Monday, January 14, 2013

Crossing the Cook Strait to South Island, NZ

Arriving in Picton on the South Island of New Zealand

The day we left Auckland we took a short but bumpy flight to Wellington at the southern tip of the North Island. This was the start of our journey to the South Island of New Zealand. Everyone we'd met said that it would be very different from the north, more rugged and beautiful, or as one Kiwi put it "less tidy."

From Wellington our intention was to take the ferry across the Cook Strait to the town of Picton on the Marlborough Sound.   We could have flown across, but being on the water appeals to both of us so we'd reserved a spot for the three hour ferry ride.  The day of departure we checked the weather and were dismayed to see a 60 knot wind and two plus meter swell prediction.  We called the ferry line and were told "no worries mate, we don't worry until the swells reach 5-7 meters" (that's about 15-21 feet!).  Sucking it up, we boarded the ferry and hoped for the best.  It did rain, the wind did howl, and the ferry did list to one side as the wind pushed against it...but other than that, it was a fairly smooth crossing!  

We love the slogan for the Makana Chocolate Factory
The rain continued for two days, squelching our plan for some good walks around Picton.  Taking the advice of our hotel owner, we drove toward Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine region.  Often, she said, the weather was better because the mountains between the coast and Blenheim afforded it some protection.  And, she said, if not you can always drink wine and taste chocolate! How could we go wrong? 

Visitors can sample whatever is being made at the time - in our case it was
Macadamia nut brittle in milk chocolate.  

An Asian inspired salmon dish served with
udon noodles and fresh greens.
After visiting the Makana factory we stopped at a few "cellar doors" for tasting.  We'd always heard that Marlborough had the best Sauvignon Blanc and we did our best to see if that was in fact true - it was!  They are beautiful wines. However, the star of the day was our lunch at the Rock Ferry winery bistro. Truly the best meal we've had in NZ!

Rain...what rain....?

The Saint Clair winery staff gave us a primer on "Sauv Blanc"

What we refer to as having a tasting room is called a "Cellar Door" in NZ.

Wildflowers grow in between the rows of perfectly groomed  grapevines

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