Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nelson - WOW, Wine, Hikes and Beaches

After arriving in Nelson, it finally hit me that we had been in motion for over a week. Constant motion, from one destination to the next. Motion which required the logistic wrangler and navigator of the couple (me) to work overtime. I was suddenly craving a few days of holding still so, we decided to scrap some plans we had thought we might do in other parts of the South Island and arranged to stay at the same place for 3 whole nights. We got to let our bags "barf" all over the room. It was glorious.

Our little corner room in downtown Nelson at Aurora Backpackers suited us just fine. It had a nice big window that looked out over an intersection and proved to be a suitable place for a temporary home base. Once we knew we were staying put, we very quickly filled in the time with activities in and around Nelson. As you saw above, we fit in a bit of beach time after a much needed trip to the laundromat.

We went to WOW the World of Wearable Art and Collectible Cars Museum. The museum was a funny mix of fashion and auto. Unfortunately, there were no photos allowed in the fashion sections, so I can only share some car pictures.

The wearable art was neat to see, especially since parts of it were knitted! I am sure the pieces are even more amazing in the high drama fashion show they stage each year. From the WOW website, founder Suzie Moncrieff is quoted as saying, "We need more quirky and colourful things in life." I agree!
One surprising trend we noticed in New Zealand: one can get good food from museum cafes and from airports food courts. Surprising! The view was pretty, too!

(Hey Mom! I know you are dying to know about this part!)

Nelson is located right next to the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand, which is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wine. We didn't have tons of time to check out lots of the wineries, so we stuck close to Nelson where we found a cellar door tasting opportunity that included organic wines.
We had a lovely time at the tasting room. Our hostess was very kind and patient with us and brought us through full tastings of Te Mania wines and Richmond Plains wines.

I think we sampled somewhere around 12 wines ranging from Reisling, to Syrah to Ice Wine. And, of course, we had Sauvignon Blanc, too!

One night, we found ourselves rushing to finish dinner so we could get to the beach in time to catch a sunset. We got there just in time and enjoyed strolling the long, narrow Tahunanui Beach.

When we got back to town, we found a restaurant that was still open and got ourselves a little nighttime treat. The fruit cobbler went well with our ginger drinks. I had a hot lemon, honey and ginger drink while Paul enjoyed a ginger soda.

The second morning we were there, we started out the day with a hike. Grampian's Walk started out with a pretty intense climb and reminded me why I prefer to go to the gym at night. Phew, my morning cardio capability is not so great. I woke up quickly enough, though and we did the full climb up to the top.

This map at the summit demonstrated how the fault lines run through the area. We were standing right on one!

We had the entire mountain to ourselves with the exception of one couple and their dog that crossed our path midway through the hike. We were in no rush to leave that view behind, so we hung out at the top, hammed it up for the camera and made a video for you.

On this hike, the sounds were particularly intense. The cicadas were out in full force. Cicadas are not super big, but man are they noisy! They have a sort of electric popping sound that they make individually. When many of them are going at the same time the volume can get really loud. Here is a link to someone's audio recording of cicadas.

In addition to the cicadas, we also came across a Tui in the trees. I was literally stopped in my tracks by it. It is not special to look at, but the range of sounds it makes is stunning. Here is a link to a 5 second clip that demonstrates only part of the vocalizations I heard it using. It was so neat! I am not much of a bird person and even I was impressed with the variety of birds in New Zealand. On that same hike, we also spotted a Fantail.

We also came across a fern we had heard about from fellow travelers earlier in the trip. They had told us of a fern that you can turn upside down and it will reflect the moonlight. If you are hiking at night, you can leave bits of this fern behind you to show you the way back.

Just like with Pohatu, I felt so at peace in Nelson that I wasn't ready to leave it behind. But, onward we must go! And, we didn't know it yet, but there was another amazing drive ahead of us!

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