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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.

Interislander

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

Out of the rough stuff and in the  Marlborough Sounds

Out of the rough stuff and in the Marlborough Sounds

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.

Queen Charlotte Sound - kinda makes you want a boat

Queen Charlotte Sound – kinda makes you want a boat

Lunch stop in Ngatuka Bay

Lunch stop in Ngatuka Bay

Mad cyclists (and we'd come across many like them) pausing to enjoy the view

Mad cyclists (and we’d come across many like them) pausing to enjoy the view

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.

Waimea Inlet and estuary at low tide

Waimea Inlet and estuary at low tide

Waimea Inlet

Waimea Inlet walkway

Waimea Inlet walkway

Waimea Inlet walkway

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.

At low tide on this side of the peninsula the road involves a short section of driving over sand

At low tide the road involves a short section of driving over sand

4x4 not required (and if we did have an oops, we had a little bit of time to plead for a rescue before the tide would have caused problems)

4×4 not required (and if we did have an oops, we had a little bit of time to plead for a rescue before the tide would have caused problems)

Very happy to see this place! A welcome coffee stop, looking out over the inlet

Very happy to see this place! A welcome coffee stop, looking out over the inlet

Waimea Inlet

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.

Pick the sisters!

Pick the sisters!

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.

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Glad to hear you didn’t get seconds of the mince pie! Looking forward to the next instalment.

    6 January 2013
    • I’m glad too – one of my worst imagined nightmares is being stuck on a ferry in bad weather with many unwell people! And it would have been a waste of a pretty good pie.

      6 January 2013
  2. Just love the “Crusty Crab” – fab name for a cafe

    8 January 2013
    • You reminded me that I hadn’t seen in my unpacking the arty thing I bought in the shop next door from Crusty Crab’s partner. Since found it, so thanks!

      8 January 2013
  3. Looks beautiful. Love your pics n glad you made it!

    8 January 2013
    • Thank you – it was a great trip. Reliving it via the blog is helping me transition into the new working year!

      8 January 2013
  4. Janice Strong #

    Enjoyed the first part of your trip Hayley and learnt as always more about the history of the area. You are a mine of information. Looking forward to the next stop.
    Janice xxx

    8 January 2013
    • Thank you Janice! And Happy New Year to you both.

      8 January 2013
  5. Ali #

    Looks beautiful…you’re right, the Queen Charlotte Sound does make me want a boat! It looks so peaceful!

    8 January 2013
    • It was oh so lovely, though I did decide that a boat sounded too much like hard work!

      8 January 2013

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