The 24th was another very very wet day, which was a real shame as we were in North Havelock to see Dame Kiwi te Kanwa and Dame Malvina Major perform at the Black Barn Vineyard. We had planned to get a picnic and spend sometime in the grounds before the concert, but in the end we stayed in the campsite to the last safe moment before getting soaked to the skin as we hurried the 3kms to the concert. Nice. The rain had cause a certain amount of chaos, which worked in our favour and as latecomers we where shown to two seats in the VIP area slap bang in front of the stage. The rain eventually stopped and the concert began and I have to say it was utterly captivating. Despite the discomfort of sitting in wet clothes the audience was totally still and gave 100% attention. I occasionally forgot to lift my wine glass to my mouth.
The following day was sunny so we had breakfast on top of Tu Mata Peak which gives fantastic views over Hawks Bay, before backtracking to Napier. Napier was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and the local council made sure it was rebuilt in an art deco style, making it a beautiful town to visit. It is also at the very heart of the Hawks Bay wine area so we embarked on yet another wine tasting. We felt doomed when our transport arrived and we met our guide. Roberts was a Canadian who had come to NZ on a golfing holiday 8 years ago and forgot to go home. He wore a 'funny' hat and kept telling us what fun we would have; never a good sign. As it turned out Robert was a fascinating man and knew all you would wish to about wine, including the best places to drink it. We visited 4 vineyards; the first was run by a huge and charming Irishman who spookily was the third generation of winemakers in his family (potatoes I could understand); the second was run by a man who had made his fortune in software before selling up. He told us that the best way to make a small fortune in winemaking was to start with a big fortune, but seemed very happy where he was. The next was run by a very animated man who kept us laughing and at the last we where hosted by a cockney who had also come out on a holiday and not gone home and was again enthusiastic, engaging and hugely knowledgeable. We obviously finished the tour rather giggly and fell into the company of 2 British Met coppers, who accompanied us to another tasting, then to the pub, then back to the site for scoff and more wine. I thought that coppers were sturdy, but when I saw Darren looking very rough the next day, all he could say is 'you're evil' and I remembered that he had been well and truly broken the night before. Weak.