Wellington is in some ways a little like Canberra, whilst they are their respective nation’s capital city, they lack the 'big city' feel. Being anything but level, exploring this great city by foot might seem counter intuitive, but the views from the many walks in the hills surrounding the CBD are very rewarding.
The Marlborough region of New Zealand is a 4 hour ferry ride from Wellington. The InterIslander Ferry provides the perfect introduction to the South Island as it glides through the Marlborough Sounds. Lush green forests covering the slopes down to the clear water of the sound, dolphins our welcoming party us as we enter the Queen Charlotte Sound, eventually arriving in Picton Harbour.
For many, Picton is just a small town that marks the start or end of their NZ South Island visit. For others like us, it's the launch point for the boat trip to the starting point of the Queen Charlotte Trail or anywhere along its 70 km length. With a swimming beach, harbour and several walking tracks, Picton is a beautiful location to relax and explore. Choosing the 2 hour walk to Hilltop View, we're rewarded with views of the town below, then stretching out across the Queen Charlotte Sound and beyond.
Blenheim is only a half hour bus ride south of Picton and home to the Marlborough wine growing district. Generating over $1B in exports, a winery tour to any of the countless wineries and 55,000+ acres of vineyards, is the ideal way to sample the iconic NZ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which can be found across the globe.
We time our visit to Blenheim with the annual Marlborough Wine Festival, held at the Brancott Estate. A glorious sunny day dancing to bands, sitting in on cooking shows, eating Whitebait and Paua fritters, venison burgers and an abundance of other NZ delicacies; and of course sampling wine from many of the superb local vineyards.
(Marlborough Wine Festival – Blenheim)
A two hour drive west of Blenheim, is the large town of Nelson. Situated on the shores of Tasman Bay and with direct flights to Wellington and close vicinity to Kahurangi, Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes National Parks, it's popularity is soon evident. While in Nelson, take a walk up to the lookout overlooking the town and Tasman Bay, where you will also see the monument marking the geographical centre of NZ.
At a brewhouse back in Wellington, we sit on a leather lounge (bean bags are also a seating option) sampling an ale, reminiscing about our time in NZ and watching on as locals and tourists alike jump from the two level diving platform into the Wellington Harbour.
(Diving into Wellington Harbour)
If you haven't been across the ditch, you're missing out on a great experience and an amazing landscape....it's 'sweet as bro!'