Sampling Middle Earth Beer

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26/01/08
Hey Gang! Well, this post has no accompanying map to go with it. Let me just get that out of the way right now. My apologies, I just decided that I didn’t need to drag around my GPS all day today. At one point, I thought that it might have been a good idea, but by then it was too late. So there you have it. Either way, I had a pretty good day today, even though I didn’t stray too far from Nelson itself. That’s okay though, as there is plenty to see in the immediate region anyway! I took a bunch of pictures, but they may not be up at the same time as this post, so you might have to wait. Sorry. Hee hee. Anyway, read on for a little story about my day here in sunny Nelson.

Today was a complete lazy day. In fact, it’s not even over being a lazy day. I may very well go watch a movie tonight, since there’s not much else to do, unless I go out to a bar again, and frankly, I don’t think that’s a great idea at this point in my day. Main reason is that I’ve been out sampling beer and wine most of the day as it is, and I have to get up pretty damn early to catch my 7am bus out to Abel Tasman park. Nelson is a pretty tough town, let me tell you. There’s a lot to do, and it seems that I’d like to do it all. I could probably spend an extra 4 days here, but I’m not. Which means I need to squeeze everything into the short time I have here.

So just what did I do today? Well, I started out by gettnig up and heading to the local market, which is known pretty much all throughout the Southern Island apparently. This is a market much like the one we’re used to in Fredericton. They have food, clothes, crafts, etc. etc. Yup, there’s even a guy who makes models out of empty beer cans, just like we know in Freddy Beach. While there, I had some tasty Bratwurst, Crepes, and wandered around for over an hour.

After the market stop, I took the hike to the Centre of NZ. This hike was longer than I had planned, and took me to the top of a mountain in the area. From here, there was an excellent vantage point of all of Nelson, and the nearby surrounding areas. I could have spent an hour there, but I had to get back to the hostel in time for my shuttle pick-up for the wine tour. There were eight of us scheduled to be on this tour, and it was destined to be a great one. Luckily, this was slated to be a groovy tour, which meant that instead of visiting 5 vineyards, we’d visit 4 vineyards, as well as a brewery!

Once on the tour van, everyone on the tour got to know each other pretty quickly, as there were only 8 of us. Our driver was an energetic lady that was quick to point out everything that she could, as well as make us all feel comfortable. Later, I found out there was another bus, but it was larger and had many more people. Although we linked up with them at the end for the brewery, I preferred being in our little group. We felt like a happy little family, if only for the afternoon. The wineries that we visited were each a little different from the other. Our first stop was a small winery, as well as being the site of the only organic vineyard on the South Island. Each stop we got to try 5-6 wines, so by the last stop, we were all getting along splendidly 🙂 The last stop was the smallest vineyard, which is just a small family affair. They not only grow grapes, but olives and various fruits, so we got to try out some olive oils and chutneys while we were there as well. It was quite nice.

The final stop of the tour was the Harrington Brewery. Here, we got to sample beer after beer for about an hour. It was a little crazy in there, as we combined with the bigger tour. I set myself up behind the counter with the drivers / servers, so my glass was always full, and I got to choose some of the beers. I’ve got to say, I’m really starting to enjoy stouts and porters on this trip. As a memento, I got a 1.2L bottle filled with a stout for only 6NZD! Of course, I really had no need for it, and it’s still sitting in the fridge here at the hostel. Oh, and did I mention the claim to fame for this place? They were given a lucrative contract to brew beer for Lord of the Rings. As such, they are the Middle Earth Brewery too. They brewed a 1% beer for the filming, as they didn’t want drunk hobbits wreaking havoc on the set. Anyway, in all the Prancing Pony scenes, the beer they were drinking was from my little brewery. Cool, eh?

I should probably mention the best part about this wine tour is the fact that we didn’t actually have to tour the winery. We just showed up and were given tastings. This is a big change from the Argentina Wine Tour Jody and I took, where each place wanted to actually make us tour the facility. In that case, we canceled half the tour and just bought bottles of wine. However, this time, it was all about the wine, not the process, so there were no disappointed campers!

Well, to close off my day last night, I ended up going to see a movie. If you get a chance to check out “Death at a Funeral”. I recommend you do so. It’s a brit movie, so I’m not sure if it’s playing in Canada or not, but it was pretty damn hilarious. I was really glad I chose to do that rather than join one of my room-mates at a pub. It allowed me to be back at the hostel and in bed by 11pm, to get some sleep before Abel Tasman. For more on that trip, read my next post! Cheers.

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