|After refreshing our batteries, Steff and I embarked upon the next leg of our journey, New Zealand's North Island.
Starting with a not so good bus trip from Christchurch to Picton (It came complimentary with a bus driver that had a very very cynical sense of humor), and a short hop skip and a jump on the ferry over to Wellington we soon found ourselves in the sunny shores of NZ's Capital City. Taking advantage of the Relocate-a-Rental scheme once again, we were both happy to find out that this time it was a new Peugeot 307....(especially after the $39 a day special we had going around the South Island). This made it for a nice drive threw the sometimes frightening roads up highway #2 towards the North's Wine region, Hawkes Bay.
(again I was wishing that I had my motorbike!!!, however this time the shear drop and what seemed to be a lack of safety barriers made me think twice)
Staying in Hastings with Steff's family (another outstanding example of how hospitable Kiwi's are), we both spent a couple of days visiting Steff's family, going to wineries (as well as tasting their produce) and even managed to throw in a little bush walking that the area has to offer (before we started drinking wine!!!). Expecting the obvious similarities with Australian wine regions (lots of grapes, great wine and great food) I was pleasantly surprised with what I thought was the distinguishing factor. Having all of the beauty and splendor that all wine regions have to offer, Hastings has also has extensive bushland and beaches to offer as well, all within 20mins drive. This is something that I have found common throughout NZ, that you really are not far from anywhere......(Kiwi's may not agree on this but coming from the Sydney). Our day of adventure ended with what has to be one of the best dining experiences I have had in a long while. Terroir Restaurant is in Craggy Range Winery and with a combination of excellent food, great service, amazing location, excellent atmosphere (along with great company), both Steff and were very impressed with the night (as well as a little on the tipsy side...oh yeah, did I mention great wine also)
With our original plan of hiring a car to get to Wellington foiled from finding out that we would have to pay a $200 relocation fee on top of the hire fee and petrol (...hang on, I've been doing these relocations for free, are you telling me that they have been charging some poor bastard $200????......where's my cut!!!). With Steff needing to catch a plane back to Sydney at 6am, we decided that a one day hire with me driving the car back to Napier was a better idea (So I guess I will see more of the north Island then.....hmmmmmmm, bummer hey)....So after a final visit to all of the Kidd Clan (Thanking them all for such good hospitality, we both hit the road for a late evening drove back down the twisty turns of highway #2 with a destination of Stokes Valley in Wellington.
Arriving in at my Uncle Peters just after 7pm didn't really give us much time to see any sights....(especially when both Steff and I having to be up at 3am to go to the Airport). Despite this, the offer of a small tour of Wellington City by my Uncle Peter was too good to refuse and so we headed off on Wellingtons latest (and Best!!) late night guided tour. Driving through Wellington CBD it was hard not to notice how many people were out for a Thursday night at what was now 10pm (when compared to Christchurch from where we had just left)......Immediately it reminded me of Melbourne with what appeared to be a very vibrant funky bar/Café culture......something for which I think I will have to test on my way back through when returning to Christchurch....Our guided tour only taking a little over an hour, it was about midnight when se both set our alarms for 2:45am.....just enough time close our eyes, wake up to the terrible sound of "Deeeeeeeh Deeeeeeeh Deeeeeeeh", get up, jump in the car and drive to the Airport......or so it was planned......