A Travellerspoint blog

February 2019

Nelson to Farewell Spit via Abel Tasman then back to Picton

South Island

We headed in the direction of Abel Tasman and stopped at Motueka to speak to the DOC office about walking in Abel Tasman. It’s quite expensive to stay in the huts and campsites so we opted for a day walk instead and decided we would do it on our way back down.

We drove to Kaiteriteri for a swim in the sea. The beach here was beautiful and the sea created a lagoon to swim in. It was pretty busy by NZ standards though!

From here we headed north to Golden Bay and camped just before Pakawau at a park over property (it was a cafe very close to the beach) for 2 nights. During the 2nd day we explored even further north, making it to farewell spit and over to Wharariki beach which had baby seals learning to swim in the pools which the sea creates near the beach.

We then drove to a place called Pohara via Takaka. Takaka is a cute town with a hippie vibe, lots of organic shops and coffee shops and signs for yoga classes. We stayed in Pohara right on a marina where we fished. We caught a few snapper but they were too small to keep. There were also lots of massive string rays swimming around!

We stayed here for 2 nights and during 1 day we went to explore some of Abel Tasman National Park. There is a day loop walk you can do rather than a 5 day Great Walk, however some of it was shut due to fire risk so we just have to walk to a bay and back. The walk it’s self was quite boring as it’s just up and down in some trees but once we got to the bay/beach it was beautiful! There was no one around and the beach was pristine!

We then drove all the way back to Picton which was a long drive but we needed to get there to try and get a new windscreen fitted before heading to the North Island. We went for a wander around Picton, not much there really but a couple of nice cafes/restaurants and stayed overnight in the centre.

The next day we went to get a new windscreen but we’re advised to wait so we managed to get on the evening ferry to the Wellington. We killed time in a lovely bay near Picton doing jobs on the van.

This marks the end of our travels around the South Island!!

Posted by Louisejhcowan 23:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches walking swimming s tasman seals rays abel takaka sting vanlife vypsies Comments (0)

Blenheim to Nelson via Marlborough Sounds

South Island

On Sunday we had a lazy morning and went for coffee in Blenheim. It seemed like a cute town with lovely gardens and lots of cafes.

From here we drove to Picton. This is where you get the ferry to the North Island and also is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds.
The weather since we have been in Marlborough has been beautiful, sunshine everyday and not a cloud in the sky.
We drove through Picton as we will visit it on our way back down and started our drive into the sounds along the windy Queen Charlotte road.

We decided went just past Double Bay to a place called Ohingaroa Bay and camped on the side of the sound. It was beautiful. There were only 4 campers allowed and we got one of the spots. We sunbathed and chilled out all afternoon as it was so peaceful. In the evening we went for a walk on the beach and there were clams everywhere so we collected some, we noticed a few rogue mussels too and when we got to the end of the beach we found loads on some rocks which we also foraged!
We cleaned them and prepped them ready for tea the next day.

The Marlborough Sounds is pretty big with lots of no exit winding roads to get to places so we decided to just pick 1 place to get to rather than exploring it all. We drove up to somewhere called Mistletoe Bay which is part of the Queen Charlotte walking track - this is something I would like to do one day as this part of the world is so nice.

We went swimming in the bay - it was gorgeous! And again found more mussels which we picked and prepped for the next days tea - think we might get sick of mussels!

From here we set off towards Nelson, driving through a place called Havelock which is apparently the green lipped mussel capital of the world.

We stopped at Pelorus Bridge which is where the barrel scene in the hobbit was filmed. The river here is perfect for swimming in and as it was such a hot day we went and jumped off the rocks and swam here.

We then continued our drive to Nelson, there wasn’t much to stop for on the way. We stocked up in Nelson and went to Tahunanui Beach for the evening. It’s a shame we couldn’t freedome camp here so had to move to somewhere else for the night. We cooked moules marinere and it was lovely.

The next day we spent it doing some van jobs and exploring Nelson as this could be a potential place for us to live. There is a nice vibe to the city and it’s great to be so close to a lovely beach. We went for cocktails and beer in the evening, the main square was busy for a week night and again it felt like a nice place to be. We camped in the city centre this night.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beach bridge bay swimming nelson campervan marlborough barrels sounds blenheim clams hobbit foraging mussels vanlife mistletoe vypsies tahunanui pelorus Comments (0)

Kaikoura to Blenheim for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

South Island

We arrived in Kaikoura on 6th for our whale watch boat tour but it was cancelled due to the weather.
We wandered round Kaikoura and bought rummikub from the charity shop and played it in the van.

Chris got a call from a recruitment company asking if he could get to Christchurch on Thursday for a chat with a potential company. As we were only about 2 hours away we decided to go.
We drove to Christchurch and stayed in New Brighton near the beach.
We did jobs and stocked up in Christchurch in the morning and after Chris’ interview headed back up the coast towards Kaikoura. We camped about 45mins south of it.

In the morning we drove back to Kaikoura as we had booked a flight instead of a boat tour to see the whales. It was a beautiful day and as we were driving around the peninsular we spotted some orca off the coast!

The flight was amazing, it was only 40mins but we saw a sperm whale, orca and dolphins. The place is tiny, there was only 4 of us and the pilot flys down to 150m above the ocean so you get a great birds eye view! Would definitely recommend this rather than a boat trip.

After the flight we continued driving north towards Blenheim. We camped out in a field near the malborough wine and food festival, there was a bbq and we had an early night ready for a day of drinking and eating on Saturday.

The festival was great, another beautiful day. Lots of wine and good food and music too, our favourite band was the Vanuatan string band. It finished at 6.30pm and we spent the evening chilling out in the van.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 22:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged food whales festival wine flights kaikoura campervan malborough Comments (0)

Wanaka to Kaikora via The West Coast

South Island

We drove over the Haast pass to get to the west coast, we stopped in Haast to look at the beach and the sea and continued driving up into glacier country.
The tree and plants change over on the west coast and look more tropical and bush like.

We also replenished our stash of local honey!

We stopped at Fox glacier as I wanted to see what it looked like 9 years on from when I last saw it and it has definitely got smaller but we couldn’t get a great view of it.
We decided to stay the night in Franz Jospeh which also has a glacier. Last time I was here I did a guided walk across it, now you can only access it by helicopter (making it expensive) due to how far it was retreated with warmer weather. Franz Jospeh was a cute village with some nice bars and restaurants.

We continued up the west coast towards Greymouth and stopped in Hokitika for an ice cream and leg stretch. The drives yesterday and today have been quite long as we haven’t seen anywhere we wanted to stop and stay for long so have just kept moving.

We then found a place called Lake Brunner about 30km from Greymouth which was perfect was swimming and relaxing and as the weather was so nice we stayed here for 2 nights. We fished, swam and did yoga and not much else!! We met a few people from the nzmca who invited us for drinks which was nice.

Our plan was to keep following the west coast and reach Abel Tasman which is at the north west of the South Island and then work our way around the north of the South Island and finish in kaikora (north east of the South Island), however we read about the Marlborough wine and food festival which is on 9th Feb and thought it was too good to miss so have changed our route to now go cross country to kaikora and then work our west to hopefully still get to Abel Tasman.

So, we went back to greymouth to refuel, not much else here, and then stared our route cross country. There wasn’t much to see here compared to the rest of the South Island so again we continued driving to get the miles in. We stopped at Hamner Springs which is a small alpine town, looks very man made but again is quite cute. We stayed here for the night and set off towards Kaikora the next day as we had booked a whale watch.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 18:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sunset swimming campervan roadtrip honey west_coast vypsies lake_brunner Comments (0)

Mt Aspring National Park, West Matukituki Track

South Island

We set off early from Cardrona to make our way to the end of the Mt aspiring road which is about 1 hour, 1 way from Wanaka, 2/3rds of it being a gravel track with fords in it.

We arrived at raspberry creek carpark (end of the track) around 9am and set off on our tramp.

Our first hurdle was the rob Roy glacier track which is 4km uphill giving you great views of the glacier.

Once back down (8km done in total) we started the west matukituki track and headed for aspiring hut which was 9km away but on a mainly flat route following the river up the valley. The views of mountains and glaciers here is amazing and teases you for what’s to come if you venture further in.
We arrived at the hut after lunch and bagsy’d ourselves a couple of beds in the shared bunk room. We had an early night as we had been advised to start our next part of the walk early due to gale force winds coming in the afternoon. We woke in the night and went outside to use the loo and the stars were unreal! The best I have seen anywhere!

We got up at 6.30am, had some breakie and set off at 7.15am heading for French ridge hut which is 8-9km away but over 800m climb!! The first hour is okay, again following the river with a gentle climb and once you cross the river and enter the trees the steepness hits you! This wasn’t like anything I have walked in the uk or Europe or even when I did the annapurna in the Himalayas! The terrain on the track was so steep in places you had to rock climb and scramble up.
It was tough going but we took lots of stops to take in the scenery as it was unforgettable! You end up being on par with glaciers and looking down the valley at the mountain range. When we finally got the top (it took 3 hours to do 4-5km over the climb) and to the hut it was around 12pm and we were the only people there, expecting others to join us later as we had passed quite a few people on their way down from the hut. No one else came, so just to two of us in a hut 1400m in the middle of the mountains. It was amazing!
We had a nap (3 hours!) cooked tea, played games and went to bed. The winds kicked in during the evening and it was pretty scary being in a tin hut! It was so loud you woke up throughout the night but our hut kept us safe.

The DOC range had told us to expect heavy rainfall as well as the strong wind, therefore not to try and set off back down until it had passed in the afternoon. She told us this via radio which you have to switch on a certain time and check in with them as weather conditions can change that quickly it can be very dangerous to be on any of the routes at that time.
We sat out the rain and the wind until 12pm (24hours spent in the hut!) and once the weather cleared we set off on the long journey back to the carpark (about 19km in total and back down the treacherous path!). It took us around 6 hours to get back to the carpark and it was nice to do the same track a different way as we saw things we didn’t appreciate on the way up.
We were both tired and said we didn’t want to walk for a while but would definitely do another overnight tramp like this again as it was a great experience with views you just wouldn’t get anywhere else.

We then drove back through Wanaka and started our journey towards the west coast. We didn’t go far as we were tired and parked up next to the top of lake Wanaka.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 21:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged walking views scenery mt climbing tramping aspring_hut french_ridge_hut aspring Comments (0)

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