with a super-early departure to Auckland scheduled for tomorrow, we decided just to head back to Kerikeri and finish off our bottle of wine in the fridge. With New Year's Eve ending up being such a quiet affair, missing out on Auckland's New Year festivities didn't matter, in the end - wine and chocolates in bed wasn't exactly an inferior option.
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