Hello from New Zealand!
Yep that’s right – I’m in New Zealand. You probably hadn’t guessed from all the posts about Southeast Asia floating around here.
You see, I’m actually blogging in retrospect – recapping my seven month adventure around Southeast Asia. And I still have a long way to go. I’m currently on Myanmar but I still have some Vietnam posts to finish off, more from Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Borneo, Java, the UK and Singapore before I even start on New Zealand. And then I have a further six months of travel and road trips around this beautiful country to catch up on. I feel exhausted just thinking about it all.
So until I get my ass in gear and finally catch up with myself, I’ll be posting quick snapshots of what I’ve been up to down under (ahead of longer blog posts to follow later on). After all, one of the main purposes of this blog is to keep family and friends updated as to where I am and what I’m doing now.
This week’s instalment – the Marlborough Wine Festival.
As a self-confessed wine-lover, I struggled through seven months of travel in Southeast Asia where good wine is hard to come by. So when I landed in New Zealand, where wine is plentiful (and good!) I was in my element. I’m pretty lucky to live close to tons of vineyards – just a short ferry ride away is the beautiful island of Waiheke with vineyards scattered all over. But with so much wine variety knocking around New Zealand I was eager to try more. Cue the Marlborough Wine Festival.
Nelson – Picton – Blenheim
The wine festival itself was held in the Brancott Estate vineyard in Blenheim, a small picturesque village a couple of hours drive from Nelson where we were flying into. So after landing in Nelson and picking up our rental car we headed along the coast, driving along the stunning Queen Charlotte Drive to our first stop, Picton. This has got to be one of the better drives I have done (and believe me, I’m not spoilt for choice over here). I’d love to bombard you with a hundred stunning photos of that drive but unfortunately I spent the entire time clutching my stomach in the throes of a new-found tendency towards motion sickness. Dom kept asking if I wanted to stop for photos, in answer to which I would just wave him on, too nauseous to even answer.
After recovering and eating a lunch of tasty fish and chips overlooking the sea in Picton we headed to our Airbnb rental in a quiet neighbourhood on the outskirts of Blenheim. We hadn’t been expecting much so we were completely taken aback when we arrived to find a huge mansion of a house where we were given our own ‘suite’, with an outdoor terrace area and our own private bathroom. The owners, Marion and Murray, couldn’t have made us feel more welcome, giving us lifts to and from the festival, recommendations of where to eat and drink and keeping us entertained with stories of their travels around the World.
The Marlborough Wine Festival
The Marlborough Region in New Zealand’s South Island is famous the World over for its delicious wines, particularly its crisp white wines; so its no surprise that the annual wine festival is a big affair. The grounds of the Brancott Estate are sprawling and were crammed full of stalls. There were over 40 vineyards there, each with their own stall, selling their own wine. Squeezed inbetween those stalls were street food stalls selling everything from hot dogs to cheese to ice cream. I was in heaven.
I don’t think my glass was ever empty for longer than 30 seconds that day and I’m sure I probably tried every available wine there was – red, white, rosé, sparkling, sweet, dry. For lunch we ate garlicky Hungarian bread topped with tomato and feta and followed by a huge cheeseboard. Later on we indulged in some strawberry and cream flavoured ice cream. Inbetween all the eating and wine drinking we sunbathed, wandered around, watched live music and danced.
The Marlborough Wine Festival was up there as one of my favourite days in New Zealand. The atmosphere was great, everyone was having a good time and it was nice to have the opportunity to chill out a bit – lying back on the grass, sipping wine and eating cheese. I’m pretty hard pressed to think of a better way of spending a Saturday. I suppose I’d better get searching for the next wine festival to attend. So stay tuned for that!