245 Days on the Road
Man, are we glad to be Blenheim at day 245 of this 365 Days: 365 Activities! After 245 days of budgeting on the food and alcohol (well, mostly), eating a rotation of pasta, burritos, bland curries (we can’t get that right for some reason) and more pasta, being in this “foodie” region couldn’t have come at a more desperate time. That’s why we’re ecstatic to say that today’s feature is a cafe/bar/restaurant. That counts as an activity, right?
Variety is the spice of life
When we have talked to various locals around Blenheim, their eyes have lit up at the mention of Dodson Street, whether it’s the mention of their craft beers, their Italian pizzas, their Kiwi fish n’ chips or their German schnitzels?! Since our criteria is, “Is it affordable for backpackers?” which after a quick look at their menu online we’d definitely say yes, we are on it!
A bar in the bushes
The sun is really crankin’ as we walk towards Dodson Street. Blenheim has this whole micro-climate in the South Island making it super warm compared to the rest of the South Island. When we spot the place, indicated by striking red signs, nestled among trees and bushes, we’re pretty thankful at the thought of a bit of shelter!
The characterful Dodson Street Heritage building
An entrance of old-styled red brick arches and walls decorated with beer kegs made into flower baskets leads into a room with high wooden ceilings held together by wooden beams. Old relics of the early beer-making days cling to the walls and rooms are separated by red-brick arched doorways: there’s so much going on that we are totally distracted by the fact that this place serves food. Remember the food, Robin and Laura?!
Dietmar, the owner of Dodson Street, welcomes us at the bar. Because it is 11am on a Monday morning, we couldn’t have picked a quieter time to arrive at the restaurant so Dietmar takes the time to show us around the heritage building – the oldest commercial building in Blenheim. The building has housed an ice cream factory, a malt house, and two wineries, but now Dietmar seems keen to keep the building as a cafe/restaurant for the long-run, as he has been doing for the last five years.
A familiar backpacker story
As we get talking to the German entrepreneur, he tells us a pretty familiar story of backpacking several countries to find what he loves to do, then decided to open his own restaurant right here in Blenheim with his wife. The result has been a totally unique eatery in Blenheim (or perhaps even New Zealand!) We can’t wait to get trying some beers and food!
Sunshine lunch in New Zealand’s biggest “Biergarten”
Beer tasting and “bretzel”
We order a beer tasting tray, choosing five beers out of more than a hundred different beers on offer. (Dietmar proudly says that he has the widest beer selection in New Zealand). Armed with a porter, sour beer, Czech pilsner, berry cider and German wheat beer tasting tray, as well as a warm Bavarian bretzel with some flavoured butters, we head out into the beer garden to get a little bit of that sunshine.
Game on in the Biergarten!
From a patio area and a huge grassy lawn to get your feet in the grass to the prime “sun spot” that gets the longest amount of sun hours, there’s plenty of choice in this “Biergarten”. But first things first, we play a game of giant chess!
Relaxing outside, sipping on some new flavours of beer, and dipping our warm bretzel into some spiced butters, this sure is a change of pace from the adventure-filled activities we’ve mostly experienced in New Zealand. What’s more, Robin is particularly enjoying whopping Laura’s ass in this game of chess.
Beer garden lunch in the sun
After having a German starter, we decide to dabble in the Italian menu and Kiwi menu for lunch. Dietmar brings out one of his popular Hawaiian pizzas absolutely loaded with toppings (you get a pretty good deal on a beer tray + pizza!), as well as some classic Kiwi fish n’ chips.
Beer memorabilia and hilarious signs
As if we could fit anymore in, we go inside for a taste of desert. (This is A LOT of food, isn’t it?!) It’s much cooler in here from the blistering Blenheim sun, and we get the time to actually take a look around the place – like we said, there is a lot to see!
As a craft beer specialist, all the beers on offer have information cards decorating the walls indicating the flavours of each beer, as well as its alcohol percentage. You don’t have to take a wild guess when choosing beer! The rest of the walls are covered in beer memorabilia and some pretty hilarious signs, such as: “Henry Dodson: Inventor of Time Travel. Lived Here in 2189”.
Meeting the brewers
A desert of brownies and mixed nut cake with ice cream arrives, as well as a group of brewers from the Renaissance brewery next door come in for some lunch who we get chatting to. You can see them at work around the huge brewing kettles through the bar windows.
Stuffed, yet totally satisfied, we finally decide to bring our foodie experience to an end here at Dodson Street. We admit, we may have overindulged, but when you’re only here once…
Tomorrow, we are going to stop stuffing ourselves and visit a museum dedicated to vintage planes! Join us then!
One last beer with the brewers! Theta 360 Loading...
Of course, you do! For more Blenheim adventures, check out these:
See you tomorrow!