Our last week in the South Island was spent in the same way as our first, with our friends Juliette and Adam near Christchurch. The winter sun shone brightly every day slowly melting the morning frosts and highlighting the glinting snow capped mountains on the horizon. We were happy to be able to help them out a little with gorse clearing on their property and James reignited his pyromaniac-esque passion for bonfires (and set himself alight in the process!) and Juliette (brunette) was delighted to give Juliette (blonde) yoga classes while Adam tinkered with his toys (AKA cars) in the garage. We were truly sad to leave such a welcoming home with even the cats who made offerings of decapitated rabbits and quivering mice. We spent our last day in Akaroa, a little French style town on the coast where les francais were said to have landed before Captain Cook landed!
Blonde and brunette Juliette Burning gorse James’ tractor
A short flight later and we were in windy Welly, the capital of New Zealand. A city of vibrant culture, hipsters, skateboarders, coffee roasters and craft breweries. James had already declared Wellington his favourite place in NZ and he was keen to share his enthusiasm with John and Jess who came down from Auckland for the weekend. A tour was carefully planned and practiced with speculative trips to a Cuban style coffee roasters called Havana where we learnt about coffee berries, green beans and hot air, Wellington Chocolate Factory where we nibbled on cacao beans and Anzac chocolate (with crunchy coconut and oats) and Figg & Fog, a tiny peanut butter producer where you crouch down at an inconspicuous hole in the wall to try the Paprika and Chilli PB followed by the Dark Chocolate PB.
Havana coffee roasters
James’ pre beer workout. On the way down after reaching the top….
On the Saturday the four Js (John, Jess, Juliette and James) began James’ magical mystery tour by visiting Wellington Chocolate Factory. WCF produce organic chocolate and their motto is ‘from bean to bar’. They produce a range of unusual flavours including chilli lime and nuts, peanut butter and raspberry and a craft beer chocolate. The perfect warm up for the next stop: Black Dog Brewery.
Black Dog brewery – the bar is set up around the brewing towers.
First beer of the day in Black Dog
Black Dog is one of James’ favourite bars in Wellington and if he ever goes missing people should check there first. He has been to the bar so regularly that they gave him a Black Dog T-shirt and asked him to help with glass collecting. The beer of choice on the tour here was a sour wheat beer named Berliner Weisse (Ich Bin Ein) a German style of beer with a sour lemon flavour.
James and John before John turned into a beer expert
We then moved onto another dog: Parrotdog, a brewery formed by two guys both named Matt while at university using a homebrewed kit and has evolved from there. We tried every beer on tap and after discussing the nose and taste of the beer we all decided we have very differing favourites!
Parrot dog cellar door and some of their beers.
The next brewery was one that James was most excited about as they are well known for producing very different beer and using local artists to produce eye catching designs. The brewery is called Garage Project and is located in a valley that receives no light and some of the dark beers are brewed with this as a theme. The brewery does a lot to brighten up the dark side of the valley! Some of the more interesting beers we tried were:
- Wabi Sabi Sour – Honeydew melon and yuzu sour beer.
- Cherry bomb – sour cherries and cacao nibs.
- Chateau Aro – Pinot Noir grape juice and conditioned in year old oak barrels for 10 months.
- Cereal Milk Stout – brewed with corn flakes, oats, chocolate and milk sugar.
- The Fabulous Firebreather – spiced with habanero chilies, turmeric and ginger.
- VPA – brewed with toasted coriander, lemongrass, Kafir lime and grapefruit.
It is easy to see that in this brewery there was a beer for everyone! We moved from the brewery to Garage Project’s tap room/bar opposite owned by Garage Project where they had over 20 beers on tap. With a few of the beers they add vanilla sugar to the top and then place a hot poker into the beer which caramelises the sugar, almost like a creme brûlée.
Hot poker caramelising sugar in the beer
Another interesting beer was Two Tap Flat White. This beer is poured using two separate taps, the first pours a coffee stout and the second a milk cream ale which produces a beer that looks like a flat white coffee! The bar even had a tasting paddle that they paired with Wellington Chocolate Company chocolate!
Beer and chocolate pairing: the perfect tasting paddle!
At this stage of the tour any beer drunk would have tasted good so we had a break from breweries to have dinner. We went to Loretta’s which is located on Cuba Street named after an early settler ship to New Zealand in 1840 – The Cuba. Once the main road of Wellington’s tram network the road is not completely pedestrianised and contains an eclectic variety of cafes, boutique shops, art galleries and restaurants. We enjoyed a delicious meal of salads and pizzas (no prizes for guessing who had which meal), cheesecake and pavlova. John even had a goat pizza which James still says tasted like chicken!
Corn holing at Garage Project
The last beer stop was Fork & Brewer which has an impressive 40 beer taps. It was hard to decide on the beers we wanted so asked the bar staff to select a tasting paddle for each of us based on the types of beers we like. When the beers arrived James’s paddle contained a number of fruity sour beers. We shall say no more about that.
James’ manly tasting paddle!
After the beer and walking tour of Wellington in the sun it is clear why the city is so popular with tourists with so much to see and do around the city and a diverse mix of people!
Wellington from the top of Mount Victoria
And now to make the most of our last couple of weeks in beautiful NZ. As always thank you for reading!
James & Juliette x