And we’re off! Nelson via the Marlborough Sounds
Summer 12/13 roadie, day 1
After months of willing the year to finish and holiday to start, it was finally d-day. With an early (but not rudely so) ferry time we were up sooner than felt natural after the activities and consumptions of Christmas and Boxing Days. We dropped off Mike’s boys and made a beeline for the ferry terminal.
By the time we’d parked and made our way in, it was apparent that a seating frenzy had taken place and we were left to pick over the carcass. I guess the 27th is when every man and his dog not already on holiday makes their move and to add to this, the weather was keeping everyone indoors. My demeanour started to wrinkle but after a couple of circuits we located seats in the cafe and staked out there for the three hour journey.
The grumpy weather made it not the calmest of sailings. I started to regret the mince pie I ate onboard for breakfast* and while I didn’t deteriorate further, Mike had to go up for fresh air to address some growing feelings of dodginess. Luckily that worked. Once out of the Cook Strait though the ride got much smoother.
*trips down south tend to involve a bit of pie eating
The Marlborough Sounds are a collection of drowned river valleys at the northern tip of the South Island. They formed about 10,000 years ago, give or take. Boaties flock there and in fact many places are only accessible by water.
Once off the ferry in Picton we found Queen Charlotte Drive which would take us west to Nelson. Enter the first ‘new territory’ for me on this trip (I’m almost ashamed to say, given the relative proximity to Wellington). The road winds through bush as it follows the Queen Charlotte Sound, providing opportunities now and then to pull off and admire the beautiful views.
However with roads like this there are minimal opportunities for overtaking. Popular tourist route that it is, you should not be surprised to find yourself behind drivers with the warp speed of a snail. Nonetheless, the language in the car did at times get very colourful.
It’s roughly a two hour drive from Picton to Nelson, technically a city and renowned for sunshine and hot temperatures. Or if you don’t want all the faffing in ferries and cars, you can fly there. Resigned to the fact that we would be meeting cloudy and not sunny Nelson, we arrived at our hotel at the base of the Monaco Peninsula at one end of Waimea Inlet. With not much time available, I promptly set out for an explore, finding a walkway beside the estuary.
I went back to get Mike and car and we headed out without any particular agenda. We drove around Monaco Peninsula, an inspired choice as it happened due to its quietness and quirkiness.
The main reason we stayed where we did was to visit friends. Amanda lives nearby and her sister Tracey was staying. The girls and I went to the same country primary school and many, many, many moons later, it was Amanda who introduced Mike and I. It was great to see them and their families.
And that was it for our stay in Nelson. We must go back as there’s so much more to see. But next up we had a date with the mighty West Coast.