Our time up North had sadly come to an end, and despite eating more than my fill of avocado and all manner of fish dishes – recipes can be found soon in the recipe section on this blog – it was now time to head South. I had a skydive session booked, chocolates to eat, more friends to meet and an Island of Wine to explore. Heading south we pass the Kaori store, featuring a staircase carved from a giant hollowed out Kaori tree!
Back on the endless road again we are flanked by never ending fields, punctuated occasionally by a derelict building, distinctly similar to the South Western states of the US, until we come across a Jandal Fence in a drive way in a small town, and I realise I’m still in New Zealand!
In a couple of hours we’d be arriving in Whangarei for my skydive, as I was unable to do one in Taupo due to the storm. Although Whangarei isn’t really considered a tourist ‘hot spot’ for skydiving, I would definitely recommend it! I immediately felt like one of the locals as everyone was so friendly, with some local regulars even turning up to do jumps. Instead of being crammed in like sardines with 6 other tourists and their instructors into a small aircraft, it was just me, my instructor and the pilot in an even smaller aircraft! So much more personal and the view was equally breathtaking. Coming back down to earth, being me I immediately wanted to go back up again! Thank you Tony for being awesome, and a big thanks to Dalton who was our pilot. What made Skydive Ballistic Blondes an instant winner for me? They even have a pet pig, yes, we were greeted as soon as we opened the car door by a pig, from a distance I thought she was a staffy, this totally made my day!
**Images and video coming soon – watch this space to see me making a fool of myself!
CHOCOLATE HEAVEN at BENNETT’S
All this driving and flying and jumping had caused us to work up quite an appetite, and on our way to the next destination we came across one of New Zealand’s finest chocolate shops – Bennett’s. With a large open plan working kitchen on the site, witch clear glass, you could see the masters hard at work crafting their exquisite creations – 42 below feijoa caramel anyone?
We were here to stay for a while as there was a lovely little cafe around the corner, but the chocolate was much more exciting. As well as the feijoa caramel, there was a softer, more chocolatey feijoa truffle, and when packed in a box with New Zealand Gin & Cranberry truffles, New Zealand Vodka & Blackcurrant and Mangawhai Sea Salt Caramel (Bennett’s very own take on the European classic, infused with their special local salt) it made me realise; maybe I don’t need lunch, maybe this really is all I need!
With a multitude of Great Taste and New Zealand awards it’s clear to see why Bennett’s is as popular as it is!
They are even doing their little bit to save the Kiwi – proceeds from the purchase of chocolate kiwis (yes, don’t worry, not real kiwis) go towards the Maranui Conservation which is working to help save the bird.