Kiwi Jack: Chapter Six

Short one tonight guys.

Had a pretty fair drive across the top part of the South Island today, cutting in from the wonderful West Coast to the Marlborough wine district, the largest in New Zealand.

And it rained.

And rained.

And rained.

It rained so much that half the roads in Marlborough actually washed out and became impassable. Though that didn’t deter this hearty band of wine drinkers; the weather was so unusually poor that we were actually congratulated by those offering us the tastings once we arrived.


Do not listen to Google Maps if you are ever seeking out the Hans Herzog estate, especially if it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re looking for lunch. We should have known we were in trouble when the GPS (whom we have dubbed Ed due to his deep voice and overly British accent) didn’t know where this place was. But, undeterred, I yanked out the iPad and got some directions from ye ole’ Google.

Bad idea.

We didn’t find wine. What we found was a washed out logging track (after Dad completely whiffed on a bend in the road while I was reading something). After backtracking through a couple of impromptu lakes, we finally found a mountain road (we all know that wine is grown in mountains, right?) and wandered up it.

Even the sheep were looking at us like “What the fuck are you doing here?” We were asking ourselves the same question. This shot was taken once we finally found our way back to the main road.

For the record, vineyards are NOT found in places that look like that. Generally, they look more like this:

We finally visited the Auntsfield and Villa Maria wineries. Both were incredible, but I have to find a way to import the Villa Maria reserves into the US; this stuff blows Napa and Sonoma away. I’m seriously thinking of becoming a wine distributor. Anyone want to join up with me?

Our day ended in Picton, the last stop before boarding the ferry up to Wellington and the North Island tomorrow. We spent a lovely two hours with Ron Laughlin and his wife Paula. Ron wrote the Ultimate New Zealand travel guide, and that’s literally true in my view. Ron and I have been corresponding for months on our itinerary and all the various details. His advise has been invaluable on our trip; there’s no question we wouldn’t be seeing half the stuff we are without him. He and Paula were great company (he’s from Ohio and lived in Rockville!); we swapped travel stories about New Zealand, New Orleans and places around the US and the world. Couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend tonight.

If you even think you might come to New Zealand, you must buy Ron’s book; it can be had on Amazon; click here to check it out.

Tomorrow you could be hearing from me twice; I’m hoping to do a South Island roundup during our crossing, then maybe a quickie on Welly tomorrow night.

11:02pm, August 8
Picton, New Zealand