The weather website didn’t look too promising Monday morning, rain called for all day long. But heavier later, so we decided to do what we could early in the day. Part of our plan involved lunch at a local winery, though, so we did wait a little while before walking through the drizzle over to Parry Kauri Park next door to the B&B (literally). Alan very kindly loaned us some umbrellas.The park includes a little museum, which we didn’t go into, but its main claim to fame are two giant Kauri trees about 800 years old. Really impressive!
The park also includes about 20 acres of native bush, with several loop trails, so we did a little more rainforest-type hiking (oops! tramping). It’s a small park, so it only took about a half an hour to cover the trails (oops! tracks), but it was very nice, and lots of the plants were labeled, so that was helpful.
After our tramp, we drove to Ascension Wine Estate, which we had chosen from the wine country map provided at the B&B. It was still drizzly, and very windy, but the misty air made it very picturesque. The hostess suggested that we place our meal orders first and then return to the front area to taste some wines before deciding which ones to order with lunch. What a great idea! We each sampled 3 wines, which was $3 per person, unless you purchased a bottle, so we chose two we especially liked (12 Apostles Merlot, and Rogue Pinot Gris), and bought a bottle of each to bring along on the remainder of our journey. We also each chose a wine that would go with our meals, and went back to our table to order glasses.
Lunch was fantastic! Both delicious and beautiful! The side dishes were presented on a tiered platter for us to share. Each of them was delectable. I had the vegetarian dish of the day, which was sweet roasted peppers (capsicum, as they call them there) with feta and sun-dried tomato in phyllo pastry. Unfortunately it ended up including pine nuts, which I couldn’t eat, but I was able to pick around them well enough, and the rest was really tasty. The prices were decent, it being lunchtime, and the service was very good.
I also liked the fact that this winery has won awards for its sustainability, in terms of waste disposal, recycling, and organics. This would probably be an even nicer visit in better weather when one could tour the vineyard, but even on this day, it was a great experience!
It was still only drizzling, so we decided to drive out to the coast to see what we could see. I found an area on the GPS map called Scandrett Bay that looked like it might be interesting, so we headed there. There was no one else in the car park except a woman eating her lunch, but the area nearby was very scenic, with a striking black beach.
There was a track marked that went out toward the headland, so we put up our umbrellas and started out. It was a narrow little footpath across sheep pastures, with gates we had to carefully close after going through. After walking for a while though, we decided the grass was a little too wet and the track a little too muddy, to go all the way to the headland, so we turned back.
On the way out of the park, we had to drive through some sheep. We knew we were really in New Zealand now 🙂
The rain started coming down harder, so we spent the rest of the afternoon napping, reading, and interneting. Unfortunately, after our big lunch, and because we had been used to earlier sunsets, by the time we realized it was dinnertime, it was after 8:00! We tried calling several restaurants, but they were all either closed on Monday or had closed by that time (it is a small village after all). We ended up driving into Warkworth and getting Chinese take-out at a sort of sketchy storefront place. It wasn’t bad though, and it was cheap and plenty of it.
We went to bed after watching some TV, hoping for a nicer day for traveling the next day…