Our stop in Wellington included the TePapa museum.  I remember being totally fascinated by the Maori history and displays…this time….not so much.  Perhaps it was the displays (that always change) or the fact we are all tired….long drive etc.  Oh well….the kids and I checked into our hotel right across the street – QT museum apartments and took to the wifi, tv and lap pool!  Rich went back to check out a display about WWI…he loved it!

To get to the south island we had planned on taking our rental car on the ferry.  We woke to a calm and beautiful morning….phew (you know how much I LOVE BOATS!).  The ferry ride is 3hrs and gorgeous as you see the south island coming into view.  The kids and Rich watched The Grinch at the movie theatre ….and I watched the view!

We tried to find the BEST fish and chips place in Picton —that Rich and I remember from 16yrs ago….but alas….it wasn’t to be.  We got so-so fish and chips (WAY TOO MUCH GREASE)…and Lulu ordered a hot dog…which turned out to be a deep fried corn dog…YUCK!  That ended up in the “rubbish” (as they say here).  A great playground by the water made up for the lunch disaster…oh and Subway for Lulu.

Lulu trying “no hands” obstacle course (set by mom!)

Rich went to the Apex car rental dealer…to talk to them about a replacement car b/c our wagon is literally just SCRAPING by.  If we have to go up a driveway with an angle ( ie. Gas station etc)…Rich has to get out of the back seat…or else we bottom out.  Even gravel roads…with the tire ruts and the centre built up just a little….means pebbles flying everywhere and pinging off the under carriage!  Rich even walked down (and them back up) the 1 km switchback gravel hill to River Valley….or else we ALL would have been walking for the next 3 weeks!

Rich took the Christmas party mobile to Apex….and pleaded his case.  Upon his return to the playground…I anxiously enquired…”So?…what did they say?”  To which he answered solemnly….”They told me I was too fat for the car!”…..and didn’t replace it!  (Eeek….Rich will be doing some more running for exercise…and more walking to spare the muffler falling off!)!  I am sure the fish and chips lunch didn’t help any!

Next stop….pick your own cherries (healthier than fish and chips…but not so easy on the pocket book!!!).  After we “had fun” filling our “fun killer mom only let us have one bucket”….we owed $35 of cherries!  They better ALL get eaten before they go bad!

A nice drive through wine country from Picton to Nelson.  I swear…every town named Nelson is full of hippies, artsies and backpackers….this one didn’t disappoint.  But the downtown had a nice walking street, my run in the morning to the water and along the run/bike path was lovely, and we were entertained by the late night excitement at the hostel where we were staying….ok – truth be told…the kids slept through it, I had earplugs in (d/t the local singing entertainment on the nearby street that went WAY past my bedtime) and slept through it….but Rich watched out the front window of our room while the police came to escort two Korean girls from their room and from the premises at 2am…YIKES!

On to quieter spot at Phara.  We have never stayed on the west coast of the Abel Tasman National park….and it was lovely.  The east side is where more of the tour operators and tourists are…so head west for QUIET!  Pohara didn’t disappoint.  We had a family room at a small Inn and use of the shared kitchen.  That part was a little odd b/c the kitchen wasn’t as much used by the guests—as it was used by the owner to make fab 5 course meals.  We could have eaten there (for extra $) and many people , not even guests staying at the Inn eat there….but we have chef Rich…and he doesn’t disappoint!

seagull attack #2

…beauty run through rock cuts along the coast

We are right across from the beach and the kids enjoyed splashing in the (unbelievably) warm water…they even got Mom in!  Sandcastles, body surfing….fun in the sun.

She’s FAST…and got me by a toe!

..me cheating with arm out to try to win!

It was here that we were signed up for a family kayak adventure for a ½ day.  The sun was shining, not windy….and I worked hard to pump up the kids!  We would be in tandem kayaks, there won’t be sharks, it will be FUN.  We drove 10min to the kayak location….and Rich and Wilson hopped out of the car first…while Lulu and I sunscreened!  Wilson returned first….saying….”well Mom….Sorry to say…but my wishes have been answered…the trip is cancelled due to weather!”.   WHAT??!!!  It was literally the MOST BEAUTIFUL DAY.  I really really really thought Wilson was lying to me and trying to get me rialled up.  I called him out on it…but he held firm.  “I am NOT lying!”  And Rich confirmed that.  Kayak was a NO GO…b/c of the weather FORECAST of strong NW GALES of 50km/h+ coming in later this morning.  NO CHILDREN were allowed to kayak…and no adults for that matter unless you could prove your kayak skills.  The tour operators were nice about it but firm.  REFUND it is…….now with disappointment…we plan how to spend our “savings”!

(insert SAD face picture here…)

We decided a quick trip off to Wharariki Beach (before the GALES) was in order.  It is over an hour drive along the peninsula toward Farewell Spit.  This has been one of my fav spots in NZ both times I have been here before…so I was excited.  Because of my bad memory….the drive and the beginning of the walk…were like new to me!  I forgot it was so hilly…and forgot the walk started on the side of a hill/field and then through scrub before the beach!  Lulu wasn’t keen on walking (and forever won’t be I believe!).  She was bundled for winter…as the winds were picking up…and Rich/Wilson were ½ winter for the wind and ½ summer b/c “beach” is in the title of the walk…so they might swim!  We trudged on and found sand dunes to play on, a stick fortress to help build/play in….wind swept beach to run on….seals to check out….a cave to explore….and the fantastic rock formations on the beach that I remember!  It is certainly busier than the last two times I have been here…but you can find your moments of solitude…and enjoy the glory of your surroundings.  Enjoy the pics! (with two other short walks as a bonus)

start of Wharariki walk through the sheep pasture

winter/summer ready

Lulu not impressed…Rich camera ready!

The weather was rolling in…but still pretty

The second section in sand

…through the bushes

Sand dune fun!

stick fort

Rock formations

…adding to the fort

Wind swept beach…and sand blasted legs!

Reflections…

Caves to explore

beautiful

Rich walking to check out the water temp…COLD

She still loves me!

Shelter in the fort

a short walk to the “look out”

…always looking for dangerous ways to get a “better picture”

…the kids stayed in the car in the car park

..getting a moment of fitness!

A KIWI!

..and a beautiful waterfall