Nelson - named to be the sunniest town in New Zealand
I had booked a backpackers called 'INNBETWEEN Lodge & Backpackers' which had a really high rate on both Hostelworld.com and Booking.com so my expectations were high. And I was not disappointed - it was the best hostel I stayed at in New Zealand.
The hostel is to be found right next to the beautiful Cathedral at the end of the Main street of the city, only a 10 min walk from the bus stop located at the i-Site in Nelson (information centre).
I was welcomed by the owner who was smiling and very friendly and informative about the hostel and the facilities and later on also very helpful with things to see and what activities to do in the city and surrounding area.
I stayed in a 6 bed dorm room which was bright and clean, a proper size room with 3 bunk beds. It seemed very new and had an Audrey Hepburn theme on the walls. The room wasn't equipped with any air-condition or fan but had a window which was open most of the day to air out the room ;-)
Every bed had a built in light for reading and there were lockers underneath each bunk bed to store luggage or valuable plus free WIFI connection.
The girls' bathroom and toilets had hairdryers/straighteners, underfloor heating and were cleaned every day.
The hostel had an onsite café/bar and restaurant and a large courtyard for socialising with green plants, tables, chairs and hammocks. And you were able to hire bikes on a daily basis.
The kitchen appeared to be brand new, and clean. And it seemed like most of the people actually cleaned up after themselves when preparing food (this is not a common thing at all hostels).
It really felt like a luxury hotel rather than a hostel and the owners made it even more glamorous with their exceptional service and kindness. I can only recommend this lodge/hostel to any visitors to Nelson - they also provide luxury double rooms and family rooms J
The weather was really good during my stay of 4 nights, I think it was 22-25 degrees.
I arrived in the afternoon on the first day and didn't do much other than check into my room, try to organise my suitcase to see how much laundry I had and then went downstairs to the restaurant and had some dinner - very delicious tapas dishes and locally produced white wine.
The 2nd day in Nelson I met up with a German girl called Sophie whom I had met for the first time in Perth in Western Australia a few months back. We kinda randomly bumped into each other at a bus stop in Perth city, started talking and agreed to spent the day together in Fremantle (which is a beautiful small coastal town in the outskirts of Perth). After Perth we kept in touch via Facebook and wrote about where we had been and gave each other tips of places to visit, food to taste and things to do. Then we met up again in Brisbane on the East coast of Australia and had dinner and drinks.
In Nelson we met up for breakfast as she was on her way in a rental car towards Picton to catch the ferry to Wellington on the North Island. She had been travelling the South Island but in the opposite direction - she also started in Christchurch but continued down towards Queenstown and worked her way up the west coast. We said our 'see you later' (not goodbye) at around 11 am as she had to catch the ferry at around 2pm and it certainly takes time driving in New Zealand with all the windy roads.
The rest of the day was spent walking around the city and doing some more reading up on the National Park called Abel Tasman National Park which is located approx. 45 min drive from Nelson.
I then booked a day trip to the National park at the i-Site for the following day which included transportation there and back, 2 hours of kayaking, lunch with tea/coffee/juice, 3-4 hours of hiking and water taxi transportation.
On the 3rd day I had to get up at 6:00 am to get ready for the pick up at 7:00 am by the bus to Abel Tasman. There were 3 people from the hostel going to Abel Tasman as well and faith had it that we all had ordered the same tour.
It was a bit of a chaos arriving at the tour companies' location which was at a town called Marahau. A girl had ordered the tour the day before and after ordering had contacted the tour company and told them that it was too early a start for her to begin the activities at 9 am. The tour company had told her that she should have thought of this before buying the tour and that she was not able to get a refund. She didn't inform them if she was actually going to show up the next day and therefore they were at little unsure of whether to wait for her or not but eventually we drove off to the water taxi pick up point.
(She never showed up - and it's not like it was a cheap day trip - the price of the tour including transportation, lunch, kayaking, hiking and water taxi came to an amount of 208 NZ$ ~ 980 DKK)
The day began with a water taxi ride up to the golden sands of a beach called Onetahuti Beach where we were given a short description of how to sit in the kayak, how to paddle and how to steer. Then we slowly began to paddle towards Tonga Island marine reserve where we saw a fur seal colony with baby seals. From there we kayaked south experiencing the coastline and some lagoons on the way. At the beautiful Bark Bay the kayaking tour finished and we had lunch on the beautiful shore of the beach.
After a nice sandwich, a muffin and some juice our (unguided) walk began to explore the nature of the Abel Tasman bush. The hike was 8.4kms and was up hill most of the time leaving Bark Bay. We passed some beautiful look outs, a swing bridge over a River and saw magnificent views from the top of the mountains. The hike ended at an area called Anchorage where we had 30 min on the beach and were then picked up by a water taxi and driven back to our accommodation.
The day trip started at around 9:15 from Marahau Jetty area and finished with our drop off at the hostel around 5:00 pm, and what a day J
Facts about Abel Tasman National Park -
Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest park and was established in 1942. The rocky sculptural shapes of the shoreline and the sparkling sands are a result of the erosion of structural granite. The distinctive golden colour of most of the beaches are due to the deposits of polished quartz crystals, more resistant to the process of erosion.
The park has freshwater rivers and pools, beautiful golden beaches and forest along the coastline - and is not to be found in such combination elsewhere in New Zealand.
The Centre of New Zealand walk -
The 4th day I did a walk to 'The Centre of New Zealand' which is located in Nelson - a bit in the outskirts of the town, being an attraction on a mountain. At the top of the mountain was a sculpture marker with an arrow pointing towards the middle.
The walk is steep but short and will take from 20-60 min to walk depending your fitness level.
And is it then really the centre of New Zealand? The short answer is - no!
The name reflects the work of John Spence Browning the Chief Surveyor for Nelson in the 1870's. He used the top of the hill as a central survey point for doing the first geodetic survey of New Zealand when earlier isolated surveys where combined.
The walk has at the time of writing 237 reviews on TripAdvisor and rated to be a 4,5-star experience J