South Island: Easter Sunday

We woke up and were able to survey where exactly it was that we parked the night before. It was literally a flat, grassy parking lot. There were lots of other vans and tents there that I totally missed before. There was also a bathroom that I had been informed did not exist. But to be honest by the look of all the flies around it I opted for the woods anyway. After a quick discussion about how the day was going to work we ate a little breakfast and hit the road. We planned to stop at Blenhim and Picton on the way to Nelson where we would be spending the night. I had given up coffee for Lent and a lot of us were craving a cup-a-Joe so we stopped at a really cute cafĂ© with an amazing view for an Easter treat. I don’t think cappuccino has or will ever taste so good. I was pressing the mug against my cheek to warm me up and one of my friends Dave commented, “Well, are you just gunna stand there and hug it or are you actually going to drink your coffee?” I had been raving about how excited I was to get my caffeine fix the enjoyment of my first cup kind of became a group affair.  

The driving was beautiful. The foliage is quite like the East Coast in the South Island. Add in winding roads, rolling hills, and gorgeous mountain backdrops and the whole scene feels a bit like a living post-card. We stop at three vineyards and did a wine tasting at two of them along the way. I only tasted wine at the first one in Blenheim called Hunters. The wine was delicious and fun to taste but our guide was a little bit… bitter. She was hell-bent on making us look silly due to our lack of wine-knowledge but we really were interested and willing to learn! Garvin was able to challenge her right back when she tried to show us up on Baltimore knowledge. After he flexed is intellectual muscle she backed off a little bit and we were all able to enjoy the experience. I passed on the tasting at the second stop, but it had an amazing view of the vines in the valley below so just enjoying the sunshine was more than enough for me.  After that we headed out to our next destination, Picton. But not before we stopped at the Chocolate Factory for some free samples! Nothing sweetens a long car ride like chocolate! A couple of the guys I was traveling with really love throwing the Frisbee around and take just about any opportunity they can to do so. This being said, we had a little bit of an “oops” moment as we were leaving the factory. The first van was leading the way and had already on the road. My van was close behind when Amanda (who was driving) noticed a wallet on the grass where the boys had been playing. I jumped out to grab it and not only found a wallet full of money, ID, and passport, but also an IPhone and IPod. As I got back in the first van came to an abrupt stop and Eric came sprinting out of the car. It was ALL his stuff; basically everything that would be the most difficult to replace if lost. We didn’t let him live that one down for a while.

We got to Picton around dinner time. It is a really cute fishing town with a great “boardwalk” type atmosphere. There was an awesome pirate ship docked in the harbor that was also a bar so the boys and a few of us girls headed over for a beer and pictures. It was really nice to be in the open air and change up the company a little bit. We grabbed some fish and chips for dinner after a little walk around and once it got too dark to take in the sites, got back in the vans and moved on to Nelson. It was a long day driving so we didn’t quite make it all the way to Nelson but we did find a nice little powered camp site just outside the city. It was SO nice to have a hot shower, even though the set-up was really creepy. Amanda and I buddied-up for bathroom trips so we wouldn’t have to suffer alone. This was probably my worst night sleep of the whole trip. It started out alright, just Amanda, Chris (who was visiting from the other van since other people were camping and we had space) and me in the double bed with Dave and Katherine up top. I learned pretty quickly that Chris is a monkey-child when he sleeps and that we were gunna be cuddle-buddies whether I liked it or not (Karma. Right, Carrie?!). But unfortunately we also learned that Dave is claustrophobic and in the middle of the night crawled down from the top and came and slept next to me. It was a little more snug than I would have liked. Everyone had one of “those” nights and I just got mine out of the way right in the beginning. The next day’s destination: Abel Tasman Nation Park for some serious hiking!
Fun Fact: Blenheim is Marlborough’s largest town with a population of about 27,000 and is known for its expansive wine industry. Picton is the main ferry port of Marlborough and Wellington. It was named after the Welsh general Sir Thomas Picton who fell at the battle of Waterloo.


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