A couple of weekends ago, Amy and I took a four day weekend and headed up to Nelson, New Zealand for a little rest and relaxation. We didn't really have a specific plan, and the weather forecast was vacillating between rain and not-rain, but we forged ahead anyway.
The first day was spent getting there. We took the western route past Hanmer Springs and over Lewis Pass, through Murchison and straight on to Nelson. It rained a little during the drive but was otherwise uneventful.
The next day we visited a local market in Nelson that occurs every saturday. We picked up a number of tasty nibbles to eat, including peppered havarti cheese, herb mustard, shortbread with lime and rosemary, bread with red onion and rock salt, crêpes with lime and chocolate, and probably some other things, most of them made locally. We also visited the Höglund glass art gallery which has some incredible pieces.
The third day was the highlight of our trip. We got up bright and early and drove up to Marahau (just north of Motueka) which was the start of a full-day kayak tour! We were with a group of nine people including two guides, and spent the day kayaking north up the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. We explored some sea caves, stopped for lunch at Watering Cove, saw (and heard!) some Blue Penguins who were out fishing, and saw some Southern Fur Seals on Pinnacle Island. We finally stopped for the day on a small beach near Bark Bay, and due to apparent miscoordination, had to wait over an hour for a boat to come pick us up. Even though we had wetsuits on, it started to get chilly as the sun sank below the trees!
The final day we drove from Nelson to Picton along the Queen Charlotte Drive, a picturesque road along the coast between Havelock and Picton. We then turned south and stopped in Kaikoura for some lunch. We had been in Kaikoura a couple of times before, but never when the weather was this clear. On the beach at Kaikoura the snowy mountains make an imposing presence.
We had several fantastic meals while we were there: Friday was sushi in Nelson, Saturday was Thai in Motueka (the sticky rice for dessert was great!), and Sunday was authentic Italian in Nelson. Definitely an enjoyable weekend.