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Published: July 27th 2006
The ferry was an experience. After pulling up in the queue near the front we (and the rest of the caravan queue) were the last ones to board, it was quite large and even had an onboard cinema that you could attend. Of course we did not want to spend our time anywhere other than by the large windows soaking up the lush scenery. The crossing went smoothly and we got chatting to a very nice woman (turned out she was a dairy farmer in the South Island and she was well accustomed to the crossing as her parents still live on the North Island where she grew up). She informed us that it was a good idea to head out on to the front part of the ferry as the views were about to improve. So we did our coats up and headed out side into the blustering wind to get the uninterrupted views. I can not explain how beautiful it was, it all looked so untouched and peaceful. At one stage it looked like we were sailing into the land ahead, however when we approached it was possible to see a clearing. After taking a few snaps and being
On one of the many times we stopped along the Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson from Picton
blown about something wild we went back inside and continued taking to the woman and asking for any tips she may have to offer us. The only other mentionable thing about the ferry crossing was that at one point lots of people got up and walked to the windows to see what the commotion was. I was not really sure if there was anything worth seeing of if this was just a case of people following others to see nothing! However Thommo ventured outside to see if there was anything happening and after he waved at me like a mad man I joined him and was just in time to witness some Dolphins playing around in the bay just behind the ferry.
As we had taken the afternoon ferry we arrived in Picton to late to make our way to anywhere other than the camp ground. We were told there is not much there to see and that we should head over to Nelson. However if we had done this we would not have been able to see that view on the way as the day light had faded.
The following day we packed up and head off
Us on the Sky Wire
Looking good and big! Lovely warm coats they give you though!
to Nelson along the Queen Charlotte Drive, the scenic windy road. This was the first real test of Thommo’s driving skills in the van, the road was very bendy and icy in patches. The views were great and we stopped and few times to take it all in then we joined highway 6 on route to Nelson. We happened across a sign for the Sky wire in the region known as Happy Valley. One of the great things about being here in winter is that the attraction are not too busy to just pull up on a whim. We were lucky to arrive in time for the next ride with two New Zealanders. The drive up to the ride is interesting and quite steep (through the Happy Valley Farm where it is all ran from). The ride itself involves being strapped into a four person cage and travelling down a wire and back for about a kilometre above the forest on the farm. It records your speed and has excellent views. The first time we managed to get up to 88km p/h, the second time (which came as a special bonus because one of the other passengers was from Nelson)
Wet and cold on the horse trek
Defo still worth it though, think i enjoyed it more than Thommo!
we managed to get up to 90km p/h! It wasn’t as fast or exciting as a theme park ride but the view was fantastic.
We arrived in Nelson and were lucky enough to locate the camp ground we had selected with some ease. After paying for the night we headed out to treat ourselves to take away and a DVD. It just so happens that (as the man behind the reception informed us) the camp ground is the largest in Australasia!!!! It was massive and did have very good facilities, although it was empty and we were one of three other vans in the whole park! Nelson is a picturesque town set in a beautiful bay that just screams seaside resort. It is clear that this place is flooded with tourist’s in the hotter summer months.
The next day we went to the horse trekking trip we had arranged the previous day on the way out of the Happy Valley region at Thorndale Farm. My back was not too good but we both enjoyed the trek. The weather was not the greatest, rained most of the time, but it was good to see the views of the farm
The Mussel Inn Sign
Had a really good night here.
and Cable bay on the way from on top of my horse Magic!. I was behind the guide so got to chat with her quite a lot, she is a fellow Brit now living here in NZ. After getting back all muddy and cold we decided to head back towards Nelson and hope to dry and heat up. We headed to Founders Park. This place has rebuilt and relocated buildings from the colonial period and also has a great Organic Brewery. We talked to one of the blokes that runs the Brewery (a family run business) about the processes involved and the different brews that make. I also happened to mention my back and the need to find a chiropractor to help me(wasn’t to great at all after the horse riding) he said that one of the girls working in the café onsite is a chiropractor in her other job. So I enquired if there was anything she could do at short notice and it just so happened that she could see me that evening. She is a extremely nice woman from San Francisco now working in NZ part time in a café while her and her flatmate set up
business together. After chatting about our experiences in the States Thommo and I went to check into a hostel for the night which we had heard was really good value for money. So we picked Christine up from Founders park and she took us to her house to give me treatment. After a while I said my thanks to her as my back was once again feeling like it was in place and comfortable. She was really great and had such a nice manner while doing the treatment. That evening we went back tot eh hostel an I went to bed completely knacked and already worried by neck had moved out while picking up a not so heavy bag! Thommo headed into town for a few drinks with some guys he met in the hostel while having to cook himself dinner as I just wanted to sleep.
We then drove north through a town called Motueka on route to the Golden Bay area. The weather was not so great and there were no Kayaking trips to the Abel Tasman national park so we didn’t stay in Motueka for long (only to check emails and get lunch). We head up
Pu Pu Springs
Childish but you have to laugh(well we did!)
over the hills and down the other side along the valley till we reached the Te Waikoropupu Springs Scenic Reserve. We pulled off the main road and headed for the Pu Pu Springs. We were just about to start a short walk which would take us to the freshwater springs, when we heard someone shout at us. This was Jon and Lisa a couple Thommo had met just outside Wellington while watching footie. We walked around the springs with them chatting and taking in the views. The water is so clear and quite like nothing I have seen before, just bubbling up and making waves.
As they were heading the same way as us we decided to follow one another and see some sites together. We drove up to Golden bay and walked on to the beach to take some photos. But really there was not much else there to do so we all headed back down the road to the Mussel Inn. This place is really something different. We parked up outside hoping to have a relaxing drink and a little bite to eat before heading off to see if there was a cheap campsite around. When we
Jon, Lisa and Thommo
On the beach at Collingwood in teh Golden Bay area.
went in there was live music playing and the place was so unique. It was very rural with carvings on the face of the bar. The act was only warming up at that stage. We ordered some snacks from the bar and when we enquired about a camp site they said it would be fine to just stay inn the car park if we were thinking of staying for the entertainment for that evening. This was a stroke of luck as we had wanted to stay and hear them play. I got speaking to one of the children and we played some games with all three of the children in the end. We also got speaking to the parents Kirsten and Alan. They now live in Australia although Alan is from Ireland and their music has a large Irish folk influence. They are part of a band that goes by the name of the Barleyshakes. We had to buy one of their Cds to listen to after experiencing their talents live.
The following morning we said ‘see ya later’ to Jon and Lisa as we were going to meet up with them in Westport. We also said goodbye to
We spent quite a while playing with them, lovely kids!
Kirsten and her two girls. We got back on the road and after the briefest of visits place that sold Siamai we continued back to Motueka where we spent some time online updating this and sending mail etc.
That evening we headed down and across to Westport. I must admit that I dozed off for a while, it boring when its dark and you can’t see anything! ……….
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