We stayed at night in Nelson and explored the town the next day. We had an incredible ice cream, Jeff had mango lassie flavour and San had mocha chino flavour. It was raining all day on and off but we got a good glimpse of the city. We explored Christ Church, walked to the Centre Point of New Zealand and went to the Founders Village; an old village dating back to the 1800's which had its own bakery and brewery still in operation. We tasted a variety of different ales and largers dating back to 1800's.
We set up camp for the night on our way to Westport and found a great free campsite beside the river. We got up early and drove to Westport and Kamarea. We drove 20km on a very rough gravel road which Jeff drove very well to see some limestone arches which were very worth the drive. We passed through a town called Hector, with a statue of a Hector dolphin. We stayed at an incredible place, about 4km off the main road, on the beach. We saw the most incredible sunset while having a beer on the beach. The colours were phenomenal! There were lots of Wekka's around that kept creeping up on us from out of the bushes and making us jump.
We drove to Punakaiki next and stopped at the Pancake rocks, which we had already seen when we were on the bus. We stopped in the café for a pie and a coffee. We stayed at a beautiful campsite and watched the sunset directly over the ocean. We had some Wekka issues in the morning, one cracked 3 of our eggs and the other stole 2 biscuits while San was in the van. We drove to Barry town once we sorted the Wekka's out and had a fantastic day making knives. We received a shirt with our name on it (written in masking tape) and met the rest of the group. We started off with a very long piece of steel, put it into the fire and hammered it into shape. We did this about 3 times, then sawed off a bit and sanded it down. We started making the handle by using a brass bit at the top, drilled holes into it and glued screws into it. We used a jigsaw to cut out pieces of wood for our handle. They finally started to look like knives. We played some ninja star archery and swung on a big swing. Lunch was a big buffet and a toasty machine with biscuits. Jeff enjoyed playing with the dog. Once we came back our knives had been shaped and resembled knives a lot more. We finished shaping them using different grades of sandpaper, polished them and varnished them. We had champagne (soda streamed cheap wine) and beer to end the day. We stopped at a campsite on the way to Motueka and had a few hours' sleep.
We got up early and made our way to Motueka. We had a walk around and booked our Skydive and headed to Kiateriteri. We had a walk along the beach and relaxed for the evening. We headed to Golden Bay the next day we stopped at Harwood's Hole. Another rough gravel road for about 10km. We arrived at a car park and walked for about an hour through Abel Tasman National Park until we got to a giant hole about 157m deep. San was too nervous to get any closer so Jeff got a photo. We walked up to a lookout and had a snack there. After a couple of hours we went back and had lunch at the van. We drove onto Takaka, a real hippy town selling tye dye t-shirts and jewellery. We drove to Pohara where San had previously stayed when in New Zealand 7 years ago and helped set up a hostel. We had a wine and a drive along the coast. We stopped at Golden Bay campsite, another beautiful location on the beach.
We woke up to an incredible sunrise directly on the beach in front of our van. We headed to Farewell Spit, the most northern point of the South Island. We stopped in Collingwood and went to a famous chocolate shop and bought some luxury chocolates. At Farewell Spit we walked an hour along the beach until we came to some sand dunes, we explored these for a while. Jeff had fun jumping down them. We drove to Wharariki beach car park, a twenty minute walk to one of the most incredible beaches we have ever seen. There were huge sand dune formations and rock inlets and a seal colony, where pups were playing in the shallow water.
The next day we drove to Cape Farewell viewpoint and walked through lots of cows which were huge! We drove to the largest freshwater springs in Australasia, the water was so incredibly clear, you could see for metres but you're not allowed to swim in them unfortunately. We went to the Mussel Inn for lunch. It's famous for its totem pole full of crucified mobile phones and making their own beers. The beers were good and San's favourite was the famous Manuka larger which was very tasty and spicy. We visited the Labyrinth Rock Park next and explored a geological world of ancient fossils and amazing rock structures. We drove to Kiateriteri where we lay on the golden beach and enjoyed the scenery.
We started off our day with some paddle boarding which we both got the hang of very quickly. Jeff tapped San's board and San went flying head first into the water, it was very funny! We got burgers and chips for lunch and ate them on the beach while some hungry sea gulls hovered around us in the hope we would spill some food. There was one giant grey sea gull that kept attacking the other smaller ones; we came to the conclusion that he owned the beach! We lie on the beach and read and then had an early night in anticipation for our skydive the next day.
Unfortunately the weather was too bad for our Skydive; we spent the whole day in Moteuka waiting around to see if it was happening, this didn't help our nerves. At 3 o'clock we arranged it for the following day! We went back to the campsite and relaxed. We woke up early and had our fingers crossed that it wouldn't be cancelled again. We turned up, got suited up (which they called jump suiting up) and got on the plane! We changed from a 9,000 feet to 13,500 as the free fall is longer. It was quite nerve wrecking and scary getting into the plane and San kept asking her Tandem Master (that's honestly what they are called) if he was sure that she was strapped to him. They are very good at calming you down. San was the second to jump and Jeff was the last. San felt a bit nervous after watching the first guy jump, but once it came to it and you follow instructions, it's all good. The freefall was about 45 seconds and you drop to 5,000km and 220 km/hr, it was such an incredible feeling, it doesn't feel like you are going that fast except your cheeks flap a bit. Once the tandem master pulled the parachute, there is an incredible silence and you can talk to each other. They pointed our Golden Bay, the North Island, Abel Tasman National Park and other mountain ranges. San saw Jeff's parachute deploying while she was being spun in the sky! Jeff's tandem master offered him a sick bag once the parachute was out! (I wonder what else they carry in their pockets). It was such a peaceful feeling gliding around and over such beautiful landscape. The landing was surprisingly soft, with our legs out there wasn't even a bump just a gentle drop onto the grass. San was very happy to see Jeff as he landed. Once we got back into the van, on a little bit of a high, we were just driving and not really paying attention to where we were going, we realised we were driving 20km in the wrong direction. Once we rectified that we drove along the scenic route on SH60 towards Nelson and stopped at Jesters Café and had breakfast and a coffee. We had our first cooked breakfast in months with a giant hash brown. It was a beautiful location in a garden by a river full of "tame" eels. We fed the eels afterwards and found they weren't so tame, one liked to play tug of war and pulled the stick (that you put food onto) out of Jeff's hand and swam away with it! We did some wine tasting and stopped at Rabbit Island and had a walk along the beach.
What a day! We're catching the ferry to the North Island tonight as long as the tropical storm coming in doesn't get too bad, so goodbye South Island you've been a lot of fun. Now let's see what you've got for us North Island.