Chocolate, Wine, and Cuddling with Sheep: A Trip to New Zealand’s Countryside

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays and ideas for Christmas stocking stuffers. Chocolate always makes for a great stocking stuffer, right? So I thought back to my trip to New Zealand and it brought back my chocolate tasting experience at a small cottage along the countryside…And I thought maybe I should share a little of my experience.

My favorite part about visiting New Zealand a few years back for the Society of American Travel Writers convention was the day-trip via train from Wellington to the small village of Greytown. It’s about an hour ride northeast of Wellington and has a population just over 2,000.

Yeah, sure there’s lots to see and do in Wellington including the “Lord of the Rings” tour, but visiting the countryside was relaxing…and it satisfied my wine and chocolate cravings.

GREYTOWN

After hopping off the train, we headed for downtown. Greytown’s Main Street is lined with Victorian style cottages, boutique shops, historic trees, cafes, quaint hotels and a unique chocolate shop. I can see why it’s been called “the prettiest town” on the North Island.

Visitors should stop by the Cobblestones Museum to discover the history of the town for the first stop. Due to time constraints I did not tour the museum. Gotta save time for the wine and chocolates.

NZ Pioneer House
Cobblestones Museum

SCHOC CHOCOLATES 

Not far from the museum sits my favorite place in Greytown…Schoc Chocolates. Step into this small-cottage shop to awaken your senses with smells of not only chocolate, but also saliva-inducing wafts of spices, flowers and mixtures of some 60+ flavors of hand-made chocolates that you would have never imagined…like the popular lime chili chocolate. It has a little kick to it, but it’s delicious. Hot chili flakes and lime are infused into the chocolate.

You will also find flavors like pink peppercorn, lemon and cracked pepper, strawberry and black pepper, sweet basil, geranium flowers, curry, lavender, and coffee with walnuts…just to name a few. And if that’s not enough, they also make chocolates infused with whiskey, rum, brandy, tequila, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.

chilliwopt

These unique blends of chocolate are the creations of owner Murray Langham, who calls himself a Chocologist. He opened the store in 2002 and has since been devising the tasty chocolate creations from scratch using cocoa beans to make the base chocolate.

NZ Cocoa Beans
Cocoa beans used to make the base chocolate

Schoc Chocolates is a must-visit for any chocolate lover. You can order online, but you’ll pay about $37.00 (US) dollars for shipping…it’s well worth it.

WINE TASTING

We also visited a wine shop and tasted a variety of New Zealand wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling to Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Greytown is a must-stop on the wine trail.

 

KAHIKATEA GARDENS & FARM 

After a delicious sandwich at a local deli we hopped on a bus to drive to the countryside of Greytown to the Kahikatea Gardens where tour groups can pet and cuddle with the friendly farm animals, tour the gardens with fruit orchards and nut trees, or just relax. The garden and farm boasts native trees that are hundreds of years old. In fact, the farm is named after the 900 year-old Kahikatea tree in the garden.

20111110_Pie Lab_0777

The gardens are filled with roses, azaleas, camellias (Alabama’s State Flower), walnut, hazel and chestnut trees, and lemon trees. You’ll see so many more flowers like lilies, hydrangeas and Kowhai depending on the season. Chutney and jams are made with the produce from the farm and are available for sale in the small onsite shop.

Visitors can get up close and personal with sheep, alpacas, donkeys and miniature horses. They are cute and hard to resist.

The gardens and tours are only available for groups and are $25 or $20 depending on the size of the group.

Planning a trip to New Zealand? Make sure you visit Greytown along the way. Who couldn’t use a little chocolate, wine and cuddling?

NZ Funny sign
Thought this sign was funny. Posted outside of White Swan Hotel in Greytown

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