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Marlborough Sounds Marlborough Wineries

29th December 2011

A Short Hike to Onahau Lookout, and a Trip Through Marlborough Wine Country

A Sleepy Blue Cove on Kenepuru Sound
    I wandered down to the showers this morning, to find creepy crawlies, about 6cm long with feelers about 10cm long, around the toilet/shower block. One was running around in the shower cubicle when I entered. I ignored him, then the next thing he had disappeared. Where had he gone? Inside my trainers? I'll never know. The shower was quite an experience, a case of catch the drops. I had a laugh about it with a Scottish woman afterwards.
Weka Bird
    One spruced up, I made for the high ground and tackled a hike up the Queen Charlotte Walkway, which had a branch off to the Onahau Lookout. It was quite a steep climb and it really got my legs straining and heart thumping, but it was worth it, with stunning views all round across both the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. Light rain was coming down when I arrived at the summit, which was very welcome indeed. On my way back down, I bumped into a Kiwi family with three kids, the youngest being seven years old. Even the youngest was marching up the mountain under his own steam. They get them active when they're quite young in this country.
360� Rainy View from Onahau Lookout, with Queen Charlotte Sound on the Left and Kenepuru Sound on the Right      (please use scroll bar)

A Damp Looking Havelock
Wild Flowers by Wairau River
One of the Many Marlborough Vineyards
    My next port of call was Havelock, but it took me a while to get back onto the main highway, the route from Mistletoe Bay back to Linkwater was just turn after turn as the road hugged the contours of the land as it swept down to the sea.
    I drove back along Queen Charlotte Drive, passing through Havelock, famous for its Greenshell Mussels - the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World. A turn off took me south alongside the Kaituna River. The rain sodden hills slowly gave way to a wide sodden plain populated with pastures full of cows and the occasional vineyard. I kept heading south until I crossed the braided Wairau River, shortly after which I picked up a turnoff onto Rapaura Road. I knew now I was heading towards the famous Wairau Plains north of Blenheim. Here lay a flat, fertile valley, in the lee of the Richmond Ranges and draped in 2400 hours of sunshine each year; no sunshine today though. All varieties of fruit flourished here, but the main produce was grapes. I was now driving through the normally sunbaked Marlborough region with rows of vines on either side of me. Over fifty wineries operated in the area producing internationally acclaimed Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet, Pinot noir and Merlot.
Marlborough's River Queen
    All too soon I found myself entering the town of Blenheim, where the family I met in Whanganui a few days back lived. I parked up at the i-Site, picked up information on the area, had a walk around the town which didn't take long, and decided to have a coffee. For some strange time warp in this place, coffee houses and indeed quite a few places seem to close around 3pm. It was a job to find an open coffee house, but I did in the end.
Blenheim Market Square
    With renewed vigour, I headed to a supermarket to get more provisions, and also since the New Year was approaching, I decided to fill up with petrol; you never know, garages may only stay open till 2pm in this town. "I like your shirt," said the guy on the till at the petrol station. I was wearing the New Zealand shirt that my kids had got me before I left the UK. "Why, because it's got New Zealand written on it?" I asked. "It's the right colour," he replied. "Ah, the All Blacks," I responded with a grin. We then had a jovial chat about the rugby, and I teased him at how they just managed to beat the French. "The French didn't deserve to be in the final," he said, "they were only winning matches by single points. It would have been better to have Wales in the final." I couldn't argue with that.
    I soon picked up a campsite, and once installed I called up one of the wine tour operators and sorted myself out for a tour the next day. Hey, if it is going to be raining now until the New Year, I may as well do something useful.

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Marlborough Sounds Marlborough Wineries

Uploaded from Top 10 campsite, Kaikoura on 1st January at 11:15

Last updated 31.12.2011