Still, the holiday was good. We had the best weather experience of all our NZ trips (this was my 6th visit), with hot sunshine for all but 3 or 4 days. However, that was matched by our worst medical emergency experience - we had to consult doctors 3 times for the boys, and then a week before we left the Kiwi's mother was taken into hospital with suspected bowel cancer. Luckily the problem turned out to be gall stones and she is now recovering well after surgery. The boys contracted various viral infections, and poor Monty also had conjunctivitis at one point. Luckily, my good wargaming friend and GP Kerry "Valleyboy" Thomas, who lives in the same city as the Kiwi's parents, stepped in to help the boys out. I am very grateful to Kerry for opening his clinic on Boxing Day just for us so he could examine little Monty. When Monty developed his eye problems we happened to be visiting a friend whose father was a retired surgeon, so he was able to write the appropriate prescription. Those issues aside, I think the boys enjoyed themselves; the NZ sun and fresh air always seem to bring out the best in them. We stayed in North Island - a week in Tauranga over Christmas to see the in-laws, then a week and a bit in Napier and Hawke's Bay (one of the main wine-producing regions), a few days in Rotarua and Taupo, then another couple of nights in Tauranga and finally a week in Waiheke Island and Auckland (Waiheke is another wine region, best known for boutique reds). Here are a couple of views from the bedroom windows of the places we stayed in at Hawke's Bay and Waiheke:
The view from our house down to the Te Awanga coast in Hawke's Bay
The view from Oneroa beach at Waiheke - next stop Fiji
When we visit NZ the Kiwi usually buys lots of clothes while I buy lots of books on colonial history. I acquired a large stash this time, as a result of various sales - James Belich's account of the 1868-69 Taranaki campaign; Paul Moon's biography of Hone Hiki and the first volume of his trilogy on the 1820-50 period; a couple of books by Matthew Wright on the inter-Maori "Musket Wars" and the NZ experience in WW1; Keith Newman's two books on the influence of missionaries in the first half of the 19th century; and one or two other things. I managed to have a game with Valleyboy and Captain Chook which I'll post about later. I'll have some photos of Maori stuff which should be useful for the NZ Wars, and of Kiwi trees and flora.
Ten Figures a Week blog represents in the UK. We also had lunch at Mission Estate (above left) which is where the Kiwi and I were married in March 2009.
Coopers Creek's excellent "Allison" Marsanne
I had tasting flights at 15 wineries in total, although we visited a few more for lunch or dinner, and I tried (so had at least one glass of) 129 different wines in total; all carefully, and rather anally, written up in the tasting notes books that I have used for almost 10 years' worth of holidays now. Hugo got into the spirit of cellar door visits by sniffing wines - although he tended to described white wines as smelling like "wee-wee" (which is probably accurate for some North Island sauvignon blancs), Hugo became quite good with red wines. At Black Barn in Hawke's Bay he described their malbec as smelling like "plums" and their rose as "strawberries"; unfortunately he then let himself down by saying their top red smelt like "poo-poo".
Hugo contemplates a career in the wine trade
Anyway, for those who are interested in such things, wine highlights were as follows: Cable Bay "Five Hills" 2006; Yealands Estate Gruner Veltliner 2012; Elephant Hill "Airavata" Syrah 2009; Ngatawara Stables Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013; Esk Valley Reserve Syrah 2006; Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013; Clearview "White Caps" Chardonnay 2012; Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Sauvignon Blanc 2013; Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Sauvignon Blanc 2013; Sileni "The Peak" Syrah 2006; Te Mata "Coleraine" 2007; Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005; Kennedy Point "Cuvee Eve" Chardonnay 2013; Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2010; Man O War "Ironclad" 2009; Gibbston Valley Pinot Gris 2012; Trinity Hill Touriga 2007; and anything by Craggy Range.