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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Day 288-295: Kaikaura to Nelson in fast forward

Well this is going to be a little bit of a ­mixed bag of a post – in the long wait for Rob's video that ensued after our Sky Dives (we have them both here now, hurrah!) we got a little behind in our today I'm going to zoom from Kaikaura to Nelson in one fall swoop so we are once again operating in real time.

Kaikaura is a sweet little town. When we arrived it was being slowly swallowed by cloud rolling in from the sea that made the Seaward Kaikaura Range look like it was floating Avatar-style on a fluffy white bed (right). The pebble beach was hot underfoot and the sea was freezing.

We passed the day wandering around a school fête and then along the long Beach Road that makes up the town centre. It is a hotspot for those keen on seeing whales and albatrosses – but when trips begin at around $140 dollars, we were priced out of the market and forced to settle for antagonising seagulls instead.

There is however a very photogenic and – most importantly – free to see seal population at South Bay just outside of town. We paid those funny-looking things (left) a visit and also began a walk that follows the coast for about an hour along the cliff tops. From this vantage point the divide of grey cloud from the coast against the blue sky inland was quite magnificent. You could literally walk in and out of fog into searing daylight – it's difficult to explain but this pic (below) shows what I mean.

The following day we continued north on Highway 1 to Blenheim where we stumbled upon a local Radio Station's Summer Sundays in a park. Basically there was just a DJ and a couple of More FM flags and the perfect reason to get a picnic together and chill out in the shade for the afternoon. A perfect Sunday (below)

After a few days of relaxing we made the longer drive to Nelson, definitely one of my favourite towns in NZ. It is set on beautiful coast line with jagged rocks and sandy beaches, the town centre is compact and charming with everything you could possibly need in one place and the enlightened council there have even allotted a small area of park land as designated FREE overnight parking for camper-vans. Every town everywhere should have this – heavens knows it would make our lives a lot easier. Yes, we knew Nelson was great almost as soon as we arrived, and it would turn out that it was lucky we felt this way...

But we didn't know then what we know now and so after a day we continued to the northernmost tip of the South Island for some spectacular views and some challenging walking. The plan was to spend a day in Golden Bay and then do a long walk in the Abel Tasman Nation Park on our way back to Nelson. We found a great place to stay with some lovely Dutch folk just past Collingwood and in the morning made our way to “must see” Wharariki Beach which lies down a dirt track, through green fields with grazing sheep and over gloriously white dunes – and it really is a must see.

We dropped our bags on a stray tree branch and went for a paddle, the tide was coming in so we decided against one of the walks but did not, crucially, decide to move our bags before a particularly big wave swept in swirling our flip flops and belongings up the beach. Why am I telling you this? Flip flops get wet all the time. Yes, but cameras don't – and shouldn't, but Rob's one did. And back at the van it made only a scary clunky noise and the lens didn't open. For the first time in 290 days threesixfive would be without images.

And that is why we decided to return immediately to Nelson – to buy a replacement. Why put ourselves through a days gruelling walking around Abel Tasman if we couldn't even show you guys what it was like. Spirits were low. And, it seemed, the cost of this error would be high.

That said, the following morning after a bit of fiddling and vigorous blowing out of grains of sand the camera actually took a photo and started to show signs of recovery. It is early days yet but the prognosis is looking good. This did mean that we had some extra days in Nelson and, though we possessed a working camera, we'd missed out the Abel Tasman National Park – but all's well that ends well and the extra days turned out to be so necessary for me. But more on that next time...


  1. Seals fascinate me. I could watch them for hours.

  2. yes they are so adorable - and these guys weren't bothered by anything, even loads of japanese tourists with massive cameras...which is lucky in NZ :)

    just checked out your blog - we're heading to california in a month-ish so i'm going to give it a proper search for west-coast tips