Picton to Nelson
If you decide to cross the Cook Strait from Wellington by ferry, relishing the glorious Marlborough Sounds in the process, you must continue to enhance the senses and make a couple of small diversions after arriving in Picton.
Blenheim is a 25 minute drive south into the Marlborough wine growing region close to Cloudy Bay; there are so many wine tours you can do, by car, coach or bike if you want to spend a few days in this lovely city. The men will absolutely love the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre which has WWI&WWII memorabilia; Blenheim City is an easy place to walk around and enjoy the beautiful parks.
The next stop en route to Nelson is Havelock, via Springlands to pick up some huge juicy cherries, and again it is only a 30 minute drive north from Blenheim. Mussels are another delectable product of this region and they are both fresh and mouthwatering!
I am actually allergic to shellfish; I found that out the hard way whilst living in England in the 1980s. I had eaten a plate of mussels in Bath and did not realise they were not very fresh; after arriving back home to London I suddenly became seriously ill and the doctor had to come late in the evening to give me an injection to stop me being sick. Over the period of 7 days I lost over 1/2 stone in weight, that was nearly 30 years ago and has being inscribed in my memory bank permanently. Suffice to say I did have a slight hesitation before my friend and I ordered a kilo of mussels each for a late lunch, but she did assure me they were exceedingly fresh! They were so fat, we nearly couldn’t fit one mussel in our mouth, consequently we were both slightly seedy afterwards, especially since I wasn’t driving, I helped them down with a delicious local beer; but at least I wasn’t sick and they were divine.
Nelson City and Cable Bay
The drive from Havelock to Nelson is approximately 50 minutes through beautiful undulating countryside. I was last in this city in my early twenties, but I do remember it being a quiet, sunny and a ‘nice little place’ to visit. Nelson is hastily becoming a hot spot to live in, partly due to its temperate climate and, because it is slightly cheaper…but not for long. Its population has grown partly due to an influx from Auckland which has become a very expensive place to live, primarily since winning the America’s Cup in 1995 which I might proudly add is currently held again by New Zealand…next series is to be held in 2021. Hmmm…now I digress, the America’s Cup has a slightly murky history between New Zealand and the USA… but we won’t discuss that here!
Nelson is a very different city now, it has its own vibrancy and is slowly gaining a classy affluence which certainly wasn’t there years ago, it has become such a beautiful environment in which to live and visit. This time my visit was during Christmas/New Year 2019/20 and I stayed with a good friend whom I used to work with in Sydney. Like me, she has escaped the stress and dissatisfaction of fashion in Sydney; we are both now transitioning our careers into our first loves, mine is writing and art; hers is dog trials/training and gardens. How different from fashion can that be?
The centre of the city is very easy to navigate with a diverse selection of very good restaurants, quality boutiques and souvenir shops, including my friend’s and my favourite, quirky Op shops. The designer in me is always on the hunt for large size natural fibre, offbeat print dresses I can unpick and re-design! We have had many a screeching halt in the car when we see an Op shop driving along.
The WOW Museum is an absolute must to visit, the World Of Wearable Art exhibition used to be held in Nelson every year but is now held in Wellington although the museum’s permanent home is Nelson. Not only does it exhibit innovative clothes designs but literally next door is the most comprehensive collection of classic cars. The Mustangs and Thunderbirds are sublime!
The warm ambiance of the city is complemented by tree lined streets, restaurants and cafés serving luscious local produce almost everywhere; the local Nelson beer is so delish.
Galleries always enrich a city and the Suter Gallery certainly does that for Nelson, it sits within the Queens Gardens and a gentle river nearby beckons you to sit down and enjoy the surroundings. I spent a couple of hours by the water indulging in the peace and doing some photography whilst listening to the native birds in the trees. I miss the sound of New Zealand birds such as the Tui and Kakapo living in Australia; a wonderful aspect about New Zealand is that you can sit anywhere on the grass and nothing is going to eat you! No snakes, which terrifies the life out of me living in Sydney.
Cable Bay is another glorious place to visit from Nelson; it is an easy 30 minute drive north from the city although as you get closer to the beach the winding roads have a speed limit of 100km, very hard to understand why, so it can be a little hair raising. The beach itself is very stony so you have to wear shoes until you reach the sandy section very close to the water’s edge but the real enjoyment of this bay is climbing the hill at the end of the walkway. The view over the beach and ocean is stunning; take a picnic up there and sit under the shelter to enjoy the space and quiet.
The City, Suter Gallery and WOW
Picton to Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park
Mapua and Kaiteriteri Beach
The drive from Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park takes about 2.25 hours but don’t go too late in the day because the car park can get full fast. This is a wonderful area for climbing, kayaking and sailing; the natural beauty of this region brings in hundreds of tourists all times of the year. We had intentions of climbing the day we drove out there but it was unbearably hot so decided to head back to the very beautiful Kaiteriteri Beach, an immensely popular holiday destination a 1 hour drive from Nelson.
Another splendid place to visit is Mapua a 30 minute drive out of Nelson; it is quite touristy but the shops have a classy feel to them, all with tempting, locally produced products set against a backdrop of fabulous cafés on the water. There was a South American band playing while we were there, and for a few hours we thoroughly enjoyed our friends and an appetising lunch at the Jellyfish Café and Bar sitting on a verandah overlooking the scene. The ambiance with everyone enjoying themselves was sheer magic.
Relaxing In Beautiful Surroundings and Fabulous Food
Upper Moutere and Motueka
Motueka and Upper Moutere are absolutely fabulous places where you really must indulge a bit of time. My friend has relatives with a small farm in Upper Moutere so I finally got to feed some lambs; I was ecstatic! The countryside around here is sublime, it is so incredibly beautiful that photos cannot do it justice. We were driving along Neudorf Road in Upper Moutere when I just screamed at my friend to stop; the most beautiful old house was situated right on the main road. It is a very well known place called Wyperserfontein and is completely derelict but also unbelievably beautiful. The town is small but as with a lot of places I have visited in this part of the country, it is no hick town. There are some beautiful galleries here but they are certainly upmarket, especially Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett’s Clay Gallery. I have wanted to see this studio for a long time and it did not disappoint at all. I love Katie Gold’s work, she is so talented and her designs are exquisite; the studio is definitely worth a visit especially if you are an artist.
My absolute favourite place to visit aside from Nelson is Motueka, I love this gorgeous town. We went to the Motueka Markets on Sunday morning which are fabulous, they have such a diverse selection of food, quirky clothes, classy souvenir products and skin care ranges, absolutely nothing tacky at all. After this we went to Blooms Café on the High Street to have a superb lunch.
I enjoyed my stay with my friend immensely in Nelson, there is so much variety of things to do and of course Kiwis are so friendly!
Beautiful Old Architecture, Lambs and Delectable Food
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