After saying a fond farewell to Wanaka, where we’d felt semi-local after our one month working there, it was nice to head off exploring on our own again. Although our first day involved covering ground we’ve already seen, we had our first experience of hitch hiking, which was surprisingly easy and didn’t end up with us murdered in a ditch! After less than 10 minutes of smiling nicely and trying not too look dodgy, we were picked up by 6 friendly guys in their camper-van who kindly took us to Queenstown to pick up a hire car. Easy peasy.
We then headed north for the top of the South Island to explore the Marlborough-Nelson region which we haven’t seen yet. Luckily for us my Mum’s cousin, Amanda and her lovely husband Matt and children Jess and Joel emigrated to NZ ten years ago, and even though we’ve never met, they very kindly looked after us for three days. We had a lovely time, being fed some wonderful home cooked food, discussing Tolkien and Doctor Who and were given a locals tour of Nelson – a beautiful city right on the sea and surrounded by mountains. We can definitely see why they chose to live here!
We also spent a day walking part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk, which is in a stunning national park, with incredible golden sand beaches and green forests which come right up to the waters edge. We took a water taxi 12km to Torrent Bay and walked the coastal and bush footpath back to the start.
We then headed off on our own into the Marlborough Sounds and went via the Pelorus river where the barrels scene from the Hobbit was filmed. It looks just like the movie (minus a few dwarfs) and was really beautiful.
We then stayed in a cabin right by the water for two nights. We had a fun time in the owner’s boat, after working out how not to sink it by remembering to put the plug at the bottom in.
After a few grey days, we had some beautiful sunshine and climbed up to an awesome look out point where we could see over a huge amount of the sounds and over to Picton where the Wellington ferries arrive. This is a beautiful area and definitely one to spend more time in one day.
We had a final night in Picton before saying goodbye to the South Island for the next 6 weeks – we’ll be back to watch the All Blacks in Dunedin in June. We caught the ferry in the sunshine and headed onto our next place of work in Wellington.