…and that means, thinking about the sort of New Zealand experience we’d like to have, setting dates, booking flights – THEN setting our budget (yes, in that order folks) New Zealand roads are excellent but they’re not Autobahns and some roads are winding.. Sure, on the map it looks as though it will only take a couple of hours max but in reality it will probably take longer….and you’ve only booked for one night somewhere and gee it’s such a pretty place and you would have loved to have seen more and gosh you’re so tired and the next morning you have to set off again!
We love mixing it with the ‘locals’, popping into some of our great little pubs along the way – I pretty much guarantee you’ll get an authentic experience. Like most places, we usually find some real ‘characters’ in NZ rural pubs and small bars. There’s always some old geezer with a story and a bit of local gossip and these guys forget NOTHING! There’s a very popular little pub in Nelson – oh-so-cute – called “The Free House”…ok, the beer’s not free but it’s the only pub in Nelson serving cask-conditioned beers (“real ales”) from genuine hand pumps – take a look at those genuine handcrafted pumps!
We’re picking up the laptops and heading down to Wanaka for a week in May. Have to check out a boutique winery called ‘Archangel’ (great name) and revisit our favourite Central Otago winery, Wooing Tree. Hope the weather stays friendly. Now if I can just get the hang of my new smartphone…
Let’s talk service standards in our restaurants/cafes. Do we know the true meaning of ‘excellence’? In some places we do but it’s not always the top end restaurants that deliver the most satisfying experience. Recently Michael and I received quality service (observant and attentive) in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.
First the genuine welcome when you walk through the door. In some places, just to be acknowledged is a challenge (you know the places). Monsoon Poon is one of these ‘buzzy’ ethnic restaurants with atmosphere to burn. Smiles galore, nothing forgotten (isn’t that a ‘given’?) quality food delivered with efficiency & speed. By looking in the overhead mirror, you can observe the artistic skill of the chefs.
I’m a big fan of observant restaurant staff. Wellington Italian restaurant Fratellis has such a maitre’ d who quickly saw our dismay at being seated beside 12 lovely, but noisy people celebrating a birthday party. He relocated us immediately to a much quieter table. Dining out in Wellington New Zealand is easy because most of the popular restaurants are within walking distance to the CBD area. We stayed at the Museum Hotel which has the award-winning Hippopotamus restaurant. Plus it it’s an excellent location if you don’t have a car. Remember to visit Zealandia at the Karori Sanctuary. It’s a gorgeous nature experience and you don’t have to be a mountain goat to walk through it. I fell totally in love with the Kakas and managed to get up close and personal with them.
I left with the uncomfortable feeling they would outwit me any day of the week. Love Wellington, it’s always treated me well.
Just when I’m scrambling to find something for our facebook page, something’s handed to me on a plate – literally. Must do a big rave about the Akaroa Cooking School’s edgy new video.
These guys are having so much fun promoting New Zealand as well as their own cooking school (that way we all win). We’ll be meeting Ant & Lou Bentley on our next road trip.
Yep, we’re in Akaroa for a couple of days early April and can’t wait. It’s been a long six months people. FIRST DOLPHIN SWIM for PAMMY! Ok, I admit it, I’m not an adrenaline junkie – (leaving that to Michael) but this activity is meant to be life changing and I really have to do it – cold water be damned! Really looking forward to dining at ‘The Little Bistro’, a small restaurant seating only 32 people.
I’m a great fan of ‘slow dining’ and small-group activities, keeping it personalised – ok, you might get to pay a little more, but it’s worth it…so gotta take those photos – have to come up to speed with my new smart phone. Michael better have a steady hand when he takes that big ‘pash’ shot of ‘Flipper’ and me.