We crossed over to the South Island on the 2nd of January. The Cook Strait, which is supposed to be beautiful, was covered in a fog similar to the one that had lingered around my head the day before. The 6am start and near continuous rain stopped me from spending much time outside on the boat and so I only captured one photo:
The fact that we are doing the trip in reverse in March probably added to my lack of enthusiasm to stand outside. Watch this space for more photos on hopefully a clearer crossing coming here sometime in March. Upon arriving in Picton the rain continued to fall and so we set off straight away to the town of Blenheim, we would be staying near here for a week.
Blenheim is a small town right in the heart of the Marlborough wine making region. The vineyards sprawl for miles in rows of heavenly goodness. But alas the main reason for our visit was not to consume as much wine as possible but instead we were there to spend a week with Jess and Dean on their Feijoa farm, this was our second HelpX project and we were hoping for good things. A week later and I am still not entirely sure how a feijoa tastes, or even what one looks like, turns out it isn’t feijoa season. Instead of picking and pruning fruit trees we spent our time helping out with painting the house, weeding under their small vineyard and eating lots of Jess’s great cooking.
Working around 4 to 5 hours each morning meant we had our afternoons free. We tried to be good, health January and all that, and so on our first 2 free afternoons we set off to explore the local area and avoid the local produce. We went up to a very windy beach and had a quick walk along it before retreating back to our car. The second day we went for a walk on a farm, there is apparently a very nice viewpoint at the top but we didn’t make it, clearly the farming was taking its toll on our energy levels. It was boiling hot and we didn’t bring water, I like to think that this means we are clever in not continuing rather than stupid for even starting.
We were doing so well, almost 3 days in and not a sign of wine, clearly it was time for us to fail.
Being well behaved can only last so long, especially when you’re staying in a place with a vineyard and so after a few hours attempting to paint the house and successfully covering ourselves in paint we set off to Peter Yealand’s winery. This is probably one of the biggest in the region and it is set in some stunning scenery that mixes the coast with rolling hills. The winery is carbon neutral, guilt free wine!
Peter Yealand’s winery:
The next day was more of the same but we stayed local to our feijoa farm, searching out the wineries that provide free tastings in the region (free tastings = more money to buy wine). We sampled some wines and went on a drive around their grounds. These were Villa Maria, which is pretty expensive at home (when you’re normally a £5 a bottle kind of girl). We weren’t overly impressed with their offerings and quickly escaped before we felt we should buy something. Moving on to Forrest, this smaller winery had some really nice options and you could try 3 for free. One was awesome, the Pinot Gris, and a bottle now lives safely in our car boot, it’s life expectancy being pretty short as each day passes. Our last stop was to a winery that was basically around the corner (in rural terms) from our farm. Spy valley, set in some beautiful Wairao valley scenery. They make an awesome Sauvignon Blanc, which the region is famous for, and a bottle also lives safely in our car. They make a horrible Chardonnay, but I think all Chardonnay is pretty bad so its not really their fault.
Our week in this region flew bye, no doubt cause of the lovely welcome Jess and Dean provided. If you’re looking for a HelpX opportunity in the region then we really recommend these guys! They also have 2 awesome dogs that have helped in my self imposed dog therapy to help get over the whole bite saga.
Posh, the one who loves cuddles:
Rocco, the playful one :
Chicken coop on wheels: