MARLBOROUGH, NZ: CERI

I travelled Qantas economy from Melbourne and Wellington and was as always very impressed with the Qantas service and their pleasant, friendly crew.

Great selection of inflight entertainment and a lovely full lunch served with three options. Very unusual in economy! Business class old style of seat and only first few rows of cabin so arguably not worth the additional cost on this short 3 hour flight.

The sector between Wellington and Blenheim was operated by Air New Zealand on a 20 seater prop jet - not for the faint hearted but amazing views of the stunning Marlborough Sounds on this 35 minute flight. A comfortable quick option between North and South Island. 

Blenheim is a quiet town whose claim to fame is its location in the heart of the Marlborough wine region. Several motels on the fringe of the city square.

Our hotel - the D’Urville, named after the French explorer who came here after Captain Cook. Terrific central location housed in the original Bank Trust Building (atmospheric.) With just 11 bedrooms hidden behind enormous original bank vault steel doors which have been refurbished with antique beds, furnishings and a smattering of quaint artwork complete the look. No lift but luggage readily taken to the room by pleasant helpful front office staff.

Minimal public areas but pleasant indoor / outdoor bar restaurant area and fine dining restaurant. Excellent menu delicious food and wines. We did find the restaurant service a little slow though. Complimentary port a nice touch for a nightcap!

Breakfast was of the continental variety; buffet of fresh fruit, cereals, cheese, cold meats, juice and toast. Adequate and good value at $15 per person.

Marlborough Food and Wine festival held at the extensive grounds of Bancroft winery and this event now in its 30th year of operation.

8000 people through the gates and the whole event ran so smoothly. Wonderful wines showcased by the best of the regions Winery's average pricing $3.00 per tasting and $5.00 per glass. Premier Winery's ie cloudy Bay charging more.

Cooking demonstrations from world famous chefs throughout the day and marvellous displays of the fresh local produce and cuisine typical of the area. Highly recommend this day showcasing the best of the region in a fun safe and orderly manner. I especially liked the people walking around with tanks of water on their backs filling up empty glasses to keep the crowd hydrated!! Good touch

Full day winery tour operated by Na Clachan Wine Tours. Chris our driver guide provided a terrific full day tour where we visited 8 of the mostly lesser known Marlborough Wineries, with a highlight being Rockferry an organic wine producer where grapes are handpicked. Unusual in this area where machine harvesting is the norm for the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety.

The wines were superior to many and the restaurant offered a varied menu with high quality well priced choices. Another highlight was Framingham; delicious wines and this winery offers a free forwarding to Australia service for a purchase of 12-15 bottles. The wine forwarding is offered generally at a cost of NZD80. With the purchase of 15 bottles of your choice from any of the wineries here. Our included lunch was at Alan Scott winery, my least favourite wine tasting but a great restaurant in a pleasant indoor/ outdoor restaurant setting. Our tour companions numbered 6 in the morning increasing to 10 for the afternoon tastings filling the 10 seater mini bus. Like minded group enjoying the tastings and discussions on the various wines. Highly recommended.

Gateway to the stunning Marlborough Sound area and point of entry for anyone taking the regular ferry from Wellington on the North Island. Relaxed holiday feel here with plenty of good eating outlets and typical motel style of accommodation.

The ferry is used by Hikers keen to walk the Queen Charlotte Track and enables portions of the track to be covered in just one day for anyone not wishing to walk the complete 4 day Trek.

Bay of many Coves was the resort I visited, located approx. 40 minutes from Picton Marina, and in my opinion very worthy of its small luxury hotels affiliation. Comfortable one, two or 3 bedroom units immaculately furnished in tones in keeping with the environment and all offering stunning views across the Marlborough Sounds.

The resort does not have a no child policy but my general feeling I would not recommend this to those clients travelling with children as the pier access and no beach would be too limiting. The resort has a small restaurant on the pier for day visitors and a private dining room again with stunning views for hotel guests only. I enjoyed a delicious lunch here with a marvellous wine list and boutique New Zealand beers offered to compliment the menu.

A 3 night stay here would be perfect for the more active client, enabling a combination of day walks on the Queen Charlotte Track and high quality accommodation, and cuisine to relax in at night Complimentary kayaks included too as an alternative active sightseeing option while staying at the resort.