Day 13: Martinborough - Upper Hutt
8 January 2010
1910km - map

Lots of driving to do today so we got on the road straight away and headed south to Wellington stopping in Napier briefly to find a book shop so Sarah could buy the next book in the series she is reading. Some 300km down the road we diverted off the main road to see a couple of sites, first the Aotearoa Stonehenge - a modern version of the Stonhenge in the UK built just a few years ago out of concrete (and pebble-dashed too). Located on a very exposed hilltop and run by a (slightly odd) couple it mimicks the the real Stonehenge ny having various stones line up with certain stars at certain times of the year and is frequented by the local druids and the like. It seemed more than just a little bit fake, but it was only $5 to walk around and the views from the hilltop were quite impressive.

Next we moved on to the Martinborough area just down the road where there are lots of small vinyards to sample wine at. Sarah did a couple of tastings (even buying a couple of bottles of a wine called 'Sarah') and we shared a rather nice antipasta platter for a late lunch at another vinyard.

On the way out of Martinborough we took a wrong turning and did a rather large loop of the area before ending up back at the Stonehenge by which time we knew the roads quite well. Feeling we had probably 'done' this area by now we got back on the state highway. We planned to camp at a site high in the mountains about 50km outside Wellington but this had been taken over by the roadworks gang working in the area so we continued down the other side of the mountains towards Wellington. We eventually found a rest area by the Hutt river (which took some finding as the site was not where our map showed it to be) about 30km outside Wellington.

We barbequed some nice fillet steak for dinner and ate it on the picnic table at the rest area - all rather civilised - and tried the onboard shower for the first time! A power shower it certainly wasn't, but it was hot (surprisingly) and wet and did the job nicely. Tomorrow marks the end of our first week here in New Zealand and our last day in the north island. We're booked on the 2:30pm ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton which takes about 3 hours. Although we're camping next to one of the more busy roads in New Zealand it's still quiet at night and we have a good night's sleep.

Stonehenge Aotearoa
Dinner at a vinyard
Martinborough vinyards
Rest area at Upper Hutt