Wanting to make the most of our time here in NZ, we decided to venture out and explore a bit of the North Island on our first weekend with the car. We decided on Martinborough, a town a little over an hour northeast of Wellington that’s known for its wineries. We slept in a (wee) bit on Saturday morning, packed a bag in case we decided to stay and set out for the vineyards. The plan was to rent bikes and do some wine tastings.

The drive. While scenic, it is not for the faint of heart. It’s reminiscent of some spots along California’s Pacific Coast Highway…except that in this case, my husband had been driving on the opposite side of the road for all of a week and still has a tendency to “creep” to the left (did I mention that the only thing separating us from the edge of the mountain is a guardrail?). I’d like to say that I kept my backseat driving to a minimum, though I have a feeling Dmitriy may disagree.

There are different pull-offs with some pretty spectacular views, so we made quite a few pit stops along the way.

We stopped at the Te Marua Lake Lookout, which offers a breathtaking view of the Stuart Macaskill Lakes, as well as the Rimutaka Hill Summit. We even popped over to Rivendell. Neither of us are huge LOTR fans…but it was worth the slight detour just to check it out. We even spotted some furry friends along the way! (Sadly, no hobbits…)

By the time we made it to Martinborough it was a bit too late for our original plan, so instead we grabbed a quick bite, bought a couple bottles to take home and made our way back to Welly just in time to watch the All Blacks.

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