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  • A dry start but with heavy rain clouds in the distance we set off with waterproofs packed to walk along the southern side of this huge, long and wide spit before crossing over to the northern side. Black swans were enjoying the mud flats while the tide was out but sinking sand stopped us venturing out to where they were. We also saw a big contraption that they use to move stranded whales. This was put it to use last weekend sadly as more than 400 had beached themselves on the spit. Big rescue efforts over a couple of days and they managed to re-float a few of them. The beach was clear of them today as those that didn't make it have been moved further up the spit to be buried.
    There were heavy rain showers throughout the day which just made the cliffs and rugged landscape seem even more wild. Several seals hauled themselves up onto the beach to escape the waves and find a bit of calm - they weren't bothered we were there. Later a seal in the water followed us along the beach, surfing and diving through the waves as if to keep us amused. Thankfully the bay was deserted so others couldn't see us applauding and encouraging it!! A beautiful calm evening with views over the hills and sea finished the day.
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  • Up early to get the tent down so we could beat the rain. A very cloudy but dry morning at least for a spectacular drive up and over Makaka Hill into the area called Golden Bay on the very North of the South Island. Suddenly realised we had been through here on our previous travels but only fleetingly. Small towns are very unique and quirky with an artistic feel. The afternoon turned into a very wet one which made for a quick pitching of our tent. Thankfully the campsites that we are currently using (although more expensive) not only have hot showers but kitchens and a small lounge that you can use too! This one is situated on a peninsula with a river on one side and the coast on the other.Read more

  • Another stunning weather day, spent the day in the surroundings of the campsite doing necessary chores like laundry, planning, eating and feeding the friendly ducks. The campsite covers 100's of acres with most being forest and scrubland. Started with a game of Pétanque (L1:J0) before moving on to 18 holes of NZ outback golf (L0:J1, overall tie). Ended the afternoon with a swim in the sea and a BBQ dinner with a glass of wine. Once it was dark we went out with the head torch to find the trail that takes you to the glow worms. Didn't think we'd see much but how mistaken we were. There were loads of worms in the top soil that were exposed along the muddy bank which glowed green at one end. It was like looking up at the stars there were that many. They are quite clever as they have sticy 'strings' that hang from them to catch their prey once they have been lured by the bright light. Not the most adventurous day, but very enjoyable nevertheless.Read more

  • A quick drive North up the coast from our campsite in Kaiteriteri to Marahau and the start of the Abel Tasman coastal tramp (NZ for walk). The tramp is normally a 5 day trip with basic camping areas dotted along the way, no access for vehicles along the whole path. We chose to do a day walk as the tramp is booked up 5 months in advance, about 15km in total with a collection from Anchorage Bay by the local Aquataxi. Excellent weather gave the best views and the water seemed turquoise in the sunlight. We were meant to sea kayak in this area for 5 days but were scuppered by the stormy weather, so was good to see the sights.
    On one cliff 100ft above the water, we finally FOUND OUR PENGUIN!!!! Tucked away in a burrow and given away only by its moulted feathers, a Little Blue penguin hid away. How it got up there is another question, maybe they can fly after all! The photo may look close but was in fact quite a distance away using a strong zoom, leaving the little chap to moult in peace.
    One highlight was the ride back from the sea to the Aquataxi HQ on the back of a tractor. Still wearing life jackets and driving up the road in the back of the boat was a new experience. Also see photo on how to transport 17 sea kayaks by boat, NZ style.
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  • Weather back to being really hot in the sun with the wind backing off at night... All this meant it was perfect weather to go on the giant trampoline and have a game of crazy golf - it would be rude not to! Moving up the coast we stopped near Rabbit Island and had fish and chips for lunch (they were delicious and we aren't big fish eaters) although we had to ask for vinegar as it must be a British thing. Travelling through fruit growing territory so had to stop off and buy avocados and apples from a roadside stall, both much cheaper than the shop prices. Hope they taste as good as the Sicilian lemons we bought from outside someones house the other day. Stopped off at another beach and had fun building stuff with pebbles and tried to improve the skimming technique further after Tom's advice. School report reads, keep trying!Read more

  • The expected rain and wind arrived over night with force - literally! (The same forecast that made us cancel our plans of a 5 days sea kayak trip and hire the car earlier than planned). We pitched our tent so it was well sheltered from the wind coming off the sound which worked well until the wind changed direction and turned into gale force at about 1am and the rain started. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep so once it was light and we had braced the tent a few times in the really big gusts we decided to get up and get packed away before it broke. The wind had pushed the rain onto our ground sheet so had soaked it and our sleeping mats. A quick dash with the tent to a covered shelter and we could pack it away and get some breakfast while watching the weather.
    We then re-traced our steps back to Nelson, through storm debris and a fallen tree, stopping of on the way at Pelorus Bridge to see the river again. We'd had a small concern about the legality of the tread on the hire car so had a chat with a Policeman (strictly off the record in case they weren't legal!) who explained the NZ law to us. He was a very helpful and friendly person who moved here from Edinburgh 8 years ago, so chatted for a while about life in NZ, particularly the bike trails. The tyres were fine too..... Later the lorry directly in front of us shed a portaloo on a corner, bouncing across the lane and onto the verge on the opposite side of the road. Understand the term 'hitting the fan' now, wouldn't want to deal with the aftermath!
    Spoilt ourselves at a camping park with fantastic kitchen/lounge facilities, amazing powerful HOT showers and drinking water straight from the tap - it'll never catch on!
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  • The weather is on the change for a few days so tge wind is back. However, that didn't change our plans as we continued further into the Marlborough Sounds National Park driving along the edge of Kenepuru Sound on a steep sided road that had the most winds and bends that we have ever driven. Every now and then the foliage gave way to spectacular views. Louisa nanaged to improve her stone skimming and we both had a laugh on the rope swing, you're never too old! We went on another walk today up to a view point where there were 360 degree views of water, hills and trees. We love the fern trees, there seems to ge so many of them and gives a very tropical feel.Read more

  • Decided to stay here a second night so we could drive to Anakiwa on the other side of the sound to do a day walk. Fishing is hugely popular here and while having breakfast the man camping nearby nearly caught this stingray that swam in front of our tent! Anakiwa is a tiny village well set up for walkers as the Queen Charlotte Track, one of the great tramps, starts from here. This meant we could enjoy a shower in the public toilets (very cold though) on our return, as the campsite has a toilet only. Most DOC campsites are very basic with stream water supply and a drop toilet. Generally small, for around 6 spaces but are in amazing places. People talk of strong winds which have been around all summer and like we have heard many times on our trip 'it's not usually like this'! However, the weather today has been wonderfully warm, sunny and calm.Read more

  • Had a look around the town (had to buy a new sleeping mat as Lou's had developed a rather inconvenient lump right in the middle and a car charger). The town had a lovely feel about it with plenty of green space, flowers and independent shops. Took the road towards Picton which had both stunning sea and big hill views. Took a chance stop at a river and it turned out to be the clearest river we have ever seen, so much so that it tempted James in for a swim. Even the sand flies could not put him off. Far too cold for Louisa though. We ended up in another DOC campground right by the bay.Read more

  • Woke to great weather so continued on our way. Drove through the most dramatic landscape constantly taking it in turns to drive. On the way saw a sheep auction so stopped off to take a look before a picnic lunch in a lovely small town called Wakefield. It seems to be the norm here for some people to walk around in bare feet regardless of age or activity, very chilled out. After James dropped Louisa off with the luggage at our new car rental place while he went and dropped the relocation car (other than insurance and petrol, it was free and a great way to get from A to B). Had a walk on Nelson beach before checking into a holiday park campsite which meant we could have a shower and charge everything!Read more

  • Woke to a complete weather change - rain, wind and temperatures of about 11 degrees! Had a slow, leisurely drive stopping off at various viewpoints on the way (there are so many) not covering many kilometres at all but just really enjoying it. Did some decision making while using free wifi from a brilliant library in Hamner Springs before driving through Lewis Pass. The sun came out and we had a good camping spot at one of the Department of Conservation sites (think we will use them lots) sheltering the tent from the wind with the car. The site sits right on the Alpine fault line!Read more

  • After a long journey we finally arrived in a hot New Zealand with temperatures above 30 degrees at 8pm! A quick visit through 'something to declare' so they could check our tent and walking shoes, which were squeaky clean, so didn't need disinfected and we were on our way by bus into the city. A late night by the time we were checked into the hostel so ready for a good nights sleep after 36 hours of travel. With a mixture of jetlag and someone who liked to call out in his sleep, we were not as refreshed as we had hoped, as we had decisions to make on what we are going to do for the next 2 months. We had a wander around the city centre and couldn't believe the huge amount of damage that previous earthquakes had caused. It was quite unrecognisable from when we were last here 12 years ago but talking to people they have a positive attitude and are using it to change the face of their city to suit modern life. We picked up a relocation car that we have to get to Nelson in 2 days and were really excited to be under our own steam for the first time since travelling, rather than rely on public transport. It is amazing scenery and clean air - a wonderful change to the busy cities we've been in recently. Who'd of thought that shopping for food could have been so exciting! Found a quiet camp ground for the night which happened to be called 'Balmoral'!Read more