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Day 13 – Napier and surrounding area

October 28, 2012

So today was a stationary day, no long journeys. It was a day of high overcast clouds and spells of hot sunshine. As mentioned in yesterdays blog we had decided to have a day exploring the local wineries by bike. So after some much needed grocery shopping we took the short journey, about a 20 min drive, to Te Awanga which is right on the coast and overlooks Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay. We hired bikes from Coastal Wine Cycles – what great name. The bikes are the classic beach-cruisers with big fat tyres, swept-back handlebars, a large comfortable seat, and a basket on the front (to carry home purchased wine. These bikes are single speed and take a little getting used too, very different from the mountain bikes we have back home. They only have one brake (front) and you cant reverse pedal as that acts as a rear brake – it’s kind of sit up and beg type of machine. They are good fun once you got used to them and they were very very comfortable on the rear end!!! The cost of hire for the day was $30 NZ, around £16.

We have noticed how well cyclists are provided for in all the towns and cities with dedicated cycle lanes. This particular stretch is known as the Coastal Cycle Way which is a dedicated cycle path with most of it being of flat terrain. The map we were given had 33 Wineries listed and NO we didn’t get round all of them in fact we only stopped at 2. We took a latish lunch at the Elephant Hill Winery and Restaurant. This is a rather upmarket place (described in the Lonely Planet guide as Ubermodern!!! not sure what that means though it was by far the most chic place we had seen so far).

We felt a little out of place dressed as we were for biking. However the host could not have been more accommodating and welcomed us and even asked if we would like to sit in the rather classy restaurant area which was fairly full of well dressed people! We declined and opted instead to sit in the lounge area which which was very swish and set out with cream leather seating. The picture opposite is the view we had from our seats.

We shared a cheese board with some amazing chutney’s and some black grapes which had been mulled in Merlot and cloves overnight. What a stunning result, I must try that when we get home! Oh by the way the cheese, brie and blue cheese was rather yummy too (well I enjoyed the brie as I do not like veined cheese). I also had raw tuna and salmon in sushi style with various dressings – it was divine!! All washed down with some nice Elephant Hill Syrah (Chiraz) for Brenda and a rather tasty Merlot for myself.

So it was back on the bikes to retrace our route back to the hire company feeling rather better for the food and wine we had tasted (and sober) – we decided not to buy any wine today as we really do have sufficient to see us through the next few weeks!

We leave Napier tomorrow to head back north up to Taupo which is in the central plateau of the North Island before heading south to our overnight stay in Okahune. We are looking forward to this route as we will get to see  Mt Ruspehu which is the tallest mountain in the North island and still has snow at it’s upper level and also Tongariro National Park. It’s going to be around a 4hr drive though my guess is it will take us quite a bit longer as we will probably end up with many impromptu stops. I must also remember that we are now 13hrs ahead of the UK since the clocks went back for you guys back home last night.

Our meal tonight is going to be New Zealand lamb cutlets for Brenda and some nice fresh locally caught snapper for myself. Cooking has been fun so far and we have been able to try some really good fresh produce.

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