new zealand | queenstown | christchurch | wellington
April 12 – 18
Rainy Saturday morning spent brunching at Walnut Cottage Cafe (big delicious plates of food were like a warm hug – kisses to Rick and Dini!) … Wine tasting at Peregrine (lovely whites), then Gibbston Valley (great reds) … Quick run through Queenstown Park before pre-wedding hair appointment … Dinner at Sasso (delightful service, really enjoyed my risotto) … We hit the hay early to rest up for a big Sunday.
Sunday brunch at my favourite haunt Vudu Cafe (immune boosting fresh pressed juice, followed by a salmon cake with beet/carrot salad) … Casual spin around town and into Ian Clarke’s gallery (movie based on his “Lonely Dog” character coming soon) … Wedding prep time … Shuttled to Stoneridge Estate (as featured on season 13 of The Bachelor), and into a sweet chapel on the grounds to witness my brother marry the lovely Lenka … Ceremony followed by a beautiful dinner and lots of dancing … Party moves to Winnie’s in town, and ends with a healthy serving of salty Fergburger fries.
Monday brunch at Joe’s Garage (I order scramble on toast, he gets the breakfast burrito, we pay far too much) … Scenic drive to Glenorchy … Pick up all the ingredients for homemade pesto with gnocchi for a family dinner … Evening ends with a slice of gorgeous wedding cake.
Tuesday’s Queenstown to Christchurch road trip starts later that anticipated after long goodbyes… We’re on the road and arrive at Lake Tekapo just in time for sunset photos… Then the rains came (not fun driving, but we made it!) … Unload the baggage at my parent’s house in Merivale and dig into dinner at Little India (yum).
Despite cloudy skies the next morning, we tour downtown with mum and dad. Christchurch is so different from my last visit before the 2010/11 earthquakes, however it’s inspiring to see the locals doing a great job of regenerating the main shopping area using shipping containers (see Re:START Project) … Yummy lunch at Hummingbird Coffee (a cafe built inside a colourful container)… Clouds part for just enough time to walk through the Botanic Gardens… Dinner at Ace Wasabi in Merivale.
On Thursday morning we’re off to Wellington via Jetstar … It’s a rainy welcome, but we make the most of the day after checking into Museum Art Hotel (super chic room with a view) … Our location means it is an easy walk to the waterfront restaurants for lunch and we settle into Crab Shack (Mario loves his fettuccini with crab and clams, but my calamari salad does not go down so well) … Pop into Waka House (beautiful exhibit of traditional Maori canoes) and pick up a scoop of lime/cucumber sorbet at Gelissimo before spending a couple of hours wandering through the exhibits at Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum and art gallery … Chill at hotel before dinner with Mario’s friends (a Roman couple who are now working at Weta Studios) … We decided to go out for Italian, of course, and end up at Scopa (cute place, decent pizza).
The next morning we wake up to a miracle – after weeks of rain, it’s a clear and sunny kickoff to Easter weekend! Drop in at Tommy Millions for gluten-free brownies and soy capps (best breakfast ever) … Our walkabout leads to a cable car ride up to the Kelburn Lookout and the entrance to the Botanic Gardens … Walk through the lush gardens and back down to the city, with a stop at Picnic Cafe for lunch outdoors (highly recommend!) … Meet up with another former co-worker of Mario’s at Espressoholic on Cuba Street (who knew he would have so many NZ connections?) … Sam offers to drive us to the Weta Cave and decides to join our tour of what goes on behind-the-scenes of movies like District 9, Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit … Our guide Warren (an award-winning hair and makeup artist) is as entertaining as he is eccentric, and he lets us linger over the props while explaining the detailed construction … Back to the hotel before dinner at Monsoon Poon (still trying to get my head around the name, but the atmosphere was lively and the food tasty) … Tried to hit a bar with our Roman friends, but there is an odd Good Friday rule of having to order a full meal (each!) to drink… It was almost 11pm so we wind up where we started the night – the luxurious bar at Hippopotamus, conveniently located in our hotel.