Trip to the north of the south island
Helen's mum and dad (Elizabeth and David) arrived in Wellington at the beginning of February. They have been to New Zealand before but had never visited the south of the north island or the north of the south island - so after a few days of them getting over their jet lag and looking around Wellington we took the ferry over the south island for 10 days holiday.
It was a relatively uneventful trip over on the ferry and we stopped briefly in Picton for lunch before heading over to Mistletoe Bay on Queen Charlotte Sound. The weather was nice - so Aaron and David cycled on the Queen Charlotte Track to Anakiwa and back and Elizabeth and Helen headed out for a paddle. It started off quite calm, but the wind picked up and we had a bit of a work out as we paddle back into Mistletoe Bay.
Our car loaded up with 3 bikes, a double kayak and 4 people for 10 days holiday!
Elizabeth in the front of the kayak
David riding on the Queen Charlotte Track
Post ride deconstruction at the cabins we were staying at Mistletoe Bay
The next day it was pouring with rain, so we headed over to Renwick to go wine tasting for the day. It appears that lots of other people were also using this as a rainy day option. We went to a couple of the lesser known wines from the smaller wineries including Seresin and Te Huia. We purchased a good selection of wines to drink the rest of our holiday!
On Saturday afternoon we headed over to Nelson Lakes after a morning of more riding and kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds. Sunday it was pouring with rain - but that didn't stop the hardy Elizabeth and David from heading up Mt Roberts, while Aaron and Helen had a little paddle in Lake Rotoiti.
On our way over to Golden Bay Elizabeth dropped the rest of us off at the top of Takaka Hill so that we could ride the Rameka Track through the Abel Tasman National Park. The first part is gravel road through Canaan Downs, then we took a detour to see Haywards Hole, a very large cave, before joining the Rameka single track through the bush. The track was certainly challenging with lots of tricky stream crossings.
Aaron, David and Helen starting out to ride the Rameka Track from the top of Takaka Hill
The Rameka track ends in Takaka where Elizabeth had spent the morning checking out the museum and craft shops. We treated ourselves to a real fruit ice-cream before heading on over to the far end of Golden Bay where we were staying in a friend's parents bach for the rest of the holiday.
The bach is surrounded by native bush with views out over the very shallow bay which is completely exposed at low tide. There were lots of birds - mostly black swans and spotted shags. Elizabeth and Helen went out kayaking at high tide around the headland and island and got up fairly close to the birds and a couple of fur seals that were sleeping on the rocks.
Seal on the rocks around Puponga
Spotted shag on the rocks off Puponga
Whiriraki Beach has got to be one of the most spectacular beaches in New Zealand. We spent a short time exploring the beach before walking east along the cliffs on the coast towards Farewell Spit. The walk was a little harder than we expected - with lots of up and down, but the views were spectacular.
Elizabeth and David at Whiriraki Beach
View of Farewell Spit from the coastal walk
On Wednesday we had planned to go sea kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. However the weather was foul. February should be the driest month in New Zealand, but David and Elizabeth appear to have brought their rain curse with them again! So after driving over to the north end of Abel Tasman in the pouring rain, we came back via lunch at the infamous Mussel Inn.
Fortunately the weather cleared up on Thursday and Aaron and Helen went out in the morning to explore the Aorere Gold fields mountain bike tracks. Then in the afternoon we had booked a trip out on to Farewell Spit. We got a guided tour which included the Maori and Pakeha history, the geology (some of it was a little off - but it was mostly correct), and the wildlife - with a little bit of moralising from the guide a long the way. We saw quite a few seals basking on the beach and a few birds. The large sand dunes were quite impressive.
David, Aaron, Helen and Elizabeth on top of a sand dune on Farewell Spit
The next day Elizabeth and David did the Kaituna track from Whanganui Inlet to the Collingwood valley. They got a taste of hardcore New Zealand tramping..... where you can't navigate as you are in the trees the whole time and the track has lots of roots, bit slippy, slightly overgrown, with a lot of up and down. They managed the 18 km in 8 hours! We had dinner at the cafe at the end of the track - the Naked Possum, where even the manager was impressed that they had completed the walk. While they were walking we went for a little paddle in the Whanganui Inlet before going for lunch and a swim at the Kaitoka lakes.
Saturday the rain came in again .... time to head home.