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Published: April 29th 2009
Upsidedown sleepy seal!
25th April 2009
A long days drive! We set off from our beach resort and headed first to Cape Foulwind (they have great names for everything over here!) to visit the local seal colony. Apparently we are here at a great time as the pups are being nurtured toward independence, which meant we got to see them 'running' around and playing with each other! Despite their great comouflage, we got to see huge numbers which was cool. Leaving the west coast, we headed in-land along Buller Gorge, which would - in various forms - take us(eventually) all the way to the east coast. Concerned about fuel we called into the township of Murchison where we stocked up - us and Nev - before carrying on south east towards our destination for the night, Hanmer Springs. Hanmer Springs is predominantly known as a Spa Town, and so that evening was spent alternatively in private saunas and outdoor hot pools surrounded by misty mountains. Despite the loveliness of the surroundings, we didnt have time to adjust to the sulphur smell of the natural thermal pools. Think egg!
10 years after turning 18, we priovided the requested I.D and had a couple of local
beers watching some rugby, before turning in.
26th April 2009
Feeling all clean from the previous days spas treatment, we packed up Nev and were on the road. Today we completed the transition from west coast to east coast, as we found ourselves back on route 1 and heading north to Kaikoura. Kaikoura is an old Maori town renowned for its wildlife spotting; people come here to whale watch, bird watch, swim with dolphins, and swim with seals. We weren't to be doing any of these, due to time and money, but on arrival we headed straight out to walk along the coast of the pensinsular to see another seal colony. This one had fewer seals than yesterday, but had the huge added bonus of us being able to get up very, very close to the big lazy seals. On route, we had passed the Kaikoura Seafood BBQ. Another thing Kaikoura is famous for is its great seafood, and so on the way back we stopped off to try half a cray fish ( a full one was waaaay too expensive!) and some huge garlic mussels, all freshly cooked infront of us! It was seafood as good as any
we have tasted. We followed up our civilized dinner with wine and olives.....in the campervan!
27th April 2009
A day with no plan! There hasn't been too many of them, but this one - true to form of the others - proved costly (in the literal sense)! It started slowly, with a walk around the town, buying the last of our gifts for folk back home. We decided to walk the second half of the peninsular walkway that we had started yesterday, which took us around an hour or so and was a nice, uphill walk over and around cliff tops to get the blood pumping. We called back in at the Seafood BBQ to try some scallops (nice; real nice!), before realising that we may not be able get online for a few days and so found an internet cafe to book some accomodation for our next - and last - destination, San Fran. We managed to book some - at a cost!!! - and then found ourselves buying a certain couple their wedding present! We have decided that having no plan for the day is just too expensive!! That afternoon we drove the 130km north - in
The Kaikoura coastline.
near gale force winds - to Blenheim in the Marlborough region - world famous Wine Country! We found a place to stay in nearby Renwick, right in the heart of the vineyards and settled in for the night.
28th April 2009
What sounds like an air-raid warning is not the greatest alarm clock, but that's what woke us from the local Fire Station at 0500am this morning! We managed to calm ourselves down and get some more sleep, knowing that we had a big day ahead of us...and so after a couple of bacon sarnies each, we arranged with our hosts to hire a couple of bicycles for the day to undertake a tour of the local wineries! Despite the attrocious weather, we donned our ponchos and headed out. Our first stop of the day was to be Vines Village, home of Bouderville wines - one of the original vineyards to be grown in the area. As this was our first experience of wine tasting, the kind lady walked us through the experience, describing each wine, process etc. We sampled five white wines and one red. After, and already feeling the effects, we decided that it may be a
Dusk on the peninsular...note the scary sea.
long day ahead and so filled up on a freshly made Vension pie. Vines Village also has a Olive grove and so we sampled some amazingly nice olive oils, before finishing our time here with some shots of schnapps and irish cream. We climbed back on our mean machines, and cylced through the wind and driving rain a few km to Forrest vineyard. We were given a tray of three white and three red wines to try - it was a tad pompous here though, and the cheapest bottles started at $60, so we drank up and headed onwards. Our third stop - and possibly our favourite - was Framingham. The lady here was very helpful, and we tried another 5-6 wines (numbers became a blur at this point...) including a great dessert wine. We were also told that this is the place that a certain Gordon Ramsey buys his Pinot Grigio from. Not bad. Out once more into the rain, we cycled away, by now eyes half closed and grinning like goons, toward our final two stops; Gibson Bridge and Mahi. Gibson was a small yet cool boutique winery ran by a husband and wife, with a great Rose
On The Road
Route 1 heading to the Marlborough region
wine, and Mahi was a larger cellar with a dangerously easy to drink Chardonnay. This is pretty much all we remember of those...
Back at Nev, we cooked up a sobering meal of pasta with warm bread, which we washed down with....strawberry champagne!!! It was 4 English pounds! A great day.
29th April 2009
Our last full day in the South Island! We started by retracing some steps (or pedals?!) from yesterday, this time in Nev, trying to remember which wines we had liked the best yesterday. This wasnt as tricky as you may have thought! We made one or two purchases and headed off to Picton, where tomorrow the InterIslander ferry will deliver us to NZ's capital, Wellington. As its a 0430am start, and raining heavily here, we're not planning much for the rest of today, except for getting cosy in a coffee shop maybe!
We've loved the South Island - its not hard to imagine there's only one million residents here, it's so peaceful and feels so untouched. We've heard it described as feeling 'primeval', and we totally agree; you're never far from a river, mountain or forest. We challenge you to not enjoy yourselves here!
What do you mean I don;t know anything about wine?!!
See you all soon
H and D
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