Our final night on south island was spent in Blenheim, just south of Picton, where we were to take the Interislander ferry from. Imagine our delight when the campsite was on the same road as the vineyard of one of favourite wines!!!
This region is Marlborough, the largest wine region of NZ, where apparently, its Sav blanc grape has single handedly put NZ on the wine producing world map. We drove down the main road, passing vineyard after vineyard after vineyard. An incredible number of different producers, all offering different cellar-door inducements to come in. Again, the background skyline of the snow covered mountains was pretty good, to say the least!!
Cloudy Bay is one of the longest established wineries, 25 years old, and we were greeted and served by a wonderfully passionate and knowledgeable woman. We learnt about the different harvesting methods and about the different storage and maturing, and a little about matching the right wine with the right food. All this whilst tasting 10 different wines….! Beautiful!
We drove on to Picton, more than just a ferry port, but unfortunately not enough time for us to explore. The kids had a play and then we boarded the ferry, an hour before departure, luckily giving us enough time to get the front row seats looking out the front of the ship!
The journey was delicious! (I said I would run out of suitable superlatives). Bluer than blue sea with the tree covered peaks descending down into it, tiny little former whaling stations huddled in the crook of the bays, turning corner after corner through a route out to the ocean. When we arrived at the gap between the north and south island, the Cook Straight, the sea turned rougher and the boat began to lurch between peaks and troughs. Looking south we could see the moutains of Kairkoura where we had been the day before and watched as about 50 or more albatros flew singly in front of the boat, playing chicken with the bow, swooping in and out of the wash. Their scale only becomes apparent when an ordinary seagull joined them in their flight! Their wingspan is about 3metres. Amazing.
And finally, if there was any confusion about the beard…..it is still being nurtured. It was a brilliant addition to the polar expedition we have just had but look now, for you might never see it again……