What an amazing wine tour for a party of Cruise ship passengers off the Voyager of the Seas. 12 passengers from Macedonia filled the newly branded Marlborough Jade Tours bus and they were enthralled by the stunning views of Marlborough and the Sounds. The cherries were a big hit but the wine was too sweet – a wine maker in their midst suggested alcohol levels of 26% tasted better. We call that fortified wine ! We travelled through the Waihopi valley before the dreadful fire started and photographed the beautiful Wairau valley from the Highfield tower. Then away from the vineyards into the Havelock valley and across to the Queen Charlotte Sound and the climactic views of their beautiful ship, the Voyager of the Seas. A happy day for everyone.
Volunteers are working on Brancott Winery falcon breeding facility’s garden and it is definitely blooming with the new plants establishing themselves well. Jade Tours member Mike was supposed to be digging out weeds, but does seem to be slacking off – perhaps he has assumed a managerial position? Thanks to the labours of Neville and other hard workers the garden is looking good and is a pleasure to sit in with a well earned hot cup of coffee.
Lovely sunny day when the Diamond Princess berthed – very relaxing for our guests who enjoyed the wines and the lunch at Wairau River Estate. We met Argos and Cooper the friendly wine dogs at Highfield Estate – Cooper is taking it easy now and leaves Argos to keep the guests in good order. When Argos is tired from all the running around offering visitors his precious piece of wood, he retires to the back of his master’s car. Here he keeps a watchful eye on the happenings at the winery.
It was not a good start to the day – howling gales, bitterly cold and driving rain, but the hardy passengers from the good ship Noordam arrived undaunted, ready for fun. They wined, dined and thoroughly enjoyed their day in Marlborough although they had to admit it was their first rain in 3 weeks. They were very forgiving and said a “change is as good as a holiday”!
Marlborough Jade “Gems” Tours will be visiting some of our local gourmet and artisan producers in our luxury bus on a scenic tour of marvellous Marlborough. We will learn from our expert apiarist about Honey Bees at work and he is also very knowledgeable about local history and nature. We will continue on to experience Olive Oil tasting and production, then weather permitting a picnic at Taylor Dam listening to the water fowls and watching the swans with their cygnets.
Our next stop will be the wonderful world of hazelnut and walnut oils, then wool carding and felting, (the black lambs are so cute)! A peaceful wander viewing driftwood art, listening to live music followed by a cellar door visit and a glass of wine will end the day.
Cost: $70 per person Friday October 30th Pick up @9.00am from Blenheim Railway Station or your accommodation.
Duration approximately 6 hours. Included: light refreshments and snacks, luxury transport. Kindly note lunch is at own cost.
Limited seats available, for bookings contact 027 9511956 0r 027 9511952 and email@example.com
We had a great day out with our clients – they were impressed by Omaka Aviation Centre, but even more so by our Marlborough wines and seafood lunch.
Jade Gems Tour with our Blenheim Lions clients was great, no wine but good to learn about bees in the Awatere Valley, Gotland Viking sheep, driftwood art and Rob’s music. A hard fought Bowling Battle spiked appetites for a fish lunch and then a taste or two of liqueurs to end a lovely day in Marlborough. What more can we ask?
We found the Grovetown Lagoon and it really is worth an amble around. The volunteers are doing a fantastic job of laying secluded paths meandering through the trees and bush. Many native saplings are being planted and it is so peaceful and relaxing there, ideal for a picnic while listening to the bird calls. Mike is still on crutches so we could not explore too far and did not find the Urupa. A return visit (sans mobility aids) but with a picnic hamper is definitely planned.
We also visited the Wairau Affray (10km north of Blenheim) at Tuamarina ( I learnt this is a corrupted Maori word Tuamarino meaning ‘the calm beyond’). The memorial was erected in 1869 on the mass grave of 22 Nelson men who died along with four Maori on 17th June,1843. This conflict about land ownership was the most significant violence to occur between the British settlers and the Maori since the signing of the Waitangi Treaty. The Soldiers’ Memorial stands nearby commemorating the Marlborough troops who died in the Boer War in 1902 and there is also a Skoda field gun which is a relic from World War 1. This is such an interesting place which is filled with so much poignant history. The Titoki Tree is well worth seeing – it is reputed that the Ngati Toa tied a waka to it, allowing the Nelson men to cross the Tuamarina stream.
Starting off my very first blog and it being the middle of winter requires a defrosting of the brain. Imagine my relief when I read that Blenheim is leading the sun race for 2015. Even better we have enjoyed an extra 189.4 hours of sunshine compared to 2014 so far – already the icicles are melting slowly!
This week I learnt about Karengo which is a seaweed that grows during the winter months. It is harvested off the tidal rocks and dies back in the summer. Karengo has a very high nutritional value and was an important part of Maori diet. Apparently it tastes a bit like oysters and can be dried, lasting forever and then reconstituted by adding hot water. The Rangitane Hunters and Gatherers Portfolio went to Okiwi Bay (North of Kaikoura) to teach traditional methods of food collection and preparation to the younger iwi members.
I have heard a lot about Grovetown Lagoon and the many bird species residing there, but was rather embarrassed at not knowing where it is. Having asked a few friends, I felt better when they also admitted ignorance of its exact location. A quick call to Blenheim I-SITE and now I have a map to follow. Mike and I will head out this week to explore and also discover more about the Wetland Warrior volunteers who are restoring the lagoon to its natural state. There is a 3km path being laid by community groups also helping with the project. An ancient sacred Maori Cemetery lies nearby which I think is being renovated, but I will report back on what we find.