The bus took me off to my next town; Nelson. The scenery on the journey is amazing and was lovely driving through the wine region of Marlborough, famed for its Sauvignon Blanc (one of my favourite wines). Fascinating to see how they try and cope with heavy rains and hail but erecting huge tarpaulining sheets over the vines. There was a brief change of buses halfway, where I ran into Nellie; whose bus had also pit stopped in Blenheim. Once arriving in Nelson, it seemed a nice town and bigger than the previous two stops. I walked to the hostel; Tasman Bay Backpackers. It’s a pretty cool hostel with a friendly guy working there as well as being a good mix of people staying there long term and short term. Once in Nelson, it was a lazy afternoon / evening of sitting about the hostel until Nellie arrived and booking a trip for the next day; followed by a walk around the town and to the supermarket before heading back and making something to eat. One of the great things about this hostel is the free hot chocolate pudding every night. It is amazing and warms you up in the freezing cold. Although the hostel also has a log fire; keeping it cosy.
The next morning Nellie and I were up early waiting for our bus to the Abel Tasman National Park. As we got closer to the national park, the haze was still thick and low over the mountains but by the time we had arrived at the entrance it had lifted and the sun was out; it was still pretty Baltic. Nellie and I had adopted an American/Korean who joined us for the day through the national park. The first part of the day started with a relaxing boat trip (with a hot coffee, as we were sat outside on deck); thank god I had invested in a hat back in Nelson and some gloves in Kaikoura. The cruise took us around the coast of the national park to Anchorage Bay, a beautiful trip around to the bay with the added bonus of a clear sunny sky. We were dropped off on the beach, which apart from us; was completely deserted. Now to walk the 14km's back to the start at Marahau. We started with a small detour to walk around Pitt Head, which provides a stunning view point over Anchorage Bay. The rest of the walk took us with the wilderness of the park around the coast. The sea was a surprisingly turquoise blue and we veered off the track to go down to the beach at Appletree Bay, where it was freezing even sat in the sun but a great spot for lunch. Towards the end of the trail it takes you on to a wooden board walk across the beachy grassland to the start, where we were picked up and transported back to Nelson. It was a lovely walk and the sea air certainly knocked us out.
For my final day in Nelson, I said goodbye to Nellie and took myself into town to visit the farmers market for lunch before walking a few km's out of town to Stoke to visit the McCashin's Brewery. Turned out I was the only one doing the tour which made me feel a tad awkward but it paid off for the tasting, as I was the only one they let me sample a larger sample of everything including the beers and ciders (rather than a select few beers) followed by a pint of whichever I preferred. Being a beer and cider drinker, it was a great way to spend the afternoon, even if alone but the staff chatted away to me and were a good laugh. The 'tour guide' was a professional rugby player who was in town waiting for the season to start up for the tryouts in front of scouts, where he was hoping to be picked out by a French team with a view of playing for his country in the near future (Samoa). Having not eaten much that day, the beer went to me a bit and made the walk home go quickly.
Back at the hostel, got chatting to a few people and after the free hot chocolate pudding headed out for a few beers in town, along with a few tequilas. This should make for a fun bus journey in the morning to Franz Josef.