It's been an enjoyable stay at The Brothers and Allie now predominantly runs the boutique hotel on her own. Her father spent 14 years restoring and renovating the building and establishing the business. These days he only comes down when she really needs a hand - like tomorrow when she has to do breakfasts for 28 people!
We head out of the hotel and down the steep one way street into the Dunedin centre and then turn north towards Oamaru and the beach at Moeraki. We are travelling through rain and mist for the length of the journey. Inconvenient but not at all cold. As we are on the Highway 1 heading in the general direction of Christchurch, the traffic is much heavier with everyday commuters and delivery trucks than travellers. And they are all in a hurry - as though their work cannot wait. Oh, and the occasional pedestrian on a very long walk, a strange sight on a day like today.
Ooh, a cheese factory - we dart into a small side street to visit the Evansdale Cheese Factory - a small independent operation and come away with two cheeses - smoked brie and sage cheddar.
We are travelling back through the mountains as they come down to meet the sea, which is broiling angrily today - passing through Palmerston (funny, I always thought it as a bigger town), then Bushy and then Shag Point before turning off to the beach at Moeraki. At this beach, we (well Michael, while I looked from the car-park, because it is still raining lightly) visit the Moeraki Boulders. These siltstone rocks are unique in their weathering. The closest thing that I can compare them to are huge thunder eggs.
They vary in size from a rockmelon through to ones larger than a man - Michael's hat gives some perspective and his video really demonstrates their location well. I love the ones that have been weathered by the constant forces of water and wind until they have broken apart. Some of them are covered in tiny razor-sharp barnacles.
Then we are back on the road heading north to Oamaru. Although the town only has a population of 13,900, its CBD is much larger than Maryborough's and along the entire length the main street is lined with flower filled hanging baskets - they provide colour and made the town feel very inviting and cheerful. There are some impressive neo-classical buildings, but as we still have a way to go, we decide to have a quick look as we drive through.
As we head north through town - ooh - another cheese factory! This is the Whitestone Cheese Factory - much larger and with an established export market. we try a sampler plate and they have some really delicious cheeses including a very smooth blue cheese that I can try as there are bands without the 'blue bits' in it - yum yum yum.
Allie has told us of a wonderful restaurant to pop in to for lunch.
Riverstone Kitchen is about 15 kms north of the town. In fact, it sits out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farmlands. Their gardens are filled with everything BIG. Big cosmos, big zucchini (and the zucchini flowers), big (HUGE) mushrooms the size of a dinner plate, big melons and some of the biggest pumpkin I have seen. "It's the cow shit" explains the farmer laconically who is trimming stalks the size of bananas from the mushrooms!
There are plenty of people here and we need to wait for 15 minutes for a table. There are people at a table adjacent who are having their dessert and it looks fabulous - gooseberry + blackcurrant shortcake with vanilla bean ice cream I am told when I asked. The menu is simple and uncluttered and there are a couple of additional daily specials. After forever to consider, we choose (Michael) beer-battered fish (sole) + chips with salad greens, tartare sauce, lemon + fresh herb while I chose Havoc pork with wet polenta, roast baby carrots, wilted greens + oregano oil.
Now, this meal was one of the highlights of our New Zealand food journey. The polenta must have been cooked slowly, like the pork. And who would have thought to pair it with Oregano - it worked so well. Michael's fish was delicious - the batter was light and complemented the pure white flesh it enclosed and the tartare sauce was to-die-for.
Normally we would bypass dessert, but not this time! Lemon Meringue with Blackcurrant Ice-cream and Michael had the Toffee-apple Crumble with Caramel Sauce with Zabaglione Ice-cream. Both were amazing. We finished with coffee and bought one (and only one) of their savoury scones to have for dinner as we knew that we would not want much.
Truly amazing and I am sending a message to Allie to thank her for the recommendation!
Once replete, we get back in to the car to finish our journey to Fairlie - back into the high mountains and the closest accommodation that we could get to Lake Tepako where Michael is hoping to take a flight over the Glaciers tomorrow. He received a phone call from the company while we were travelling asking us to phone in about 8:15 am. The cloud cover is very dense and covers a wide band of the skies today and if it does not clear, the flight just might be in jeopardy - egads!
We have a two bedroom unit at the motel here in Fairlie. Tiny bathroom, but functional kitchen included. I have sorted through the brochures that I want to bring home and safely packed the souvenirs.
And as a special treat, I tried to upload a video Michael took of the Moeraki Boulders - but the file is too big - I'll give it a go on my Facebook page!