Published: January 11th 2009January 11th 2009
T250 I believe.
Into the new year now, so time for an update. We left Hanmer Springs after Christmas and headed for Nelson, (via Murchison). Our lovely adopted parents tucked us into the van and checked our seat belts…. Gave us slabs of cake wrapped in festive napkins for the journey and waved us off, videoing our departure…. We left our Santa and Rudolf in their care… and they duly promised to take them caravanning with them, always.
We got t Nelson a day earlier than our campsite booking so decided to head towards French Pass….. The road was fantastic, I didn’t think the poor old van would make it. The roads were steep, narrow and winding, and I’d say, more scenic than the road to Milford Sound. We encountered many land slides onto the road and a few bits of road slipped away….down shear cliffs! And more squashed possums than ever before. Kevin concentrated hard on the road but the van eventually had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t cope any more…. We stopped at the side of the road where he gurgled and hissed, then cried hot tears all over the gravel. We stayed there the night, in the middle of nowhere, listening
to the nocturnal creatures. The van seemed better the next day after a brief check over and fluid top up. We travelled across high pasture land offering wonderful views of tiny bays and distant hills, and often, glimpses of the sea down below us to both sides. We eventually came down into French Pass settlement and were astonished to find the tiny place absolutely heaving. Massive campers and huge boat trailers littered the verges, tents on every inch of grass….very popular, and they all must be completely self reliant, no shops for miles. We managed to turn round and headed back out, up to a view point a few hundred yards up the hill. French Pass is the name of the stretch of water that separates D’Urville Island from the mainland. The currents here are wicked, the water swirls around strangely. From above it almost looks like one side of the colliding water is higher than the other. There was in an interesting board telling of Jack, a dolphin that lived in the area for 25 years and was said to guide ships safely through the dangerous waters….. Arrhh.
As we drove back towards Nelson, I hoped we didn’t meet
a late arrival in a huge bus… especially if we were on the outside of a bend…. No safety barriers on this road, and a long way down.
Safely back onto route 6 we saw a sign for Happy Valley Adventures…. Including 4x4, quads, horse riding and a 1.6k long sky wire. Kev wanted to view this sky wire, flying fox thing so we ventured inside. We had a coffee and perused the leaflets…. The wire was nowhere in sight. We booked horse riding and sky wire for the next day and decided to stay that night in a little camp site on Cable Bay, down the end of the road…. A nice little place with a natural boulder causeway …. A phenomenon of the north South Island coastline.
The weather was kind to us the following day as we were introduced to our steeds. We set off for a ride through native forest, crossing numerous streams. Unfortunately Kevin’s horse was not kind to him and kept bucking. We ended up all changing horses. The ride was very enjoyable with some great views from the high ground.
We took a 4 wheel drive up to the sky wire….. Which resembled
Nigel Curtis rider 35
only has the use of one arm........all credit due.
a quad ski chair but with 5 point racing car harnesses. We were strapped in and started the count down… “3,2,1, go…ooooh….shi..it” said Kev. We hit 98.6kph, nearly up with the rugby team, who topped 100k. (am now on strict diet!!)
Backwards was even more fun, with time to get a better look at the forest below. We got back down to the farm and went to the stream to feed bread to the tame black eels…. Great big horrible slurping things, I couldn’t quite bring myself to touch one.
We said goodbye to Happy Valley, the most diverse farm I’ve ever seen.
Our camp site for the New Year was at Tahunanui beach, on the south side of Nelson. Apparently the largest campsite in the southern hemisphere. It was actually quite spacious with good facilities. I got chatting to a bloke with a pretty little grey and yellow parakeet on his shoulder. He told me the bird was a girl. I asked her name… “Nigel“ he replied…”Well, of course” I said, “Told it was a boy when I first got it, wasn‘t I”….Think I’ve heard this sort of thing somewhere before …Jessica the gay pink parrot.
The campsite had
a good band playing for New Year…. But Kev and I were asleep before midnight.… nothing new there then, and we weren’t even drinking!
We booked a couple of extra nights as there was a vintage bike show and a road racing event in Port Nelson….7 hours of great racing for just a couple of quid, including the program. In one of the Supermoto classes, was a very competitive bloke racing with only the use of his right arm…. In with the super bikes, a guy was running a 1580 Harley….he did pretty well too. He had been president of the road racing club for many years and always competed on something. The vintage bikes were raced quite hard by some pretty vintage blokes. The circuit was small, only about a mile long and the pits were mingled in with the boats in the marina. A great day was had by all I think…..except for one poor chap who had an ‘off’, and was, according to the tannoy announcer, “Being taken to hospital, to be met by an emergency Avon lady to fix the broken finger nail.”
Earlier in the day I had wondered what strange Kiwi thing the announcer
was referring to when he stated the next race in the running order would be a ‘beer race’…. My god, these Kiwis really do have big balls….. would the idea be, to race round, beer in hand, with out spillage…. Or, consume as much as you could en route?. No, it was just another example of their vowels all mixed up… he was in fact referring to B.E.A.R.s (British, European and American Racing)
(I had previously heard a radio commercial for a garden centre stating, quite clearly, that, “Mum couldn’t come to the door, as she was out back, sitting on dads huge dick!!”)
Towards the end of the meeting we encountered another example of the Kiwi friendliness and generosity. Two guys walked round with a tray of sausages (complete with bread and ketchup) offering them to any takers as they’d cooked too many… about 2 kilos too many. Kev sampled one or two!
After leaving Nelson we headed towards the Abel Tasman NP. We drove through Motueka and Kaiteriteri stopping when the road ended at Marahau. We were at first puzzled to see a beach car park full of tractors. We later found they were used to transport the
water taxis (passengers already loaded) along the road from the office to the beach jetty, and out across the sand and into the water whatever state the tide was in…. got this all well sorted. They also retrieved Kayaks from set points along the coast. We took a taxi to Bark Bay and walked the 13 or so miles back. The exercise was good, but to really see the Abel Tasman you need to be in a Kayak (or flying!). The path is quite narrow and most of the way the views are obscured by the vegetation.
On to Golden Bay next, over Takaka Hill. The van did well, we got over. The area is known for its karsk landscape with caves and sinkholes. The granite often looks like theme park plastic rock…little mini versions of huge mountains. We stopped in Takaka to buy provisions. The town is nice with more than a few hippy type shops and cafes. We’ve come to Tukurua Beach, just south of Collingwood. The small campsite is packed with Kiwi families….January is holiday month. The weather at the moment is fairly consistent (cross fingers), the sun is strong but the wind picks up for a
Indian on the warpath....
But the BSA had the better of him.
few hours in the early afternoon then usually dies down again by tea time.
We had our first day on the site as a relaxing ‘do nothing’ day, met the locals and checked the van over again, it gurgled a bit yesterday.
Day two and we were booked onto the ‘Farewell Spit Eco Tour’, this outfit had been running for over 60 years and clearly knew their way to the lighthouse. Times for the trip are down to the tides, fortunately the tide was in our favour and we did not start until 11.30. The spit is a reserve of international importance, and walkers are only allowed 2 kms along the inner beach and 4 kms along the outer. The tours, run by 2 different company’s, are allowed along to the lighthouse, which is about 26 kms out. We encountered many seals and various types of bird, but most importantly on this stretch of sand, the huge Gannet colony…. but only from a distance, tours for the bird watching’s restricted to 8 people per day. The tour guide, as usual, was full of interesting facts and stories. He’d worked there since the early 80’s, as then, he had delivered the
Another Harley shot
this guy has done so much over the last nine years to promote this kind of racing, now standing down. Thankyou.
mail to the lighthouse keepers. He’d picked up so much information and stories from the many people he’d met over the years. (Such as….. The collective noun for a group of shags is a crown and for larks its an exuberance! ) In the very early days, when the light (made in Scotland by some bloke called Stephenson) ran on kerosene, the keepers had to be a married men and the whole family had to stay there all year! It was a very bleak place in winter. However the keeper, got to go back to town every few weeks for the mail on his horse… the family only got away for one short annual holiday.
The sand forming the spit originates from the erosion of the Southern Alps and is brought up and deposited by the sea. We were allowed to walk up only one of the dunes. It was like being in the desert. The afternoon wind had picked up and I was fully expecting to see an Arab racing by on a camel at any moment. The dunes furthest out grew and shrank but didn’t move, the other two changed size and position. An example of this was
Lovely...........shiney shiney Norton
on display at the classic bike show the day after the racing.
a pole placed to mark some wreckage many years previously, and had been buried for over ten years that had re-emerged just last week.
As he’d driven us on the outward journey at about noon, he’d looked out to sea and said “See that thin dark line above the horizon….that’s the wind on it’s way”… and sure enough it was.
(more to follow after some piccies)
There are more photos below