South Island Getaway
After a short refreshing getaway in the South Island, I'm back in Welly! I was in Christchurch for a wedding and then decided that an extension of my trip and the subsequent road trip was a good idea.
James and I decided to head down to Queenstown on a Monday. I've never stayed in Queenstown, only Wanaka. We settled on this beautiful AirBnB. It's a little bit out of Queenstown central so best to have a car if you are staying there. It was the perfect location in my opinion. It was quiet, homey and it was hard to beat waking up to The Remarkables every morning.
After checking into the room, we decided to head into town for some dinner. Ended up at this awesome little pub called The London. They did 2-for-1 pizzas (thin crust range only). We got the Tuscan & Sicilian, which was delicious! I loved the overall ambience of the place. Didn't feel as though I was in the middle of Queenstown. We played some pool while waiting for the pizzas. Ended up getting asked to join a doubles competition which we decided we were too tired to compete. It was a long day of driving from Christchurch after all. Could've won a bar tab, good to note for all you pool sharks out there!
James decided to teach me how to play tennis. Luckily, we had a tennis court where we were staying. He was incredibly patient with me and my apparent lack of coordination (in tennis) + bad habits from squash. I was a pro by the end of it... We had to cut the session short to get ready for the wine tour! We got picked up by our excellent guide, Gavin. He handed us a menu for lunch pre-orders at the first winery, and we were off.
Gibbston Valley - First winery in the Central Otago region. We did our wine tasting inside the wine cave. It was pretty neat. My version of a man cave would undoubtedly entail some of the elements from the cave. The wine library was impressive, dating back to the first wines ever made at Gibbston. Some of which are for sale. Lunch was scrumptious. I got a hearty pasta and James got a platter. The portions were quite big, so if you aren't particularly hungry, it would be best to share. The cheesery and souvenir shop were quite neat as well. Worth checking out.
Kinross - Cellar door that represents boutique wineries: Coal Pit, Hawkshead, Domaine Thomson, Valli & Wild Irishman. I found one of my favourite Rosé and Pinot Noir (Biodynamic) at Kinross. Namely the Coal Pit 2016 Pinot Rosé and the Surveyor Thomson 2012 Pinot Noir. I enjoyed the ambience of Kinross. Best suited for smaller groups.
Waitiri Creek - Unique cellar door being an old church. It offered a good selection of wines. A stunning backdrop for many events I'm sure! Absolutely loved the intimate ambience.
Amisfield Vineyard & Bistro - My favourite stop of the wine tour. Could almost say my favourite vineyard. Cannot praise this vineyard enough. The service and product were impeccable. Jamie took great care of us down in the cellar. He took us through their 2014 brut méthode traditionelle which I thoroughly enjoyed, then a Pinot, Sauvignon and a Rosè to top it all off. My favourite Pinot Noir is their 2013 RKV, James enjoyed their 2014 Pinot Noir more. Their 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé was delicious as well. Looking forward to tasting their other wines.
Gavin kindly dropped us off in town, and it was pissing down with rain. We ended up going to a little Thai place, Thamnak Thai, for dinner. (It is BYO, but neither of us felt like drinking at that point). Well priced, quality food. The staff were also extremely friendly. Would recommend this restaurant.
We decided to trek the Tiki Trail from the bottom of the sky gondola to the top. (We went a little higher to where the paragliders take off) I loved seeing the mountain bikers flying down some gnarly corners. I was pretty knackered by the end of it. It's a beautiful walk/run, but it is quite steep. It can also be quite slippery at times due to the mud and loose rocks. (Please wear sensible shoes)
Our Shotover Jet ride was cancelled due to weather conditions, so we ended up at Flame in town. The drinks and the food were quite good. I was devouring my ribs and mojito, whilst James chowed down his delicious chicken burger. Reasonable pricing and portions for lunch. We headed to Mrs. Fergs Gelataria for an affogato after lunch.
We didn't get to go to the hot tubs I wanted to check out because I forgot to book! (Note to self, book in advance next time). We ended up going to dinner instead at this quaint Japanese restaurant on Skyline Arcade Mall St (Little side street) called Tanoshi Teppan and Sake Japanese Restaurant. Their speciality is Japanese tapas style food and Sake. Perfect for me because I can never decide what to eat, so I love having a little bit of everything. They were super speedy with our food which was great because we were starving. I would recommend making a booking well in advance. The food was scrumptious! Very happy James found this place.
We decided to go for a walk after dinner. We happened upon the Fear Factory which we walked past earlier in the day. (My heart races even just thinking about it now) James somehow convinced me to go in and to do it... I was freaking out before I even got in there. There was a sign on the wall noting how many people had chickened out during the experience which made it even worse. (12k+) You sign your life away and then get the green light to go in. The before and after photos are pretty hilarious. They snuck one of us during the experience; it is one of the funniest photos ever. We probably shouldn't have told them exactly what we were scared of. Nor should I have been saying James' name repeatedly because the 'monsters' caught on and started saying his name as well. I've never held onto someone so tightly in my life. I don't know if I would do it again simply because of how good they were at scaring me. With that being said, it should be on your list of must-dos in Queenstown.
I met George, the hedgehog on the way to tennis. He snuck across the road like a ninja, uber cute. (If you follow me on Snapchat -margaretortega, you will have seen it). After playing, we packed up and headed to the Shotover Jet. (Shoutout to Paul! Thank you for taking care of us) Be sure to pre-book online to avoid disappointment or delays. It was such an exhilarating experience. 10/10 would recommend! Our veteran Shotover Jet driver, Glen the Spin Meister, was incredible. Tip: Sit on the sides to feel the thrill! James and I sat smack in the middle, and it was still exciting. The photos and videos speak for themselves. I don't usually buy em' but I just had to.
On the way back to Christchurch, we stopped at Hot Tubs in Omarama. It was the perfect way to break up our drive. The lush surroundings put your mind and body at ease. You get a private tub heated filled with glacial & snowmelt water with no chemicals, heated by a wood burner. Talk about perfect setting! *Nude bathing is allowed, somewhat encouraged. So if that tickles your fancy, check this place out!*
James kindly made me some delicious curry when we finally got back to Christchurch. We just chilled out the morning after. Ran a couple of errands and then headed out to Scarborough Reserve for some climbing. My first foray into climbing photography was interesting. I was terrified of even standing up because I felt so unsure of the little piece of ground that I was standing on. I felt as though one small misstep would send me tumbling down. I eventually managed to silence my fears to take a few photos. Then James convinced me to give lead climbing a shot. Aside from the fact that I am afraid of heights, I had never done any lead climbing before, let alone outdoors. Verdict: it was so much fun. I'm definitely going to get into it. It's challenging but peaceful. It's calming yet I can feel my adrenaline pumping. There aren't many people I'd trust with my life in that sense, but thankfully I was with someone that I trust for my first time.
I couldn't leave Christchurch without brunching. James found an awesome cafe called Addington Coffee Co-Op for brunch. I honestly could've easily spent hours there. Beautiful ambience. We sat outside (they have blankets for extra cosiness/picnic vibes). The food and coffee were fantastic. Check out the store attached to the cafe as well. They were selling beautiful fair trade items.
All in all, I missed the South Island the moment I got on the plane bound for Wellington. The South Island is just magical in all the best ways. Till the next time! Send a message/comment below of any spots you think I should check out the next time I'm in the South Island!