NZ Episode 3 Across to Nelson

13 February 2013

On Day 5 we travelled through a beautiful landscape, swam in a peaceful bay, and were pampered by locals.

After Picton we headed west towards Havelock and Nelson. We turned up the Kenepuru Road towards Kenepuru Head, and saw magnificent scenery of mountains and bays.

For lunch we stopped at Te Mahia, a short side road leading down to the bay. At the bWhere we swamottom of the bay was a small wharf. As we walked out to the wharf to take a photo, a woman left her towel and shoes on the wharf and slipped into the water to breaststroke away. That looks like a good idea, we thought. In no time we were in our swimmers and doing likewise, only making more splash. It was glorious!

Our next stop was Havelock. Since it was famous for green mussels, we went down to the dock, expecting to be able to buy them there, but we couldn’t see any signs. So I checked the Rough Guide to NZ and found they could be bought at the local Four Square supermarket. In the shop, we were directed to a stainless steel shallow tub with water running down a perspex cover. We lifted a lid and heaped mussels into a bag, which we took to the counter to be weighed. They were surprisingly cheap, only around $4 a kilo, but that was with shells.

We were headed for Nelson, to visit Tony’s parents. We’d never met them before, but I’d worked for Tony for over a year and he asked if I’d like to visit his folks during our trip. He asked them if they’d like to entertain us for a day, and when they agreed, he put us in contact.

We rolled into Nelson late afternoon and found a bottleshop. I didn’t want to turn up empty-handed, so I thought they might like some mussels and a bottle of wine. When I asked for a recommendation for a local wine, I was told a winery owner was just then conducting a wine-tasting. I tasted a sauvignon blanc, which was quite good, then a chardonnay, which was quite ordinary. The sauvignon blanc was respectably expensive, so I figured it would do.

Garry and Lyn live a bit out of Nelson, at Richmond. The moment we drove into their yard, the5_4 View on the road to Havelocky were out to greet us, asking about our trip and checking out the camper van, before we could even open the car doors. They took us inside and offered us drinks. While tea was brewing, Garry pulled out a map and asked us about our plans for Nelson. When we told him we were hoping for suggestions, he told us the jewel of the area was Abel Tasman National Park. He suggested we take a water taxi from Kaiteriteri Beach to Bark Bay and walk to Torrent Bay then get a water taxi back. Sounded good to us, not too far to walk, and he assured us it was an easy walk. So he went to book it. He came back to say we’d do the reverse trip, since the water taxi didn’t pick up from Torrent Bay in the evenings.

Lyn unpacked homemade slices from containers. “You must keep your tins full” she said she was told when she first came to New Zealand from South Africa. She’d been used to having servants, with food just appearing, and dirty clothing disappearing and reappearing clean. So, as a young wife, she had had to adjust to a different life in New Zealand.

They showed us though the house. “Here’s your bathroom – we call it the bonking bathroom,” Lyn said. Two basins, a deep bath, carpet, and steps up to a shower on a podium. Hmmm, could be fun to bonk in. “And this is your bedroom”, she said, showing us a lovely bedroom with a queen-size bed with a fluffy doona and lots of pillows.

We stopped to look at photos of the boys on the hallway wall: Tony and Duncan as little boys, then older, then in their graduation robes and caps, then with their wives.

We brought in our gear from the van and I showered while Lyn prepared dinner and Col and Garry had a beer in front of the telly. That night we had a delicious dinner of chicken drumsticks in lemon, honey and rosemary, home-grown beans and carrots, and baked potatoes, accompanied by a sauvignon blanc that Garry brought in from the fridge in the garage. Over dinner, Lyn entertained us with stories and hilarious impersonations of their camping friends and the clerks at the motor registry when they tried to register their Ultimate camper in Sydney. She said she was told not to tell “young Tony” stories, so we didn’t get any that I hadn’t already heard.

After dinner, Garry started a slideshow from his computer onto the TV screen. He showed us photos from Tony & Jane’s South Island tour, when Tony brought Jane to meet them and to propose to Jane on the ice at Franz Josef glacier. The story goes that Tony asked the helicopter pilot to take a photo of them, which Jane argued about, because she takes the photos. I can just imagine it, Jane saying, “No, I’ll do it,” and Tony gently insisting. Then we saw the photo, Tony down on one knee, looking unusually serious, holding his hands up to Jane, Jane leaning over them, her hair tilted forward obscuring her face, but her body language saying “OMG, what’s this?” Maybe Tony had told me that he proposed to Jane on the glacier, but if he had, I’d forgotten.

Well-fed and content, we are now settling down for a sleep in a soft bed surrounded by pillows.

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