Monday, February 11, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise, day 37, Picton, New Zealand

Today when we got ready to go to Starbucks, we went outside and this is what we saw.  It looked gray and it was going to snow                         

It was very cold.....I do believe that this is the last day of winter!  It is suppose to be in the high 70's by the weekend!

We made our way to Starbucks to have coffee with Sandi.  Irwin did not come to coffee until later so we indulged in "girl talk" We did not solve any problems but we had a good time.                                                                  
After having a nice coffee we went to the doctors for Vicki to get her nerves tested.  I know she has nerves as I get on them frequently!  lol!  Evidently I have not been too bad as they seem to be in pretty good shape!  lol!

Home we went and had our favorite lunch.....played on the computers for a little while and then off to see our travel agent!
   This is Barbara, our very special travel agent.  We were there to rearrange our cruise schedule.   We are  going to take a cruise next  February on Celebrity and it is a total "Apple" ship.  All of the computers will be Apples and the nightly newsletter will appear on an iPad.  Each cabin will be assigned an iPad.  There will also be classes on how to use the iPad!  We are really excited about it.  It should be fun!                                                                        
In the half hour we were in Barbara's office , it rained, it hailed, it sleeted and it snowed!  We missed it all!  Darn!

We then went to see Rosine and then came home.  It is so amazing how fast the days go!
But we will always have time to make a nice dinner!  lol!


Visit Picton in New Zealand's beautiful South Island and discover a destination full of diverse landscapes, stunning waterways and true New Zealand hospitality. A holiday destination for all the family geographically placed at the centre of New Zealand. To the south in Marlborough, New Zealand's biggest wine region and to the north, the majestic Marlborough Sounds full of amazing Dolphins and other marine life. Adventure, explore and relax in one of the worlds most beautiful places and discover why Picton is New Zealand's newest holiday destination for 2012/13. Like our facebook page by clicking on the link below or going to

Picton, New Zealand February 11, 2013Wellfinally a new port for us, and we believe, a fairly new port for the Amsterdam......Picton, New Zealand, located at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound. Usually a sleepy town at most times of the year, it turns into a hive of activity during the summer months, which is now. Activities include sea and river kayaking, fly-fishing for brown and rainbow trout, and serious hiking.

History tells us that convicts were carried to Perth, Australia from these wharfs, as well as troops to the Crimean War, and immigrants to New Zealand. Native Maori inhabitied this area of the South Island, and the local museums tell their story with rare relics from the past. Today, this part of the Marlborough is known for their fine wines, massive vineyards, sheep stations, green mussel farming, and honey production. Again, another huge resource are the Monterey pines that grow so well in the mountainsides and valleys.

Usually when we go to a new place, we take a tour. So we booked one with HAL called Marlborough High Country Safari, an excursion that would take us to see some of this fabulous countryside. This will be the longest tour, 8 1/2 hours, that we have booked on this cruise, and also the most expensive one. Hope it lives up to its promising description.

Ready to go at 8:20am, our group of twelve was called to race down the stairs to the waiting tour bus. Actually, we found that our transportation was not a bus, but another 4x4 van like the one we took in Napier to see the gannets. Guess there will be some off-road driving on the way. You know what we liked about this tour? The fact that we seemed to have a compatable group of folks, none of whom we knew. But what a good way to get to know some new people. Seems that one nice lady did know us by our blog, since she mentioned something about our "cork forking" game. One day she wants to pay a visit to our table to see how it is played. Truthfully, we have not done this yet, because we do not want to ruffle the feathers of nearby dinner guests. Not everyone has a sense of humor.

Anyway, we were in for a looooong ride, we estimated about 150 kilometers or 93 miles one way. Once through the town of Picton, our very knowledgable guide and driver headed for the hills literally. Outside of another larger town called Blenheim, we stopped at a honey factory, Sweet Nature. There we listened to a young gal who described how the honey was gathered from bees that fed on different types of flowers. Each flavor of honey had its distinct taste, depending on where they located the beehives. We sampled clover, creamed clover, black beech bark, blue borage, and Manuka honeys. The Manuka blend reportedly has healing properties and perhaps increased levels of antibacterial activity. It is being tested further to see if it can become incorporated into the medical field. Other products sold here included lotions, face creams, waxes, soaps, and hand sanitizers. We purchased a small bottle of the clover honey, because it tasted the best. The Manuka blend was too bitter for our taste, and had an aroma of camphor or something close to it. Finally, a sample of a hive with live bees showed us how they worked in the waxy comb with the presence of one queen bee. Gosh, these little insects sure work hard to produce the sweet nectar for us.

Continuing on, the van left the paved road for a graveled side road. Must be a short cut to the sheep station. On the way, our guide said we would make a coffee/tea stop. Expecting a rest stop, he pulled over in a grassy field with an out house in one corner. Then he pulled out a bag with a portable table, two large thermoses full of hot coffee and tea, cups, and berry muffins. How civilized.

Then we were off for a spectacular ride climbing the mountains, crossing the rivers, leaving the Awatere Valley to the massive area where the sheep stations were located. Our destination was the Upcot Station, a mere 35,000 acre piece of property. We were met by the owner, who gave us an up close and personal demo on sheeping shearing. He then brought out his two trained dogs to show us how they muster the flock. The first dog, a huntaway, barks and nips at the sheep from the rear. The border collie, then rounds them up and brings them into the corrals. Each dog responded to a different whistle from their master.

His wife invited us all inside their home for a country-style lunch that included a rabbit stew, cous-cous, salad, and homebaked foccacia bread. Juices, wine and beer were served with the meal. The best part of this lunch was the fact that the couple Bill and Nicky, joined us for lunch. They were very interested in where we all came from and what it was like living all around the world. And of course, we were intrigued with their way of life. The owner told us that he had five sheep per acre and hires 6 men with their dogs to shear twice a year. The kids, all girls, eventually have to board at schools out of the area, since the ranch is so isolated. The ride to town takes an hour and a half, which the mom drove twice a day when the kids were in grammar school. If they needed some groceries, they can call the postmaster who kindly delivered those items to them. They had two large veggie gardens and surrounding fruit trees with no apparent pests (squirrels, gophers, or moles). How can one not love this life, especially with the daily views of two 9000 foot mountains in your backyard.

We asked about hunting, and found out that no licenses are needed to hunt the red deer. You do need licenses for fishing and quail hunting. The animals on the property belong to the property owner.

Afterwards, we made one more stop at a renowned winery, Yealands Estate. The vineyards stretched for 5 kilometers across terraced ridges and gullies, as far as we could see. It is a first class operation, producing some of the famous New Zealand wines sold worldwide. We tasted at least six varieties, even though we are not wine drinkers. Almost everyone bought some bottles despite the fact they were expensive. We can understand why in the last 15 years, there has been a massive move from sheep farming to wine growing. The conditions are excellent. So good, that 11 rows of vines, produce 2000 bottles of wine. These grapes are all machine harvested by the way.

The fun part was when our guide carried in a box of crackers and blocks of cheese. He asked one of the winery staff for plates. Then he pulled out his handy pocketknife, and proceeded to cut the different cheeses on platters mixed with rows of crackers. Hey, that worked for us.

We were back to the ship just in time for the sailaway out of the windy harbor. We were even treated to a display from a pod of dolphins jumping in the ship's wake. Great way to end our visit to this beautiful country.
Bill and Mary Ann, Postcards from Paradise

Photos from Picton by Jeff's world Adventures blog!

Well today was a first for me, first time to Picton…..  It is our only stop on the south island of New Zealand.  It was a lovely, very small, town.  Tought to get lost here.  The place is loaded with scenic hiking trails which is how I started my morning.  It’s nice to get a bit of exercise and see some beautiful scenery at the same time.  The rest of the day was spent walking around town and sitting for drinks with friends.  I ran into Allan & Sandra along the way and hung out with them for a while.  We also ran into Ellen & Aart who were also enjoying their day.  It was a very laid back day fro us but after a week of port stops it felt good.  We now have 3 days at sea before we arrive into one of my favotite ports, Sydney, Australia.  Now just hope that the Tasman Sea gives us a smooth crossing….


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