We all landed in Auckland after a week in paradise. Kevin and I said our "goodbyes" to Elaine and Dean and our "see-you-soons" to my dad and Juanita, as we made our way back down to Wellington for four grueling days at work before taking another vacation. Life's tough. I started my yoga teacher training that Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but that's a whole other story for another time. Meanwhile, we celebrated the Hertz Sevens rugby tournament, a weekend-long event that requires adults to dress up in group costumes and frolic around the city for two days straight. We spent all Friday evening preparing our Ballooner Landing/Up! costumes for a successful Saturday night on the town. My balloons lasted until about 2am before people popped them all and I was left with just a basket...
My dad and his partner arrived in Wellington after touring the North Island on a bus and were greeted with some classic cold Southerly gusts. Luckily it only lasted a day and we were able to show them around parts of the city without getting too blown away. Thursday, we boarded the ferry and crossed the Cook Strait travelling from Wellington to Picton for another adventure.
From Picton, we drove into wine country (wait... isn't all of NZ wine country? why yes, yes it is), also known as Blenheim. We began with lunch and a wine tasting at Wither Hills, followed by a lounge on their gigantic beanbag chairs to soak up the beaming sun.
From there, we (i.e. Kevin, our sober driver) drove over to Brancott Estate (formerly known as Montana wines). This beautiful landscape hosts the Malborough Food and Wine Festival which we missed by just two days, but we enjoyed the experience and the view nonetheless.
At this point we had been drinking wine for a few hours and we still had a few more vineyards to go. We stopped over at Highfield Estate and Fromm Winery, but somehow pictures did not get captured. We spent the night in a quaint little motel in Blenheim and drove off the next morning. Kevin needed a bit of help getting dressed and off we went. We stopped in Nelson for a short while and made the obligatory pull-over at Kevin's favourite Kiwi brewery, Stokes, for some tasters.
After a decent day of driving, we arrived in Motueka at the holiday home we rented for the weekend. This place was BEAUTIFUL! We made a lovely dinner, enjoyed more wine (surprised?), and bunkered down for the evening.
The next day we drove over to Golden Bay to show my dad and Juanita the reason why Kevin and I have fallen in love with New Zealand. We spent the whole day sea kayaking up and around Tata Bay, Wainui Inlet, Takapou Bay, and Taupo Point. We paddled and paddled, pinicked on the beach, swam in the warm sea, and chased stingrays with our kayaks. The sand had golden flecks and we were able to gather fresh green mussels for dinner. What an incredible day!
I warn you, the photos below may cause the following side effects: desire, longing, envy, and extreme happiness. Please proceed with caution.
How many Kevin's can you spot?
We spent the night back in Motueka and headed home the following day, stopping off to take in a bit of the scenery on the drive back. As we said farewell to the South Island, I had a giggle because even on the ocean, you just can't seem to rid yourself of my favourite little critters. Only in Aotearoa!
Oh and for anyone who's counting, we're only 140 days away from coming back home. See you soon!