Thursday, 13 November 2014

On the Move Again

It snowed again during our last night at Nelson Lakes and we woke to a wet and bitterly cold morning. And because David went fishing late on our last evening we had the job of deflating, rolling it up and storing the boat and gear away in the pouring rain. Thankfully it wasn’t too windy so we could extend the awning out fully which provided a bit of cover but we were frozen by the time we had finished.

We headed off late morning with storm clouds hot on our heels as we drove down the Wairau Valley. By the time we got to Blenheim they’d taken a left turn and hung over the ranges out west for the rest of the afternoon, but threatening to arrive at any moment.

We planned to stop at the Blenheim Racecourse CAP (NZMCA- costs apply parking) for a couple of nights as we had a few errands to do in town before moving on to Picton to await our Cook Strait crossing on Sunday morning. This is our third stop at the racecourse; it’s an excellent park-over, it has a laundry, loos & is very close to town and at $5 a van per night it’s extremely reasonable. There are always at least a dozen vans parked in various places around the course. We chose our usual spot alongside one of the old buildings, it suits us as it’s on the hard and in fact the last times we’ve been here it’s been winter & wet so the grass didn’t have much appeal.

Once set up we realised that the old building now had a dance studio in it and right on cue at 3pm the area filled up with cars, parents and little girls in dancing outfits. A little surreal when you’re sitting watching TV and right outside your door cars are parking- one nearly drove in our front door, kids are running about and girls swinging on the handrail below the kitchen window.

Maybe next time we’ll look at pulling onto the grass (this was quite full when we first arrived) or in fact take the spot the caravan below nabbed when he arrived. He had obviously been here before. Sheltered, private and on the grass. His only problem was he needed a long lead for his mobile satellite dish- you can see it sitting up on the concrete step on the far left. The concrete facade & steps look like they must have been a part of an old grandstand that’s been incorporated into the new stand and layout.

The storm clouds finally made it to town overnight and it bucketed down. As I lay in bed listening to the thunderous noise of rain on the roof I thought, with some satisfaction, ‘luckily we parked on the hard’.

Our next stop was the Parklands Marina Holiday Park in Waikawa Bay just 10 minutes from the ferry terminal and 500 metres down the road from friends we wanted to catch up with before we left. The holiday park is in lovely surroundings and covers a large area, there’s quite a number of families on holiday this weekend- Canterbury had a long weekend- and the camp is busy with boats, tents and teens! It reminds me of our holidays at Mahia campground in Northern Hawkes Bay when we were kids, we used to hang out with all the other tweens in the pool(billiards) room playing at being cool & making eyes at the boys.

Once we were settled in we walked down the road to have drinks and dinner with Jan, John & Bluey! You’ll remember we met Jan & John at Kenepuru Head over Labour Weekend where we had a few extra long happy hours in their motorhome. It was great to see them again and Bluey was very pleased to see us too. Before dinner we had a walk around the marina which was just down the road.

The Waikawa Bay Marina is huge and full of beautiful yachts and launches of all shapes and sizes (and budgets); this is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds and its obviously a very popular marina. We both felt a little melancholy walking down the piers looking at all the boats and reminiscing about our boating days.

Along the edge of the marina, just below the restaurant & boardwalk these huge sting & eagle rays were swimming back and forward, obviously looking for handouts from passing boaties and patrons at the bar. They all looked like they’d been in the wars with marks & scars and missing stings. I wonder if they grow back, like lizards tails.

Spot the 2nd ray?

We had a lovely evening with Jan & John and another couple that we’d met at Kenepuru too, Graham & Carol. Bluey was a very well behaved dog, he'd had a rough week, Jan had also just given him a bath in the afternoon. I think he was feeling a little sorry for himself as he retired to the sofa early.

Today we took a drive into Picton, just a few minutes down the road. What a lovely little town it is and totally prepared for the continuous influx of visitors that arrive and leave each day on the ferries. Picton also has a large marina full of flash boats with this very tall bridge that joins both sides of the marina, and leads to the walking tracks on the hills overlooking Picton harbour.

The view from the top of the pedestrian bridge across Picton waterfront to the ferry terminals in the background.

The waterfront has been redeveloped with paved walking areas and plenty of seats to sit on along with a grassy slope and shade trees along a tiny crescent of sandy beach.

There were a lot of people & families about relaxing & enjoying the hot afternoon sun as they waited for their ferry or tour boat. Many of the Queen Charlotte Sound tour operators have their base here in Picton where it’s just a short ride into the Sound on nature cruises or across to the Queen Charlotte Walking Track.

The wind has been ferocious today and we’re hoping that it’ll drop overnight so it’ll be a smooth sailing. We’re all hitched up and ready to roll at 6am tomorrow morning, we want to be at the beginning of the queue so the we’ve got a good clear turnaround area inside the ship- and be first off at the other end.

See you on the other side!


  1. Happy sailing! Beautiful ray pictures. They seem to pop up in a lot of inhabited areas; we get them in the lagoon on the Wellington waterfront and I've seen them in Aotea Lagoon near Porirua too. Such elegant things!

    1. Thanks Olwen, it was a pleasant crossing thankfully! Just the day before we left Picton, orca were in close chasing the rays along the waterfront there :( When we had the boat, we often followed orca in the Tauranga Harbour that were hunting the rays up into the shallows. I guess the rays that live in the marina are the safest, I've never heard of orca swimming inside a marina.

  2. Likewise re the Ray's on the Wellington Waterfront........"making eyes at the boys" there's a phrase you'll not hear from the girls these days, though I'm sure they do still make the boys....and boy do they appreciate it!
    Safe travels in the North and happy returns to the "Mainland"

    1. Showing my age, eh Jimu? :) I'm sure they still make eyes too but I bet there's another phrase they use which escapes me at the moment ;) Thanks for your kind wishes & we can't wait to be back. We have unfinished business!


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