“Do you want to go to Australia and New Zealand?”
Did I mention this phone call? A colleague called many weeks ago and asked me this question. I was on my way to lunch and had to stop and sit in a chair in our lobby so I could madly check my calendar in order to exclaim, “hell to the yea”.
First Stop: New Zealand
That ol' International Date Late sure can play some havoc when you cross it. When you fly to Auckland from NYC, you lose a day. I left NYC on a Saturday afternoon and flew to LA. At LAX I jumped on an Air New Zealand flight to Auckland and then jumped on a flight from Auckland to Blenheim. Auckland is on the north island (and is a proper city) while Blenheim is on the south island and is a small town.
Arrived Monday morning.
Please allow me to quickly gush on Air New Zealand in general and their business class lie-flat seats in particular. Dreamy. What lovely flight attendants and suspiciously good food. These lie-flat seats are the awesome kind that are set up at an angle so that everyone has aisle access and they are a tad bigger than the ones that United offer (as those are the only ones I've ever flown on).
So many gadgets to play with. I think I slept.
The flight was 11 hours.
NZ in the House
From Auckland to Blenheim, it was a lovely flight. What tremendously beautiful country it is. I was there, along with about 8 other folks from around the globe, to taste and drink and absorb the glory that is Cloudy Bay. You may recall them as the pioneers of Sauvignon Blanc in NZ.
What friendly folks. It's fun because they speak English, but yet many of the words are jumbled up or mean other things. A few times I got alerts from my brain, "We know these words – we just don't know why they are in this order. Please hold."
New Zealand: they are speaking English, but the words are all different. No idea what the customs agent just said.
There was always a lot of bacon.
Like their neighbors in Australia, they take their coffee seriously here. This is a thing that I don't think many Americans are aware of. I found many of the restaurants to not offer 'plain' or 'normal' coffee. Everything seemed to espresso- based and came with their own terminology. Tall black. Short white tall black tall.
Summary: Kudos to the Kiwis. Ya'll do good java.
This is the region in the northern bit of the southern island of NZ. Lots of sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.
Really gorgeous country.
Highlights included a lunch of pizza and wine in the vineyards – they have a brick oven in the vineyard – and a few amazing dinners paired with equally amazing wines. That said, my personal highlight was totally unplanned and consisted of sitting in a tree swing at Cloudy Bay and watching the sun get lower and lower while sipping some of their lovely single-vineyard Pinot Noir. Nice.
I was there barely three days. Exhausting. Awesome.