May 2021 – The End Of Our South Island Adventures

It feels strange to be posting about travels we made a year ago. But life has found many ways of distracting us from focussing on this blog during that time. And we’re still determined to complete our 2021 adventures in Aotearoa. Having recently posted a second blog about Liverpool, where our gorgeous friend Jill visited, I thought it only fair we finished this post which includes our stay with her in Nelson.

What ISN’T in the post, but IS in the photos, are some stunning images of Barry’s of a Lake Brunner walk we attempted with Kerry and Tony. The Bain Bay Track. And the breathtaking reflections on the journey there. I’m not entirely sure why they missed the previous post, something got mixed up somewhere 😉

Completing Our NZ Journey

We left the South Island of New Zealand in early June 2021. The last NZ post shared our amazing experiences travelling with Kerry and Tony through Arthur’s Pass and up to Reefton. On the morning they left us, Barry and I toured Reefton before heading up to Nelson.

Reefton was one of the first places to experience electric street lights, officially switched on on 1st August 1888.

Although we had limited time in this historic gold and quartz mining town, we were fascinated by our museum visit and realised we’d missed an opportunity to explore this area more. Hopefully, we’ll return one day.

Lunch At Lyell

Leaving Reefton late morning, we continued towards Nelson. Our campervan was booked in for some bodywork following a ‘scrape’ with a parked car in Gisborne in late December 2020, so we now had a tight schedule.

Taking a right turn at Inangahua Junction onto State Highway 6, we stopped 18km later at Lyell, another West Coast Goldmining town. Named after British geologist Charles Lyell (a friend of George Grey whose writings influenced Charles Darwin), Lyell’s gold rush began in 1862 when Maori prospectors found gold in Lyell Creek.

By the late 1800s, the population of miners and families had grown to over 2,000. Surprisingly, a small settlement remained until the 1960s. It’s a remote place to have lived, but I guess that’s just how it was then. Check out the image on this site which shows how Lyell looked in 1910.

The area where the township was is now a DOC Campsite – complete with incredible views and wonderful walks. It’s difficult to imagine how tough life would’ve been for those who came to New Zealand and settled in Lyell or other gold mining towns.

Our friend Helen recommended a book called ‘The Colour’ by Rose Tremaine, as she’d read it after holidaying in NZ a few years ago. I bought it on Kindle and devoured it. I thought it was a wonderfully insightful portrayal of the toughness of life for a young British woman. Harriet Blackstone emigrated to the South Island with her husband and mother-in-law in the 1860s.

Once again, we’d love to return here and stay longer one day. If only we had all the time in the world! We do appreciate how fortunate we were to enjoy four months of tiki-touring around the South Island.

A Breathtaking Lunar Eclipse View In Nelson

Our original booking with the van panel beaters was on the 27th of April. We moved it forward a month as we had so much left to experience, and wanted to spend two weeks with Jamie. Living in a house again, staying with Jill, was rather surreal! There were lots of gifts. Like an oven having only had a two ring hob for so long. And the congenial company of Jill and her lodger Meg rather than just the two of us.

We narrowly missed a one hundred year weather event where from Ashburton to Christchurch roads were cut off, and many bridges washed away. Ones we’d recently travelled across and remarked at how low the river levels were. Lakes we’d camped nearby with Kerry and Tony had levels considerably raised. And no one was getting through Arthur’s Pass for a while. We felt so fortunate.

Sadly Kerry and Tony weren’t so lucky and had a horrendous circuitous journey from their daughter in Geraldine to Christchurch for their return flight.

Our arrival at Jill’s coincided with a magnificent lunar eclipse. From Jill’s rooftop, we watched the moon rise and then become shadowed by the sun.

Exploring & Repairs In Nelson

We did little exploring in Nelson, as I wanted to focus on getting up to date with work and blog posts (though obviously not enough focus!). I also finished my lace plate embroidery – which only took 12 years from starting in 2009!

A Saturday morning market in Nelson with Jill was a pleasant excursion. I bought a hand-made kiwi sun catcher there, that’s hanging on the kitchen window in our boat, and a few packets of freeze dried fruits. We chose boysenberries & feijoas (yummy NZ fruits), and blueberries. A company called ‘Little Beauties‘ make them.

One enjoyable evening was spent at a quiz night at a local pub – as well as a few card nights at Jill’s amazing rental looking out over the port.

The van was panelbeaten brilliantly by Quality Paint and Panel and looked better than ever on return. Not a cheap exercise of course when you have to pay the insurance excess …

We were sad to say haere ra/farewell to Jill, but knew our paths would cross again either in New Zealand or the UK.

Pelorus Bridge Madness

Heading next towards Picton for the ferry, we made a few stops en route. One was to Pelorus Bridge, where The Hobbit barrel scene was filmed. We were aghast reading handwritten notes of crazy people who’d jumped off the bridge despite the warnings of death or permanent injury.

The nearby walks were breathtaking – and of course, the fungi frequently stopped me in my tracks.

Pottering Around Picton

We enjoyed a night in Picton before our ferry crossing, at the Retired Servicemen Association (RSA) club for $6. Fortuitously they had a quiz night on.Joining with three members to make a team, we had a great night. We took the chance to explore Picton a little too, as we’d not spent much time there before. It’s a glorious port area, and I especially loved the stunning starfish we found on the walk to Bob’s Bay.

Our journey across the Cook Straight in January was with Bluebridge Ferries. We’d enjoyed watching from the top deck as we left Wellington, but by the time we went inside there were no seats available and had to sit in the cafe.

This time we booked the Interislander and thought we’d give their ‘Plus Lounge’ a go. With the generous NZMCA discounts, it was only an extra NZ$70 for us both.

You could eat and drink to your heart’s content in a sumptuous lounge – with no kids. I thought it was a bargain! Sadly, however, the ferry before ours broke down and so we were delayed by over two hours. We’d eagerly looked forward to an evening with Rod and Tracy in Wellington. Our crossing was booked to leave Picton at 2.15 pm, and we finally left around 4.30 pm. It was a ‘school night’ for them, so we managed to squeeze a couple of hours in their company.

Although painful to leave the South Island, we had heaps of incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences to treasure. In the next NZ post, we’ll share our top ten highlights of South Island. If we can whittle it down to that few …

Barry’s Super Slideshow

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog with Barry’s images. Enjoy these stunning photos.

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