Pen Naish

Pen and her dog standing in front of Black Estate on a sunny day.

I met my husband Nicholas in Christchurch and we travelled the Northern hemisphere for wine and work, in the end returning to North Canterbury to buy a vineyard with my family. At Black Estate Winery, Nicholas makes our wines while I oversee our business and organic restaurant.

Our wines are made naturally, with minimal additives and without fining or filtering. We grow our grapes organically and biodynamically, with nature and a superb team of people. We're always looking for the season to make wines with distinct character.

Our family (a tween, teen, dog and cat) likes nature, music, food, coffee beans and well-made goods (well that might be the parents talking!). It's these genuine things that, in this busy world, remind us about how wonderful life can be.

Day Trip to Gore Bay

Gore Bay is about 45-minutes north of Black Estate. It's a long beach with an old-school beach town atmosphere. No shops, no wifi, no crowds, just a special place where you can relax and enjoy the surf rolling in, cliffs on each side and the wide open ocean. We often drive up on a Sunday for a family picnic and surfing.  

The cliffs at Gore Bay.

Central City Culture Tour

We like to see a film at Lumière Cinemas in the Arts Centre and grab a drink at the art deco bar upstairs. It's a super cute independently-owned cinema—Nick and his staff choose the best movies. As far as shopping goes, Frances Nation provides the finest selection of New Zealand-made goods. We also love getting lost in Scorpio Books and Penny Lane Records

Up the Cycling Adrenaline

We enjoy hiking and cycling around the region, including taking the kids to the Christchurch Adventure Park. The park is great because you can get lessons on downhill and mountain biking, or just hire a bike if you need to. There's a chair lift that carries your bike and from the top a myriad of tracks for any skill, so it's amazing for beginners, cruisers and hardcore downhill cyclists. Even Nicholas, who's really into cycling, is keen on the lessons to brush up on his technique!

Trek the Banks Peninsula

We recently walked the Banks Peninsula Track with our kids, and it was magical. We thought we knew the Banks Peninsula well, but the track takes you into many hidden bays. The penguins and seals are a delight, the views remarkable and the last stop at Stony Bay is genuinely magical for any age.

Lap Up Luxury at Otahuna Lodge

Otahuna Lodge is where we'd stay if we're feeling fancy. The care Hall Canon and Miles Refo and their staff put into the lodge and the gardens is an inspiration. Plus, their hospitality is a class act. If you just want to visit for a day, go for an al fresco lunch or stop by on their Garden Party day. The grounds are historic and very relaxing to spend time in.

Sip On Canterbury's History

Pop by Brew Moon in our town Amberley for great craft beer and wood-fired pizzas. Belinda and Keiren were one of the original craft beer brewers in New Zealand, so it's an incredibly genuine and local atmosphere—a great way to understand North Canterbury.

Unwind at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

We like the Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania collection of works at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. It's an excellent addition to the gallery and showcases the diversity of New Zealand. The gallery is constantly changing its exhibitions and is an incredibly creative and chill place to hang out. 

Track Down Autumn's Coveted 'Shroom

Porcini hunting in North Canterbury is a ritual in autumn when they start to pop up out of the blue. If you can't find any, head to Londo or Gatherings in Christchurch for fresh, seasonal porcini dishes. These two small restaurants are dynamic and respect local produce, so will always be serving porcini if in season. We love that Christchurch is in such a strong food producing region, so good restaurants can access quality food to tell stories about the region, climate and the producers.

Tick Off the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail

You can't miss cycling or walking the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail this time of year. The trail moves across rolling hillside vineyards, down the valley through some older farms and then back to the Waipara village. In autumn, all the vineyards are bright yellow; you can see harvest picking in action, the weather is dry and still and the days are serene. 

Get Among the Golden Leaves

Walking through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is so mellow and colourful in autumn. The Ilex Café in the heart of the gardens is beautifully designed, referencing glass-houses with plenty of natural light. It also helps that they serve pretty tasty burgers.