New Zealand in a camper van – Marlborough, trains, planes, automobiles and wine

Two weeks was not enough time to fully appreciate New Zealand. I constantly felt rushed. Indeed we lost a few days there due to Qantas grounding all flights, although the upside was we did get to know LA a bit better and enjoy the Carnaval.

We did not have a planned itinerary and relied a lot on the suggestions from people we met on the road. Which is how we discovered that there is more to Marlborough than vineyards.

Planes

The couple we met in Northlands, who gave us a roof over our head in Wellington, suggested we visit Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim. So we did.

The museum houses Sir Peter Jackson’s personal collection of WW1 aircraft and artefacts.

The museum is self guided, well laid out and interesting.  Peter Jackson (yes the Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson) has been an aviation enthusiast all of his life and this museum is just part of his collection.

I found the museum fascinating. My husband was like a child in a toy shop, as he had been an airfix enthusiast as a child.

As you would expect from a museum from Peter, the attention to detail is second to none. The artefacts are labelled with a full history about them and how they were acquired. Many of the aircraft are displayed in their historical settings, every one has a story to tell.

There is a cafe and a gift shop, and a chance for dressing up. Us being the big kids that we are, could not resist.

I recommend a visit if you find yourself in Blenheim. Great for families too as it really bring history alive.

Cars

After our visit here we popped next door to the Omaka Classic Car Collection. My husband was delighted to look at old cars. As was I.

He pretended to know about the engines and stuff.

I love old cars because they are so beautiful.

Modern cars are by comparison box like.

Each one had details of who had owned them, where they were made and all are really well cared for. Not so family friendly or as well laid out as the aviation museum, but fascinating if, like us, you love old cars.

Vineyards

After indulging in aviation and motoring history, we went to a vineyard. The wine is why most people visit this region.

It was lunch time and we were at Wither Hills.

After wine tasting and the excellent lunch, we chilled out on the beanbags in the garden, overlooking the vineyards.

There are dozens of vineyards in Marlborough. Some of them you will have heard of, others are small family run ones. Wither Hills is where Kate and Wills had lunch, 3 years later,  so we obviously had chosen the best place.

We were driving so the wine tasting had to be restricted, of course.  However there are a number of companies offering tours of the vineyards. Bubbly Grape was the one that was recommended to us. You can also hire bikes to tour the area. Although I am not sure that combining cycling and drinking is a good idea.

Another vineyard we visited was Cloudy Bay.

Here we ordered a tasting platter. Then sat outside and enjoyed the views.

We did visit a few other vineyards, these were the two that stood out in terms of setting and style and the only ones we ate at. We had two days there and it was hard to drag ourselves away from the region.

We camped just on the outskirts of Blenheim.

We had ducks for company (they followed us everywhere) and somewhere to catch up with the washing, such is the glamour of camper van living. The wooden truck was a holistic healing centre.

We also did a bit of train spotting. When we go back to New Zealand we plan to take this train. Driving is pretty challenging in New Zealand.

Although I like this car.

Next stop Havelock, some green lipped mussels and meeting some people that changed our plans for Christmas.

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