Happy New Year to you all! Here is a brief summary of my road trip to Wellington and the top of the South Island over the New Year’s festival period.
On a warm Christmas day, my friend and I decided to pay our friend a visit in Wellington, while making the most of the occasion to explore the region. On the 27th, we drove from Christchurch up to Picton along the famous coastal State Highway 1. This road is popular for its beautiful views, as it squeezes its way between the sheer cliffs and the Pacific Ocean. Taking turns to drive, we coasted along between the overhanging native bush and cliffs on our left and the wave-battered rocks dotted with seal colonies on our right. That evening, we hopped onto the Interislander ferry. We sailed over a glassy-smooth ocean, under a perfect blue sky, finally treated to a spectacular sunset over the Marlborough sounds – by far the best crossing I have ever experienced. We then spent the next four days in the capital, bemused by the perfect and windless weather. As well as relaxing with our friend on the Oriental Harbour beach, we toured the parliament buildings, rode the cable car up to the botanic gardens and explored the metropolitan down-town. Our greatest achievement was probably finding a way to make an edible Kale salad (dubbed “Kale Surprise”). Thanks to our great accommodation (and host), the perfect weather and total free time, the visit was very enjoyable. We were therefore sad as we ferried back down to Picton, despite the equally beautiful scenery.
We arrived in Picton on the eve of the New Year. The small town was in party mode, with live performances and some very entertaining fireworks. The next morning, after having stayed over at a different friend’s house, we made our way to Nelson to pick up yet another friend on the way to Abel Tasman national park. This leg of the road trip was even more fantastic, with some excellent roads winding through the hills and farmland of the Nelson area. We arrived in Marahau at the doorstep of the national park, shouldered our tramping packs and hopped onto a water taxi to Anchorage bay. The ride was rough but great fun and we arrived on the golden sands of Anchorage soon afterwards. We then walked backwards along the Tasman track towards our camp-site at Coquille bay near the entrance of the park. I won’t hide that I was in foul mood as I had not anticipated the walk to be so long, and the short nights and long drives had taken a toll. We then spent the evening on the beach setting up camp and cooking up some (supremely average) dinner. However that night our luck ran out and the rain clouds rolled over the south island. The next morning we packed up and trudged back to the car under persistent but thankfully lukewarm rain. Learning that this weather would hold up for the following days, we decided to cancel our further plans for travel and head home early, a disappointing end to an otherwise excellent start to the new year.
This more wintry weather however rewarded me with some spectacular scenery as we made our way through the heart of the south island and the northern ranges of the Southern Alps. The road now wound through misty beech forests, gloomy hills, drenched tussock and a beautifully overcast Lewis pass. We finally made it home, grateful for a warm bed and the comforts of home.
In would like to thank all the people who helped us make this adventure such a great success, especially our hosts in Wellington and in Picton. I will keep you all anonymous, but know that you helped the two of us make it through the entire trip. God Bless you all and have a happy new year!