Lessons Learned…

So, I’ve finally come to the conclusion of Andrew and Julie’s Epic Adventure to the South Island.

After Kaikoura, we drove up to Marlborough in the morning to sample some wine and relax after the fashion in which vacations were meant to be taken. We hit up a winery with a tower and sampled some grapes, wine and enjoyed the view of a region known throughout the world for the best kind of grape-based intoxicant. Afterwards, we hit up a second winery, by far my favorite, Cloudy Bay. We stayed for a while and chatted about the history of Andrew’s favorite vino, the Gewurztraminer.

Grape Vines

About this time, we needed a break and headed towards an area brewer for lunch. While it would be nice to enjoy lunch at a winery, the prices at the brewery were much more attractive, and we enjoy a good brew, too. We had some yummy pizza and a nice sit down before we headed to a small boutique vineyard that purported a lovely Gewurztraminer, but we ended up enjoying and purchasing a lovely Pinot Gris instead.

Picture-esque Top of the tower

With our ferry not leaving for several more hours, we still had some time to kill and stopped by another small, small winery. Again, while sampling wine was the game, we thoroughly enjoyed a long chat with a local of the area. Not affiliated with the winery other than her temporary filling in to serve the wine tastings, we got to chatting about the changing landscape and political-scape of Christchurch and how beneficial and positive the booming wine industry was for the Marlborough region.

Just cannot escape the sheep

Not ready to leave yet, but starting to feel the tastings a bit, we stopped at one last winery where I tasted the wine, while Andrew, the driver, tasted a lovely cheese platter (Fear not, good friends! He is a self-proclaimed cheese monger, so everybody won!). Wither Hills is probably one of the most recognizable wine brands I knew of before New Zealand, so it was nice to see where some of the grapes were grown, and the the facilities where the wine was fermented. They had some fantastic ranges that were not distributed outside of the winery, and we ended up spending our last few budgeted dollars on our final bottle of wine.

I'll take a few barrels Mmmm

We made it back to the ferry for a late ride into Wellington where we stayed in a hotel turned hostel before a final day of driving. We drove back through Tongariro, past the Taupo lake, up through Hobbiton and finally home. Alas, Auckland truly feels like home when after a spectacular adventure, it’s nice to be back and sleeping in our own bed again.

Tongariro

So that’s that! A fantastic adventure was had! Part of me feels like running out and volunteering, and I do hope to find a way to give back to this community! But for now, I am enjoying my fortune, and luck.

I learned a lot about travel on this trip, and a bit more about Andrew and me, too. For instance, a roof over our heads, other than our tent, was worth an extra $15 dollars. If a hostel cost $18 more than a tent site, forget it! We’ll camp. An attached bathroom, not so lucrative. Unless we would be spending more than a night there, an attached bathroom was worth an extra $5, at best. While I enjoy camping, a bed is nice and Andrew feels more strongly than I on the issue. Swimming with dolphins was totally worth freezing our bums off in the open water! A night on Lake Tekapo, freezing our bums off? Maybe just the once. Unless it’s warm enough to fall asleep stargazing, 50 degrees F was plenty cold for me!

I learned that, in New Zealand, backpacking and hosteling is for the young and old! We ran into high schoolers and folks our parents age time and again, and home cooked meals or fresh baked cookies are standard fare in these classy joints throughout the South Island. So don’t be surprised if your hostel smells great!

A meat pie can keep Andrew full for about 2 hours. Any more than that and a snack of sorts is necessary. I myself can munch on snacks to no end, but the empty chip bags and crackers indicate my salty preference, with many of our sweet accompaniments making the journey nearly back home. Only nearly though!

The wine selections

But alas, our trip is over, and has been over for some time. Much has happened in the last several weeks, and much of it has incurred some stress that I’ll explain in a later post. Positive stress, I’ll let on. We’re still working our way through our wine stock, and enjoying this time to reminisce before our next adventure. I have worked many weekends, but had this past weekend off to enjoy a farmers’ market (with fresh cheese and vegetables, the theme of today’s homemade calzones and more produce on the dinner menu for the week) and an exciting All Blacks game we watched in the pub with our Invercargill friend, where we enjoyed each others company rather than following the score. I hope all of my readers find time to enjoy the moment, because a weekend in and a weekend with friends can be just as enjoyable as a great adventure.

…But great adventures are definitely exciting.

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