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Most of the group retired early to catch up on lost sleep but I processed some photos until almost 11:30 pm and still managed more than 7 hours in bed before beating the alarm that Majella had allowed me to set for 7:30 am. Breakfast was simple, muesli and yoghurt with coffee in the unit, and all were ready for our scheduled departure at 9:00 am.

We headed north, bound for Picton. There was a quick stop for Majella to photograph Johns Road for her J day as we left Christchurch. That done we drove on. It wasn’t long before the more coffee addicted among us were scanning for likely stops. Wineries that offered coffee looked good but had opening hour posted as 11:00 am, more than an hour off. Other roadside venues did not meet the high standards of our connoisseurs so we passed by until somebody spotted the Mainline Station Cafe at Domett.

The cafe is a family business in a disused railway station building that lends it the name. It is surrounded by well kept gardens and serves excellent coffee so that it had rave reviews from our travelling cafe enthusiasts. The lunch menu was interesting enough that we might have ordered if it had been later in the day. It wasn’t so we pressed on toward Kaikoura.

To that point the road had been mostly reasonably flat and straight. The last stretch to Kaikoura was flat but wound along the water at the foot of mountains that fell straight down to the sea.

On the way into Kaikoura we drove up to the lookout that offered a 360 panorama. Despite being almost blown off by a strong, and cool, breeze we took photographs in all directions, up and down the coast and toward the cloud obscured mountains to the west. Jim took the opportunity to develop his video capture technique on his iPad.

Down the hill and past Kaikoura town took us out to the point where we parked to see the seals that bask on the rocks there. The more enthusiastic among us walked up the path to the top of the headland for spectacular, but windswept views, of the coastline.

On the way out from town we had spotted a couple of trailers serving food by the roadside. On the way back toward town we stopped there to buy lunch. The menu was seafood and most of us had some variation on crayfish (lobster) fritters or chowder. We ate at tables with a view across the bay. That spot was acceptable for eating outside because it was in the lee of a tall hill.

We bought fuel on the way out of Kaikoura and then headed north along the coast toward Blenheim and Picton. Blenheim was a scheduled stop for wine tasting but it was almost 4:00 pm when we reached there after driving past vineyards but no wineries inviting our visit, we stopped at the tourist information centre where Majella discovered that many wineries are closed on Monday and/or close by 4:00 pm. St Clair was suggested as one of the very few that would be open so we headed there. Although they had coffee facilities, several of our group were very disappointed to find the machine had just been cleaned and was off for the day. We tasted Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot noir, purchased a bottle of Pinot Gris, checked out the gift shop and then headed to the boutique chocolate maker across the road. Their samples were very agreeable so there was another purchase before we hit the road for Picton.

We found our Picton accommodation easily, dropped our bags, picked up some essentials from the supermarket across the street and walked down to the waterfront to see what there was to be seen. We strolled around there for a bit and then crossed the marina over a footbridge and walked a little way out along the path to Bob’s Bay before heading back to our lodgings for a BBQ dinner. That went down well with some drinks and lots of laughter and conversation. More photos will follow on Flickr.