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Published: March 13th 2010
Sunday 8th November
WELLINGTON TO PICTON (SOUTH ISLAND)
We got up early - had a quick go on the campsite's giant trampoline to wake us up and headed for the Interislander ferry which would take us over the Cook Strait to New Zealand's South Island, through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton.
To say I was excited driving Willie on to the ferry was an understatement. I was child once more.
It was a memorable crossing. Beautiful day. We played cards for a while then spent the majority of the crossing hanging over the side dolphin spotting!!! The sounds were beautiful. It was such a calm day. We were lucky as I think it can be quite a rough crossing. What was nice was that the day got hotter and hotter the closer to the South Island we got. 3 or 4 hours later there we were - NZ's South - first time here for both of us and very excited!!
Straight off the ferry and on to seek out the wine of the Marlborough Region, Blenheim.
What a beautiful area. The fact that we drove past vineyard
after vineyard after vineyard only strengthened its beauty in my eyes 😊
We tried out some Sav's and Pinot Gris at St Claire's but there really only was 1 place for me - CLOUDY BAY!!!!! After copious amounts of this stuff on the better bank lunches in Edinburgh I was super excited that my friend Daiman had put me in touch with his friend who was chief Pinot Noir maker at Cloudy bay!!!!!!!!!!
He had organised a private tasting for Gary and I. We tried great wine after great wine after great champagne. Ummed and ahh'd our way through the lot not too sure what we were umming and ahhing at.
I'm sure Daiman's friend wasn't at all taken in with our "expertise" and was probably bemused at the fact that our spit buckets were near empty at the end but we had a most enjoyable hour or so and as I had the most enjoyable time, Gary drove us on the Pelorus River -a tiny remote little Department of Conservation campsite by the river on the way to Nelson.
Had a lovely evening doing a walk through the giant tree ferns and
had dinner by the river. We enjoyed some more Cloudy Bay before getting an early night.....😊
Monday 9th November
PELORUS TO ABEL TASMAN VIA NELSON
Early start to get to Nelson for morning coffee and cake. Nelson a bit dissapointing. Not much there (MACS bar not open at that hour). Nice carrot cake though 😊
Abel Tasman national Park (North Coast of South Island, West of Nelson and Blenheim) on the other hand was stunning!!!!!!!! Great to be on the beach with the sun out. Did a good coastal walk and had a picnic on the beach and a bit of a swim in the (freezing) sea after.
Its really remote here so the road stoped at this point and we had to go inland and drive north over mountains for hours to get to the only campsite in the park which was so remote that we wondered if we'd ever get there (Willie all the while in 2nd gear almost vertical up then down) but was nice camping right on the beach and we had our usual night in the van (the night life was a bit lacking). You'd think
we may have got bored of beer/ cider, pasta, cards and Flight of the Conchords by now but nope we could go on happily with this routine for a long time 😊
Tuesday 10th November 2010
ABEL TASMAN TO NELSON LAKES
Woke up early to sea kayak as that is what AT NP is famous for. But noooooooooo, the heavens opened and we decided against it. We got a little water taxi up the coast instead which took us to see some fur seals and we got very wet. I will need to go back some other time to kayak. We went on a pilgrimage back to Nelson to find the MACs brewery only to find it had been clsoed for a year or so. Yet again the Rough Guide let me down.
SO; despondent we drove across some really nice South Island scenery, down the middle of the island to the Nelson lakes. Lakes nice. Sand Flies (akin to the scottish midge) NOT!!!
Spent our last night with Willie by Lake Rotoroa in Saint Arnaud. Did some star gazing and spotted the Southern Cross. No light
pollution here so was amazingly clear and beautiful.
Wednesday 11th November 2010
Long day driving through some good ol' Kiwi wind and rain from St Arnaud to Christchurch, our ultimate destination on the East Coast before flying back to Auckland.
The weather was truly depressing but as we crossed the canterbury plains and emerged to Christchurch the sun came out to play and we saw the 'Garden City' at it's best.
Christchurch is lovely. But tiny. the cathedral square is nice and the trams cool. Loved the river Avon complete with its punters - very english!!! We got all arty farty and went to the newly opened art gallery to take in some modern art. Neither of us much liked any of it.
We had to do it...........found the MACS bar and I challenged Gary to the beer tasting tray (6 half pints) in 30 mins. Challenge accepted. Was quite impressed.
Realised we should get going if we were to get Willie back on time only to turn the key and realise he'd died on us. In all that rain and bad weather earlier we had put the lights
on .....and kept them on......oh well 8 days in the van - something like this was bound to happen at some point BUT why when we were in such a hurry to get to the airport! typical. A few grovelling phonecalls later we got a call out, Willie was fixed, we broke speed limits to get him returned on time then it was on the plane back up north, watching the beautiful sunset from the window.
What an amazing trip. If only I didn't have to go to work in the morning.......................
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