We awoke the day after our Coastal Track walk to buckets of rain. It didn’t stop all night and the morning didn’t look like it could persuade it to relent either. This was a bit of an inconvenience because Milly had booked to go horse trekking in Marahau at midday. Although horses, I’m told, don’t mind the rain, health & safety officials do so we started praying for a dry spell so she could don her helmet, jodhpurs & riding boots.
Our luck was in and about half an hour before she was due to jockey, the clouds cleared and the sun popped out. As you can imagine her mood picked up extraordinarily and I had to administer a Tramadol to calm her down.
We’d been given the tip about which trek to do by the i-Site official the previous day when we’d booked our water taxi and although the horse farm which we went to wasn’t advertised anywhere she said the guy was a ‘lovely fella’ and she liked to give him work whenever she could because he was ‘very good’. She couldn’t have been further from the truth. The guy looked like something out of The Hills Have Eyes and I wonder if he’s ever smiled in his life. We gingerly wondered onto the horse farm (we were the only ones there) and made our way up to his makeshift hut/riding gear stock room. He appeared from nowhere, a bit like when you see one of those eccentric butlers in a haunted house film, with his leathery tanned skin and probably unwashed hair and chewing on some form of gum (or more likely tabacco). He was fairly unhelpful and now I could see why it wasn’t the busiest place we’d been to – it was like we were a hindernce to his day. If you don’t want to take people out on horse riding treks pal, don’t open up a trekking school. Unless of course the school is just a ruse for his other horsey activities. Like I said, they didn’t look like they wanted human company.
Anyway, he reluctantly went and got one of his horses, which looked like it had been held captive and away from any form of life for a while – not really warming to human company, threw a saddle over it, threw a helmet on Mill (I was surprised he even had any safety gear), jumped bare-back onto his own donkey and lead Mills out into the bush. Not going to lie, I was concerned for her safety but given she’s actually a good horse rider he would have had his work cut-out trying to catch her.
I know you’re thinking ‘why haven’t you gone riding too?’, but unfortunately I had a blog to write and a coffee to drink and without the time to write, you wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading one of the previous posts. That and it was also quite expensive and it wouldn’t have done much for me.
Mill did have fun trotting along the beach but she became frustrated when Lurch wouldn’t let her canter or gallop across the sands due to the wet weather and high(ish) tide. Tad surprised she didn’t just do it anyway. But she did make good friends with her horse, Bee, and she did get her riding fixed which you clearly required. We might try and find her a better trekking place later on in the adventure.
Once she was back we got back on the road to make our way east towards the Picton area where our ferry was due to depart in a couple of days’ time.
It was a decent journey over to Picton and our pal Hollie had told us a top tip for NZ – $5 pizzas from Domino’s, so we had a brief stop off in Nelson to try this out. Post Domino’s we headed a little further east and stopped off in a quiet shipping town called Havelock where we bunked for the night.
In the morning we went to have-a-look around Havelock and we did a short walk up a tramping trail called Waterfall Point. The trail mustn’t have been popular as it was fairly overgrown, but it was quite beautiful. We spotted some glowworm ladders (what they use to catch their prey) and came across a small but pretty little waterfall tucked deep into the bush. On our way back to Brucey we stopped off at the local i-Site (which was bizarrely decorated in indigenous Kiwi forna) to see if there was anything else in the Havelock vicinity worth doing. Havelock is sort of at the southern tip of Marlborough Sound, which is quite like Milford Sound (a group of ‘cliff-sided’ islands covered in forest) and is famous for its green muscle fishing. You can do boat tours into the Sound and also have a good plate of muscles, but given budget restrictions (and because the weather was nice) we decided it best to go for our second walk of the day.
There was a fairly scenic and ‘easy’ walk which was a bit out of town at a place called Cullen’s Point which is a little jut of land pushed out into the Sound. We did the ‘top loop’ first and got some great shots for the surrounding islands, then did the ‘bottom loop’ which took you around the circumference of The Point in the lower bush. It was actually much harder than we thought but a good work-out nonetheless.
The road from Havelock to Picton was called the Queen Charlotte Drive and took you on an extremely twisted track along the coast line. Right at the end of the drive is a lookout point where you can see down to the timber port (One of NZ’s main exports is timber) where you can see thousands upon thousand of logs being prepared for shipping. There isn’t too much to do around Picton as its not much more than a port town so we headed just south to a larger village called Blenheim. This part of the country belongs to the Marlborough region which is famous for its multiple vineyards. The vineyards are brilliant because they’ll give you some free samples and a bit of chat about the wine business and the regions in general.
We popped to our first winery and sampled their product whilst having a chin-wag with the young lass that worked there. Turned out she did a degree in wine making and moved there from the North Island. Sounds like she’s got a life of alcoholism ahead of her. The next vineyard seemed a bit more upmarket and we thought we might get found out for being freebie fraudsters however there was a lovely ‘barman’ there called Nigel who it turns out lived in the UK for a number of years. We chatted with him for a prolonged period of time and nearly had an argument with him about the cost of living in the UK compared to NZ (he thought the UK was more expensive than NZ and I can assure you it isn’t!). The fact that he hadn’t lived there for 16 years might’ve been the root of the argument.
As all the wineries shut at 4pm, this was the end of our wine tour and we found ourselves a site in Blenheim to sleep for the night. We grubbed up some lovely meatball pasta and watched some of the old versions of Friends on the camp tele before heading off to bed. We had an early morning ferry booked so needed an early night. Milly barely slept as she had dreams about her first proper ferry journey.
We awoke to wonderful sunshine and made a cheeky breakfast of our new favourite ‘Ironman’ cereal and the obligatory coffee before making the short 30 minute trip north to Picton.
We had a small, but not annoying wait, whilst we queued for the ‘Interislander’ ferry and we had a small chat with John, the Environmental Agency Spot Search guy who told us about the spread of unwanted seeds from the South Island to the North. He gave us some sound advice that for the first hour (of the 3 hour ferry ride) we should stay on deck and get snaps of the beautiful landscape of Marlborough Sound. We were not disappointed – thanks John.
And so our South Island adventure is over and we left with some bloody wonderful landscapes to wave us goodbye!