Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ferry To Weillington + On To Greytown

Whew, whatta day. I made breakfast in our hotel room to eat on the ferry (cold chicken too). For a ferry leaving at 10:45 you need to be in the car line-up at 9:45, not so different from flying but no baggage to sling since it's all driven on board.

The Interisander ferries are well-appointed, spacious, and today sparsely populated. They offer coffees and bar service but are a little light on nutritious food, so we come prepared. To the left below is the front of the ship, which today sailed smoothly through the rain until we left the Sounds and moved across open water. Mildly urpy, but manageable.

People are always saying "I hope you have a smooth crossing," which makes me chuckle and think of the gates of heaven. It takes a bit more than three hours for the voyage. Here's a long shot coming into Wellington Harbor.

We spent nine days in Wellington in 2015, so today we drive off the ferry and point it north on the superslab, passing through Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, Wellington exurban communities. Soon we're back on two-lane roads making our way through the Rimutaka Range, which on a sunny day looks like this.
photo by Deano87

Today we drive through the clouds, a wet endeavor filled with 25 kph turns that Art managed masterfully.
Destination yay: our airbnb in Greytown, originally a sleep-out for owner Belinda's son (who left for college a year after it was finished). Nice sleep-out! Heated by a woodstove with generous bedroom upstairs.

Belinda also has some lovely raised beds with all manner of herbs and lettuces. Look at that happy celery.

Which she generously suggested we help ourselves to, so of course we did.

On to dinner, campers. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To PIcton Via The Marlborough Sounds

We've been driving instead of walking (boo). But the scenic route through the Marlborough Sounds almost makes up for it.

Tomorrow the ferry will take us from Picton across the Cook Strait to Wellington, capital of NZ.

From there we'll drive north an hour or so to Greytown. Doesn't everyone look happy here?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hard County: A Golden Bay Life

That's the title of the book Art's reading, written by Robin Robilliard, a woman who arrived in Golden Bay newly married in 1957, she and her husband longing to own their own sheep farm. They bought a run-down property that had bested three previous owners. Sixty years later, they live on the same land.

As we drove over the Takaka Hill today, I thought about a few choice passages Art read to me last night...

The Takaka Hill is the door that shuts out the rest of the world. At 791 meters it's not the highest hill in NZ, but it's the longest hill road, 25 km in length, with 365 bends bewteen Riwaka and Upper Takaka.

Calling it a hill is an understatement. Only Nelsonian diplomatic blindness refuses to label it a mountain. It's a great divide, shaggy with bush and bristling with rocky outcrops that precariously span the road out of the Bay.

It isn't unusual to meet holidaymakers in Takaka, with the wife shaking and demanding to go back to Nelson by a different route. There is no other way. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pack Mules Moving On

Honestly, you have no idea how much room there is for things in this wee caravan until you have to pack it all up and fit it back into the Rover (and suitcases--ugh).

Under the eaves of a small motel unit in our campground, Art escapes the rain for unpacking and re-packing the car.

Tomorrow we'll drive over the Takaka Hill, drop off the caravan, make our way east to Picton and the ferry to the North Island, and start some new adventures.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Flashback: May 27 on Lake Wanaka + Kia Makona

Just 12 weeks ago we were camped on Lake Wanaka. Seems like a lifetime has passed.

Coincidentally, Wanaka was where Art found the last pieces for his homemade charcoal grill. We're giving it another whirl tonight.

Nobody knew when I made this picture that as soon as Art put the steaks on it would start raining.

Hi from a sunnier day on the beach right behind Art.

Totaranui Beach + The Abel Tasman Coast Walk

Some days are revelatory and yesterday was one of them. We set out to drive to the Totaranui Campground, a Dept of Conservation (DOC) site that can handle 850 campers--850!--as it surely does during the summer months around xmas. The beach at Totaranui is a golden arc.

Here's the low-tide beach where we're camping. (I should re-name this blog 1000 NZ Beaches.)

We're backing into this story by way of breakfast: organic greens, onion, ginger, beets, chicken, and a hard-boiled egg.

So anyway, the drive. Once you get past Wainui Falls (which we never saw because of the rock-bashed bridge) it's twisty gravel roads all the way. Sometimes studded with felled rock and often pooled with water. You climb ever higher along hairpin turns.

Via Art's dashcam (click here to view vid if reading in email), it's a fun ride...if you don't look over the edge.

Entrance to the Totaranui campgrounds, virtually empty this time of year.

A closer look at the green-growth blobs on the trees. Symbiotic plant or spring growth? I vote the former.

This place will be hoppin' in a couple of months.

Sign on camp bulletin board.

The beach, just steps away, is the star of Totaranui.

Spring blossoming tree. Even on a cloudy day, we can feel summer approaching.

Next we're back on the gravel heading south to the Awaroa Inlet.

Some good conservation work here. Janszoon is Abel Tasman's middle name.

Walking down to the Awaroa Inlet, part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk.

When this tide is out, hikers aim for that orange dot and then around the bush in the distance to the overnight hut.

A zoom-lens view across the inlet at the DOC hut that welcomes Abel Tasman hikers, or at least those with a booking. These huts, scattered along each of the Great Walks, are in peak demand during summer. The NZ government just announced a doubling of Great Walk hut fees for international visitors, much of it going toward a predator-free NZ. More here.

Even though we're practically buried in NZ maps, it wasn't until we investigated further that we realized the Awaroa Inlet shown here at high tide is just a stone's throw from Arawoa Bay, which we hiked to in April from the other direction.


Arawoa Bay is just around the bend on this map, which shows the dotted line where hikers traverse the inlet at low tide.

This all means more to us than to you, but it was a full-circle feeling. April to August, closing the loop. Back in the Rover, we 're heading back to camp.

Gosh, this is beautiful country.