Rainy Lake Days

Posted from Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

 As I’ve moved West the rain has increased. Not a constant rain just gray and drizzl but supposedly the west side of the island is the rainy side. I decided to stay another night at Lake Rotoiti. I took a few short hikes. Even in the drizzle it was really nice.       

  The next day (Tuesday) was even rainier. I loaded up my things, packed everything away so it wouldn’t rattle, and said my mantra as I started to drive. Stay left, stay left, stay left. There’s also look right, look right, look right when I come to an intersection. It was much rainier today as I headed toward Hokitika on the west coast. John and given good advise to drive noire than 4 hours in a day. I took that advise and kept all of my drive to 3 hours. In Hokitika I bought groceries. It was a cute little town but I skipped cruising knowing if be back. I drove the short distance to Lake Kaniere.   

  

There was another DOC campground. This one was a series of terraces looking down on the lake. There are really no designated sites you just pull up and stop. It was still a bit rainy and there were only 2 or 3 other campers.

   

After picking my spot I drive down to the lakes edge for apples. The rain had stopped and there was blue openings in the clouds. It was very quiet and very nice.   

 

Another cruise only smaller

Posted from Jacksons, West Coast, New Zealand.

Happy Easter!! 

The water taxi outing in Abel Tasman was so good I decided to recreate it today. There was a somewhat smaller taxi on this lake.   

While the other taxi claimed they didn’t need life jackets this one made the seven passengers wear them.   

And we were off to the other end of the lake. The hilarious captain let the two young boys onboard take turns driving. He kept telling them don’t go straight swerve. It didn’t seem like a good idea but I had my life jacket.   

When we got to the end of the lake there was a family of black swans.   

The boat unloaded six of the passengers and took off. 

  

I hiked further up the valley aways to a DOC hut for a trek that went by here. This is not one of the great treks like the Routeburn but one of many that exist. I’m very impressed by the hikes and huts that New Zealand has created throughout the country.   

This one was basic but it had beds, water, stove with firewood and an area for cooking. No one was there so I took a tour.     

Then I headed back down the lake on my four hour hike. The trail went down to the lake them up into the hills. It was a great hike.     

Once back I made my Easter dinner. Smoked chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and deviled eggs. Happy Easter!! 

Nelson National Park

Posted from .

 The Abel Tasman campground was getting crowded for the Easter weekend so it was time to move on. I had made reservations for the holiday weekend at a Department of Conservation campground at Nelson National Park. I had to weave back up the dirt road and back over the narrow winding mountain road. I picked up a young German hitchhiker. He was a medical student in break before starting his medical school. My driving didn’t seem to scare him and he was very fearful. He tried to give me money and food (it was his first hit hiking experience). I dropped him in Moetuka and headed west. I arrived at the campground. It was a small campground on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.  It was cloudy when I arrived. 

But as sunset approached the skies started to clear.     

I took my evening beer and appies down to the shore to watch the sunset.      

What a change from the golden beaches. In just 3 hours I’m a different but equally amazing environment. 

Another day in paradise

 Today was the Friday before Easter and the people started pouring in. There were many large groups of people making the bays  more crowded. I changed camping spots twice seeking a quiter area. I finally got into a bay with several other campers but they were individuals not big groups.   

I took another hike up the coast today. More beautiful beaches and views.   

I found a secret beach that was accessible at low tide by walking around some tall balancing rocks. I took a nap on the beach in the shade (it was hot in the sun).     

This is a moon picture that night with a great reflection on the ocean. It was so bright the picture looks like daytime.  

Another Abel Tasman hike

Posted from Jacksons, West Coast, New Zealand.

Last week with John and Kathleen, we boarded a boat and cruised up the coast, got off and hiked back down the coast before catching the boat again back to the car. I’m now further up the coast at the final spot the boat visits. Today I’m going to hike down the coast then back to camp. As I set off I saw the boat making a stop on my beach.    

My hike would be to Skinner  Point, Goat Bay and to Awaroa where there is a low tide crossing point. Low tide today is at 2:40.   

The hike was very similar to last week. Through the rain forest with spectacular views to the ocean and beaches.       

This hike was nice in that it actually came down to a couple of different beaches. The trail went along the beach and the back into the forest.   

On one beach I saw a stream that came out of the forest and crossed the beach but before getting to the ocean it disappeared into the sand.   

Finally I got to the low tide crossing at about noon. The information says it was safe to cross 1.5 hours before low tide to 2 hours after. I was early (along with a few backpackers) so I sat, ate lunch and watched the water recede.     

Finally I saw others start to cross so I started across.  The water was just above my ankles until I got to the two stream crossings and then it was knee deep. No problem crossing. On the other side was a hut for the Abel Tasman trekkers and a small community of houses. I walked along the beach and hiked up to an overlook. 

When I headed back it was just after low tide and it was amazing the difference  from when I crossed. There was now no water except at the two streams. Everything else was dry sand.   

In places it was covered in small shells.  You can see my foot prints and no others. I probably saw 6 or 7 people cross.   

On the return I enjoyed the beautiful waters again making my way back to camp.   

Since Easter weekend was approaching more people had arrived but still each bay had only a few campers. As the sun set on an empty beach a nearly full moon was rising in to the sky. 

 

Hitting the Road (that means I’m driving)

Posted from Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, New Zealand.

 On my last day in Nelson the RV company contacted me and asked if they could drop the RV off that afternoon instead of waiting for the next day. I said sure. The guy brought it to my apartment, parked it right out front and spent time going over all of the systems. Great customer service.   

From my apartment I could see it sitting on the street. I admit I had a high sense of anxiety thinking about driving it the next day. They drive on the wrong side of the road, the driver is on the wrong side of the car and this one was a 6 gear manual with the stick on the left side not right.  I had spent the past weeks observing from the back seat as John drove (very well) and Kathleen provided navigation and warning advice (also very well). They were an excellent team but it took two of them to get us anywhere. I was just one!! Luckily for me the RV included a nice GPS system. It provided directional advice as well as warnings (narrow bridge, speed reductions, saying I was driving to fast…). I affectionately named it Kathleen. 

So the next morning I packed up my stuff, loaded the RV and climbed into drivers side. I adjusted mirrors, figured out lights, blinkers, windshield wipers and gear shift. I couldn’t put it off any longer, I started the car. Success. I put it into 1st and started. I immediately killed it. The parking break was on. I took a deep breath and tried again. I moved into the street, shifted to second and killed it. I coasted back to the curb and a passing car honked at me. I got 5 feet and had my first honk. Amazing. Only 2 weeks to go. Once again 1st, pulled out, 2nd, still going, 3rd this is easy. Kathleen (the GPS) is telling me to turn left soon. So I turn left. Too soon,Kathleen starts telling me to do a U turn. Half a mile and I’m lost. I get turned around and head out. Luckily I had watched John drive in Nelson so I had a sense of where to go. Through  several traffic circles (they drive the opposite direction on them of course) a few turns and I’m out of town. What I’ve noticed about NZ is the roads are narrow (even main highway), there are no shoulders, they wind around and are all two lanes. Other than knocking over a few traffic cones and running the tires on the curb I was underway pretty well. 

After the successful outing with K&J to Abel Tasman I decided to start my tour there. A road goes about 3 hours to the far north end of the park (actually the only road in the park). Well the first two hours to Takaka was across a mountain range along a narrow, steep and winding road. I got much practice shifting. Fortunately there was very little traffic. I bought groceries and headed on. At this point the road became gravel was less than two lanes and very windy through the rain forest. Finally I arrived at the Totaranui campground in Abel Tasman. Beautiful, the drive became worthwhile. The entry was along a tree lined road ending at a beach.   

The beach was two miles long, golden sands, blue waters and no people. It looked like paradise.   

The campground was huge consisting of about 25 bays outlined with trees. Each bay had about 15 camping spots in a grassy area. In true Harvey form I spent an hour checking out each bay for the perfect spot. Each of the bay’s only had 1 or 2 campers (when full this place would be a zoo). I finally choose  bay R and picked my spot. 

All the bays were lined up along the beach so I was 15 feet from the sands. It was unbelievable to be on a beautiful 2 mile beach with only 2 or 3 people visible in the distance. 

 

I went for a walk along the beach that ended in an estuary. The tide was out and once again just like in Nelson there was a big flat sand expanse.

  

  I headed back for appies and a beer sitting out enjoying the peacefulness. 

 

All in all an amazing day. A successful driving experience taking me to a small corner of paradise. I’ll be here 3 nights so no driving. I’m safe for a while. 

Nelson

We cleaned up the Nelson house that Kathleen & John had swapped for and headed out to run a few last errands and a bit of shopping.   

Then they drove me over to the  apartment that I had rented for the next 5 days. It was right on the edge of the downtown area. The ad had referred to it as funky, I would label it as charming. It was small just a downstairs living/kitchen and an upstairs bedroom/bath. But it included a nice garden area, an upstairs patio overlooking the street, had a very well equipped kitchen and had lots of nice art and items with a Paris theme. I gave Kathleen and John the tour (it didn’t take long) and they loaded up and drove off down the street.   

I spent the next day’s enjoying the cute town of Nelson. It was just a few blocks square. It had shops, restaurants and pubs. I went to the Saturday  market, visited the church up on a hill at the head of town and just enjoyed the small town atmosphere.    

   

There were also several nice walks in the area. I walked along the beach, I walked out to the boat marina and I walked up to the geographic center of New Zealand. From there was great views of the ocean and the town. 

  

At the top was a monument marking the center.   

This is it pointing down through my head at the center.   

From there I took a walk through the hills that went back to the ocean and then to town.  

I very much enjoyed the little town of Nelson. It was a nice rest between the past adventures and the start of the campervan portion of my trip. 

Foodie Day

Posted from Nelson, Nelson, New Zealand.

Today is Kathleen and John’s last day in Nelson. Tomorrow they head out. So we had a contest to see who could come up with the best plan for the day. Kathleen won with her Foodie Day plan. 

While I went to find my apartment for the next phase of my trip they went to a cute coffee shop in town for a flat white.   

We then headed around the corner to a very small Falafel restaurant. They had great delicious falafel sandwiches which went unphotographed since I was hungry. We then cruised through a small Wednesday market and bought more treats (bread, strawberries, avocados…).   We drove a short distance into one of the wine regions. We chose  Milcrest Winery for a tasting. The wines were a bit expensive but very good (maybe why they were expensive). After the tasting of 5 wines we each bought a glass of wine and had a gorgeous cheese platter.     

John went off into the vineyards to pick a view grapes for our tasting. They were small and sweet. Wonderful. 

  

Foodie Day continued when we got back to our house, we packed up things for appies on the beach. We got there as the sunset. Once again the tide was out making for a long flat sandy beach for walking.     

We spread out our food and of course a bottle of wine we’d purchased at the winery. It was a great picnic on the beach.    

Finally we returned home for one last delicious meal prepared by Kathleen and John. It was another of John’s great grilled lamb dishes. Once again no photos as I was hungry (amazing after a day of food). An amazing final day for the New Zeakand trio. 

Abel Tasman

Kathleen and John had planned an outing for the day. A boat ride up the coast of Abel Tasman National Park, a hike along the Abel Tasman Trail and a return boat ride. I’d read about Abel Tasman but had no idea what an amazing place it was. 

We drove about an hour from Nelson along narrow winding roads to a  nice bay with a nice beach. We purchased our tickets and made our way down to the beach where the boat was up on shore. 

We boarded and set out up the Tasman coast. Along the way the captain made a few stops. One was at split marble rock and another was to view seals swimming and sleeping on the rocks.   

 

After about an hour the boat landed on a beautiful beach lowered the walkway and we hit the beach. The boat backed off. We were left to do a four hour hike to another beach for a pickup. 

  

We started the hike through gorgeous rainforests with glimpses to golden beaches and blue seas.   

We made our way down to one beach for lunch. The sands were a deep golden color and the rainforests came right down to the beach edge. The view was spectacular. 

The hike continued through the forest with intermittent views of the beaches. Along the way we crossed several swing bridges.   

One after another the views continued to amaze me. It was all very unexpected. Nothing I had read described this area like this.     

We came to a point where the trail went across a body of water. At low tide this water all disappears and the trail crosses the sand and a small river. Unfortunately is was high tide so we had to take a longer trail around.   

Finally we arrived at our destination beach. It took us all of our four hours. I think Kathleen and I were a bit nervous the last 30 minutes but of course we made it.     

We  boarded  the the boat and head back to our starting point.  

What an amazing day. Thanks to Kathleen and John for organizing this. Definitely a place to return. 

Onward to Nelson

It’s time to head north. I’ve been on the south end of the south island and will now fly north to rejoin Kathleen and John in Nelson. Luckily for me I  get to fly instead of the long drive that they took. My flight from Queenstown had a connection in Weelington, the Capitol. It was a small airport but very proud of the NZ connection to Lord of the Rings. The terminal had a huge sign saying Welcome to Middle Middle Earth.  Inside the terminal was a huge copy of Gollum diving for fish. 

And a giant eagle with Gandalf on its back. I took pictures to share with John.   

When I arrived in Nelson I walk to the house a very short distance since K&J were off having fun. When they arrived we walked 2 blocks to the ocean. The tides was out and there was a huge flats that went on and on. At high tide this would all be underwater.  

  

We walked along the beach as the sun set.  

We walked back to the house. It’s s very cute small house but nice with a very good outside patio area. John and Kathleen prepared s wonderful supper  of  lamb, potato, salad and mustard and mint dipping sauces.   

It was nice to be back with them and not just because they make wonderful dinners.