Wine and Music

On Saturday, I took another country walk in the morning, trying unsuccessfully to find one that would give me a view of the Sound. I climbed and climbed but the tree growth didn’t clear out and I decided not to go to the end of the hike as it was getting muddy and slippery. I took a quick walk at harbor level then headed back to the B&B for my crackers and cheese lunch. I needed food in my stomach before getting picked up for a half day of wine tasting!

We had a good group of people: an Australian couple, a New Zealand couple, a couple of new college grads from the States, and yours truly.

We visited four vineyards. The first, Cloudy Bay, had a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc. They do export to the US, so I held off buying a bottle as it’s hard to carry wine around in luggage. We tried some other good wines as well: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc. The area is just so beautiful, too, a flood plain in the middle of various hills and mountains. We could even see a bit of the snow capped Southern Alps.

At the next, Framingham Wines, we tried a different selection of wines, though of course we had Sauvignon Blanc at each vineyard. (It’s the varietal that put Marlborough on the world wine map.) We tried two Rieslings, one their standard and one a dry Riesling that was delicious and really unusual. (I did buy a bottle of that to bring back!)

We then went to Giesen, which I liked least of all the vineyards, and a fourth location whose name I forget.

We wrapped up with a quick stop at a chocolate factory.

I headed back to my room to rest before dinner. For dinner, I figured I should go somewhere where I could watch my first ever rugby match. Wales was playing New Zealand in their second of three test matches, and it’s a really big deal in New Zealand.

I went to Oxley’s, where I chatted with some older local gentlemen and watched the match. (New Zealand won.) I also ran into one of the ladies who had been on my wine tour and we watched together for awhile.

I ran into the two young American women at Oxley’s, and we headed to the Irish pub down the road to listen to their live music. One of the gentlemen I’d chatted with at Oxley’s came as well, and we all had fun dancing to the last few songs (including Twist and Shout!) Unexpected, but a great way to end the night.

Gateway to the South Island

On Friday, I left the North Island via the ferry from Wellington to Picton. I’d heard great things about how beautiful the scenery is on this crossing as you head into the Queen Charlotte Sound, and was excited to find that it was a beautiful – if quite cold – day.

I went out to the observation deck, located at the rear of this particular ferry, to admire the view out the Wellington harbor.


It was quite windy so I sought refuge inside in the lookout lounge, which faced forward and had floor to ceiling glass windows in the middle. I was lucky enough to get a seat in front of one of them, which made for a prime viewing spot (if not a prime photo spot due to reflections on the glass).

Wellington harbor seems to be protected by a couple of arms of land, so we headed towards one then turned to make our way out to the Cook Strait.

Across the Strait we could barely see the South Island, some snow capped peaks visible to our left. We turned right, however, and headed towards what looked like a solid shoreline.


Somewhere in the middle of the crossing, the scone cart came around, with freshly baked scones. I could get used to that on my travels!

Once we got quite close, we could see there was a break in the cliffs, which let us enter the Sounds. It was gloriously beautiful!

Close to Picton, we saw a mammal in the water, most likely a seal.

I walked from the ferry to my B&B. I had been upgraded from the B&B I had originally booked to another property owned by the same people, as they were doing work on the first. The new property was beautiful – but since it was winter, I found, I was actually the only person in the entire building (including the owner not being there)! The owner had arranged to have a friend or colleague meet me and get me settled in. That lovely lady had even set up a fruit plate and pastry for me in case I was hungry.

Despite it being a little strange to be alone in the B&B, it was actually really restful and peaceful. Just what I needed after all the early mornings!

I took a country walk before it got dark. It’s a beautiful area, very hilly. (Not surprisingly, that’s a pretty common refrain in new Zealand!) The most breathtaking view, however, was straight out of the harbor into the Sound.