For the past several years, a dining room table has been living in a storage facility in Lower Hutt, waiting for Pete’s triumphant return to New Zealand.
Now that we’re here, we were faced with a bit of a conundrum when it came to getting the table from Wellington to Christchurch. Not wanting to spend a fortune shipping it, we also knew this table was too big to fit in our car.
After some thinking, we decided to fly up on Friday and drive it down in Pete’s mum’s Hilux. This Hilux has been around for years and has proven itself a solid workhorse many times over.
Fortunately for us, Pete’s brother and his partner will be coming to the South Island for the Ed Sheeran concert (along with half of New Zealand) and have offered to drive the car back to Wellington. It’s a win-win; they get a car to road trip around in and we only had to buy a one-way ticket on the Ferry.
On Friday we flew up to Wellington for Operation Table Retrieval.
Due to several delays, we didn’t arrive until almost 9:00pm. After a short stop at Pete’s mum’s house for dinner and a quick catch-up, we drove over to our friend’s house and promptly passed out.
The next morning, Pete went down to the storage unit to collect the table. He somehow also managed to leave with two chairs, two footstools, a tiny ornamental Christmas tree and a few other miscellaneous items. It appears going to the family storage unit is much like a trip to target, it’s almost impossible to leave with just the one item you came for.
With the table acquired, we met up with the family for brunch at a local cafe. Five words: All You Can Eat Pancakes. It was magical – even if meeting Pete’s half-brother for the first time with a mouthful of sweet, fluffy pancakes may not have been the best first impression.
At this point we had been in Wellington for about 12 hours…so naturally, it was time to get the heck out of dodge.
We drove to the bluebridge Ferry Terminal and checked in for the afternoon ferry from Wellington to Picton. Checking in an hour before boarding left us plenty of time to wander around the dock.
This was our first time taking the bluebridge ferry and I’m not convinced it’s superior to the Interislander. As Pete put it, the Interislander feels like a cruise ship and the bluebridge feels like a school bus. Fortunately, sailing through the Cook Strait is always stunning and this trip was made only more so by the misty conditions.
We docked at Picton around 5:00pm and drove to Blenheim, which is in the heart of Marlborough wine country, to meet Pete’s relative, Alistair, for dinner at an Italian spot called Rocco’s. Alistair works in the wine industry so, after dinner, he very nicely invited us back to his house for a bit of a wine tasting. It was the perfect way to end a very busy day.
On Sunday, we woke up early and were keen to locate some caffeine. Since Blenheim is near the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, we headed that way for a cuppa and to watch planes flying in and out of the Blenheim airport. Their coffee was decent (and came with a jet plane lolly!) but the food there was a bust so we went and got breakfast at BV Gourmet. It was top notch and if you find yourself nearby, definitely check it out and leave time to peruse their gourmet grocery selections.
The weather had cleared up on Sunday and State Highway 1 was open for our drive to Christchurch. Highlights include an RV that thought the sign for 30 km/h actually meant 4 km/h and overtaking classic cars all the way down through Kaikoura.
Even with the earthquake damage, the coastal road is stunning.
We rolled back into Christchurch at 4:00pm, not even gone a full 48 hours.
Totally worth it.