After our long ANZAC weekend in the Dunedin area, we hiked up the coast with a short stop with friends in Christchurch. Then we continued on through Kaikoura and up to the Marlborough region. We had
three nights in Little Ngakuta Bay, about 20 minutes’ drive along the Queen Charlotte Drive.
While in the area, we availed ourselves of gorgeous, sunny afternoons, cool and starlit nights (complete with Milky Way!), and tasty wines.
The windy road from Ngakuta Bay, where our bach was, up to Mistletoe Bay, was only 30 kms but took nearly an hour. Evelyn and I discovered that our holistic approach to motionsickness (ginger tablets) didn’t cut the mustard. But the scenery was stunning!
We pulled off of Kenepuru Road to take some photos. (Credit: James)
Looking back up the Mahau Sound to the northeast. This walkway along the Queen Charlotte Road gave great views over the sounds and down to the town of Havelock.
The kids “bag” a trig. Not bad for ten minutes of hiking.
Two mornings at Little Ngakuta Bay, I started my day with a cuppa on the front porch. Among the wildlife we saw were weka, tui, fantails, pipers, kingfishers, pukeko, black swans, morepork, and paradise shellducks.
Marlborough is a region renowned for its wines, particularly sauvignon blanc. With nearly 50,000 acres of wine grapes (compare to 43,000 acres in Napa Valley, CA), the region boasts quite a few wineries. Our arrival in late April coincided with the harvest of some varietals and the goldening of the vines. It was stunning to see, and thankfully, also to taste.
For the first time ever, we took the kids along to a couple of wine tastings. Wineries with cellar doors where guests can taste a flight of four to eight different wines are all around the area, and we found two that were child-friendly so that we could indulge without our kids bothering other visitors.
Far from being stuffy, child-free venues, the two wineries where we did tastings, Whitehaven and Wairau River, offered space and fun for families. Clockwise, left corner around: We stumbled on a brewery, Moa, which just happens to make one of our favorite NZ beers, St. Joseph’s Belgian Tripel!!; Charlotte, tree-climbing at Moa; Char and Calvin riding a soapbox cart at the Vines Village; James and kids playing soccer at the Whitehaven Winery greenspace.
Choose between wine and beer?! NEVER. James and I saying hello to the Giant Moa sculpture at the Moa Brewery in Marlborough, NZ. I *may* have squealed out loud when we saw the roadsign…
To round out the day, we took the kids to sample fudge flavors–not as good as wine, but more age-appropriate, anyway. They picked salted caramel and creme brulee.
The bach was a basic but dear little thing (see above, with our laundry on the line): four bedrooms, a toilet accesible by covered hallway outside of the building, kitchen, washer (but no dryer, natch), and one heater. The house was on a little bay with only 10 other residences, all of which back up to the bush. Just above our house runs a new trail–actually, a very old bridle path–Link Pathway. James and I did one challenging 5.75 mile trail run on it, and MAN was it steep. The views were rewarding, though. The trail, once completed, will go from Picton to Havelock.
The kids discovered a game called The Hamburger Game, which they probably played around a dozen times over our three days there.
The Bluebridge Ferry cost us about NZ$250 to cross with five people and our car. We spent most of our time in the Family-friendly room, where they showed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and the Penguins movie.
Evelyn as we enter Wellington Harbour, after about 2 1/2 hours sailing from Picton.
Evelyn exclaimed, as we drew up to the pier in Wellington, that she had missed cities.