Arrived in Auckland late afternoon on Sunday. Had to schlep through immigration, clear customs, and then haul ass over to the domestic terminal, but eventually I made it, and met up with my mom. We then headed to Christchurch.
We stayed the first night at a very nice B&B in an old converted brewery, which sadly didn't smell at all like beer. The next morning we ran errands and then drove north along the east coast, past Kaikora to Blenheim. In Blenheim we holed up at the very comfortable Honi B backpackers. It was raining, and the town basically seemed to wash away. We wound up eating at McDonalds, as that was the only thing open!
The next morning, we got moving fairly early, and drove out of town into the wine region of Marlborough. We tasted first at Cloudy Bay, which has a beautiful tasting room (not surprising, given they're owned by LVMH), and a very yummy sparkling, and Pinot Noir. Then we went down the road, past some gorgeous cherry orchards, to Huia. There we had a very nice tasting with a woman who it turns out is from just south of Montreal. It's a very small world.
Around noon we headed north to Picton, where we found a spot to stay at Bayview Backpackers, which is very cozy and comfortable. We spent the afternoon driving a loop along the Malborough Sounds from Picton north and then east to Ratangi. We passed 1 car in the 2 hours we were on the road. But every few minutes we'd turn a corner and discovered yet another gorgeous little bay, with the most fantastically turquoise water, and a view down the coast that takes your breath away. And yet no one lives there, except sheep. No wonder New Zealand lamb tastes so good. If happy cows come from California, then happy lamb is from NZ.