Trip Start Oct 07, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, November 5, 2006

We left the Last Straw this morning, with deep regrets. It will certainly be hard to beat. We had such a nice stay and the weather was fantastic. But on we go hoping to find some new adventures.
We have to take the train at Blenheim Station tomorrow, so we have decided to get there today and stay the night in a hotel rather than taking the bus there in the morning as it had originally been planned.
The coach journey was only about 2 hours, but combined with the train journey of about 3, we thought it would be too much for Seth.
Instead, we went due south from Nelson to St Arnaud, where we were going to have a look at Rotoiti lake in the Nelson Lakes National Park. The plan was to have lunch there and a run around the lake, and then go on to Blenheim in the afternoon.
Blenheim being the wine region of New Zealand, we thought that maybe, we could squeeze in a visit to a winery to have a little taste of what was on offer.

Anyway, we went by car to St Arnaud. The road was lovely. Rolling hills, giving way to higher mountains, small brooks and wide rivers flowing lazily in lush valleys where horses, cows and sheep grazed alike.
Then we arrived in St Arnaud...
Well...I was expecting a huge mountain lake, with snow covered peaks reflecting in the clear waters... I got a very modest lake, with conifer and shrub covered slopes reflecting in very clear waters indeed. All in all, it was quite pretty, and had we not just been transiting through, it would have been the perfect wilderness retreat. Some bloke went kayaking on the absolutely still water whilst we were there... and to be fair, that looked very enjoyable... but I was expecting Lausanne or Lake Tahoe!! with at least one café/restaurant where we could have had something to eat and stop 5 minutes to break the journey up. I was slightly disappointed.
Well, it was not to be. David obviously thought that it was fabulous and exactly as he had imagined it (smug so and so).
I was just cold and miffed that we had to board the car after a few minutes. Needless to say, I was the one who had requested that we chose that particular route, and needless to say that my prior planning research was a bit flaky...

The second part of the journey to Blenheim followed the Wairau River all the way to the coast and was rather pleasant if a bit flat and monotonous.
But the main thing is that we manage to squeeze in a little visit to Jackson's Road and the famous Cloudy Bay vineyard.
They very conveniently and cleverly supply toys for the kids to play with, whilst the parents entertain themselves in other ways. Seth was really happy to play with toy cars whilst his alcoholic parents tried every single bottle available to sample.
Did you know that they produced late vintage Gewürztraminer???!

A few glugs later, we carried on to the city centre where we found a very nice Themed Roomed hotel called Hotel d'Urville.
We were allocated the "Coloured Room". Seth was delirious and had never seen anything so tastefully decorated.... We thanked the lord that we had to drive there and as a result did not over-do it with the white wine!
It was a very nice room though, very comfy and spacious -if a little bright for our taste- and the hotel is very central. (Not that Blenheim is that big anyway)
As expected, we also had a little stroll in the Pollard Park, at the north end of town, which, amongst other things, offers a very nice playground...

Anyway, tomorrow we are taking the train to Kaikoura and we are hoping to see at least some seals, and hopefully some whales!
Not sure if Seth is actually that impressed. We are.
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