Yeah. There's the Sheepskin Warehouse, between Miramar and Wellington. It's basically just a warehouse with everything from sheepskin boots to Murano wool, which is kind of a blend. It's a good spot, a good place for gifts. I don't wear much sheepskin, but they do make nice boots. I also went to this fantastic chocolate shop up north, about an hour and a half from Wellington. It's in a neighboring town called Greytown, near Martinborough, and it's called Schoc. They have every kind of rare spiced chocolate and all kinds of exotic things.
You've talked about the food, but what about the wine you can get? New Zealand is famous for its wine.
There are several wine regions, but Martinborough is an area that you can actually go to and have wine tastings, which I did. You roll up into Martinborough and there will be vineyards with signs out saying they're open for tasting. I bought an interesting sparkling wine at one of them. I don't remember where it was from, but it was quite nice. I like the Hawkes Bay region. There's a wine from there called Gunn Estate. It's pretty inexpensive, but quite good. It's a Cabernet/Merlot. Someone brought it around and I had a bottle of it, and I've bought a bottle of it since.
What about beyond Wellington and Martinborough? Where else have you gone?
Queenstown. It's lush, it's green, it's awe-inspiring. There are places you can go backpacking there and you don't need a lot of money. There's every kind of adventure you can imagine there: trail riding, mountain biking, sky diving, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, lugeing, you name it. Some of The Lord of the Rings was shot in Queenstown. Peter Jackson and his production company, Camperdown Studios, did it. When I was in Queenstown, there were moments when I felt like it was something out of The Lord of the Rings.
Not only is Queenstown probably one of the most spectacular landscapes I've ever come across, it's like something from another planet. It has the most jagged mountaintops and snowcaps, and yet at the base of them are these beautiful bodies of water. It's just amazing. The easiest way to describe it is if you got in a car and drove, you'd come across every kind of terrain imaginable. And there's an immense sheep population. There are more sheep than people. So you'll come across wonderful farmlands with sheep and cattle and you'll end up at beautiful coastlines and hilly valley regions. It's about an hour's plane ride or a long ferry ride and drive from Auckland, which you fly into. I don't know Auckland, but I hear it's a pretty cool city.
You mentioned quite a few outdoor activities. Have you done any of the stuff you talked about?
I did a bit down on the south island, where there are all kinds of crazy activities to do. I don't know if I can discuss it, though, because I'm not supposed to be doing certain things, so I don't want to incriminate myself. There are some things [contractually] I shouldn't be doing.
Any great hotel experiences?
Yeah, we stayed at a lovely cottage called the Rose Cottage. It's a little country house in between Martinborough and Greytown. It's very inexpensive, not more than a few hundred dollars for the house. I will probably go back again at some point. I also had a wonderful time in Martinborough at a French restaurant called The French Bistro, a quaint little place run by a husband and wife named Jim and Wendy Campbell. I got to know them. The food and wine were fantastic, but they were the highlight. I showed up at The French Bistro one day after it had closed, and the owners cooked my girlfriend and me a lovely dinner with drinks and stuff off the menu. They were just incredibly generous and ended up joining us and dining with us. I brought a bottle of champagne and we all had a lovely time.
It sounds like Peter Jackson was a pretty generous host as well. What was it like having him as your guide?
Pretty great. Jack Black and I and Peter's son were sitting in the back of Peter's car being driven around all the south island. We had a wonderful time.