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Published: June 10th 2018
Queen Charlotte Drive, a steep, somewhat dangerous in parts, windy road from Picton to Havelock is a stunning drive and worth the time it takes. Meandering between stunning secluded bays of clear and vividly coloured water, the occasional pull in and view point to walk to, the journey discovers many a small town too. The 'largest' of which is Havelock, a tiny place with a marina full of yachts almost the same size as the the land that hosts the houses. Stopping in this sleepy place on a Saturday showed the town for its most quiet qualities. Fortunately only in requiring a dump station and gas refill our needs were both greeted and met by a lovely local lady, who also filled us in on the long hot summer and the sudden switch to frost bringing snow on the tops.
Our destination for the evening was Nelson, known in NZ for having the most sunshine a year. It was a small town we took to immediately, one of those feelings we couldn't find words to describe - it was just welcoming, homely, liveable somehow. Talking to the locals it seems everyone has the same impression. There are no jobs to
be found here "because no-one wants to leave"! Apparently the wages are poor here comparatively, however the 'sunshine wages' as they're called, top up what the financial rewards don't bring.
Our freedom camp for the night turned out the be the noisiest yet. With minimal options available a small gravel parking lot on the main and busy through road served a purpose. A visit to the i-site set us up for a lot of hiking, for another time when our kit is in hand. The options for day hikes and multi-day 'tramping' are endless here. Nelson Lakes National Park and Kahurangi National Park, both large mountainous areas, are host to many a mountain hut for night time stopovers and snowy peaks this time of year. Having Rainbow Ski Area, due to open late July, and Abel Tasman National Park with it's tropical beaches both an hour away this small town has a lot to offer.
With the snowline low and covering the trail we would have otherwise chosen, we opted for a tour of a local winery - something else that the area is known for. However, after choosing a few options from the twenty four or five
on offer, we found each and every one to be closed - even those 'open in winter'! The plan for the afternoon was always to explore the town a little to see if the initial feel we had for the place remained. Being set on the coast, Nelson had a couple beach spots options for lunch - and Tahunanui Beach made the perfect choice, watching the ships sail in the distance, the shallow waves break gently on the shore, the snow capped mountains to one side... and the noisy seagulls after our lunch right in front!
**Please excuse the quality of photos, somehow we managed to put the camera chargers in the boxes!
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