Once again, our drive took us through glorious scenery, enhanced by the sun shining down on us. Nelson sits on the north coast along a wide bay and surrounded by mountains.It's a really attractive town and like all the South Island cities we've been to, easy to get around so it didn't take us long to find our very central motel.After a quick visit to the Visitor Information and a cup of coffee we set off for a round of golf at Maitai - Waahi Taakaro Golf Course, Maitai Valley. We were pleasantly surprised that the green fees were only $17 for 18 holes, especially since it was in such a beautiful setting nestled in a valley among the hills and so well maintained - until we discovered that it's a municipal course.It's just a pity that M's golf didn't live up to the standard of the course - she had an abysmal round - although E played pretty well.We're right in the middle of the Marlborough wine country so of course we couldn't pass through it without visiting some of the wineries (as they call them here).As both of us wanted to sample but neither was willing to drive, we decided that the best thing to do was go on an organised wine tasting tour with an additional visit to a micro brewery, so booked one for the following day.
Spent the morning catching up on a few bits and pieces then popped out for a coffee before heading back to the Riverlodge Motel for 12 noon where Marion from Bay Tours picked us up for the eagerly awaited 'Groovy' Wine Tasting Tour.After whizzing round a couple of backpacker places we were joined by about fourteen youngsters, variously from the US, the UK (Shere - one of our local haunts while we lived in Surrey) and one from Ireland, and then we were off. They were a good crowd and Marion was an excellent guide - bright and cheery and very well informed about all the wines we tasted.First stop was at Waimea, one of the larger Nelson wineries, where a tasting plate of many delicious goodies helped the wine go down a treat.Then it was on to Grape Encounter for tastings from two small (what we'd probably call 'boutique') vineyards, Te Mania and the organic Richmond Plains. This was also a good place to sample some other delicacies - olive oils, dukkah, liqueur syrups, fudge - and we're looking forward to eating the goodies we bought there.Next stop was at Stafford Lane, another small winery with a particularly good sauvignon blanc.But in fact all the wines we tasted (and there were very many indeed) were excellent.With everyone by now in a pretty chirpy mood our last call was at the Tasman Brewing Company, a local micro brewery which produces about seventeen beers, or maybe it was more than that - things were getting a little blurred by that time! - but in any event E was in seventh heaven and naturally sampled as many as possible.All too soon we were merrily on our way back after an excellent afternoon's work.Baytours put on an excellent wine tasting tour and at $75 really good value considering all the food and drink we consumed.
The Tasman Brewing Company's ales were available at one of the local pubs which happened to be nearby and E was keen to sample yet more.So that evening we took ourselves off to the Sprig & Fern for a couple of pints, followed by a cairry oot of fush and chups from the chippie next door.E decided to go for the well publicised fish burger.Well, you should have seen the size of the bun, it was absolutely packed full of fish and other goodies and he'd a real struggle getting it back our 'plaice' in one piece!When M opened her newspaper pokie she shouted 'Cod, what a huge bit of fish!'.Finally, looking at the chips, thank goodness the Dutch laddie who served us in the chippie persuaded us that one and half scoops would do.(After all our wines and beers earlier on we'd thought he was talking about (scoops of) ice cream, but seeing our blank looks he quickly explained that that's what they call portions of chips in NZ.)
For the first time in NZ we had a bit of a disturbed night.It was the eve of Anzac Day, which is a big public holiday her in NZ (and in Oz, which we discovered last year) and around midnight E heard the typical sounds of revellers heading home.Not long after lights out we were rudely awoken by really loud clanging, banging and dragging noises - it sounded as if someone was on our roof.We both looked out of the window - wondering what the heck was going on - and M spotted three youngsters trying to bend a lamppost.Things got a bit quieter but we continued to hear groups of noisy kids making their way home.In the morning E went downstairs to make sure the car was in one piece (it was) and the polis on the scene.Apparently there had been some serious high jinks in the area and a bit of drainpipe had ripped off the wall and thrown on to the roof.
We were a bit tired after all the excitement of the previous day and night, and with everything being closed that morning for Anzac Day, decided to take the work out of sightseeing by taking a trip on the red double-decker London tourist bus to see all the main sights of Nelson.It was a good way to see the city with informative commentary from Mark the driver - non-stop talker - and good value.Refreshed after a coffee we retraced some of the bus route to enjoy some of the old colonial style buildings that have a significant presence throughout the city.Afterwards we walked to the Centre of New Zealand at the top of a conical hill within Botanic Nature Reserve, which is the true geographical centre of the country.
E & M xxx