Marlborough Men

“Hello hello, we’re currently staying at the Montana Lodge Motel in Blenheim. Tariffs begin at NZ $ 75. A nice peaceful place to bring the kids.”

“On our first day, we took a trip around the Blenheim market place in the middle of town, exploring the shops and café. We finally stopped off at a restaurant for wine and a quick meal. Post Lunch, we hired cycles and took a ride on a wine trail! We visited the Allan Scott Wine Estates. The winery comprises 80 hectares of vineyards surrounding the wineries. The wineries specialize in Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris to name a few. Suffice to say that we took a greedy taste of every possible wine.”

“Now here’s a bit of advice from a Marlborough Man, if you’re planning on drinking copious amounts of wine, don’t hire a cycle! Well, you can only imagine what a time we had cycling back to the Motel. We crashed early and decided to wake early and check out the spa at The BEC Spa Resort.”

“The BEC Spa turned out to be a dream. It is situated in a secluded hilltop against the backdrop of mountains and overlooks countless vineyards. We spent most of the morning chilling out in the spa pool and steam room. I did something called shiatsu body therapy. It’s a Japanese work of art, really. It’s pretty much like acupuncture. Rishi went in for the Swedish massage! He thought it might mean a massage given by Swedish women, but instead it was a massage using aromatherapy. We landed up spending the entire day at the resort. We did nothing but sleep, eat and pamper ourselves, which I think we deserved. There’s so much to see and do here that you end up burning a lot of calories and the best part of it is that you don’t really feel tired at all. We’re supposed to leave Marlborough tomorrow evening, but there’s still much to see here. Rishi wants to check out a casino here in NZ. I’m not sure if Marlborough has a Casino, but we’re going to check anyway. Keep you posted.”

Advertisements

Romanticizing Marlborough

“It’s quite beautiful really. A honeymoon-ish kind of getaway with a lot of places to visit and some really nice wine to drink. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m here with Rishi. It’s depressing, I know, but Rishi’s a good sport. Also, kiwis are so much fun to be around. Every town that I go to has a kind faced gentlemen offering me some trip or ride or walk of a lifetime. Till now, they’ve all been trips and rides of a lifetime! I think I can do them again and again around the world, but nothing is going to match up to this complete joy ride that has been NZ so far.”

“We’re now in a place called Marlborough. It’s our first day here and we’re still planning out our itinerary. Initial comments – Marlborough basks in year-round sunshine, which makes Rishi a very happy man. The commercial hub of Marlborough is Blenheim, a very popular place for wine drinkers. Marlborough is NZ’s largest winemaking region with around 65 wineries and 290 grape growers. From the moment we set foot on this soil, we’ve been filling ourselves with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Have you ever heard of the Sounds? The Marlborough Sounds are a network of fjiord-like waterways, sheltered by steep hills, most clad in native and timber forests. We arrived at Marlborough by sea and passed through these coves and bays of Queen Charlotte Sound. It’s a wilderness of native forest and bush that reaches down to secluded beaches. You’ve got to see this place to believe it, it’s just awesome! Anyway, we’re planning on hiring cycles tomorrow and going on a trip to one of these wineries. More later…”

Takaka – Nelson

In Takaka, the boys paid a visit to the Waikoropupu Springs, the largest fresh water springs in New Zealand. Next on the itinerary was a guided walk into the Kahurangi National Park. The highlight of this park was the Heaphy Track.

The Heaphy track follows a river which makes for a fantastic scenic hike through the forests. The park is filled with native birds like the Weka, Pipit, tui, bellbird and pigeon.

From Takaka, the boys moved on to Collingwood, where they spent the night at Skara Brae Garden Motel [NZ $ 100]

The only thing that Anil found interesting in Collingwood was a homemade Scallop Pie and a caving expedition at Te Anaroa Caves. The caves are supposed to be one of the most beautiful things in New Zealand. Filled with Stalactites and Stalagmites, the Te Anaroa Caves even have fossilized shellfish. The best part was when their guide suggested that they turn off their flashlights for a minute. In the complete darkness, the walls above filled up with glow worms! Entry fee was NZ $ 25 for a single adult.

However, judging from Anil’s descriptions, Collingwood sounds like a place to calm your nerves down from the rest of the adventure filled New Zealand. They spent the entire day sleeping, eating and making plans to move further south during the week hitting the city of Marlborough.

My guess is that Anil and Rishi would have stayed at Marlborough for about two days before travelling further south. I know Anil’s getting very impatient about reaching the southern most tip of NZ.

Nelson – South Island

Last heard, Anil and Nelson had moved to the South Island and were visiting a place called Nelson. He sent me a few photographs, but for some reason they haven’t been opening on my system.

The guys reached Nelson on a Saturday and spent the first day roaming around the market. The Saturday market is supposed to be very popular and is filled with artists and craftsmen. Nelson’s supposed to be bustling with artistic sensibilities. The guys paid a visit to the World of WearableArt and Collectible Cars Museum. On Tuesday, they set sail for Abel Tasman National Park. The park is apparently renowned the world over for its beautiful beaches.

Anil pre-booked a Wainui Hut. I’m not sure if that’s a kind of hut or it’s just a name for the hut, but the Wainui Hut is a four bunk Standard hut which comes with heating, mattresses, water supply and toilets. Anil and Rishi took time exploring the coast track, which is roughly a 50 km stretch. They travelled from Marahau to Anchorage and from Anchorage to Bark Bay all in one day, which is around 7 hours together!

The Park is supposed to have loads of activities and there’s plenty to choose from.

Post their park exploration, the boys headed back to the main city and spent the next day visiting Farewell Spit on a safari. A bird sanctuary since the early 1930’s, Farewell Spit is home to 90 bird species. Anil sent me a list of the birds along with photographs, but again the images can’t be opened.

From Farewell Spit, the boys travelled to the neighbouring town of Takaka. More on that later.

Visiting the Capital

My pal Anil is now in Wellington. He flew down to the capital city a couple of days ago to meet a friend. I’ve read a bit about Wellington and my wife’s got a few friends living there. It’s supposed to be a nice city with a beautiful harbour and a few wildlife sanctuaries.

But Anil’s been up to plenty more in this place. His friend and he being great fans of The Lord of the Rings, went on a tour of the LOTR sites! Interesting, I thought. The boys went on a mountain biking expedition on Makara Peak and bird watching on the Tasman Sea coast. Anil was staying with his friend in Wellington and quite enjoyed the change from the hotels.

If you want some good theatrics, then Anil suggests a trip to BATS, Wellington’s theatre. He missed the Fringe Festival, which took place in February, but was very intrigued with the Laugh Fest, which happens in May. Anil said he watched two performances, but refuses to give a review [art is not up his alley].

“Wellington is a good place for hunting game. We went on this guided hunting tour with New Zealand Adventure Specialists Ltd. These guys have got their own exclusive hunting estate! Firearms and ammunition were provided for and the hunt was on! We were told there was plenty of deer and chamois. We spent the whole day waiting and watching, traveling around guns cocked and ready for some action, but nothing happened! We got a few sights on deer, but those things move like the wind!”

The only hunting Anil has done before was shooting chameleons with his catapult; I’m not surprised at his luck, nevertheless, lucky deer!

Northland

My friend Anil is currently in NZ having the time of his life. Last time around he was in Coromandel on a fishing expedition and now he’s in Northland. Here’s a transcript.

‘Hey dude, hope you are well and having a good summer back in Bombay. As for myself, I’m doing finer than ever. Autumn in New Zealand is indisputably the most beautiful time ever! The water’s just perfect, the people seem generally happier and the Maori’s keep laughing and rubbing noses with me wherever I go, it’s quite amusing altogether.

I’m currently up in Northland, a very pretty and culturally vibrant place. I think the ideal way to get to Northland is by car as it gives you a chance to check out the beaches. Northland has loads of places to stay at. I booked a room at Hotel Paihia [Qualmark rated, which means it’s good!]. Northland also seems to have the most amount of backpacking lodges. The town of Paihia is an ideal location to check out the island. On my first day, I took a cruise to the ‘Hole in the Rock’ at Cape Brett. Our guide said it was the best place to go swimming with dolphins, so I thought, ‘what the heck, why not! I’ve never touched a dolphin before!’ Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time as it was already close to sundown. I decided to go again the next day, but something else caught my fance back in the hotel. I met this guy at the lobby who conducts these horseback trails through the farmlands. I thought it sounded good, so the next morning I saddled up for a horse trek through the river valley! New Zealand’s a good place, it’s definitely not the kind of place you want to be doing things on your own, but I don’t have a choice and I’m not complaining, but seriously, two’s a company. Tomorrow I’m taking a ferry to Russell.’

Anil goes to Coromandel

‘Coromandel is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life,’ explains Anil with his signature childlike exuberance. Coromandel is about an hour and a half drive from Auckland airport. He strongly suggested taking the coastal Pacific Coast Highway from Auckland just for the added touch of scenery.

It’s autumn in NZ now, which is supposedly the best time to be travelling and checking out the places around. It’s quite a famous destination for the backpacking variety as its got loads of activities happening from sky diving to diving to bungy jumping.

During his travel, Anil has been collecting most of his information from the I Site visitor centres around NZ. These are essentially information centres on NZ’s travel, localities and activities in and around the city. Quite resourceful, I thought.

Coromandel has about 15 backpacker lodges and around 18 motels to pick from.

My friend, who I’m forced to call Penelope Pitstop for his delicate tastes, decided to stay at a fancy place called McGoo’s Retreat, a traditional Lockwood ranch style house with plenty of space for 5 people. He paid somewhere around $NZ 200.

‘If you’re born for the water, then Coromandel is your birthplace,’ writes Anil. ‘It’s just so unbelievably beautiful. On the first day itself, I went out on a boat trip and was hoping to do some fishing. My hotel put me in touch with Epic Adventures, which offer excellent guided fishing tours along the east coast. Coromandel is famous for its yellowtail kingfish and snapper fish. These guys at Epic fishing seriously know how to show people a good time! I got hooked up with a really cool sportslike fishing boat and even got my catch cooked! If you’re planning a trip here, you’ve got to check out Coromandel and look up Carl Muir of Epic Adventures. They’re based in Tairua. You take care dude, say hello to the wife and enjoy your dinner while I go back to eating some fresh kingfish!’