So after spending the better part of a week in Wellington, I decided that it was time to head out and explore New Zealand some before school started. I woke up early Monday morning to catch the ferry. The ferry is a 3 hour boat ride from Wellington on the North Island down to Picton, a port on the South Island. A large portion of the ride is spent not between the islands, but navigating the Queen Charlotte Sound, a beautiful weaving of bays and and straits through green mountains that lead from the ocean into Picton. Waiting for me at the ferry terminal in Picton was a van for a tour that I'd signed up for the day before. The tour was a wine tour of the Marlborough region.
This tour is not something that I'd normally sign up for, but it's one of the must see things in the South Island, and I figured "When in Rome." For those that don't know as I didn't, this region produces some world class wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. During the tour we visited 4 wineries, each one giving us samples of their best wines. Each had their own version of the aforementioned wines, along with some others that they'd specialize in. I used this tour to help me come to a better understanding of wines, and what makes them different. I don't think that I totally got the hang of it, but I started to grasp the complexity of flavors and smells that go into wine, and how they can differ (not to mention that I felt vey sophisticated swirling and smelling my wine before drinking it). The wineries were all beautiful, nestled in a valley, with endless vineyards surrounding them. The tour was a lot of fun, the group I was with made it very enjoyable. Mainly older couples from the U.K. and Wales, and one younger couple to help make me not feel so out of place. We also visited a local chocolate factory, Makana, where all of the treats are handmade. I've had my fair share of sweets throughout my life, and within memory this place makes the best sweets I've ever had!
That night I got a chance to check out Picton, which amounted to a three block main street, a couple side streets, and a very nice harbor. The town was a very nice and quiet place. I grabbed some dinner with a fellow American, and then rushed back to our hostel, where they famously serve hot pudding (more like hot fudge brownies) with a chunk of ice cream every night!
The next morning I had a dolphin swimming tour lined up. Once we all donned wet suits, we headed out into the Sounds. About half way into the tour, we found four Hectors Dolphins, which are the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world, only found in New Zealand. They playfully swam around our boat and a near by sailboat. They were extremely quick and exciting dolphins to watch. Unfortunately the rest of the tour yielded no dolphin sightings or a chance to get in the water with dolphins, but it did give us a great tour of the Queen Charlotte Sound.
After grabbing a very tasty lunch of Thai food at Gusto, I decided to spend the rest of the day on a hike. I took about 3 hours to go up along the harbor towards a nearby neighboring town and harbor and back to Picton. It was nice to just do a good old fashioned walk, allowing myself to appreciate the nature surrounding me. Not to mention tire myself going up and down hills!
Today, unfortunately I'm going to be spending most of the day on a bus going down the coast to Christchurch. I've got a few days there, then I'll be flying back to Wellington to begin orientation for school to start. As of now, I'm pretty far behind on updating Flickr, I still haven't posted pictures from my trip to the Blue Mountains. So it might be part way into next week before that all gets updated with those and all of the pictures from my South Island trip. Stay tuned, there's more coming soon!
Hello avid followers (I'm assuming you're the only ones who've made it this far) I have been avoiding my blogging duties for these past couple weeks as I've been settling in to Wellington. But now that I'm back on the road, my motivation has returned. (I will talk about moving into Wellington and such once I return from my travels, don't worry yourself).