Road trip...Endless array of interesting sites to see in NZ...


The grapes are robust and beautiful at the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
Waiting for a sunny day to get on the road was pointless.  With rainy weather on the horizon, we decided to head out anyway as soon as Isabel and Ra arrived to clean the house for the first time.  They'd be fine on their own and its always best when we're out of the way of the cleaners.

We were in awe of the beauty of the vines.

"In a few short decades New Zealand has gone from a practically non-existent wine status to wowing the world in international competitions on a regular basis."  For more about the growth of the New Zealand wine business, please click here.


The entrance to Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
Without a plan in mind we decided to drive along the ocean in a southwest direction and see what we could find.  Unplanned outings have always been our favorite way to explore by driving until we feel like stopping.

We'd have preferred a sunny day for better photos.  Maybe it will be clear when we return.
Tom is the perfect driver in these scenarios anticipating when to stop for photos and offering to turn around if we quickly pass an interesting photo op.  Its almost as if I don't even have to ask when he has a sharper eye than I as he spots interesting scenes I may have easily missed.

The Sugarloaf Islands and Paritutu Rock, located in New Plymouth can be seen at a distance from the winery.
As we made our way along the highway, our first stop proved to be much more interesting than we'd ever expected we'd encounter on an unplanned road trip.  Before we headed out the door, Isabel and Ra suggested we stop and see the popular winery, Okurukuru.

We spotted several groups of tourists.
One may think visiting a winery when neither of us are wine drinkers could be pointless.  Yesterday, we discovered that's not the case at all.  With a beautiful restaurant and grounds there was plenty to see and we enjoyed every moment.

The vast ocean, the vineyards, the flowers and the green hills create a fabulous view.
Introducing ourselves to the manager while handing him our business card, we asked permission to wander about exploring the grounds and taking photos.  He welcomed our visit offering us free rein to explore at will.

Workers were preparing for an event on Saturday.
With neither of us hungry, staying for lunch wasn't on our radar.  Although, before leaving after touring the facilities and perusing their various menus, we made a dinner reservation for our upcoming wedding anniversary in March. 

We walked down several wide stairways for more views.
At this point, we've booked three fine dining dinner reservations; one for Valentine's Day on February 14th (not celebrated in all countries), another for my birthday on February 20th and now for our anniversary which is on March 7th.  With the winery closed on Mondays and a wedding scheduled for the 8th, we selected March 9th for our anniversary dinner celebration.
 

The grounds are meticulously maintained.
Tom often jokes about all of these celebratory occasions occurring within a three week period.  A dinner out is all either of us care to do for such events when we have no inclination toward buying each other gifts with the need for wrapping paper, tape and bows and, with no room in our luggage. 

Situated on the ocean, the winery's scenery is all the more exquisite.
Long ago, we decided on this plan with both of us at ease with a warm hug and kiss on the special day that totally fulfills our need for acknowledgement.  Our family members call, email or send a message in Facebook when its our birthdays or holidays and there again, that's appreciated and meaningful.

Future plantings at the vineyard.
Although an enthusiastic wine drinker at a period in my life, I gave it up when I changed my way of eating almost five years ago knowing in the long run it wasn't best for my health.  I do miss red wine. Tom drinks wine only when its placed in front of him when included in a meal, never ordering a glass when dining out or at a bar.

The winery's main building.
Neither of us had visited a winery for these reasons.  Now that we have, as of yesterday's tour, we're convinced visiting wineries may be worthwhile for the exquisite scenery, ambiance and meals.  We're excited to be returning in March.  When we do, we'll share photos of our multiple course meals and if Mother Nature cooperates, a sunset over the vineyards and the sea. 

Tom, at the bar and restaurant in the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery.
After we left the winery, we continued on the highway for more surprises along the road which we look forward to sharing over these next several days.  Please stay tuned...

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Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2015:


wisdom the albatross, with her 2014 chick
Wisdom, the oldest known tagged albatross, had a chick last year at 63 years old.  This photo (not ours) was taken last year as she tended to her chick.  For more photos, please click here.

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