Going Local – A Post Shared By A Recent Visitor
April 22nd, 2013
Originally posted on Trenzblog.com.
Posted by Ruth Atherley on April 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm
If I have said it once, I have said is a “kazillion” times (but who’s counting)… as beautiful and majestic as the New Zealand landscape is (and it is!), as delicious as the food is (and it is!), as wonderful as the wine is (of course it is!), and as many activities as there are to do here (many, many activities) – when it comes down to it, at the heart of the Kiwi magic are the people. At traffic lights, sitting in a café, wandering around in a shop – people talk to you here. They tell you of a great place that only locals know about; they recommend a good restaurant; they help you carry your bags… It is pretty amazing.
And David Hiatt of Canterbury Guiding Company is the king of going local when it comes to the Canterbury region. Canterbury Guides focuses on providing a luxurious, comfortable and unique experience for their guests. David is a fifth generation local, and he knows Christchurch and the Canterbury region inside and out. He also knows the people and provides his guests with unprecedented access to behind-the-scenes, real life experiences that really are the kind of memories that money just can’t buy.
Let me give you an example. David picked us up at our hotel in an incredibly comfortable SUV and took us out to the Waipara Valley. He used to live there as a child, before the vineyards began to appear in the area. Our first stop was Black Estate, which is a family run winery (two twin sisters and their husbands – Alistair, the grape grower and Nicolas, the winemaker). We had a fabulous tasting. Their wines are spectacular – my favourite is the pinot noir, which has won international acclaim. Paul was partial to the Riesling, but I have to say the chardonnay was pretty amazing too. We had a truly lovely lunch. In the wine tasting room and restaurant, Scott, who took care of us there, made it all so easy and comfortable. And then – it got crazy fabulous. David had texted the winemaker (Nicolas) and then David and Scott had a little conversation… and magically, we were going over to where they were making the wine. They had just finished picking the grapes – the night before. They were in the early stages of making the wine and we were going to get a little tour by the winemaker. Now, I don’t know about you – but as a wine lover, this is a pretty exciting thing to have happen. And while we have had the exceptional opportunity to tour some of the wineries here in New Zealand over the past couple of weeks, at Black Estate, we were going to get to be in the room with the winemaker as he created his magic. I was pretty thrilled about this.
Nicholas took us through the process of what was happening and what would happen next. He was so incredibly warm and welcoming and he answered all of my questions – and not once did he roll his eyes or make me feel silly for asking something (which I know he could have; I asked a lot of questions). He really went out of his way for us, even giving us a taste of the grape juice in the early stages of the process. You could see his passion for the wine in the way he spoke with us and in the way he showed us around. He is clearly exceptionally talented at winemaking, but there is more to it. It is obvious that he loves what he does and that he enjoys sharing this with people who are interested. There was a really great energy in that building.
And there is a young woman there who has the job of getting into the vats with the grapes and gently stomping on them (I really want that job!). Our visit was an exceptional experience that I will never forget. It was one that we never would have had, if we hadn’t been with David.
David’s relationship with the people at Black Estate allowed this to happen (and he created the opportunity for us). David not only knows the region, he knows the people. And that’s important. Canterbury Guides focuses on the special details that will make a day in this area memorable – and they are details that are unique to each guest.
David offers a range of “experiences” – not tours. Each one is created based on what the guests are interested in. The time you spend in the hands of Canterbury Guides is memorable. You get to connect with locals and experience things that are off the beaten path and that are unique to you – no one else will have exactly that experience. It belongs just to you. Just like my Black Estate experience is mine, all mine.
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