chilling feet

chilling feet

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Fruit of the Vine

(We had some snowy driving at points but it afforded us some new ways
of seeing New Zealand!  It was fun to see the sheep in snow and was quite
a pretty sight.  This country is even more beautiful in the snow)
A short post today on a little two day excursion while Sarah was off work this past Monday and Tuesday.

I was hoping to plan a hike short enough for us to do in two days time while also intriguing enough to lure us out into the increasingly colder Winter months of the southern hemisphere.  The walks we have been wanting to do, however, were longer then we had time, and perhaps more motivating, a few days ago we had some ice pilled up on the ground! So we looked to the plans and decided to head off to an area nearby we had yet to investigate.

(Pausing next to the original bridge leading into Alexandra)
Alexandra and Bannockburn are very near to the all familiar Queenstown, a place we had ample reason to visit while +Miriam and +Gordon were living in New Zealand.  While they were here we even visited the area of Cromwell which is quite close in proximity so as to sample some of the various wines Central Otago has to offer the world.  Sarah and I jetted off in our Nissan Note to go and investigate a nearby area we had missed out on previously and we were definitely not disappointed.

Alexandra offered us a wonderful experience.  We went to a quaint but impressive museum, took a historical tour of town to see the sites (such as the original bridge pictured with Sarah and the courthouse where I am posing), rang up three wineries who were willing to let us come and taste their creations even though they are now
(An old court house turned into a nice little cafe - I like my coffee with
a little dash of justice please.  Mmmmm.  Tasty.)
officially on "winter" hours (mostly by appointment only), had a delicious sandwich we split for lunch, and even left some time for shopping at the end of it all.  The historical feel of the town was really pretty cool to drive and walk around in as we learned more about the area.  People were super friendly, helpful, and always asked us what had planned out so they could help us figure out what to do next.  Our day in Alexandra ended with a short drive up the way where I had a small surprise waiting for Sarah.   We visited Hinton Winery, Judge Rock Winery, and Hawkdun Rise Winery.  I really wanted to visit Two Paddocks Winery because the actor Sam Neill is the proprietor but it was not in the cards for us.
(It was difficult to get a great shot of the entire property but this really is
a great piece of quiet land right on the river running past Clyde)

Sarah knew I had been planning out an adventure somewhere on the trails, so when I told her we were instead going to head off into some of the unvisited wine country of Central Otago I left out the small detail of where we were staying.  With our seventh anniversary looming just off in the distance by a week I figured it would be a good time to stay somewhere a little nicer for a change. So we stayed at the Hartley Homestead (pictured here) and had good ole time in the hospitality of Rex and Melanie who have taken this cute property and turned it into a bed and breakfast. Clyde is a small town just up the road from Alexandra and felt like the perfect place to spend a night on our way to Bannockburn the next day.
(We love investigating and looking at churches no matter where we are
and the little churches that splatter the countryside of South New Zealand
are often quite historically amazing - this one is in Clyde)
We settled into our wonderful room, explored the town on foot a little bit, and then walked off to the dinner reservation our host had made for us when I reserved the room.  Our dinner was in a beautiful diner converted from the original post office in town with all sorts of cool memorabilia on the walls, ranging from old war medals to collected money and other such nicknacks.  The venison stew sounded so good we both ordered it (something we rarely do because we like to share our meals and at least taste other options) and had a great meal.  We then walked home stuffed and took full advantage of the amenities of the b & b while also enjoying one of the bottles of wine we purchased in Alexandra.  A wonderful day and a spectacular end to a peaceful day of rest.    
(Taken by the damn just next to Clyde, we had a breath taking view)
Our morning started off with a brisk wintery temperature but we also had the wonderful sun at work to bring with it a beautiful day.  The drive from Clyde on the way up to Cromwell (which is on the way to Bannockburn) is just amazing.  It has all of the same feel of driving from one small town in Colorado to another, dishing out view after view of unbelievable vistas.  Passing more hiking trails then I cared to count along our way to visit the wineries of Bannockburn, we were compelled to simply bask in the beauty of creation and offer our thanks in gratitude in being able to experience such a wonderful place.  And that was exactly the sort of day we had all day long!  We met some wonderful people, tasted a good amount of their grape libations, and all the while drove through the New Zealand countryside enjoying one another's company.  Below are some pictures I just have to share.  They will have plenty of captions for added story!  We hope you're all having a peaceful day like these two days were for us.  

(A short pause at Mt. Difficulty winery where they also have this splendid restaurant at the top of a big hill.  Mt. Difficulty itself is actually behind the wood directly in front of the picture across the way from the patio.  Quite good food and a really fun atmosphere.  These guys are doing it right!)
(Seriously, how can someone own a winery at a location as beautiful as this and not just sell wine by the bucket loads?  It was so fun visiting wineries with mountains all around them.  We love the feel of this area so much.  This was taken at the Northburn Winery, where there is also a 100 mile run each year.  Crazy but true.)
(It really was a pretty day offering us all sorts of spectacles.)
(Taken at Carrick Winery, we really enjoyed getting to meet a woman from Brazil who had come to NZ to travel and fell in love with a Kiwi man.  They now work at Carrick together (which means knot and is shown in their symbol - Sarah loves knots) on this land in Bannockburn.  What a view the have as they work!  There is also a restaurant at this location as well but we had just eaten lunch.  Perhaps we will be back to try their food as well.)
(While driving along we had to stop and take some photos of these guys.   While they appeared to be guarding the vineyard from us, as soon as Sarah got out of the car to take some more close up photos they quickly shot down some of the rows to "escape" from the scary person threatening to take their photo.  It's actually kind of cool though because sheep, we have been told, are somewhat good for the vineyards because they eat the lower leaves on the plants, which I guess is good.  Again, so we have been told.)
(They stopped a little bit down the row to make sure Sarah was not pursuing them.  You've got to admit it's pretty darn cute.  I still like thinking of them as Sheep Sentinel who roam around vineyards taking out anyone who trying to damage or steal any valuable grapes - the dobermans of New Zealand!  Maybe the running away thing was just a trick.)
(We did not expect it to be open, but just as we were leaving the Bannockburn area to head through Queenstown and back to Invercargill we stopped at Wild Earth Winery, assuming they would be closed as it was five till five pm.  And by all accounts they were closed and having a meeting (but they had not locked a bridge leading across the river to their winery or locked their front door) and as we came in the staff was having a quick talk before heading home.  It was clear they were ready to roll and just as I was about to head out a girl volunteered to do the tasting - thanks Sarah! (that's her name - easy to remember)  By the end we had been talking to the owner of the Vineyard, from California, and making friends with the staff.  What a great group and they totally bent over backwards to help us out.  We will definitely be back to try their delicious food!)
(The drive up was tricky in a few spots but it was hard to complain too much with such pretty views.)
(At the Northburn Winery - I'm sure almost everyone who goes to this winery takes this exact picture.  I couldn't help myself from taking it or posting it for that matter.)
("Can we live here +Sarah Baddorf?)
(I had to add one more.  Guardians of the Vines.  Wooly Watchers of the Wine.  What else?)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

An Oyster Festival!! And so much more!!

(Oysters!  Not only were they in abundance at the festival but they were
cheaper than the normal rates at establishments - nice!)
We have been waiting for the Bluff Oyster Festival since we first moved to New Zealand.  But we arrived right smack dab in the middle of "you don't eat oysters now son" season.  Ugh.

And yet after months of waiting patiently we were finally able to start tasting the delicious Bluff Oysters at local restaurants, and with these tastes only came more excitement about the festival in May.  Why can't May just come faster??!!!

(Showing off our Oyster plate)
As most people in the world know by this point, it is now May and we have just this past Saturday enjoyed the illusively amazing Oyster Festival of the the Southern most city in the world, Bluff of +New Zealand!  However, (!!) after all of this deliberate waiting there was some crazy weather that decided to come in and cancel our festival just hours after it had started.  No way!

But "yes way" is what the weather said as it started tearing apart all of the tents nearby - mind you these were the super ridiculously strong tents like the one behind me in the picture with the oysters and you can plainly see it is a pretty firm establishment, even if it is impermanent.  So I suppose as these tents, which were drilled into the asphalt, began to give way to the elements, those who were in charge of the event began to wonder about our safety and all of that none sense.  I do not really know much about these details as I was only focused on getting more oysters, thinking of course I had hours of festivities still ahead of me.  We were pacing ourselves only to have the festival cut off by weather right in our prime!  No, only six eaten and we were told to leave.  But yes.   We came.  We saw.  We ate oysters, sort of.  And then we were forced to leave.  But we had a good time and even at some other foods before we were so rudely ejected from our blissful oyster opportunity.  Enjoy!
(We also had, as the sign behind +Sarah Baddorf suggest, Lamb Bops!  Mmmmm.  Don't know what a bop is but it was delicious.)
(And Mutton bird.  +Gordon and +Miriam told us this food was delicious after their Wild Foods festival)
(That's right - it's so delicious we needed an up close shot!)