Thursday, January 29, 2009

Queen Charlotte Sound

We had two days left before we would get back on the Interislander ferry and be whisked back to the North Island. After a tearful goodbye to Brenda, we headed to the tourist office in Piction to find ourselves a bed for the night on one of the outer Marlborough Sounds. We found a little cabin in Mistletoe Bay and after stocking up on provisions, we headed along the windy road to our home for the night. Mistletoe Bay was a lovely spot to land, and as soon as we dropped our bags, the kayaks were off the van and in the water. We had a great time exploring and wished again that Scholarship was there as she would love the countless calm and protected anchorages. Our plan the next day was to hike part of the Queen Charlotte Track. The 71km long hike can be done like the Abel Tasman, in several different ways. Our plan was to hike for about four hours and then head back. We ended up having a gorgeous hot day and we just kept going. Our plan was to stay on the trail those extra hours and then hitchhike back to Mistletoe Bay. After we had a rest at Torrea Bay, we gathered up our stuff and Mark's plan came to fruition. Some Kiwi's we had chatted with on the trail not only offered to drive us back, but insisted that we come for a beer at their cool Kiwi bach (holiday home). We had a great time meeting them and enjoyed snacks as we watched the Tui birds and enjoyed the view. This was Kiwi hospitality at it best.
As I mentioned, the track is 71km but we were doing our best to see as much as we could in the on day we had. After we were returned to Mistletoe Bay by our new friends, we hopped in the van drove up the hill so Mark could mountain bike the last 13km section. Because of the serpentine roads it took me over an our to reach the trail head at the other end. It took Mark just over an hour and half. Tired but exhilarated we headed back to Piction for the night. We were very glad we had already book a hotel. The next morning we returned to Wellington and began our journey back to Scholarship.

Cormorants Tui bird feeding Our lovely Kiwi hosts Mistletoe Bay's pet alpaca Mistletoe Bay Camp Vinne Van Go filled with toys and stuff for the South Island

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Golden Bay

Our next stop after Abel Tasman was Golden Bay. Golden Bay's beaches are very different than Abel Tasman. Instead of white sand beaches and heaps of tourists, Golden Bay is much more calm, and the terrain is much more wild. Drift wood and abundant bird life made this a great stop for a few nights. We rented a cabin that was just a ten second walk over a small dune to get to the beach. Miles long, it was great for walking. The water was warm and shallow and little swell coming in made it great fun to surf the kayaks. Wish we could have stayed longer but Mark's sis Brenda had a ferry to catch and we had a bit more hiking to do.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tramping Abel Tasman

As the fantastic weather continued, we found ourselves heading west to Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson is known for it's fruit growing, wineries and artist community. We spent a night in Neslon before arriving in Kaiteriteri ,which is a small community located just south of the southern part of Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman runs for 51 Km along a coastal path. There are various ways to hike the trail depending on time and inclination. Since we were short on time we decided to take the water taxi route. All day long water taxis run from the surrounding communities to different trail heads and beaches within the park. We chose to do a five hour section, starting at Tonga Bay and ending at Anchorage. It was a wonderful hike and I only wish we would have been able to do the whole thing.
We stayed in nearby Kaiteriteri, and exposed Mark's sister Brenda to a quintessential part of Kiwi life, the holiday park. Mark and I slept in a tiny bunk bed cabin and Brenda in the van. There are no quiet beaches to camp on in New Zealand this time of year. Summer holidays had everyone out in force trying to get the most out of the summer weather. The beach at Kaiteriterisun worshippers, well me not so much
Where in world are we?

Brenda and I heading to the water taxi All aboard the water taxis
Brenda crosses the bouncy bridge A most popular place, the ice cream and sweets stand

Our mini cabin

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Piction is a three hour ferry ride from Wellington. On an overcast day, we boarded our huge ferry, van and all, and headed to the South Island. Piction is a small town located way inside the reticulated waterways of the Marlborough Sounds. Because it is was holiday time of year, the ferry ride was jammed with tourists and kiwis alike. The ride itself was uneventful, but about an hour before docking we entered the Sounds and it was breathtaking. A haven for cruisers, the Sounds is a place you could get lost in for years. We were sad not to have Scholarship in such an awesome place.
After an evening in Piction, we drove about forty-five minutes to Blenheim and the Marlborough Wine Region. Famous for it's Pinot Noir, the region did not disappoint and we had a fantastic day of tasting and buying. Now Scholarship has a bit more ballast in her bilge.

Entering the Marlborough Sounds

On the ferry
On the foredeck as we entered the Sounds
Piction harbour lunchtime!

South Island smoked salmon, some of the best!
Nautilus Winery Happy campers

Friday, January 16, 2009

Windy in Welly

When we first arrived in New Zealand we had planned on living in Wellington. A very cosmopolitan city at the bottom of the world, Welly has a lot to offer. Great and diverse restaurants, old bookshops galore, hiking and gorgeous water views. When we would tell Kiwis that we were moving to Welly they would instantly get a tortured look on their face and say , "do you know it's really windy there?" Well we ended up staying up north in the beautiful Bay of Plenty. The name says it all, and we have plenty of wind here as well.
Back to Wellington. The wind blew the whole time, but at least it was a warm wind this time of year. Not a place for long flowing hair of short skirts. Accompanied by Mark's sister Brenda ,we spent two nights in a adorable holiday cottage right in the middle of the city hubbub. Welly is a very compact city made for walking or biking (when the wind isn't blowing too hard). We were able to hike up to Mount Victoria right from our backyard and even visited the Te Papa which is Wellington's prized museum. A fantastic place full of the art, science and history of New Zealand. Get this, it was even free. Next stop...South Island !
Mark and Brenda mixin' it up in the kitchen A view of Mount Victoria Me swinging with Welly in the background

Mark doing the old "head in cannon" trick at Mt. Victoria lookout