We arose early Monday morning in Wellington and caught the 9am Interisland Ferry back to Picton on the South Island. Our destination that day was Kaiteriteri, virtually the last town before New Zealand’s smallest, but very popular, Abel Tasman National Park. It was about a 3 hour drive from Picton to the house we rented, a drive made ever more difficult because of the gauntlet of wineries we had to pass by in the region of Nelson. Ouch. But, our perseverance in the drive was rewarded with amazing vistas of the beautiful white sand beach in the tiny village of Kaiteriteri.
The house we stayed in was amazing. It was set up on a hill above the beach, with panoramic views in two different direction through large sliding glass doors.
We never wanted to go out to a restaurant while we were there; how could you top sunsets from your kitchen table every night?
On our first day there, we drove to the Anatoki salmon farm (number 35, on the top 101 Kiwis must do!). It is a really cool idea. They have a salmon farm, with salmon in varying stages of development, and the largest area reserved for the ‘mature’ salmon, each weighing about 1kg. There is plenty of fresh water for the salmon as the farm is fed by a large mountain river. You get a pole and some artificial bait and whatever you catch, you keep. But the best part is they will hot smoke (and flavor) the fish right there, and you get to eat your salmon for lunch. We had a blast!
And the freshly smoked salmon was delicious (we had 4kg of fresh salmon to eat…..and we ate it all).
Just down the road from the salmon farm is a cute little zoo, and we couldn’t resist it.
The zoo was alongside a river (the same river as the salmon farm) and it was also the site of a famous spot where a woman, for decades, had fed local freshwater eels. We couldn’t resist that either.
And if you want a closer look at these creatures……
We put chopped meat on a stick, and then fed them with great care. We also visited some freshwater springs (Te Waikoropupu Springs) which produce some of the clearest water in the world (at a constant 11.7 degress C) with recorded visibility of over 40 meters.
The colors were simply stunning. I searched and search the waters for trout (you can’t fish there, but that never stops me from looking), and sure enough, Debra spotted a nice brightly colored rainbow hiding amongst the weeds.
Then, it was back to our little beach village for some more fun in the sun.
The next (and sadly our last) day there we took a boat into Abel Tasman Park (there are no roads, so you either walk the whole park, or do what we did, take a boat part way in and walk whichever part you want to). I’m told the Park gets over 500,000 visitors a year, and I can see why, with waters like this….
The boat passed by some great sites, like broken apple rock.
We asked to be dropped off about half way through the park, and then we did a great hike along the water to a lodge where we had a late lunch, and then we went and explored the beaches some more. We didn’t want to leave.
There was one particular beach, with long stretches of perfectly clear shallow water, and I really enjoyed just watching the boys explore this new land.
All too soon the boat came and we headed back to our house for one last glorious dinner at our house. The sunset cooperated, and we had picture perfect weather that evening.
Then Thursday came, and we reluctantly loaded the car, and pointed our noses to Dunedin. We were a bit unsure of whether we should take some of the smaller roads on our way to Christchurch, so we stopped at a gas station in town on our way out to get some ‘local’ advice. The mature gentleman behind the counter was very nice, and so helpful. He said, “Oh, sure, I’d recommend the smaller roads.” He said, as he sized up Deb and I. “You two look young, like you could handle it. I mean, I wouldn’t take those roads myself now, but heck, if you find yourself getting sick, just pull over and enjoy the views!” He said with enthusiasm. “And,” He said, as he gazed out the window at our car, “you’ve got one of the SU-BAR-U’s, so you’re car is likely to make it through the mountains.” We thanked him profusely for his advice, and then, and we drove away hoped he wasn’t looking as we took the exact opposite road from the one he recommended.
So, what part of this two week holiday was our favorite? I suspect you’d get a different answer from each of us. Abel Tasman Park is amazing, and we could have easily spent an entire week there. So, too, with the Marlborough Sounds, Kiakoura and any of the tours through the wine country.
For now, though, we’ll revel in the memories of a great trip since it’s back to the working world. Well, until this weekend…..when we are off to Doubtful Sound.