We’re staying at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Blenheim, the first place we’ve stayed for 2 nights – we wanted to do a wine tour around the Marlborough wine region, so we settled ourselves in for a couple of nights so we could do the wine tour yesterday and both get pissed! We saw a few people who were driving themselves around the wineries, but that looked like much less fun!
I finished the last post on Saturday in Murchison. On Sunday, we went to church at the little Anglican church in Murchison, where again we were 20% of the congregation! We got a very warm welcome and I ended up doing one of the readings, which was all very friendly! And we had a cup of tea and lots of yummy cake in the church hall after the service, and chatted to everyone about our trip, and picked up a few more tips about where we should stop.
We then drove right across the South Island, from the west coast to the east, across the Lewis Pass – a fantastic road, with lots of bits of the road winding along the Buller River, or through the mountains. We were in thick cloud for some of it, and it had been raining when we left Murchison, but when we came out the other side it was bright sunshine! So we drove into Kaikoura in sunshine, and had a bit of a drive around, then drove out just north of Kaikoura to a DOC campsite. A sign of how popular Kaikoura is, I think, but there were 7 other vehicles at the tiny campsite that night! We had dinner and an early night, and decided to get up and get going early the next day.
We drove back to Kaikoura and out to the peninsula, where there’s a fantastic walk from one side of the peninsula to the other, along the clifftops. We got about 2/3 of the way round, and then found steps running down to the beach, so went down and walked back along the beach – absolutely amazing, we were walking along the beach past seal colonies, passing 20 metres or so from the seals. Really beautiful little bays, with bright blue and green water, and pebble beaches. Unfortunately, as we came round the last corner we realised the tide was too high for us to get round the last headland back to the car park – so we had to go back the way we’d come, but it was a lovely walk, and a beautiful hot sunny morning, so we didn’t mind!
We got back to the car after walking for about 4 hours, and rewarded ourselves by parking up on a beach and making BLTs – yummy! Then drove north along the coast road (another lovely drive) to Blenheim. We stopped in town at the information centre – all big towns have got an ‘i-SITE’ which can book accommodation, activities, buses, flights, ferries etc for you, and where you can pick up maps and brochures. Very handy – this was the first one we’d been to, but we’re going to make an effort to stop at them from now on! Anyway, we went and chatted to the lady at the desk about wine tours, and she showed us some brochures, and we chose a tour and booked onto it for the next morning.
We then came down to the holiday park and checked in, and wandered up to the kitchen to do our washing up and laundry – we got chatting to a few other people who were in there, including a retired English couple who told us they’ve been intermittently backpacking around the world for the last few years, they travel for a few months then go home to see family and he does a few weeks’ work to pay for the next trip! Wonderful lifestyle to be living, and they had some great stories. We realised that we were on the same wine tour the next day, so said we’d carry on chatting then!
Yesterday morning we got picked up from reception at 10am by a lovely chap called Dave, who was full of local knowledge and wine tips – it was just the four of us to start off with, then Dave went off at 11.30 to pick up a couple from Chicago who are also on honeymoon, and then at 1pm to pick up a couple from Sydney, so there were 8 of us for the afternoon. We went to about six different vineyards and went in for wine tastings – absolutely brilliant, at most of them we were the only people there and got a really good presentation about the wines and the wine-making process, and we tasted loads of wines, mostly Sauvignon Blanc and other whites – I loved the Rieslings, which was a surprise! We bought a few bottles as we found ones we really liked.
We stopped for lunch at one of the vineyards and had an absolutely wonderful meal, I had fantastic chicken and leek croquettes, and Chris had a lamb and mint burger – and we did the tasting before the meal so we could decide which wines to have with our meal! It was a lovely day, and we really enjoyed ourselves, and enjoyed the company, it was a very nice crowd.
I also – finally! – found a possum merino jumper I loved, I’ve been looking out for one – NZ is famous for this possum fur / merino wool mix, and it’s incredibly soft and warm (and expensive!) Mum bought a jumper here a couple of years ago and wears it all the time, so I had decided I was going to get one too – so yesterday I tracked it down, and now I never want to take it off again, it’s absolutely lovely!
This morning we woke up and realised it was a good time to try calling Holls and Andy in the UK, so we Skyped them and chatted for an hour – lovely to catch up! Now we’re up and about, Chris has just had a shower, and as soon as I’ve finished writing this I’ll go too – and we’re off to an aviation museum for the morning, which everyone we’ve spoken to has raved about. Then we need to stock up on groceries, and we’re heading a bit further north from here, to Nelson and then on towards the Abel Tasman National Park. Only a few days left in the South Island, we think!