A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Sunday, 10 March 2019

New Zealand 2019 Travel Diary // Blenheim, Picton, Marlborough Sounds, Abel Tasman, Golden Bay & Nelson Lakes

As I mentioned in my last post, at the start of February we were heading straight to Blenheim for the food and wine festival on the 9th February. Once there, we explored a lot of the north of the South Island and saw some truly stunning places. The north of the South Island is home to so many beautiful beaches and, as the weather was so good to us, we spent a looot of time on the beach over these few days and I was pretty much in heaven. It really amazes me how diverse New Zealand's landscape is. It really has got everything, from beaches to mountains to lakes to rainforests, it's such an amazing place to be.

BLENHEIM :: When my sister first came to New Zealand nearly ten years ago, she settled in Blenheim and stayed there for eight years. So she knows it pretty well and, being a wine lover, recommended that if Liam and I could fit it in, we go to its annual food and wine festival which she was going to too. Two of my favourite things in life are wine and food so it was a no brainer for me. I had such a lovely day, it was very expensive but pretty much the dream for me. I tried so many wines and ate some absolutely delicious food and was essentially on cloud nine all day. Liam doesn't have such a raving review of it because he's not really a wine lover like me so I think he found the whole thing too expensive for what it was, which is fair enough. But if you're in the area around the start of February and you love food and wine, this is the day out for you. The day after the festival we went to Whites Bay beach which is a short drive from Blenheim and is just beautiful and then we stayed the night at Robin Hood Bay. When I woke up at 6:30am because I needed a wee I was graced with the most beautiful sunrise I think I've ever seen in my life at Robin Hood Bay, it was truly magical and very unexpected for my half-asleep self. After that we zipped around the north of the South Island, but returned to Blenheim for my birthday because, again, I wanted to spend the day eating food and drinking wine, and my sister had recommended the winery Rock Ferry for my birthday lunch. It did not disappoint. We both had a three course meal and my god I'm salivating right now just thinking about it. It was truly glorious and I felt so spoiled by my lovely school friends who really kindly paid for our lunch as a birthday present to me. We then went to Saint Clair's Vineyard for a wine tasting and I promptly went into a food coma and had a lie down for an hour. If you're into wines Blenheim is the place to be - there are vineyards absolutely everywhere and tastings cost next to nothing. What a dream!

PICTON & MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS :: Like Blenheim, we ended up going to Picton/the Marlborough Sounds twice because of the loop we were doing to be in Blenheim on my birthday. So, on the first visit we drove the amazing Queen Charlotte Drive, stopping in Anakiwa for dinner. It was absolutely stunning and amazing to see the Marlborough Sounds in comparison to Milford and Doubtful Sounds. On our second trip back to the sounds we got a boat from Picton to the Lochmara Lodge where you can spend a day or stay overnight and do kayaking and seeing some of New Zealand's native animals. It was lovely although I don't think you needed more than a day there really.

ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK :: Now, one of my absolute favourite places I've seen in New Zealand is the Abel Tasman National Park. On our first day there we went to Kaiteriteri Beach and whiled away the afternoon, Liam, in the sea, me, engrossed in Michelle Obama's 'Becoming'. (Which btw I am obsessed with and is such an *incredible* read.) After a lazy day, the following day we did some of the Abel Tasman Coast track, another one of New Zealand's great walks. We got a water taxi to Anchorage and saw some baby seals on the way. When we got there we did the Pitt Head Loop Track walk and then walked back from Anchorage to the start of the Abel Tasman Coast track in Marahau. It took a looong time but the best part of this walk is that every fifteen minutes or so you can stop at some of the most stunning beaches I've ever seen in my life. I would have liked more time at some of them to be honest but we were limited on time since we needed to walk back to Marahau by the evening. The beaches were just incredible and Abel Tasman is pretty much top of my list in New Zealand recommendations now.

GOLDEN BAY :: After Abel Tasman we headed to Golden Bay, spending Valentine's Day on two of its lovely beaches, Patons Rock and Pohara, before going for dinner at The Dangerous Kitchen. We both had pizzas and poor Liam's one wasn't great but I really liked mine! So mixed reviews for that restaurant I guess. The next day we went to possibly the most amazing beach I've ever seen in my life, Wharariki Beach. It's not a swimming beach but so unbelievably beautiful and if you're in New Zealand you really have to go. After that we did a bit of a walk by Farewell Spit before driving to the Nelson Lakes. All in all Golden Bay and Abel Tasman are two of my absolute favourite places in New Zealand, the north of the South Island really has so much to offer.

NELSON LAKES :: Just before my birthday we had a couple of nights by the Nelson Lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa. They're both beautiful but Rotoiti was definitely superior to Rotoroa in my opinion and had less sand flies which are pretty much the bane of your life when you're in New Zealand. At Rotoiti we did the Mount Robert Circuit which gives you incredible views of the lake. I'd really recommend it, it's really steep going up but once you're up there it's amazing. It also claims to be a five hour walk but we did it in three so it's definitely not necessarily a whole day hike.

And that brings you pretty much up to date with what we've been up to over the past month or so until we started housesitting in Nelson. As a quick side note Nelson is a really nice little town in itself, if you go there on a Wednesday as we happened to, definitely grab your lunch at the farmer's market, I had an amazing Indian dosa followed by a passion fruit doughnut which was every bit as good as it sounds. I can't believe we've only got two more stops in New Zealand (at the time of writing) - Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs which Liam hasn't been to yet - and then that's it!

I really hope you've enjoyed these posts. I know travel posts aren't always the most fun to read if you haven't been to the place or have no plans to go to the place the person is writing about but I hope if you have read them you've liked them and that they've given you a bit of an insight into one of the best countries I've ever visited. Now it's onto Brisbane and then South East Asia here we come!

Disclaimer: Again, Liam has very kindly let me use some of his photos in my blog posts so I just wanted to highlight that not all of these beauties are my work!

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