We got on the ferry in Nelson at 10pm and arrived in Wellington about 3 in the morning. We had arranged to meet Kellie and Foxy for breakfast so we found a quiet place to pull over and sleep for a few hours which wasn't very easy in the capital of NZ. Kellie was running late (shocking I know) but when we met up we were amazed by the amount of stuff that Kellie travels with! We weren't sure how her and Foxy were able to carry it all. They knew about a good breakfast place where we went and had some amazing coffee milkshakes and breakfast burritos. After a wonder round town where Kellie bought a ukulele with all the accessories we went back to the van and headed to Martinborough.
Sandra's mum grew up in this area; mainly in a nearby town called Carterton but they lived in Martinborough as well on Regent Street. When we arrived and met our boss she took us to a Mouri (Maori meeting house) which has hostel style rooms where seasonal workers stay - which is on Regent Street. So we spent a few weeks living in the same street that San's mum had lived on years before.
We explored Martinborough - which didn't take long and then went to Masterton which is the nearest big town so Kellie and Foxy could buy some sleeping bags as there is no bedding in the Marae. On the way back we stopped off to get some alcohol, spending $100 which we thought would last a while, needless to say it was all gone by the next day.
We are worker for a contractor so we go to several different vineyards depending on when and who they need to work. Picking grapes is pretty easy work although if the vines are low you can get a sore back by the end of the day. There are a few other jobs like putting out bins for the grapes to go in and taking nets off the vines which can be a bit easier and a nice day if you can manage to get those jobs. There are no definite hours and work depends on when vineyards call up and with 95 people on the books it can be a bit competitive but our contractor is good and tried to get alternate people so everyone works.
We also worked on a pumpkin farm for 2 days and first cut all the pumpkins off a vine like structure on the ground, then carried each individual pumpkin and put them into rows so when the tractor came along we could throw pumpkins to the people on the trailer and they would pile them up nicely and head to the shed. In the shed they were neatly stacked. We took some home and made so many different pumpkin based foods; soup, bread, pumpkin fritters, pumpkin wedges, pumpkin mash and lots more.
There's not a lot to do around here but a few km away they have built a replica of Stonehenge which Jeff was excited to visit, although he hasn't ever been to the real one in England. However when we got there we realised that it cost $16 to see it, which is a lot to see a rock, especially since these are actually made of MDF! So we passed on the local druid attraction.
There's about 25 seasonal workers staying at the Marae and with only one oven it can get pretty busy trying to cook after work. The four of us have been cooking meals together which means only one of us has to brave the busy kitchen which can be a relief. We played card games, cardy cardy box box which one of our friends invented and managed to find activities to occupy ourselves after work or if we had a rain day. Despite the cockroaches and the lack of clean dish cloths and detergent we coped pretty well, especially San. Last week about 20 people left and a couple of people moved in, so there are 7 of us now and it's very quiet. We have moved out of the big dorm and all have our own rooms.
So after a fun packed, busy month with all our fingers intact (the first week we cut ourselves a few times), San coping with spiders crawling all over here and rotten grapes exploding in her hand and swarms of wasps around us while picking we survived the grape harvest!
We may have a couple more days of work depending on the weather, it's been very windy and wet. The rain is causing the grapes to split and turn black and rotten, there are a few vineyards that just have to throw the grapes out or let them rot which is a shame. Next stop is Wellington in a couple of days to pick up our visa for Vietnam.