23/11/2012 - 26/11/2012 21 °C
Our dinner at The Mission, Napier, on Friday evening tasted every bit as good as we had hoped! Diane had the pork (served a bit pink) and Keith had the beef (rare, of course), both with delicious accompaniments. Unfortunately we had to wait about for a while before being seated, despite having a reservation, as they were running a bit late with an accountants’ convention (we kid you not)!
Next day, after breakfast, we took a stroll along the Napier’s Marine Parade, where we found some locals recreating the 1930’s for the benefit of the cruise ship passengers.
Then we set off on one of our longest drives, from Napier to Martinborough. Indeed, it would have taken almost as long to drive directly to Wellington. It was a fairly boring drive (by New Zealand standards), only marginally relieved by the prospect of being diverted from our route for a Christmas Parade through a Scandinavian-themed sheep-farming town. But we were glad that we had included Martinborough in our tour, as it is a delightful small town that seems stuck in a time warp...
The other nice thing about Martinborough is that it is in the centre of yet another wine district. This one is nowhere near as big as the one around Napier, but it does have the tremendous advantage that many of the ‘Cellar Doors’ are within easy walking distance of where we stayed. So, we visited four of them in fairly short succession. It would have been more, but we got trapped in one by a sudden shower, and Diane was not very impressed by the wines anyway. Keith (lush!) thought that some of them tasted pretty good, especially some of the Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. Some vineyards charged a nominal tasting fee, but others were completely free.
We had dinner in the hotel’s Bistrot, and retired for the night after a luxurious soak in their victorian-style cast-iron bath. Except that Diane did not get much sleep as she was struck down with a nasty attack of food-poisoning. The pink pork from The Mission in Napier seems the likely culprit, as Keith did not fall ill and had eaten the same food as Diane ever since that particular meal.
Diane could not face breakfast, and did not enjoy the long switchback journey over the top of the Rimutaka mountain range which separates Wellington from most of the rest of North Island.
We could not check in to Rydge’s Hotel Wellington straight away, as we were very early. But they took Keith’s mobile number and promised to call when our room was ready. We had just enough time to explore some of the outer suburbs (by car, as Diane was still too feeble to walk any distance), which at least afforded us some nice views.
We returned to the hotel when called, and Diane retired to her sickbed, giving Keith her blessing to see something of the city. So Keith topped up the hire car with fuel and returned it to Avis, and then spent a relatively short time looking around the Maori exhibits in the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa.
Wellington is festooned with banners advertising The Hobbit film, getting geared up for their world premier on Wednesday (after we leave here – shame!), and New Zealand Post has issued a set of commemorative stamps featuring the leading characters.
Keith returned to the hotel to find Diane rested, and feeling a bit better, but still quite frail...