26 November 2016
Normally on my birthday I usually spend a long weekend going to the South island doing some landscape photography as previously witnesed on this very website. i had already planned to go to Hokitika and do the Westcoast with Sally. Flights had been booked, rental car arranged and accomodation organised. However my dad died unexpectedly and we had to go to Blenheim instead for his funeral. This year is definitely one for the books. It represents for the Bing family (my siblings) the end of an era with dads passing and the sale of our motels. Bings Motel has been on the travellers list for 50 years in Blenheim and its surprising how many kiwis throughout New Zealand had stayed there. And of couse there was Brexit, Trump, Wellington earthquakes, floods- what a year!
Anyway I still had an airticket to visit dad booked early October. So I arranged to meet my brother there to tidy up a few remaining things at the motels and also spend a couple of days doing photography as i was suffering from Landscape Photography withdrawal symtoms. Common symptoms include an itchy shutter finger, squinting one eye and a weeping camera trying to get out of the camera bag. So i booked a car to go to Mapua one night (Friday night) and spend the next 2 days in Blenheim. As there was nothing to do on the Sunday I took a day trip to the Nelson Lakes and flew to Wellington on the Monday.
What a great place . its always been my favourite spot of all NZ. Memories of the tranquil estuary, smoked fish have always been with me but I have never seriouslly photographed that place. I did a music video previous to my digital camera days but I hadn’t returned for many years.
After flying into Blenheim on Friday morning i picked up the hire car (Mazda demio) and drove to Mapua. I stayed outside Mapua at this wonder B&B called Cats Pyjammas which was rated 4 stars but my travel experience was definitely 5 stars (see my Tripadvisor review). I don’t normally do surveys or reviews but who could refuse the wishes of an attractive Scandanavian lady…. (oh Chris you never change). I photographed the late afternoon till sunset at Mapua. Bought my smoked fish and fish and chips at the local takeaway in the Village. I ate the meal and sampled the wonderful wine at the Rimu Grove wine bar. Normally I’m not a fan of Nelson wines (parochial Marborough Man) but I was amazed at the quality of the Rimu Grove wine and even bought 6 bottles of Pinot Noir. I’m not even a fan of Pinots! I met some very nice people along the waterside and I had great converstions with Rimu Grove wine maker, Patrick Stowe. I even got to sample some of the other wine they produce and the chadonnay was also excellent-I’m not even a chardonnay drinker as well and I am a life member of the ABC club. For you non winnos out there that means “Anything But Chadonnay”.
But to change the subject slightly you are reading from the blog of one of the greatest contradictions, or even hypocrites (I think that is too strong a word) of all time! I don’t drink Sauvignon Blanc (I get tired of all the cats pee and gooseberry) but when I go to Blenheim I buy the most expensive white wine in my cellar. Its a Sauvignon blanc! Brancott Estate Chosen Rows. I don’t drink chandonnay much but my cellar is full of quality Chadonnay- and none of it is that oakey buttery crap. With Pinoir a lot of the time they are overpriced compared to other varietals. You pay good money for a decent pinot – over $50nz. Where as you can often get a very good Syrah that exceeds it price range. I told Patrick that this is the first time i had a pinot that exceeded its price point in quality and taste-the “Bronte”. Thats why I bought 6 bottles. I took 2 bottles to Hong kong recently for my sister in law Winnie who is a wine expert and retailer. She confirmed my tastebuds or judment weren’t 100% stuffed. Although she has reservations on my lack of appreciation of sparkling wines especially expensive Champagnes. This inconsistency extends to all my loves in life. I like fast cars and buy a Skoda. I appreciate great movies but enjoy watching a lot of crap B grade or worse and, with repeated viewings! Even some Tom cruise movies…. I have a beautiful wife and look at me. Must be my charishma. I have Nikon cameras but rave and recommend Fuji to everyone. Whew, the bugger finally gets back to photography. This is not a wine blogg you might say.
Back to Mapua- sorry the wine got to my head. The next morning I got up before breakfast to capture the sunrise. Unfortunately it was cloudy but I still got some lovely shots. Hopefully from these photos you can experience the reason I love to visit Mapua.
On Sunday I drove to Lake Rotoiti. On the way I managed to go to the Tophouse for the first time and had a lovely lunch there and great converstions with the owner (who knew my sister) At the lake I forgot about one thing…….. the sandflies!!!!. Soon as you are out of the car, bang you get bitten. Go back into the car and its full of sandlflies. I was itchy for a week. The weather all day was intermittent rain. There wasn’t much to photograph at Lake Rotoiti so I drove on to Lake Rotorua which is a lot more isolated. I forgot how long a drive it was as well. Anyway the lighting wasn’t much so I stayed in the car a slept for an hour. You can do that mucking around stuff when travelling alone. Then the rainbows came out. No pot of gold though, only flying ducks.