Sunday, 8 January 2017

It's silly season part 2 - New Years in Nelson

After our epic christmas canoe, I had a few days to recover before our New Years celebrations.  I mostly chilled and read my book (a fantasy fiction series by Peter V Brett if you're interested, they're quite good), and on the Friday before we left for Nelson I had a surf lesson at Tawharanui beach.  The traffic was terrible on the way up and I was in a bit of a flap, hooning round the gravel roads and arriving 40 mins late for the lesson. Luckily the people who had arrived before me had warned the instructors of the terrible traffic and one of the instructors had waited for me, so we quickly got into our wet suits and headed down to the beach for a 5 minute lesson on how to lie on the surfboard and stand up.  Then I was thrust into the deep end - literally and metaphorically, as we went into the sea and tried to catch some waves.  I'd say I was mostly knee boarding and getting whacked about the face by the board rather than actually surfing, but it was fun nonetheless and I'm keen to go again - if only to get a picture of me in a wetsuit holding a surfboard because that's like so cool and stuff.   No but seriously it was really good fun and I think everyone should have a go. You definitely get a bit bashed about though.

The following day Amy and I got up early and caught a plane to Nelson for our new year adventures.  We picked up our hire car (it was so flash, it had assisted parking and all sorts) and headed into Nelson to explore.  There was a market on which was the best market I have been to in New Zealand so far - filled with food, fruit and veg, trinkets and other things.  Everyone was really friendly and happy and smiley.  I have been to Nelson before and wasn't blown away but I really liked it this time round - probably as I had a friend to explore it with.

We then drove to Collingwood, making a few pitstops on the way to look at view points and the like, one of them being Te Pupu springs which are one of the clearest springs in the world.  They were beautiful - the water is so ridiculously clear it's like a layer of glass over some rocks.

this really doesn't capture the see-through-ness of the wather. it was amazeballs

Collingwood is the cutest little town - there's one small street with 2 small dairys (that's the kiwi word for a newsagent/One Stop type shop), a tavern and a cafe/art gallery.  We met the owner of the art gallery who was very flamboyantly dressed and was telling us some schpiel about how his numerology charts were indicating 2017 was going to be THE YEAR. So watch out everyone!!  We checked out the tavern, who informed us that they were having a live band playing later on, grabbed a takeaway from them for dinner and sat by the beach at our campsite to eat (and fending off seagulls).

We returned to the tavern at 10pm but left pretty swiftly - imagine the scene - a lonely dance floor lut up by a disco ball, 80s choons playing and a bunch of people sitting awkwardly round the dancefloor.   We assumed the band hadn't turned up yet, so returned again at 11.15pm but the situation was much the same - so we headed back to the tent!! We were asleep at midnight, sigh.  UNTIL an hour later when we were woken up with howling wind and pouring rain, and spent the next 5 hours holding onto the tent to make sure it didn't blow even started raining in the tent as the waterproofing gave up......eventually at 5.30am the outer sheet started to become unattached so we had to get up and take the tent down in gale force winds and rain....happy new year!!!  Luckily we saw the funny side and spent most of the night laughing in the face of the wind. Otherwise we would have probably been crying. haha.

slightly manic happy new year faces

We had showers to warm up and then stole a few hours sleep in the campsite lounge before heading out for a drive. We thought we'd go check out Farewell Spit but the weather didn't improve so we didn't even get out of the car as you couldn't see anything anyway....

A bit defeated and deflated we drove onwards to Takaka where we had another nap in the car.  The sun started to come out which we rejoiced at - we used the opportunity to take out the tent and flap it round in the wind a bit in an attempt to dry it - when lo and behold, our friend Dan suddenly appeared!!! This definitely brightened up our spirits, and we agreed to meet up with him, Ben and their climbing buddies at their campsite for dinner.

We had lunch then took a drive out to Abel Tasman National Park - it's such a gorgeous drive with heaps of places to stop at on the way.  We stopped at every little beach we could find and eventually made our way to Totoranui beach where we sat and chilled for a few hours before driving to the Hang Dog campsite where our friends were staying.  We chilled with them for a bit and met some cool new people, and went for a fish and chip dinner in Takaka.

That evening we camped in the Collingwood Town Hall as the campsite was too flooded to set up the tent again (and neither of us wanted a repeat of the night before - I think Amy's been scarred for life when it comes to camping now!) and we felt a bit like evacuees. Except without the terror and all the bad stuff.  Randomly on the drive back, I drove past Maartje who I worked with in Kinloch!! I pulled over and we had a roadside catch up - so random that we'd be in the same place! 

We woke up to a beautiful bright and sunny day, so did Farewell Spit take 2!!!  This time the drive was super quick as I could actually see the road, and we had a wee wander before heading to Wharariki beach - this is on the 2017 calendar Mum got me for christmas, and I had visited every place on the calendar apart from this one - so now I can tick them all off :)

Cape Farewell - the northernmost point of the South island

no pups for us

the rock that looks like an elephant

It's a really nice beach, with huge dunes, rocky outcrops (I love a beach with rocky outcrops) and seals! We nearly walked into one as they're really well camouflaged and just look like big lumps of seaweed.

We headed to Paynes Ford to check out the climbing situation - we are both interested in outdoor climbing but a bit apprehensive, so wanted to see our friends doing it and see how it all worked.  Paynes Ford is well set up - there's lots of different tracks down to the cliffs and guide books which point out the graded climbs.

Dan made the dinosaur chalk bag - so good

We watched the guys for a while then drove onwards to Motueka where we'd booked a hostel room for 2 nights.  We drove past a hitchhiker who we didn't pick up as we assumed they'd want to go to Nelson - but guess what, said hitchhiker turns out to be our room mate in the hostel! Our 3rd Nelson coincidence (and made us feel a bit bad about not picking her up!)

On our last full day the rain came back with avengence, so we read books and played pool at hostel in the morning, and went for a little drive to a town called Mapua.  It's really tiny but has some cool shops and art galleries that we wandered round - and 4th Nelson coincidence, bumped into 2 of our friends flatmates.  In the afternoon it brightened up a bit so we did a coastal walk which was pleasant enough.  That evening we watched a movie with some of the woofers at the hostel and it really made me miss woofer hostel life....

The red tree is the Pohutukawa tree - the NZ christmas tree as it flowers in December. The earlier it flowers the better the summer will be apparently

Shipwreck of the Janie Seddon

In the morning we drove back to Nelson, picking up some hitchhikers on the way as we felt bad from yesterday's lack of picking up.  This was our 5th weird Nelson coincidence, our hitchikers were from Auckland and lived 3 roads away from us!!!  I swear Auckland just emptied out and everyone headed to Nelson for the weekend.

We had a few hours till our flight so we sat at Tahuna beach until the wind got unbearable, then had a pub lunch before flying home.

I really liked Golden Bay and Nelson - it's a sweet spot on the South island - close to Picton for the ferry to the North, and well equipped to get to the rest of the south - plus there's mountains, lakes and beaches nearby.  I'd definitely go back for another visit!

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