Sunday, 23 May 2010

Final Days on South Island

With our departure to Wellington booked for tomorrow we have decided to mark our departure from South Island with a couple of days of luxury in a resort complex at Portage on the Marlborough Sounds -
The timing is good as New Zealand is in the middle of a severe winter storm with masses of rain and gales due over the next 48 hours so the Cook Strait crossing could be fun!
Since the last post we have enjoyed the Golden Bay scenery, observed the pig hunting competition at Collingwood and spent a wet weekend near Nelson giving us the excuse to go to the pictures for the first time in ages.
We then headed out to the Sounds arriving at French Pass where a beach side DOC site provided a remarkable place to stay the night. A highlight was the large pod of dolphins passing through the narrow channel that separates the peninsula from D'Urville island.
Other gems such as Duncan Bay and Penzance gave us more walking and cycling opportunities and an insight in to the lives of people living in such inaccessible areas which we followed up later by taking the Pelorus Mail Boat on its all day run out to scattered homes that look forward to the weekly delivery of mail and groceries. Mussel farms are scattered around as Havelock is the green lipped mussel capital of the world and the whole area is a boaters paradise with the mass of islands, inlets, coves and beaches. Stunning properties mostly only accessible by boat include one on Forsyth Island currently for sale as an entity for only £900k.
A soggy pitch on a DOC site gave us a good excuse to use our winch for the first time to extract us from the mud but no such problems were encountered at stunning Titirangi at the head of the Sounds where we stayed as the only visitors on a remote DOC leased farm reached by a long and winding road.
So tomorrow we move on after a superb six months down here - the variety of scenery has been remarkable and we have a host of happy memories the latest of which are available at the picture link by clicking here

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Karamea, Cobb Valley and Farewell

The coast north to Karamea was wild and beautiful and the DOC site at the south end of the Heaphy provided a good base from which to explore the palm fringed beaches, admire marine life and then walk the Oparara limestone basin with superb scenery and features that are very much undersold.
With the move to North Island fast approaching we then headed round to the Tasman area to spend a week in the Cobb Valley reached via a narrow winding road and then a gravel track that crossed the ridge bringing us to a DoC site at the head of the valley from where we enjoyed the Mount Peel Track and our coldest night yet with a severe frost. We were cosy in the well insulated van and the good weather rewarded us with walks to Lake Sylvester and a circuit to Asbestos Cottage where a remarkable couple had lived miles from anywhere for 37 years in total simplicity.
We have just enjoyed a few days at the excellent Wharariki campsite ( ) and explored Farewell Spit on foot and horseback - wonderful views, superb beaches and great people.
Limited internet here so a shorter update but hopefully pics at the link as ever.