I’ll admit this is probably another long and boring post….Gav recommends just looking at the pictures…….
Day 15: It was a Saturday and after we packed up our stuff and got moving, we ran into the weekend Christchurch crowd at Cave reserve and then half of Christchurch at the very cool Castle Hill.
The next stop was a snack stop in Sheffield, en route however we passed through a place called Springfield.
After Sheffield we took the scenic drive north which was a bit of a boring drive. Our stop for the night was Cheviot Motel and Camp. The nicest place we have stayed yet- it actually supplied towels! Pure luxury! Also it was one of the few kitchens that we used as it was well stocked with equipment.
Day 16: The following day we made our way to Kaikoura we had been told it was a nice place by the lady in the rental shop, I had been advised by someone else that going north via Hammer Springs would be much better. The latter was right. There was not much to see in Kaikoura unless you go whale watching or seal swimming. The price was insane though, you could actually get a helicopter flight for the same price per person as you could going on a boat with 50+ other people. So we got a coffee and then headed north towards Blenheim. Luckily there were a few interesting stops on the way.
After the excitement with the seals not much else happened and we camped in the middle of nowhere outside Blenheim in a lovely forested area called Onomalutu Campsite (DOC).
Day 17: The following day we went to Nelson and had a wander about. It’s quite a pretty town, filled with artists and wine tours of the surrounding area. So we chilled out here for a bit.
I had planned on us staying around here for the next day or two and do some hiking in Abel Tasman National Park but Gav was intrigued by the Farewell spit so after a few hours in Nelson we headed west towards it and arrived early at our campsite for the night McKee reserve in Ruby Bay. Which was run by the local council, a chap on a bike appeared at 9pm to take our payment for the night before locking the gate.
We found a nice spot right next to the beach with a lovely view but rather annoyingly people would come and sit right in front of where we were even though there was loads of space. It also had cold showers- which was not bad for $6 pp (£3). Normally it is a minimum of $10 for a place with showers.
Day 18: The following morning we continued our journey to the Farewell Spit.
To get to the Farewell spit involved a punishingly long drive over Takaka hill, a long, narrow, winding road over the mountains next to Abel Tasman National Park. Eventually we got there had a cup of tea and then went for a long walk along the beach….we had planned for an hour…….
The 30 minute walk turned into hour and a half Farewell point and though lovely we were very glad to get back to the car. From there we took a short detour to visit Cape Farewell- the most northerly point in South Island, on the way back we passed a cliff with a rather creepy face in it.
The cheapest nearby campsite Collingwood Motor Park, which was pretty nice as we had a sea view. Plus it had charge points!
Day 19: It was now the 27th January and we were due to take the ferry on the 28th, we needed to be near Picton, so we had a relatively early start with some interesting stops on the way. The first was Devils boot caves but it was closed however the silver lining was that there was a New Zealand falcon breeding pair in the area and we got to watch them hunt.
All around this part of the island were Manuka honey hives, which were easily spotted due to their bright colours dotted about the hills next to the Manuka trees. One thing we also really liked about the south island was the roadside selling and honesty box system. You could pick up all sorts of delicious fresh produce this way from fruit to vegetables. This way you could get lots of fresh stuff for a few dollars and it lasted really well (most of it). We got plums, potatoes, carrots, cucumber, peaches and the best bag of salad we had ever eaten from these stops.
There was a short detour to Te Papu Springs, a sacred water to the local Maori people. Unbelievably inviting water but you are forbidden to touch it.
Next up was Rawhiti cave located on a farm DOC path, it consisted of a nice forest walk followed by a horribly sweaty steep climb up but at the end we were rewarded by a really cool cave of a type we had not seen before.
After Rawhiti we drove for ages until we reached Cullen Point with views over Havelock.
Drive to Smiths holiday farm near Picton, run by a lovely couple who gave us banana muffins on arrival and a big bag of feed for her goat, incredibly greedy sheep and a sleepy pig; the pig didn’t get anything. They also had a glowworm walk to a waterfall but we decided not to do it due to the rain (yes we are soft).
Day 20: The following morning we arrived in a wet and dreary Picton, a miserable day for the ferry but luckily it was a relatively flat sailing with only 2m swells.
A lot of people were quite sick though and we arrived at 6pm into Wellington and promptly left. There were no decent or reasonably priced campsites near Wellington so we stayed at a DOC one 40 mins away and around the coast.
Next up our brief stint up the North Island…