As we headed northeast from the west coast, I dozed off. I woke up a few hours later confused. Cold, grey mist and pebbled beaches had given way to warm sunshine and meandering roads through rolling vineyards. Had Nic driven us to France? Apparently not; we were in Motueka and still very much in New Zealand.
Delighted to feel the sun on our faces again, we headed straight to Kaiteriteri beach for a swim and to curl our toes through the sand.
The nearby town – Motueka – was recently voted one of New Zealand’s best towns. Whilst it won’t steal me away from Queenstown, it was perfectly pleasant. Motueka is perhaps less well known than neighbouring Nelson for its wines, but actually has a plethora of smaller wineries producing some cracking stuff. Hops are also grown in the region, so there are some excellent craft breweries around. We took a wine tour through the Top 10 camp site based in Motueka. My favourite stops were the Riwaka River Estate vineyard, which is run by a LOVELY couple who’ve left careers in London (sound familiar?) to live in an idyllic vineyard-cum-olive tree plantation. I wasn’t jealous of them at all. My palate is not remotely sophisticated, but even I could pick up on the amazing mineral quality in their Sauvignon Blanc. I’m not on commission, but apparently they do distribute in the UK if you want to try it yourself!
My second favourite stop was Hop Federation – a craft brewery who create their beers from hops they grow themselves.
After visiting another couple of wineries (I was less taken with their wines), we ended up at the Moutere Inn doing a multi beer tasting!
Needless to say, our heads were a bit fuzzy the next morning… What better way to shake it off than a hike?
Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s smallest national parks, and offers multi day hikes if your head doesn’t feel like a badger is playing the drums in it. We opted for an easy 10k walk to Appletree Bay and back along the pretty coast. It’s very easy to get to Abel Tasmnan from Motueka, and there is free parking available at the park edge.
And thus concludes our time in the South Island! Of our three weeks in New Zealand, we have spent two of them in the south and could have easily gone for longer. We would have loved to visit the Deep South coast, and to have spent more time exploring the pretty wine region between Nelson and Picton. Another time, I hope.
Next stop, North Island!
If you want to take a wine tour
We paid £38.50 each for our wine tour, which we booked through the Top 10 holiday park. They took us to three wineries, a brewery and a pub and provided a snacks platter. Although very nice, I’m not sure it represented great value and would hesitate to recommend it. Tastings generally only cost a couple of dollars (usually redeemable against purchases) at each winery and the food we got was delicious but quite small portions! It’s well worth shopping around (the Tourism Radio recommends a couple of other tours) or even self-driving and dropping in, if you can find a willing volunteer to drive you!