You’re probably wondering “where are the sheep?” There are lots of sheep and cows, but we’re usually driving past them at 100 km/h.

Gratuitous photo of sheep

On the advice of our server last night, we drove up to Te Mata Peak this morning to get a 360-degree view of Hawke’s Bay and the surrounding area. We drove through a beautiful neighborhood reminiscent of Marin. Modern houses with lots of glass built into the hillside and surrounded by agapanthus (I told you they’re like weeds). Definitely the ritzier area of town. There were lots of joggers, cyclists and a few guys getting ready to hang glide off the mountain.

We had a long drive from Hawke’s Bay to Wellington today, so we made a couple stops along the way. The first was by chance when I spotted a sign in the middle of nowhere for a brewery. That’s my job as the passenger, to point out random stuff while Shawn is speeding down the road at 100 km/h on the wrong side of the road. Tui Brewery, established in 1889, was a good find. There was a big crowd there because they were showing an important rugby game in the afternoon. We enjoyed a couple pints of Tui Dark and Special with lamb burgers topped with fried eggs and beet relish. (Burgers topped with a fried egg seem to be a common theme here, but you’re not hearing any complaining.)

While driving along, every once in a while a little town will pop up. Just a few shops and cafes and maybe a gas station. Often the shops on the main street are lined with hanging baskets of impatiens and other flowers. It’s very cute.

A couple hours later we stopped at Palliser Estate Winery in Martinborough because it had been recommended by the proprietors of both the B&Bs where we stayed. The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were both excellent. Shawn even liked the Rose (this is a first). We met a cute couple from San Diego. She is here doing research in Wellington for six months while her partner came along to do the driving.

Note the hedge

Note: Wine Information Charge $5 per person (a.k.a. tasting fee)

Many vines are covered with nets now that the grapes are ripe to keep the birds away

So here are a few things I’ve noticed in my two weeks in New Zealand. These people are obsessed with hedges. They will make hedges out of pine trees, boxwoods, pyracanthas, agapanthus, grasses, mixed vegetation, etc. The hedges line driveways, surround vineyards and orchards, divide pastures, etc. and they are everywhere. They range in height from a foot tall to over 30 feet tall. We’ve been in one area that had low stacked stone walls instead of hedges, but that’s because the area was originally settled by Scots.

British people say “brilliant” a lot. It makes you feel like a genius just by selecting an entree for dinner.

Kiwis have many uses for the word “sort”. After checking out of a hotel, the concierge said: “You’re all sorted.” On the radio, there is a commercial advertising a service to sort your field (I have no clue what this service entails). At a restaurant when the patron received the wrong order, the server replied, “No worries; I’ll sort it.” A billboard: “Are you sorted for 2016? Get a degree…”

Roadways are quite different. There are very few signal lights and stops signs, but lots of roundabouts. They seem to work well. There are a few road signs that are new to me. A warning sign is a yellow diamond with a huge exclamation mark. High wind areas are marked with signs depicting a windsock. When you travel through a road construction area, there is a sign at the end saying “thank you”.

A gentle reminder for those of living on the right

There is obviously a problem with people running over children in driveways because we keep hearing a public service announcement about it on the radio. A child’s voice saying “Look and see before you turn the key.”

In a few of the motor lodges we’ve stayed in, the room key must be placed in a slot on the wall while you’re in your room. This turns on the power. When you leave the room and take the key, the electricity turns off to keep you from wasting it. Brilliant!

We are staying in a funky little burb named Lower Hutt outside Wellington on our last night on the north island. The B-K Esplanade is across the street from the beach, but unfortunately, the sand is gravelly and the water along the shoreline is muddy (but it’s a beautiful blue a few hundred yards out).
We are going to walk around the corner to try a burger joint with a 5-star rating on Yelp. Sure, there is only one review, but it is a very positive and informative review.

Shawn wanted to open a bottle of dessert wine after dinner, but our room doesn’t have a wine opener. He saw a table of people drinking wine in the courtyard, so he went to ask if he could borrow an opener. He returned with a bottle of Chardonnay with a twist off cap instead. The nice Kiwis insisted he take it. And one last bonus for the evening, we just watched fireworks being shot off across the bay in Wellington.

Daily ratings:
Tui Brewery – 4 Kiwis
Palliser Estate Winery – 4 Kiwis
Burger Wisconsin – 3 Kiwis
B-K Esplanade – 2.5 Kiwis

Ice cream flavor: ginger nut
Steps taken: 7,714