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Exploration in Otago & Southland

I thought I would share some of the many lovely things about our holiday in Otago and Southland.  Since the beginning of the year, we have had this holiday planned for after the busy Spring season.
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Market peonies-579

I thought I would share some of the many lovely things about our holiday in Otago and Southland.  Since the beginning of the year, we have had this holiday planned for after the busy Spring season.  We are fortunate enough to be able to visit with friends in Cromwell where we are always able to fill in our time pottering around markets, visiting lovely village shops, wine tasting, and having long lunches etc.
Market Cromwell

Our first day in Cromwell was a Sunday, so a visit to the Cromwell Market in the old town was a "must do".  It is a really great spot with live music and a smallish market,  with an excellent range of food.  There was something for everyone.  Personally, I think I managed to taste most things, including relish, jam, vinegars, meats, tea,  and breads.  Cromwell is an area of extremes, (of temperature & landscapes), and I think this is reflected in their regional food.  The cherry vinegar and Pinot sauce were two of my favourites and a must for purchasing for home.
Market peonies
My friend spotted the peonies straight away and purchased some with great delight as they were the perfect gift to buy for our hosts.  They provided the most divine perfume throughout the house.  We don't tend to have them in the Bay of Plenty as it is a little too warm and they last such a short time, so it was nice to enjoy them in the cooler climes.

Cherries are one of my fave fruits, and I had been told it was a little too early for cherries, so I was ecstatic when I discovered the first ones on sale - sizable boxes of seconds for a bargain price.  Needless to say, we took some of them home and munched our way through them very quickly.
Market Wild Thyme

It was a wise decision not to have breakfast before we went because we bought the most divine pastries (Danish with asparagus and bacon, pain au chocolate, vanilla slice and bacon & egg pie) from Wild Thyme Gourmet in the market and then great coffee from Amando's Kitchen (who had a lovely selection of Kings Seeds microgreens and herbs packaged to sell).  We then sat in the sunshine looking out at the hills and the turquoise blue water of Dunstan Lake - bliss.  We returned to Amando's Kitchen for a delicious dinner and I enjoyed spotting all the items grown from Kings Seeds seed when not gazing at the view.

We managed to get to the market again the following Sunday and did it all over again, which was just as enjoyable.

Timing was great for the men in our wee group as they did a road trip down to the Burt Munro Rally in Southland.  This is an excellent event by all accounts.  It was their second time attending all the racing and they even managed to find themselves a lovely apartment in the middle of Invercargill rather than brave the weather in tents.  As for the girls, we did a road trip too - down to the Catlins for a couple of days and then further around the coast to Riverton.  We happened to choose the most windy time of the year, but this just added to the exhilaration of exploring the coastline and spotting seals and penguins.
Southland coast

Waterfall 1

One of the funniest things we saw was a seagull being blown off the picnic table on which it was perched.   When we needed a bit of a break from the wind, we explored the bush and some beautiful waterfalls.
Peonies Omeo

On the last couple of days of our holiday there was an open day at Omeo Peonies, so off we trooped for a few hours wandering among the 80 varieties.  The colours were incredible and it was hard to choose a favourite.  Some beautiful names included 'Many Happy Returns", "Angel Cheeks" and "James Pillow". 
1Festiva Maxima

My favourite was 'Festiva Maxima" which has stunning colours.

There is so much more that I could share about my stay ... snow dusted hills, wild thyme everywhere, tiny miners' huts dotted about the hills, vast vistas of grape vines, the turquoise colour of the water........thank you, Southland and Otago for your hospitality.  We look forward to returning.
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Jackie says ...
Great blog Karen, Central Otago and Southland are extreme and unique. A group of friends and I journeyed thru the Catlins, Bluff (for the Oyster Festival) Riverton and out to the start of the Humpridge Track. So much of the vegetation was growing on a severe angle because of the constant force of the predominant wind, which looked quite amusing.
Next time try to get down to the Southern Lakes area in autumn. We went this year and spent the whole time agog at the colours of the fall. The poplars and particularly the various types of Rowan trees were breathtaking, as were the view of the lakes as there was no wind at the time, so they were mirroring the folds of the mountains around them.
Hope you all have a great Christmas and a revitalising break.

Oh dear!

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