This mornin’, Gino and me, we loaded up the car and set out on the bigga trip we planned last week. Easter is over, and Good EatNZ said she could spare Chef Gino for a few days so he could show me around.
We left the Hilltop and travelled south. We stopped for ‘morning tea’ in Oamaru
), a pretty little town known for its white, stone buildings. Normally, it woulda take about 5 hours for this drive, but our specialized mini-car lets us travel MUCH faster. I hadda Flat White and a muffin, and Gino, he had a Short Black and a scone. It wazza good, but notta the Hilltop quality I am used to!
Our next stop is near the famous Moeraki Boulders
, about 70 km north of Dunedin. There is a very good little restaurant here called Fleur’s Place
, that specializes in seafood and local, organic produce. Good EatNZ will be jealous. She wants to eat here one day! I can’t decide what to have so I go for the Kaimoana Platter (Kai [‘ky’
] =Maori for food, Moana [‘mo-ah-na’
] = Maori for sea), so I canna a sample a little of everything! Gino, he go for the Bluff Oysters that are just in season now, and a Chard Farm Sauvignon Blanc (from Central Otago – we’re goin’ there, too!) Looksa like I’m drivin’!!! The food is excellent and those Boulders are way cool! Justa like giant Italian Meatballs!
The Moeraki Boulders!
We stop briefly inna Dunedin. Dunedin is also know as the 'Edinburgh of the South' and was settled by Scottish pioneers (and Chinese gold miners) in the mid-1800’s. The architecture reflects this, especially in the ‘Octogon’, the city center that has eight sides and a bigga statue of Robbie Burns. During the gold-rush inna Otago, Dunedin wazza the richest city inna New Zealand cozza it was the port city for Otago and that'sa why there is so much fancy buildings and houses. It was also gonna be the capital city until the gold ran out. The University of Otago izza the largest ‘Uni’ in NZ and gives Dunedin a bit of a college town feel.
Gino, of course, he has to show me the Speight’s Brewery
and taste alla the Speight’s range of beers. We drank some Speight's atta the Hilltop, but this is where 'The Pride of the South' originates!
We head outta town to the Otago Peninsula, a bitta like a mini Banks Peninsula off Dunedin. Right outta the end of this pretty peninsula is Tairoa Heads, home of the only Royal Albatross colony
on a mainland. Wowza! These Albatross are fantastico
! They are some kind of bigga, too! Cann you imagine one of those around your neck!?!? We were there atta the time a year the chicks are hatched. Is that cute or what?
This izza Mitre Peak!
Next we take the ‘Presidential Highway’ towards Central Otago. I’ma bit confused – New Zealand has a Prime Minister, no? Soon, we come to the tiny town of Clinton and a short time later, the town of Gore (home of Goretex raingear, by the way!). “Sheeesh! Now I get it! Presidential Highway fromma Clinton to Gore!”
A little while later, we arrive in Fiordland
. There izza some serious beauty goin’ on here. Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Mitre Peak. Cruises, walks, all kinda activities! I wish I hadda more time!!!
And, then there are the glaciers!!! This izza Fox Glacier! Fox Glacier and nearby Franz Josef Glacier are the only glaciers inna the world that end inna temperate rainforest, almost at sea-level! Incredible!
So, where do you thinka these two wild and crazy Italiano stud-muffins will go next???
Back inna the car, we head for Queenstown. Queenstown
is the major town in Central Otago. It’s got something for everyone. Inna the Winter it’s the skiing and snowboarding hot spot., and even the US Ski Team come down under to train during their summer. The Shotover River
joins up with Lake Wakatipu here, so there is lotsa watersports like jet-boating, too.
You cann go up the big mountain on the side of the town inna the gondola and ride the luge on the way down! And, of course, I havva to try the famous AJ Hackett
bungy jump! AJ Hackett izza crazy Kiwi bloke to invent this!
It gets very hot in the summer and the soil is very good for grapes, so some of the best New Zealand wines come from around here, like the famous Felton Road Pinot Noir.
The Pinot Noir is the main variety grown here. The vineyards are very scenic, some have astounding views! Gino, he twists my arm and we decide to do a bitta vino tasting. First we wenta to the Chard Farm
, like Gino had for lunch. We tried three Pinot Noir’s, the River Run ’08, the Finla Mor ’08 and the Viper ’08. So beautiful these were. Inna the end, I bought a bottle of the Closeburn Chardonnay ‘cuz I know itsa one Good EatNZ favourites. Next we stopped at Mt. Difficulty Wines
. Again, we tasted the Pino Noirs and they were awesome. Our fave was the 2008 Roaring Meg! No wonder The Man atta the Hilltop have it on his winelist! We then made the short drive to Lake Wanaka and stopped at the Rippon Viineyard
Here, we try another Pinot Noir but also a Reisling and a Sauvignon Blanc. All deliscioso
! And, I thinka, maybe the most beautiful vineyard in the world, lookin' out over the Southern Alps!
As we drive, we notice how beautiful the Autumn leaves are. We picked such a good time to do this trip. Every valley is just bursting with a the reds, golds and yellows of autumn. We are heading east now, back towards Christchurch. We arrive at Mt. Cook, the biggest mountain inna New Zealand – Wowza! Lotsa peeps come to New Zealand just to climb this famous mountain! It looks a bit bigga for guy like me! And Gino, he take a quick snap of me at Lake Matheson, too.
Next stop izza the photogenic rocks at Castle Hill. This area was used in the filming of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies, as well as the more recent ‘Chronicles of Narnia’. Hmmm… iffa this Celebrity Chef thinga don’t work out so good, maybe I could come backa to New Zealand and be a movie star!?