Words cannot describe this beautiful, intoxicating, idyllic South Island justice so I am going to document most of this trip with pictures but I will have to write about some parts as we had some great adventures that we want to share. We headed out of New Plymouth and drove South to Wellington to catch a car Ferry that would take us to the South Island. Going to the South Island has been at the top of our "to do list" so we were super excited about this road trip.
Our first stop on this journey was Nelson. Nelson is known for it's glistening golden sand beaches, turquoise crystal clear water, alongside alpine meadows and snowy mountain ranges. It is also a a short distance from 3 of New Zealands spectacular national parks and it is the sunniest region in all of NZ. I have heard Nelson compared to a mix of Napa, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. There are Vineyards everywhere and Apple and Pear orchards as far as they eye could see.
|Wharf at Mapua, which reminded us of somewhere on the coast of New England. It had some fun shops, a great brew pub and tons of character.|
ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
The Abel Tasman National Park (named after the mid-17th century explorer who was the first European to site New Zealand) crowns the top of the South Island with lush green mountainsides that sprout tree ferns everywhere. It's coastline curves in and out around points and bays, protruding like gnarled knuckles on a fist, and several islands with seal colonies rise up in tree and rock covered humps. It is New Zealand's smallest national Park, and offers picturesque sea kayaking and is known for its World famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
|Kaiteriteri which is the closest town to Abel Tasman Park and location of the water taxi pick-up for trips into the park.|
Start of our hike
|A longest swinging bridge we had ever been on (until later in the trip)|
|Cleopatra's Pool -a great side hike that we managed to talk the kids into and was worth the extra 30 minutes.|
So after the excitement of the eels we got into the car and headed north to an area of New Zealand called Golden Bay. Golden Bay is nestled into the South's north-west corner. A chain of steep and rugged mountains cuts it's fertile river plains and valleys from the rest of the island. Unless your a migrating whale, you don't go past Golden Bay on your way to anywhere. The lifestyle of Golden Bay has always been "alternative"-a hideout for hippies, musicians, and artists.
|The view on the drive over. Notice the mtns. in the background, it was beautiful!!|
|I was trying to be artsy fartsy in this photo, and I think it worked!!|
|The kids loved these "rock" tunnels.|
|We did not get to see any penguins in Golden Bay, but they are common in the area.|
|The Golden white sand was a nice change from the Black beaches of Taranaki.|
These two pictures are of the Te Waikoropupu Springs (try and say that 10 times as fast as you can). This is the Largest Spring system in the Southern Hemisphere, and the clarity of the water is second only to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Brad and I have noticed that the trail system in this country are second to none. We are continually amazed at how well maintained the trails are kept.
Next we are headed to the Wild West Coast to explore places like Pancake Rocks, and Buller Gorge and then head over to Arthur's Pass to Christchurch, and then back up the coast to Kaikoura.