We left Nelson in the pouring rain this morning. Just one more variable to add to driving on the left, crazy road signs, logging trucks, one lane bridges, and roundabouts. Shawn safely maneuvered us through it all to arrive safely in Blenheim in the Marlborough wine region.

My new favorite road sign

One lane bridge sign, the large arrow has the right-of-way

We started at Villa Maria. Shawn mentioned that we had been served a delicious Sauvignon Blanc on the airplane, and our server said Villa Maria is the sole provider of wine to Air New Zealand. They are also the largest exporter of New Zealand wine to the US. They are distributed through Chateau St. Michelle in Washington state. We like dessert wines such as late harvest and ice wines, but we learned of a third type of dessert wine: rot wine or botrytis. When the conditions are just right, the grapes develop a rot (a good rot not a bad rot according to our server) which depletes 80% of the water from the grapes making a very intense, sweet grape. We purchased a bottle of the Noble Riesling 2013.

Next, we headed to Saint Clair for lunch and a tasting. The restaurant and tasting room were nestled in among the vines. If the weather had been fairer, there was even seating among the vines. We had a tasty lunch. Salmon over a saffron risotto cake with bok choy and broth for me and spaghetti in a blue cheese and mushroom sauce for Shawn. Both paired nicely with their Sauvignon Blanc.

Our last stop before leaving the Marlborough wine region was Moa Brewing tucked in amongst the vineyards. We sampled a few of their beers and left as the proud owners of their barrel aged Imperial Stout.

It was a bit too damp to sit out front in the beanbag circle

Large Moa sculpture


The drive between Blenheim and Kaikoura along the coast is beautiful but very windy today. We stopped at a cafe for coffee and a few coastal photos.

A bit closer to Kaikoura we found seals lounging on the rocks. One of them reminded me of our lazy cat Sophie lying on her back soaking up the rays. The coastline here has a darker sand beach with large rocks close to shore and lots of thick, brownish gold kelp that looks like giant fettuccini.

Sophie the Seal

We went into central Kaikoura in search of a lobster sized crayfish for dinner, but unfortunately, they were not catching any today. We settled for fresh, crunchy fish and chips at The Adelphi.

Shawn pointing out that I bit into a fry before taking my foodie picture

Artistic bus stop, rebar hooks filled with rocks

We’re staying at the Bella Vista Motel tonight. While it is a decent place, it does not have a bella vista let alone a vista. While getting ourselves sorted, we heard what sounded like an air raid siren. Knowing there have been earthquakes in the last few days, our first thought was a tsunami warning. The girl at the reception desk laughed and told us that is the alarm calling the volunteer fire department.

Daily ratings:
Villa Maria Winery – 4.5 Kiwis
Saint Clair Winery – 4 Kiwis
Moa Brewery – 4 Kiwis
Bella Vista Motel – 3.5 Kiwis
The Adelphi – 3.5 Kiwis

Steps taken = not nearly enough (2,175)