The Bigga South Island Road Trip, Part Dui!
Apr. 6, 2010 9:50 pm
Updated: Apr. 17, 2010 10:10 am
I’ve almost recovered from our whirlwind trip around the southern parta the South Island. Now, Gino, he want to show me the northern parta of the South Island. Wow! For such a small country, there is so much to see!
We leave the Hilltop early in our special, super-fast small auto and head to North Canterbury, an area called Waipara. This area is just beginnin’ to make a name for itself inna the wine industry. With the climate and soil, it seems that they are gonna be producing really good Pinot Noir and Riesling. There are alredy a lot vineyards in the area. Montana (or Brancott, as it is marketed in the US) has the Camshorn Vineyard growing Riesling. Pegasus Bay grows many varieties but they are best known for their Pinot Noir. We stop to eat at Pegasus Bay, because GoodEatNZ, she recommended it. Boy, was it good!
Our next stop is Hanmer Springs . It would be about 1 ½ hours fromma Christchurch inna normal car. The town izza popular tourist destination and is also popular with Kiwi’s for holiday homes and weekends away. The little village has lotsa café and bars, souvenir shops, mini-golf (perfect for me and Gino!) and of course, the springs.
Natural hot springs were discovered here inna the 19th century. They were created by a bigga crack inna the earth called the Hanmer fault. They have been developed into a modern resort with nine big pools, 3 sulphur pools and a few ‘private’ pools, all filled with the natural hot springs water. There is also more bungy jumping, jet-boating, mud-biking, and horse-riding! I can see why itsa so popular with the Kiwi families!
We get back onna the main highway going north to Kaikoura . It’s a beautiful drive with rolling hills and lots sheep, gradually turning to rocky seashore with lazy Southern Fur Seals lying around. I already know ‘Kai’ is the Maori word for food. It turns out ‘koura’ means crayfish! I think I know what’s for lunch! We were gonna wait until Kaikoura for lunch, but a little bit before we get there, what do we find! Nin’s Bins! Now this looks like some good Kiwi-style Kai!
With our tummies bursting, we head on to the small town of Kaikoura.
It’s a beautiful spot, with the Kaikoura Peninsula sticking out into the sea and the Kaikoura Ranges coming down to meet the sea. The ocean is very deep here and this little peninsula causes some crazy currents and upwellings that the marine life love. Again, itsa very popular with the tourists, especially the young back-packy ones. They like the surfin, whale-watchin, and dolphin swimmin’ types of activities. So, Gino, he books us onna the afternoon whale-watch boat. Now, lotsa places around the world have whale-watchin’, but I believe Kaikoura izza the only place you can see the Giant Sperm Whale all year round! They say they see the whales 95% of the time! Wowza! How cool izza that!
As we leave Kaikoura, we leave the Canterbury Region and enter Marlborough. Marlborough is best known for two things, both right up my alley! Wine and the Green-lipped Mussels!
First, about the vino! Until the 1970 and 1980’s New Zealand wazza growing lotsa wine, but mostly ‘plonk’ for the box. To make a longa story short, in Marlborough, in the 80’s the wine-makers started getting creative with the Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the bigga dairy industry, they used a lot of stainless steel to ferment the wine, which keeps its freshness and vibrant fruit flavours. They created a very unique style of Sauvignon Blanc with flavours of gooseberry, fresh cut bell-pepper and what is often (and affectionately) termed ‘cat pee on a gooseberry bush’! By the mid-eigthies, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was a winnin’ international wine awards and had established New Zealand’s place as a credible wine producer in the world market.
So, we go through the main town of Blenheim and head out towards the town of Renwick, and head straight to Cloudy Bay and taste their newly released 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. (Sniff) Oooh! I getta fresh cut grass and herbs with some tropical fruity onna the nose! (Sip, swish, swallow) Oooh! Juicy and fruity with a minerally finish. Fantastico! Now, Gino, he insists on visitin’ lotsa the wineries.
We went to Allan Scott (Good EatNZ loves their Chardonnay and Riesling; she’s a California girl, and doesn’t really appreciate the NZ Sauvignon Blanc style, to be honest), Highfieid Estate (boy, they gotta the view), Oyster Bay and Te Whare Ra (the last two are onna The Man’s wine list at the Hilltop!). This izza the view from Highfield Estate!
After tastin’ all the wine, we take quick nap before drivin’ west. We take the scenic route alongside the Marlborough Sounds! Mamma Mia!
This izza paradise! It’s full of tropical-like vegetation and the water izza so blue! There’s lotsa outdoor activites like kayaking, sailing, hiking, camping and fishing around here. This kayaking reminds me of when I was a young boy onna the canals in Venice! Don't you worry! I didda the "Slip, slop, slap" thinga they do inna New Zealand. I slipped on sunnies and a shirt, slopped onna the sunscreen, and I already hadda my hat slapped on. (I justa tooka the sunnies off for the photo, you know!)
And, to think, all those bays are full of the lovely Green-lipped Mussels! Holy Vongole!
We stop in Havelock, the ‘Green-Lipped Mussel Capital of the World’ and take the Green Lipped Mussel Cruise
. And you wanna know the best part!? The best food-wine match for the Mussels is……………., you guessed it! Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc!
We leave Marlborough and enter the Nelson region. This little area on the northwest corner of the South Island gets more sunshine than any other part of New Zealand! The main town, also called Nelson
izza pretty city with a vibrant feel, but most people live in the surrounding towns and areas. Itsa very artsy-crafty type of place. Lots of artists live and work here and there are heaps of galleries to explore. There’s also a real trend towards the holistic, alternative medicine and healthy living lifestyle. There’s lotsa great restaurants, mostly featuring the great seafood available, onna the waterfront.
Just outta Nelson, around the town of Richmond is another big wine growing area. They grow all kinds a grapes here, but are well-known for their Rieslings. A lotta the original immigrants to the area were fromma Germany, so they know the Rieslings, and a lotta the good wines have names like Siefried and Neudorf. Of course, Gino, he want to drink more wine, and GoodEatNZ says both Seifried
have good cafes, so offa we go!
After another busy day, we are heading back to Christchurch and the Hilltop. My time here is gettin' short and it won't be long before I'm on the plane, onna my way to Riverside, California!