Wine and cheese in Napier
It was late afternoon on a Sunday and the chances of finding a winery open in Napier seemed slim. We were in luck, though, with Clearview Estate Winery in Te Awanga. They are wonderfully child-friendly, so while we did an extensive and speedy tasting of Clearview’s range of whites and reds, the staff kept an eye on Baby Huia ransacking the toy-box. We then settled in with glasses of red wine in front of the fire, with cheese-boards, a high-chair, everyone happy.
Back at the bach, the Seaside Retreat in Clive, it seemed only right to open the Clearview Two Pinnacles red while cooking a huge lasagne. Seaside Retreat is a charming bach, with lovely furnishings and linen, thoughtful touches such as milk in the fridge and Ecostore soap in the bathroom and flowers on the table. In summer we would make proper use of the great decks, garden, trampoline and kayaks, but for now it was board games in front of the fire.
Monday dawned sunny but freezing cold. “Ooooo, it’s not like this in Auckland,” we said, as we pushed the pram along a white, chalky causeway beside an inhospitable sea. But we liked that about it. The sign warned of frisky cows. We only saw sheep, lying incongruously amongst piles of windows and building materials. “Baaaa!” we chorused, pointing, for the baby.
The sea path runs all the way from Napier to Hastings, so you could bike or run all the way if you wanted. We didn’t. We moseyed round Napier, browsing through antique shops, nursing coffees, taking the nipper to the park on the seafront. The waves crashed on the stony beach, the ocean glittered like beaten metal in the sun, while to the south the cliffs of Cape Kidnappers were etched clear and sharp in the winter light. In the afternoon we went to the Ocean Spa. We lolled about in the hot, salt water pools, enjoying a cascade of warm water on the shoulders, looking up at the Norfolk pines of Marine Parade through the wafting steam and watching the pounding waves from the luxury of the hottest pool.
In the evening my old school friend Deryn arrived, bearing gifts of superb cheeses from Hohepa, the organic farm and residential community for people with intellectual disabilities, where she works. The farm and community, in Clive, are run according to the principles of Rudolf Steiner, and the on-site shop sells bio-dynamic cheese and farm produce. The master cheese-maker, Inacio, from Brazil, makes award-winning cheeses using bio-dynamic milk from Hohepa’s own herd of Jersey cows. Deryn, bless her, brought a lovely cumin seed cheese, a holey wedge of Danbo, a pot of herby quark, the much-feted feta, a ball of mozzarella, and a strong cheese flecked with herbs. Rich and delicious, they will be savoured for weeks. Or days.