Seals, idyllic cottages and wine country
06.01.2013 - 06.01.2013 31 °C
Well the kids certainly got a good nights sleep in the van, not the same for Mel and me, although Mel was probably worse off.
Regardless we got enough sleep to get us through. The main problem were the sleeping mats they gave us for the tent. The were great for sleeping on, if you could stay on them that is! They were so narrow the minute you rolled over you slipped onto the hard floor and woke up.
We had breakfast sat outside Big Blue and talked about what we might do today. The consensus was to play at the facilities in the camp site and then head for Blenheim for a spot of wine tasting in the Marlborough region.
The weather was great this morning, hot sunny and clear blue sky but the wind was slowly picking up.
So after cereal we headed to the heated swimming pool.
Not entirely sure what they meant by heated! It seemed to be freezing, and we'd been swimming in glacial water so knew what cold was!!
None of us lasted long and the wind was really beginning to pick. What is it with this side of the island and wind!!
Mel decided to take the kids to the hot spa while I took down the tent and attempted to clear up a little.
I got chatting to the couple next door; who were insanely jealous of Big Blue, wanting to know where we'd got her from. Turns out it's one of their dreams to own one!!
Anyway they were a really friendly couple who told me of a couple of spots to see wild seals playing on the rocks on the road to Blenheim. They also drew out a map of where Mummy seals take their pups up stream to a waterfall. The mums leave them to play there while they go off fishing. I knew everyone would be interested in this.
Mel and the kids came back and chaos broke out as we tried to sort the van out to get packed. All they wanted to do was get in and out of it while Mel and I tried to clear it and get ready.
The wind was blowing a gale and covering all our clothes in grass. This was putting Mel's patients to the test as she was now vocalising how much she hated camping!!
We agreed it was best for me to take the kids to the park while Mel cleared out the van and packed up.
So the three of us headed to the play ground and bounded around on the air pillow; which is like an enormous trampoline followed by a game of hide and seek. Great fun.
We got covered in dust as the wind was really whipping up the sand from the play ground. After about an hour we headed back just as Mel was finishing up, so we closed up Big Blue and left the site.
We got precisely 500m out of the campsite before we decided to stop for brunch, it was now around 11:30am.
After a cooked breakfast we set off for Blenheim. Not too far to travel today but after the advice of our neighbours we were gonna stop along the way to see the seals.
Our first break however was at a place called 'Nins Bin'. It's essentially an shack at the side of the road that sells crayfish. It's a bit of an iconic place on an very picturesque part of the coast.
The food looked great and was probably the place we should've stopped for brunch rather than Kaikoura. Anyway after a few snaps we moved on.
Next stop was Ohau Point. This was a great place and sitting on the wall we could look out onto the rocks below and see loads of seals and pups either sleeping or playing around.
It was fantastic to be so close to them, Aimee absolutely loved the site, however it was a real drag to get Ollie out of Big Blue. He's too hooked on the new Angry Birds game called Bad Piggies!
It's very addictive Mel tells me!!
Anyway when he eventually made it out he loved the seals.
Not sure how long we stayed for but our next stop was little further up the road at a placed called Ohua Stream reserve. This was the place we'd been recommended and it was a 10 min walk up the stream through the forest to the waterfall.
The sign at the entrance explained the significance of this location. During the winter months this is where the mother seals bring their young for a bit of safety while they fish. It's like a kind of kindergarten for seal pups.
Unfortunately we'd arrived at the wrong time of the year and as we approached the waterfall it was obvious no pups were there.
Still was a beautiful place, although I have no idea how the seals make it this far in land and up the stream, it looks too hard for them to make it.
It was like a fairy grotto, with a hugh waterfall cascading into a small pool that the pups obviously played it.
It was pretty hot and like a Labrador around water I wanted to get in for a swim. So I stripped off down to my swimmers and got in and sat under the waterfall. Fantastic, although the other on lookers thought I was a little mad!!
Back in Big Blue we made one more stop further up. Here we could get even closer to the seals and got some great shots.
We hadn't noticed the time and had hoped to be in Blenheim a little earlier.
Actually reading up on things we were going to make for a place called Renwick, which is in the heart of the vine yards.
While Mel was driving this final leg I booked the ferry ticket that would take us over to the North Island. Chatting things through we agreed to stay in Renwick for 2 nights rather than one.
It does mean we're gonna have a monster drive from Wellington up to Taupo but hopefully it'll be worth it.
We pulled into Renwick around 4pm and I have to be honest I was a little disappointed at the first look of this place. For some reason I thought the high Street would be filled with loads of swanky bistro restaurants. Not at all, more Massy Ferguson dealerships and take away food stores?
We drove around further and realised that all the good stuff was on the outskirts of the village where all the vineyards were.
The place is literally covered with vines, it's fantastic to see. We saw a few recognisable vineyards and decided it was best to pull over and chat about where we were going to stay.
We found an idyllic B&B on the outskirts of the town and pulled up to check availability. Unfortunately it was full but the lady called Jo who ran the place was one of the most helpful people we've ever met.
She wasn't going to let us leave until she'd got somewhere for us to stay and booked us a restaurant at one of the vineyards for tonight.
So I left Mel to chat to Jo while Aimee and I looked at the miniature horses she kept in the backyard.
Anyway Jo found us somewhere round the corner and showed us the way in her car.
This place she'd found was incredible, it wasn't a normal B&B this was a one bedroom picturesque cottage in an orchard. The cottage was beautifully decorated and looked superb. It was more boutique hotel than B&B
Jo had agreed with the people running the place that we could put the kids to sleep on the lounge floor on an air bed and she'd lend us the bed.
Kay and Gary were the couple running this place and they'd only just renovated it, we were the 4th people to stay. They're a retired couple and wonderfully helpfully I really can't state it enough. They made us feel totally at home.
Anyway Jo left and we chatted to Kay and Gary for ages about what we'd been up to, where we were from and what our plans were. We couldn't get enough of this place.
Kay and Gary recommended a couple of restaurant for tonight so off we drove for a brief look at things while they got our room ready.
We finalised on Vitners restaurant for tonight and headed back to our little cottage to get ready. I think everyone was glad we were going to stay for 2 nights as this place felt so homely.
In fact since arriving in NZ this was going to be the first place we'd stay for 2 consecutive nights, I don't think we'd realised how exhausting it is constantly moving around and having to find somewhere to stay each night.
So we headed to the restaurant and had a fantastic meal with great wine and the kids loved it as well.
Our plan for tomorrow was to hire some bikes and tour round the vineyards slurping the local vino!! Can't wait.