Fly across the ditch for a feast of food and wine
STUNNING scenery, popular snowfields, The Hobbit, the All Blacks, a really cool Prime Minister and a slightly different way of using the English language are just a few of the things that spring to mind when the words New Zealand are uttered.
Dig a bit deeper though and the famous Sauvignon Blancs of the Marlborough region, the Pinot Noirs of Central Otago and Martinborough come to mind, along with kiwi fruit, the lamb, the traditional Maori Hangi cooked lovingly underground and tasty New Zealand seafood.
For lovers of amazing food and wine, the news is all good when it comes to treating yourself to a New Zealand holiday.
In just three short hours travellers can fly direct from Sunshine Coast Airport to the beautiful city of Auckland and start exploring it's busy food scene.
New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, who owns the Providores and Tapa Room and Kopapa in London and is executive chef at The Sugar Club and Bellota in Auckland, says New Zealand offers great food in smart surroundings, with service that is professional and friendly.
"A native paua (abalone) cooked just so, drizzled with some lemon-scented extra virgin olive oil and topped with a little mashed kumara will make you feel good, both physically and emotionally," says Peter.
A quick flick through the winner's list in Metro's Top 50 Auckland Restaurants for 2018 reveals there's something for everyone when it comes to the style and tastes of food on offer in the city.
Fine dining restaurant Sidart was named the Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year for 2018, with modern Indian restaurant Cassia as runner-up. Other names to make the list that might be worth a bit of research when planning a city visit include Casita Miro, Hugo's Bistro, Apero, Ponsonby Road Bistro, Cazador, Cocoro and Pasture.
Auckland, one of two major cities on New Zealand's north island with it's two large harbours and attractions including the Auckland Domain, a park built around an extinct volcano and home to the formal Wintergardens, offers a great place for a city break with a difference, or as a stepping stone to a bigger New Zealand adventure.
For the wine lovers, that adventure might come in the form of following the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail from Hawke's Bay to Marlborough.
The tourism board, via www.newzealand.com offers a 5 day, 485km intinerary travelling from Hawke's Bay on the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island with stops in Wairarapa and Wellington along the way.
It's a journey that includes a three hour ferry trip across Cook Strait through the Marlborough Sounds which has been consistently rated as one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world.
Wine Journalist and international wine judge Bob Campbell MW (master of wines) says New Zealand has built a reputation for producing the world's best Sauvignon Blanc with a unique style that is more pungently fruity than any other wine from the grape variety.
The Sauvignon Blanc variety accounts for two thirds of all New Zealand wine produced, but there's still plenty of other options for people to try, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah and Bordeaux-style reds on offer.
Mr Campbell believes Pinot Noir is one of New Zealand's most exciting wine styles, and it's growing in both reputation and sales. He defines it as very fruity, tending to be softer and more approachable than the wines of the benchmark Burgundy region.
If all this talk of food and wine has whet your appetite for more, check out the direct flights from the Coast at www.airnewzealand.com.au and start planning now, before the 2018 season ends and you're faced with driving to Brisbane before you take off.
A quick look at the Sunshine Coast Airport website in late August told us that from now until October 14, flights are expected to be leaving on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. They scale back to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from October 17-21 and Friday and Sunday on October 26-28.