Sunday, February 3, 2013

South Island Adventures Begin! (Day 6)

I think this day was one of my favorites. I had read advice somewhere online that you should do things in New Zealand that you can't do anywhere else (e.g., helicopter to glaciers, kayaking in Milford Sound). For the most part, this was helpful advice. We didn't have time to see everything so we focused on things that didn't seem like something we have done or seen before. However, today was all about wine tasting. Something we've done a lot of, given our numerous trips to Sonoma and Napa Counties (not to mention Temecula, Charlottesville, and other great wine tasting trips). Our reasons for wine tasting were simple....we wanted to do something that felt traditionally honeymoon-y. We wanted something that felt relaxing, because we'd had a lot of packed days so far. Lastly, this area was supposed to be the warmest, sunniest spot on the islands, and we needed sun!

Before wine tasting, we had to take the ferry across the Cook Strait from the North Island to Picton in Marlborough Sounds, on the South Island. The ferry ride was great, especially once we entered Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Picton. 

 Queen Charlotte Sound


We planned on renting bikes at Wine Tours by Bike in Blenheim, about a 30 minute drive from the ferry. The owner of the bike place, Nigel, is absolutely terrific and he offered us a place to camp for the night behind his house. This may have been the most amazing "campsite" we've ever had. Super quiet, all to ourselves, looking out over acres and acres of vineyards. Felt very romantic! 

When we pulled up to the place and got out into the warm sunshine, we knew we were in for a treat today. Nigel set us up on our bikes and gave us some water bottles, wine bottle carriers for our bikes, and a map. He helped direct us to the best wineries to stop at and mapped out a good 18 km loop that passed at least 5 wineries (we only managed to drink at three and got dessert at a fourth). The wineries we went to were Rock Ferry, Hunter's, Cloudy Bay, and Allan Scott. The area is known for it's white wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc. Our favorite wine of the day was Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and we were so happy to discover that we can get it wine at Whole Foods (for special occasions because it is $30 a bottle!) We had a blast riding our bikes to the different wineries and were shocked by how few people were there. We had the tasting rooms to ourselves at Hunter's and Cloudy Bay! It was a great opportunity to talk to some of the locals and get a "taste" for life on the South Island. 

My favorite trees in New Zealand. Have no idea what they are, but they seem to hang out by themselves in the middle of a fields glowing yellow-green. 

Hunter's Vineyard

Enjoying our hard-core selves in bike helmets

 Te Koko is Maori for "the scoop" which is what they called Cloudy Bay (a bay in Marlborough Sounds)

 Cloudy Bay Vineyard

One of the best things about the day is we rode our bikes back to where we started and we just walked back behind a hedge and there was our campsite! We watched a beautiful sunset over the vineyards while playing cards and eating our poor man's dinner (because we had missed the time the vineyards were serving lunch and they didn't serve dinner!)

Sunrise the next morning

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