Road Trip to Blenheim

April 2019

After breakfast we took a leasurely stroll towards our Car Hire pick–up. This took us north and through the heritage Street of New Regent Street. Opened in 1932 by the Mayor of Christchurch this small street of 40 units looked very cute. Different colour buildings in a Spanish Mission Style facade provide an honour guard for the tram line that snakes through it. On this quiet morning it was a bit eerie  – looking like a movie backlot – but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

We grabbed our car from the Apex Rental Office and after looping back to collect our bags we headed out of town on State Highway 1 – north.

About 40 mins north we stopped in a little town called Amberley for some breakfast.

We were in pastoral country by now – the town had been established in 1864 when the freeholder – Mrs Frederica Carter subdivided her land and sold it really cheaply to entice a community to be founded. Growth came with the rail line from Canterbury 20 years later. Today it is a service town for the farms and agriculture business around and specifically today it was Market Day  🙂 so we got some provisions for the rest of our trip and sampled some of the wares.

But first – breakfast. We went to the Nor’Wester Cafe across the street for some coffee and eggs. Owned and operated by a local family since 2016 it was a combination of good food and quaint decor and just what we needed to start our day.

As we made our way around the market , the Waipara Valley Famers Markets to be exact, we noticed a statue and a plaque dedicated to Captain Charles Upham. A local soldier who is only one of three people to twice win the Victoria Cross from bravery in Crete and Egypt. (His history is fascinating if you have the time to read up about him).

After picking up some stuff at the market we made our way back to car and headed North. Driving up through Greta Valley and then stopping for some photos alongside the road and railway at Goose Bay. At this point we started to get our first glimpse of some snow topped mountain range in the distance. These are the Southern Alps and we were near the northern part of it and Tapuae-o-Uenuku, formerly Mount Tapuaenuku, the highest peak in this corner of New Zealand. Up ahead there was more evidence of the 2016 Earthquake as the road and railway line took extensive damage. The road was so damaged that a lot of these communities were cut-off for many months.

‘Meal of Crayfish’

After driving around 150km north we had arrived at our lunch time stop for the day – the town of KaiKoura. The town is now a popular tourist destination for whale and dolphin watching and had a number of walking tracks. We headed out to the Point Kean lookout at the end of the peninsula to take a walk around, making sure to sidestep one of the more furriest of locals – an adult southern fur seal.

From the beach on the esplanade we had a great view back onto the Kaikoura Range

View from Kaikoura Beach across the waters to Kaikoura National Range beyond.

After our walk we had probably the best seafood platter since South Africa at the Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk – located on the side of the road on Fyffe Quay. We lucked out and got some of the last of the food for that day. The scallops were amazing!

 

After lunch there was just the simple matter of driving up some more of the coast, over the Redwood Pass and down into the town of Blenheim and a trip to the wineries.

But it would be Easter Sunday… would they be open or would we be faced with more of the Good Friday restrictions… you will have to tune in next post to find out.

One comment

  1. […] a 300km+ car journey and the best ‘Fish and Chips’ lunch ever in Kaikoura we had made it to Wine Country – […]

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