Where We Be
Hopewell Backpackers, New Zealand
At the end of a long and winding road in Marlborough
Sound is Hopewell Backpackers, the #1 rated back-
packers in New Zealand. This place is a little slice of
paradise. It sits on a blue “lake” that is actually an arm
of Marlborough Sound, with the high and low tides to
prove it. The grounds are lovely, full of flower gardens,
pebbled walkways, and green lawns down to the water.

On our first day, the staff took us by boat to visit a
working mussel farm. That evening we were treated to
huge piles of delicious green-lipped mussels "on the
house" for dinner, with three different sauces -- soy,
garlic butter, and creamy curry -- for dipping. Later on,
guests gathered around the big dining room table and
played a fun card game called Schwimmen, which we
dubbed “Spoons" after playing a few rounds because
we used spoons as markers. What a fun evening! Our
favorite activity of the second day was lying in the
hammocks near the water and rocking gently for an
hour or so as the sunlight filtered through the leaves.
Lovely Hopewell Backpackers. What a place!
I could get used to this!
A little slice of paradise at Hopewell Backpackers
Blenheim, New Zealand
Our two days in Blenheim were pamper-fests
of delicious wines and foods. Blenheim is in
the heart of Marlborough wine country,
which is internationally famous for its white
Sauvignon Blanc wines. We toured four
wineries on the first day and five on the
second, with gourmet meals at midday. At
one winery, we watched as bushels of
just-picked Pinot Noir grapes were loaded
into a vine extractor. Being there at harvest
time, with grapes full on the vine, made the
visit extra-special.
Hopewell Backpackers is remote but that's part of its charm
When will Robin start having fun on this trip???
Our cozy little cottage at Hopewell
In the evening we played "Spoonen," a hilarious card game with spoons as the prize
We got to visit a working mussel farm and take in a large haul of green-lipped mussels
As soon as we finished one pile of steamed mussels, another would appear
We had a gourmet lunch at Wirau River Winery's outdoor patio
Robin was ready for a bit of pampering, and so was I
Sun-drenched wine country near Blenheim
Awaiting our gourmet Italian pizza
We'll spend a longer time here next time we come to New Zealand!
Two mussel-loving cats joined in on the action
Pinot Noir grapes ready for harvesting
Decadent double-baked bleu cheese souffle and a bowl of mussel chowder