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Auckland to Wellington food & wine trail

10 nights, Auckland to Wellington

Auckland to Wellington food & wine trail

Explore New Zealand's food and wine scene on this great 10 day itinerary. Discover Auckland's hidden foodie gems and the delights of the Matakana region before heading south through Hobbit country and on to Rotorua. Hawke's Bay is your next stop, with the chance to visit some outstanding New Zealand wineries. Experience some of the best with a Twilight Odyssey wine tour before continuing south to Martinborough, home to some of New Zealand's finest boutique wineries. Enjoy a guided tour of the local artisan producers and winemakers, then it's over the hill to the country's capital city of Wellington, and a walking tour of the cities best cafes, delis and bakeries.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Auckland City, New Zealand
Hakes Bay Winery, New Zealand
Lake Rotorua at Sunrise, North Island, New Zealand
Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation, relax or explore. This evening enjoy a relaxed dinner cruise on the harbour

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

See Auckland after dark with this amazing on-water dining experience, not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Take in the sights of the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland’s highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering.

At our sheltered mooring you'll be served delicious New Zealand fare - choose from a delectable three course menu catered for by a renowned Viaduct Restaurant.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Dinner

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$35-NZ$45 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 2 - Today explore Auckland and its food and wine producers on a half day tour

Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch

Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch

Today you'll be leaving the city and heading northwest to Kumeu Wine Country, Auckland's Heritage Wine Region. Enjoy lunch at a contemporary vineyard, sample world-renowned wines and marvel at the rugged surf-fringed coastline nearby. Your first stop is award-winning Soljans Estate Winery. Utilising both traditional and modern techniques, Soljans produce varied and richly flavoured wines. Built with sunshine in mind and a distinct Mediterranean-style, the onsite restaurant showcases fresh seasonal produce from around the region.
Continuing on, you'll visit the Muriwai Gannet Colony - one of the few mainland nesting sites in the world. Situated on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman sea you'll have breathtaking views of the beach and ocean beyond. Your final tasting is at West Brook Winery, one of New Zealand's oldest. These wines reflect true varietal character and their unique regional origins.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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Day 3 - Enjoy a trip to Waiheke Island Today for a tas

Taste of Waiheke Vineyard Tour

Taste of Waiheke Vineyard Tour
Taste of Waiheke Vineyard Tour
Taste of Waiheke Vineyard Tour
Taste of Waiheke Vineyard Tour

Board the ferry from the Auckland Ferry Terminal and relax as you cruise the sparkling Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island. On arrival you'll be directed to your coach and set off to your first tasting at Stonyridge Vineyard, where you'll wander the ivy clad buildings, sample award-winning wines and enjoy a sumptuous light lunch. You then depart for Rangihoua Estate, which introduces you to Waiheke’s olive growing industry (includes olive oil tasting). A stop at Wild on Waiheke offers optional beer tasting as well as wine, and the chance to sample home grown preserves and chutneys. Your tour is concluded with final tastings at the beautiful Mudbrick Vineyard before returning to the ferry terminal.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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Day 4 - Collect your rental car and drive south through Waikato farmland via Hobbiton Village before continuing to Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

As you drive South on State Highway one you'll  go through the rich farming community and dairy pastures of the Waikato king country.  Passing the Bombay Hills - the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area - you'll turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and its here you can see many locations used in the filming of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit as well as visiting the actual set of Hobbiton.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Today visit the actual Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. In the heart of the Waikato farming region, take a two hour tour through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree - all the while hearing behind-the-scenes tales and learning about the making of the films. You'll also have the opportunity to tour a picturesque sheep farm for an insight into New Zealand's most notorious animal resident. 

Matamata to Rotorua

Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua

Just south of Matamata is the township of Tirau, home to the largest tin sheep and sheepdog, but it also offers a surprising number of bric a brac, art, craft and antique stores if you feel like browsing.
Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.
Considered the cultural centre for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture. The Rotorua Museum located in the government gardens is outstanding and its displays and presentations focus on the local Maori tribes and the major events through history that have affected them. Dominating the display is the devastating volcanic eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 but also of great interest is the Maori battalion display which portrays stories of this once feared military unit.
Nearby Ohinemutu Village is the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area and despite its now modern surroundings and buildings you can still gain a sense of what the original village was like. The magnificent meeting house and historic carvings along with the unique 'Tudor-style' St Faiths Church feature in many visitors photo albums.
One of the most popular introductions to the Maori Culture is through an evening at Mitai Maori Village where you can enjoy performances and demonstrations followed by a traditionally cooked hangi meal.
Of course Rotorua is also a great place to enjoy many other activities including, fishing, 4WD trips, relaxing spa treatments, mountain biking, walking and hiking plus helicopter and float plane trips.

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 5 - Continue your journey south through Lake Taupo and onto the Art Deco city of Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Driving distance and time: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Rotorua to Napier

Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - A free day to enjoy the city and then this evening you'll dine at some of the top Hawkes Bay vineyards, with perfectly matched wines

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate, touted as the the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

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Day 7 - Journey south to the Wairarapa region and Martinborough's boutique wineries

Driving distance and time: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Napier to Martinborough

Napier to Martinborough
Napier to Martinborough
Napier to Martinborough
Napier to Martinborough

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region and stop in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, where you can see some of New Zealand native animals.Take another break in Masterson, and visit the interactive Woolshed Museum to learn about sheep farming in New Zealand. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must do. Take in the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country - your destination for the day.  
 

Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Today you taste and tour the artisan food and wine products of Martinborough

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour
Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour
Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour
Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

This luxury Martinborough food and wine tour is for two to four guests only, for a relaxed and personal experience. This gourmet tour takes you by car with your Zest driver/guide around the small towns of the south Wairarapa: exploring the pretty historical township of Greytown and the celebrated Martinborough wine village. The focus is both fine food and wine, as you savour tastes of both from specialty producers. You will go where few visitors can, meeting innovative people dedicated to being the very best they can be with their premium boutique brands. In a beautiful pastoral setting, big skies and open spaces give way to small, attractive Victorian townships with their own charm. Naturally, the delicious tasting lunch is matched with premium Martinborough wines, possibly from the very vines you can see from the table.

Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

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Day 9 - A short drive over the Rimutaka Ranges to the capital city of Wellington. Explore the city and this evening visit Zealandia on a night tour

Driving distance and time: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Martinborough to Wellington City

Martinborough to Wellington City
Martinborough to Wellington City
Martinborough to Wellington City
Martinborough to Wellington City

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.Home to the nation’s centre of government. Legislation happens in the aptly named ‘Beehive,’ an executive wing attached to the Houses of Parliament. At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. Take in the boardwalk view as you stroll to Te Papa Museum or indulge your cinematic side exploring Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. For a taste of vintage fashion, spend some time (and dollars!) on Cuba Street browsing the boutiques. Work off last night’s dinner with a cycling tour of Oriental Bay and undo your good work with a Hokey Pokey ice-cream in the sun. For those heading further down, the capital is where you board the ferry crossing the Cook Strait to the South Island.

Wellington's museums - suggested activity

Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity

Te Papa

Te Papa means 'our place' and is considered to be the 'museum of New Zealand'. The building opened in 1998 and since then has shown millions of visitors it's fascinating and unique collection of New Zealand's art, history, memorabilia, natural wonders, treasures and stories as well as hosting many international displays.
One of the finest collections of Maori artefacts can be found here as well as displays dedicated to the many different cultures that make up New Zealand's current population. Make sure you allow enough time to explore museums many floors. The museum is open 10am to 6pm and is free to visit. A small fee may be applicable to some short term visiting displays.

Museum of Wellington City & Sea

Housed in the iconic Bond Store on Wellington’s waterfront, the Museum of Wellington is dedicated to the preservation and study of Wellington’s rich social and cultural history. It provides a backdrop for the permanent display of the people and events that have made Wellington what it is today. The Museum’s atmosphere is thick with history. The Bond Store dates back to 1892, when it was a cargo warehouse and head office of the Harbour Board. Careful restoration has preserved the building’s striking facade, as well as solid timber beams and the original flooring inside. The latest technology is used to further stimulate your senses. Traditional displays sit alongside interactive exhibits, holographs and a giant cinema screen that stretches the length and breadth of an entire wall, a feature unique in Australasia. The collection includes over 95,000 items. Open 10am to 5pm entry is free. 

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.

Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.

Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$30-NZ$35 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 10 - This morning depart an a walking tour of Wellington's gourmet hot spots. Time for shopping or relaxing this afternoon

Walking Gourmet Food Tour

Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour

With your knowledgeable and entertaining Zest Guide, explore Wellington's foodie quarters and some of their favourite food places on this delicious introduction to the culinary capital. Visit a boutique coffee roastery or specialty cafe. Enjoy tastings at Wellington's best specialist food places including trying regional cheeses, honey, chocolates and much more, tasting at every stop. Savour a delicious, light tasting lunch with matched New Zealand wines at a top Wellington restaurant. During the tour, your guide can also introduce you to many other aspects of the Capital, ranging from iconic city architecture, sculptures and fantastic places to shop and eat. Walking time is approximately 90 minutes, all weather, over 5 hours.

Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington
Accommodation: QT Museum Wellington

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Day 11 - More time to explore the city before you continue your journey

Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.2 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Rental car drop off Wellington Airport depot

Drop your vehicle at the Wellington Airport rental car depot today before continuing your onward journey.

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