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In the North Island of New Zealand we stopped for a few nights in Blenheim in the heart of New Zealand’s wine country. We were there to attend the Marlborough Wine Festival, but enjoyed so much more!
Omaka Aviation Heritage Center
With an extra day in Blenheim, we had two goals: I was craving a proper kiwi pie, and we’d heard about the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center (OAHC). We stopped at The Burleigh, where we shared a steak and blue cheese pie and a pork belly pie (both were AWESOME). The OAHC was pretty amazing too. It’s broken up into two sections, one for WWI and one for WWII. Many of the planes are owned by Peter Jackson, and the sets are done by the Weta Workshop (the special effects studio responsible for Te Papa and the Tolkien movies). The mannequins in the exhibits were extremely lifelike. In the Te Papa Gillipoli exhibit, the mannequins were giant-sized, but here they were life-sized and just as life-like.
We both learned a lot about aviation during both the wars. I particularly liked learning about the Night Witches of WWII. David liked hearing about New Zealander James Hayter, a pilot in the RAF who was shot down over England only to parachute into the middle of a garden party. We both appreciated this video illustrating the number of deaths in WWII (it is a staggering tally for the Soviet Union).
Marlborough Food & Wine Festival
The real attraction for us was the Marlborough Food & Wine Festival. This was a great way for us to experience several different wineries all at once. There were 43 wineries in attendance and we tasted 12 wines:
- Peter Yealands Sparkling Blush Pinot Gris
- Villa Maria Riesling
- Giesen Gewurztraminer
- Saint Clair Riesling
- The Darling Moscato Inspired Sauvignon Blanc
- Astrolabe Late Harvest Chenin Blanc
- Riverby Estate Sali’s Riesling
- Eliza Riesling by Riverby Estate
- Riverby Estate Gewurztraminer
- Wairau River Summer Riesling
- Framingham Select Riesling
- Spy Valley Gewurztraminer
My favorite ended up being The Darling Moscato Inspired Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed the live music and David had a lamb burger, I tried a whitebait fritter (eh…), and we shared some Indian food. Oh, and don’t forget the ice creams!
We left our Airbnb and went into downtown Blenheim on our way to catch the ferry back up to the North Island. It’s a small town, but it is very walkable and there is a path along the Opawa River.
Where to Stay in Blenheim
Our Airbnb in Blenheim was amazing! The house was originally built in 1908, but the host has been updating the inside. Once again, we found ourselves surrounded by quiet beauty and farm animals!