Valentine’s Day in New Zealand

February 14, 2016

Having survived the Pirate adventure and still having our doubloons, we left Moteuka. Heading down the coast of Tasman Bay we drove onto Rabbit Island mostly out of curiosity. It is basically a tree farm with a campground on the beach. Speaking of tree farms, parts of New Zealand are full of them. I am sure that a bunch of the harvest is exported to Asia just like the sheep and the dairy products.

We decided to spend the day shopping and doing a little urban wandering. We reached the big village of Nelson around 10am. The fourteen thousand or so residents of Nelson take pride in their namesake Admiral Horatio Nelson. We parked on Trafalgar Road and found Montgomery Square where the weekend market resides. The market was built up in the tourist guides but consisted of a couple dozen people selling garage sale items. It did not hold our interest for long.

Bobbie is looking for a ring so we prowled through a few jewelry stores. Nothing caught her fancy. We enjoyed a real cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe and caught up on the American political scene. Everyone seems concerned that Donald Trump is already the new President. He is gently described as bonkers, and they are relieved that the Donald has a ways to go before he becomes President. We try to avoid politics since most people seem convinced that Americans must be crazy.

We decided to leave town and head out into the countryside to find some artisans who made interesting things. There is an old, by New Zealand standards, farming area called Moutere. We drove out into the countryside. We find the sticks to be much more relaxing than even a small city like Nelson. Moutere contained craftsmen and artisans and brewers and winemakers in a region reminiscent of the California Central Coast. We wandered through an artists collective studio and gallery. It wasn’t particularly inspiring.

I wanted to see how wine was marketed and perhaps have a taste or two. There was a sign for a winery called Neudorf. I figured that a place named “new village” would be worth checking out. The winery was a classic boutique winery. I managed a long conversation with one of the assistant winemakers. I found their Sauvignon Blanc delightful and much different than the Marlborough appellation that is only a little ways away. The mass produced Kim Crawford wines we buy at Costco are a house favorite. We enjoyed a picnic on their patio overlooking the vineyard. I kept my consumption to a tiny minimum as being the driver carries responsibility. Anyway, I know where to buy their wines in Berkeley.

We headed back into town with an almost full bottle of the delicious Sauvignon Blanc. I felt virtuous. We easily found our motel, The Castle. We lodged in the turret to the delight of Peggy and Bobbie. It was somewhat funky but comfortable. Actually they were excited about eating out. We walked to the wood fired pizza place down the street. The crust was OK, the toppings were disappointing. The local ale was good so it worked out.

It was an easy day despite not finding any treasures to buy. But I figured that the real US Valentine’s Day is not until tomorrow. May be shopping will be better in the next town.

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