We got up really, really early to make the first ferry from Wellington to the South Island the next morning. It’s a huge ferry. There are nine decks, one of which is just for semi-trailers, plus another 3 for other cars. They even have a cinema, which we decided to take advantage of since it’s a three hour ride.
We arrived in Picton, and started the drive to Nelson, where we were staying for the next three nights. The northern part of the South Island is wine country. It’s more of those pretty green mountains covered in sheep, but with vineyards scattered all about.
Nelson was a bigger town than I had thought it would be, and had a very cute downtown. They also have lots of little cottages and the yards and hills are full of foxglove, hollyhock, snapdragons, and roses in full bloom, adding even more to the English countryside feel. As we drove in to another fabulous vista of mountains, water, and flowers, I commented to Daniel, “Gee, it’s a shame New Zealand is such a dump, huh?”
Nelson has a very striking Art Deco church that is confusingly called Christchurch Cathedral, even though it is several hundred kilometers from Christchurch. The ugly thing in the front is supposed to be a Christmas Tree of some sort.
Near the church I spotted this silversmith shop, and I had to go in:
Now, I would have stopped regardless because I like looking at original work by jewelers (not Zales everything is the same kind of stuff). However, I believe this particular jeweler is a bit of a tourist stop. For you see, the Ring to Rule Them All was forged here:
The next day Daniel decided he’d stay in Nelson and have a rest day, while I drove out to Blenheim, where the wine country is. It was beautiful and tasty.
The region is particularly good at growing a lot of dry varieties, so I didn’t actually do much tasting since I’m a sweet wine girl. However, where there is wine, there is cheese. At the second winery I stopped at, Saint Clair, they had a café and I opted for the Monk’s Platter. This was the most awesome cheese board I had ever consumed:
It contained pate, salmon mousse, cheddar, brie, a small cheeseball rolled in sesame seeds, chutney, carmelized onions, olives, grapes, a slice each of kiwi and orange, a slice of a spiced date roll, homemade foccacia, three kinds of crackers, and even a small salad. Heaven.
I would like to note here that Daniel had lunch at McDonald's. We were both equally happy with our choices :) Our hostel in Nelson was also chosen based on food, believe it or not. They are known for the free chocolate pudding cake and ice cream they serve every night at 8pm. The time for the dessert is posted in several languages on what Daniel called the Rosetta Stone of Pudding:
It's quite good, and hot from the oven:
It causes quite a stampede for the kitchen and shows that young people can be prompt when motivated.