Beauty and The Beasts

Having gone our separate ways in Wellington we were soon reunited at Blenheim airport. The start of our South Island adventures. 
The next few days would see us introduced to some of the Super Models of the New Zealand catwalk. The whole of New Zealand is one huge beauty pageant, but the top of the South Island has more than it’s fair share of stunners.

We headed over to Queen Charlotte Sound for a night of rain, rain and more rain. We had been spoilt with nothing but glorious blue skies since we left Auckland. It's surprising how much bad weather can impact your mood when you are living in shoe box. Luckily, in the morning we awoke to a cloudless sky and the promise of another sunny day.

Today's plan was to water taxi to Mistletoe Bay with our bikes. Then ride the Queen Charlotte Track back to Anakiwa, a beautiful 13k stretch. But Big Ears overheard two girls also with bikes talking about riding back from Torea Saddle. So, of course, we went the extra distance and soon started to pay the price. Most of the track is a Grade 3 ride, some areas Grade 4. That would be the part between Torea Saddle and Mistletoe Bay. Being Sunday bikers (Grade 1-2), we choose to ride the road between the two bays instead of trying to kill ourselves on the track. This all but doubled our initial plan, but the views were worth it...really they were.

Most of the time, we had the track to ourselves. Now and again, we would come across some hikers. The Walking Dead fans amongst you will get the fact that we had a giggle every time one of us shouted 'Walkers'!

We spent the next two nights at a beautiful spot called Momorangi Bay. This is a DOC (Department of Conservation) campground with brand new facilities.

We pretty much had the place to ourselves for time we were there. Well except for the super cute ducklings and their Mum who visited us every day.

While at Momorangi Bay, we decided to try our hand at something new. Being us, we waited until mid-afternoon when the wind was up, and the swell was in our face before having our first stab at a double kayak. But we pressed on and survived the 'wild seas' to get a good glimpse of life in some of the other bays.

Our next port of call was the Abel Tasman National Park. We broke the journey up with an overnight stay at friends in Mapua. I've known John Pope since the early days of being in NZ. John and his family have been living close to Abel Tasman National Park for several years. Over a BBQ and a glass of wine or two, we chatted about what the park had to offer.

With John's insight, we changed our initial plans and headed for Marahau. We did stop off in Kaiteriteri to get an idea of the water taxi options, but it looked way too touristy for us. We did take the opportunity to stretch our legs with some biking at the town's mountain bike park.

The Abel Tasman offers an extensive menu of activities. We choose to select just two to get a taste of this stunning National Park. First up we caught a water taxi to Anchorage Bay and walked back to Marahau. This was an 18k hike with views would make anybody’s head turn. We had a late lunch at a Coquille Beach and then pressed on home.  As luck would have it, we arrived back just in time for Happy Hour at the local pub.

The next day I joined a kayaking trip while Julie hung out and chilled (aka yoga and bike ride). The kayaking trip was a blast. The morning part was just three young German girls, me and the guide. In the afternoon, we picked up another five folk, including one couple who live a stone's throw away from the town where I was born. The highlight of the trip was spending time watching seal pups frolic around in the shallow waters of Adele Island. Surprise surprise we made it back in time for Happy Hour.....

Nelson Lakes National Park looked like it had a lot to offer, so we headed over for a gander. A stunning location on Lake Rotoiti was home for the night. There is again a heap of things to do in the area. We choose an easy walk between the two campgrounds around a headland. Here Julie discovered a new breed of bird the 'Wagtail' This is now our new name for the gorgeous fantail a native of New Zealand.

It's at Lake Rotoiti that we had our first encounter with the 'beasts'. The dreaded sandfly. Cue dramatic music....These little beasts can devour a person whole in a matter of minutes. Well, that's what it felt like. Julie slept with a sheet over her head, so they went for her ankles instead. I'm sure we will reencounter these beasts as we travel south. Next time we will be armed with a super action repellent, that or a spaceman suit.

Next step the West Coast.