To the Sound of Picton

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Feb 282010

After another big breakfast at The Cornerstone, we walked to the Blenheim train station to catch the TranzCoastal once again but this time only for a short trip to Picton.  At the station we learnt of the earthquake in Chile; the subsequent tsunami warning had meant the coast-hugging train was delayed by two hours leaving Christchurch.  We couldn’t wait as we had a boat to catch so luckily there was also buses going to Picton and we jumped on.

After a quick look around Picton we boarded the Mail Run boat to take us to our accommodation in Bay of Many Coves.  Being a Sunday there was no mail to deliver to the local residents so the boat trip turned into a bit of a scenic tour of Queen Charlotte Sound.  First stop was Motuara Island, a bird sanctuary, where we were able to walk around and without much trouble at all see and hear lots and lots of birds.

Next stop was the pristine Ship Cove where Captain Cook landed a few times.

The boat is also used by walkers to get between various sections of the Queen Charlotte Track.  We made about three stops in Endeavour Inlet, dropping off and picking people up before making our way into Bay of Many Coves and our accommodation for three nights at Craglee.  We were greeted by Rosie, a cold drink and some delicious home-smoked salmon.

Wedding Day

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Feb 262010

The wedding was held at the Blenheim Courthouse at about 10am and some lovely photos were taken in the adjoining square.  NZ generally has plenty of water, unlike Brisbane, so the flowers in the parks were a novelty.

After the ceremony about 30 of us boarded the bus for a tour of the Marlborough wine region, most famous for it’s savignon blanc but increasingly growing more varieties.  We visited three wineries, all a short distance from Blenheim: St Clair, Hunters and Drylands.

Lunch at Drylands was definitely a highlight – far and away some of the best wedding reception food I’ve had!  Kudos to the bride and groom for their choice.

The tour ended with a trip to the local schnapps distillery and finally the Makana chocolate factory.  We didn’t buy any chocolate at this point (if you know me you know that’s hard to believe…) but we would go back later in the week.

The tour wrapped up about 5pm and the sensible people went back to their rooms for a quick nap.  Not us!  We visited some friends down the hall and watched the winter Olympics and drank even more wine.  It’s not really a surprise that the night ended up being so wild…  For the sake of everyone’s dignity I won’t go into details, but the Cornerstone Bar at Blenheim deserves a shout-out, as do the Blenheim locals.

All aboard

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Feb 252010

A very early start saw us on the 7am TranzCoastal train from Christchurch to Blenheim.  The train follows the east coast of the South Island most of the way and we were able to see the beaches and some seals near Kaikoura.  The journey took just under five hours to complete.  We checked in at Chateau Marlborough before having an afternoon to relax at Scotch wine bar with tapas and an excellent Starborough Pinot Gris.

We’ve decided it’s nice to travel in a country where you don’t have to double everything to convert it to Australian Dollars, in fact the exchange rate is very favourable now at almost $1.30.

On the road again

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Feb 242010

Here we are, almost 12 months after we left for Europe, having a short break in New Zealand.  You can read about Christchurch here.