Central Otago – a little slice of heaven

We arrived in Cromwell having a confirmed place to stay for the following night, but not that night. We had made every effort to contact our host and ask for an additional night, but she wasn’t answering. So, we booked a motel in the city and settled in, only to get an email from the host saying that the key was available at the location, that she was having a family emergency, and that she hoped we would have a good stay.

We ended up staying there for three nights, but it was not without a bit of strangeness. We emailed and texted her with a couple of questions, one of which being about the Internet password. She never responded (she did after 48 hours). We were left with the whole property to ourselves, thinking every car driving in was hers, and wondering: did her husband pass away? Is she in jail for some white collar crime? Did she get hurt?

It was very fascinating and slightly unsettling. 

Finally, she wrote saying she didn’t have Internet (she did, Hubby surmised she was probably in her 60s or 70s and didn’t understand how it worked). She said she was at the hospital. We still don’t know what happened.


We had a blast in the area. We spent the first two days doing wine tourism. We visited:

  • Felton Road – amazing wine, organic and biodynamic and knowledgable and tasty and, did I say, amazing? We bought a pinot and a chardonnay.
  • Mt. Difficulty – we ate lunch here but didn’t taste and didn’t buy. The food was so-so and that made us iffy about trying the wines (there were crowds and we would have had to wait).
  • Carrick – They had tasty pinots. We wanted to eat lunch there but it was packed. Good for them! We bought their cheapest pinot. It was TASTY! Also, their most expensive pinot was amazing but it was, like, $90. So, no. Sorry.
  • Gate Twenty 2 – Really cute mom and pop shop. They grow the grapes and have the winemakers at VinPro make their wines. They had a Pinto Grigio that we bought and a really tanniny Pinot Noir. They were really cool though, we liked them.
  • Burn Cottage – They didn’t have a tasting room, but we made an appointment and got to see their whole operation. It was amazing. The winemaker had been making wines for years and years. They are biodynamic and organic and have an amazing Pinot. We just shared the bottle. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!
  • Quartz Reef – They had sparking wine (fake champagne). It was delish. They also had a lot of cute dogs on the property.
  • The Lazy Dog Café – a consortium of several wineries that didn’t make enough each for a tasting room but together would have enough. It was admirable, but we didn’t love the wine and we didn’t buy any.
  • Rippon – Apparently, this is the most photographed vineyard in the world, and with good reason. It was really beautiful there, and they had some great wines.

Then we spent the last two days just sitting around and enjoying the sun and planning a bit of our trip. We went to the local swimming pool and Kiddo had a blast.

On the last day we packed up and drove into Queenstown, ate a huge burger and took the gondola up to see the city view. It was a nice way to end the New Zealand portion of the trip.

We spent the last New Zealand dollars on a kiwi puzzle for Kiddo and it was a hit. It is funny: she doesn’t need toys, but when she has them to play with she really enjoys it. Maybe that will be another post some time. 

Final thought: drive through New Zealand! We had a great time. 


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