Picton (Nov 25, 2018)

Our 241 nautical mile overnight journey brought us to the small town of Picton on the far north end of South Island. Its 27 inches of rain and 2,500 hours of sun make this, the Marlborough region, New Zealand’s premier wine region. It is home to the Edwin Fox, the ninth oldest ship in the world and the only surviving ship that transported convicts from Britain to Australia.

Our adventure today was riding on a heritage train to and from Blenheim, a town of 32,000 about 20 miles from Picton. Our charming car, a wooden carriage built in 1909, had been carefully restored before being put back in service. We were pulled by a restored steam locomotive, the Marlborough Flyer, that dates to 1915. She’s a memorial locomotive which was given the memorial name of Passchendaele in memory of the 447 New Zealand railwaymen who died during WWI. She is also famous for having hauled the royal train of the future King Edward VIII and later that of the future King George VI.

Our trip took us through dense vegetation, past small sheep farms, and through a wetlands that is slowly being brought back to its former glory as all the willows the English planted (to dry it up) years ago are being systematically poisoned. The locals are excited because the birds and other wildlife have already stared to return. While we were enjoying the scenery Hettie surprised us by spontaneously reciting a train poem. Amazing! We arrived at the charmingly restored 1909 train station in Blenheim and were turned loose to shop, grab a bite, and stroll around before heading back.

Blenheim hosts the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow every other Easter. It sounds like a whole lot of fun for aviation buffs as well as WWI and WWII enthusiasts with it’s vintage aircraft, mock land and air battles, vintage uniforms and who knows what else. Preparations are underway now for the 2019 show. Another cool thing next year is the combined commemoration of the arrival of the Maori and later Captain Cook. Three double hulled canoes, a Tahitian canoe, a replica of Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour, another tall ship, and two modern navy vessels will make their way into the harbor. Sounds like a grand spectacle! Sadly this event is late in the year, so you might have to plan two trips to New Zealand next year.

Tonight’s Conversation cards: Mustafa, our waiter, came prepared with his own question tonight: What was your first car? He lead with his answer and delighted in telling us about the used car he bought from an American in his home country of Turkey. Other topics: Have you ever had an experience that led you to believe in angels or ghosts? What’s your favorite song to play in the car? If you lived to be one hundred years old, would you rather have a sharp mind or a fit body?


The logo for the Royal New Zealand Air Force is a kiwi.

The giants of the snail world, the carnivorous Powelliphanta snails,
are only found in New Zealand.

In 2006, the Queen, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister,
the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice were all women making New Zealand the only country in the world where all the highest government positions have been simultaneously held by women.
Can I get an Amen?

There are no nuclear power stations in New Zealand.

All television advertising is banned on Good Friday, Easter Sunday,
ANZAC Day, and Christmas.


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