Across the Marlborough Straights to the South Island and Nelson
And finally Nelson. I eventually arrived there after a long-ish and late drive from Pickton to be greeted by John and Linda (and a large whiskey!). It was fantastic finally catching up with JB on his home turf (compared to Finsbury Park in London). While my stay there was short, it was certainly memorable. Nelson is lovely. It's the sunniest place in New Zealand but it decided to rain heavily in the afternoon but that didn't stop us ....

We visited some great wineries around the location - the pinot noirs are great - and of course, sampled and purchased a lot! That afternoon, we headed around the arts and crafts shops and they are fantastic. I eventually bought a hand-crafted blue vase called "air" and met the sculptor/designer ... really cool. That evening, Linda, John and I headed to a wonderful Asian-fusion restaurant where the wines again flowed.

The following day, I played with Sam building a gigantic mountainous railway complete with stations and helicopter in their livingroom ... ok, the mountain was the sofa but the imagination of a four-year-old is contagious. For lunch, wine testings were yet again part of it all and then we headed into the real New Zealand ... out to the Wairoa Valley to find where John has gone swimming as a boy. It's amazing to see natural rivers and lakes and being back to nature ...

The final evening was BBQ - Kiwi-style. John's brother (Michael), his wife (Mary-Ann) and sister (Leslie) came along for a BBQ - fantastic especially since the BBQ itself was the old fire from the house ... and again, the wine was flowing ... nice!

And then the final morning ... I slept in ... unfortunately ... missing the ferry back to Wellington. And it was the most expensive three-hour lie-in ever ... about £300/hour. I had to catch a flight back instead, drop the car off at Nelson (thank you Hertz - not - never again!) and catch the last flight back to Sydney. All-in-all, about £900 for the missed ferry, new flight, and astronomical car-hire charge for leaving the car on the wrong island!!

But the flight was great, the flight back to Sydney relaxing and the final Friday evening in Sydney was spent having a good time in the Cruise Bar down the rocks in the warm summer sunshine with Tas, Eloise and some great people ... what a way to spend the last night in Sydney!!