Museums & Wine

Friday February 17th – Sunday February 19th | Palmerston North ๐Ÿ‰ – Porirua ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆ  – Picton โš“๏ธ – Blenheim ๐Ÿท| … Km ๐Ÿš™ + 90km ๐Ÿ›ณ

Palmerston North is home to the New Zealand Rugby Museum.  We spent an hour here learning about the history of the game from the early 1800’s to present day.  Charles Monro of Palmerston North is the man who brought rugby to New Zealand in 1870.  You are welcomed by a statue of him outside the building. 

Charles Monro, founder of rugby in New Zealand

The museum is set up so that each section represents a decade in the history of the sport. There’s lots of interesting information and artifacts in the museum including uniforms, literature and photographs. Did you know a pigs bladder was the first “ball” used?  

A pigs bladder “ball”

“The Originals” refers to the New Zealand team that toured the Northern Hemisphere in 1905-06.  They won 34 out of 35 games and set the standard that every All Black team has tried to emulate since. 

We could’ve spent a lot longer here but decided to continue on to our ark for the night: Camp Elsdon in Porirua near Wellington. The most exciting stop on the way was a bird and wildlife park in Shannon called Owlcatraz. Unfortunately for us the rainy weather prevented any tours from taking place but we did get to see the stuffed and preserved head of Big Red, one of the worlds largest cattle beasts.  At 1.83 metres tall Big Red tipped the scales at 2060kg which is apparently the equivalent of 18,162 quarter-pounder burgers. 

Big Red

Camp Elsdon is probably as close to an ark as we will get on this trip. It is a Christian youth camp that rents rooms and campsites to community groups and tourists. We booked here for two reasons.  1. we are cheap. 2. nowhere else in Wellington had any rooms available and we didn’t want to tent in the rain.  We arrived around supper time and the place soon filled up with people who had missed the ferry to Picton (we think possibly due to an accident on the motorway).  The group was a mixture of adults, children and babies and was very loud. Due to being a Christian facility, no alcohol was permitted on site so, obviously, we ventured off to find a bar. 

Google maps suggested The Roundabout Bar which created a prime opportunity for Val to pull out another dad joke. I asked where where exactly it was and she replied “around about”.  Jesus Christ. In all reality we did have to navigate six or seven roundabouts before reaching the bar which, you guessed it, was located right beside another one. Since we’d already eaten supper we ordered wine and dessert: because we’re on holiday and can do whatever we want to. I chose the rhubarb and apple crumble and a glass of Roaring Meg wine. The waitress brought an extra-full glass for me because she just finished the bottle right into it. Excellent. 

Rhubarb apple crumble
There’s a really cool museum in Wellington called Te Papa.  It’s free to visit and there are many different exhibits spread out over six floors including Mฤori history and culture, the flora and fauna of New Zealand and, my favourite, Blood, Earth and Fire: The Transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand.  

I also found out that kiwifruit came from China and were originally called Chinese gooseberries. In 1959 they were renamed. One suggestion was “melonettes” but kiwifruit won.  Those grown in New Zealand were branded as Zespri in 1996 to distinguish them from the same fruit produced elsewhere. 

We killed time in Wellington until the ferry took us back to Picton that evening. Our hostel for Saturday night, Sequoia Lodge and Backpackers, was really neat. It was very clean with a large kitchen and common area and comfortable beds. 

Sunday morning was relaxed as we slowly made our way down to Blenheim and our next accommodation: Spring Creek Holiday Park.  The weather was perfect: beautiful blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a slight breeze to move the hot 25 degree air. After lunch we were picked up and escorted to the first winery in our afternoon tour arranged by Sounds Connection.  For $69 each we got to visit five cellar doors and a chocolate boutique. 

  • Allan Scott
  • Huia
  • Framingham
  • Nautilus
  • Makana Confections Chocolate Factory

In the Marlborough region, 80% of the wine produced is sauvignon blanc and 15% is pinot noir.  There are 170 winery’s but only 35 tasting rooms.  Despite the number of vineyards, winemakers can’t produce enough Sauvignon blanc to meet world demand.  We were able to taste four or five different wines at each stop and it was a great way to spend an afternoon.  

Allan Scott Wines. Stop #1

The winery with the most interesting name was Huia.  It is named after the huia bird which, now extinct, was native to New Zealand. The male birds has short, strong bills perfect for boring into trees for insects and bugs. The female bird has long, slender beaks which were able to extract the food that the male found. Because of this unique reliance on one another the huia birds partnered for life. 

Make and female huia birds

The most beautiful location was Framingham. The garden has many beautiful rose bushes and arbors as well as some cute sayings painted on tiles throughout the walkway. It’s not surprise that this place is a favourite wedding venue. 

The winery with the most expensive wine we tried was Nautilus Estate.  The Four Barriques Pinot Noir is $75 a bottle due to the fact that only four barrels are made each year. It was good but a cheaper $20 bottle will suffice for me. 

Sampling some $75 wine
Museums & Wine