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Published: February 7th 2007
The town of Picton isn’t the bustling harbour you would imagine it to be when considering its home to the main ferry terminus on the South Island. Nestled in the shadows of tree covered mountains this tiny harbour town doesn’t seem to realise the amount of traffic it generates, as walking along the tranquil quayside with the sun slowly disappearing turning the static clouds to flecks of bright red there is barely a sound to be heard. If the north islands pace of life is slow then the South stopped the clocks 50 years ago. After a day driving around the Marlborough Sounds, our fondness for the area grew with every bend in the road, as the sounds opened up in front of us revealing bright turquoise waters as far as the eye could see. The feeling of remoteness on the South Island was apparent from the moment we left Picton, and the drive to Richmond through the Sounds and Mountains provided the sort of views that reminded us; this is what travelling is about.
Lucy awoke the following morning to find a note stuck to the outside of our window that read ‘if you fancy a fry-up pop round to
number 7’. With her paranoia-ometer set to level 10 she managed to convince herself that someone had jumped the fence and left a note on our car. A sleepy Dave managed the muster enough logic to ask the question ‘why on earth would someone jump the fence and leave a note inviting us to breakfast?’ It took some minutes for Lucy to remove the note only to discover the names ‘Alex and Amy’ written at the bottom that was obscured by the door seal. Not expecting to see them for some months it was great to hear how they had stuck around the sounds for an extra day after an invite to spend the day with a local collecting muscles on his boat. An impromptu meeting with Alex and Amy meant alcohol and a BBQ could only be hours away, and after a day spent at the beach admiring some hideous bum bag/ Speedo combinations, we headed back to Motueka, snuck some beers into the spa at our campsite and fired up the Barbie. Alex and Amy left us the next morning for an 8 hour drive to Franz Josef Glacier, but not before a huge fry-up was rustled in
order to sure our ailing hangovers.
We headed west along the north coast for another drive full of fantastic views, and just before we reached Takaka, Lucy let out a loud shout followed by some choice swearing. It took a good 30 seconds for Dave to realise her flailing arms weren’t an attempt at dancing along to Run DMC, she had in fact been stung on the end of her finger by a bee. As the car swerved almost out of control, Dave used some choice words of his own, and Lucy managed to pull the car to the side of the road. Danger averted and tears wiped, and a bee extermination taken care of we carried on our way to Pahora beach and spent the rest of the day soaking up some rare Kiwi sun.
Cape Farewell and the Farewell Spit signifies the top of the South Island with a 35 kilometer that curves its way out into the Tasman. After a leisurely walk from east to west across the sand, we were met with stunning scenery, the mirage covered sands glistened and baked in the midday sun and the waves pounded mussel clad rocks, one rock in particular
caught our attention as it began to move, growl and flop its way ungracefully but quickly all the same, in our general direction. There are many seal colonies dotted around the south island, this one stumbled upon whilst looking for a place to eat lunch, the irony being that we nearly became it. After only slightly aggravating our yellow toothed friend a while longer, the walk back across the Spit took us through farmland and tree groves not too dissimilar to that of 'the Shire' in Lord of the Rings. We engaged in a spot of Hobbit hunting, but Frodo it seemed was still out trying to get rid of that blasted ring.
Abel Tasman National Park is a famed spot for walkers, trampers, kayakers and boaties alike where you are encouraged to take part in any number of outdoor pursuits. A couple of hours were spent walking along the coastal track, admiring the native bush and views across the many sandy bays. A few days are required to properly explore this unspoiled wilderness, but with the countdown to Christmas looming we needed to get a wriggle on if we wanted to be feasting on Turkey dinner in Akaroa. After
another stunning drive back through the Sounds we spent the night in a campsite in Blenheim that is situated under a bridge over which runs State Highway 1. The timeless views of passing traffic and the ground shaking rumbles of southbound freight trains mixed with the shoddy un-kept caravans of the campsite's residents made for a stay that made us feel like we had stumbled onto the local gippo camp. The lack of leaking fridges and burning car tires was a slight comfort, but we still slept with one eye open all the same.
Shopping is not one activity Dave would place at the top of his list of priorities but today was to be different as we explored the vineyards of Renwick in search of presents for Jo and Andrew who had kindly invited us to spend christmas with them. Unfortunately he was voted 'des' for the day and looked on jealously as lucy hit the sauce before we drove to Kaikoura, a wildlife haven that is one of the best places in the world to swim with dolphins, go whale watching and get up close to a number of seal colonies that are dotted around the peninsular. Not
surprisingly this was to be the spot for our reunion with wildlife nuts Matt and Claire who we had'nt seen since north Queensland where they had taken us hunting for Reticulated Pythons, Cassowaries and any other potentially deadly creatures we bumped into along the way. After our experiences in Blenheim we decided to surprise them and turn up a day early, and after finding their campsite we met Claire in the car park as we peered into different cars looking for trademark bottles of Sweet Chili Sauce. As we walked into the kitchen Matt's eyes nearly popped out of his head and his mouth hung open at the sight of us standing in the doorway, he performed a very convincing look of someone who has just been slapped across the face with a wet kipper. we spent the next couple of days with Matt and Claire gorping jealously at the quality of their nature photography and walking around the rocky peninsular skimming stones in the placid bays and taking photos of the many seals we came across.
We were sad to say goodbye for what seems like the hundredth time but arranged to meet for new years for one last
time before they flew home. We made our way down to Christchurch where we met up with Alex and Amy for a couple of nights to have an early Christmas celebration before they flew over to Australia. Fish and chips was the choice over roast chicken as we simply couldn't be bothered to fight for oven space in the overcrowded kitchens and made for the perfect way to bid farewell. We dropped Alex and Amy off at the Airport, and after discussing how we all needed to curve our spending for a while, went into Christchurch and spent over 2500 dollars on Cameras.
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