Rotorua to Napier today
The weather gods behaved and kept the rain at bay but the cold southerlies especially in the Taupo region were not pleasant.
You would think my group of 8 all coming from either England or Scotland would be used to the colder temperatures but I guess they came to New Zealand with clothing expecting us to be in summer temperatures. Hopefully as the tour progresses temperatures will pick up and the winds will ease.
First stop today was Huka Falls on the northern side of Taupo. Always spectacular and a well photographed area of New Zealand.
From there on to Taupo proper where we sighted a farmers market as drove in making for the next stop. In my view although labelled a farmers market there was little to infer in the way of stalls that it was farm produce. All were a little disappointed but then it was an addition to the schedule so all was okay. Taupo itself I gave them an hour to wander, get a coffee or whatever plus grab some lunch to eat when we stopped at a rest area as we headed towards Napier.
I am saturated with black coffee (long blacks) today with each stop someone insisting they buy me one. The rest area at Tarawera on the Taupo Napier Road had a café which one of my guests insisted he get me a long black. I think that was number 4 with 2 more at vineyards we were to visit on arrival in Napier.
First vineyard was Church Road and even though I seldom drink wine now a days I remember Church Road as being a good wine. My group after however samples they were given agreed it was an okay wine company as well. But we were all very disappointed as to the rapid rate it was served and lack of explanations. This was a prebooked wine tasting and Church Road I am sorry, we may have arrived early but service did not leave a good impression on my group.
Next winery was Mission Estate and from my drinking days it rated well. Here we were treated like royalty the minute we walked in. A dedicated person full of knowledge presented the wine selection and explained the background to each bottle and flavours to be expected. He was very professional and stayed solely with my group the whole time. Congratulations Mission Estate, my people saiud 10 out of 10 for service and the way they were treated after the Church Road experience. And they felt the explanation of each wine matched what they were tasting. And the wine wasn’t at all bad to apparently.
The downside of being a tour guide/driver, all you can do is watch. But having in the past consumed plenty of wine, its also quite good to watch others enjoy. Watch facial expressions gradually change and the laughter increase.
Last stop prior the hotel in Napier was up at the lookout on bluff hill. Not the best place to take a 12 seat tour vehicle but we were lucky not to strike on coming traffic.
Tonight for the first night on tour I believe I will be eating on my own. I have a distinct feeling some of the group will be having an early night. Tomorrow Wellington for a 2 night stay before we cross the Cook Strait to start the South Island leg