Ok so the titles are getting a bit strained, some would say deliberately misleading (we aren’t flying after all) mainly because I’ve settled into a nicely complacent fug of limited adrenaline expenditure and fine eating. These two days capture us digging into three aspects of Wellington (before changing islands):
(a) food and coffee
(c) food (reprise)
We then move south on the Interislander ferry and dip our toe into the wine lake that is Marlborough district.
First, day two in Wellington. We signed up for a morning Zest foodie tour with a lovely local called Heather and a Singaporean family of four. It was 9.30 so we needed sustenance. The Nikau Gallery Café is, as the name suggests, installed in the art gallery which also houses the I-site (information centre). The coffee was as promised superb but this has been one constant in NZ. The spinach and cheese scones too were fresh and just sticky enough to be yumshcious. We tried hard not to overdo things here.
As Heather talked us through the recent history of Wellington she led us to the dock area and a Gelateria – Gelissimo Gelato – which produces its own range of gelatos and sorbets. We tried them all! The cucumber and mint was divine as were the raspberry and the peanut butter but as usual the test was the vanilla which was thick and creamy. They use Samoan vanilla which is apparently extra strong. Since the flavours depend on the fruits and other foods available and they are often asked to create a special mix by one of the local chefs you’ll never be sure what you get. Try it.
This was quite a breakfast so far but on we tramped, aiming for Kura Contemporary art where, amongst the exhibits we sampled a mix of peanut butters and honeys. The PB by Fix & Fogg was especially good. The opportunity to browse the art too was grand and some of the pieces of ethnic art were stunning. Not sure how they’ll fit in the case mind you.
Onwards, groaning a little and we headed, oddly, through a multi story car park. At the back we entered a real Aladdin’s cave for foodies – Moore Wilson Fresh. It is difficult to describe but it’s sort of a food market of the highest quality local fare. The bread alone made me sob slightly. I was saved by the fact they only took cash and I was down to a few dollars. But we sampled some cheese here, with local chutneys and bought a couple of jars.
Having nibbled an unconscionable amount of cheese we wibbled and wobbled towards Cuba Street where we had been the night before and disappeared into some odd little passages. Time for the street art interlude.
After this it was chocolate. Heather took us to a small chocolate factory who source their beans from a number of places. The flavours were unique and the range of subtleties fascinating. If I can source Wellington Chocolate Factory products in the UK I’ll be a happy man.
As you will gather, not a dud amongst the selection. So full and not so frisky we hot footed it back to the I-Site to be collected for our Wellywood section of the day,
Wellywood is the somewhat cheesy name that some boffins thought might be a good idea to stick, Hollywood style on to the hill near the airport around the time of the Rugby World Cup in 2011 in recognition of the hugely successful movie business now based in Wellington. Sense prevailed but it has stuck as a sort of epithet for the city. We signed up for a tour of part of this business, the Weta Cave. Weta is the special effects and model making set designing and costume creating company behind the LOTR franchise inc. the Hobbit and others such as District Nine and *swoon* Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn. Sadly but sort of inevitably we weren’t allowed to photograph the amazing array of weapons and costumes and prosthetics and creatures that these people have created But behind the scene were learnt about the art of realistic chainmail creation, how to make a fantastic alien killing gun, the unusual problems with some special suits and to see in production some of the special effects for the new Thunderbirds TV series ( spoiler alert – there aren’t any strings). Best of all it was confirmed a new Tintin movie will be made and this time Peter Jackson will direct and Speilberg produce.
Here’s a troll…
Part three. Food. Dinner at Floriditas on Cuba. It was excellent. I’ve been on something of a haloumi tour in the last few days but this – a haloumi and fig salad – was exceptional. Another to try if you make it this far south.
Of course we are going further south so today has been another journey. Dropping off the car – a cosy Camry which has been a fine companion even if the indicator and wiper sticks are arse about face. Then onto the ferry. I learnt a long time ago that, if you have to use the toilet on a ferry, use it in the first half hour. After that someone is sure to have chundered and ruined the experience. This wasn’t any different.
Here’s the South island as we skirted the narrows to the port of Picton.
After picking up another car – a White Malibu I was told, so I expected a cocktail – we headed for Blenheim and the wineries. I don’t drink which is a major bonus to a young wine apprentice as is the Lawyer. We lunched well and then visited three vineyards. Their cellar doors were welcoming and he learnt that
(a) he likes his whites sweeter than sharper
(b) that said, he’s more your sauvignon blanc man that a Riesling man
(c) he likes a rose but more towards the dry this time; and
(d) the reds have to be full bodied – the pinot noir ‘two brothers’ appeared to hit several sweet spots.
We will be dumping clothes on the way home to bring it all back.
You can cycle and you can go on a tour bus or you can have a driver who doesn’t drink. But whichever (safe) method you choose do go. It is easy and fascinating and we had a glorious couple of hours as he became steadily more unsteady and oddly expert.
Oh and I found the Marlborough Quilters…
From there is was up to me to drive us to Kaikoura our home for the night. A misty mizzle set in which negated taking pictures tonight. Hopefully tomorrow. I’ll end with more street art.