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Monday, 10 October 2005
I met Jen at the airport bright and early at 0830. She was a lot more cheerful than I expected considering the long flight. While we waited for the shuttle back to the hotel, she investigated the brochures at the i-Site. Personally, I suspect that by now she already knew more about things to do and see in New Zealand than most Kiwis, but she seemed to be having fun. Eventually, the shuttle arrived and we were on our way to the Stamford Plaza to drop off the bags and to begin our exploration of Auckland.
My main goal for the day was to keep Jen occupied enough to stay awake, but tired by the end of the day so there would be no problems with jet-lag. When I left the hotel earlier in the morning I pretty much scrapped all my plans because the rain had moved back in overnight and it looked miserable outside. Riding back to the hotel, however, the weather seemed to be clearing and the temperature was climbing back up to a nice level.

Since we got back to the hotel in time for the continental breakfast, we grabbed some food and spent a little time gazing down upon the people on the street from our lofty 7th floor lounge. I had hoped we could go for a sail on the NZL41, but the water looked too rough for them to go out, so we walked down to the i-site to look into visiting some of the many local wineries.

Brianne recommended one of the tours on Waiheke Island and managed to get a tour booked for us that visited three wineries in two hours. While we waited for the ferry to the island we went in search of some food (probably a good idea before the wineries), but to no avail. We were unable to find anything nearby that was what we wanted. I got some ice cream, which turned out to be gelato, but then it was time to catch the ferry to Waiheke.
The ferry was quite nice, and Jen even managed to squeeze in a short nap during the ride over to the island. We were met on Waiheke by Harry, who moved to the island about 14 years ago. He drove us to our first winery, Kennedy Point Vineyard. We tried a couple of wines there and even got to see what a 'corked' wine smells like. A corked wine is one that's been spoiled by a cork that has
been contaminated by by Trichloranisole (TCA). It turns out that the chlorine solutions used to sterilize corks have been found to encourage the production of TCA, which is one of the reasons you find so many plastic corks and screw-cap wines these days.
While at the first winery I noticed that they had avocado oil for sale. I've been wanting to try cooking with avocado oil ever since I read about some of its properties. Jen and Harry (our guide) hadn't heard of if but we all tried a little. It tastes pretty good, actually and it started a strange line of conversation on the way to the next winery.
We were still ahead of schedule, so Harry took us on a little scenic tour of the island, including one of his favorite beaches. We also discussed avocado trees, which Harry couldn't get to bear fruit. Harry, if you're reading this, you need to have multiple trees in the same space. Basically you need 'male' and 'female' trees so they can cross pollinate. You can read more about it here and here.
Our next stop was Stonyridge Vineyard, which specializes in Bordeaux style wines. Among their available wines in the states is the Fallen Angel label. My favorite was one of the Fallen Angel dessert wines, which I bought to take home. After a short tasting, we spent a little time exploring the property.
Jen found a large Lantana plant (her favorite flower). Actually, she said it was one of the largest she'd seen, so of course I had to take a picture. We also learned why they had rose bushes planted at the end of each row of vines. Red roses are often used as
companion plantings for grapes. The roses attract bees, which pollinate the grapes. Also, since insects seem to prefer the sweet smell of roses, these act for the grapevines as does the "canary in a coal mine",
providing early warning of potential pest problems. As you can see, the scenery was pretty nice. Did you notice the horses in the second picture from the left?
Our last winery of the day was Mudbrick, where we tried pretty much the entire line. It's too bad not too many of their wines are available for export because most of them are set aside for the on-site restaurant, which is often used for wedding receptions. Since they're booked solid for every day of the year, that pretty much accounts for most of their wine production.
Our last winery of the day was Mudbrick, where we tried pretty much the entire line. It's too bad not too many of their wines are available for export because most of them are set aside for the on-site restaurant, which is often used for wedding receptions. Since they're booked solid for every day of the year, that pretty much accounts for most of their wine production.

Eventually, Harry took us back to the ferry and we headed back to the city, just in time for wine and canapes in the hotel lounge. After a couple of glasses of the Montana Riesling and more than a few of the fried fish bites (they were too good to not eat!), we tramped over to the Sky Tower to get a good look at the city and watch the sunset.

Afterwards we had dinner at Mai Thai, then back to the hotel to finish getting ready to leave Auckland in the morning and then to sleep. Mission Accomplished! A very tired Jen finally crashed with a very good chance of getting a full night's sleep to start the adventure down under.

October
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New Zealand 05 Homepage
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Arrive in NZ
11
Auckland to Queenstown
12
Milford Sound
13
Queenstown to Fox Glacier
14
Fox Glacier to Punakaiki
15
Punakaiki to Nelson
16
Marlborough Wineries
17
Blenheim to Taupo
18
Taupo
19
Taupo to Rotorua to Hamilton
20
To Auckland and home.
21
 
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