Friends! There is something truly remarkable about New Zealanders. They are the friendliest, most positive and welcoming people we have EVER met. Ever. This goes for the road worker, the petrol pump attendant, waiter or elegant gentleman in the city. Without exception, we are welcomed, chatted to, helped, smiled at, waved at, wherever we go. Us dour Brits and quick-to-rise Spanish could learn a thing or two from them.
Remarkable too, of course, are our all our new kiwi friends. This is not a claim just made in the euphoria of travel: I believe we have made true new friends here, with whom we will keep in contact and very much hope to see again. So here at Blenheim, among hectares of immaculately manicured vines against a backdrop of mountains and rivers, home of the majority of NZ’s wine, we were happily back in contact with our dear Barton family from Gisborne, this time with son number 2, Richard and his superstar wife Alex and two delicious children.
Not only did they find us a great place to stay, the Mill Stream Cottage run by darling Jilly and Nigel, where we couldn’t have been more comfortable, surrounded by hectares of fields, cows, vegetables and beautiful gardens, we then proceeded to spend most of our time at Blenheim joined at the hip. A Friday barbecue at their house, in the most perfect position at the foot of the mountains, generously oiled by gin and tonics and a bottomless selection of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, we ate our way through a perfect venison hunted by he-man Rich himself 🦄, and enjoyed an evening of nattering as though we’d known them forever!
The following day, they collected us from Mill Stream for another well oiled lunch at Wairui vineyard followed by a tasting at Cloudy Bay, where we met further family friends of theirs, the Macfarlane’s, a wonderfully elegant lot who serendipitously run, amongst other things, The Store, a brilliant and stylish café on the way down to Kaikoura- our perfect pit stop for tomorrow!
The day ended with more friends: Jilly organised a drinks for us with some delightful friends of theirs, the Campbell’s, to share yet more gin and tonic and stories of South Island life. A relaxed, happy and easy life that would suit us right down to the ground….💛