After Taupo we made our way over to the East Coast of New Zealand to visit Mandy, Ben and Maddie. Mandy and Kerry used to work together at Buxton and since then Mandy has moved to New Zealand to marry Ben and have the sweetest two and a half year old ever, Maddie.
We arrived on the afternoon of February 2nd, which was Mandy’s birthday. We kicked the celebrations into high gear and headed out to dinner at a lovely restaurant nearby. There was wine, sharing of amazing food and a little more wine. Then home for cheesecake (round 1). Our hosts were also kind enough to let us do a few loads of laundry so that we could feel like normal, clean human beings again.
The next morning Kerry went for a run through the Napier Botanic Gardens (so many hills and steps… ugh). Then we cleaned up, put on makeup and headed out with Mandy to check out some of the wineries in Hawkes Bay. This is a wonderful region of New Zealand that makes fantastic wines, so we knew we had to try a few. Plus it was Mandy’s birthday in Texas (since TX is 19 hours behind NZ) so we had to do a real birthday celebration in Texas time, as that is where Mandy was born!
Our first stop was Craggy Range and we got completely spoiled. Not to rat anyone out, but we had an amazing hostess (and quite the hookup!) for our time at this winery. We wandered the vineyards and took in the beautiful weather and scenery, then went inside for some tastings. Many tastings later, our guide gave us a free behind the scenes tour of a few different parts of the winery. We had great conversations and even better company. It was a wonderful experience.
The next stop was Te Mata Peak which offered 360 degree views of Hawkes Bay. Mandy saved us from some hiking and instead drove us to the top to take in the views.
After that, we headed to Clearview Estate Winery where we tried a few more wines before selecting a bottle to share as we munched on some tasty platters. It was great to kick back and enjoy the beautiful weather while we caught up and laughed.
Our final stop for wineries for the day was Elephant Hill. We snuck in a few more tastings before closing time and then bought some wine to take home with us. We went home and met Maddie and Ben to join them for some time on the patio where we took in the views and laughed some more.
It was absolutely wonderful to get to see Napier, catch up with old friends and fall in love with yet another part of New Zealand. We were so fortunate to have private tour guides for a few days and to also get to take a break from hostel life and shared rooms for awhile 🙂
Next up was a short stay in Wellington… more on that soon!
~ Kerry & Jenny