On to Paeroa, where we saw the giant bottle of L&P (lemon and, though it's not the local water now) and decided not to stop. The main road veers off half way down the high street having made the same decision. A very pretty drive to Thames through rolling green hills with the sun throwing rays of light through the clouds over a backdrop of multilayered misty mountains.
Thames sprawls along the coast hiding the sea very effectively behind a shopping mall. Checked into a pretty motel that's by a brook (the Brookby in fact). Dinner at The Old Thames, which looks like a slightly tacky diner but has excellent food. Rare steak was rare, garlic king prawns were enormous and redolent of garlic, Andrew Harris Mudgee Shiraz was smooth, rounded, fruity and chocolatey as promised and the vegetables were quite different. Broccoli, cauliflower, lyonnaise potatoes, carrots with dijon honey mustard - and kumara mashed with pineapple under a sour cream egg mouse. You have to taste it to believe it, and it's delicious!