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New Zealand – two weeks in the south side (pt.1)

You guys all like pictures right?? Good cause its hard to describe NZ without pics, so i’ve overloaded this post, enjoy :)

Route through the South island!

Route through the South island!

MARLBOROUGH

From the north island we took a ferry to get to the south island. A ferry that would make all the ferries in the Philippines jealous. I mean this thing was lux… we watched movies in the “movie” room, there was also a full buffet, kids play area, and hotel rooms on the boat. Yeah, NZ has ferry travel figured out.

Marlborough sound and Picton

Marlborough sound and Picton

After we arrived in Picton we started the task of finding a place to camp for the night, we ended up camping in a really picturesque spot by the Pelourus bridge. This was one of my favorite camp grounds, because we had the entire place to ourselves, there was no sand flies (which i’m sure we will bring up later…. errreywhere on the south island!) and we woke up to this in the morning….

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Not too bad, eh?

The next morning we went out for another run through of the NZ wineries. This time we were gonna play with the big boys. Marlbourgh region wineries… aka heaven. We camped out a hostel/hotel that had a camper van hook up in the back yard in a town called Renwick. Watson’s Way Lodge. This place was FANTASTIC. I mean seriously cool little hostel with everything you could want AND it was owned by an adorable older couple who were ridiculously nice. They also rented out bikes so we could do bike winery tour #2. The loop was around 12k long with more wineries then possible to taste in one day. Here’s the map of the region and for those that don’t care about wine, feel free to skip to the next section… don’t worry I won’t judge ūüėČ

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We started of the day by me falling off the back of the camper van and twisting my ankle… perfect for a day of bike riding right! The main reason I add this tidbit in is because in an oversight we really didn’t take hardly any pictures of our camper van! ¬†You can kind of see what we were living in in this pic… not super spacious but perfect for a few weeks trip.

Merely a flesh wound!

Merely a flesh wound!

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Back on the bike in no time!

The first stop was a place called Cloudy Bay also probably the most famous of all the NZ wineries in Marlborough region… and for good reason. They had a killer Saviagon blanc which is actually found in most wine sellers in the states. Also the Pinot Noir was killer, but i’m also a sucker for Pinots! On top of having fantastic wine they had one of the most beautiful wineries Ive been too. Definitely recommend this place. 6 tastings for 5$ not too bad.

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Next up was a brewery that set up show on the route… it had really good microbrews and it was a nice change of pace after drinking a fair share of wine the past few days.

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Following that we headed to¬†Bouldevines, not really my cup of tea but really Sean liked this place… had a sweet white called Sprig which was a little bit too drinkable. One of those types that’s perfect on a hot summer day but gotta watch out cause it goes down too easy? Yeah, you all know the type.

One of the ones that stood out was No.1 family estate which specialized in Cuvees. These were some of the best sparkling whites I have had… seriously phenomenal and the people that worked there were so friendly. You get to try 7 wines for free, really can’t beat that.

Waikato River also had a really great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, couple that with a free tasting and beautiful cellar door and you get two thumbs up.

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Last but not least was Forrest Winery, that had the best tasting platter with a great selection of reds and whites (aka make both me and Sean happy). For $10 you get a tasting of 6 different wines (huge pours!) so it’s a little more expensive then the other places but totally worth it.

I can say in all honesty that Marlbrough is the best area I’ve tasted wines in (I’m including you, Sonoma!) and trust me I’ve done a lot of wine tasting. This is mainly due to the fact that all the cellar doors are within biking distance (HUGE plus), it’s an absolutely beautiful area with vineyards as far as the eye can see and for the most part, the wines where spectacular.

Alright enough with the oenophilia, moving on to kayaking!

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ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK

We headed up to Abel Tasman national park for a bit and decided to do some kayaking/hiking. We did a self-guided tour which ended up being ~4 hours of kayaking and ~4 hours of hiking. It was great cause we got the best of both worlds, seeing the views from sea and land. Able Tasman, while expensive, is a must do if your visiting the south island.

When we were on the kayaks we saw seals, tons of birds, and even a penguin! This was one of cooler things cause we got right up next to it without the penguin caring too much. Unfortunately he ducked under before we had time to take a photo… bastard!

Afterwards we ate our packed PB&J sandwhichs before we set out on the 4 hour hike back to our camp ground. The hike while not super challanging did provide some fantasic views of the park.

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WEST COAST

After the north we started making our way down the west coast of NZ. Now the west coast is stunning. I mean really stuning. Don’t believe me? Here take a look at these.

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One stop was in Westport where we did a short hike to a seal colony (Cape Foulwind seal colony). Suuuuppper cool to see so many seals in such a close distance. I didn’t realize this then, but there are seals evvvverywhere in the South island. Like you wake up in the morning and you coffee is served to you by as seal. New Zealand, crazy place.

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Afterwards we met my new favorite bird (not sure i had an old favorite bird but that’s neither here nor there). The Weka. When we were getting our camper ready to leave a small brown chicken-like bird walked straight up to us. Now, it’s slightly unnerving when a wild animal walks right up to you with no fear in there eyes. However, after two seconds I could tell the chicken-like bird meant no harm it was just curious. We found out these birds (called Weka or Wood hen) are famous in NZ for there feisty and rather bold personalities. We ran across them all over the south island and I always had to stop and feed/play with them. Add another animal onto the list of “must own at Brittany’s farm”.

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Afterwards we stopped at Punakaiki and saw the pancake rocks and blowholes. Pretty cool stuff.

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We finally got to Franz Josepf all excited to see the glaciers when all of the sudden our beautiful weather that had been following us around turned to sh*t. Raining, sleeting, and miserable weather. Hey you can have perfect weather always right??

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We waited around for 2 days hoping the fog would lift but alas it never did, the fog was so bad you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you let alone see the glaciers. So unfortunately we got weathered out on the glaciers, I guess its just an excuse to come back to NZ another day.

Afterwards we ended our first week in Wanaka, which could be my favorite NZ town in the south. (Queenstown is a CLOSE runner up) The town reminded me of a cute Colorado ski town ala Breckenridge. It also had another of my top camping grounds from the trip, a freedom camping spot right on Laka Wanaka. It’s hard to beat such an amazing view while grilling steaks and drinking a local microbrew in your camper van.

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Wanaka night sky

Wanaka night sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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