26.11.2011 - 27.11.2011 23 °C
Woke up to the sound of a few angry ducks quacking outside Hector, presumably complaining about a spicy ass from the noodles Jayne fed them the previous night!! It was a lovely morning, sun shining and a light breeze rippling the water which was only a few feet from the bedroom window. We sat and had a leisurely cup of coffee and some breakfast as there was no rush to get to Blenheim which was only 45 mins away.
A short and twisty drive which at one point gave us a great view of Picton Port
eventually led to the TOP 10 campsite in Blenheim where a couple of pikeys with a dog were complaining about their room not being adequate!? We were given a lovely quiet spot right next to the lake where Hector was put to sleep while we changed into our cycling gear ready for the wine tasting tour to begin.
The mountain bikes we were given were quite new with sizeable paniers on both ready for lots of wine bottles to fill them!
The woman renting us the bikes said we didnt have much time as most people start the wine tour at 9am because the majority of wineries are open till 4 or 4:30 and by now it was gone 12. So Jayne being Jayne she fired off as if we were on a club ride and I had to huff and puff with all my might to keep up with her steaming off down the road in search of the first winery. It was about 8k to the first winery which we did at break-neck speed so as to maximise tasting times!
The first stop was 'Cloudy Bay' where we could try 2 free wines and another 5 for $5 - Bargain, so we tried everything on the menu quick as, then shot off again to the next one which was only across the road.
The wackey girl at 'Alan Scott' winery was fun to listen to as we tried about 8 wines and then was told if we eat there the tasting is free. We looked at each other for about 2 seconds before telling her we would eat and toddled off to the restaurant. A lovely plate of local Green Mussles and olives later
we returned for a few more tastings (free of course) before powering on to the next stop.
A few were closed, presumably due to it only just being out of winter so we skipped on to 'Bouldevines' for a free tasting of 6 more and I dont know if it was because they were on offer or we were getting tipsy but we bought a few bottles of the region's best and most widely produced wine - Sauvinion Blanc and moved on to 'Georges Michael' (surely not a real name?). 6 more here and a chat with a friendly American couple from Nevada then we wobbled on to 'Nautilus' for 6 more. Here we met a stag doo full of Irish guys dressed as priests which proved a bit of entertainment before scouring the maps for the next one that should still be open 'Bladen'.
A very informative head of the next winery gave us lots of info including how many bottles of Sauvinion Blanc 1 vine makes - see if you can guess, answer at the end of this blog. We bought one bottle of Merlot from him and by this time as they were all now closed, staggered out to our bikes for the long trek home.
It was a bloody long way home, about 10k + with a nasty headwind and a squiffy head which made it hard going. A quick stop off to buy some meat and then we cooked up a giant plate of spag bol at the campsite and sunk another bottle of wine while a very small french girl tried to break frozen chicken pieces apart by smacking them on the table (!?).
Awoke to the sound of more ducks (I think it was different ones but they may have followed us for more noodles?) and a lovely sunny day again. Packed up Hector fairly sharpish and headed off to Kaikoura for the day. As we were driving along we saw 'Brancott Estates' winery and as this is Jaynes favourite wine in the UK (labelled 'Montana') we felt we had to stop in.
It was 10am and the girls were just opening the door as we barged in looking for a free tasting. 6 wines later (I didnt have any as I was driving) we were on our way again until we bumped into 'Yealands' winery and Jayne (starting to get a taste for it again) suggested we stop in. This estate was HUGE, we drove for 10 minutes and were constantly passing row upon row of vines that went as far as the eye could see in every direction.
Eventually we came to a massive building where we parked up and walked inside. There was no one on reception but the 'cellar door' was open
so we mossied in. A very warm and friendly grey haired chap behind a bar called out to us to join the party as we sat down with him and several others. He was very passionate about the wines and imparted his great knowledge of how each one was made and should be drank as we tried again another batch of great wines (I kept passing mine to Jayne as I was driving but couldnt resist the odd sip!).
For the first time EVER Jayne found a Rose that she actually liked and we bought a bottle to enjoy at a later date before jumping back in Hector for the drive to Kaikoura.
A brief stop off at a seal colony where the mothers drop there pups of at a waterfall for the day before collecting them at night was a welcome cute break from driving.
Back in Kaikoura for the 2nd time the place felt more comfortable as I caught up with the blog and Jayne went for a run on the coastal path.
We bought some replacement socks as Jayne's heels seemed to have eaten a few pairs and a new hat for Jayne and me ready for the sun in Aus.
A lovely seafood platter at a beach side shack which consisted of White bait fritters, Mussles, Oysters, Cray fish Fritter, Hoki and prawns with rice followed by Hokey Pokey ice cream finished off a lovely time in New Zealand. An after dinner final walk on the coastal path to remind us what New Zealand was about before heading back to the van and getting on the road to Christchurch ready to return Hector :-( and get the flight to Aus.
We stopped about half an hour from Christchurch in a crazy looking campsite to finish of as much wine and cheese as we could before turning in for the night ready for the next part of our adventure, AUSTRALIA !! Bring on the SUN !!
(Answer to Vine question - 1 vine of Savignion grapes in this area of Marlborough can produce somewhere between 5-7 bottles of wine!)