New Zealand: 2/5 – 2/11

(New Zealand) Nelson [Housesit with Bailey] >>> Richmond >>> Motueka >>> Takaka

2/5 – 2/8- Making Modifications to Van, Preparing For Campervan Trip and Enjoying Life in Nelson!
2/9 – Getting Needed Supplies and Last-Minute Errands
2/10 – Drove the Northwestern Coast and Visited Motueka
2/11 – Exploring Abel Tasman by Boat and on Foot


2/5 – 2/8:
Making Modifications to the Van, Preparing for Campervan Trip and Enjoying Life in Nelson!
+ Most of our days were spent visiting the nearby stores such as Warehouse, KMart, Mitre 10, and various other stores gathering for supplies for our campervan.
+ Some of the modifications we made to the van included storage space up top above the bed and cutting and adding a hinge to the table to be able to fold up and out of the way.
+ We also got closer with Bailey who would sometimes jump up on the recliner sofa seat with us as we were relaxing and watching TV at night.
+ We had a few more Skype sessions with family and friends from back home since it would be our last time in a while that we’d have such strong and reliable internet and a house to call home!
+ We did have a few fun things we did such as when Corey went down and played Ultimate Frisbee near the beach with a group he found through Facebook. It was fun playing again and running around in the sun!
+ We also watched the Super Bowl in the house on TV! Who would’ve thought they’d be showing the game on TV in New Zealand!? They had different commentators and different commercials, but it was nice to watch the game in the middle of the afternoon and enjoy cheap beers at the house as opposed to going down to the local pub or missing it entirely.
+ Often in the evenings we would cook a nice meal at the house, read and plan for our route through the South Island, and then finish with some nice Netflix time or episodes of Community or Orange is the New Black that we’d downloaded earlier.
+ On the afternoon of the 8th, Neil and Lee-Anne Returned back from their campervan trip with their two doggies excited to reunite with Bailey once again!
+ Despite probably being tired from their long drive back, Neil offered to help Corey with a few of the last minute modifications to the van like making a stronger base for the table and raising the front curtain rod. With his expertise in carpentry, Neil did the job better and faster than we had even hoped! It was so nice of him to offer to help!
+ That night, we all had dinner together and talked about their vacation and our upcoming travels. Then we watched some New Zealand telly and all went to bed.

2/9:
Getting Needed Supplies and Last-Minute Errands
+ Neil and Lee-Anne left for work in the morning and we finished packing up our things and eventually departed ourselves a few hours later.
+ Did the short hike up to the “Center of New Zealand” monument. This large monument marks the spot of the central survey point for doing the first geodetic survey of New Zealand. The monument itself is not that exciting but it offered some great views of Nelson!
+ We also played Frisbee Golf in Stoke at Isle Park. It was probably the worst course we’ve ever played and had many missing baskets or baskets that were way too close together. There was a food festival going on in the park in Stoke with a lot of vendors set up and we strolled around there afterwards checking out the little shops and unique food choices.
+ We drove to the nearby town of Richmond to get last-minute supplies for the van and buying/returning things to Kmart and Warehouse in town.
+ That night we went grocery shopping at a Pak ‘n’ Save and then ended up sleeping in the same parking lot outside of Richmond Mall (this was actually a self contained site!). It was our first night actually sleeping in the campervan and the mattress was surprisingly comfortable. And with all the curtains down there was hardly any light at all that penetrated the inside of our camper.

2/10:
Drove the Northwestern Coast and Visited Motueka
+ In the morning we headed into the mall to use their wifi and restrooms. We ended up grabbing lunch in there too since we were in there for so long.
+ Once we got back to the van we were upset to see there was a ticket on our van since we’d been parked there for more than 3 hours after 9 am. We didn’t know that was the rule and were upset that we had already gotten a ticket so soon into our trip!
+ From Richmond, we drove northwest up the coast of the south island to Motueka. After walking around the city for a little bit, we visited the I-Site and got some information about the Abel Tasman and Golden Bay areas. We also booked a boat tour for the next day that allowed would allow us to see the whole coast and still get a good amount of hiking in.
+ That evening we drove by a vineyard with sheep underneath the grape vines munching on grass. They’re natural lawn mowers but just small enough to not munch on the grapes! And so cute!
+ Liz used the Campermate app to find us a great place to sleep called Hawkes Lookout on top of Takaka hill. It was a long, steep and steady drive to the top but the views of the mountains and surrounding area were worth it!

2/11:
Exploring Abel Tasman by Boat and on Foot
+ In the morning we drove half an hour down from our camping spot to the city of Kaiteriteri and checked in for our boat ride up the coast.
+ Took our water taxi all the way up to the very northern part of the park, Totaranui. Along the way we saw seals relaxing and swimming around the rocks on Tonga Island right before the reserve. Then we stayed on the water taxi as they turned around to head back south.
+ We got off the water taxi at Bark Bay and began our 4 hour hike down the coastal trail to Anchorage. We were lucky with great sunny weather and had fantastic views around every corner! The blue water in the coves reminded us a bit of the Whitsundays from Australia!
+ After passing over the famous Swinging bridge, we took a detour west a little to the Cleopatras Pool area since we had some extra time. These pools were really pretty and had a rock slide you could slide down into the freezing water. We chose to not freeze to death although Liz did try to get Corey to go in by throwing his hat in the water and blaming it on the wind. He was so smart and nimble though that he was able to fish it out without even getting wet! Ha!
+ The last part of the hike was actually around a big estuary that was only passable at low tide followed by a nice stroll along the beach to finish it off, complete with a rope swing! Liz swung around but Corey decided against it in fear of breaking the branch with the weight of his hulking muscles.
+ Once we reached our pickup point in Anchorage, Liz decided to relax on the beach while Corey went to explore the small Pukatea peninsula that jutted out into the sea. With no backpack on anymore, he was able to trail run the entire loop and get back to Liz in 1/4 the recommended hiking time!
+ Afterwards, we were picked up by the water taxi again to head back south to our car in Kaiteriteri. Along the way we stopped at Tonga island, this time in the Marine Reserve, and saw more seals and their pups!
+ Once we got back to our car in Kaiteriteri we drove north to Takaka. We splurged on a delicious organic pizza in town at a restaurant that caught our eye. It tasted amazing and we even had some leftovers for the next day! While eating, we people watched as all the hippies and backpackers strolled around and sat around using wifi. (The Luminate festival had just ended a few days before right here in Takaka. It seemed many of the participants were still here in town and some had even set up permanent camp!)
+ After driving a little farther out of town we found a quieter spot at the Waitapu river bridge with only a few other RV’s there for the night.

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