Hawke's Bay | New Zealand

Hawke's Bay | New Zealand

Days 9-13

Waking up at Craggy Range was unreal - the sun set early because the Te Mata Range cut out sunlight from the west, but the morning sunlight against the peaks was the reward.  Hawke’s Bay has two main areas for viticulture, Te Mata Terraces (near Craggy Range) and Gimblett Gravels (a nearby ancient river bed).  Te Mata and Black Barn were very close by, so we set out to visit them first.  Te Mata is one of the oldest wineries in all of NZ, and had a rustic building and tasting room with lots of pictures of the founders and their original plantings.  Next up was Black Barn, a very stylish setup on a hill just up the road from Te Mata.

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We thought a good hike would be invigorating after a morning of wine, so we headed up the mountain road to Te Mata Peak.  The road followed the spine of a hill that climbed back and forth like a ribbon toward Te Mata, and within a few minutes it was apparent that this road went straight to the top.  We exited the car to a chilling blast of air, funneling up the valley and straight up over the observation deck.  Poppy had claimed that she could climb straight up the hill to Te Mata from the other side (Craggy Range) but when she stepped up to the precipice she changed her tune.  The views were amazing and were a good example of the daily epiphanies we seemed to have in New Zealand at each location. We climbed gingerly along the ridge to a slightly higher lookout, and in the path was an older couple enjoying a bottle of champagne. We asked if there was a special occasion and they replied that they the man had just proposed!  We took some pictures for them to commemorate the occasion and reflected on our own engagement years ago.  I couldn’t recall the wine we shared at the time, maybe it was a beer?

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We left Te Mata Peak determined to find some activity, but instead ended up in Clifton, a small beachfront town with a gravelly shoreline and bluffs with vineyards.  We visited Elephant Hill Winery and then headed up the road to a park.  The Clifton park had an assortment of Kiwi staples (Rocktopus, slide, spinning discs that you sit on that will make you nauseous even if you look at them) and the kids were suitably entertained.  They were so entertained that they both napped when we returned. We had been keeping up with the Price family, and we overlapped for a day in Hawke’s Bay, so we set up a time to meet at Arataki Honey, just around the corner from Te Mata and Craggy Range.  The honey factory was easily the most detailed honey display I’d ever seen, with live combs encased in glass for viewing, and interactive descriptions of the foraging habits of bees, and the resulting honeys that they produce.  But best of all - there was a free honey tasting of at least 8 different varieties - sweeeettttt!!!!! After we sampled a lot of honey, we moved on to the nearby dairy for a cheese tasting.  The cheeses were derived from cow and sheep’s milk, and they were all good.   We enjoyed sharing some time with them and their son, Clint, who was happy to pick flowers and play in the sandbox with Peaches and Poppy.

Afterwards Poppy, Peaches and I went to a petting zoo where Pops fed a sheep, smooched a goat and road a pony while Peaches swang and tried to eat all she could off the ground.  John went to a wine tasting at The Farm in Te Awanga, which is located in the gravelly soil just 100 feet or so from the Ocean, so the marine influence is very strong.  The wines were extremely well made.  Creative labeling and a personable tasting made it even better.  We saw an awesome rainbow over the ocean on our way home.

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