Wellington, Marlborough, and Abel Tasman

Wellington, Marlborough, and Abel Tasman

After an overnight at what turned out to be our favorite holiday park, Flat Hills Cafe and Tourist Park, we headed south to Wellington where we would catch the Interislander ferry the next morning. With a day to explore the city, we were all in agreement that Wellington has some good vibes: great street art all around, funky architecture, yummy local beer, and solid restaurants.

On the recommendation of Morgan’s friend, we stopped in at Garage Project‘s Cellar Door for a few beers, which we really enjoyed. We also loved the free bubbly water on tap near the bar.

Beer sampler at Garage Project Cellar Door
Some funky street art on the walls downtown

That evening, we had one of our only sit-down meals in New Zealand at Hippopotamus. My in-laws/Jane and Lew/mom and dad had sent Morgan along with some cash and strict instructions to treat ourselves, so we sure did. It was French inspired New Zealand food, sorta like California cuisine, whatever that means. Amanda, who loves hippopotami, picked the place (based on just the great reviews, I’m sure). It turned out to be delicious, and beautiful!

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The next morning, we hopped on the ferry with our campervan for the 3-hour ride to Picton on the south island. I suspect many people ditch their vans for the ferry ride and pick up a new one on the other side (or make other arrangements) because it’s pricey to bring it across. We bit the bullet for convenience’s sake and brought Thomas along (that’s what we called our “little van that could”).

Massive ferry
Tiny ferry

Just across the water, we entered into the wonderful world of wine in Marlborough, home to New Zealand’s famous sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. Our first stop was at Cloudy Bay, which was maybe not the most delicious, but definitely the most beautiful winery we visited.

On the lawn at Cloudy Bay
Mo on the chair swing
These flowers, all over NZ, reminded us of growing up in CA

We also made stops at Fromm, Nautilus, and Wairau River wineries. We did a bunch of tastings (while I had occasional tiny sips as the DD), and Morgan bought some yummy bottles of her favorites to drink on the trip and take home. The stops at Nautilus and Wairau River were mostly random, but turned out to be tastiest! One of our highly anticipated stops, Te Whare Ra, was randomly closed on a Friday afternoon.

Dude, not cool!

After having our fix, we hopped back on the road for Kerr Bay campground, where we stayed the night. Set on Lake Rotoiti, part of Nelson Lakes National Park, it’s a gorgeous spot to set up camp, as long as you can avoid the sand flies, which we mostly did!

Sister Sister
Takes my breath away

The next morning, these 3 rolling stones headed northwest to hike part of Abel Tasman National Park’s coast track. To do so, we hopped on a water taxi for a ride along the coast, taking in some rocks and wildlife along the way. Here are a bunch of highlights from what was a beautiful day and highly-rewarding hike.

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Next up, the west coast, glaciers, and Milford Sound!

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