March 14, 2015 Nelson, New Zealand


We arrived by car ferry in Picton on the South Island.  We were excited to see what how the South Island differed from the North Island.  We knew that less than one fourth of the population of New Zealand lives on the South Island.  We followed the coastline for awhile before starting a steep ascent up a curvy road with many large trucks.  We have learned it is a given that on any day when driving from Point A to Point B, at some time during the trip you are going to be driving on a steep and winding road.  We didn’t know that New Zealand was so mountainous.  The drive to Nelson took longer than we expected and we were tired by the time we arrived.
We were especially glad to be on the South Island since Typhoon Pam was forecast to hit the east coast of the North Island in the next couple of days.  We are expected to only get a little rain.
Nelson is New Zealand’s oldest city and this whole area known as “Marlborough” is known for having more sunshine hours than anywhere else in the country.  The entire region is known for seafood, horticulture and wineries.  This area is New Zealand’s largest grape growing region with 77% of New Zealand’s wine production happening here.  It is said that the wine from here tastes like no other wine anywhere else in the world.
One day we drove to Golden Bay to a beach there called Wharariki Beach.  We had read of a beautiful short hike from the car park to the beach.  The walk turned out to be more than we bargained for as it led us over four fences, through a pasture PicsArt_1426672580970PicsArt_1426672854574PicsArt_1426673018333PicsArt_1426673099564PicsArt_1426675502180with cattle and sheep grazing in the fields and then through up and over several sand dunes to get to the beach.  When we finally reached the PicsArt_1426673426484PicsArt_1426673332884PicsArt_1426673234442PicsArt_1426673555914PicsArt_1426673739899beach it was a beautiful sight to behold.  We walked along the beach and Bill took some pictures of seals on the rocks and PicsArt_1426674076114frolicking in the water.  We walked down the beach to a cave where we saw a mother, father and baby seal.  They were positioning themselves for a nap and didn’t pay us much PicsArt_1426675413421PicsArt_1426674944032PicsArt_1426674802960PicsArt_1426674441368attention.  Bill found a geocache and we headed back to the car.
The next day we went to Abel Tasman National Park, which was made a park in 1942 and is New Zealand’s smallest national park.  It is named for Abel Tasman, the first European in the region.  He never landed in New Zealand but was the first to see the area in 1642, even beating James Cook in 1770.  We thought it rather odd to name a park after someone who never actually set foot on the land!  The park is known for its golden beaches, tranquil lagoons, clear water, walking tracks and forested hills.  It is New Zealand’s most visited National Park.
There are no roads into the park so your options are to get their by boat or park and walk about twenty minutes into the park.  Many people prefer the water option.  You can get water taxis PicsArt_1426746544537PicsArt_1426746097099PicsArt_1426746000734PicsArt_1426745861974PicsArt_1426745573142that will drop you off and come back and pick you up after you have finished hiking and enjoying the beach.  We chose to take a three hour narrated cruise of the 50 kilometers of shoreline.  We passed by Split Apple Rock, Adele Island which is a bird sanctuary, and Pinnacle Island and Tonga Island with seals PicsArt_1426745417054PicsArt_1426745746543PicsArt_1426746450933lounging on the rocks.  Every cove had beautiful beaches with the clearest blue water.  The main rock along the coast is granite approximately 135 million years old.  The granite breaks down and forms the gorgeous golden quartz sand beaches.  We put some people from the States for the first time on our tour of the Parliament in Wellington.  On this cruise of Abel Tasman National Park we met a couple from Houston.
On the way home we stopped to find some geocaches and came upon this sign along the sign of the road.  We loved the picture of the pony on the pottie!PicsArt_1426746626627

Some observations:
Often the motel proprietor walks you to your room, turns on the lights, puts your milk in the fridge, etc.  A nice touch that is not done in the States.
Everywhere we go we notice all the motels have No Vacancy signs by the end of the day.
Many people, especially men have tattoos, some quite large.  Many seem to be typical of the Maori culture.
In order to qualify for citizenship you have to be under the age of 55.

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