Tag Archives: Vineyards

The Roar in the Square

The big day for Cruise Martinborough is when all the cars start in Puruatanga park, where we were staying and then all roar into the town square and completely surround the main square.

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It is truly a magnificant sight. The park in the middle under the trees, gets covered in portable deck chairs from the car owners to shelter from the sun. The coffee and Ice Cream carts are doing a roaring trade. The Cafe’s are flat out and its just a neat scene of people everywhere wandering through the magnificent old Fords, Chevrolets and many others.

Grants Plymouth and Caravan
BBQ in a hurry!

The time and money that has gone into these cars is unbelievable and it is not until you get a close up look at some of them that you can appreciate the craftsmenship involved.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

We spent an hour or so having a good look around before settling for a good old fashioned lime thickshake from a milkshake bar in the square.

End of the day

An amazing scene with several retailers saying that they wished it happened more often 🙂  So do I !

Where we parked in relation to the square

What was Hot in the South Island

Fiona and I had both taken 6 months off for a trip to Europe and to go around the South Island and we were really looking forward to it..

After getting back from Europe in early August and with our house still rented out, we immediately went to Taupo to pick up Rafe who was being cared for in Gary’s shed by Gary’s neighbour Chris… kind chaps that they are !

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Welding on the feet

We returned to Auckland to get a few things done like drop down steadies on Rafe and a couple of other things and then we were off.

Rafe and Ian and Lynda’s XLI

We left Auckland and first stop was Taupo with Gary and Dianne, who we’d been around Europe with and other Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda. A few nights there, a night in Mangaweka, then to Wellington to catch up with my son Alex who commutes from Auckland, then onto the ferry and the adventure began.

Dianne picking the girls up for a tiki tour around Taupo

The highlights:
Best Park over property (POP) –  Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.

Nice parking

Best free Parking – Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here 🙂

The View

Best NZMCA park – probably a tie between Tekapo and Ranfurly. Tekapo is stunning amongst the pine trees right on the lake and Ranfurly, dead flat with a dump station next door, rubbish and water and right in the middle of town !

Amongst the pines with Ray and Margaret on the right

Best Long term rate campground – Kaiteriteri right on the beach. Just magnificent.

Close to the water

Best pub that we stayed at – Empire Hotel in Ross. Great roast meals, lovely town and great hosts.

The Empire

Also Omakau Hotel with a fully setup Motorhome park at the back.

Best Museum we saw – Bill Richardsons Truck Museum. Brilliantly done and with a huge collection of all sorts.. even lawnmowers and tools.

Henry Ford and some Bowsers

Best Bike ride – Otago rail trail. Omakau to Ida valley and back. Also Lowburn to Historic Precinct in Cromwell.

The first Viaduct

Best Bridge that we crossed in Rafe – Historic Ophir Bridge. I found myself doing some quick mental arithmetic to make sure it was safe 🙂

Rafe on the Ophir Bridge

Most amazing discovery – Brittens first Motorhome which we found in the Geraldine museum.

From the back. A nice stained glass window on the back. Note the opening wooden windows.

I’ll let the Image Gallery below tell the story of the trip.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow.

We met some wonderful people along the way and had some nice 5pm catchups in some fantastic places.

Fiona on the bike ride on the way back to Lowburn alongside lake Dunstan

The weather was superb. Fiona reckons we only had 1 wet day in the South Island! I reckon it was 3 but the weather really looked after us, if anything it was quite hot with a record breaking 33C in Cromwell on the day we decided to do a bike ride from Lowburn to the Historic Precinct and back !

The Historic Precinct

The difference in Fuel prices between the different parts of NZ was quite noticeable with the highest I saw at $1.48 a litre for diesel around Hanmer and the lowest $1.19 in Cromwell. We filled up in Takanini before we left at $.98 a litre! As Fiona says though Hay Ho.. when in Rome !

Happy Hour at Peski’s

One of the things that really surprised me as we went around was how many people recognised us from this Blog and who made themselves known. It was fantastic to meet you and to hear your feedback. We’re fast approaching 400,000 views which is amazing in less than 2 years!

We’re back in Auckland with our feet up for a bit before we set off again.

Let’s start with Wet Jacket

Fiona’s sister Sara had popped into Queenstown for 3 days to see her daughter Jessa. Sara lives on Waiheke Island which is now pretty much a suburb of Auckland which has a strong wine culture, so with her arriving in Queenstown, we were going wine tasting.

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Sara, Jessa and Fiona wine tasting at Wet Jacket

We were staying at Creeksyde Motor camp and first thing in the morning, Sara and Jessa arrived in Jessa’s car and we were off. The thought was to start at a really popular Vineyard by the Queenstown / Arrowtown turnoff and we went from there. They had a cheesery there too so we tasted that as well.

Nice Cheese at Wet Jacket

There was some wonderful Goats cheese and some nice Blue Cheese too. We bought a bit of each. The lady running the wine tasting was french and really knew her stuff.  Sara and I bought a couple of bottles between us and next we were heading for the Gibbston valley, to go the Chard Vineyard.

The road through the vineyard through the Kawarau Gorge

To get there we had to cross the bridge by the Kawerau Gorge bungy jump and then turn right up the hill and drive along a road that literally clung to the cliff. Amazing.

Great buildings at Chard Farm

They had a great Vineyard and after tasting, Sara and I bought more wine. We were doing well 🙂

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Next was Mt Rosa Vineyard where we had Edita showing us the wine and she knew her Onions too.

Mt Rosa’s vineyard in the Gibbston valley

Stunning wines and they had a pack of two bottles of Rose and some mulled wine syrup which made 3 bottles of mulled wine. I’ll get some other cheaper Rose rather than use their good stuff for Mulled Wine. We had a lot of fun there and Edita did well.

Jessa checking out a Pinot Gris at Mt Rosa

It was time for lunch so we headed back towards Queenstown slightly for the Gibbston Valley Tavern. The original old pub and is just a real charmer with several original outbuildings in Schist.

Lunch at the historic Gibbston Valley Tavern

We had some amazing pizza’s there and headed back to Rafe at Creeksyde to try some of our new wine and cheese. Fiona doesn’t drink wine so she drove which was just as well 🙂

Great history at the Gibbston Valley Tavern

A wonderful day with clear blue skies and nice people in some great places with great Wine.

Historic Sarau

The forecast talked about several days of some rough weather coming in from the next day so we thought we’d make the best of the great weather and have a look at the Historic town of Sarau, now called Upper Moutere.

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Sarau

Its an amazing little town up behind Motueka which was settled by several boat loads of Germans who landed here in the 1840’s. The town started with a hall and a church, followed later by a pub and was a thriving little town. The original church has gone but the current Lutheran Church on the same site that still stands there today, has a bell that has the original german inscriptions on it.

Lutheran Church with the original German Bell

We stopped in the middle of town and had a look around. The old Post Office is now a gift shop with some amazing jams and clothes and jewelery. They also coffee and a muffin if you’re peckish!

The old Post Office now a gift shop amongst other things

Across the road is an amazing Clay Gallery run by Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett. They have a rustic old barn there covered in all sorts which I thought had to be photographed. The house is amazing and while were there, I managed to get a piccy of Katie with one of her masterpieces.

Some of Katies art.

After this, we found out that Kahurangi Wines were just around the corner and decided it would be rude not to stop there for a taste since we were in the area 🙂

Rafe by the vines

After tasting some lovely Chardonnay and a wine they make from an Italian grape, I ended up buying a bottle of each. We shared the Italian beauty with our neighbours back at Kaiteriteri Selwyn and Lynda. It went down a treat !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

From here it was onto the historic Moutere Inn for a drink and something to eat. The Moutere Inn is still the original pub and is reputed to be the oldest in New Zealand that is still in its original state.

The Moutere Inn

The pub is a favorite stopping point for a lot of Sunday Motorbike riders with some huge bikes so we got to have a quick look at some amazing bikes parked in the carpark.

Lunch at the Moutere Inn

A lovely place to visit if you’re in the area.

Rafe’s Track from Motueka

 

The 27K ride

Andy, the Spring Creek camp owner, had just been telling me that some truck drivers who were due to stay in the camp had called to say that they wouldn’t be here as they’d got stuck in the snow in the Lewis Pass so we knew it was going to be cold!  It was fine though and it was forecast to be dry but the sky was a bit threatening.

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The weather is strange here as you see the clouds in the hills and on the rain radar but nothing seems to make it over the Nelson hills apart from sunshine, so a lot of the weather forecast seems to be a case of the Bark being worse than the Bite!

The old Narrow Blenheim Bridge and railway bridge. Fiona way in the distance.

Anyway, we set off in the morning to ride into Blenheim which is about 7 k’s down the main highway. About halfway down, I discovered a bike lane that goes all the way down so we shifted over to that to be safe.

The Criterion Fire
One of the rebuilt Criterions after the fire in the floods.

After having a look around Blenheim, we stopped for a cup of tea. We stumbled across the spot where the old Criterion Hotels were built, all on the same site. There were 3 of them all destroyed by fire between the late 1880’s through to the 1960’s. The site is now occupied by a Backpackers and Bar.

The Backpackers on the Criterion site.

We were heading out to Allan Scotts Vineyard which is about 10 k’s by bike against the 25 odd knot wind which was hard riding. Right opposite Allan Scotts is Cloudy Bay Vineyards so we were spoilt for choice.

Allan Scotts fine establishment
Allan Scotts Cellar. The Chardonnay was spectacular.

A glass of Chardonnay and a really nice cheeseboard here with all sorts which was really nice and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder soup which she enjoyed.

Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills

Then it was back on the bikes and back to Rafe, 10 k’s ! With the wind behind us coming home, we were barrelling along and we were home before the showers looming in the hills.

Spring Creek

While we were on the ferry, I’d checked out a couple of places to stay on the apps and found a place called Spring Creek.

Driving towards Blenheim, its one of the first small towns you come across as you come out of the Picton hills.

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The weather forecast was evil with all sorts of nasties due with cold, thunder and all sorts so we were keen to get plugged in with some heat which meant a Motorcamp or a CAP.

Rafe ready for the Thunder on gravel

Spring Creek Motorcamp is now run by Christine and Andy who last november moved down and are doing it up. It was very run down and with their experience from running the Top 10 at Orere Point by Clevedon, they making really good strides forward.

Christine and Andy

The camp is huge and is lucky that it has huge mature trees all around it and with the stream running along one side of it is a great place to stay.

New concrete pads and Motels

They also have quite a few motel units here and a backpackers building.

Nice pool

Fiona and I were staying a week so arranged for a weekly off season rate but the normal nightly powered site for 2 cost is $35 which is really reasonable. The showers are superb and are $1 and there is a well equipped laundry and dump station plus they’re really nice people as well.

Fiona hanging out the washing

We spent the first two nights on a gravel park as the grass was a bit soft and the forecast was evil.

Fiona heading for the Chocolate

During our first day here, we went for a bike ride about 5 k’s down the road to check out the Makara Chocolate Factory. There was a 20 odd knot head wind all the way so there was a bit of effort involved. A good ride though and perfectly flat and we knew there were good rewards at the end 🙂

We’ve been here before when we bought our wee Rafe caravan down several years ago. The chocolates are amazing and we couldn’t leave without buying some.

Right across the road from here is Saint Clair Family Wines with a full wine tasting facility and restaurant. We met a nice young couple and their young son from Australia there who were doing the vineyards in their small rented Jucy van. She was a Kiwi who had come back to see her family in Hamilton. Most people tend to go for the Sav Blancs and sweeter wines but I’m a die hard Chardonnay person and she was too, so we were both tasting the same wines and comparing notes which was fun.

At the Saint Clair Vineyard

After an hour or so there, we jumped on the bikes and rode back with the wind to Spring Creek Camp just beating a shower 🙂 .. its a lot more fun screaming along with the wind!

Primo spot next to the creek.

The next day, we took Rafe to the local supermarket in Blenheim and later went to Wither Hills for lunch which was just amazing. More wine tasting and the most amazing Beef lunch which melted in your mouth, washed down with some really nice Chardonnay. It doesn’t get much better than this. Fiona had a really nice Lamb Pie and really enjoyed that. Nice people, nice Restaurant, superb food and easy Motorhome parking too.

Eddies home next to Rafe

When we returned to the Camp, Andy, the camp owner, suggested that the park by the stream on the grass might be solid enough to park on so with some sheets of ply to stick our driving wheels on just in case, we parked right by the stream. There is a pet Eel called Eddie and his friends who are fed every morning and come right up on the bank.

Rafe near the stream

A neat place to be and we’re having fun.

Rafe’s tracking map from Spring creek to Withers Hill

Martinborough by Bike

The weather was great, there was still a bit of wind around but that’s normal for the Wairarapa apparently.

Getting ready
Getting ready

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Helen, Fiona, Rob and Chloe outside the first Vineyard
Helen, Fiona, Rob and Chloe outside the first Vineyard

Rob, Helen and Chloe had hired bikes for the day. I unloaded our bikes off the back of Rafe, put some air in the tires and we were off.
Martinborough is setup around a square which makes navigation really easy.

Chloe outside a vineyard on the way.
Chloe outside a vineyard on the way.

The first vineyard to visit was diagonally opposite the Martinborough Top 10 which is where we’re staying. We were there for the first hour and then moved onto Margrains where we had lunch before and were familiar with their wines.

My perfect house :-)
My perfect house 🙂

It’s amazing how the same or similar grape and wine type can taste so different with just half a kilometre or so between them.

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The food was great and the wine even better with us buying a few bottles between us.

The Square
The Square

We’d just arrived back at the Motorcamp by bike after having a good nosey around the town, when the wine was dropped off at the campground.

The Square with Rafe on the other side.
The Square with Rafe on the other side.

It’s a great wee town Martinborough. Being nice and flat, it is perfect for bike riding and exploring.