Up and at ‘em early in the morning so that we could be in line for the ferry by 7am, that was going to be leaving by 8am. We wolfed down some coffee and breakfast before we left the hotel, and then headed out.
On the ferry, the kids were happy to find out that there was a movie theatre on board. In fact, there were two! One was playing the Grinch, so we decided to go and watch that. There was no way Deb was going to watch this as she would have been sick to her stomach for sure.
There was a large kids play structure as well, but Wilson has headed into the “You Are Too Old” part of his life according to the rules of the playground. Good thing, as every baby and toddler was on that structure, and it could have been bad news for them had a 12 year old been on there. The ride over wasn’t too bad with respect to waves. This crossing is notorious for having some pretty stormy and wavy conditions, so we were lucky to find a seat at the front of the boat for Deb to look straight ahead.
Once we were in Picton, I dropped the kids and Deb off at this amazing playground they had down at their waterfront, while I went and hooked up with the Apex car rental place in town to make sure that the shocks and struts in the car were ok.
We thought that they might not have been given the “low rider” experience that we have had thus far with the car. The manager took me out for a drive, and he said that this was normal, and that we had the car loaded down to the max. I didn’t think that we had much weight in the car, but then again, the French pastries were still hanging around my midriff.
I went back to get the kids and Deb at the playground, and we headed off towards Nelson.
One of the most memorable moments when we were here last was going to a pick your own cherry farm in this part of the world. We didn’t exactly remember where it was, but when we drove past it, our memories cued something and we stopped and turned around to head in for a pickiest.
It was a great time as the cherries were literally bursting since they have had a lot of rain recently, and they were perfectly ripe and red. Point of note, the darker the redness of the cherry, the sweeter it is.
We climbed ladders to get the high cherries, and we found the white fleshed cherries, which I particularly like. They aren’t as sweet as the red cherries, but they have a great unique flavour.
Nothing beats eating a cherry that is straight from the tree.
We picked about 2.5kg of cherries, and we headed down the road eating the cherries and spitting the pits out of the window.
We then went a few hundred meters down the road and we found boysenberries, raspberries, and blackberries at another pick your own place. Of course we had to sample them!
The fields were protected in big nets which kept the birds away, but I think that these would work well for vegetable gardens too, and there were some cool elevated strawberry trays where they just cut holes in bags of triple mix and planted the plants right in the hole! Genius!!! No weeds, good soil, and holes in the bottom helped with drainage!!
We arrived in Nelson in the later part of the afternoon after a nice drive along the coast line. We settled into our accommodations which was a hostel (and we knew it was a hostel this time), as it was a one night stay.
We went to bed, but in the middle of the night there was an altercation between some of the residents and the managers (and maybe even the owner) of the hostel. I took a peek out the window, and it looked like three Asian backpackers, and one girl was just losing her marbles. Her friend was on her phone talking to, what I presume, a parent, and then got off the phone and equally lost her marbles too. The male counterpart of the trio kept his mouth shut. Smart guy.
Eventually the cops were called and then things calmed down pretty quickly. The cops ushered the three in and they cleared out their room. I am not sure what they did but it must have been bad to have the cops involved.
In the morning, the one manager who checked us in was weary eyed, but she had welcomed us so warmly the day before, and she had this crush on the kids. Lulu gave her some of her cherries to cheer her up and she started to cry she was so appreciative. Gotta love our kids.
We spent the morning walking around the downtown of Nelson and went to their famous Saturday market, which was full of cool things. I snapped a couple of photos of things that I thought that someone might be crafty enough back home to make (…hint hint…any takers?). We grabbed some food and headed towards Pohara, our next stop on the tour.
We were getting closer to Abel Tasman National Park which is a beautiful part of the northwestern tip of the South Island, and it is where Deb and I did a kayak trip on our last visit to the area 18 years ago. We had booked a family version of the kayak trip, which was just one day, but gave us a chance to get out on the water. Wilson was nervous about sea kayaking and has been stewing about it since Vietnam.
We put the old car to the test as we went through, up, and over the Takaka Pass, a place where Deb and her friend Erin spent a white knuckle night camping on what was the side of a cliff in the driving wind and rain, only to wake up the next morning to find themselves in a parking lot. Haha!
There were some cyclists using the pass as a hill training climb which was Strava segment worthy, and maybe when we get ourselves back in shape we will come back here and attempt this ourselves.
Once we got down the pass, we had heard about a place called Anataki Salmon Farm where we could fish for our very own salmon!
The ponds were stocked as they have a full fledged salmon operation there, but to catch your own without having to wade into a freezing cold river in BC was really appealing to us.
The downside was that each of the salmon, on average, usually weighed 1kg according to the staff there. So, that meant that at the end of it all we would have about 3kg of fish, since Deb opted not to fish, as there was no way that the kids (or I for that matter) were going to leave without fish. Good idea on her part.
I threw my line in and snagged a salmon without really paying attention as I was trying to make sure that the kids got their rods in the water. I reeled it in, and so I was done within 10 minutes of our arrival. Wilson promptly caught his after we were done with my fish…so we had two fish that we caught, got off the line, and then speared between the eyes with a nail to kill it.
We then thought that it was going to be a quick turn around for Lulu, however it was far from that. And stubborn as she is, she wasn’t going to leave without one.
We tried throwing bait in where her line was, we tried different parts of the pond. Other people were offering their advice too, which didn’t really help as she didn’t want any help. Especially from Wilson or myself.
So, eventually, Lulu caught her fish, and it was the biggest of the three fish we caught, and we ended up with just over 3.5kg of fish.
Well, at least we had our dinners planned out for us for the next couple of days!
We made it to our next accommodations in Pohara, called Sans Souris Inn. This was a lovely spot and we had a nice family room. The only odd thing was that the guest kitchen was the same kitchen as the one that the restaurant used. So, we had to be mindful of the chef in the kitchen, and stay out of her way during certain times, especially during the dinner rush.
This wasn’t too bad as the restaurant was only 5 tables or so, but still…. Once we got going, I made sure I stayed out of her way, and she even let me hold one end of the counter hostage while they served dinner. Phew!
We had, you guessed it, salmon for dinner, and it was superb. In fact, some of the guests that had dinner were eyeing up our food over the restaurant food….
The next day, we made our way out to Wharariki Beach, which is one of our favorite spots in New Zealand.
The first time Deb was here, about 23 years ago, the beach was deserted and she and her friend had the place to themselves. That was the case when Deb and I went 18 years ago.
It seems like now the word has gotten out and the beach was busier than we remembered it, or we just caught it on an off day.
Nonetheless, it was still amazing doing the hike up and over some sheep pastures and onto this beach that looks like something straight out of a movie.
We followed our noses to find some seals that were hiding along the rocky crevices, as they have a particular smell that they emit…. Then the kids played in some driftwood shelters they found on the beach. They added to the structures, and modified them a bit to add the Trenholm flair.
It seemed to clear up and the wind died down by the afternoon, which allowed us to enjoy the beach at Pohara. This sleepy little beach town reminded me of the cottage village that my grandparents had in Nova Scotia when they were still alive. A few cottages, a small (but busy) local campground, and a nice beach that was safe for us to play in.
We had dinner, and headed to bed as we were off to Punakaki, otherwise known as the Pancake Rocks, the next day for our hili-rafting adventure!