So after a great time in Rotorua, we hired a car and drove to Wellington for the next leg of our Kiwi adventure. Well, for us who have driven in India all their lives amidst the crazy traffic and chaos, driving on this beautiful highway with km upon km of smooth, buttery road with gorgeous mountains or rolling hills dotted with cows and sheep, and little traffic …. was a treat for the senses. The greatest danger ….falling asleep!
New Zealand farms
We made a quick stop at Huka Falls, Taupo, where one can view the majestic falls from various footbridges. About 200,000 liters of water plunges 9 meters down every second! Its known as ‘snow-white’/’ice-blue’, as the Waikato goes over the falls it picks up masses of tumbling air bubbles giving it amazing colours.
We drove along the Desert Road where we got to see spectacular views of Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Ruapehu, the largest active volcano in New Zealand, is also the highest point on the North Island. Some scenes of Modor and Mount Doom were filmed on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu.. Read about the Tongariro National Park in the Part 3 of my blog which was a surreal experience for me!
Mount Ruapehu aka Mount Doom
Loved the vibe of this multi-cultural city. Wellington sprawls out over several bays, beaches and one is never too far from the sea. Its built around and about hills that drop down to the bays giving lovely views. Our hotel overlooked one such bay with docked boats oh! so prettily arranged…
There are places around town where you can climb up to the top of the hilly mountains for fabulous views. We trekked up to Mount Victoria for the sunset view…oh the views were breathtaking… The city is spread out next to the sea with lush green hills bracketing it all. The distant hills dotted with houses make me want to explore the streets probably quaintly rising up and down with the slopes…perhaps I will in another moment in time. But for now I’m content with capturing this magical view…
Mt Victoria lookout
The next morning we took a small plane ride to get to Blenheim…and when I mean small, I mean a 12 seater! That itself was a treat! Loved the cute, bright green, manicured vineyards below us as we approached our destination.
Sounds Air plane ride
Blenheim is a town on New Zealand’s South Island. Known for its wineries and thus, the local wine and food culture. We debated on various tours and hiring bikes but finally choose to hire a car, which BTW is so very convenient in NZ. So we ended up visiting a couple of gorgeous wineries, first of which being ‘Cloudy Bay’, a large well known winery where we spent a relaxing hour or so sipping on some nice varieties of wines, lazing in the lush lawns, napping (hubby), sketching (me)!
Cloudy Bay Wineyard, Blenheim
I highly recommend our second winery ‘Spy Valley’ for the personal attention we got from the young lady in charge. She very sweetly answered all our wine-questions!
Blenheim is also known for the The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. It houses filmmaker Peter Jackson’s collection of World War I aircrafts, the ‘Knights of the Sky’, displayed in sets re-creating their flight history. The display was brought to life by creative talents of WingNut Films and mannequins by Weta Workshop*, of the Lord of the Rings fame…
I loved the Curtiss MF Flying Boat and the Fockker Triplanes among the impressive collection of replicas, flyable and original aircrafts!
So after the museum and the wine tasting what comes next? Ah yes, food of-course 🙂
We decided to drive to Havelock, a village, also in the Marlborough region famous for its green-lipped mussel-industry. We sampled an interesting mix of these while I sketched them!
Green Lipped Mussels, Havelock, Click to see whole image
Next: Havelock to Picton. This famous drive, called the Queen Charlotte Drive, is a 40-kilometre winding road fringed with native forests…. it offers one of the most scenic drives you’re likely to encounter. The Sounds are basically an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys giving rise to spectacular scenery… there are ample tours and boat rides available to explore these….we took a ferry from Picton back to Wellington and totally enjoyed the views over sunset…
The Sounds, Picton
The next morning before we headed out to our next cool NZ destination, we made a quick visit to the Weta Cave.
*Weta Workshop is a world-leading design and effects facility based in NZ. They have worked with many directors and producers across the globe on special effects, concept design, props, set designs etc…. the most notable one being The Lord of the Rings…
So hope you liked this post and are inspired to travel to New Zealand too….
Part 3 and the last one for NZ coming up soon!
Love and peace ….