Gerrit van Rooyen
Even after the last couple of decades New Zealand never fails to surprise me. For a small country, there is always something more to see and do. I recently saw a corner of New Zealand not too far away from Wellington and it inspired me to talk about all the great things to do outside, but near, Wellington. I hope that I help you find the hidden gems of the lower North Island during your time here. Perhaps you can head there after a tour with Steve or enjoy some golf after your trip sightseeing. While this may take several blogs (since there is so much to talk about!) I’ll start with my most recent adventure.
Cape Palliser is a bit out of the way and far from everything. From Wellington, it’ll have you driving just over two hours. We visited on our weekend in Martinborough. The drive should have been just over an hour. Warning: make sure you have enough Petrol before heading out! We added an hour to our trip when we realised we were running on empty too late and had to head back so we didn’t get stuck. At least we got to experience one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand twice.
The roads are pretty rough and we noticed almost every car that passed us was a 4WD but our tiny little Swift managed just fine. Don’t pick a windy day though as the waves can come crashing over the roads making for a dangerous drive.
There are so many places to stop along the way so you can enjoy the unique rocks and black sandy beaches. The stair up to the lighthouse will leave your calves screaming the next day.
The seal colonies alone are worth the trip though. You might not see them at first, they are usually sleeping on the rocks and blend right in, but once you see one, you’ll notice they are all over the place. Be careful though, some are farther up from the water than you might expect and you don’t want to be too close and startle them from their slumber!
Martinborough is a hot spot for New Zealanders who want to get away for a bit. It really is an escape from the city. It’s all about the wine there, and the area is particularly known for its pinot noir. Bicycles are available everywhere so you that can make your own wine tour and not have to drive between the many vineyards. The selection of bikes is unreal, including tandems and even four-person. It that’s not your thing, plenty of wine-tours are available. Let them do the driving and planning so you can just enjoy the trip sampling the local produce.
Martinborough seems so peaceful. Our bach was only a 5-minute walk from town and the roads were always empty. There were times we were out walking the dog that we didn’t see a single car, just lots and lots of vineyards. It’s all so flat and open which is a huge juxtaposition from Wellington, nevermind the fact that the wind doesn’t seem to reach there.
Then you get to the small charming town and it feels so lively. Every cafe, restaurant and pub have plenty of outdoor seating, with people walking around or having a bite to eat and chatting in the sun. The popular restaurants are always booked so plan ahead for your nights out. It’s a well planned out town with a grassy park in the centre, fantastic for sitting with ice cream and watching all the tourists coming in from their wine tours with bags of their favourites, obviously having had a fantastic day out. The restaurants in town can be very nice but I was particularly fond of the cafes we went to for breakfast. If you want a big warm brekkie I recommend The Village Cafe (amazing waffles and eggs benedict), or if you prefer something lighter, like a scone or muffin, The Neighbourhood Cafe is the place for you.
Hope you all had a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the week, whatever it may bring!