End of our South Island Adventure

Trip Start Dec 08, 2009
Trip End Mar 15, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , Wellington,
Friday, January 22, 2010

Monday, 18 January 2010

Last night we had a very nice lamb chop and salad barbeque dinner and went for a late evening walk through town (two blocks) and onto the beach. It was low tide, and the shells were just waiting for us to pick them up.  We have scallop shells of every color and size.  The beach was so serene.

This morning we made arrangements to take a 4-wheel drive tour of Cape Farewell Spit a very narrow bit of land about 35 km long and less than 2km wide at the widest point.  It is a wildlife sanctuary and is a protected area.  Only the two companies licensed by the Dept of Conservation (DOC) are allowed to drive onto the beach.  You can only go when the tide is out; so the trip will be from 2:30 until 9:30 PM.  We then went back down to the beach, which was now at high tide and walked along for a while.  We visited the Collingwood museum and stopped at Ruby Glow Chocolates…a small house where the lady makes fabulous hand made chocolate delicacies. 

The trip to Farewell Spit was excellent.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about the ecology and the wildlife.  At Cape Farewell you can see the rock formation that is the most northerly tip of the South Island.  On a clear day you can see Mt. Taranaki on the East coast of the North Island about 200 miles away.  From the paddocks of Cape Farewell we drove over the dunes and onto the spit.  About 68 varieties of migratory birds summer here.  We saw Black Oyster Catchers with their chicks, Black Backed Gulls (Dominican Gulls) Stilts, Shags, Gannets, and White Fronted Terns.  In the non-bird department we saw Southern Fur Seals, some with pups. 

We stopped at the Cape Farewell Lighthouse for a cup of tea provided by the tour company.  The company uses one of the three houses that were formerly inhabited by lighthouse keepers.  The light is now automatic.  On the return trip we stopped to climb a sand dune at the top of which we could see over into Golden Bay side of the spit.  The sun was very low in the sky and we cast long shadows onto the dunes.

Back at Collingwood for a toasted cheese sandwich supper and a glass of wine.  The perfect ending to a lovely day.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A couple we met at the motel told us about a beautiful beach north of here.  After breakfast we set out for Wharaiki Beach.  The drive is about 26km from Collingwood along a gravel road.  When you can't drive any further, you walk up through a sheep paddock, over a ridge, and down the dunes to one of the most beautiful sights ever.  It’s about a twenty-minute walk.  There are caves and interesting stone formations on the beach and holes in the rocks for the water to come crashing through at high tide.  The walk back to the car park was a bit more strenuous.  Walking up the dunes is a one step forward, sink into the sand, and start again process.  It was my cardio for the day.  The rest of the day was quiet: reading, a nap, a two minute walk to the shop for an ice cream cone, a short walk on the beach, and, at low tide, taking a bucket and shovel and digging a small bucket of pippies (like small clams) for our evening meal.

Collingwood has been a wonderful three-day sojourn. We had had the sad news at the end of last week that two very important women in our lives Herta Schenker and Ngaire Sommerville had died on Saturday.  Both lived long and productive lives and will be sorely missed.  The tranquility of Collingwood was just what we needed.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

We awoke to a cloudy day.  It had rained overnight.  The drive back over the Takaka Hill was slow and foggy.  In the town of Takaka we stopped to have a look in the shops.  There are quite a number of craftspeople there.  I had read about a woman who makes jackets of felted Merino wool.  The jackets are beautiful, and now one is mine! We stopped here and there at antique shops along the way and arrived in Nelson in the late afternoon.  We had a walk through the center of the city and booked a room for the night.  After a little rest we walked back through town to a very nice restaurant where they have stone grilled meals.  They bring your meat on a very hot (800F) stone.  You cook it at the table to your desired doneness.  Delicious.  We considered going to the movies after dinner, but the show didn’t start until after 9PM, and we didn’t think we could stay up that late!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

We awoke to gray skies and pouring rain.  I wanted to check my email at the Nelson library.  It was raining really hard when we got to the library; so I thought I would just see if I could get the Internet signal in the car.  It worked; so we sat in the parking lot for half an hour while I did my email stuff!  We checked out the Nelson antique shops and headed off to Seddon.  The drive is uneventful until Havelock.  There we took the Queen Elizabeth Drive along the shores of the Queen Charlotte Sounds with magnificent vistas at every turn…even on a cloudy day.  We had our picnic lunch at Momorangi Bay.

We stopped in Blenheim to get some groceries and were just getting ready to leave the car park when a woman pulled into the next space and hit our car.  Nothing serious…we exchanged particulars and went on our way to Seddon and our friends Rob and Merodie Cameron.  We got to their house before they did, found the key where they said it would be, and made ourselves welcome!  We had a great time catching up with Rob and Merodie and showing the map on which we have highlighted our South Island route.

Friday, 22 January 2010.

Kate and Laura are 38 today.  In honor of their birth and the fact that it is also the Cameron’s daughter Fiona’s birthday, we have had a quiet day at home.  Buzz has been helping Rob and his builder erect a new woodshed.  We talked to both Kate and Laura, I made lasagna for dinner tonight, and all is right in our world.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Buzz and I took a little tiki tour to Blenheim and then back to Seddon along the Taylpr Pass Road.  This is a one lane gravel road through a beautiful pass.  It ends on a on the Awatere Valley Road with lovely vineyards on either side.  Back in Seddon, we visited the Yealands Winery.  This winery is trying to be "green" using solar heating, wind turbines to generate their own power, and wetlands among the vinyards to encourage native wildlife...and the wine isn't bad either.  I did the wine tasting, and Buzz ate the crackers!  In the evening two of the Cameron children and their families came for dinner.  It was the typical, enjoyable family evening with little children.  Rob, Merodie, Buzz and I reveled in the quiet when they had either gone home or to bed!

Ssunday, 24 January, 2010

We said our "goodbyes" to Rob and Merodie with the reminder that they owe us a visit since we have now been to see them twice.  I think they are too much "homebodies" to travel so far, but you never know.  We drove up to Picton and got the ferry back to Wellington.  The crossing was
much more pleasant than on the way to the South Island three weeks ago.  Still, we only spent a few minutes on deck preferring to have our picnic lunch and read our books on an inside deck looking out the window.  From the Ferry terminal we drove the 30 minutes to Pinehaven and a warm welcome from Darcy and Phyllis Ross.
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Javier on

It looks just beautiful! Best from Madrid

ben on


doris greenberg on

isn't it interesting that all the photos exclude Elaine---I know who is taking the pictures! You have captured such beauty and tranquility--it feels good to read it while I wait for the patients to arrive this morning. I am so happy you are having fun...travel is the best. Love, Doris

eric & Janie on

We remember Wharaiki Beach. The northern tip of the South Island was probably our favorite area in NZ, but then there was...

Jean on

Thanks for all the travel news, and great photos. We are enjoying following your adventures. Have fun!

Sandy Greenbaum on

So beautiful. You may not want to come home! Enjoy!

Barbara on

Love the beaches! They're almost as fine as Devereau beach in Marblehead---minus the rocks.

Deborah van der List on

I am enjoying reading your travel diary... Makes me remember my travels there many years ago. Mark will be in Christchurch mid may for a dairy conference. I look forward to catching up with you when you get to California.

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