New Zealand Adventure Day 8: Punakaiki to Blenheim

Originally written on 1 January 2015.

We awoke to the blue skies we had become familiar with in New Zealand.  Having shed the previous day’s thick blanket of cold misty, a cool, crisp, bright day appeared.  And we were again in for a spectacular drive as we crossed the island from the west to its eastern shore.

The storm and raging river had whipped the waters into a dull brown the night before. But today the ocean cleared to a blue-gray beyond the white breakers.  The tempest left behind a dull froth of salt water that quivered in the wind.  I wanted to run through it.

Sea Foam

Punakaiki sits at the northernmost point of our west coast adventure.  It sits between the Tasmanian Sea and New Zealand’s temperate rain forest.  We briefly followed the coast north and saw signs along the road warning of penguin crossing.  But we were disappointed when we later learned they departed before the weather warmed.  As we turned inland and drove east into the hills we saw more ferns, moss, gushing waterfalls and swollen rivers.

In those hills before Blenheim our road followed the Buller river.  Its calm waters weaved through the hills.  And next to a truss bridge above it we enjoyed our usual gourmet sandwich lunch.

Buller River Lunch

A few hours later we were entering Marlborough, where the climate was quite different.

Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s great wine producing regions.  From my visits to Napa Valley I recognized the terrain and climate similarities that make both successful: long sunny days, cool nights, dry, rolling hills and rocky soil.  We arrived in the middle afternoon to blue skies and were soon covered by the same marine layer that blankets the San Francisco Bay area in summer nights.

I enjoyed a short run in Blenheim, the Marlborough region center.  The weather is quite cool for summer but perfect for running.  The names applies to cities and streets—Marlborough, Blenheim, Nelson—remind me of the historical golden years of the British empire.  I see names on every street that pique my curiosity and will surely lead me to another history book.

Clair and I stopped at a grocery store on the way into town with hopes of buying our third portion of Green Lipped mussels.  But they were sold out.  So, we’ve settled for a tomato sauce over fresh fettuccine.  To make good use of local fresh food we’re adding some venison sausages made daily from the supermarket.

Tomorrow is our bike tour of wine country!

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