Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nelson, New Zealand

25th - 27th Jan
At Noon on Sunday I picked up my hire car which I would be using for the next 32 days. It turned out to be a small Mazda Masio. It was a funny looking thing which looked sort of like a miniature people carrier. It had lots of stone chippings at the front which was good – I would rather have a beat up hire car than a brand new one. This one was anything but brand new – it had 160,000 km on the clock and it was also an automatic (they all seem to be automatics here).

I went back to the backpackers and put all my stuff in, said goodbye to Brecht and I was on my way.

My first stop was supposed to be Kaikoura (see glossary update) but instead I decided to drive all the way to Nelson to meet up with my Friends Lloyd and Deirdre. It was a Long journey – over 400k and I had to stop every now and then for food and naps but I finally made it at around 7pm that night. I had been in touch with Lloyd about where they were staying which was supposed to be the Paradiso so I phoned them up and booked in for two nights. However, when I got there I discovered they had moved to another backpacker place in town because they did not like the Paradiso (the kitchen was a mess and it was too rowdy the previous night) As I had already booked in before I knew this I had to stay there for the next two nights!

After checking in to my rather small 4 bed dorm (top bunk of course!) I went to Lloyd and Deirdre’s far better hostel to meet them. It was good to finally meet somebody I knew from back home. After some food and beer I said goodbye to them and headed back to my noisy hostel. The next day we would be wine tasting!

Raymond and Lloyd's Wine Tasting tour:

With special guests Taz and DM

Deirdre had very kindly volunteered to do the driving while myself and Lloyd (who is from Belfast too) sampled the wines:

Our first winery was supposed to be ‘The Grape Escape’ but it was no longer doing tastings – not a good start.

So our first proper tasting was at a place called Seigfried’s which was owned by an Austrian family. We paid $6 each for about 6 wine tastings which was refunded if you bought a wine – which Lloyd did – so he got his money back. I decided that it would be a very expensive day if I bought a bottle of plonk at each winery.

Stop two was at a place called Kaimira.

From the outside it looked as if the place was a just a warehouse but when we got in it had all these funky looking pictures and furniture – very original. Our taste master (or what ever they are called!) turned out to be a very nice English girl who gave us both big measures to taste of each wine – and they were free! In the end we both bought a bottle of wine each.


After a stop off for some pics of St Michaels Anglican church we headed to our third winery at Woolaston Estates.


Stop number 3

This place was very unusual – owned by a rich American and you could tell from the layout. It had an art gallery exhibiting VERY expensive modern art paintings. After our tasting (again free) we bought some more wine and decided to have our lunch in the picnic area outside. Deirdre had brought a all sorts of goodies to make sandwiches and nibbles out of while we slurped away at a bottle of Reisling from the winary. I have to say that if it had been me preparing the lunch it would have consisted of bread, ham and mayo and nothing else – that’s the difference between men and women (or is just between everyone else and me!).

As I was saying

The lines look straight to me!

$18,000 for this!

Sophisticated lunch

Back to the tasting!

Stop 4 was at a place called Neudorf which had more art work to admire (or abuse!)

Hey look at me!

More wine buying

Our final winery was at sunset valley which we got to just in time as he was about to close up. More wine purchases! I had 3 bottles by this stage and Lloyd and Deirdre must have had about 5 or 6!

Stop number 5

After the wineries we made one last stop before heading back to Nelson – A brewery! Here we could also pay for a tasting of their ales – fantastic!

I am doing my homer simpson drooling impersonation!


Stop number 6

That's stop number 6

Did I say it say stop number 6?

Our Driver Deirdre is feeling the pace!

Deirdre - best wine tour driver ever!

Then finally it was back to Nelson – slightly drunk. After a minor walkabout the cathedral area while waiting for Lloyd and Deirdre to refresh we all went to a local establishment for some final drinks before parting company for the night.

Ah - paradise!

Before I left to continue on my journey I met up with Lloyd one last time to climb up to the ‘centre of New Zealand’ monument. After 20 knackering minutes of hiking up a hill we came to the rather sorry looking monument. This apparently marks the exact middle of New Zealand from North to South and East to West. Still the view was nice.

Centre of New Zealand - big deal!

I said my goodbyes to Lloyd and Deirdre and then I was on my way for another long journey back to Punikeiki of all places!

Facebook pics

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