Qantas The Australian Way editor Susan Skelly's suggestions for where to stay, taste and eat in New Zealand's wine country.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
446 Clifton Road, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay.
The real test of luxury accommodation is how it behaves in a crisis. When, in the week after Easter, two days of uncharacteristic gale-force winds and torrential rain felled trees, washed away parts of the road and disrupted power, internet and water supplies, Cape Kidnappers proved the best place to be held hostage by the weather. No golf, gannets, glorious walks or glam spa treatments, but stranded guests still had board games fireside, the plushest armchairs, a library to browse, wine tastings, and a fine dinner by candlelight, produced under generator power. Staff showed consummate grace under pressure, handling an eventual evacuation and rescheduling of onward flights and car hirings with no more drama than rallying troops for a kiwi discovery tour. This golfer’s paradise is in the same portfolio as Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri. From $NZ620pp.
Craggy Range Vineyards
253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay.
A designer cellar door at the foot of the Te Mata Peak in Havelock North, Craggy Range’s Giants Winery is one of the region’s most sensible pit stops. Not only can you taste some of the label’s signature single vineyard drops - The Quarry (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon); Sophia (Merlot and Cabernet Franc); Le Sol (Syrah); and Les Beaux Cailloux (Chardonnay) - but you can dine alfresco by the lake in Terroir, recently voted by NZ’s Cuisine magazine as Winery Restaurant of the Year, and afterwards drift off for a tour of a gleaming winery whose floors you could eat off, and then an overnighter in one of two cottages set among the Chardonnay vines of the Tuki Tuki Valley. On a clear day, the view from Te Mata Peak is mandatory.
530 Puketapu Road, Taradale, Hawke's Bay.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, a little unassuming winery earning a big reputation for its Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier, the latter picking up a gold medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards in London last year. Moana Park aims for low-allergen wines with its minimal use of preservatives. It’s a cosy cellar door, and you are likely to be steered through a tasting by the winemaker and owner Dan Barker himself.
86 Clifton Road Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay.
Elegant winery dining at its best. The bold ambience (part of a NZ$40m project) is courtesy of Central Otago architect John Blain, also behind the clean industrial lines of Craggy Range’s cellar door. The winery boasts a vaulted, concave ceiling and interior that is a nifty collision between concrete and radiata pine. The restaurant is a destination for locals who lunch as well as tourists who tipple. Venison with cheddar soufflé and a beet and poached pear salad to accompany it is a knock-out, as is roasted chicken breast with thyme and caramelised radicchio. Wine matches are suggested and the advice is worth taking. Order the creamy quince and honey ice-cream with raspberries. You deserve it. Mains NZ$28-$38