Wine country

Living more than up to our expectations once again, it was hard to leave Reefton. But Blenheim and the Wairau with its tributaries were calling and we had been looking forward to fishing the Goulter for a very long time. The weather had been wet for weeks, but the forecast for the coming week looked promising and our spirits were high. On the way east, down the Wairau valley, we were able to have a glimpse at the Goulter, entering a very high and dirty running Wairau river on the opposite side of the valley. Despite the main river looking like liquid soil, the Goulter was running clear!

Getting accommodation in Blenheim in the middle of the high season proved to be difficult, but we finally found a wee cottage with its own private backyard in the middle of town. On our day of arrival the weather was warm and sunny and we were ready to go fishing the following day. To our surprise the next morning, steady rain was proofing the forecast wrong. We decided to show a positive attitude and left early. On the way up the valley the rain got heavier and every little side creek we came across showed still signs of the recent floods and the road was badly damaged in many places. When we arrived at the Goulter, some of the creeks were already discoloring and rising with the rain showing no sign of stopping soon. We feared to get cut off by floodwater and decided to turn back immediately.

But our disappointment didn’t last too long and visits to some of the many wineries of the Marlborough region made up for the lost fishing. Marlborough is one of the main producers of high quality wines in New Zealand and many square kilometers of the extensive Wairau plains are occupied by vineyards. The hills in the background looked extremely dry, the plains themselves being a sea of lush green leaves thanks to modern irrigation technology; an achievement not possible without high costs for the environment. Most of the wineries offer tastings and many have a restaurant on their premises as well.

With the weather continuing to be wet, we changed program and paid the Aviation Heritage Museum a visit the next day. A very impressive exhibition with lifelike scenes created by Weta Studios, the animators behind the “Lord of the Rings” movies, became even more alive with the in depth information provided by our guide, a seasoned, 84 year old pilot, who is still flying his own plane. The guys flying the fragile looking constructions in the early days of airplanes must have been rather enthusiastic daredevils.

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