We’re back in Wellington after our nine-day hippie easter in the south island. I say hippie because we showered only twice in nine days. It was awesome. Our trip was basically split in two parts – the first was a twirl around wine country; the second was five days in the bush of Abel Tasman National Park. Lots to share so I’ll talk first about our spin around Marlborough
From Wellington we took the ferry across the Cook Straight to Picton where we checked into the Tombstone hostel, a cozy little haunt named after the graveyard out back. Any and all paranormal activity was missed due to our travel-weary slumber. After a complimentary breakfast of cheese scones and coffee, we grabbed a bus to Blenheim, a sunny small town in the wine region of Marlborough. We wasted no time in renting bikes and starting our self-guided tour.
Our first stop was Wither Hills, a vineyard famous for its great architecture and recent visit
from the royal couple. A quick tasting and we were back on the road.
Next we pedaled up to Highfield Estate. Despite the sunny holiday weekend and beautiful surroundings, the place was deserted. Their kitchen was closed for the season, but upon seeing the hunger in our eyes, our friendly wine pourer stepped into the kitchen – promising nothing special – only to return with a kingly spread of smoked salmon, local cheese, warm crusty bread and various chutneys and organic fruits from the orchard. Man. That hit the G spot.
The next place on the map was tiny little Gibson Bridge. Family owned and operated, Howard – as we learned – tends to the field while Julie tends to the cellar door. Dreamy life huh? Julie told us her story as she poured many free samples of their Pinot Gris varietals. We were, I’d say enchanted, and happily grabbed a bottle to go.
Half in the bag, we continued our big circle to Hans Herzog. And though we had heard good things, we were put off by the dickhead behind the counter and left. Hashtag scheisskopf. Their loss. We probably would have spent like a million dollars there.
On to Moa Brewing Company. The only brewery in the region, Moa is owned by Josh Scott, son of famous winemaker Allan Scott, whose winery is located just across the street. And yes we hit that one too.
I’m 90% sure our bartender at Moa was trashed, as our five-beer sampler seemed way too tall an order. Despite the many beers on tap, and against our wishes, the first two “beers” in our sampler were ciders. The next three brews were served up with mismatched names and a shaky hand. Don’t get me wrong – I slugged em with joy, which only helped me imagine what the place could be with a sober staff, bigger seating area and Warpaint on the jukebox.
But nevermind that. On to the highlight of our day and hippie easter part 1 … Cloudy Bay Vineyards!!! Jess would drink this wine back in the states and was super jazzed to visit the home of her favorite Sauvignon Blanc. Unlike most wineries in Marlborough, Cloudy Bay charges a fee for their tastings. We opted for the $10 “experience” tasting, which included five wines – four of which were new to us. They all tasted fine and dandy to this humble blogger … I was more interested in the lighting outside. The figurative and literal shining moment of the afternoon.
I’m getting long winded, let me wrap this up. With the wineries closing, we headed back toward town, not missing the opportunity to stop and sample our Gibson Bridge in a grapefield along the way.
After a chess beatdown and dinner at the excellent German pizza bar Dodson Street, we finished our 40K pedal down the dark streets of Blenheim to Beaver Bed & Breakfast
, a place I recommend with gusto. In the morning, the owners sent us off with a jar of their homemade honey and we fled their lovely town, bound for Nelson and the start of our journey through Abel Tasman National Park.