Once we arrived in Nelson, we had only a few days left before it was time to head for home. We had begun to feel the tug of the familiar but were determined to squeeze the last few drops of fun out of our time away. We still had to get over to Marlborough to visit some wineries there, and we were excited about the day we had planned for a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park. In between these two mini adventures, we left time to stroll the quiet streets of Nelson, visit local producers, grab a few last dinners out — we promised ourselves we wouldn’t go near a restaurant for a very long time once we got home — and, in general, enjoy knowing that we were still having, as Mary called it, “the trip of a lifetime.”
One of the finest restaurants in Nelson. Every bite a delight.
Lamb? Did someone say lamb? My, what a surprise!
After weeks of various meats, Mary opted for some delicate raviolis. Filled with meat.
The crowd forms early for the shuttles to various parts of Abel Tasman National Park.
Here comes the boat that will ferry us to the start of our hike.
The morning air was chilly but we were eager to get underway.
Leaning on the sign made me think I was conserving energy, which I was going to need for our hike. When we weren’t going up, we were going down. Not a flat spot in sight.
The Kiwi symbol, ubiquitous.
Taxi!! Time to head back to civilization.
Rush hour in Nelson. Not really. This is a major side street, but Nelson is, for the most part, a very quiet town.
One of the best winery stops of our entire vacation was at Neudorf, about 10 miles outside town. Owner Judy Finn gave us the royal treatment during a personal tour and tasting.
Their winery, which Judy and her husband Tim have been working on since 1980, could not have been more welcoming and comfortable.
Judy is proud of the fact that she planted all the vines in the original block of the Neudorf vineyard.
Following Neudorf, we drove a few miles to Woollaston, a popular newcomer to the Nelson area wine scene. The reds at Woollaston were good, but their whites were stunning.
This is the view from the back lawn at Woollaston. Not too shabby.
Our drive to Marlborough started cloudy and got worse.
Throughout New Zealand, everywhere you went you could count on finding clean, well-maintained public restrooms. Gas stations and fast food joints, the typical go-to spots in the States, paled in comparison to these public facilities. America could learn a few things from the New Zealanders on what really matters.
On the road to Marlborough. The rain and low-hanging clouds were unable to dampen our excitement as we drove over the hills separating the Nelson area from Marlborough.
Our first stop was at Fromm, where we began our day of tasting with an in impressive lineup. Both their sauvignon blanc and pinot noir were in fine form.
Next up was Te Whare Ra, an 11 hectare vineyard and winery started in 1979. Their sauvignon blanc vines, which date to that year, are the oldest in Marlborough.
When we planned our NZ trip, I imagined I’d stop in at Allan Scott, whose sauvignon blanc was the first Kiwi wine I can remember drinking. I felt a little bit guilty as we drove past and pulled in across the road at Cloudy Bay.
Founded in 1985, Cloudy Bay is one of the largest and most important wineries in the region. Exporting on a global scale, they have helped to raise the Kiwi profile around the world. They are now owned by The LVMH Group (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the world’s largest luxury goods company.
The next day was an early start. We left Nelson at 7 am to fly to Auckland, then to Hong Kong, and on to San Francisco, where we landed at 8 pm. A seemingly normal day that was more than 30 hours long. Now, it’s time to start talking about wine and grapes and all those fantastic and fascinating things that go along with them. Time, that is, to get back to what The Grape Belt is all about. Thanks for traveling with us.