Having arrived in Wellington we would yet again be indebted to Vince, this time for putting us up at his home for two of our three nights. And the hospitality didn’t stop there, Kay whom we’d never met until the first nights BBQ, she let us stay for our last night !
Our first full day in this fantastic city didn’t start to well, I’d been coming down with a cold over the last few days and by morning it was in full force. Thankfully as I said we were in a nice warm, draft free house and in comfortable beds so it could have been much worse. Naomi and Vince took care of me and by mid morning I was feeling well enough to get out and see some of Wellington. Vince became tour guide and taxi driver and for most of the day he drove us to all the best places for photos, tops of hills for views of the city and the sea, beautiful parks for dramatic coastlines and windswept beaches and of course the occasional stop for coffee and cakes at one of the numerous coffee shops. Fortunately I wasn’t required to do more than lift a camera and take a few photos, very grateful for that 😉
Here are the fruits of my labours….
In the evening we went out for a meal at a local Chinese restaurant and were joined by Kay, good food, although to be honest I couldn’t really taste it because of my cold !
Our second day started with us decamping to Kay’s house as we’d be staying there for our third night, it’s a lovely house with great views and in a fantastic location as it’s only five minutes walk to the metro line that takes you into Wellington. Naomi and myself were on our own today so this was a perfect way to get into town and take a look around. A one day rover ticket is only $14 and it only takes 20mins to get into the city from Kay’s house, the ticket is valid on all metro lines for the entire day, we’d make use of this later !!
We quickly made our way out of the station and as we turned round we couldn’t help notice a statue of Ghandi, he sure gets around 😉
One of my favourite daft answers to a quiz question involves Ghandi, the question was what was Ghandi’s first name, after some serious concentration the contestant looked the quiz master in the eye and in a serious voice uttered this immortal answer ” goosey” !! Well it made me laugh anyway !!
Following Vince’s advice we crossed the road and headed to the waterfront, we were actually in search of a coffee shop and perhaps a nice chocolate croissant but alas we had to make do with chocolate cake 😉 Its a lovely area around the waterfront, just right for mooching about and taking photos. We eventually ended up at the Te Papa Togarewa museum, a fabulous place to visit but it would take all day to do it justice. We popped in for a short visit, just enough to see the colossal squid and get a feel for the place, we didn’t stay long as we didn’t want to spend our only day in Wellington in a museum no matter how good it is !!
While out in town I managed to replace my hat that I’d lost while on the jet boat in Taupo and Naomi found a phone geek who managed to help her with storage on her phone. We ate at yet another Irish pub, visited a bike shop for advice on cycling on the South Island and managed to get help with directions from two Kiwi policemen although one of them did come running after us to let us know he’d been holding the map up the wrong way and had therefore sent us in entirely the wrong direction !!
Having seen enough of Wellington we decided to take the metro out beyond Plimmerton and find a beach, there great places for photos when it’s windy and the sea gets up a bit. In the end we had no choice as to where we got off as the train ran into a bit of a technical problem, no electric on the line. As it happens it stopped at a very nice little village with access to the beach and a great little bar where they brew there own beer. It was some of the cheapest beer we’ve had in New Zealand at only $10 for a litre jug, that works out to roughly £5 😉
So photos of beach, done. Beer consumed, done. Back on the train to Plimmerton, done, so here are a few photos from the day….
I think that should be enough photos !!
Back at Kay’s house we were in for a surprise, roast pork, roast potatoes, veg and gravy and best of all was the chocolate sponge pudding and ice cream for desert. Vince joined us for dinner and yet again it was a lovely, relaxed evening 😉
Vince arrived in plenty of time in the morning to join us for tea before we had to leave for the ferry, I loaded all the bags into the truck while Naomi had her breakfast but the bikes were already loaded thanks to Vince. He knows his way to the ferry as he happens to be an engineer on one of the ferries, so we were there in no time at all. We offloaded the bikes and loaded our kit on to them while we said our goodbyes to Vince and Kay, they were both brilliant to us and really made our time on the north island a very enjoyable time !!
The ferry left on time and for the first 20mins the water was calm but as soon as it got out into the straight things got pretty messy, they shut the bar because the glasses were falling of the racks and there were lots of people suffering while holding onto sick bags. Thankfully neither Naomi nor myself suffer with sea sickness so I can only imagine how horrible it must be for those that do. The last hour of the trip is up through Queen Charlotte Sound and the waters hear are much calmer so people did start to perk up a bit. On leaving the ferry we quickly found a place to eat and were invited to join two travelling cyclists, a guy from London on his first trip and his mate from California who’s done a fair bit of touring, never did catch there names though !! Lunch was good, Naomi had her first but certainly not last taste of Green Lipped Mussels while I tacked a cheese burger, like I said, good food but not cheap !!
We said our goodbyes and set of in search of Queen Charlottes Drive, we found it eventually despite it being poorly marked. It starts with a fairly good climb that takes you up into the trees with a great view over Picton and the ferries. It descends to follow round an inlet before levelling off for a while then one last good climb takes you into Havelock and our camp for the night.
The camp although pleasant enough was not as well equipped as the Top 10 sites despite charging as much money, it’s only the second time in New Zealand that we’ve ended up in a place with no pans, crockery, glasses or cutlery. We do carry some cooking kit but it’s so small that it’s a real pain to cook on so we went in search of food instead. The Mussel Pot was our chosen spot for dinner and we both had steamed mussels in cream, herbs, garlic and wine with a side order of fries and bread. Oh dear, I had no idea just how large the portions were and I struggled to finish up, Naomi failed…..the first time I’ve not seen her finish !!
All in all a great day, enjoyable ferry ride, beautiful bike ride from Picton to Havelock and great food to finish the day. Here are a few photos…..
The last two photos are from the marina, we took ourselves for a walk to try and get our dinner to settle, not sure it made all that much difference though. The last photo is the Post boat, it goes out three times a week to various places on the sound, very remote places and you can pay to travel out with the post and see some of the area. Unfortunately our schedule didn’t allow us time for this, a shame really as I’m sure you’d get to see so much !!
After a breakfast of bananas and porridge we were on our way to Nelson, we were aiming to be at a Top 10 camp just the other side of Nelson so about 80km. The ride would start out along the inlet before heading up a fairly big hill as the road turned away from the sea and into the trees. We were probably about 25km in when we met a local cyclist who told us about a great place to stop after the big hill and before the run into Nelson, we’d be looking for it !! The scenery was mainly tree lined valleys, steep sides swathed in pine trees and logging tracks, the occasional stream breaking up the evergreen !!
We were enjoying the rolling hills but knew we had a big one still to come so weren’t going crazy, when it did start though it started fairly steep and had us both in granny gears from the off, it wound up the hill for a good few km before finally levelling out for a short spell. Then the descent, what a great ride, long sweeping turns on good Tarmac and with light traffic made it a fabulous ride down. At the bottom, as promised was the ice cream shop, and yes the portions were huge !! As we sat and devoured our cones we got talking to a couple, Kathy who’s originally from Ireland and her husband Martin who was born in Nelson. We told them about our trip and they asked loads of questions which we duly answered, they finished there ice creams and left to get back in there car. I turned round to see Kathy coming back across the road, do you have somewhere to stay – would you like to stay with us, she asked ? No and yes we said. She quickly drew a map and left a phone number in case we got lost, they said goodbye and left us to follow. We only had about 12km to go to there house so we stopped to take a few photos on our way but we still arrived just before 3.00pm. They both made us feel like we were at home, and what a lovely home it is, tall ceilings, great woodwork and large spaces beautifully and tastefully furnished. Oh and the large German shepherd, Zeke, he’s a huge dog with such a fantastic temperament !!
We swam, we soaked up a few rays, we showered, we or should I say Kathy did some washing and we blogged until it was time for dinner. We were joined for dinner by Nisha, Kathy’s daughter and Emma and Kieron who are Martins kids, what a great family, not everyone goes around inviting random cyclists into there home but the kids didn’t bat an eyelid !! Dinner was a BBQ, and a good one at that. Naomi and I as per usual ate everything and washed it all down with beer and wine. We’ve both been on the receiving end of random acts of kindness before but this takes it to a whole new level !!
Time after diner to watch the New Zealand cricket team beat India in a limited overs match and get some info from Martin on bike routes to Rabbit Island and the ferry from there.
What a fantastic day, I suppose I ought to show you a few photos…..
Like I said, a great day ! The last three photos are the home of Kathy and Martin, can you spot Naomi ?
Kathy and Martins hospitality continued in the morning as coffee and toast were provided…..mmmmm !
So before I go on, hear they are, our wonderful hosts, Kathy and Martin and stealing the show is Zeke the long haired German Shepherd albeit he’s had a haircut to keep him from overheating 😉
Thanks again, you really did make our day and your hospitality was so generous not to mention faultless !!
Following Martins advice we went back into Nelson and found the coast road, he was right it’s a very pretty ride. We kept our eyes open for the Taste Trail, a bike route that would take us safely to Rabbit Island. In the main it was fairly well marked but we did have to ask a couple of times. There were plenty of people to ask as it’s a well used route, as we were trying to get through a gate we ended up stopping and talking to a family group out for a bike ride, I think it was Nan and Granddad looking after there two grandchildren. Seeing the two young boys dashing about on there bikes was great, all that youthful enthusiasm ! We took there photos as they seemed interested in our cycling adventure, gave them one of Naomi’s cards with the details of her website and promised to include them in my next blog, so hear they are…
Wouldn’t it be great if we managed to inspire one or both of them to cycle the world !!
The route follows the coast, right next to the water and takes you all the way round the headland until you take the bridge onto the island. From here you follow the bike route parallel to the main logging road until you hit the beach. From the beach you turn left and follow the road and signs for the ferry ! All the way through this ride the scenery has been fabulous and now we get to ride a purpose built bicycle ferry, it really was built just to take cyclists from the island across the inlet to Mapua…..brilliant. Leaving Rabbit Island and it’s densely planted pine trees behind we looked for a cafe, coffee and food were required ! It didn’t take long to find one and after a little refreshment we headed out for a rendezvous with Kay’s father, Les. We found his house but unfortunately he wasn’t in so we left word we’d called and headed for Motueka. More glorious scenery gave us something to look at and before long we’d arrived, it just so happened that one of the first shops we found was Wilson’s. We’d been trying to organise and pay for a trip with them so we went it and sorted it out face to face. Next was lunch, a great vegetarian curry for only five bucks and we were soon on our way again. Only 14km left and again most of it on a bike path, it takes you over a few short, steep hills before you descend into Kaiteriteri…..the bay looks amazing as come come down the hill.
We’re in Kaiteriteri for two nights as tomorrow were on a trip which will include some walking, kayaking and a couple of water taxis, if we’re very lucky we may even get to see seals !!
As the cabins are not much more than the cost of two tent pitches and we’re here for two nights we decided it made sense to take one, it will also give us somewhere more secure to leave our kit while we’re on our trip. Because we arrived fairly early and didn’t need to put up tents we were able to get out for a walk round the bay, it’s won awards for it’s beach and it’s easy to see why !
Well all that’s left is to cook dinner and go to bed and I don’t need to go into anymore detail so here are some photos of our day…..