19.4.2017 Wellington and it’s Club

Seen on walk into town.


Cuba street looking cool.

Hipster enough for you?

We treat ourselves to brunch at Fidels in Cuba street. It has had queues outside it most times we have passed by. There is no queue so we dive in and share a vegan and a Spanish breakfast, decent coffee, and are fuelled up for the​ day.

Non vegan option…..ummmm butter…
This is all vegan…and lush

We wander down to the waterfront, to look for a bar me and my friend Colette visited last time we were here. We had come back from the south island on the ferry and dived into a posh bar and drunk proseccos like a couple of ladies that lunch.

I think this was it???
Cool piano

We then have another trip down memory lane and go into the Wellington Club, where we waitered back in 1999/2000. The woman on reception was Rochelle, and she was also there when we worked there, so she was happy to show us around, tell us what had happened to our work bosses and colleagues, Yurgen, Dominic, Gail, and give us an update on the changed that have gone on. Jeans are allowed! It was so kind of her to do it and we so enjoyed our trip down memory lane.

Wonderful memories

Next was a bus journey around the bays on No 24 bus which runs every hour, just like the No 10 bus used to from Rudd to Bridgford!!! We killed half an hour looking for hokey pokey ice cream and getting a sweet creme egg gelato instead.

Hipster with gelato

The views around the bays on the bus were beautiful, we even got commentary from the bus driver when going past the old prison. 

Unfortunately we were not able to make the whole journey as there was a gas leak near the end, so our lady bus driver had to reverse a long bus back down a steep, narrow road, do a 3 point turn and head back over the hillside. It was amazing to see.

We stopped for cake/sausage roll and wine at Peter Jacksons cinema in Miramar, a gorgeous 1920’s restored building which was just stunning. 

Afternoon tea Guy style
Stunning 1920’s foyer
Some wizard….

Bus back into town and we stopped at Noble Rot for a wine or two.

White wines tasted
Red wines tasted
Posh French wine, still not convinced it is worth it

Then back to ours for tat TV.

18.4.2017 Martinborough vineyards

Early morning and we are on a bus, getting a train to Martinborough, a region that is renowned for its Pinot Noir, so Guy is really excited.

Guy with his happy face 😁 

I have spent months trying to convince Guy I would behave if we hired a tandem bike, he finally relented and we had ordered one for today.  We got to Martinborough via a local wine tour bus. This was because the driver of the local bus was sick so the wine tours were doubling up as public transport, I love this country. On realising the furthest vineyard was just 2km away we cancelled the bike and had a spot of sustenance then set off to the furthest vineyard and crawled back.

Bacon and egg pie, asparagus and cheese quiche

Te kairanga was our first stop for the best Chardonnay we have tasted so far. John Martin Reserve, who knew the guy could play guitar AND make stunning Chards?

Reds at Te Kairanga
Me at Te Kairanga

Poppies vineyards next, started by Poppy who worked at Dry Rivers vineyard which is over the road. We paid for tasting as the wines were expensive but they were great, had they had sold out of most. They do not export. 

Further along the same road was Ata Rangi where a friendly North American lady served us their delightful tasting flight.

Schubert vineyards was just down the road and was stunning. Small and compact their Pinot Noir was a massive hit with Guy.

Note…they use corks!!!

Margrain vineyard was fab, we tasted loads!!!

Nuff said

Martinborough was next and we remember this from before and buying a very expensive Pinot Noir there. This time we enjoyed the wines but managed not to add to our backpack wine mountain.

Me waiting for a next swig of wine

Pallister was our last cellar door and as we fell through the door we spotted our local bus driver and negotiated a lift back. Result. Therefore we cracked on with the tasting.

And again

We achieved a new Personal Best of 48 wines tasted from 7 vineyards ……. Lordy!

Posh photo montage of the wines and views from today 

We had some food before getting the bus then train home.

It is tiring tasting this many wines…..
Wellington at sunset

17.4.2017 Wellington

A first today, I really didn’t want to get out of bed as it was cold. We found the heater and turned it to max, within 10 mins we were toasty and warm, after 15 mins we had to turn it down. Able to cope, we got up and went for a walk up Mt Victoria again, with much better views and weather than the day before.

View from Mt Victoria 

A very steep decent off the mount and we were down on Oriental Parade, the posh part of Wellington admiring the architecture of the local houses.  

Which one do you want to live in?

And eating a home made sarnie.

Cheesy grins please 

We didn’t eat the local mushies (mushrooms to us Brits).

How dangerous does that look?

We found an Asian food court and lots of sales on warm clothing which we took advantage of and I am now sporting a new, breathable jacket, bliss.

Arty shot of Wellington

Dinner was Japanese again, different restaurant but just as good dumplings.

Okonmyaki and seaweed salad
Dumplings in a box
Sashimi don buri

We get home to have a Skype call with our nieces and nephew to tell them we are coming home, they were very, very excited.

Red wine and watching the next installment of The Bachelor and What really happens in Bali, which is very different to our Bali experience 18 years ago!!!

16.4.2017 Easter in Wellington

Our morning hike was Mt Victoria and a little more than a 15 mins sprint uphill and we were at the summit. It was a refreshing and breathtaking walk as it had to be done quickly as there was a southerly coming in. 

Pre Southerly photo.
Southerly inbound photo

You could see the wind and rain approaching and within 5 mins of it starting we were drenched to the skin and wishing we had got our arses out of bed earlier!!! Still we are waterproof, and at least I hadn’t choosen to wear skin tight white jeans like some poor lass had, she was caked in mud by the time she was at the bottom of the hill.

Dripping wet we trudged through Courtney Place alongside other tourists who had been similarly caught out in the rain and stumbled across a VW campervan and Beetle show. I happily peered through all the windows and started dreaming of our next adventure. 

Statue next to campervan.

Teeth chattering we went for some food at a Japanese restaurant, a bowl of miso soup has never been hand hugged so much. We ordered hot sake just to keep us warm, as it was a public holiday there was great discussion as whether we had ordered enough food to warrant the alcoholic sake. Jeez!!! 

Raman, gyoza, tempura veg.
Hot, hot sake…..

Much, much more walking later we found a wine bar that allowed drinking and eating in reasonable quantities. We tried Kiwi wines and had an excellent meat platter and had a really enjoyable few hours. 

White wines
Red wines.
Guy before drinking wine

20 mins walk home and a chat to our host and we were in our room watching The Bachelor and My Kitchen Rules (MKR) cosy and warm with red wine and some excellent Kiwi chocolate biccies.

More red wine
Kiwi biscuit selection, closest we got to an Easter egg

15.4.2017 Wellington reminiscing

Arrival at 5.30am in Wellington was a little early, too early for buses, so we walked 3km, with the last km being uphill to our Air BnB place. Luckily Anne, our host, was ok with us getting there early and didn’t call the police thinking we were breaking in.

We caught some zzzzzz’s before having spiced apple hot cross buns.

Supermarket hot cross buns with lashings of butter and honey

We then set off on a day reminiscing around Wellington. 

Bay Hotel where were spent NYE 1999

We had lived here for 9 months over 1999/2000 and loved it so much we applied for residency only to be one point short. Still, no regrets as we cannot complain about the past 17 years and where we are now.

We walked through Courtney Place, noticing the Irish bars we used to frequent, and dance like mad drunk leprechauns on small dance floors, had sadly disappeared. The kebab shops are still there though and Cuba Street is as cool and hip as before. 


Water buckets on Cuba Street. Tourists always take photos of these.

We drank a craft ale which was gorgeous (and should have been for £8 pint)

Expensive craft ale…..is there any other type?

A restaurant which did different dumpling fillings caught our eyes, we were seated and another craft ale in hand before you could say ‘Cuba Street hipster’.

Seafood dumplings in a thai coconut broth
Beef and carrot dumplings in consomme
Beef brisket with sourdough, mustard and pickles

We may have had another beer to watch the Hurricane’s vs Blues rugby match and may have had a kiwi kebab on the way home, just as delicious as 18 years ago, and this time I didn’t get it thrown at me……

Me ordering kebab, hoping it doesn’t end up whizzing past my ear.

Then we were home for an early night.

14.4.2017 16th Wedding anniversary….. Auckland to Wellington

We had packed and vacated the room early as a jet lagged English couple had landed after an overnight flight from Japan so needed the room more than us!!

We have really enjoyed staying at Mt Eden and Richard’s house, and today when we went for coffee and the sprightly Italian owner said ‘the usual’ we were dead chuffed. Coffee was swigged along with a small shot of amaretto as a ‘happy anniversary’ present from my wonderful husband. 

Amaretto, the slightly more obscure 16th anniversary gift

We sauntered up and down Mt Eden one​ last time. As it was Good Friday there were many more people that the previous few days and Cyclone Cook was a distant memory, the views were fab.

Just to prove I did make it to the top

We finished all our food off in one massive brunch style dish and decided we didn’t need to eat ever again after that.

We had picked up a horned melon from the local fruit and veg shop, $3.99 each, and all of us who tried the fruit agreed it was a one off experience, not to be repeated. Fresh, green tasting with lots of seeds, not sure you would sprinkle it on a pork chop….

Spikey little fruit
Green pips inside…..from the cucumber family

Our final overnight bus journey of the trip is tonight, so we have another day of killing time. We dropped bags off at Britomart station and wandered down Auckland downtown with the intention of having a leisurely pint or glass of vino to celebrate 16 wonderful years of marriage. However we had not taken into account the stringent public holiday drinking laws here. Unless we had a full main course meal each then we cannot be served any wine. Wow! What do you do on a bank holiday weekend if it isn’t meeting your mates in the pub for a sesh? 

We couldn’t face any more food so wandered, chatted, wandered some more.

The overnight journey was quick, with food stops at 11.30pm and 3am. People got off and ate on the 3am stop!!! 

13.4.2017 Auckland and Cyclone Cook

Everyone was being warned about an incoming Cyclone, named Cook. Businesses were shutting early, although as it coincided with the Easter break this could have been an excuse to get off early??

As the rain had been pretty appocolyptic the last couple of days we were dreading more rain and more wind. Still, the weather was ok in the morning for the ritual of caffeine and volcano walking. 

Caffeine was courtesy of a new cafe over the road, run by a friendly Italian. The coffee was strong and got us up and down Mt Eden at a fast pace.

We got back home, did some chores and sat around, waiting. The sun came out. Guy decided that his jeans didn’t fit, so we had to take them back. This attracted howls of derision from myself, along with taunts of ‘maybe you should have tried more jeans on!’.

Train ride later and we were in Newmarket and Guy was buying Birkonstocks, can you tell we are on our way home??? Jeans changed and we got a bus to Mt Eden and had a Japanese meal at Coen, with a free miso soup as they were closing for the Easter weekend. 

We were out of wine, and if a cyclone was forcasted we needed wine to see us through. Sensibly we bought just one bottle, yep, One, 1. 

Walk home in fine drizzle and we sat around the house, blogging, writing diary and chatting to Michelle, our house mate, who was also catching up on her diary.

Frustrated with technology, I suggested a glass of wine at 5pm.

Our host Richard came home from work at 5.30. Cyclone Cook never appeared.

We ran out of wine at 6pm, why did we only buy one bottle? Guy and Michelle got more wine and we chatted through the evening and had sausage butties for tea. 

We got a great Air BnB review from Richard!!!

12.4.2017 Rainy Auckland

With the time difference between here and home we are getting used to catching up with family and (usually alcohol happy) friends early in the morning. It is an entertaining start to the day whilst lazing around. We are now used to our phones not pinging, bleeping, ringing throughout the day which will no doubt change when we get home. I do like it this way though 😁

Rain, and lots of it, was forecast for today, so we decide that as we have experience of inclement weather in the UK and that sheltering in a pub is the best way to deal with this, we plan to stick to what we know.

Kiwi adverts….. LOL

Before that can happen we need to do the caffeined run up and down the extinct volcano, less views than before, same amount of Chinese tourists. 

Atmospheric views

Washing, food shopping and book buying later and we were looking out on our normally sunny patio wondering what on earth had happened to the weather. I know they said rain, but this was Asian appocolyptic rain. 

Rain on the patio. Serious rain

When it slacked off we walked to Brothers Brewery​, drank beer, wrote blogs and diaries and ate some flipping amazing food. 

Demonstrating use of umbrella outside the brewery

The brisket of beef and the pastrami were amazing. The sides of beans and cabbage will no doubt make a reappearance later in the form of noxious gases. 

Note​ to self: must remember to leave a window open tonight.

A short walk to Galbraith’s and we sampled award winning beer and carried on with blogging and diary writing. Tough day eh?

An English (kiwi) award winning bar

11.4.2017 Auckland Domain and Dumplings

So the healthy caffeinated run up and down an extinct volcano exercise routine is in full swing. We did it again and see yet more Chinese tourists checking out the views.

Rangitoto volcanic island

We walk over to the Domain, a huge expanse of green grass in the centre of Auckland, it also has a hothouse and fernery. Ace. 

Check out these roots….

Over the otherside of the Domain is Newmarket, which we head to as we are starving and spot a few Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and dumpling restaurants. Dumplings win, along with a glass of kiwi white wine each. 

Seafood, beef and carrot, pork and shrimp, shrimp types of dumplings

A spot of jeans shopping later and we were sorted. Guy tried on 3 pairs, I tried on slightly more.

Piles of disgarded jeans

I threw together a tuna nicoise salad back at home.

Check out those soft poached eggs

 and we did a double header on the movies and wine. Mad Max Fury Road, followed by The secret life of Walter Mitty. 

Wines tasted:

Coopers Creek Chardonnay

Lawson Dry Hills Gerwurtztraminer Marlborough

Wycroft Pinot Noir 2014 Wairarapa

Kahurangi Estate Pinot Noir 2015 Nelson

10.4.2017 Auckland

We are determined to get home being able to fit into our clothes in storage so are embarking on an exercise regime which involves getting caffeined up to the eyeballs then running up and down an extinct volcano every day, we will write a self help book about it when we get home and make a fortune.

The massive volcano that is Mt Eden

Day One and we did an 11 min walk to Rad for Guy to have their famous flat white. I stuck with a reliable long black (as opposed to a short black which is an espresso). Guy liked the flat white as it was less milky and more coffee than the usual frothy, milky coffee concoctions.

Wow, what a cool flat white

We had a light jog up aforementioned volcano and were greeted with even more Chinese tourists than yesterday. 

Guy looking relaxed after jogging up Mount

Back down the volcano and Guy cooked up a hearty breakfast of huevos rancheros which we demolished in seconds.

We had a wander down Dominion Road nearby and checked out the Chinese quarter, it was too early for dumplings so we carried onto Mt Eden shops which are varied and include an allotment, the likes of which I have never seen before. 

How beautiful is this???

We then carried on past a small kids playground with a bucket contraption in it. Like Aquarama in Bennicassim, if anyone has been there.

Memories of Spain

Back in Mt Eden and we chance upon an independent wine shop. What are the chances of that?  We chatted to the chap in the shop for sometime, purchased 2 bottles of wine and went home to plan and book much of the remaining time we have left accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Dinner was leftovers salad.

We watched Hateful Eight on our 42″ TV in our room and drank Pinot Noir.

Wines tasted:

Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc Man O’ War 2015

Marlborough Pinot Nior Giesen 2015