1. 2. DAY 7 Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura, Blenhiem, Picton Through to Nelson PT 2 | Our Travelling Experiences – With Cas & The Sanman

DAY 7 Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura, Blenhiem, Picton Through to Nelson PT 2

DAY 7: WEDNESDAY:
FROM BLENHEIM THROUGH TO NELSON – PART 2

 WEATHER: CLOUDY

CONTINUED – PART TWO

Continuing on, on-route one thing which was clearly obvious just how bone-dry things really were in the region. There wasn’t a blade of green grass to be seen in the paddocks for the animals, most were being fed hay. 🙁 From here it was only about 20 kilometers to BLENHEIM, synonymously recognised in the MARLBOROUGH region as “THE WINE MAKING CAPITAL OF NEW ZEALAND”. 
010wine It is also one of the sunniest towns in the country, with an estimated average of 2,438 hours of sunshine a year. (just under 7 hours EVERYDAY) Mountains frame the area and trap the summer heat (temperatures over 30°C are very normal/common in February and March). Wines of world repute are born in this area.  Over 70 vineyards embrace BLENHEIM with rows of changing colours through the seasons. You can even bike around the vineyards if you wish, (as a number of them are in reasonable proximity)  most of them welcome visitors for sampling sessions and cellar door sales. Between the brushed gold of the WITHER HILLS and the misty ridges of the RICHMOND RANGE is the heartland of SAUVIGNON BLANC across the stony WAIAU PLAINS.  Oh gosh we could spend days here, BUT we had to gas up, catch some tucker, on the run (fill the PUKU – in Maori = stomach) and move on. UNFORTUNATELY and REGRETABILY, we weren’t able to spend any time in BLENHEIM, apart from a quick quiz through the main street and a look at the old band rotunda.  🙁

A small tip – if you are in BLENHEIM call in on ARIKI INDUSTRIES at 103 MIDDLE RENWICK ROAD. ARIKI is the world’s most successful designer/manufacturer of PAUA SHELL JEWELLERY. It is also the largest jewellery manufacturer in NEW ZEALAND. The name ARIKI is from the MAORI language and means “THE CHIEF” or “THE BEST”  – a promise that ARIKI JEWELLERY is of the highest quality, in terms of both materials and workmanship.

The Interislander Heading Out - (Photo courtesy of the Interislander.)

The Interislander Heading Out – (Photo courtesy of the Interislander.)

Overlooking the township of Picton from Shakeshere Bay Lookout

Overlooking the township of Picton from Shakeshere Bay Lookout

A commanding view out into Shakesphere Bay.

A commanding view out into Shakesphere Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose from the point of view from driving, it was excellent weather. In BLENHEIM and north it was cloudy with the odd appearance of the sun, as we continued on another 25 minutes, we arrived at the seaside town of PICTON. PICTON is the MAJOR GATEWAY to the SOUTH ISLAND, with three roll-on roll-off, inter-island ferries, (THE ARAHURA, ARATERE AND KAITAKI) servicing the port from WELLINGTON – THE NORTH ISLAND. They do the trip in around three hours one way, bringing and taking rail, vehicular frieght and passengers.  Usually the vehicular traffic southbound (from PICTON) is very obvious when the ferry has docked.

PICTON is also the entrance way to the acclaimed MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS. Reaching out into the PACIFIC OCEAN like the fingers of a welcoming hand, the MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS are made up of the QUEEN CHARLOTTE, PELORUS AND KENAPURU SOUNDS. This collection of drowned river valleys is a natural wonder, created when the mountains sank in earth movements and the sea flooded into the valleys. Bordered by forested hills rising almost vertically from the water’s edge, the sounds are a true scenic highlight. About eight kilometres east of PICTON is KARAKA POINT with stunning views across the QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND. Sadly, many ships have struck rocks in “THE SOUNDS”, one which comes to mind more recently, was the RUSSIAN CRUISE SHIP – MS MIKHAIL LERMONTOV. On 16th February 1986 it ran aground on rocks near PORT GORE, in the MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS and sank, resulting in the death of one crew member.It was around 3.30-3.45pm that sadly we finally started the climb out to the headland, for one last pickie of PICTON, to take the iconic QUEEN CHARLOTTE DRIVE. Located between PICTON and HAVELOCK NORTH this is 40-kilometres of very winding/twisting road, fringed with native forest of BIRCH TREES, PUNGA FERNS and deep water, which offers some of the most SPECTACULAR, BREATHTAKING AND PICTURESQUE SCENERY you’re likely to encounter.(PS…they say a picture is worth a thousand words.) You have got to make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way for pickies.

When we came through the area of LINKWATER, the road passed along a low saddle, it was here we were traversing five kilometres of land between the head of the PELORUS SOUND and the head of QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND. To achieve the same thing by boat involves travelling more than a 100 kilometres out to the open sea and back in again – little wonder early farmers considered putting a canal through here. Another wonderful experience if your timing is right, when you reach HAVELOCK NORTH, just before you reach the town, they have the marina.  Make a point of visiting it, if u like MUSSELS, because THEY ARE FRESH OFF THE BOATS AFTER BEING FRESHLY HARVESTED. 🙂 MARLBOROUGH AND NELSON ARE VERY PROLIFIC IN MUSSEL PRODUCTION IN NEW ZEALAND. HAVELOCK, regards it’self as the GREEN LIP MUSSEL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD and the gateway to the beautiful PELORUS AND KENAPURU SOUNDS. At HAVELOCK u can take a cruise up the PELORUS SOUND on the MAIL BOAT, or one of the other cruise providers – I CAN’T SAY IT ENOUGH, “you will be blown away by the sheer natural beauty of THE SOUNDS”. Make sure u check out the SLIP INN CAFE which is also on the marina – you can just sit and watch the boats as they come and go. Indulge in some great food and in the winter you can warm up next to the roaring fire. 🙂 Incidentally, just on the outskirts of HAVELOCK, a sign simply says ‘LOOKOUT’. RURAL KIWI’S are known for their modest understatement and this sign is living proof of that tendency. The view out across the sounds from this spot at CULLENS POINT is an image which will stay embedded, in your mind, for many years – it’s simply BREATHTAKING.

From here (HAVELOCK NORTH) we rejoined STATE HIGHWAY#6, which will take us to the city of NELSON, around 70 km’s away. (approximately an hour’s drive) In our case the time was getting on, but, it was still light.  I loved driving this leg because you are right in the middle of a STATE FOREST, towering PINE TREES all around, with the road both climbing and winding.  We started by leaving HAVELOCK NORTH and headed westward to the PELORUS JACK BRIDGE,  from there the highway again turns north, then tends southwest as it approaches the coast of  the TASMAN BAY, leading into NELSON.

 

The approach to the Pelorus Bridge.

The approach to the Pelorus Bridge.

Looking back one over the Pelorus Bridge

Looking back one over the Pelorus Bridge

Looking down to the rocks and collection of water

Looking down to the rocks and collection of water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


THE STORY OF TUHIRANGI, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS, “PELORUS JACK”:

TUHIRANGI, was the TANIWHA (in MAORI mythology TANIWHA are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers.) who guided KUPE’S SHIP from HAWAIKI, the ancestral home of the Maori people. On arrival in AOTEAROA = NEW ZEALAND, TUHIRANGI took up residence in the dangerous waters at TE AU-MITI (FRENCH PASS). He lived in a cave known as KAIKAIAWARO. In the late 19th century, a white dolphin frequented a stretch of water just north of FRENCH PASS. The dolphin regularly met and accompanied passing ships. Maori people naturally recognised the dolphin as TUHIRANGI, while the European settlers called it PELORUS JACK, hence the name of the area. 🙂

As we come off the final mountain range, we hit the flat wide open area of TASMAN BAY, sweeping round into NELSON CITY.  Our first priority was to head out to the TAHUNA BEACH area, where we were booked into our motel, THE RIVIERA.  After checking in we freshened up and headed into town for dinner, OMG were we hungry. We choose the old COBB & CO. After some 20+ years it’s still turning out an excellent meal for the cost.  I ordered the ROAST LAMB and it was excellent while C* ordered a chicken dish and she raved about it as well.  Add to that drinks, bread and soup and change out of $60.00, I thought it was excellent. Back at the motel about 9pm, we both crashed, dead to the world. WHAT A DRIVE! – It certainly reminded me of times gone by.

To do the drive straight through, without stopping would take around 5-6 hours.  It’s just over 400 km’s in distance.  AGAIN, we would VERY STRONGLY recommend making it as a TWO DAY TRIP. 

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