Can we do this every day?

Seal in Queen Charlotte Sound

This has got to be the most relaxing vacation ever! We’ve spent the last week just visiting wineries, grilling great steaks, reading, watching movies, and enjoying the sights. I also have a jigsaw puzzle out on the table.


Yesterday was a real treat. We drove to Picton (about 25 minutes away) and took a tour through the Queen Charlotte Sound. It was gorgeous. We saw seals, little blue penguins swimming, cool birds, and Hector dolphins – including a mother and her calf! We docked for an hour on one of the islands where we hiked to the very top for fabulous views – it was such a clear day we could even see the North Island. The islands are filled with beautiful bird calls – we pulled into one bay just to listen to them. The Department of Conservancy has made several of the islands pest-free and are trying to revive or reintroduce native species to them. A lovely day with nature and fresh air.

Queen Charlotte Sound










Saturday we drove to nearby Havelock, famous for its green-lipped mussels. Yum!

The Mussel Pot in Havelock










Sunday was a big day here at Brookby Ridge – harvest day for the pinot noir grapes. We moseyed through the small vineyard and watched the pickers hand-pick the purple grapes. I talked with some of them, mostly young girls from Taiwan or Malaysia who come to work. They pile the grapes into green plastic flats, which are then loaded onto a tractor and taken down the hill where an 18-wheeler waits for them. It’s quite a production. Brookby, the resident black Lab, was beside himself, while Totty, the 16 year-old Terrier mix was content to ride alongside Mary Jo on a mule.


Vineyard owner Mary Jo with Totty













Grape pickers at day's end











After watching for a bit, we went to the Sunday farmers’ market in town – fun to see all the organic produce and it’s good people-watching, too.

After that, we went to the aviation museum, a neat collection of WWI-era planes and memorabilia owned by Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame. We both really enjoyed it more than we expected to!

We’ve enjoyed several of the wineries here. Some of our favorites have been Gibson Bridge, Huia, Rock Ferry, Highland, and Fromm. There are hundreds in the area, so it’s a bit hard to choose! We had a wonderful lunch at the much-touted Herzog Vineyard – a lovely garden setting.

We’ve been so lucky with the weather – knock on wood. When we arrived, it was rainy and chilly but the sun came out the next day and it’s just been perfect every day.

You may remember that John had a crown fall off while we were in Koi Samui on our last R&R. Well, guess what? This time, I pulled one off while eating a piece of bread (darn carbs). So – no R&R is complete without a trip to see a local dentist!

Here’s a parting shot of John playing with Brookby in the olive grove behind the cabin.

John and Brookby

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