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Day 8, May 4th Wellington to Blenheim

Kia Koa Friends and Travelers. We really don't want to leave this glorious city, but the sea, the ferry and the South Island are luring us away.

The Interislander Ferry Terminal is located about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The boat leaves at 8:45am so we pack our bags, eat a little breakfast and head to the terminal on the bus. We'll arrive to Picton by 12:15pm. Our 2 and half hours on the ferry will give us time to take in all the views while on Cook Strait.

Cook Strait Ferry Terminal is our destination in Picton, the tiny village nestled in Shakespear Bay. This village is tiny! But it's packed with shops and cafes, and no lack of charm here.

Cook Strait connects the Tasman Sea on the northwest with the South Pacific Ocean on the southeast, and runs next to Wellington. It is 14 miles wide at its narrowest point, and is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world. This crossing involves chilly water, treacherous tides and often-rough weather. This is why sea captains and navigators of New Zealand are among the best. The Strait is named after James Cook, the first European commander to sail through it in 1770. The Māori name is Raukawa or Raukawa Moana, meaning "bitter leaves".

Picton is steeped in maritime history with the exploration of Queen Charlotte Sound and much of the early New Zealand port history which also lies here. The Māori whaling traditions, and European settler history all are identified in this town. Through the years, Picton has been a bustling port, a gold mining town, a fishing port and now a tourism destination. We take full advantage of this, but need to keep it short as head off to enjoy our lunch in a destination fairly close to Picton. We're heading west towards a lovely spot on the Pelorus Sound, Mills Bay Mussels.

Our delicious meal is only surpassed by the superb service and the friendly family that runs the joint. We love this setting, the mussels and chowder, the people and so far the South Island. Its only about a half hour drive to Blenheim. This lunch with the sweet and plump New Zealand mussels was definitely worth it. And Jan was happy to see her dad Richard loving the experience, he is apparently a seafood lover and in particular mussels. We learned a lot from him since he has knowledge of the waters here, and was able to give us information on the shellfish in this sea.

Nau mai ki Blenheim!

Blenheim is yet another small town, and about a 15 minute drive from the northeast coast of the South Island. The hotel: Chateau Marlborough says it all, we are in the famous wine region of MARLBOROUGH, and it's exciting because we also have an outdoor pool, we stay overnight for 2 days here, and it's pretty warm out, so the bathing suits do come out! But the most exciting news of all is Marlborough SAUVIGNON BLANC and PINOT NOIR! This is the land of sunshine and sea breezes, it's maritime climate but not the kind that we're used to where we find grey skies and chilly wind, this is sunny and warm with cool breezes.

They know who they are here, they know that they are all about wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay (and don't forget Sparkling wine too). We settle into this town and spend the rest of the day exploring, shopping, swimming and resting. Traci is found reading by the pool, Denise is on a walk/hike nearby with Jan, Richard is resting and digesting those mussels, and the rest of us are scattered about finding jewels of interest.

Here's your chance to unpack that luggage, find an activity, rest or read about Blenheim and the most difficult decision that you have to make this afternoon is finding a place for dinner tonight. I will see you out there my travelers. Enjoy your time here, I love this town.

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