The small spaces in between my makeshift curtains allow a small amount of the dull morning light through, gently rousing me. I stretch, my feet pressing up against the back hatch, my hand reaching above the seats in front of me. I feel remarkably refreshed despite the unexciting day yesterday. I pull a curtain away and quickly check to make sure no one is nearby before hopping out of my car. The public bathroom on the beach has a shower, but it is a cold and overcast morning and a cold shower feels like it would dampen my recently renewed spirit.
Wellington does not have a significant amount of tourist activities I want to do I did not already do yesterday. Instead, I decide to spend my remaining time simply exploring the city without any direction. It is how I have enjoyed cities the most in the past. I forgot this yesterday. I spend my morning pleasantly in a small café, people watching and sipping coffee. More gulping than sipping honestly, my American habits surrounding coffee have not yet been broken. There is only espresso coffee here and none of the oversized drinks or food portions that are the hallmark of the food industry back in The States.
The café I found is a bit odd. The décor is seemingly contradictory. The chairs are modern, entirely white, and weirdly comfortable given their wonky shapes. The walls and tables are almost entirely white excepting crazy and colorful art. The patrons and baristas are a decidedly hipster-hippie hybrid that makes me reconsider how I picture myself since I ended up here. It feels closer to an art gallery that serves coffee. The effect is comfortable. Or maybe it’s the coffee and cheese-based pastry I am eating that feel comforting.
I wander up and down Cuba Street today with a renewed appreciation for the energy and eccentricity of the popular area. There is an excellent variety of cuisines with few duplicates. Japanese, Chinese, burgers, Spanish, Mexican, Italian, you name it. The one that finally tempts me in for lunch is an all vegetarian Malaysian restaurant, Aunty Mena’s. I have never had Malaysian food before and I am not sure what to expect. Nasi goreng is the meal I choose. It is a simple stir-fry, but it is amazing and delicious, and cheap in comparison to the rest of the establishments on Cuba street. It is a good way to spend my last couple hours in Wellington. I am excited to head off to the South Island today.
The clouds are still thick and grey, hiding most of the surround Marlborough Sounds. The ferry ride would be more scenic on another day but it is still impressive and my imagination is able to fill in some of the sights. My excitement at finally reaching the South Island bolsters my spirits despite the gloomy weather.
After an uneventful night at a campground, I find myself at Blenheim for my first full day on the South Island. Blenheim is well known for one reason, its wineries. There are close to thirty different wineries you can visit within a short drive of each other. The landscape is entirely covered in vines. Rows and rows of green provide mesmerizing images while driving past. Most have cellar doors where you can do wine tastings. Despite not being a wine person, and since I have nothing else to fill my day, I decide to try out some of the wineries.
I am sipping on my third wine when I realize something absurd. I am sitting in a fancy winery, other groups of older, sophisticated people around me, the sommelier telling me about the wine, surrounded by impressive and classy decor, and I have not showered in three days. I think back to make sure, but I stayed at the camp outside Wellington, the next day in Wellington I didn’t have a shower, and I was at a campground last night. I try to inconspicuously sniff myself when the sommelier is helping other customers. I do not think I smell too bad at least; baby wipes are a traveler’s friend. There is nothing I can do now but laugh at the outrageous situation. I have a further realization after the fifth wine, I do not have a spit bucket. I need to make sure to ask for one at the next winery. Thankfully they are not full glasses, but I ask for a glass of water and linger for a while after my final whine before moving on.
A full day of wine tastings later, I sit with seven bottles of wine, six white and one red, in my car which I truly should not have bought. Excluding my car, laptop, and guitar, they are collectively the most valuable item I have with me in New Zealand. My favorite winery was Framingham’s. I enjoy Riesling the most, and Framingham’s specialized in Reisling. It was excellent to put it plainly. Unfortunately, there are no hostels around Blenheim that have availability, I spent to much time before booking a place. I check Airbnb and find a decent place in Nelson, the next place I was planning on visiting and not too far away. I am excited at the prospect of having my own space for a bit instead of being relegated to my car or a shared room in a hostel, if only for a night. I book the place and take off.