Dolphins, wine and more wine

Well it’s been fun week or so!

As the gallery Laura put up shows, we finally got to see Dolphins! We spent 4 nights (our longest stay anywhere) in Kaikoura, mostly because the weather was so beautiful and we had a great spot in the park for kicking back and relaxing. The town had lots of cafes and restaurants (all of which are shut on Monday, which we had selected for date night.  Managed to get Fish and Chips at least).  The main purpose for our visit was to go whale watching; the area is famous for it’s marine life, due to a steep continental shelf only 3 nautical miles out.

After about half an hour of searching (co-ordinated with the other whale watching boat and a helicopter) we finally found a Sperm whale.  They can hold their breath for 2 hours and dive really deep, then they come to the surface to reoxygenate before heading back down.  It was really amazing to see something so massive in real life, even though in reality we only got to see a small fraction on the surface.

We’d managed to find the whale so quickly that it meant we then had time to find a pod of dusky dolphins, which I think both of us enjoyed even more than the whale.  They were showboating for us, diving in and out of the water together and just having good fun.  We even got to see a couple of baby dolphins to top it all off.

We still had more time after this, so they then took us to a bird watching area where we got to see, amongst other things, an Albatross.  They’re very rare, and pretty massive. Fortunately Laura kept hold of her sunglasses this time.

We were sad to say goodbye to Kaikoura but the call of wine was strong; we got to go back to Marlborough, but the east coast side.  As the Sauvignon Blanc capital of NZ we were both very excited.   Unlike the previous places we’d done our cycle-and-wine combo, there’s no dedicated cycle paths there which means that we were cycling on the roads.  This was mitigated by the fact that most of the cellar doors are within close proximity, but it meant that we didn’t enjoy the cycling.  We made up for it with more wine of course.

This was our record haul, with about 7 vineyards covered in the day including Cloudy Bay which is one of our favourite wines from when we were in HK.  Although all the wine was very nice, there weren’t really any standout places.  It was still a lovely day of cycling and wine though.

We moved our ferry up as we’d been progressing through the island quicker than expected, so the next day we chilled out in Picton before boarding the ferry up to the north island and driving onto Martinborough, yet another wine region.  Famed for it’s pinot noirs I wasn’t expecting much as I’m not a big fan of the reds but by the end we both agree it’s the best wine area we’ve been too. The vineyards are close enough together that you can walk between them, and the quality of wine was consistently amazing.  All the people running the cellar doors were really passionate and not just reading a script, and we had our best meat and cheese platter to date at a vineyard which sells exclusively on-site; unavailable at the shop and run by a husband and wife team.  I can confirm that it was the best day of all by how hungover we both were in the evening!

We’ve got an action packed couple of days ahead filled with canoeing in Whanganui National Park and hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  I’ll be ready to drink again by the end of it!


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