Kaikoura to Nelson Via Picton South Island New Zealand

Waking in Kaikoura to light rain, I ventured onto the balcony. Looking North, this is what I saw. Bring on the mountains!

 Kaikoura-South-Island-New-Zealand-Looking-North

Kaikoura-South-Island-New-Zealand-Looking-North

I was quick to pack and get on the road. The trip up to Blenheim was all main highway. Good road and 100kph most of the way. It took about an hour 15 or would have if I hadn’t stopped a few times for photos, including this iPhone snap of seals and seal pups.

Seals-Seal-Pups-North-of-Kaikoura-South-Island-New-Zealand

Seals-Seal-Pups-North-of-Kaikoura-South-Island-New-Zealand

 

Blenheim is the main hub for the Marlborough region. If you know your NZ white wines then I am sure you are familiar with the Marlborough Sav Blanc’s. The region is world famous for that particular drop and for good reason. Marlborough is home to 20 plus known vineyards, most of which have Cellar Doors. Now is probably the best time to tell you than I decided to be on a dry spell from the grape. Bad timing. Very bad.

I drove past 1000’s of acres of grapes. (Tears rolling down my face. Who goes on a dry spell in a wine district? DUH) All the vines looked very lush and green and I can’t help but wonder how more laden the vines must be with grapes come harvest time.

Now to Blenheim. What a quaint quiet country town. Here are a couple of pictures. It is worth a stop if for nothing much more than fuel and some other supplies. Oh by the way. Unleaded petrol is NZ$2 plus a litre.

CBD-Blenheim-South-Island-New-Zealand

CBD-Blenheim-South-Island-New-Zealand

CDB-Park-Area-with-Free-Bean-Bags-and-Wi-fi-Blenheim-South-Island-New-Zealand

CDB-Park-Area-with-Free-Bean-Bags-and-Wi-fi-Blenheim-South-Island-New-Zealand

Off to Picton. Picton is about 20 minutes north of Blenheim.

I had questioned whether to go to Picton as I believed it too only be the ferry port between Picton and the North Island (Wellington, the capital of NZ), but it is so much more than just the ferry port (say that like Mr Bean speaks in Love Actually), it is beach side beautiful. The weather was stunning again and with it was bright blue skies and a warm if not hot 21 degrees. The Main Street runs down to the park / beach side that is about 200m from the Ferries. Dozens of boats in the harbour including boats for day trips etc.

Picton South Island New Zealand

Picton South Island New Zealand

Picton South Island New Zealand

Picton South Island New Zealand

Picton South Island New Zealand

Picton South Island New Zealand

The park area has a massive kids / those that think that they still are, area with water spouts, slides and swings etc. Plenty of shops for those so inclined and a couple of pubs / cafes etc. I can imagine this is a pleasant holiday destination to do as little as possible for a week.

Wanting to explore more I pushing on up the road just 5k to Waikawa Sound. Well, there is nothing to do here but go out on your boat and frankly I thought for a moment about this place as a retirement destination. Check it out for a stroll and some gorgeous vistas / photos.

Waikawa near Picton New Zealand

Waikawa near Picton New Zealand

I was really in the mood now for more. The typical route to Nelson from Picton is to go back to Blenheim and follow the highway but not me. I chose to take the 27k road to Havelock and then onto Nelson. Let me warn you in advance, if you get car sick as a passenger, this is not the road for you. I suggest you both drive or do as I did, stop frequently. This 27k took me the best part of an hour of driving time. It is VERY very windy. Very. Along the way I stopped to take photos of the view and what a view it is. WOW.

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand 2

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand 2

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand

The Marlborough Sound/s all make for what is like Sydney Harbour on steroids. You will have to see it to appreciate it’s stunning beauty fully. I stopped for the other half of my breakfast sandwich, walked 500m to a seat perched looking out over the sound. Birds twittered and the small waves caressed the stony beach. Other than that it was completely quiet and peaceful. Just before Havelock (1k if that. You can see the town and it’s harbour clearly) is another LookOut that requires a bit of a walk, not too much but do it. The view is right down the Sound… Check this out..

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand 3Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand 3

Marlborough Sounds Picton New Zealand 3

Havelock. Keep driving, or at least I did. Onto Nelson.

Approaching Nelson, the foliage opens up to several kilometres of beach side driving. Clear skies again made for a ultra blue water view.

I stayed at the InnBetween Hostel (Trafalgar Sq) in a deluxe double room, well worth the couple of extra pennies. The hostel is modern, clean and very well appointed. Hostel does not have to mean grotty.

InnBetween Hostel Room Nelson New Zealand

InnBetween Hostel Room Nelson New Zealand

InnBetween Hostel Kitchen Nelson New Zealand

InnBetween Hostel Kitchen Nelson New Zealand

InnBetween Hostel Communal Lounge Nelson New Zealand

InnBetween Hostel Communal Lounge Nelson New Zealand

 

I was greeted by the bubbly Dominique. Dominique told me of the “Centre Of New Zealand” landmark. I was keen for a walk, so after dropping my bag and grinning at the comforts of my room, shoes on, I was off. About 20 minutes brisk walk to the east I started to ascend the hill. Blimey. This is some hill. I started to pant and then stupidity struck me and I was jogging. Not much. Don’t get too carried away. Interval training I told myself, taking another break. Sweat dripping off my head I made it too the top. Here is the view.

Centre of New Zealand Land Mark Nelson New Zealand

Centre of New Zealand Land Mark Nelson New Zealand

Centre of New Zealand Land Mark Nelson New Zealand 2

Centre of New Zealand Land Mark Nelson New Zealand 2

That night I had a wander about town. Nelson is another place I think I would consider retiring as it is a big country town will all the modern facilities. The mall has amazing cafes and restaurants and free wi-fi and free tables and chairs are provided by the Council for those in need of a rest but not paying for food.

Cafe Scene Nelson New Zealand 2

Cafe Scene Nelson New Zealand 2

Cafe Scene Nelson New Zealand

Cafe Scene Nelson New Zealand – Shocker photo!

Day 2 in Nelson. A friend back home had said that one of her friends was in Nelson and had been to Pu Pu Springs. Google told me that it was a nature fresh water spring that had visibility measured of 63 metres. As a diver, I was intrigued.

It is about a 2 hour drive to Takaka and then 5 minutes further north you take the Pu Pu Valley Rd. Are the springs interesting. Yep.

On the way to Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

On the way to Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

Dancing Sands Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

Dancing Sands Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

Pu Pu Springs New Zealand

Do it but in my opinion not for the Springs…. Just 4k up a dirt road is the Pu Pu Hydro Scheme. It is a restored Hydro system from mid last century and I LOVED IT. Not so much the generator room, which you can view, or the history so much, but I was tossed back to high school math with my 2 Pi R (sorry I can’t find the symbol for Pi) and then mentally calculating the velocity of the water after falling what I guessed to be 120 metres. I’m a numbers nerd! It is a 2 hour walk around the entire area and I highly recommend it.

The first 50 minutes or so (choosing to do the hard part first) is a strenuous walk up the hill on a stony path in the sun. Hat required for sure. When you reach the top, again the view, wow. Descending to the weir, the good part starts. The Waterfall is divided to the falls and some to the Water Race for the Hydro scheme. You follow this water along the race for some 2k until you get to the drop to the power station. It is rain forest-esque, cool and a pleasant slow descent. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Start of the Water Race Pu Pu Hydro Scheme South Island New Zealand

Start of the Water Race Pu Pu Hydro Scheme South Island New Zealand

Mid Point Water Race Pu Pu Hydro Scheme South Island New Zealand

Mid Point Water Race Pu Pu Hydro Scheme South Island New Zealand

Back at the bottom, I was covered in sweat but smiling from ear to ear. Back to Nelson. I would bang on again about the views on the drive back but that is getting a bit “old hat” don’t you think.

Dinner in one of the cafe’s followed by lots of snoring.

 

#SelfDriveNewZealand #NewZealandSouthIsland #SouthIslandNewZealand

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