The last time we took a ferry to the South Island, the boat pitched and rolled and I nearly threw up (it is a 3.5 hour journey). It was with some trepidation that I boarded the boat this past Monday.
This time however the water was absolutely silky smooth.
Upon landing on the South Island, we quickly left Picton to start the drive toward Nelson. The terrain is heavy and thick with forest both native and man made (pine) and the valley is dotted with many boutique and industrial sized wineries.
We nearly immediately caught up with Mike’s cousin Matt and made our way to, Granddad Pete and Dee’s place in Motueka. The guys were keen to get some gold pans into some local rivers and quickly concocted a plan to strike it rich panning for gold. Shoddy engineering of a sleuths box ensued for nearly half a day… That first evening we drove back to Nelson to meet with Mike’s other cousin Sarah and her husband Derek for a great meal at the Vic Brew Bar.
The following morning we rose early and had coffee and a catch up with Mike’s granddad before we set off to gather some gold pans and get our feet wet in the crisp waters near Brown Hut.
The drive was winding and bumpy as we traversed to the preferred river. The guys were very enthusiastic and of course I had my camera with me to keep myself entertained (not that I didn’t pick up a pan and give it a go myself).
We were at it for about an hour before we all began to lose our minds against the plague of sand flies that were virtually eating us alive. Matt had been cursing for a time before I got close to him and discovered he was covered in enormous welts. His skin reacted very badly to eat little bite.
He and I both called it a day, and Mike spent another 30 mins at another section of the river searching for that yellow treasure. I followed along and stayed from the water at a great distance hoping that would keep the flies at bay…sadly where I was, the plague was thickest!
We all returned home fruitless, however rich in memories and equally traumatised by the onslaught of horror that even a day later has kept a few of us up trying our best not to scratch the skin off our arms and feet.
Today Mike and I enjoyed a short hike at The Riwaka Resurgence, which enabled us to view this stunning endangered (and quite shy) native blue duck. They are only found in New Zealand and are sometimes called a whio (pronounced “fee-oh”) which is the sound the males make to entice mates.
We also went to Kaiteriteri where Mike went for a quick swim in the crisp ocean, and I sat and people watched from the shore, whilst digging my toes into the golden sand.
Mike’s granddad and his partner Dee have been hosting us with a smorgasbord of BBQ delights, pastas, ice creams, home preserved fruits and produce and have sent us off to bed each evening completely stuffed and contented. I’ll have to write about the amazing food and produce we’ve been eating at some point…it’s incredible how fresh and flavoursome the regions food is.
We’ve been enjoying the late night chats and the cheeky banter over the past several nights, and will be sad to leave tomorrow morning.
Apparently the West Coast (of which we’ll be camping over the next 3-4 days) is notorious for sandflies and so I will be mentally preparing for the next epic battle before we sleep tonight.
We’ll write again soon, and hopefully we’ll still be in one piece.
Holly and Mike