Monday, 12/27- Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park, Kaikoura
Yesterday ended with a minor adventure coming off the ferry at midnight and trying to find camping/parking. We ended up in a long-term lot, which might not have been exactly legal, but no one bothered us.
We spent the morning checking out the port town of Picton and judged it OK, but not great. Little towns are blending, its time for more country. Once again New Zealand leads America, this time in public bathroom technology. It was super-toilet (ExeLoo), stainless steel, push-button, hands-free sensing, and music-playing. It spoke to me, literally. We need to get off our high throne and get in the game.
Having failed our Skype attempt yesterday we decided a net cafe was a priority. And verily we did find one. A crappy one in a hostel with a shoddy connection that allowed Blogger and Facebook but had a nervous breakdown when confronted with Hotmail. So we both fired off update blogs to assure everyone we are alive and well. (ed. note: Also, I hung my sweatshirt on the back of the seat at the hostel and walked away without it. This would piss me off for a week.)
Today's goal destination was only 150k or so from our start so we chose to take our time and stop as we wished. Wine trail, here we come! First though, the Boutique Chocolate Factory. Cue first excited wife, “Squee!” of the day. Next, the Vines Village, home of the Quilter's Barn. Cue second, third, and fourth “Squee”s. Yarn hath been bought. Skeins and skeins. And it is good.
The Malborough County of New Zealand is famous for its wines it seems. Tons of wineries out here. Angela has enjoyed her local wine experiences and has never done a real tasting before so, on suggestion from Nice Girl At Chocolate Shop (NGACS), we choose a few stops. First was inside the Vines Village, a tasting seller selling Bouldevines. Angela tasted and bought their Pinot Noir Spring 2008. Onward!
Next stop was Framingham Vineyards. NGACS's family sells them grapes and thusly we go. Angela got the full-on tasting experience at this beautiful and friendly vineyard. In order, she tried the Dry Riesling '04, a Select Riesling '09, Pinot Noir '09, Pinot Noir F-Series (special kine!) '08, and a Montepulciano '08. The latter blew her palette away and she left with a bottle. Apperently its a very select wine and most vintners don't make it. Chubby grapes.
I'm pretty sure an older lady hit on me there too because of my toe shoes. She admired my feet. She photographed them. She wanted me for my Vibrams. Oh yeah.
We also went down to Framingham's wine cellar and looked around. Pretty cool, and the wife is stoked about the Montepulciano.
We bought produce from a roadside booth based on the honor system. “Money goes here. Cameras are watching,” read the sign. Oooooh K. Then we headed to Blenheim. Nothing to report in Blenheim.
More easy bends along the NZ version of PCH (Pacific Cost Highway for you non-Southern Californians), stopping at The Shop, which wasn't a shop but was a place to get an overpriced long black. Forward again to Ohau Point Lookout.
Stopped there for two reasons. 1) Ohau sounds too much like Oahu to pass by. Duh. And 2) Seals! For some reason they love the rocky shoreline and there were dozens hanging out and playing. Pups too. How cute. I'm not saying I was hoping for a shark to show up for a snack...but that would have been neat. All seals still accounted for when we left.
Passed a few police cars today. I wonder if cops are looked at differently here than at home. Here they aren't armed with anything lethal and their cars and uniforms are brightly colored and decidedly non-threatening. It seems these things, especially the gun thing and the uniform thing...mostly the gun thing, would contribute to a lack of Cop Powertripping and Piggishness. How to politely ask a local if they fear their police? Hmmm....
Other NZ things: They say “heaps” instead of “lots”. It's great. “We've got heaps of chocolate-covered cherries over there.” “I have heaps of possum yarn.” Hehe. Heaps.
And they are very non-subtle when it comes to driver advice road signs. There are tons out here but the one that got me today read, “Tired Drivers Die,” with a little car rolling over, crushed. I get it, I get it. Jeeze.
Our site tonight and tomorrow is beach front in a crowded campsite. But quiet so far. The family next to us has two French-speaking munchkins, probably two and four, who are very adorable. Munchkins speaking foreign languages or heavily accented English and even better than adults. I'm a tough guy. Grrrr.
Got advice for the rest of our time on South Island from Nice Guy in Gift Shop Thing At Holiday Park. NGIGSTAHP said, and I quote, “Christchurch is rubbish, why you want to go there? Just another town, fulla shops.” Then he grabbed a map and marked out where we should go to, “see New Zealand.” We like his plan. Will do, NGIGSTAHP. Much thanks!
Dinner time. Chicken and veggies! Yum.