18 December 2021

Just three days after the Auckland borders were opened and Aucklanders were allowed to leave without special exemptions, we landed in Nelson on schedule at about 10:40 a.m. and picked up our car rental, a Mitsubishi ASX.

We made our way straight to Nelson Market, which we knew would be open till 1:00 p.m. As we did not find any parking, we parked outside Countdown half a kilometer away.

Sadly, we only thought of clicking a picture just as we were leaving; we could have taken many beautiful pictures inside the market.

After we had a look around and had bought a few little things  we had a peek inside Manna Christian bookstore nearby. (This was just on a whim, even though these days, we buy all our books from other online stores, because the number of seriously Bible-based books in Christian bookstores has declined drastically.)

We then bought some takeaways and took it to our accommodation in the holiday home in Tahunanui. 

The rest of the afternoon and evening was for relaxing. About 6:00 p.m. I took the car to a supermarket to get some bread, milk and other basics.

19th December

This being Sunday, we Zoomed into the worship of South City, our church back in Auckland. Normally we would have liked to visit a church locally, but with Covid restrictions, it was proving to be a little complicated.

Improvised lunch of toast and garlic butter with soup and mango.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Japanese garden nearby.

Then the Geography teacher in Prisy took over and we found ourselves walking over the boulders and pebbles on the  Boulder Bank. Over millennia, accumulated debris on the seabed has formed a spit of boulders 13km long, making it the largest natural reef and boulder formation in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes an 8km stretch suitable (kind of) for walking. We would have just walked for 15 minutes or so.

We then got fish & chips and went home.

20th December

This is the day we drove to Picton. As we set out, we saw a cloud looking like a watercolour with a blotched effect.

Anyway, our first place of interest was Havelock, where Sir Earnest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, grew up and where NASA scientist William Pickering was born. An article in the Internet jokes that it must be something in the water. Havelock is known as the mussel capital of the world.

From there we turned off SH6 and took the scenic route to Picton via Queens Charlotte’s drive, which is a 40km winding drive between Havelock and Picton, one of the most scenic drives in the world. Someone has said that navigating this road is like cruising the Marlborough Sounds without a boat.

We stopped at Cullen point to do a short 10-minute walk to a lookout point for a view of Mahau Sound. Very often in touristy places, you see places milked for what they are worth and more. But at Cullen Point, the meagre signage hardly conveyed the explosion of beauty that hit the eye. (And there’s the long-drop loo, that reminds one of promises made to oneself—and repeatedly broken—never to use a long drop ever again.)

We then stopped at Momorangi Bay Camp and Cafe to see if we could get something for lunch but settled for a packet of chips and a rest, before taking to the road again. Everything about this stop was fabulous—the breeze, the view, and even the mama duck who came by with her ducklings in tow.

Our next stop was the lookout over Shakespeare Bay. The lookout was above the very impressive logging dock. A gentleman nearby told us that the water was very deep—deep enough for large ships, and he mentioned the Edwin Fox. (He also told us that he had never been to Auckland!) It was very windy, as you can see from the video, and all those who were wearing caps had to hold on to them.

Logging dock at Shakespeare Bay, Picton
Windy moments

Picton town was just a few minutes’ drive from this lookout point, and it was a tiny place. Although we did not go inside the museum, we had a peek at the Edwin Fox, the old ship that we had been told about at the last lookout point. The Edwin Fox is the world’s second oldest surviving merchant sailing ship, the only surviving ship that took convicts to Australia, and the “only intact hull of a wooden deepwater sailing ship built to British specifications surviving in the world outside the Falkland Islands” After the 1880s, when steamships took over, she was was used as a floating freezer hulk for meat in the sheep industry in New Zealand, and in 1905 was converted into a coal store hulk. It was interesting to know that she had been built in Calcutta.

That packet of chips was not going to be enough, we needed lunch, and all the eating places in Picton were now closed. So we decided to go to Blenheim.

Blenheim is a beautiful town, we loved it. It reminded me of Cambridge in the North Island. We bought some wraps from KFC and enjoyed a little picnic at Seymour Square, which is a war memorial with a clock tower.

We did not return via Queen Charlotte Drive but took the easy route back to Nelson.

21 December

Philip took some pictures of the holiday home for our remembrance. Unlike other blogs, my blog serves me primarily as a repository of memories. Very often I look back over the years and cannot seem to remember the events that filled them. This blog helps me remember some of my days.

Our touristy day began at 10:00 a.m. with a tour of Pic’s Peanut Butter World, which we had prebooked. It is a tour that families with children would most certainly enjoy. They tell you all kinds of interesting details—Pic (Pic Picot) is the name of the founder, Peanuts are legumes, The peanut plant flowers above the ground and fruits below the ground, and so on. We got to see the 14m peanut roaster, and the workers packing the product into glass jars.

The next task before us was to look for a place to get a Covid test for Prisy, so that we get the results back in time for our flight on Thursday. Prisy is double jabbed but determined not get a vaccination pass (as an expression of solidarity for those who are unvaxxed).  Almost everywhere this holiday, she has not been able to enter restaurants or go on tours, which is fair enough. But today, we found that it was nigh impossible to get a COVID test for the purpose of travel. It is easy enough to get Rapid Antigen tests for the unvaxed and Nasopharyngeal tests for those who are symptomatic. But if you are a double-vaxed person wanting to travel, you need to make arrangements with your family GP. But then when you are on holiday, what is the option? What is the vaccinated, non-symptomatic tourist to do? How did we solve this problem? Fortunately, having had a slight sore throat for a couple of days, she could state this as a symptom and make use of one of the  popup centres. She was told that she was not to party or go shopping, and she was happy to comply. As we were going about in a car to outdoor destinations, we are probably not partying, shall we say?

Next we went to Abel Tasman National Park, entering it from Marahau village in the South. On our way there, we passed through Motueka, which seemed to be a substantial town.

Finally we reached Marahau village and entered the Abel Tasman National Park. The park is huge and its Coast track is famous. We can now say that we have walked the track. Ok we just covered the tiniest possible 10-minute piece of it, near where the arrow is pointing in the map.

On our way in, we passed The Park Cafe where a welcoming message caught Prisy’s eye, and she was determined that we must purchase something there on our way back. The message said: We love you all / Please show us your passport / No passport no problem / Ring the bell for takeaways/ Thank you

We saw people, really determined to take a serious long walk, passing by now and then.

As already mentioned, shamelessly we chose the shortest possible walk, which is the one to Porters beach.

When we got to the beach, we found a shady spot to eat some of the snacks we had brought with us.

Just as we were about to head back, Prisy pointed me to an egg snuggled in the sand. I wonder if it will successfully hatch; I hope it does. It is easy to miss the egg, as it almost looks like one of the many sea shells around it, from a distance.

I wonder what it is about driftwood that is so attractive. Much to Philip’s dismay, I have latched on to one little piece of driftwood to take home to Auckland.

As decided, Prisy made me go into the Cafe and buy something. I got two blueberry muffins, which will be good to have for breakfast tomorrow.
As we drove back to Nelson, we made a stop to pick up some wraps for lunch (along with a small box of Turkish delight) at Taste of Turkey in Motueka, the substantial town I mentioned earlier. Yum. The drive home was uneventful.

Afer a rest, we went to the supermarket. Everywhere we looked, the evening was beautiful.

We then bought some takeaways for dinner from an Indian restaurant called Taaj. The garlic Naan and Chilli chicken was comforting.

22 December

Prisy’s test results came back negative as we would expect. The relief is in the fact that we have the results in time for tomorrow’s flight back to Auckland.

We checked out the Farmers market on Halifax Street. It was tiny but will be interesting to locals. We did not buy anything, because this is our penultimate day in Nelson, and we are trying to finish off whatever food we have.

On our way home, I was able to click a picture of the Wiseman by the roadside.

We spent most of this very hot day quietly in the holiday home. I don’t think I mentioned this before, that the airport is not far away and flights arriving in Nelson fly quite low as they pass this area. I tried to take pictures of the planes today, and realised that they were not WYSIWYG, and the pictures do not do justice. Never mind.

Philip and I went to the Tahunanui Beach close by at about 8:00 p.m. as the sun was going down. The breezes were refreshing.

We bought a little bit of food at the Indian takeaway to supplement what we had at home for our last meal in Nelson.

23 December

The final packing done and the visitors’ book filled out, it was time to leave for the airport.

After checking in, I took a few pictures of the “classic car” showcased as an advertisement for the Classic Museum, which we did not visit. We did not visit places that were not free; we are a little cheap like that. And this time we had some self-imposed COVID-19 restrictions to consider, although Prisy, the self imposer seemed delighted on the few occasions when we left her alone in the car; not sure what to make of that delight.

We flew home. This time we had to change planes in Wellington. Goodbye Nelson for now. Heaven will be so beautiful if it’s got to be better.