We woke up early ready for a busy day. From our DOC campsite we headed over to the Top 10 holiday park in Blenheim. It was a really nice campsite alongside the river and nicely spread out. Our plan for the day was to go on a wine tour around the Marlborough region and if you’re into your wine, you’ll know its a famous wine region. You can drive around, go on a tour or get a bike and cycle round. We kept to our backpacker roots and went for the cheapest option and arranged to hire the bikes.
Best of all we were able to hire bikes from the Top 10 campsite and arrange for a pick up in the afternoon at the last winery. Before we set off we headed to the supermarket and grabbed food to make a little picnic of ham sandwiches, fruit and crisps!
There were a few other English couples hiring bikes from the campsite. We weren’t planning on going with them as they were proper wine buffs who could drink us under the table. The cost of the hire was NZ$30 plus NZ$10 for the lift back, so £20 each. Not too bad.
However the start of our journey was bad. Following a map and cycling at the same time doesn’t seem to be one of John’s skills. We went totally the wrong direction and it took us 30 minutes to get to the first winery.
When we got there it didn’t disappoint. Our first stop Drylands (http://drylands.co.nz/) to sample 6 wines. Unlike in Mendoza where we went on a wine tour, all the samples were free. The portions were decent but nothing compared to the last wine tour in Mendoza, Argentina when it was a full glass to taste!
Next up we went to Hunters Wines (http://www.hunters.co.nz/) where we had five sample wines. So far we didn’t have to pay for the samples which meant we tried every single one. While tasting in Hunters there was a tour group of older Aussies who were on a day trip from a cruise ship. It was funny to see them sipping, sampling and picking bottles to buy as John and I necked the wine!
After two wine tasting sessions we headed to the only brewery in the area. The Moa Brewery (http://www.moabeer.com/) produce rather nice and posh beer. We sampled 6 beers in total which only cost NZ$5. We shared the samples with the view that we had already has quite a bit of drink and it wasn’t even time for lunch.
Next was Cloudy Bay (http://www.cloudybay.co.nz/) which was nice, 3 free wines there and really nice gardens surrounding the winery.
It was time for lunch. Unlike many of the others who had also hired bikes from the Top 10 campsite who planned to go for a posh slap up meal at one of the wineries, we just ate our sandwiches, fruit and crisps on the side of the road on the grass. A rather nice lunch and some decent weather too.
We continued the drinking, sorry wine tasting, over the road from our lunch spot at the Alan Scott winery (http://www.allanscott.com/). A bargain to sample 4 wines for only $2, which went really well after our lunch of ham sandwiches.
We had been making our way around the wineries using a little map given to us from the Top Ten campsite. Our next winery was a bit of a ride away – Bouldevines (http://www.bouldevines.co.nz/). We sampled some wines from Bouldevines and decided to pick up a couple of bottles, 2 for NZ$12. We rushed in a couple more before the pick up time, Nautilus (http://www.nautilusestate.com/) for a couple before hitting our last and pick up point Gibson Bridge (http://www.gibsonbridge.co.nz/) for some very nice sweet white wine but a tad expensive.
We were picked up by the owner from the Top 10 campsite. We met up with the rest of the group. We were all a little drunk. As soon as we got back to the campsite, we all headed back to our campers and fell straight asleep for a couple of hours.
After a nice little kip we woke up and made risotto in the campsite kitchen. We had a chat with two English couples who had been on the tour with us. We stayed up till around 11pm talking before heading to bed after a great wine tour in the Marlborough wine region.