Marlborough

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Marlborough region is just over Cook Strait from Wellington. It's known for the scenic Marlborough Sounds and Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Getting there

I chose the Bluebridge ferry over the Interislander as it was marginally cheaper and their Wellington terminal is closer to the city. The Interislander has also had a terrible summer PR-wise with regularly cancelled sailings due to their ships (aka lemons) breaking down. A propeller was even lost in Cook Strait.

When I went to book the crossing, Bluebridge's online booking system was down. A quick look on Twitter confirmed that had been the case for several days. After calling, being kept on hold for some time, and even tortured with some terrible singing, I left a message for them to call me back. It took them several hours but my call was returned.

Mike and I had been keen to try out the sleeper service where you board at around 11pm, have a private room and magically wake up in Picton around 5.30am but it wasn't available the morning we wanted to go. After later reading some of the reviews on tripadvisor, I'm confident we got much more sleep at home.

Even as foot passengers we had to be at the ferry terminal an hour prior to our sailing from Wellington. The Jetty coffee bar closed quarter of an hour later, despite a growing queue. The lone staff member said she had to get on the boat. There was a lot of complaining and it was a very bad look. Couldn't they at least keep someone there until we started boarding?

There is a serious lack in glamour boarding and exiting these ferries as a foot passenger. When you get on a Cruise Ship at a terminal it's all very fancy. To get on the Bluebridge you walk up a metal vehicle ramp, walk through a fumy vehicle deck (in this case close by a sheep truck) and climb a lot of narrow stairs.

The below Bluebridge Marketing video manages to promote the service and the ferries without showing their interiors and focusing on the scenery instead. It's an impressive marketing tactic really.


The Santa Regina was built in 1985 (and is therefore older than me). It is very pokey inside though the lounge we were sitting in had couches which gave the area a cozy feel. However the TV screens dotted around the room were playing an alarmingly loud movie which was inescapable, as was the screaming from a children's play area in the corner.

Windows were surprisingly small and lacking. Outside on the deck the smell of diesel was strong  (as you might expect) and the larger top deck was very exposed though better.

We returned on The Straightsman which was an immense improvement. Built 20 years after the Santa Regina in 2005 The Straightsman is bigger and is the Bluebridge ferry which offers private cabins for an additional charge. It has a soundproof movie area and children’s playroom and a much bigger dining area. I also highly recommend the $5 pancakes.

Bottom right image depicts the kiosk on the Santa Regina, A
ll other images interior of The Straitsman.  Images thanks to Bluebridge
Car Hire

We picked up our pre-booked rental car from Budget - a 'Compact Manual' model so I could learn to drive a manual car per my 30 Before 30 list. The car was a very fuel efficient, cute blue Toyota Yarris.

I got an initial lesson in a carpark (I wasn't a complete beginner so knew the basics of working with a clutch and gear stick) before bunny hopping and stalling my way up and down a remote stretch of road by the Saint Clair Winery. By the end of the weekend I was fairly competent and confident enough to drive on State Highway one but was far from mastering the reverse hill (or truthfully any kind of) start.

I really appreciated the fact we could leave the car at the Bluebridge terminal and hand the keys in at the counter. It saved a taxi fare as well as a lot of stress.

Accommodation

I booked Vintners Hotel Marlborough for the night. Our unit was sunny, private spacious and modern and we made use of the Spa Pool facility.

There was a card and small gift of a pot of cherry jam as a thank you for booking which was lovely of the host and greatly appreciated. My second thought however was that we should buy bread and have it on toast for breakfast. Surely this significantly reduces consumption of the $20 per person breakfast on offer in the restaurant?

Wineries (and a Brewery)

Our first stop was Hunters for lunch. I'd emailed the restaurant more than a week prior to make a reservation but it was clearly not required as we could have sat at any table in the joint. We ordered a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc, the wine the Marlborough region is known for.

My salmon was melt in your mouth material and the Creme Brulee and Crepes with local honey Mike and I shared for desert were divine.


The hostess at Saint Clair the following day was incredibly knowledgeable, explaining everything from harvesting to the reason for the gun-shot like noises we'd been hearing continually (elaborate bird scarers and men on quad bikes with guns).

My favourite winery we visited was Cloudy Bay - we sat on the deck in the sun and consumed bubbles, freshly shucked oysters and goats cheese with bread and honey. But the peace was quickly disturbed by the arrival of a lot of kids on the back of a pick-up truck. After a quick game of petanque we moved on and left them too it.



For a bit of variety we also stopped in at the Moa Brewery to taste their range of Cider and Beer and while it seemed at the time like carrying a large box of their heavily discounted stock home was too big a mission to handle, I kind of regret not purchasing anything to take home.

In all cases the tasting fees were reasonable and the staff lovely. I'd recommend taking a few days out in Malborough when you get off the ferry before continuing down the South Island.

Air New Zealand vs Jetstar - My Experiences

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the two airlines fighting it out on the Auckland to Wellington route - the most popular domestic path between the two major cities in New Zealand. For lifestyle reasons and due to corporates having offices in both cities many business people and politicians commute between the two centres each week.

Each airline has a differentiated product and brand image. Personally, Air New Zealand is a brand on my bucket list of companies I wish to work for in my career, while I dream of one day being in the financial position where I never have to fly with Jetstar again.

Jetstar


Image from NewstalkZB
While pretty much every flight I've boarded this year seems to have been delayed, Jetstar seem to have done better than their Air New Zealand counterparts which was a definite surprise for me given the slack they are given for being the cut-price carrier.

Jetstar's current advertising campaign promotes the fact they board from both ends of the plane as to depart on time. In practice, this means that if you're unlucky enough to be seated in the second half of the plane you have to turn off your cellphone, walk down a flight or two of stairs, across the tarmac (exposed to the elements and whilst minding the aircraft refuelling process) and up another flight of stairs before dealing with the usual jostling of numerous people with massive amounts of carry-on luggage in a confined space.

Their strict policy where you must be fully checked in 30 minutes prior to your flight has upset many people and is regularly referred to in the media where it's resulted in assaults, stranded children, or families unable to spend sufficient time with relatives on their deathbeds.

If you aren't checking in any luggage you can check in online and board with a text message. This is a great idea and use of technology, however in the last six months I had one flight where the mobile scanner was down and I had to queue at the desk to be given a boarding pass manually, and another where their entire boarding system crashed mid-board. This meant staff had to recheck everyone's boarding passes on the plane and we were delayed a full 45 minutes while they tried to identify the one passenger who had checked in online and then not boarded.

If you want drinks and snacks you must pay for them. And they are priced similarly to a mini-bar in a fancy hotel room. Correct change is something few people have and there is a minimum payment amount for credit card transactions.

While the flights may be cheaper and many of my friends will go straight for the cheaper flight, my own policy at this stage of my life is that I will pay up to $20 extra to take an Air New Zealand flight instead. Though when flying with work there is a policy meaning the cheapest flight available must be taken.

Air New Zealand

Image from Airlinereporter.com

If you fly between 4.30pm and 7pm on a weekday you can enjoy Koru Hour - New Zealand wines and beers or the classic L&P as well as your choice of Kapiti cheese and crackers or a savoury snack. Outside of this time you'll still be served tea, coffee or water and a small snack such as a cookie time biscuit or vege crisps.

While I'm currently a Silver Airpoints member I feel the price of a Koru Club membership is unjustified and whenever I get to go there on a free guest pass it's a real treat. While I fly domestically frequently I will also not be able to keep my Silver Status and it will expire in October. Silver Status after years at Jade, was something I was lucky enough to earn by traveling to the UK twice with the airline within 12 months.

The mPass App keeps track of your Airpoints, status points and flights and will alert you when your flight is delayed so you can hold off heading for the airport.

Air New Zealand's safety videos are much more engaging than someone in an orange uniform standing in the aisle telling you how to fasten you seat belt and evacuate in an emergency. They update them every six months and they always have a fun new theme (though the Hobbit one drove me nuts as I saw it far too often).

The generally higher price points on Air New Zealand flights mean there are more corporate travellers and fewer screaming children. For cheaper flights Grabaseat.co.nz has daily offers to really save on flights if you're flexible as to when you can travel.

They have disappointed me with the removal of a couple of offerings in the past year which can only be put down to revenue gathering - Standby ticketing which I used a number of times to visit Wellington at the last minute for only $69 when I was living in Auckland, and NightRider, where all seats on all flights after 10pm were only $29 with and additional $10 to add a checked bag.

I've travelled on the 6.40pm Air New Zealand Wellington to Auckland flight approximately every 4th Friday for the past 9 months. As far as I can recall it has been delayed by a minimum of 20 minutes every time.

True comparisons

Jetstar allows 10kg of carry on luggage compared with 7kg for Air New Zealand (dimensions apply in each case). However once you start checking in luggage Air New Zealand will give you 23kg for $10, on Jetstar $10 only gets you 15kg.

The media confirmed recently that Jetstar flights departed on time more frequently than Air New Zealand did last year. Points for Jetstar I suppose - cheaper flights and more likely to get where you're going on time, just less comfortably.

Running a Half Marathon

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Running a Half Marathon was looking like it'd be the hardest item to cross of my 30 Before 30 list. In March last year while training for Auckland's Round The Bays my already stuffed left foot flared up in pain. I spent the next 8 months unable to run, popping anti-inflammatory meds and having physio and steroid injections to get it better. It soon became apparent it was not going to get better and surgery was not an option.

I considered alternatives such as training for an ocean swim or long cycle but they felt like cheats. I decided if there are amputees competing in ultramarathons, I could run a half marathon on a sore foot with the help of some decent footwear, orthotics, strapping tape, pain killers and whatever else was going to get me through the training and event.

BP offered to sponsor my entry fee for the Lenco Half Marathon event at Wellington's AMI Round The Bays. And so, against the advice of my 'medical team' I began training, making use of Leah's 11 week training plan.

The Training

I started the training plan in it's second week. My first run was 6.5km from Waitangi Park to Balena Bay and back on a lovely Wellington evening. While I'd done zilch running in 8 months I had a good base level of fitness from sporadic Ride Classes at City Fitness, the occasional swim and odd Bootcamp style sessions with a group from work.

It wasn't until my first 'long run' (9.5km) that I first struggled. It was a terribly windy day and after almost having an asthma attack running through the fumy Haitaitai tunnel, I realised I'd run the wrong way so I had the wind against me as I ran along the bays. From a previous 1km average split of just under 7 minutes, on this occasion I was taking an average of 8 minutes 50 seconds to run a single kilometer!

The first time my foot REALLY hurt was the following run, 5km into a 6.5km run which included hills in Karori on Christmas Eve. I decided to just push on and finish it as I'd have to walk back to my parents place anyway, then I'd have a good two days to rest it before my next run but in hindsight I should probably have just walked it as I only made it worse.

The runs kept getting longer and the long ones didn't usually fall when it was convenient. Mike motivating me was the only reason I was able to complete a slow 11km around Gisborne on a very hot day shortly after New Year. After completing that run though my 6.5km short runs suddenly became easy and 8 runs no longer phased me.

Still smiling mid 16km run
By the time February 23rd rolled around the longest run I had completed was 16km on a hot (27 degrees) Auckland day which had taken me 2 hrs and 16 minutes which seemed like a ridiculous length of time to be running. But I felt confident I could make the full distance.

The Event


February 23rd turned out to be a lovely day in the midst of a changeable Wellington summer. Mike and I were at the start line 10 minutes before the scheduled 8am start. My colleague Hannah was doing the 10km run and found us at the start line thanks to our BP singlets. After the gun finally went off it didn't take too long for us to cross the start line. 

I was smiling most of the way as it was a beautiful day with amazing scenery and it was awesome running on the closed roads around the bays. At the first water stop my old PE Teacher was serving and gave me some words of encouragement as I grabbed a cup of water from the lady next to her. Soon afterwards we ran through Balena Bay where there were bagpipes, jetplane lollies and residents with hoses and water guns!

Up until Miramar Wharf I was in known territory from my training runs and quite comfortable. It was also good when the 10km runners turned at their mark and the crowds subsided for those of us continuing on. This also thankfully spelled the end of the Dominon Post branded signage telling people running the fun run they were almost there - painful when you know you're actually less than a third of the way through your race.

I'd wanted to finish in under 2hrs 45min and asked Mike to pace me to this but apparently he was secretly pacing it to more like 2hrs 30min most of the time. He kept me focused by picking someone slightly ahead that I next had to catch up with.


My Mapmyrun App was pretty much bang on every kilometre until the turning point just before Scorching Bay, then suddenly it was close to 1km behind the road markings. What had happened? Was I suddenly zig-zagging? I later learned the turning point had been set up incorrectly so we ran around 600m further than an official half-marathon distance. Frustrating!



Around the 17km mark and again at the 20km mark I hit walls and needed some serious encouragement to fight through it. I was pretty proud of us having run the entire way (Mike had done no training aside from three runs with me) and I didn't want to walk at all as I realised it would just be longer until it was over.

The final water/isotonic station was within about 600m of the finish. I grabbed a cup of each and said 'ok lets finish this thing', with a sudden burst of energy we upped our pace for the remainder of the distance. The 6.5km walkers still finishing were all over the road and completely in the way which was really annoying but finally we stumbled over the finish-line in Kilbirnie Park.

Finish Line!
While I'd promised my mother I'd only ever be running the one half marathon, two days later I'm no longer I wouldn't say 'never again'.... there's an awesome sense of achievement which comes with completing such a challenge.

Total Time - 2 hrs 44 min 14 sec
Adjusted Time - 2 hrs 39 min 25 sec

Disclaimer: BP Oil New Zealand Limited paid for my entry into the Lenco Half Marathon and gave me a singlet. All opinions, thoughts and running my own. Please note I am in no way endorsing running with an injury.

Why I wouldn't move to Auckland for my job

Monday, February 10, 2014

In November last year, five months after I moved back to Wellington from Auckland, the company I work for announced their intention to move it's head office from Wellington to Auckland.

Operationally it’s a move that makes sense for the business – it's former Wellington building was damaged to the point that we had to relocate following the 2013 Wellington earthquakes. Those of us in Wellington are in a temporary office and this gives the company an opportunity to put all head office staff in a single location, closer to key suppliers.


But having just spent close to four years in Auckland I am not keen to go back there. While it's in many ways the easy option, right now there are a number of other cities in the world I would choose to live first. If I was asked to move internationally (within reason) or even to go South and somewhere I had never lived there before I would be there with bells on as living and working in different cities is a great way to explore the world.

Early last year New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key upset many when he referred to Wellington as ‘A dying city’. Grow Wellington are working to boost the number of jobs in Wellington over the next 10 years but other than Contact Energy, TradeMe and Zero and Z there are few growing brands I can list which are still here.  There may be Government opportunities, but they require skill sets other than Marketing, such as Communications. Six years into my career I have only ever worked in Product Marketing roles at the Head Offices of large corporate organisations. All three which I have worked for have moved their offices from Wellington to Auckland in recent years.

My CV is also a mess - I'm a typical Gen-Y who displays little loyalty to my employers. similar to Sonny Bill but minus the titles. I'm not convinced I've followed the right career path and if I could afford to travel 3-6 months of every year that's what I would do.

In the end whether to move came down to a heart vs head decision. While there's someone in Auckland I would love to live in the same city as, I don’t love my job, and Auckland is not where I want to live in right now. If the result is me being unhappy I'm only going to make everyone around me miserable.

And so, for the second time in my 20's I will soon be unemployed with no real plan. But I hope it works out for the best.

Gisborne

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Beech aircraft Air New Zealand flies between Wellington and Gisborne is a scary little plane. It seats only 19 passengers with one seat each side of the aisle. Tourists only acquainted with large international jets must surely get on these babies and freak out.

Adding to the drama, at Gisborne airport the runway also runs over a railway track - surely the only airport in the world where this is the case.
If you can see the pilot the plane is too small

Mike's parents live at Wainui Beach and we had the best start to 2014 swimming at the beach and lazing around in the sun on the deck with the tennis and cricket on in the background.

Wainui Beach, Gisborne

We were also able to watch Kim Dotcom's helicopter coming and going from The Black House up the road.

We made it to the final night of Rhythm and Vines at Waiohika Estate. Getting the bus there from Wainui Beach was really easy. We got VIP upgrades which allowed us to skip a rather massive queue to get our wristbands, though I admire their efforts in checking everyone's ID etc prior to entry.

I was also impressed with the payment system incorporated into the wristbands.

The VIP upgrades also allowed us to get into the Vodafone Vintage Club for a sweet view of the main stage without being stuck in a mosh pit, and to avoid long lines for drinks, food and toilets.


Jupiter Project - Photo by Mike Rishworth



We saw Jupiter Project on the Adidas sponsored Forest Stage. Performing at the same time as popular Shapeshifter were on the main stage hey must have been disappointed with the small turnout - too small for the Adidas beachballs thrown into the crowd to be bounced around properly. The ended up being ripped open for the glowsticks inside them. Jupiter Project played largely covers and the absence of Dane Rumble was felt when they performed 'Not Alone'. We left after hearing the songs we knew and headed for Shapeshifter.

Kim Dotcom's countdown to the new year was very random but the crowd were into it. The fireworks on all sides of us and the light show projected on the hills was pretty spectacular. Dotcom's wearing a crazy vest with flashing lights on it ensuring he was seen from the very back of the crowd and his music was interspersed with mantras such as 'Never Give Up', 'Good Times' and '2014 is your year' which quickly became popular Twitter Hash Tags amongst those at the event.

Rudemental took the stage shortly after midnight playing a DJ set featuring little of their own music which was what the crowd wanted to hear. It was a bit of a downer after the countdown. I later learnt that Rudemental is made up of four guys and based on the fact they were performing at London's O2 on New Years Eve also, only half the group could have been present in Gisborne.

Wining and Dining

Villaggio

For our first lunch of 2014 we went to Villaggio Cafe, a cute converted Art Deco House which reminded me of my Grandparents old house in Clive. I ordered something which seemed to be a cross between a salad and eggs benedict with salmon and it was exactly what I wanted.

Mike and I decided if we were to start a food blog we should only cover Eggs Benedict and Creme Brulee.

Photo by Mike Rishworth

The Works 

The Works is set in a strengthened brick building which was once part of a Freezing works down by the waterfront. Initial service was slow but once we'd ordered we didn't have to wait long.

Both Mike and I ordered Stone Grill's - I had a seafood selection and Mike had a mixed grill with pork, chicken, lamb and beef. Both were served with salad and potato. While I'd have been happier if the giant prawns had arrived without their heads still attached it was otherwise a faultless meal. The hollandaise really tied the items together.



We shared a bottle of Kopiko Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (my basic wine ordering strategy is East Coast North Island for a Chardonnay and Marlborough for a Sauvignon) and a pavlova for desert which had strawberries, cream and kiwifruit and a mango sauces.

Wainui Beach Store

The Wainui Beach store was handy when we couldn't be bothered moving far. We phoned in an order based on what was on their website (I was impressed they had a website!) - but they were out of salmon and had no fish as the supplier was closed for the holidays.

We ordered $40 worth of food and the store was busy to the point of stressful when we went to collect it. The roasted winter vegetables pizza, garlic bread and paua fritters were pretty good though. Mollie the cat was particularly keen on the paua fritters.

The Wharf

The bubbly and personable nature of our waitress at The Wharf almost made up for the fact she didn't entirely seem to know what she was doing. We were seated outside and set up with water and menus before a more senior waitress came over and told us the kitchen had reached capacity and we should not have been seated. She offered to ask the kitchen nicely whether they could accommodate us as we were not prepared to stay if we couldn't order food.

It seemed as though she was setting herself up for a fail but she returned and said they could just squeeze us in. There were plenty of empty tables around and the place really didn't look that busy.

She took our drinks order – a beer and a glass of the Milton Sauvignon Blanc.

While we were still waiting for our drinks our original waitress returned with an iPad to take our order. She read the fish special so fast we had to ask her to repeat it twice more and we still weren't entirely sure what it was.

Mike ordered the Lamb Rump which was served with Potato Mash, Caramilised Carrots, Minted Peas and Jus. I requested the fish special with no bacon, providing the waitress with a second option should that not be possible. It turned out it wasn't - back came the more senior waitress to explain the bacon was already mixed in the potato salad we had no idea was part of the dish per the junior waitresses description.

I repeated my second choice of Prawns and Scallops sauteed with Garlic, Ginger, Coriander and Egg Noodles and finished with White Wine & Passion Fruit.

Image from www.puregisborne.co.nz


Amusingly, while we were waiting for our food someone at the next table asked for the fish special with no bacon and junior waitress was able to explain that this was not possible.

The Prawns and Scallops was nice enough but not amazing. I had some food envy seeing people get the Fish Special. I just don’t eat bacon.

For dessert we both wanted the Hazelnut and Mocha Creme Brulee – I love Creme Brulee and it’s great when restaurants add their own unique flavour to the dish.

Not a bad place for a meal and it has a pretty sweet view on a nice evening, but I recommend booking in advance rather than winging it and hoping for a good result from the kitchen.

Out and About

The Odeon movie theatre where we watched The Wolf of Wall Street had a cute, old and small town feel though it was a bit dilapidated, the seats becoming a bit uncomfortable in a three hour long movie. The cinema was also not cleaned between sessions so there were discarded Pepsi cups around us.
I understand the delightful lady who served us at the ticket counter is the longtime owner, converting it into a complex from a cinema with a single screen. A bag of popcorn at $5.30 was the same price as a chocolate and almond covered ice cream in a waffle cone but movie food is generally a rip off wherever you go.

At dusk one night Mike drove me up to a lookout to see across Gisborne and see Young Nicks Head and the Statue of Captain Cook placed up high to ensure he could no longer be pushed off the cliff.

Captain Cook

We also took a drive past the Baywatch campgrounds site on January 1st which was a amusing - there were abandoned tents and chilly bins everywhere and it looked like a war zone. I'm sure the annual event brings a lot of business to the area though and it's worth it for the council.

I loved spending the first few days of 2014 in sunny Gisborne and am grateful to my host who really showed me the best time. 

Photos my own unless specified.

Two Thousand and Thirteen - End of Year Meme

Thursday, December 26, 2013


This is the 5th year in a row I've completed the same end of year meme (the first two predate this blog). I look back at every single one of them and cringe yet somehow here we are again.

Over time there has been a drop from the original 40 questions to 37 as occasionally I remove one that I just do not wish to answer!

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Gave skiing a shot, attended a friends wedding, learnt to surf, bungy jumped and so much more.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I wanted to chip away at my 30Before30 and have definitely done that.

Right now things are a bit uncertain and I have no idea where I will be in 12 months time but I hope to be happy.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No

5. What countries did you visit?
Greece, England, Spain and Australia and The UAE in Transit.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Sufficient Iron levels

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 21st - the date of the Wellington earthquake that did the damage.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Remaining employed the entire 12 months.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Can't think of anything...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The return of the sore sesamoid bone.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The Yacht Week trip was pretty epic.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The All Blacks remaining undefeated for 2013.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Depressed at the America's Cup result.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. And weekends in Auckland.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Spain (though not until I was on the plane)

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Avicci - Wake Me Up

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?
A bit of both
b) Thinner or fatter?
Marginally fatter. I blame the foot.
c) Richer or poorer?
Richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Blogging, reading, buying decent food

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Work

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In Wellington with my family.

21. What was your favourite TV programme?
It remains to be Made in Chelsea

22. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn’t dislike this time last year?
No

23. What was the best book you read?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Lorde

25. What did you want and get?
A job outside of financial services

26. What did you want and not get?
A happier left foot

27. What was your favourite film of this year?
Once again nothing has really blown me away, perhaps Rush.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28. I drank far too much the night before with Hellen and shamefully spent the first 1.5 hours throwing up. I then had brunch at my parents and just chilled out the rest of the day.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not having a 'move to Auckland or take redundancy' situation hanging over me the past month.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
More dresses

31. What kept you sane?
Having a holiday planned for August.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Demi Lovato. Babe.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Marriage Equality

34. Who did you miss?
Mike

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Steph, my colleague as without being able to bitch about work with her I'd have no release.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013
The term 'permanent job' means nothing in this day and age.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
TBC.. question 37 perhaps it's time you were cut too...

New Zealand Food and Wine Festivals

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spending a sunny summer's the day out with friends at a Wine and Food Festival is far more my style than in a mosh pit at a music festival.

Over the past few years long-running festivals on the New Zealand calendar such as Harvest Hawkes Bay and the Devonport Wine and Food Festival have been discontinued while new ones with tighter, focused themes such as beer or seafood have popped up.

Here are a few Wine and Food Festivals I've been to around the country and what I thought about them.

Taste of Auckland - Auckland, November

Held at Victoria Park over three days Taste of Auckland targets a glamorous audience with food from the finer Auckland restaurants. Taste festivals happen in 15 cities all over the world and the Auckland version celebrated it's fifth birthday in 2013.

I loved trying the new products such as Rekorderlig Passionfruit Cider, seeing local celebrity chefs Nadia Lim and Josh Emett hosting or in action and sampling food from Depot, Toto and The Grove all in one location.


I was impressed this year with the movement from paper 'Crowns' (the festival currency) to an electronic card. Toast Martinborough, held the same weekend was still using paper Francs which blow around in the wind and end up pretty tattered by the end of the day. Taste were also donating a small amount to charity for every card recycled at the gate.

Another new innovation at Taste of Auckland were the unbreakable wine glasses. While they lacked festival branding, avoiding the presence of broken glasses among boozed people in jandals is a definite win for safety.

Toast Martinborough - Martinborough, November

Toast Martinborough was one of the social highlights of the Wellington summer in my early 20's (followed by the races and the 7's tournament). I've traveled both via train and private bus to and from the event and can see downsides to each - trains don't wait if your friends are still in the bathroom queue and being a passenger over the Rimutaka Hill isn't the best fun even when you're sober.

It's largely the same wineries taking part every year and you question whether they stand to make any money once they've paid for the entry fee, staff, set up etc. and are pouring glasses of wine at a discount with few bottles of wine sold to take home.

Being full of typical young kiwis it gets messy towards the end of the day, people move in large groups, and while the girls look completely over dressed it is perfectly acceptable for the guys to go more casual.

Harvest Hawkes Bay - Discontinued

A similar event to Toast Martinborough, Harvest Hawkes Bay ran for 15 years before being dropped in 2012. I went back in 2009 with my Uncle and found it a much more sophisticated event with an older crowd.

The wineries were much more spread out than those in Martinborough, meaning several different bus routes and really having to plan out where you wanted to go. Taking a wine expert with me meant we definitely got the most out of the day visiting Vidals, TK? and the Gimlet Gravels.


Devonport Wine and Food Festival - Discontinued

Having enjoyed the Devonport Wine and Food Festival this year I saw no reason behind the decision for it to not return in 2014 following 25 successful festivals.

In this case I (shamefully) spent much of the day drinking wine from only one winery - Omaha Bay because I was so impressed with their sparkling wine and rose.






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