On the way to Wellington

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March 23rd 2016
Published: March 24th 2016
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R: Next we had some time to kill. We took a scenic drive to Napier on the east coast over some exciting mountain terrain that was better than it looked on the map. We took our first obligatory trip to Countdown - a Sainsburys like supermarket that we seem to have spent half our trip in. After a quick picnic by the sea, trying to find Cape Kidnappers (so called as some Maori once thought the British were kidnapping a young polynesian child, who actually was working in their ship as a cabin boy). The area is inaccessible due to a colony of ganets, so we moved on. But it did look very reminiscent of Dorset cliffs. The area, Hawkes Bay, is full of wineries. This area is famous for its Syrah and Chardonnay. We arrived at our cheeky deal at a proper hotel - first time we have been in a real hotel for some time, and headed off to look at architecture.

This area was devestated by an earthquake in the 1930s and rebuilt in the art deco style so it has many distinctive buildings. We then wandered into the New Zealand wine centre and did a 6-wine flight, that was accompanied by a 20 minute tasting video - for each colour! As we had 6 whites and 6 reds, this went on for some time... The winemakers took themselves all pretty seriously, except the last one who was clearly a bit eccentric and just said things like "it's wine. It tastes great. Come to our winery!". After a bracing walk on the sea front we headed back to McDonalds for our cheap dinner. We have been finding New Zealand fairly pricey for eating out and have done well at eating in most nights. We are pretty sure we will be eating out in Wellington a bit more, so decided to eat out in "Maccas".

New Zealand Maccas have a bespoke burger building product called "create your taste" whereby there are tablets as you enter and you can basically have any combination of burger and toppings you like. This took up about 20 minutes of time, and $35. They then took about 20 minutes to come, but when they did they were on a wooden board with a little bistro metal basket of fries. They invite you to name your creation, so mine will be known as the RØGburger. (Only certain people will get that reference). Well that was the fanciest McDonalds ever. And then I had a creme egg McFlurry. Pure Class.

On we went the next day to a motel just outside Wellington. We followed Route 2 all the way down, stopping at various places on the way. First up was Te Mata peak. It's a short drive outside Havelock North up to this peak with 360 views of Hawkes bay where we had just come from and the, quite brown countryside inland, a reminder they are actually having water issues here. It was quite a contrast with the greener north where we had come from. But probably better for grape growing to have more sun. Next up we headed to the Mount Bruce wildlife centre. This was our first chance to see kiwis (the bird not the fruit) in a nocturnal environment. They only had two, one was a rare white one, and they have been trying to breed them. Though the male one didn't seem too interested - it turned into a game of kiwi kiss chase as the female chased him around the enclosure. They also had "kaka" birds which are
The RØGburgerThe RØGburgerThe RØGburger

Create your taste - dinner out in Maccas
big brown forest parrots that are very noisy and apparently like to eat windscreen wipers. Cate wasn't a fan of the eel enclosure. We then did the bush walk which took us past loads of aviaries - I'm not convinced there was a single bird in these. It was all just a con. Anyway, we got away with our windscreen wipers intact.

We thought the next place was close - but then we realised we had to cross a mountain range first! So when we rolled into Kaitoke regional park - more famously known as Rivendell in the LOTR trilogy - it was already nearly sunset. They have a few signs up to guide you around Rivendell. It's actually quite a small area that was used for filming - and there are no waterfalls, these were added later. Though they have built a replica elvish arch and some elvish signs to wander around. There is also a plank / rope bridge over a gorge to swing on. We spotted a group of 3 Brits doing the same express tourism as us and then headed on to Lower Hutt, 20km outside of Wellington, ready to hit the city the next day.

It was there couldn't find any wine or beer, so we're forced to drink the kiwi liqueur we bought in Te Puke. I had the dark spice variety which was like Kiwi Jägermeister. Mmmmmm.

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