Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bay of Many Coves

After months and months of searching, Dave and I finally landed the perfect job in New Zealand! We started work at the Bay of Many Coves Resort at the end of November and will be staying here until about mid-March.  Our working holiday, is now officially a working holiday!

By perfect job, I mean, we are getting paid, it is surrounded by nature, and we are getting free accommodation and wifi.  Dave and I have our own room and share the living room and kitchen with the other staff.  We are responsible for feeding ourselves, so we can either go into town and get groceries ourselves, or order them and they will arrive the next day by boat.

My original plan was to substitute teach in New Zealand, but somehow the idea of finding an apartment, paying rent and planning lessons wasn't too appealing. Dave's original plan didn't quite work out either. 

My job is in housekeeping and I will be doing some cafe and food and beverage work.  Dave's job is porter/maintenance work. We were also told he would be taking guests out on the little motor boat if there were dolphins or whales in the cove that they wanted to go see. Sweet as, brew!
I was a little apprehensive at first about the isolation we would be facing, but so far it's been great. Work is quite hard because there are no elevators and this place is built up on the side of a hill.  This means I get to cart things up and down said hills during my entire shift.  Whenever it's been warm enough, I have been going swimming after work.  The ocean is cold, but also refereshing when you've been running around in 25 degree weather!  There is also a surprising amount of marine life...we've seen dolphins, stingrays, starfish, and sea urchins.

We've also had the chance to go kayaking and stand up paddleboarding around the bay.  There are so many birds here to see while kayaking!  Yesterday, Dave and I hiked to the lookout point, which is about 45 minutes away if you're a slow hiker like me! You can see some of the mountain ranges on the South Island and the town of Picton is not too far away. Definitely a great place to be.

As part of the food and beverage team, I was also part of the vintner's training. We got to sample about 20 different wines and learn about their tasting notes and a little bit about how they are made.  I was pretty lost, but I definitely enjoyed all the samples! Afterwards, the rest of the staff were invited to socialize and finish off the many bottles of wine that we had opened..and that we did!

The next day, most of the staff went into town and went on a wine tour courtesy of Bay of Many Coves. We toured the vineyards around a large town called Blenheim, but more so known on the world stage as the Marlborough region. This is where New Zealand's famous sauvignon blanc comes from.

The lovely people I will be working with for the next few months!

Our tour included the Lawsons Dry Hills, Seresin, Villa Maria Estate and Giessens wineries. The nic people at Villa Maria were kind enough to give us a behind the scenes tour of the winery.   The amount of wine they make every year is astounding.  They had a whole warehouse of steel tanks that could hold 75 000 liters of wine in each.  Vincent, our tour guide and part Canadian, told us they also lose about 8000 liters of wine a year from evaporation... wine for the angels.  There was also a huge earthquake in the region a few months ago which broke all the bolts that held the steel tanks into place.

For safety reasons, we had to wear hard hats and vests on our behind the scenes tour.
In the barrel room. French oak only in here!

Outside the Villa Maria tasting room

Sarah our driver and tour guide was also nice enough to take us on a few detours to a fudge shop, a boutique chocolate factory and a cherry orchard. Definitely enjoyed the food pit stops, maybe more than I enjoyed the wine!

One of the wineries we visited also made olive oils. Delicious!

Chocolate factory.

At the fudge shop, I got ice cream!

It's been a great experience so far. The other people who live and work here have been so friendly and welcoming.  It's like we are one happy little family here.  It's a nice mix of kiwis and other people from around the world. There is definitely no shortage of accents here!  For Christmas, we are planning on doing a huge potluck and doing a Secret Santa exchange.  I was telling Stacey, who is from Britain, that it's weird for me to be 'wearing a Santa hat and a tank top at the same time' and she looked at me like I was speaking another language.  She did not understand what I mean by 'Santa' and 'tank top'. It was hilarious. =)

Hopefully I will have a bit more time to blog about our time on the South Island over the next few weeks.  It's way more scenic down here than it is on the North Island. If not, Merry Christmas everyone. =)