Saturday 27 September 2014

Next Stop Nelson

While I was sorting photos for this blog post I can across this lovely one of a yacht berthed in one of the large estuaries between Takaka & Collingwood. I’d stopped there with Diane on our way back from seeing the shags at Tata Beach, the light from the early morning sun and the calm water were just right for a perfect capture.

We left Collingwood heading for Motueka where I had a hair appointment booked for early afternoon. I’d had my hair done at Bliss Hair Salon before we left Kaiteriteri & Jo had done such a great job I thought it would be opportune to have it done again on the way back through the town. Finding a good hairdresser when you’re on the road is like finding gold.

Crossing back over the “feared” Takaka Hill was problem free although we did meet a little more traffic than last time including a few big truck & trailer units. We took our time and pulled over into one of the many passing bays as soon as traffic appeared behind & at one stage we had to pull up at a narrow section to let an oncoming large truck through. It was slow haul up and just as slow a wind down the other side. It was great to arrive safe & sound in Riwaka where all the fruit trees were in blossom, gardens full of daffodils and kowhai in flower along the roadside. Spring had arrived while we were in Golden Bay.

Originally we thought we might head on to Nelson after my appointment but as we’d arrived early we decided to take a look at a freedom camping spot at Port Motueka where you can stay for a maximum of 3 nights. We liked what we saw and with just another 5th-wheeler already in place it looked a good spot to stay overnight. We unhitched and David ran me back into town. By the time we got back late in the afternoon the car park had another 4 or 5 vans of various shapes & sizes parked up and by night fall there were 11 vehicles and the carpark full. This spot is obviously well known and patronized probably because it's not too far from the Abel Tasman Park.

Some of the benefits of our slow travel is the fact that there’s no hurry for us to get on the road when it comes time to leave, we usually only move 50-100kms and in fact today it’s just 33kms to Richmond where we'll stay. By the time we open our doors in the morning the car park has virtually emptied. Just the two 5th-wheelers and two campervans, one had obviously been somewhere where they’d had torrential rain. It looked like every piece of clothing and camping gear along with the tent was hung out to dry.

Port Motueka is a lovely area surrounded by those ever present estuaries and huge tidal plains that have become a familiar  feature of our visit to the Tasman District. Over the bank on the far side of the carpark is the historic Motueka Saltwater Bath. When I saw a sign further down the road pointing the way to the pool I told David there were pools close by. He asked me if I knew if they were heated or not. I had a laugh when I went for a walk to check them out.

This type of pool is now unusual in NZ although they were quite popular at seaside (obviously) towns of yesteryear. The baths were built in 1938 after families camping nearby over summer were concerned about sharks. The pool was renovated in 1992 when the wooden railings, decks & a concrete floor were added; before then it wouldn't have been more than a concrete pit. There is a special gate that lets the incoming tide fill the pool, the pool is hosed down and cleaned every couple of weeks between October and April. I’m not so sure you could do your daily laps here but it certainly would be a good place to cool off over summer. Especially when the tide was out.

We have now been parked up at the Richmond Racecourse for just over a week, although not a NZMCA Park, the campground is for fully self contained NZMCA members only. There are toilets and a laundry and a few powered sites (if required) plus a resident camp manager. It’s very handy to the Richmond shopping mall and main street and just 15kms from Nelson city centre.

We’ve not done, & won’t be doing, too much exploring around Nelson. We had a few errands to do in town, have the ute serviced and of course cast our vote last weekend. Casting a special vote had us nearly choosing a candidate from a Maori electorate! We were given the wrong forms to fill in and it was only when I couldn’t see a familiar name on the voting paper that I realised what had happened. Back to the desk and another 15 minutes of filling in forms had us finally with the correct papers.

It amazes me that after all we’ve done in making sure our address is correct for all our personal affairs, as in a box number because we have no fixed abode, we still have to have our last known address on the electoral roll. This is just plain silly, ok we’ve only been gone from Tauranga for a year and we know the relevant candidates but what happens in 3, 6 or 12 years time (if we’re still on the road) when we wouldn’t have a clue who our candidates were. It was hard enough recalling our old address when asked this time, let alone in a few years!

On the weekend we went for a tiki tour along the water front, checking the Tahunanui peninsula out and driving right to the end where we had wonderful views out over more tidal flats to the snow covered mountains beyond. To the right are Mt Arthur and other mountains in Kahurangi National Park which was where we had walked and driven through the snow. We thought we might have been able to complete the walk to Mt Arthur Hut while parked up here in Nelson but a heavy dumping of snow last week has put paid to that.

The carparks at the end of the of the sandy track were full of cars and out on the sand in both directions were dozens of people walking. And dogs running. This was obviously a popular dog walking area and being a lovely sunny weekend day everyone was out enjoying it.

We’ve been to the city twice and both times we came across this fellow, he’s obviously a permanent fixture around town, I seem to recall an article or two on him on TV & in the paper, something about taking up carparks and nor paying a fee. I think the council need to collect over $50,000 in fines. I say good luck with that one. David had recollections of his childhood in the UK when he saw him coming down the road; he was waiting for him to call out “Rag 'n bones, rag 'n bones”

After a visit to the WOW museum (more on that in another post) we drove along the waterfront, stopping to book dinner at The Boatshed Cafè. We’ve been waiting to stay in Nelson since David’s birthday back in July when the family gave him a dinner voucher for the restaurant. We’re looking forward to sampling the seafood on offer.

Another perfect day of spring sunshine and people out enjoying it. Although we did have a blustery day earlier in the week that wasn't much fun.

And one last photo, an abandoned farmhouse on the main road into Richmond; perfect fodder for a photographer!


  1. Hi Great blog very envious of your lifestyle.... I am doing a motorcycle rally in Feb and just looking at some of the runsheets look who,s in the picture :) Cheers Phil

    1. Thanks Phil, we do meet alot of people who would love the lifestyle and just as many who recoil in horror at living in a small tin can day in, day out. I say "But look at the size of our backyard!" . Thanks for the link, naughty people have chopped off my copyright and used the photo without permission. Perhaps I can get you a free entry to the rally ;)

  2. A great blog and a great post about areas I know well. My daughter lives in Pohara, I have been going 'over the hill' for 27 years and am heading that way again in my bus next week. I will walk in some of your footsteps in places you have described.

    1. Hi Angela, glad you have enjoyed reminiscing. Your daughter lives in a beautiful part of the country. Golden Bay is classic New Zealand from yesteryear. Totally unspoilt. Enjoy your time over there. And drive safely!

  3. All very familiar to me, you will have seen some of my work on the interior carvings and the paddles behind the bar at the Boatshed Cafe., You certainly fish out the people, places and vibe of a place....keep em coming! Ciao Jimu

    1. Wish we'd known that before we went Jimu, we'd have taken more notice. We might just have to call in on our way out of town to check them out. We had a lovely dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Keep those quips coming! :)


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