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There was nobody else around this morning and yet we were only 20 minutes from town, the source of our morning takeaway flat white coffees.
We were at Monkey Bay, a rugged and wild cove accessible by a long set of stone stairs topped by a viewing platform that, on a clear day like today, offers views over Cook Strait to Wellington. Just an hour ago, we’d been in our accommodation in Blenheim looking out at clear blue skies when we decided a morning walk was in order before a day of wine tasting and sightseeing. Grabbing coffee from a little cafe, we’d driven to Rarangi and climbed to Monkey Bay.
As the tide got disconcertingly close to our rock, we headed back and ambled along Rarangi Beach, admiring the views to the south which climaxed at the snowy peak of Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest peak outside the Southern Alps.
Back in town, satisfied with our nature fix, we prepared to spend the rest of the day sightseeing and enjoying the rest of Marlborough’s attractions, with which I mostly mean wine.
First, we spent the rest of the morning at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre admiring their huge collection of vintage planes and relics, some of which belong to world famous director Sir Peter Jackson.
Although we had our own transport, we were keen to sample the local delights, so we opted to join a private Marlborough Tour Company wine tour. Besides driving us, our guide would also provide us with some much needed advice on which wineries would best suit our taste and style, as there are over 100 in this area.
Our very comfortable Mercedes, driven by Ryan, took us from Blenheim into wine country where, between the long vineyard rows, we enjoyed a sumptuous gourmet lunch at Saint Clair Winery that showcased the best produce of the region including, of course, Marlborough’s world famous sauvignon blanc. Then it was onto five cellar doors, ranging from large global labels to boutique operations - all within just a few minutes’ drive of each other. At each, we were personally welcomed and served, and we even chatted with a couple of winemakers.
For something different, we were then taken to a boutique beer brewery, surprisingly located smack bang in the middle of wine country. This enjoyable stop included a pint in the sunshine of the characterful bar garden.
By dinner time we were very satisfied that we’d seen a great deal of what Marlborough has to offer, from nature to history to wine, without feeling rushed for even a minute - that, surely, is what the perfect holiday is all about.
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Take a wine tour through the world-renown Marlborough wine region. Taste award-winning reserve-grade Marlborough wine, talk with respected winemakers, explore the beautiful vineyards and, if time allows, enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch at a winery.