For the first couple of hours, the road took us through rolling green hills with countless sheep grazing in the foreground and impossibly beautiful, snowcapped mountains in the distance. When we reached the coast, we pulled over to take a look.
There were seals everywhere, and there were only two other humans on the beach: a couple of friendly young women from Christchurch. The New Zealanders we've encountered so far have been unfailingly warm and welcoming to travelers, and are eager to learn more about our itinerary and offer advice. After chatting for a few minutes, they resumed their drive, and we got closer to the placid, puppy-like seals.
We got back in the car and resumed our trip north, but we were on the lookout for a trail that we'd read about in Oregon writer Scott Cook's book "NZ Frenzy." About a half hour later, we found it. A short, five minute walk up the hill beside the highway took us to the base of a waterfall, where a dozen young seals played in a perfect, picturesque pool.
We arrived in Blenheim, in Marlborough wine country, a little after three o'clock. We're staying at a B&B on a farm, in a converted dairy barn with chickens clucking outside our door. There are recently-laid eggs on our counter, along with slices of homemade bread, fresh butter, and the innkeeper's homemade quince jam and grapefruit-lemon marmalade.
We like it here.