Last morning on the South Island
We had breakfast at the very reasonable hour of 8am, although this reasonableness did cause a small panic that it should have been 7am! As it was our last breakfast of the trip and the bus was being left in the South Island as we travelled back over to Wellington on the North Island all the perishables needed eating/throwing, so it was fruit and bread galore for breakfast, and some made into sarnies for lunch!
We left at 9am and after a small discussion last night requested with Snowflake that we didn’t go to see more seals (having already seen them 2x on the South) instead we wanted in to to a vineyard! We would be passing through Blenheim anyway, so really it would have been rude not to! Having found the number for Hunter Winery, they were duly called and we were booked in for 11am tasting for $5 each.
The weather this morning was beautiful – far nicer than the rain/mist of yesterday. Mountains appeared outside of the host windows and followed us down the coast, sun shining as we went and music turned up loud, Beth’s iPod playing some awesome tunes.
Snowflake gave us some facts/stories as we went
Lake Grassmere – I think (was distracted at the vital moment) that they pump sea water in there and allow it to evaporate off and that’s where lots of NZ salt comes from. Also, you can see the North island as you drive past!
The area we drove through is in drought conditions and has been for about 3 years. The fields of grass for the cows/sheep look really dry/burnt, but the rows of vines look lush and green. The difference being that the grass roots go down around 5m vs vine roots of about 30m so they reach far more water.
Vineyards tend to have rose bushes in them. Not for prettiness but for pest control (sacrifice planting), the aphids prefer to eat the rosebuds rather than the vines, so they keep to grapes safe.
It was a very informative morning! Soon we were in Blenheim and looking for the vineyard, easily found and in we went! We got to taste 8 different wines, all nice, but some yummier than others! At 11am this made for fun times, a lot of us had a quick coffee before getting back on the bus!
Music up high, it was only a few km to Picton. The road and the railway line run right next to each other and we drew up next to the Trans scenic train (the south island equivalent to the Northern Explorer we took from Auckland to Wellington) a slightly tipsy bus then waved at the passengers as we slowly overtook them until all we needed was a wave from the driver – success! Never have 21 people been made so happy!!!
We had a quick lunch stop in Picton before getting to the ferry terminal to check in and wait for the ferry. There was free wifi and having received a reminder email about Auckland’s upcoming Tough Mudder I decided to volunteer at the event in April – you get a massively reduced entry for the next year! We got a lift to the ferry on a bus with our driver Alan who amused us with facts along the way, including telling us it was international women’s day (it’s not, that’s the 8th March, my birthday!)
The WiFi on the ferry worked as well as it did on the way out… not at all, so spent the journey writing this and chillaxing with a beer from Snowflake!
We didn’t get to Wellington and our hostel until 7pm, with dinner at 7:30 it was a mad dash to the YHA to collect the bag we’d left there 2 weeks ago and made it back just in time to go grab a seat in the bar where we’d all first meet just 14 days before.
We had dinner and then Steph and Michelle stood up and revealed they’d made ‘paper’ plate awards (they were plastic) for us all. I received best DJ for my skills sat on the front seat – it was a stressful job!
Several drinks, photobombs and attempts at group photos later I decided to take myself to bed – a wise move at 10:30pm. Most others got in around 4am….. Lucy and Anne had to leave for the airport at 3:30 so people stayed awake to keep them company!!