Monday, June 8, 2009

The best of Nueva Zelanda

Here’s the stuff that I’ll miss from this place.

  1. amazing scenery.  It’s everywhere. north island, south island. everywhere.
    • but there’s a catch – a lot of it’s starting to look the same. Same quaint little seaside towns. Same quirky little small towns in the interior.
  2. Wine. I thought Australia had wine regions! This country’s got them all over! And they do them quite well – sauvignon blanc pretty much put this place on the global wine map. But then there’s all the other varieties that each little climatic zone has targeted: Marlborough Sav Blanc, Otago Pinot Noir,
    Our favourites are:
    1. Rockburn [central Otago] Pinot Noir 2008, ~$50 (full-on good stuff)
    2. Mission Estate Gewurztraminer, $30 (a sweet, light gewurzt but with a bit of spice that makes it good)
    3. Montana Sav Blanc, ~$15 (we drank loads of this during summer mostly because it was always on sale at Foodtown)
    4. Omaha Bay Vineyard OBV “the Impostor” Flora, ~$25 (semi-sweet wine with citrus flavours)
    5. Heron’s Flight Sangeovese
    6. Matua Estate [Marlborough] Pinot Noir
  3. Mac’s Sundance beer – I think this beer wins the “best of the trip” award. Surprisingly it’s a wheat beer (I usually don’t like ‘em) but it’s bloody tasty! 
      Quoth the bottle: “every season plays host to some sort of unhinged behaviour, and this year the sun has bake our brains long enough to give birth to SUN DANCE, Mac’s own summer ale. It’s not so much the wheat malts we’ve used to quench your post-swingball, pre-backgammon thirst, or indeed the Riwaka hops we added late in the boil for a suggestion of citrus and exotic fruits. It’s more the lemongrass.  Only in summer could anyone come up with an idea as crazy as pacific-rim fusion beer.”
      1. Close seconds: Monteith’s Radler (quite similar to above), Mac’s Gold or Speight's (just a good straight-up beer), Steinlager Pure (if you want a premium brew). For such a small country they brew an incredible amount of beer here! And for the most part, it’s all pretty good.
    1. Cheese – New Zealand does dairy. New Zealand produces about 3% of the world’s dairy products, but Fonterra markets about 60%+ of the world’s export dairy products. Anyhow, yeah, the cheese here is good. My favourite is “colby”
      • I’m going to expand this to just say that they’ve got dairy freakin’ covered here. Cheese is one thing, but the milk is super – they’ve got this one brand that’s marketed as “milk for blokes”! Basically it’s low fat, skim milk but it’s creamy tasting instead of watery. Choice!
      • Cheese of choice is Mainland brand Colby (
      • And then there’s the yoghurt.
      • And the ice cream…
    2. Lisa’s Hummus: this stuff’s goooood. Look it up. somebody import it. please. The Jalapeno & Lime is probably our favourite one.
    3. Seafood: NZ’s an island, surrounded by ocean so naturally they’re going to have some good seafood here. Our favourites are:
      • New Zealand green-lipped mussels. Preferably in the pineapple/coconut-milk mixture @ Sahara. Else, they’re good in either a cream or tomato-based sauce.
      • Snapper: lightly breaded and fried at home, or deep-fried at a fish’n’chips shop.
      • Kingfish: we bought it on a whim from a fishmonger, grilled it up at home and it was deelish!
      • Orange roughy: same as the king fish, well no. Kingfish is like a steak, the roughy is light, fluffy and tasty.
    4. Mackenzie Station Seed & Grain Bread. Thick cut, heavy on the grains, great taste. At nearly five bucks a pop it’s expensive stuff, but compared to the rest of the dismal-looking super-thinly-sliced stuff, it’s well worth it!
    5. Fashion. Julie was right – they do like to dress nicely here. Although, it’s all black for the most part.  I’m just impressed with the number of ‘home-grown’ clothing stores for such a small country. Barkers, Meccano, all sorts of woollens, IceBreaker (huge fan!), and others I can’t think of, but they’re probably all owned by some Auzzie outfit.
    6. L&P. No, not Lee & Perrins Worchestershire sauce. Lemon and Paeroa. World famous in New Zealand, this soda is a cross between ginger ale and 7up. Tasty-as, it’s a perfect mix for New Zealand’s 42Below feijoa vodka.  Otherwise it’s just refreshing!
    7. Flight of the Conchords; a comedy duo a la “Bob & Doug”. We’d heard about this show from Julie’s friend Candice, and we happened to catch an FOTC marathon on New Year’s Eve day and were immediately hooked. The two guys have a very dry humour, and you could say it’s similar to Canadian humour in that sense. Check it out:



    Best Day trip from Auckland
    • Waitakere Ranges (Piha & Bethels beaches, forest walks)
    • Matakana (wineries and scenic coastline)
    Best Boat Cruise
    • Haparanda Sailing (boat charter for Andrew’s birthday)
    • Perfect Day Cruise (Tutukaka)
    Favourite Winery
    • Trinity Hill (Hawke’s Bay)
    • Omaha Bay Vineyard [OBV] (Matakana; great views from the hilltop over the bay)
    Fave Restaurant (AKL)
    • Mai Thai (CBD)
    • Sake Bar Rikka (Victoria Park)
    Fave Restaurant (elsewhere) Sahara Mediterranean, Orewa (
    Best Farmer’s Market Parnell
    Or Matakana is good too.
    Favourite bar The chain of Mac’s Brewpubs: Steamship Lines down on Quay street close to our place, Nuffield up in Newmarket and the new one in Kingsland. All have great interior design, and of course loads of Mac’s Beer on tap.
    Favourite Drive
    • Lake Tekapo to Milford Sound if you’re up for a solid 8hr drive through some majestic scenery.
    • For a nice Sunday arvo drive, head east from Auckland around the coastal highway.
    • Andrew thinks that the incredibly twisty road up through the Mangamuka Gorge was pretty fun.
    Favourite mates


    you know who you are

    • Dylan the Villain and our other flatmate Becs
    • Joel, from Vancouver
    • Niall & Nadine
    • Ty & Lauren, the other Canadians
    • Doug & Amy, the “bohemian” Brits
    • JP & Clare, the skydive specialists

    We’ll miss ya! and hope to one day play host for you in the tourist hot-spot of Winnipeg!

    Farewell New Zealand, it’s been a blast!



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