A long day of travel started a car ferry out of Wellington in the North Island to Blenheim in the South Island. They are in fact only 30km apart, but because of the shape of the 2 islands, its a 3 hour ferry journey, and a 30 minute drive.
The ferry was a bit like the channel ferry, but the trip, especially the second half was amazing as we made our way across the Cook Straight, through the Marlborough Sound and into Picton.
After lunch in Picton in the sunshine, we took the long way round to Blenheim via Queen Charlottes drive, a beautiful scenic drive, we took a detour off along one of the tracks out to the coast, a bit of a mistake as it took 2 hours out of our day, but we gave 2 Polish hitchhikers a lift to the middle of nowhere, so it was good for them.
Anyway we got to Blenheim a little later than we would have like, a nice little town, but importantly in the middle of dozens of vineyards, so a great place for a wine tour.
There were 2 other middle aged British couples, and one Dutch girl in her 20’s who didn’t drink wine, but wanted to go on a wine tour. We visited 5 vineyards, sampling a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, which they are famous for around here, Reisling, Pinot Gris, some Rose and a very nice Kiwi champagne. It was a really fun day, and it got more fun the more wine we tasted!
From Blenheim we had another wet travel day across to the west of the country to Westport, this was just an overnighter, not a lot to say about the town itself, but it had a seal colony near by so we had a walk and a look at the seals (they didn’t do much but bask).
Next day was another long drive, but the weather was excellent, and there was a lot to see. The first part of the journey was along the Great Coast Road, one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world according to lonely planet, and it was truly spectacular, masive scenery and the forest in places reaches right down to the beach.
We saw the pancake rocks, unusual layered rocks made to look like pancakes due to their composition and erosion. We walked through the forest down the Truman track to a beach with a beautiful rock overhang.
Then down to Greymouth for a lunch stop (roast lamb sandwiches – only $5 each (yum). Then on to Brunner lake via a scenic drive, a stunning lake on a beautiful day. We did another walk to a lookout point crossing a very wobbly swing bridge.
Finally the last part of the day was driving to Hokitika, our home for the next 3 nights, where thanks to Airbnb we would be staying in a caravan in someones back garden!