This post is the third part describing my travel to New Zealand and a roadtrip on the South Island kayaking with sea lions, drinking wine in Blenheim, and culture looking in Christchurch.
In case you missed part 1 or part 2.
I booked all of the accommodation (besides the camping sites) through Booking.com, where I get 10% off selected hotels (as a Genius member) + I get 4-6% cashback through Cashrewards – all in all saving up 16% on each booking. I have an entire post about how to save money when travelling here.
This post includes affiliate links from Booking.com
We drove to Nelson where we stayed at Amber Court Motor Lodge. We had decided to stay in a place where we had our own shower and kitchen, which we got here. And, lucky for us, we were upgraded when we arrived, which was really great. The place itself is a little bit outside of Nelson city centre however, it was just a 15 minute walk from the beach so we took advantage of that and when we got to the beach – it was crowded with people walking their dogs! It was absolutely wonderful 🙂
I had read that one place to visit in Nelson, was the “Ring Maker” of the One ring from Lord of the Rings – so naturally, we had to get see that. We drove to the Nelson city centre and went for a stroll. The Ring Maker is a very small shop with a display of some of the rings from the movie.
After that, we went to see the Nelson Christ Church, which is set on top of a small hill. It’s very beautiful.
We then went shopping a New World and drove back to the Amber Lodge.
We then drove Picton stopping underway to enjoy the ever-changing amazing scenery. We drove along the State HWY and stopped at Pelorus Bridge, where we quickly took this shot before we were overrun by sandflies.. Mark literally sat down, I took the picture and he jumped up and ran to the car. However, the picture turned out nice..
After that, we ate our lunch in the car and then drove on to Anakiwa, where we enjoyed the amazing sights of the mountains surrounding the sea.
Our first meeting with Picton was the amazing view from up the road, just before we reached the city. We drove into Picton and directly to the Picton Campervan Park, where we had booked a couple of nights in a small cabin with community bathroom and kitchen and a small veranda which was nice to relax on with a cold beer and a good book.
Our first day in Picton, we spend walking around and enjoying the fresh seaside air. We decided to rent a double kayak for the next day and then went back to the cabin and relaxed (reading Harry Potter for my part).
The next day we got up early and went to the kayak rental place (Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company – $40 per person for 4 hours). For us (complete newbies) 4 hours was plenty of time for us to sail out and get back. If you’re interested in bringing a lunch and make a stop, you will probably need a full day. They also offer guided tours, but we preferred just to do a bit of light kayaking our selves.
On the way, we saw a sea lion just relaxing on a boat ramp. It was just amazing and when we sailed passed, (s)he jumped in the water and started to swim around us, looking for fish to eat.
We actually managed to get quite close without scaring him/her. It was pretty cool!
After returning back to shore we went to grab some lunch at Seabreeze Café & Bar. It has a nice view of the harbour and a great atmosphere – just prepare yourself to wrestle a couple of seagulls for your food..
Near the end of our trip we wanted to do something special for ourselves – therefor we booked a couple of nights in a really nice hotel (Chateau Marlborough – we stayed in the new building in a King Studio) and booked bikes to go wine tasting in the Blenheim area the next day. When we arrived to Blenheim, we went for a walk around the city center and had a cold beer and fries at at sports bar – it’s a very quiet town (at least when we were there) – but it has a really nice atmosphere.
The next day we were picked up from our hotel (for free) by the bike-renting company: “Wine Tours by Bike” and were driven straight to the rental place, where we rented two bikes for NZ$45 per bike for five hours.They gave us a quick introduction to the bikes and then a map for us to see all of the wineries in the area. They are very helpful with recommendations! You can also try out one of their tandem bikes – if you and your travel companion are good team workers…
Our trip took us to:
No. 1 Family Estate (where you get lovely bubbles – a great start to a wine tour)
Hans Herzog Estate (which had a really beautiful garden to have lunch or dinner)
Sugar Loaf Wines (We managed to buy the very last 2016 Riesling in stock – absolutely yum! They just opened their cellardoor when we got their, so it’s very small but lovely wines)
Giesen Wines Cellar Door
Bladen Wines (The cellar door is a small shed in the midst of all the beautiful vines)
Te Whare Ra Wines Limited (Organic winery)
And yes, we were absolutely very tipsy, when we made it back to the bike rental place – not a minute early.. 😉
They drove us back to the hotel where we went to buy snacks for dinner.. The best way to finish a wine-filled day: Lying in the bed, watching “Friends” and eating baked goods.
Since, we had booked two nights at Chateau Marlborough, we wanted to go back to the wine area and taste some more wine. We decided to visit Saint Claire Family Estate Vineyard, where we had a really delicious lunch – like yum! We also bought a wine to enjoy back at the hotel later that night.
After a couple of very relaxing days in Blenheim, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Christchurch. We originally thought about taking the coastal route, however due to earthquakes it was closed down. Instead, we drove along the State HWY, which in our opinion wasn’t exactly the most interesting route. But, that could be because we had just come from the beautiful scenery of both Fiordland National Park and the northern part of the South Island. In any case, we were sure that the coastal route would have been amazing.
We arrived to Christchurch in the afternoon and checked in to Southwark Apartments. We chose to stay here because we wanted to be close to the city center with easy access to the airport and because it was fairly cheap.
The next day we drove to the airport to hand in the rental car – since we were going to stay in Christchurch for the last two days – we wanted to save the money. We took the bus back to the city and went for a walk in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. It’s a really nice and long walk along a little river with people in boats sailing past. The picture above was from the Rose Garden.
Afterwards, we went to grab some lunch at the Re:Start Container Mall, which is a really funky space built after the devastating earthquakes of 2011. It seems as though it’s closed but there will be built a Farmer’s Market instead. We also caught a quick game of table tennis right outside the Container Mall.
On our last day in New Zealand we went for a walk to the Torpedo7 store, where we had previously gotten our gas containers, to return them. In the evening we went to have dinner at Twenty Seven Steps. It’s a really nice little restaurant but make sure to book a table in advance.
What you very quickly see, when walking around Christchurch, is the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of 2011. The city is still being rebuild from all the devastation and many roads are blocked by roadwork. However, finding the small havens like the Botanic Gardens and the Container Mall more than makes up for it. Our last night in New Zealand we spend drinking champagne (from No. 1) and watching “Friends”.
After four amazing weeks in New Zealand it was time to go back to Denmark. We had a flight out from Christchurch with Singapore Airlines and arrived in Denmark exhausted and filled with love for the wonderful country that is New Zealand.