Day 25. Again the weather was with us, warm rays through light cloud, on our early drive to Marlborough. We passed through wine territory, vineyards as far as the eye could see, regimental, row after row. Long-suffering has not the taste for wine, and although I have the taste, he has not the patience needed to tour a winery! The terrain changed again to green imposing hills with valleys between until finally the ‘scenic drive’ started….
Scenic drive….Ascending up long, steep, winding climbs we were expecting many breathtaking vistas from vantage points along the way, we were wrong. Dense, tall vegetation made even glimpses out virtually impossible, with the exception of this one……
Elaine Bay DOC camp….we arrived in glorious sunshine and parked looking out at the flat calm waters extending out to the sounds. Rather than rushing straight out for a walk we decided to have a couple of hours down time, chairs out, enjoying our bayside view.
Piwakawaka Track 2km 90 minute return…..The first and shortest of two walks we planned to do in Elaine Bay took us through thick beech and native bush up above the bay with intermittent glimpses of emerald/turquoise sea below.
Dropping back down, the track took us out onto a small secluded beach, with its own private hut overlooking the bay…
Perfect opportunity for long-suffering to get aerial shots of Marlborough Sounds and for today at least, our own private beach…
Day 26th…The roof drummers were back most of the night along with gale force roaring winds as our van was rocked and buffeted, I thought we might end up in the bay. Sleep deprived, rain still falling and thick mists, we accessed our situation and the viability of our planned day walk The Archer Track. For the first time since arriving in the South Island the rain had thwarted a planned walk….
After a difficult winding drive out of Elaine Bay with poor visibility – pea soup.
Out from the gloom came Nelson Tasman… A city visit instead! Briefly here the sun popped out, seizing the moment a walk was sought…
Centre of New Zealand Walk… so named for being the central survey point in the 1800s. Easy 1 hour return from Branford park where we left Aramoana. Although short the track was steep as it zig-zagged upwards, first through forest edges speckled with forget me nots and then opening out as the overhead canopy became less dense.
Views from the Summit….
And happily a garden visit to Queens Garden Nelson….
Rose and Wisteria clad pergolas, Geranium maderense, from blowsy to exotic…
Huge Dawn Redwood, seed sent to New Zealand in 1949 from trees found growing in Central China in 1944. One of three seeds became this tree….
Scented Honeysuckle tree
Bridge over the residual Maitai River to the Huangshi Chinese Garden – A sister City Garden.
Latte, hot chocolate and mouth watering Danish Pastry at a lovely cafe in Nelson…The Bakers Coffee Shop
Drive to Cable Bay campsite. Views out to cows, Delaware Mud Flats and sea through the gap in between trees. Hopefully sheltered from the gales!
Evening stroll along the pretty stony beach, very cold…more layers were added before we checked out the uphill beginning of the next days walk.
Day 27. Heavy rain fell overnight and the morning promised – and provided – more of the same. Back into Nelson for Long-suffering to pick up a new watch battery, food supplies, diesel and dump station.
Cable Bay to Glendu Bay walk… 4 hour return. Back from Nelson rain was light and intermittent, the walk was on although the mist was still hanging around.
Long steep climb up to the ridge through grasslands with grazing sheep either side of the pole marked way. By the time we made it up visibility was getting poorer, drizzle had set in.
Halfway along the ridge we could barely see where we were going or coming from. At this point we took the sensible decision to head back to Cable Bay and warmth of our motorhome Aramoana Two.
The white topped marker poles had all but disappeared by now and we scrabbled about trying to get our bearings without inadvertently plunging down off the sides into the abyss.
On the last steepest slope, Long-suffering slid down like he had ‘heelys’ – wheeled trainers – on minus the flashing lights – we could have done with those to light the way!
We made it back to base, safe and sound to watch the rain and play scrabble. Score now 3-1 to the muse!
Day 28….torrential rain, roof drummers back all night long! Queen Charlotte scenic drive in the rain through more murkiness!
Smiths Farm camp…Rain stopped briefly. 4.5 mile walk to edge of Queen Charlotte Sound….
Day 29….More heavy roof drumming overnight, drove to edge of Charlotte Sound for our planned walk. Sat in the lay-by watching Strictly Come Dancing on long-sufferings laptop hoping the heavy rain storm would ease for our last memorable great walk on the South Island….it did!
Queen Charlotte Track… Anakiwa – Grove Arm Viewpoint. 8 miles 3 hour return. Fairly easy track, some steep ascents through native bush, often dark and enclosed, the ground was wet, muddy and flooded in places, not surprising after all the rain.
Along the way a stop at Davies Bay….
More ascents, descents, rocky paths and waterfalls….
A baby goat looking for its mum…
Approaching the Viewpoint still dry, the cloud broke up and the sun made a welcome return just in time for the stunning views out over the Charlotte Sound and our last walk and memory of the South Island….
Picton…..Wood piles and Ferries
Top 10 Holiday Park…. powered site, washing done, hot showers ready for our ferry over to the North Island in the morning.