Making the Most of New Zealand
New Englanders meeting up with their daughter in New Zealand are in search of places to drink in the views and the wine, with hiking on the side.
We're flying to the South Island to visit Christchurch and Queenstown. Where should we eat?
For a special meal in the heavily British-influenced city of Christchurch, try Curator's House Restaurant. The lamb and seafood are superb, and the setting—a Tudor mansion beside the Avon River in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens—might be even better (7 Rolleston Ave., 011-64/3-379-2252, curatorshouse.com, entrées from $13). Nearby, in a fantastic stone building that wouldn't look out of place in Oxford, England, is Annies Wine Bar & Restaurant, a more casual option that still works for a nice lunch or dinner and has a wonderful wine list (The Arts Centre, 1 Worcester Blvd., 011-64/3-365-0566, annieswinebar.co.nz, lunch from $12.50, dinner entrées from $20).
Queenstown is full of decent pubs and restaurants, but for something different, go to Joe's Garage, a hip, laid-back café with toasted sandwiches and tasty all-day breakfast (Searle Ln., off Camp St., 011-64/3-442-5282, sandwiches $8). Finding a place to relax is a challenge in Queenstown, the so-called adrenaline capital of the world. If you're craving a little peace and quiet, drive 10 minutes from downtown to Amisfield Winery & Bistro, housed in a stone-and-timber building. Go for lunch so you can take in the views of the vineyards (10 Lake Hayes Rd., 011-64/3-442-0556, amisfield.co.nz, lunch from $12).
Where can we find a nice setting for a wine tasting near Christchurch?
About an hour north of town, Pegasus Bay Winery is a standout—and not just for its smooth reds. The gardens are teeming with fruit trees and herbs for the restaurant, and the rolling hills and vineyards look like they're right out of southern France. Both restaurant and winery rely on sustainable organic practices (263 Stockgrove Rd., Waipara, 011-64/3-314-6869, pegasusbay.com).
Just outside the coastal town of Akaroa, on the peninsula southeast of Christchurch, French Farm Winery & Restaurant has a Tuscan-style restaurant; during the warmer months—usually late October through late March—the outdoor pizzeria is open. Order a couple of thin-crust pies to go with the wines (12 Winery Rd., Akaroa, 011-64/3-304-5784, frenchfarm.co.nz, pizzas from $17).
We'd love to go horseback riding near Queenstown. Is that possible?
Certainly. A 15-minute drive from town, Moonlight Stables is an 800-acre ranch with rides through open fields that look up to mountain peaks (69 Morven Ferry Rd., 011-64/3-442-1229, moonlightcountry.co.nz, rides from $71). The scenery at Dart Stables, 45 minutes from town, where some footage for The Lord of the Rings was filmed, is absolutely spectacular (58 Coll St., Glenorchy, 011-64/3-442-5688, dartstables.com, rides from $90).
Unasked-for advice Visit the seaside town of Oamaru in the early evening, when the amazingly cute Oamaru blue penguins march back to their nests after a long day of fishing (Waterfront Rd., Oamaru, 011-64/3-433-1195, penguins.co.nz, $15).