BEYOND THE SOUND
While the mail boat day-trip through the Sound should be on your bucket list, to see other attractions in the region you should plan for a long-weekend visit. There’s a rich diversity of land-based activities to explore.
Highly-recommended is hiring bikes for a wine-tasting tour through the region’s more than 20 vineyards, all within a 10km radius of Renwick, near Havelock. You can’t get to all of them in a day (there’s only so much wine you can taste – and pushing the bike home is never a good look), so select a handful that appeal. The landscape’s flat and the riding’s easy. Most vineyards have restaurants for a well-earned lunch stop. We used Wine Tours by Bike – based in Renwick (www.winetoursbybike.co.nz) run by Steven and Jo Hill – an excellent operation.
For vintage aircraft buffs, Blenheim’s Aviation Heritage Centre (www.omaka.org.nz) is a must-see. The facility’s divided into two sections – WWI and Wwll. The former presents a remarkable collection of replica biplanes and triplanes – all presented in exquisite, realistic detail – and it includes the crashed Fokker triplane belonging to the infamous Red Baron Manfred von Richthofen. In the Wwll section you’ll find an immaculately-restored Hawker Hurricane, JU-87 Stuka, a Mark 14 Spitfire and many others.