What a treat Dusty and I had last weekend!
Two different sets of people volunteered (without our asking) to watch the Peas if we ever wanted to sneak away for a couple days.
We were being ASKED to go away?!
We most certainly took advantage of such an Unexpected and Excellent offer, and chose last weekend for the trip.
It turned out we had TRIPLE sitters to help share the load, allowing us our first time away together since we’ve been in New Zealand.
A HUGE ‘Thank You’ to Trudy & Terry, Dave & Ben and Cody & Olivia!!!
We did have one of our Pea’s join us on the journey… Sweet little Ted was a GEM to have along!
Our plan was to jump in the van and drive…
Sometimes journey’s are gently steered for us. In this case, a last minute work obligation sent us South, when we thought we wanted to go North… but WE ARE SO GLAD WE COMPLIED!
Sadly we missed taking shots of Geraldine’s gorgeous rolling green farm-land on our way to Lake Tekapo. (We’ll have to hit Geraldine in another post… Stunning country!)
Lake Tekapo (where we stayed Friday night) is often seen photographed with the famous Mt. Cooke towering in the background above its turquoise waters. Just another example of the Majesty of New Zealand.
Our first stop past Tekapo on Saturday morning was the small town of Twizel… gateway to Mt. Cooke… famous peak that is known as a training ground for aspiring climbers who eventually hope to hit higher peaks like Everest.
We hoped to have breakfast here as it appeared on the map there would not be another stop for quite some time. Unfortunately everything was shut down this particular Saturday (not sure why?); all except for a little run-down cafe that I (Tica) turned my nose up at in “snob” style and refused to eat at. Dusty was more sensible and had himself an adequate breakfast before we continue the journey. In my defense, I was sorely disappointed as I was looking forward to a few GREAT meals on our trip, and apparently there is a fantastic restaurant in Twizel called “Poppies”, but it was closed the Saturday morning we drove through. No cheap substitution would do for these snobby-tastebuds. Something fantastic or nothing at all.
(What a snob!!)
Not too far down the road we passed a couple townlets (Omarama and Tarras) that clearly had some decent cafe options–we will keep those in mind for next time. Live and Learn.
Here’s a view of the landscape on the south side of Twizel. Mt. Cooke is further north in this mountain range but was too heavily cloud-covered to get a good shot of.
Stunning isn’t it!
Dusty is usually light-footed when it comes to driving–we LOVE a good “Sunday drive” soaking in scenery and enjoying good company–but following Tica’s snobbishness in Twizel and being in the midst of barren, negative-memory-invoking, straight-roaded, desolate country Dusty’s foot lay too heavy upon the gas pedal leading us to an unwelcome stop via policeman and a speeding ticket… ugh!… BUT it shifted our gears by affording us a choice… Either stay gloomy and depressed, or SNAP OUT OF IT. We did the latter, and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the journey…
Here are a few highlights of the weekend beyond the speeding ticket encounter…
Past Tekapo and Twizel… past the barren ranch land and our speeding ticket… through Merino country… we finally came into a fertile valley where vineyards and orchards abound. Even in the brown, cold beginnings of winter we thought the landscape was STUNNING. Just what we needed to refresh our senses.
Shortly past the lovely township of Cromwell, we stumbled upon a winery called Wild Earth. Parking is just off the highway, but the restaurant is across a long walking bridge that SOARS above the gorgeous turquoise-blue river below.
We shared a cheese tray and a glass of Wild Earth’s award winning Pinot Noir… both were EXCELLENT… and presented Beautifully-Wild on wood, stone and paua… This stop FULLY redeemed the unfortunate breakfast at Twizel.
Next came Arrowtown; a charming historic gold-mining town that has been well-preserved. A highlight for me (Tica) was an amazing chocolate shop called Pandora’s where we collected a Dark Chocolate Cherry Pinot Noir Truffle for the road. EXCELLENT!
And FINALLY we hit our destination point…
I impressed Dusty with my negotiating skills and scored us a beautiful room at the Millenium Hotel (with breakfast included) for less than the Best Western down the road. Yup.
Our hotel was close to downtown so we hit the streets on foot, certain we would be able to find ourselves a GREAT MEAL after a less-than-stellar breakfast–NO breakfast for the Snob, a light cheese-board snack and a shared Dark Chocolate Cherry Pinot Noir Truffle (still salivating over that one!).
Yes. We were looking forward to dinner.
And we were not disappointed!
Queenstown has no shortage of restaurants. We were pretty sure there was no way we could wrong choosing ANY of the marvelous restaurants that beckoned us.
We settled on Captains Restaurant where we did in deed find ourselves exactly what we were looking for… Cozy Comfortable Atmosphere and Magnificent Food!
I (Tica) chose a chicken dish, and Dusty chose steak. Honestly. I don’t have words. There was NOTHING left on either plate.
And sadly no room for dessert either! Shame!
(Note to self… order some to-go next time… I’m certain we’d have been glad we did.)
The following photo is included specifically for two people… Jim and Charles… the two most sea-food-lovin’ people we know.
We will reserve a table for you with THIS meal if you would kindly grace us with your presence…. Pretty please! 🙂
After a little more wandering we happily strode back to the Millenium where Dusty and I snuggled in… flipping channels and reading tour books…
While Teddy practiced his newly learned skill… WALKING. At some point we both realized his ceaseless babbles and bobbles had completely stopped; we climbed down from our cozy lounging and discovered our little angel had put himself to bed sucking his favorite blankie (thanks again Steph for the blanket!)…
Leisurely breakfast the following morning in a beautiful dining room at the Millennium (would happily stay here again), and we were off.
Another stroll through the streets of Queenstown to scout the cafes this time.
Again, too many amazing places to choose from. But absolutely couldn’t resist a cream-filled roll from FergBakery…
(Confession… I made Dusty circle back so we could buy another to take on the road with us. Holy!)
And sadly… nostalgia kicked in… and I chose Starbucks over the divine Coffee’s of the Queenstown cafes.
Coffee and rolls in hand, we happily loaded into the van and began our journey home.
All in all our weekend was nothing short of PERFECT.
Most ESPECIALLY because we did it TOGETHER.
Here’s to many more adventures in-tandem!