Nelson, Abel Tasman and beyond
08.03.2010 - 11.03.2010 23 °C
It was such a lovely morning that Catherine & I decided to play some golf, while Thomas drove to Ashburton to see a friend of his who has a dairy farm outside the town. Ashburton was about an hour’s drive from Christchurch and is locally nicknamed “Ash Vegas” because of its similarities to Las Vegas. Thomas’ friend has a large farm there and milks over 1,300 cows a day. Catherine & I walked to the local Hagley Park, hired some golf equipment and played 18 holes; it was quite a good standard pubic course and so convenient. It’s a parkland course with a great variety of trees in it. With the heat of the day and all the walking we were really tired at the end of the round; we were pleased to stop on the way back to Aideen’s for a coffee and cake. Lots of the cafes in Christchurch (in fact throughout NZ) are creative with their selection of cakes and biscuits. When AIdeen, Kieran and Philip got back from work we had some supper and went back to the park to play some doubles tennis; as the light was fading we played on one of the floodlit courts. Though tired we had close games and a lot of fun.
We were up early to catch a 7:00 flight to Nelson; it a small twin-engine propeller plane but it was a smooth flight and landing – only 35 minutes in the air. We had booked a hire car from the airport; however, as it wasn’t ready, we caught the shuttle into Nelson and visited the “iSite Centre” – there is one in most towns and they’re helpful information bases. We browsed around the town centre and the shops and visited the local museum. Once we collected the car we drove towards Abel Tasman, found our accommodation, which we had previously booked at the iSite centre. The accommodation was outside Mouteka in the middle of market gardening countryside with peaceful beautiful scenery surrounding it. The apple trees were laden with fruit; a variety of other fruits were also grown and there were polly-tunnels for specialist flowers as well as the usual vines for this part of the country. We had a self-contained chalet with its own balcony overlooking the valley. We drove to nearby Kaiteriteri where there were lovely beaches, had a swim and sunbathed for a while. We booked a boat trip for tomorrow.
Awoken by the sun streaming through the balcony windows we got up and checked out of our accommodation and went to the beach to pick up our boat trip along the Abel Tasman coastline. We had a large fast speed boat with over 150 passengers on board; the people sitting next to us were Finnish, those behind were French and those in front Dutch – very cosmopolitan. The trip took us past the idyllic white sandy beaches, numerous small islands (including the Tonga Island Marine Reserve) and up to Totaranui. We looked out for the seal colony around the Marine Reserve but unfortunately didn’t see any. On the way back we asked to get dropped off at Tonga Quarry so we could walk part of the way and arranged to be picked up in the afternoon at another beach further south. We had an hour’s trek through the woodland from the beach and on to Bark Bay where the pick-up was arranged. However it was too shallow for the boat there and we had to rush to the next bay along to catch it – we just made it. We made our way back to Nelson and on to Blenheim where we booked an apartment for the night. Blenheim is in the famous Marlborough wine growing region where there were manicured vineyards as far as the eye could see. We passed by signs for some well known wines, such as Cloudy Bay, Montana, Wither Hills and Lake Chalice.