Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Marlborough New Zealand

Cashell St container mall, Christchurch

As I took my seat on the plane to New Zealand I was able to breath out and relaxi. A rather stressful four days had just come to an end where I had made a whirlwind trip to Adelaide, packed, cleaned, shipped and moved out of my flat.

We flew to Christchurch and popped into the city for a visit. I found it a disorientating and saddening expereince. The streets I'd visited with my sister a decade earlier had all gone and I couldn't get my bearings. The earthquake damage is everywhere and when they say it will take ten to fifteen years to rebuild I believe them.

In the former shopping hub of Cashell St they have built some shops from shipping containers. It was vibrant, fun and showed how resiliant the Kiwis could be.

One my strongest memories from the trip with my sister a decade ago is how good the independent cafés were. We stopped for a late lunch in the Hummingbird Café in one of the containers. It was simple, rustic and tasty. I got very excited that ten  years hadn't changed a thing. Sadly it proved one of a few rare highlights.

Sunrise over the vines at Nic's shed

After Christchuch we then drove in the dark four hours north to our rented house just outside of Blenheim. I'm not usually one to get excited about cars, but as I pulled out from behind a truck and put my foot down we went, unexpectedly, like a bat out of hell. We'd hired a monstrous V6!

Nic's shed, our luxury retreat

We'd rented Nic's Shed which is the nicest holiday accommodation I think I've ever stayed in. The beautifully designed house had a great kitchen and luxurious bedding. The house was nestled right in among the vines and with views of the Mount Richmond Forrest Park in the background. Simply stunning.

Croquet on the lawn at Cloudy Bay

 The Wairau Valley is a pretty sleepy place. Country walks, half marathons and wine tasting are the order of the day. We spent a relaxing few days (apart from the half marathon) pottering around, visiting a few vineyards and cooking delicious evening meals.

Outside Allan Scott wines in the Wairau Valley

On the Sunday morning we went to the Blenheim Farmers market. The market was quite small, but still drawing in the locals. I noticed that the fresh fruit was markedly cheaper than back in Sydney.

We stopped at the cheese stall run by the ruddy cheeked Lisa Harper. She proudly told us that she was the one who feeds the cows, milks the cows, makes the cheese and then sells it.

'A bit' of cheese

The cheese was sold at $5 'a bit'. We bought some Stinky brie (not that stinky really) and Queen Charlotte. The Queen Charlotte was a small 'bit' which Lisa weighed in her hand and then only charged us $3. Both were delicious.

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