In New Zealand, Sauvignon Wishes and Sashimi Dreams

Was it worth the trip? ‌ ‌

On my last visit to New Zealand, in 2013, I thought that this country was beautiful, but perhaps not exciting. In 2022, the quiet beauty of New Zealand seemed less than commonplace, but rather revealing. I’ll have salmon sashimi, or any other excuse I can muster, to experience a place like this.

Flights from the United States and most other countries land in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, on the North Island. From Auckland, it’s a one-hour, 25-minute flight to Marlborough Airport, the northern gateway to the South Island. After my road trip, I flew in from Queenstown in the south, the country’s adventure tourism hub.

mapu, in Lyttleton on the outskirts of Christchurch, seats just six, with one seat for dinner, so book as far in advance as possible. A non-alcoholic meal for a couple costs NZ$280 (about $172); with wine, it’s NZ$370.

accommodation in Glenburn Coastal Retreat, in Hapuku, just north of Kaikoura, costs $429 a night; for that, you get a stand-alone house with a living room, spacious bathroom, bedroom, and a BBQ grill in the backyard, as well as amazing ocean and mountain views.

Estate Black Wines, in Waipara Valley, has an excellent restaurant and makes some of the best wines in the area. A multi-course meal with wine costs about $120. The estate also offers wine tastings and rents an apartment for $395 a night.

In Christchurch, the George Hotel, opposite Hagley Park, is what every city needs: a comfortable, hyper-local luxury hotel with meticulous service. Rooms start at $428 per night.

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