Wine & Whiskey – Our Queenstown Honeymoon <3

On the first morning of our Honeymoon, we woke up in our amazing Air BnB just outside of Queenstown (see here for where we stayed!). We had booked in for a half-day wine tour out in the Central Otago Region and I could NOT be any more excited about it. G is not a wine drinker, so for him to say ‘Yep, I’m in let’s do this!’, I realised exactly how lucky I was to marry him :).

We drove down to the main street of Queenstown and jumped on our Queenstown Wine Trail mini-bus and headed off on our Central Otago wine journey. It was raining, which I thought really added to the magic of the day! Any excuse to cuddle up to your brand new Husband for warmth?!

We had around 10 people on our tour, which was really nice. Some friends, some work-colleagues, a few couples and a beautiful older Japanese lady (who schooled us all on whisky later in the day!).

IMG_9779Our first stop was to Gibbston Valley Winery, Amisfield Winery, Mt Rosa Wines and visited Kinross Cottages as well. We also had an amazing lunch at Gibbston Valley, weirdly enough (disclaimer: this is not at all surprising…) G and I ended up with the largest platter out of the group; but it was delicious and we were on our Honeymoon, so – no regrets there!

I went on that tour assuming my favourite wine was Sauvignon Blanc (white) and Cabernet Saubignon (red). I left the tour an official Pinot Noir girl and for the first time in my life, I tried a Riesling which I enjoyed. G on the other hand, remained anti-wine for the most part (he is a whisky drinker), however was not quite as disgusted when he tried the Pinot Noir on offer at each of the wineries. I think the best part of the day for him was when the guide at Amisfield identified him as a whiskey man and gave him the bar and bar tender’s name to hunt down in Queenstown for the perfect drink for him. The answer is yes, we did find the bar and he did enjoy it very much :).

So, in the spirit of New Zealand South Island wine, I have hunted down the following facts:

  • Gibbston is one of Central Otago’s regions main wine subregions, and accounts for 20% of all plantings in the area;
  • Pinot Noir flourishes in the Central Otago region;
  • The regions first gold medal was for Burgundy, won in Sydney in 1881;
  • The average annual rainfall in the area is 979mm;
  • These soils comprise of moderately old, windblown loess (silt) formed over successive ice ages by glaciers grinding schist rock into a fine flour;
  • This is the world’s southernmost wine region and the country’s highest. High sunshine hours and short, hot summers provide and idyllic landscape for vines.

We couldn’t have enjoyed our day out more if we tried, rain and all. There were delicious wines to drink, lovely company on the tour, unbelievably pretty terrain and the rainfall only added to the romance!

Our tour was with Queenstown Wine Trail and it was a wonderful day, highly recommend them and the price was great as well!

The whiskey spot we visited after the tour was Bardeaux, a great spot to sit in front of the fire with a whiskey or an amazing cocktail.

My favourite wines from our stops along the way were the Pinor Noir Rosé from Amisfield, the Riesling from Mt Rosa and the Surveyors Thomson Pinot Noir, which we tried at Kinross Cottage. I have since ordered many bottles of the Pinot Noir Rosé and also have two bottles of the Surveyor Thomson Pinot in the cupboard, which I just cannot bear to part with just yet.

Are you a wine fan? Have you visited the wineries in New Zealand? I would love to hear your comments!

x C x

For more info on Queenstown and its amazing tourism click here.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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Akaroa, N.Z – spending a long weekend with friends <3

Hobbits, fish and ‘chups’ (they don’t say this, at all just fyi), kiwi fruit, Russell Crowe, Angela from Real Housewives of Auckland, being mistaken for an Australian, explaining where the country is on a globe and not getting credit for the pavlova.

This is a short summary of some things every kiwi I have ever met, dislikes. Kiwi’s, or New Zealander’s (a bit too formal I think), are the FRIENDLIEST, funniest, most giving and warm-hearted people on the planet.  You will never find a better companion than a friendly kiwi. One of my favourite people on this Earth is from Christchurch and I can honestly say, I have never met a kiwi I have disliked. It would be near impossible.

I think it has something to do with how astronomically beautiful their country is, not to mention how progressive the country is in general. New Zealand will always be one of my favourite places to visit. I have seen more of the North Island than I have the South Island, so i was excited to be able to visit more of the South Island.

Two years ago, in October 2015, we had decided a girls trip was on the cards. We are all spread out across the eastern cost of Australia and of course NZ, so Nats and I decided we would head over to New Zealand for a long weekend. Jem was going to show us around Christchurch and we were going to spend the weekend out at Akaroa. Akaroa was settled by the English and the French, the cultural influences of both are littered throughout the region.

Akaroa is on the Banks Peninsular in Canterbury area of the South Island of New Zealand. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for “Long Harbour”. It’s around an hour and a half from Christchurch, depending on the number of cars, sheep, the weather and of course the car you are in. If it takes twice as long, enjoy it! The drive is beautiful. We took the trip with  the best of Fleetwood Mac on repeat and catching up with one another.

We also stopped and did a massive haul at the shops. We had ten different types of cheese, since we are all cheese fiends, we also stopped by Barry’s Bay Traditional Cheese, which is in Akaroa. Barry’s Bay Cheese is made from local farms and is made in the traditional way since 1895. Their Havarti, Cracked Pepper and Chilli Cheddar cheeses are amazing!

fullsizeoutput_1a60No good girls trip is complete without several bottles of wine, some champagne, some cider and some delicious food before the drinking begins! Jem had found the cutest cabin in in absolutely gorgeous location in Akaroa, overlooking the water. It was a little walk out of town and was up on top of a hill.

We spent the weekend exploring the area, eating cheese, watching trash T.V, sleeping in, eating more cheese, drinking copious amounts of wine and just hanging out. It was amazing. We don’t get to spend too much time with each other, so it was really nice just being able to hang out and chat and bond. I firmly believe that your friendships with your girlfriends in your 20’s and 30’s are some of the most important and rewarding relationships we can have.

On our last day we visited a crazy little tourist must-see, the Giant’s Garden. The Giant’s House is a sculpture, mosaic garden and gallery and has the tag of “the happiest garden on earth”. It was certainly something different. It’s not cheap, at around $22 per adult entry. However, it’s worth it for the photos and it helps the owner’s keep the place open to the public. It is located within an historic house and gardens and is only a few minutes walk from the centre of Akaroa. It is seriously different and like I said, worth the photos! We also stopped in and checked out the local boutique stores as well. There is certainly a lot more about crystal’s and their healing powers I need to learn!

The Australian NRL final was on our last night in Akaroa and having found a little pub to spend the afternoon/evening and with no other patrons there, we asked the bar tender to change the channel. It was a Sunday night and hardly tourist season so it was super quiet. It turned into one of our rowdier nights and watching the game with a few locals who potted in later on was good fun as well. Our other girlfriend who was unable to make the NZ trip because of the grand final, was the reason we found a pub to watch the game in. Thankfully her team, the North Queensland Cowboys won, so it was celebrations all around!

Soon enough our amazing Akaroa break had come to an end and we made our way back to Christchurch. Hunted down fish and chips (with whitebait fritters – which I LOVE!) and watched a stack of reality tv whilst sitting near Jem’s fire and just soaking up each other’s company. Our little break had come to an end and Nats was back to Sydney and I back to Brisbane the next morning. Until our next catch up.

Having your friends so far away is really tough, but having the quality of friendships I have I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

fullsizeoutput_1a61Thanks for reading ❤

x C x

Brisbane, Australia – Auckland, New Zealand

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THE FIRST LEG – Brisbane to Auckland

25 January 2014
Day 1
Somehow I slept like a log – I wonder if the fear I used to have the night before a flight no longer exhibits itself as restlessness and instead squats inside of me like an albatross in my stomach.

Had a beautiful brunch down at river bar at eagle street pier, overlooking the story bridge in Brisbane. It’s nice to sit with the ones you love the most and have a coffee and a meal and to have a laugh.
It’s my first time travelling without my giant rip curl cabin bag and actually abackback and my checked in baggage and handbag. I know Ioverpack but when I went to Europe I was overseas for 4 weeks, USA and Canada was 5 weeks, second USA trip was 3 weeks and this trip is 6 weeks. So nervous is an understatement.

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Hello, New Zealand!

Have I over packed? Yes. Interestingly enough I have also under packed. It’s a bit difficult trying to pack for the cold when you have been sweltering in 35+ degree heat in sunny Queensland. I tried to pack jeans and I threw up in my mouth a little even thinking about it! I guess I’m thankful that we aren’t going near any of the northern states with the absolute bat shit polar flex thing that’s happening.
Saying goodbye to my parents almost made me cry and saying good bye to my man at the departure gate was hard to. I guess where we are (un)lucky is that we already do long distance so this is just double our usual time apart. The dirty granny ciders in the airport bar with each other helped.

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Not a bad view for my first hotel of 6 weeks

Flying Air NZ is my favourite and I love their ads. That might have something to do with my secret obsession with LOTR and the Hobbit though. I’ve had my butter chicken and apricot frangipani cake. I’m sipping my Pinot Noir and trying to find something on he airline tv I can focus on. I get mid air ADHD and can’t focus or commit to one show. I get crazy FOMO when it comes to entertainment. Scored a spare seat next to me.

Tomorrow I’m going to walk around Auckland because I refuse to need extra large pants at the end of this trip.
Day 2
Super impressed that wifi is pretty much standard wherever you go now. Even if you have to pay ($10 per 24 hours) it gives you that opportunity to stay in touch with everyone.

Pretty Harbour
Pretty Harbour

I had every intention of performing some kind of cardiovascular activity today but Auckland is wet and rainy and windy. I did purchase a small umbrella for about $6 at the Korean shop next door. Actually I went for the $5 one but the clerk told me that it was made in Taiwan and the $6 one was made in Korea. I have no idea what that means but Korean umbrella came with me. No Sky Tower for me. No visibility! So a breakfast while scamming free internet and messages back home.

Emperor's Lounge - worth every cent of $40
Emperor’s Lounge – worth every cent of $40

Caught the bus back to the airport with my 26kg worth of (at the start of the trip – shitballs). Now sitting in the Emporer Lounge at the Auckland International Airport. Wine, showers, food and couches. This is how you wait for a plane. We leave in a few hours. So not looking forward to the 12 hour flight but definitely looking forward to being back in the states!

Happy Australia Day!
Happy Australia Day!

So nothing too strange as yet except for just now. I was in the bathroom. There are several. I’m in the only closed one. So this old lady tries to get into mine. I was all “occupado” and so she keeps shaking it, the lock flips and the door opens. I kicked it shut. Must have kicked the door into her. So then she starts saying “how rude” and walks off. And so the weird travel stories begin.

 

Oh! Happy Australia Day!!! I never go anywhere without my vegemite ! So have celebrated aptly I think!

Can’t wait to see Jemma and get this trip started! 🙂

 

It’s almost here!

476.

The number of days we officially started counting down to until our next adventure. However, I was meant to go to South America four and a half years ago. Life happened and somehow I found myself on a *safe* Contiki trip, solo, in Europe. I know it might seem like solo + Contiki don’t really go together, but for a 23-year-old, waving goodbye to your family and friends and taking off to the other side of the world (why are you so far away from everything Australia?) for 5 weeks is, technically, solo.

Man did that decision work in my favour! Not only did I have an amazing trip and experience 7 countries VERY QUICKLY (that trip was like the 15 items or less isle at the shops in terms of touring), but I met some amazing people. It wasn’t just me who took off solo for that Contiki European Vista either, across the ditch, was a lovely little kiwi by the name of Jemma, who was packing her trusty suitcase ‘old-red’ and getting ready for her solo adventure.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now the two of us take off wherever and whenever we can. We have seen Europe, the States twice and some of French Canada together and Jem has visited Brisbane three or four times and I finally made my way to beautiful Christchurch this year. It’s a pain in the arse when you live in different countries but we still have an amazing friendship and a lot of laughs.

I can’t believe I have only 33 days before I spend a glorious morning in my beloved Brissie, probably scoffing down some ridiculously calorific brunch with my parents and my man, before I walk through the security gates and through to customs at Brisbane International Airport.

I will probably misplace my passport and ‘supporting’ documentation three to four times from the point where I go down the escalator to when I do get to the customs person. I will go through my normal paranoia of how happy is too happy when you are going through customs and whether or not they are judging me for the amount of eyeliner I am wearing in my 2008 passport photo.

I’ll probably realise I am wearing the wrong outfit for the flight and that I have two hours to cool my heels at the airport. I will then get the shits because my wisdom tooth extraction one week before Christmas robbed me of my holiday money and try to over-anayse the limited funds I do have for the trip and work out if it will last the trip (it totes will not).

I will get the weird little butterflies I get when I get on the plane and I hear the “on the right hand side thank you Miss Blake and welcome”, I will drop my stuff when I am trying to get ‘organised’ and into my seat and I will unpack, re-pack and then accidentally put away things that I need in my seated area on my flight. I would have thought that with the multitude of flights I have taken I would have learned to minimise. Nope. Lip balms, phone, travel diary (or maybe iPad now because I have one?), mints (gum is rank, mints are delish), earphones, book (whatever it is I will read less than a third of it and it will become one of those things that takes up a portion of my handbag), hand sanitiser, tissues and eye drops.

I’ll realise I have forgotten to pack something but by then it won’t matter because I will be in my seat, the awesome Air NZ video will play (last check Betty White was the star!) and I will have a smile as wide as the Cheshire cat because I will be heading overseas, doing what I love the most – travelling.

I am a vacation-taker. I have a lifestyle I enjoy and I have little to no interest in backpacking or spending months in south-east Asia. I’d rather save my money, book myself on a tour and know that I have a bed every night. That doesn’t make my way worse/better or right/wrong it just makes it different, my hat goes off to backpackers! I wish I had the guts :).

I did get a bit wild though and quit my job, experienced the rush of freedom. I mean, I have a new job lined up now but for a minute there I felt very eat, pray, love-ish. Except for being silent in india and cleaning floors and praying, no thanks.

OH! I also anticipate a huge portion of the trip will be me obsessing about the hotel we are staying at in Peru which has no walls. NO WALLS.

contiki adventurer
Our next amazing Contiki – The Adventurer – starting in Lima, Peru

It’s cultural right?

Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

Dedicated to Jem-Jem 🙂

11th October 2013

20140403-131712.jpgDay 1

So Jemma and I, when talking about our friendship and the logistics of it, often say that we ‘visit each other’. That might be true but it is also a straight out lie. I have never visited Jemma. That makes me a shitty friend. Jemma has come over to Australia countless times, once she was in Brisbane but thanks to phones not working, I didn’t even get to see her. I basically need the friendship card waved in my face. Sure, Jemma tries to make it sound less horrible by saying that her sister lives in Brisbane, which is true, so she comes here more, but the thing is she doesn’t come here ‘more’, she just comes here. I don’t go there.

It doesn’t take a geography genius to work out which out of Brisbane and Christchurch are nicer to visit. In case you were wondering (and you really shouldn’t be unless you aren’t from either Aus or NZ), it is Christchurch, or actually, anywhere in New Zealand….except maybe Auckland actually…the two are probably equal in that respect.

20140403-131653.jpgSo, by some miracle, and thanks to an unwarranted automatic credit card increase, I found myself buying some cheeeap as cheeeps (yeah that’s right, we say it way worse than the kiwi’s) flights with good old Virgin/Air New Zealand to go and visit Jem in October.

One carelessly submitted annual leave form (its not really an option, I won’t be here type submission) and I was packing my suitcase ready to get to NZ. Jem had assured me that as it was October, the cold snap was gone and I could probably get by with a jacket. Jem must have reconsidered that statement, as previously mentioned, I am a weak Queensland and anything below 15 degrees to me may as well be the Arctic. I was one step away from asking Mum for her amazingly colourful thermals when I decided to just suck it up and stop being such a sook.

Friday morning rolled around and it was flight time, with a curbside drop and a smack on the bum, Mum dropped me at the airport and it was time to get my NZ on. I had only been to NZ a few times, once in transit and a few times to the Northern Island, this was to be my first South Island experience and I was beside myself with excitement.

20140403-131708.jpgAs we started to land in Christchurch and looked out my window (anything under 4 hours I can handle window seat because I don’t need a bathroom break)…and, I, squealed, like the little girl I am. There was snow. Snow on the mountains (have never seen snow, can you even comprehend that?) also, way to fulfill a stereotype NZ, there were sheep, adjacent to the runway. Do you know what we have adjacent to the runway in Brisbane? Dirt. No sheep. No big fat, fluffy, white, happy as hell, sheep. With mountains and green grass and snow and perfection, I could see flowers in the grass. Now you’re just showing off Christchurch. Do you know what colour my grass is? Painful. It’s painful, spiky, sharp, razor brown painful coloured. Where it is anyway, where it isn’t just clumps of dirt. Stupid Queensland.

Anyways, met with the friendly face I miss terribly when I am back home, Jemma and I headed to her parents house, which she was house-sitting and dropped my bag off and then we went for a quick and amazing tour of Christchurch. Most of us know of the tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquakes that hit Christchurch in 2011, causing millions of dollars in damage and tragically taking close to 200 lives and countless injuries.  I didn’t have the chance to see Christchurch before the earthquakes but there is something to be said about the resilience and good nature of the Christchurch-ians (?) when you see their city. Whilst it has not been rebuilt and there is sign of the earthquake damage everywhere, they have done their best to work with what they have got. The renewal (re:start project) of Christchurch was kick-started with the (shipping container) City Mall. The mall is made up of around 27 stores, each store within a shipping container. It is quite cool to walk through and see, if you can separate innovation from tragedy. Jemma told me that it (the mall) was smacked with an intellectual property lawsuit from London Boxpark Mall, as they feel that their ‘idea’ was pinched. Who in their right mind, chooses to sue a city which suffered a devastating loss and may never be rebuilt? They aren’t stealing your idea, you idiots, they are doing their best to bring back a feeling of normalcy to their city. You really come across as some insensitive idiots.

20140403-131703.jpgJem and I then did what we do best, and decided on a gas-bag with vodka diet cokes and some delicious Dark and Extra Stormy cocktails at the Pedal Pusher….hello delicious! It got to around 6pm and I realised how cold I actually was and met with a good-natured eye roll from Jem, we headed back to her place so I could rug up into something warmer. To think it was only 6 hours before hand that I was sweating bullets back in Brisbane wearing jeans in mid-October and now I was freezing. Jem and I decided on tackling the duty free bottle of vodka before we went out to dinner.

Dinner at Cortado was amazing, a tasting plate of goodness, deep fried calamari,  delicious fried cheese with RASPBERRY sauce (you read that correctly boyfriend, raspberry – not cranberry, as we have continued to argue for the last 6 months) and other treats. Then we walked back to Jemma’s parents house in the FREEZING* cold to get stuck back into the vodka. Vodka led to cat hangs, blurry photographs, watching This is the End and laughing, sooooo much laughing.

20140403-131733.jpgDay 2

We both woke up with pretty impressive hangovers and decided to frock-up for our winery day, which had seemed like a spectacular idea the day before but now seemed incredibly difficult, thanks to our voddy-hangovers. Jemma and I headed out into the countryside and went to a few wineries, did some wine tasting, spoke to a pretty cool lady, Susanne, who gave us tastes of the good stuff. Then our stomachs were rumbling and it was time for lunch. Our last, and gorgeous stop for the day was Pegasus Bay Winery, where we had the MOST delicious platter for two, accompanied by amazing wine.

Then we took our romantic selves on a secret-garden-esque post lunch walk. I wanted to take my shoes off and just run around the gardens, because the grass, was GREEN! Long and flushy and plentiful and green. Those of you who have it, take it for granted! Try and run around barefoot in my front lawn and it will end up looking like a horror/slasher film starring your feet and lower legs (possible movie idea?).

As we were leaving the winery, driving down the road, windows down, wind breezing through our hair, looking at the wildlife and just generally soaking in the beautiful-ness (it’ss a word) of New Zealand, a bee sent from the devil himself zoomed into the car, landed in my hair and then the screaming begun. This thing was like a flying dollar coin (the aussie dollar coin, not the weird tiny kiwi dollar coin 😉 ) – buzzing, buzzing the death song of its people. Jemma had that sedan pulled over and she was out of the car, I was out of the car. There was screaming. Then as I opened the boot to see where the bee was, it lunged at me in another depraved devil-bee attack. We survived though. Jemma, we survived. WE are survivors.

20140403-131727.jpgWe needed a time out with the cows and sheep for a minute to recover before we got back in the car and headed home. I witnessed some pretty impressive road **rage** and tail gating, it all started to come together why Jemma wasn’t overly confident in driving the Interstate 15 back in 2012, there are two lane highways in Christchurch, max.

Soon enough it was time to head back to Christchurch and get ready for our night out, Jemma had organised a night out with her girlfriends and I was pretty excited to meet them, albeit nervous as hell about being the one with the ‘funny’ accent, for once. It was really nice to get my drink on with a new group of girls and to meet Jemma’s people :). I brought spotlight on myself when I found vegemite packets I had stashed in my jacket, who even knows when (I do know that these same packets were in my jacket 3 months later in South America). We went to a pretty cool little bar in town, had too many drinks, ate too much food. There was an awkward bucks night which somehow implicated **one** of the girls (not me but she shall remain nameless), there was some table dancing, there was some inappropriate booth conversations, ok there were a lot of inappropriate conversations, there was a dude in a pink popped collar who was the epitome of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. There was some shrub-jumping and running after a cab (yep – me), there were more hilarious moments on the way home. There was a three-way phone call to my boyfriend back home, there was Whittakers PB chocolate (the greatest EVER) and then there was sleep.

Day 3

20140403-131717.jpgWaking up close to lunch time and feeling the alcoholic feats of the night before, I stumbled into Jemma’s parents kitchen and…met Jemma’s parents! I was pretty happy, because they are fantastic and you can see why Jemma is the bomb :). They told us all about their trip they had been on, we had a few laughs and then we decided drinking was a good Sunday idea. So we drank and we laughed and we watched Teen Mom 2 and Catfish, ordered pizza’s and THEN! We rode bikes! Fabulous, vintage, hard to steer around corner, bikes. It was one of the best afternoons I had for the entire year. So much fun! Also, my elated behaviour with the bike riding, scored me a bike for Christmas from my boyfriend :). Later on we watched The Notebook and, um, thanks to the amount of alcohol in me, I cried in front of Jemma’s parents and Jemma and they made a quick escape to bed. Sorry guys.

I loved it, I can’t wait to go again. Christchurch rocks, people from Christchurch rock and I wish there was a bridge between the two of us.

Not a bad way to spend a long weekend with Jem, in the waiting months for our gigantic trip :).

*FREEZING: a temperature below 12 degrees to people from Queensland, Australia.

**FREEZING: Classified by the kiwis as sub-zero temperatures, sleet, frozen livestock and icicles.

**Rage**: People from Christchurch engaging in road-rage is actually kind of adorable. It was annoying but it makes you think of pissed off Canadians and you appreciate that people from Christchurch are a million times nicer than anyone else in the world. FACT.

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