After some days with really good weather, it started raining again on Friday when we left Nelson. Our plan was to drive around Marlborough Sounds all the way to French Pass, but after about 20km or so we decided to turn around. The view over the water and all the bays where blocked by the grey clouds and we felt it was a bit waste of petrol to drive around in the mountains without a pretty view. Instead we headed for Picton via the scenic route. It was a bit better, but having just seen Abel Tasman we were not overwhelmed.
We got to Picton and it still rained. A lot. Picton is the city where the ferry to Wellington departs from and we thought it would be a busy touristed town with plenty to do. But it really wasn’t. We thought about checking in to a motel and hiding from the rain the rest of the day there, and actually asked a few places, but we ended up going to the nearest campsite and spent the rest of the day there inside the camper.
The next day, Saturday, we drove to Benheim and the Marlborough wine region. Since it was a bit too early to start drinking, we went for a walk and a lunch in Benheim. We then went to some different wineyards, starting with Wither Hills.
After that we went to Cloudy Bay, where I tried their tasting menu. It was a very fancy and tranquil place with big comfy swings hanging around the trees in their garden.
We then drove to a nearby town, Renwick, where we had discovered a free camp”site” that did not require a “self-contained” sticker at the back of the camper. It was just a parking lot outside a sports facility but there were clean restrooms and only two other cars than us, so we decided to stay. We chatted a bit with the german couple in the van beside us, and then went for a walk in the area. The town is in the middel of the wine area so we could walk to a small and local wineyard called Forrest, and since Martin wasn’t driving, we both tasted some wine.
The next morning we where woken up at 6.45 am by a knock on the door – the parking lot only allowed 10 overnight campervans, but during the evening a lot more had appeared. And since the spots were not numbered, it was difficult to tell which ten campers were there first, so everyone had to leave! So we left and had breakfast inside the camper on a parking lot outside McDonald’s 😉
We found the local farmers market and did some shopping and then drove back to Picton. At 2pm we boarded the ferry taking us all the way across Cook Strait to Wellington. It was a beautiful day so luckily it was a quiet 4 hour sail where we got to see more of Marlborough Sounds.
In Wellington we had booked two nights at a motel in the center. We needed to sleep in a proper bed and also, it was nice to stay in the venter where we could walk to things, instead of staying at a campsite outside of the city.
Monday we spent all day in Wellington. In the morning we visited Te Papa, New Zealand’S national museum. The rest of the day we walked around in the city, eating lunch outside near the harbour front and just enjoying the sun. We also tried the cable car where there was a beautiful view of the city.