As I write this post we are stuck in the Nelson airport for fog. It’s a small airport with no security and they have stopped all check-in. The flight board still says everything is on time, but clearly it is not.
This gives me some time to include little tidbits of things we have forgotten to include in the blog before I launch into our wonderful visit in Nelson.
Driving is going very well, and signage is extremely good everywhere. One of our favorite signs next to a rest-stop-like turn out on our drive to Rotorua said,
“Livestock effluent dump. No human waste.”
Airport tips and bags through New Zealand.
Carry-on bags don’t really work in NZ.
First, there is no security or liquid checks throughout New Zealand so you don’t need to worry about small liquids. Second, the carry-on bag size isn’t really important. It’s the weight, which is ridiculously light 7kg (a few pairs of underwear and the vitamins). My camera weighs almost 1.5kg. We’ve transferred everything we can to our medium sized check-in bags (which should have been bigger). They seem to be making an exception for us. It’s times like these that I wish they just had a total weigh in. The traveler and bags on a big scale. We would pass with flying colors.
Onto our lovely Nelson experience.
Although the weather has not been great in the “almost always sunny” Nelson area we have thoroughly enjoyed our beautiful stay here. We landed, picked up our car and drove to the Bronte Estates. Nestled in apple orchards and on Tasman Bay our accommodations were again almost perfect. The Bronte farm has been in the family for over 100 years. They grow apples and pears and have added guest accommodations in the last 10 years.
The space-time continuum has created a wonderful surprise: delicious, crisp, fresh-crop New Zealand apples, They are coming to a grocery near you soon.
We spent our afternoon doing a bit of wine tasting and discovered we like the taste of Sauvignon Blanc. We visited the local glass gallery, but unfortunately we are so spoiled with the exceptional high quality of the work in Seattle that we were a bit underwhelmed. We enjoyed some afternoon downtime and took in the view of the big tidal shift. I caught a great photo of a bird we have never seen. It’s common name is grass hen. But it looks like a mixture of a duck and a chicken but it had great coloring black and cobalt blue with red head. Rested we headed out to a yummy dinner on the Maupa Warf at the Jellyfish restaurant . While eating we got to watch a troop of Boy Scouts getting their nighttime fishing merit badges. Complete with head lamps and great enthusiasm they were perfect entertainment.
Yesterday, we woke to pretty rainy weather for a planned kayak and hike in Abel Tasman National Park. First we headed up to the main house for breakfast. The house was quite formal and the table was set for just the two of us. We felt a bit underdressed in our outdoor adventure attire.
Well fed, we headed off to the park. The rain died down and the calm winds made for some fun sea kayaking along the coast with our guide Sophie and an adventuring young woman from Shanghai, “Eye Lee Ann.” Although Jim and I kayak quite a bit we haven’t used rudder and I liked the ease of steering that way.
We kayaked to a place called split apple rock and explored the nearby caves a bit. After kayaking back we ate lunch and then boarded our tour boat for a drop-off at our afternoon hike site. Because of the big tides the boats come close to shore and deploy a long metal gangplank.
There are no resident dolphins, whales or Orcas, but we were luckily enough to encounter a pod of 10 transient dolphins. They hadn’t seen any dolphin for over a month and the crew was thrilled.
They also love their small group of black seals. Of course this is quite underwhelming for us where seals are everywhere, but everything is relative and here in Nelson seeing a seal is a special treat.
We were dropped off at “Tonga Quarry” beach to begin a short hike south from there there to Medlands beach where we would be picked up. It was only 5 Km but as with most coastal hikes, there were lots of ups and downs.
We loved our time in this unusual and extremely dense coastal forest which included lots of fern trees and other unusual plants. We were alone most of the time only encountering very few very strong hikers with very big packs doing the longer trek. The bird songs were wonderful and the weather cooperated. We arrived at our pick-up spot about 20 minutes early and while we were preparing to stretch when we were set upon by very active sand fleas. So we waited for our boat and stretched while standing in the cool salt water which foiled the fleas.
This hike was a great little warm-up for our big, 3-day, 24-mile Hollyford Track hike beginning tomorrow morning out of Queenstown. It includes a short helicopter tour and a scenic flight to Milford Sound (weather permitting). Passover begins our last night of the hike so will will bring our Haggadah with us.
The family is spread out this year for Passover. Jasmine and James will be in CA with my parents while David travels to Charleston for business. Saul and Jess are putting on their own Seder with friends in the mountains. We wish everyone a joyful and meaningful Passover as we all deal with our own personal challenges and life lessons. Next year in Jerusalem!
We will check-in again after our trek. Until then we will have no internet or phone.