Monday, 30 March 2020
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No coffee, no wine: NZ food and wine tour

Roy’s Peak, Wanaka: 

The old knees were not co-operating and everytime I took a step they would make odd creaking noises, so we decided to spend the night at our accommodation.

A small vineyard, remotely situated in the shadow of Roy’s Peak, which only produces 1,000 litres of pinot gris a year. 

Armed with local cheeses and some hyperlocal pinot gris, we sat above the vineyard, watching the sun set over the mountain that we just climbed.

Our tour took us up to South Canterbury, a region distinctly lacking in wineries.

The area is made up of prime farmland and they obviously had a lot of water, they were still irrigating in the middle of what we later found out was a two inch downpour.

Lavender does not rate highly with me when it comes to smells, but our friends insisted we go to the the Wanaka Lavender farm.

It was early, the place looked beautiful and it was raining, I needed a coffee.

We went into the beautiful little stone building surrounded by fields of purple and asked for a coffee, the woman at the desk replied simply with “tea”, there was no inflection in her voice to imply she was asking a question.

This time it was my head that cocked sideways like a confused dog.

Coffee please, I said, “we don’t do that here” she said like it was some kind of taboo.

Well, this is a bad start to our relationship, lavender farm tea lady.

“Tea it is then,” I said and she replied with “what kind?” pointing to a board with a dozen different styles. 

As I took my lemon breakfast tea to the table I was thinking to myself, well, at least they had kunekune pigs here.

Side note: kunekune in the Maori language means fat and round, I’ve been fascinated by them ever since I saw a picture of one at Sam Neill’s winery, Two Paddocks.

We did not see said pigs.

But, to my surprise, the farm had diversified from lavender into a full blown cottage garden, complete with a menagerie of uncommon livestock breeds.

And despite leaving the place smelling like lavender and coffeeless, it was a fantastic place to visit, with stunning gardens and a perfect way to spend a day in the sun.

Lake Pukaki was our next stop. It boasts water so blue it could be bottled and sold as Gatorade.

The turquoise waters get their colour from extremely fine rock powder, ground up by glaciers, aptly named glacier flour.

Our next hosts owned a 2,000 acre farm, running 1,400 sheep, 800 cattle, 700 deer, and a fair amount of canola and barley crops; fertile country indeed.

Just outside the township of Fairlie, probably best known for its bakery, the farm was like something out of a television series.

Rolling hills, spectacular views, babbling brooks wherever you turned and two very friendly house pooches to accompany you on your walks.

I wanted to see the deer first, they are always so flighty and hard to see close up.

Luckily for me, the paddocks lined with two metre fences were a very short walk from our room.

Unluckily for me, the paddocks were enormous and deer in captivity are still very flighty, so again I got to see them from afar.

Back from our early morning walk, we could hear a loud, dull, thumping noise coming from the yard behind the house.

We went around to the backyard to investigate and in the shade of a fruiting plum tree were four rams duking it out for the spoils.

The thumping was the sound of skulls aggressively connecting with such a force it was giving me a headache.

The next day, we were set to head back through Queenstown at a heinously early time to get to Milford Sound and Lake Marian.

But a natural disaster got in our way and having had our fill of natural disasters in Australia, we decided to rethink.

Most of the roads in the area were flooded and hundreds of travellers were stuck and had to be airlifted out.

A very small inconvenience on our part, with little else planned, we decided to stick to what we knew best, wineries.