Posts Tagged ‘Marlborough’

December 9th – 11th: Island-hopping

December 16, 2008

We stayed in Nelson before and after the Abel Tasman, enjoying the fun arts scene and the fresh fish.

Our view of the Nelson harbor from an excellent seafood place.

Our view of the Nelson harbor from an excellent seafood place.

We visited our last couple of South Island wineries before taking the ferry back to Wellington. Even though we’d been gone less than a month, it was wonderful to see our recent home again, but bittersweet knowing that it was possibly the last time. We wandered the streets a bit, taking in some of the tourist sites we’d overlooked before, including a ride on the Wellington cable car and walk through the city gardens.

Our obligatory tourist shot of the Wellington cable car, which runs from downtown to the hillside botanical gardens.

Our obligatory tourist shot of the Wellington cable car, which runs from downtown to the hillside botanical gardens.

Jonathan = hardcore.

Jonathan = hardcore.

We headed on north, driving through the now-familiar areas of Tongariro, the Waikato, and Taupo.

The snow-capped ski destination Mount Ruapehu, the peak of which we'd missed on our previous trip this way due to cloud cover.

The snow-capped ski destination Mount Ruapehu, the peak of which we'd missed on our previous trip this way due to cloud cover.

Watch out, skiwis are everywhere.

Watch out, skiwis are everywhere.

We stayed a night in Rotorua, a geothermal tourist destination, but didn’t stay long due to the pervasive sulfurous smell and the hordes of picture-snapping travelers, opting instead to press on to beach relaxation further north.

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December 7th and 8th: Abel Tasman Coast Track

December 16, 2008
One of our big goals for the South Island was to do an overnight hike in the Abel Tasman National Park on the coast track, one of the nine Great Walks in New Zealand. The whole thing spans more than fifty kilometers; we picked out a 20 km segment at the more remote (and therefore less crowded) northernmost end of the track to do over two days. We could talk about how beautiful it was, how much we enjoyed such an in-depth experience of the park, or complain about the number of evil sandfly bites we left the park with, but the journey is better expressed in pictures.
Jonathan the hermit crab sets off down the trail amidst the subtropical bush.

Jonathan the hermit crab sets off down the trail amidst the subtropical bush.

Bluebells like these grew wild all over the Abel Tasman.

Bluebells like these grew wild all over the Abel Tasman.

The track ran along the coast, occasionally leading along pristine white sand beaches.

The track ran along the coast, occasionally leading along pristine white sand beaches.

This weird, dimpled plant is the native Kowaowao, a.k.a. Hound's Tongue.

This weird, dimpled plant is the native Kowaowao, a.k.a. Hound's Tongue.

A fuzzy, curled fern with the coast in the background.

A fuzzy, curled fern with the coast in the background.

We camped in a kanuka tree grove just feet away from this beach on Anapai Bay. Here Jonathan stretches as we watch this lavender sunrise the next morning.

We camped in a kanuka tree grove just feet away from this beach on Anapai Bay. Here Jonathan stretches as we watch this lavender sunrise the next morning.

Pied Shags were on nearly every beach on the track, and being fairly used to visitors, they stuck around for us to watch them playing in the surf.

Pied Shags were on nearly every beach on the track, and being fairly used to visitors, they stuck around for us to watch them playing in the surf.

Dead silver ferns hang over a wall of the trail's reddish clay.

Dead silver ferns hang over a wall of the trail's reddish clay.

The introduced California Quail has thrived in the area but isn't considered a pest. We saw quite a few on the second day, including a male quail with a line of about ten babies trailing after him — unfortunately they ran away too quickly for a picture. This one, however, struck a pose on a fern for as long as we were willing to watch.

The introduced California Quail has thrived in the area but isn't considered a pest. We saw quite a few on the second day, including a male quail with a line of about ten babies trailing after him — unfortunately they ran away too quickly for a picture. This one, however, struck a pose on a fern for as long as we were willing to watch.

The final stretch of the hike toward Wainui Bay and the parking lot, which took us up a big hill with some good views of the bay along the way back down.

The final stretch of the hike toward Wainui Bay and the parking lot, which took us up a big hill with some good views of the bay along the way back down.

November 15th – 17th: Onward and Southward

November 20, 2008

We first caught sight of the South Island from the deck of the MV Santa Regina, our ferry from Wellington to Picton via Cook Strait and the Marlborough sounds, with our car stored safely below deck.

Sailing into Marlborough Sound, our first glimpse of the South Island.

Sailing into Marlborough Sound, our first glimpse of the South Island.

From Picton we headed down the east (Pacific) coast, anxious to see the furthest points south and then work our way back up, camping and snapping pictures along the way.

The gorgeous ocean views along State Highway 1.

The gorgeous ocean views along State Highway 1.

A bee gettin' busy with some New Zealand flora.

A bee gettin' busy with some New Zealand flora.

The South Island is full of spectacular scenery, much of it not even listed in guide books. This sight, for example, was in a poorly-marked viewpoint off a side road that was recommended to us by a local woman selling hand-knitted goods at a roadside craft fair.

A sandstone formation called the Cathedral, near Kaikoura.

A sandstone formation called the Cathedral, near Kaikoura.

Most of New Zealand’s wines come from the South Island, so of course we felt obligated to try a few. The vineyards offer almost as much in the way of sights as tastes.

The self-proclaimed "most scenic vineyard in New Zealand" - and it's hard to disagree.

The self-proclaimed "most scenic vineyard in New Zealand" - and it's hard to disagree.

On Tuesday we made it as far as the 45th parallel, which was commemorated by a roadside plaque, and by somewhat perplexing adjacent distance markers. (Anyone have any explanations?)

Becky enjoys the tropical climes at 44.99999°S while Jonathan freezes his butt off in Antarctic 45.000001°S.

Becky enjoys the tropical climes at 44.99999°S while Jonathan freezes his butt off in Antarctic 45.000001°S.

And you know what happens once you start nearing the South Pole… penguins! And not in any zoo either – we watched a few Yellow-Eyed penguins land on the beach after a day’s fishing and climb up a cliff to their nests, passing right by our platform. There was also one confused (and lonely?) penguin perched on a hillside amongst a couple wooden replicas placed by the Department of Conservation to cultivate the area for settlement. He’d apparently been there for a couple of hours, and the volunteer ranger thought he might be smitten.

A yellow-eyed penguin waddles suspiciously past our viewpoint.

A Yellow-Eyed penguin waddles suspiciously past our viewpoint.

We also saw some Little Blue penguins, which are only a foot tall. Pocket-size, Becky thinks. They return to land at dusk in groups of a dozen up to thirty, and after frolicking and scouting around (for good reason — there was a seal napping on their beach when the first ones arrived) they scamper off like crazed little wind-up toys. (No photography allowed where we saw them though, because the clicks and flashes scare them.)