Our scheduled departure time this morning was 8:30 am but we beat that by a few minutes after a typically relaxed breakfast. Rather than revisit the winding road to Havelock on our way to Nelson and thence to Motueka we headed south toward Blenheim and then west on Rapaura Road past St Clair winery that we visited on Monday and then north to Havelock on the main road (State Highway 6). We passed through Havelock and headed on to Nelson.
The road beyond Havelock wound through mountains, though not as tightly as the road from Picton, with large tracts of forestry plantations visible on either side of the road. The descent to the coast before we reached Nelson was steep and winding with some deep valleys beside the road.
We arrived in Nelson shortly after 10:00 am and found a parking space with a one hour limit in the main street. Majella checked the local council information and was advised that there was good coffee to be found at River Kitchen, just up the street with a view of the river. We enjoyed our coffee and spent some time in the nearby gift shop before walking back to the van. Michael drove it off to find another space with Majella and Maria along for the ride. The rest of us wandered up the street toward the Cathedral where we had arranged to meet them.
After Jim and Fay disappeared into a bank and most of the others found a shoe shop I decided that I’d better be at the cathedral to meet Majella and the others. They appeared soon after I arrived there and Majella informed me that they had parked in the cathedral car park and I was delegated to visit the cathedral and legitimate our parking. I dutifully visited the cathedral, spoke with the woman welcoming visitors, took some photographs, made a small donation as requested, and exited to the front steps. I’d just sat down to wait when Majella appeared at the bottom the stairs beckoning me.
I walked down and Majella took me to see the Ringmaker and the giant ring used for close ups in the Lord of the Rings films. She and the others had already been there. From there we walked to South Street where we wandered up and down looking at heritage houses. The whole street of houses had seen set for demolition in the 1980s and were saved when a group of citizens objected. Since then they have been renovated and are now used for bread and breakfast accommodation or are desirable inner city residences. We walked back up the hill to the cathedral where the whole group went for a look.
Some of us walked to the nearby farmers market while others took the van and parked it near the market. The shoppers bought some interesting bread, unusual plums, and other ingredients for a picnic lunch before we all got back in the van and headed down to the foreshore in search of a space for lunch. There was no shade to be found in the first few parks we looked at so we headed out toward Motueka, our destination for the day, and found a suitable shaded space for lunch with access for view of the beach.
Motueka was just a bit more than 30 minutes drive away, even allowing for a quick stop to capture Majella’s ‘L’ street sign. We found the Equestrian Lodge, easily and checked in. It is well set up with pool and BBQ in a grassed area onto which all the units face. One of our 2 bedroom units had been upgraded to a larger one to accommodate another booking and that made an ideal location for the group to enjoy dinner together.
After a quick trip into town to pick up essential supplies for BBQ dinner and breakfast, we headed 15 km or so up the coast to see the ‘golden beach’ at Kaiteriteri. Sandy beaches in the Queensland style appear to be in short supply in New Zealand. The beach at Kaiteriteri had coarser sand than some of our party preferred and despite Majella’s bravado she didn’t actually go swimming. Warwick was the only one brave enough to endure the cool water.
After some time at the beach admiring the view we headed off up the road looking of ice cream. We failed to find that in town and some way past the town became disillusioned with our progress, turned around and headed back to Motueka where we knew we had cold beer and other treats awaiting us. Warwick managed another swim in the pool that our host had assured me would be at 26 degrees. Majella tested the water with her toes but avoided the plunge.
Our BBQ dinner was expertly cooked by Russell who managed to skilfully avoid the disaster of grease spots on his shirt. A couple of hours later, after good food, wine, and lively conversation we turned in for the night.