© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Cider, Wine and a Round of Gizzy Mini Golf

© NZPocketGuide.com

273 Days on the Road

It’s our last full day in Gisborne and we’re going to enjoy it in a more relaxed “treat-yo-self” pace. Not every day can be surfing, Rere rocksliding and tandem biking. So today, we are going to enjoying the tastes of Gisborne with some cider tasting in the morning and wine tasting in the afternoon! We’re getting giddy in Gizzy!

A moment of appreciation for Scrumpy

This morning, we take a quick walk from the Waikanae Beach Top 10 Holiday Park to the Harvest Cidery. Don’t judge us too harshly for drinking alcohol at 10am, but you have to start your day somewhere. What makes the walk more delightful is seeing the flags outside of the Harvest Cidery waving the word “Scrumpy”. Scrumpy?! As in the most-seen cider in New Zealand supermarkets? As in, the go-to cider for backpackers because it’s affordable? As in “Scrumpy Hands”: the act of duct-taping bottles of Scrumpy to your hands until you finish the bottle?!

Tasting at the Harvest Cidery

When we meet the cellar door manager, Teresa, she assures us that they did not invent Scrumpy Hands! Harvest Cidery do, however, produce some of New Zealand’s most popular cider products, such as Scrumpy, Harvest and Thomas & Rose, as well as British and Irish favourites, Bulmers and Strongbow. The crew also have the facilities for contract brewing as well for smaller craft cider brands. As cheap-as backpackers, we have only tried Scrumpy from the range, so we are keen to see what else is out there.

Teresa starts getting bottle after bottle out of the fridge behind here, presenting the bottles in front of us in the most aesthetically-pleasing way. Plus, for this time of the morning, we are pretty happy with small shot-sized glasses to try the cider from.

Fruity and refreshing flavours

First things first, let’s get a reminding taste of the main man, Scrumpy Apple Cider. This is the one that has won gold in both New Zealand and international cider awards, and remains a favourite for a reason. Then we move between products, comparing apple ciders, then some mixed fruit ciders, lemon ciders, ginger ciders and ginger beer. Each one is super refreshing – something you’d want with you on a sunny day.

We finish the tastings with some new ciders we will look out for next time we are in Pakn’Save. The Thomas & Rose’s Watermelon & Cucumber is definitely a winner for us. We also finish the tastings talking about how some people would usually worry that they would be over the limit when tasting cider so they would not be able to drive legally. With that, Teresa says she has a breathalyzer to reassure customers. Although we don’t need reassuring, we give the breathalyzer a go for the sh*ts and giggles.

A sneak peak into the cidery

Now that we have established that we are not too drunk, we are sharp enough to go upstairs in the winery and have a look through the viewing window into the working cidery. We see the team getting ready to bottle the cider behind gargantuan tanks. Although Teresa can point a few things out about the process of cider-making to us, there is also plenty of information boards scattered about the room to explain the process. We also see a mini shrine dedicated to the Harvest ciders throughout the ages: we always dig looking at how much branding has changed.

That marks the end of our Harvest Cidery visit, an activity that doesn’t take too much time so that we can make something up for lunch back at the holiday park and do a wee bit of work. Although we plan to head out to the Millton Winery this afternoon, there is one quick thing we want to do to break up our alcohol tastings in Gisborne…

The hilarious Gizzy mini golf course

Hidden behind the Gisborne i-SITE, beyond all the flyers and local information, is a pretty awesome mini golf course. It’s a super cheap thing to do if you need a fun way to pass the time in Gisborne! Armed with a golf club and a ball, we go through the back of the i-SITE to the 18-hole golf course which is so pleasingly Gisborne! Each hole has a some sort of Gisborne or east coast theme: it has surfing, fishing, 4-wheel driving, fishing, the East Cape Lighthouse, our favourite: freedom camping, and so much more. We never thought we would say this but this is a golf course with an awesome sense of humour!

Playing mini golf in the warm Gizzy sun has our thirst building again, which is ideal since we have more drinks to taste at the Millton Vineyard. (Don’t worry, we know the best way to cure thirst is H2O, we are purely looking for transitions between activities here…)

Wine tasting at the Millton Vineyard

New Zealand’s first organic and bio-dynamic vineyard is a 10-15 minute drive out of the city centre. We park under the trees of the parking area, stepping out of the car to the sight of chickens grazing at the bottom of the vines. We walk into a super decorative cellar door: a beautiful garden area with water features and bird baths attracting native birds and a dimly-lit bar area with half of the room used for stacking French oak barrels of wine.

We are greeted by one of the staff, Simon, behind the bar who gets straight into conversation asking where we are from, what wines are we into, etc. That way he can cater the wine-tasting to us. It’s a fairly go-with-the-flow feel at Millton, where no two winery visits are the same. While some people prefer a glass of wine and a cheese board, others might get the chance to sit down with a wine-maker of a bottle of Chenin Blanc, a new wine varietal (to us) that Millton loves but you’re not likely to find at many other wineries around the country. We also try wines from four different vineyards Millton use, including Chardonnay (a Gisborne classic), Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Syrah.

Going behind the scenes

As we have arrived at the quieter end of the day, Simon also has the time to give us a quick behind-the-scenes of the working winery, showing us the bottling process in particular. We also get to learn more about the bio-dynamic aspect of the vineyard, with Simon showing us an astrological chart used to determine when to harvest, when is the best time to taste the wine, etc.

A marvellous Millton cheese board

Our Millton Vineyard visit ends with a glass of the Chenin Blanc and a cheese board in the garden. We have a beautiful selection of Italian meats, New Zealand-made cheeses, a spicy carrot chutney, capers and crusty flatbread. As we said, we would end our time in Gisborne at a more relaxed and “treat yo-self” pace, and, man, Millton Vineyards has definitely helped us achieve that.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the action-packed pace of travelling! Join us for wild stingray feeding at 6am then spending the night in a Maori pa site!

“What? Where are the 360 pictures, you bunch of slackers!” Well, just look at yesterday’s post to read the devastating story about what happened to our camera…

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See you tomorrow!


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