Day 6: Vineyards and Cape Palliser

We had a rough night. It was pouring rain all night and big drops of water hitting the van’s roof made so much noise we could hardly sleep. Yet the rain and sleepless night didn’t discourage us from a wine tour. We were in Martinborough, northern island’s prime wine location and weekend getaway for chick Wellington clientele. It was Thursday though and most of the wineries were open only on weekends. Nevertheless we drove around the area to take a few pics and stopped at one of a few open wine centres called Te Kairanga. We were the first and only visitors that morning and were greeted with wine tasting of their full range of whites and reds and a story of wine making in the region. The gentleman working there was over-eager to share his knowledge with new listeners and so we spent whole morning chatting and tasting wines. I ended up being close to drunk and it wasn’t even eleven. The guy would keep on opening new bottles, but we had to get moving. We bought a bottle of Chardonnay that we’d keep for a special occasion and headed to Cape Palliser, an archipelago on the southernmost edge of the Northern Island from which on a clear day you could see Wellington.

We didn’t get to see Wellington because the day was far from fine and clear. Cape Palliser was very stormy, windy and gray. Yet bad weather didn’t spoil it, quite the opposite. The landscape was so rocky, wild and rough that dark clouds and rain only added to the adventure, especially when we had to cross the road by driving through a river of rainwater flowing down from the mountains. Another advantage was that we had the place to ourselves and could get really close to seal colony on the beach. The seals seemed to enjoy the attention and got into picture perfect poses.

The place was unlike any other. The scenery reminded us of Scotland with the only difference being black beaches and seals on hand’s reach. It felt like an absolute end of the world and it was a part of it’s charm. After two hours of exploring we were soaking wet, but Cape Palliser showed us some mercy and sun came out just for long enough to dry ourselves and indulge in views.

On the way back we stopped at Lake Ferry Hotel for its famous fish’n'chips and took advantage of it’s power points to charge our electronic gear. Recharged (literally), we left Wairarapa and took a windy scenic drive through mountains to Upper Hut, little town before Wellington, where we picked a quiet spot for the night.

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