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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Zealand: Blenheim

We got back yesterday from a very brief three day visit to New Zealand. We were there for a special occasion - to attend Alastair's father, Malcolm's, 60th birthday party.

We flew Jetstar (a budget airline) so there's no plane food to show you, but I do have some random bits from our trip. The flights were okay, but the plane felt very, very cramped. Fortunately it was only a few hours across the ditch and I had freecell and ABC vodcasts to entertain me.

We flew to Christchurch on Saturday morning and had breakfast at Melbourne airport. Once you pass customs, the food options are very limited. It was rather disappointing.

Melbourne airport breakfast

I had a bacon, egg and cheese foccacia ($6.50). Not a very healthy breakfast but it tasted okay and was reasonably priced (for airport food, that is).

Melbourne airport breakfast

Alastair had a chicken pie ($6.50). A pie for breakfast!

Once we reached Christchurch, we picked up a rental car and headed to Blenheim. On the journey there, we stopped in Kaikoura for a late lunch/early dinner.

It was 5.30pm when we reached Kaikoura - and the town was dead. Admittedly, it was wet and cold, so perhaps it was quieter than it would normally be. We decided to eat at a pub called The Whaler, as it was the first one we came across. There was no one in there apart from us and the staff! I imagine that it would be much busier in the warmer months. It was quite a nice place – all dark wood and a blazing fireplace in the middle of the room.

The Whaler

Alastair had the lamb shanks which were braised and served with a sweet pea potato mash with caramelised onion, green beans and jus ($27). It was a whopper of a meal, with two large shanks that had been cooked until the flesh was falling off the bone.

The Whaler

I choose a smaller meal and had the baked catch of the day served on an onion potato cake with a blue cheese and avocado sauce ($15). I don't know what the fish was (and I didn't ask) but I wasn't that taken with it - it had a very firm, heavy flesh, which wasn't overcooked or dried out but still really solid. It had a strong fishy flavour. Now I wish that I had asked what it was so I can steer clear of it in the future! Anyway, the avocado and blue cheese sauce was good, creamy and with only a hint of blue cheese flavour. The pink stripey thing in the salad had me stumped, but the little salad was good with a sweetish, tangy dressing. (Oh! Google tells me that the pink stripey thing is a Chioggia beet. Gosh I love the internets.)

The Whaler
49-51 West End, Kaikoura 7300, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 319 3333


The next day was Malcolm's birthday lunch at a winery (post to come), so Alastair and I only had a small breakfast. We opted for a savoury muffin, which was full of bacon, capsicum, cheese and corn. Mhmm tasty. It was pretty good, but would've been even better if it had been warm. The red sauce on top was a tangy chutney.


The coffees came with a little biscuit mushroom. Cute!

71 High St, Blenheim, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 578 3828


We left Blenheim the next day, getting up early as we had to drive back to Christchurch. When we got into the car at 7ish, the temperature was -2°C. Brrrr! We went into town and had breakfast at the first open cafe we came across.


Alastair had the open omelette with tomato, rocket and mozzarella ($15).


I had the scrambled eggs with a corn fritter and bavarian sausage ($16). The eggs were fairly light and not overcooked.


The coffee was really very good - the initial taste was quite sour, but it had a aftertaste that was smooth and very pleasant. I had two....

Raupo Riverside Café
2 Symons St, Blenheim, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 577 8822

After breakfast we headed back to Christchurch. The road out of Blenheim was quite twisty, and as we drove back on the inside of the mountain I felt the effect of the windiness more than the drive in. The winding road, along with the coffees, and a full stomach from breakfast meant that soon I was feeling a lot less than average. After fighting it for a while, eventually I asked Alastair to pull over - and let's just say that breakfast tasted a lot worse coming up than it had going down!


It was a shame I was feeling so car sick because the drive back to Christchurch was beautiful, with snow capped mountains and ocean views along the way. We stopped in Kaikoura briefly on the way back to Christchurch. Not a great pic - I blame the car sickness. I was obviously feeling better though because I wanted to take a photo!

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