Island Hopping

Today we leave the south island for the north island aboard Air New Zealand. The flight time from Blenheim to Wellington is scheduled at 30 minutes however many people have told us it can often be half that. Even better was the winery that told us we can carry on wine which we almost couldn't believe until we got to the airport. There are two gates, one cafe, and no presence of inspection. You literally walk from outside into the gate area without being asked a single question.

The last few days have been rather quiet due in part to visiting much smaller towns. We finished up in Kaikoura and took a bus through some winding mountain roads to Blenheim where we have been staying in a three unit motel behind a traditional pub. I'm not usually one to stay in small places where you get to know the employees but these folks were fantastic. They picked us up from the bus and dropped as at the airport, rented us bikes for the day so we could ride to the vineyards, and provided a nice dinner alongside a pub quiz night.

On Wednesday we took on the task of riding to a few wineries. We covered just over fifteen miles and were exhausted by the end of the day. We tried many of the local variations which are predominantly white wine (not our first choice) and enjoyed them. The cool climate doesn't really work for the wines we are used to back home so we decided to enjoy the sauvingon blanc, a local staple. The tasting rooms were all empty on arrival thanks to the low season which gave us great opportunities to cozy up by fireplaces and ask questions about the region. After three tastings and a meal we were exhausted just before the sun set at 5pm.

Today, Thursday for us, we opted to go by foot to a couple of closer vineyards. We got a tasting of seven wines and an enormous cheese plate. While walking is much more comfortable than biking its surely not a common option given the lack of sidewalks. Many tasting rooms had tours which included drivers stopping in - a more convenient but less adventurous option. Our last visit is where we learned we could just bring wine in our backpacks. We have accumulated a few things along the way thus far making our baggage ever heavier and tighter. Therefore we only opted for one more bottle in hopes we would consume both of our purchases in the next week.

So we're off to the capital city and one that everyone says has more charm and character than its siblings Auckland and Christchurch. We hope that's true because the weather doesn't look great for outdoor activities (I really want to check out Zealandia). So with museums and other exhibits we should be okay either way.

Here are some photos from out last day in Kaikoura where we summitted the local lookout for great views of the region as well as the wine region in Blenheim.

From Kaikoura Lookout

Lookout Pano

Before we realized how hard the ride would be. 
Cloudy Bay Vineyard

So Scenic

Forrest Estate Wines 
Sheep! They're Everywhere

p.s. for anyone who read the post regarding our steal of a hotel on points in Budapest - here is the vindication I so badly needed.