We’ve survived the first few days but yet to get into the flow of being on the road. We’re starting to think we may just reach that as my mum and Allan arrive to visit us in a few weeks.
We came off the ferry and drove for a massive 10km (!) to a DOC (Dept of Conservation) campsite next to the sea. It was just as well we left as our older habits were dying hard – within minutes of arriving we had spent $50 on a South Island road atlas and some mozzie spray. It was a great feeling to have only driven for 20km, including the drive from our house to the ferry, and be sitting where we were, a glass of vino in hand and chilling in the sun.
From here we headed around the coast to another cracking spot by the beach which was about 20km away, along a very hilly gravel road but again was set on a fantastic beach which gave us some super rocks to clamber over as the sun set. Although we were going to head over into the Sounds, we were so close to Blenheim we decided to go mountain biking for a couple of hours, then go to a vineyard for some sampling. This is one of the prime wine growing regions in NZ. Despite this, one was enough really as we never really appreciated wine that much, and we’d probably still end up selecting the specials at Pak’n’Save on a Friday night!
To make the best of our chances of getting to the Sounds we decided just to head towards there and drive for an hour or so to within 15km of where the Ferry dropped us off, so we completed a little circuit. Again we ended up in a cracking DOC site right next to the sea. Despite the impending rain storms I headed out to try fishing and caught my first four fish. I never had a clue what they were, and the were pretty small so I popped them all back in the water….although to be fair two of them got back in of their own accord before I got them onto the wharf. Ciara quite wisely decided this was not the time to start fishing on the road trip and settled into a book….so she missed my glory and I’ve got no photos (so I should really be saying there were several large fish that ‘got away’).
The next day our trip into the Sounds was put on hold as it still lashed down and we could hardly see the other side of the bay, so our mood dropped a bit …..at least we had the choice to change our plans but it was somthing we were both looking forward to. We decided to head to Nelson, which is always sunny according to the forecasts, and I was accompanied with a little drip of water on my foot, just beside the accelerator….not a good sign. We knew we had a bit of a leak in the van but that was the worst I had noticed….guess we never drove in Wellington when it was raining! On top of that, later that night we noticed the 12v socket for the coolbox had broken……then we witnessed an inconsiderate backpacker pissing by our van in a free motorhome parking area as we settled in to dinner… and you wonder why free camping is getting a bad name in NZ! If you read this and you are touring around NZ – wise up – in a few years (if that) there will be no free camping left in NZ, so grow up and respect it, or everyone will be forced to travel around in expensive self contained vans.
Alas, today we have been brought back to our road trip in true style. We got up early and went to the superb Nelson market, got a replacement coolbox socket no worries, spent the day on the beach by Nelson at a local’s spot courtesy of a well timed text from a friend in Scotland, and I am sitting typing this in the van, parked up in a campsite, less than 10 metres from a lovely beach. We headed to Kaiteriteri on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. We’re going to park up here for a couple of days, head back to Nelson to get some ‘xmas shopping’ in, (i.e. shoes for Ciara hopefully, the same as mine – our xmas pressies to each other…..mine are sitting tucked away in the van until she gets hers), then decided where to head for xmas, in the hope we’ll manage to find a spot next to the hordes of Kiwis who’ve booked up all the sites.
It has been a wake up call with the cost of activities here though – a day’s sea kayaking in Abel Tasman costs up to $194! That’s about £90 which is a bit crazy if you ask me, so we probably won’t be doing as much as we’d like to as that could mean several extra days of not doing such pricey activities.