Day one – Thursday 20 December – train to Wellington
What an awesome start to our trip – the taxi driver didn’t charge us for the ride from home to the train station as a thank you for previous business and xmas gift. We arrived nice and early and checking in to the Northern Explorer train was fast and easy. The train was very comfortable with loads of room, huge windows, plugs for charging devices, comfortable dining car with great food and my favourite beer.
The train ride took just under 11 hours and apart from the first bit from Auckland to Hamilton the weather was great. The best scenery of the trip was definitely Mt Ruapehu.
We stayed in the Ibis hotel and after dinner we had a few beers in Dad’s hotel room.
Day two – Friday 21 December – Wellington to Picton
We did breakfast in the hotel and then said goodbye, Dad and Paula flew to Nelson and I stayed on to catch the ferry. I went on the cable car and loved the lights they’ve added to the tunnels. Weather ok and great views at the top.
Click the last pic to view the video.
I ran in to a couple of people I know from work so we did a quick coffee and catch up in David Jones. Then I collected my bag from the hotel and headed for the ferry terminal.
I chose to go on the Bluebridge Ferry rather than the InterIslander coz it was about $10 cheaper and they had Airpoints. BIG MISTAKE! As soon as I got on the ferry I would’ve paid anything to get off it and on to the other ferry (the Interislander). The whole thing smelt like a public toilet everywhere. I went outside for some fresh air and hopefully find a good seat, but it worse. On the right side of the boat were vents that made the air smell like old stale warm fat. On the left side were the vents that I guess went straight to the toilets coz that side smelt like poohs. Neither side was a good option. So I got myself a private cabin where I could escape the screaming children and horrible smells. The cabin had its own toilet and shower and a bed – very cool and it was the best $30 I’ve spent in ages. Before I headed indoors tho I did see a pod of dolphins – very cool, but very hard to photograph.
The scenery through the sounds was beautiful but I just couldn’t stomach the smells.
Getting off the boat was quite an ordeal too. The directions for the walking people (people without cars) was not very clear and I got lost trying to find my way out. Then once I was reunited with the other walkers we were herded like sheep on to a bus and shuttled to the terminal to wait for our bags. Then I was on my own with no signs to show me the way to get to the town and there are NO TAXIS in Picton. So I walked along the main road which was not the right way to go I found out the next day!
Day three – Saturday 22 December – Picton to Nelson
Awesome weather in Picton, actually managed to get too much sun just wandering around in the morning and sitting in the shade by the stunning waterfront, while waiting for the bus to Nelson.
While waiting for the bus to kill some time and get out of the sun I paid $25 to see the Picton Aquarium. Wow what a waste of money, it was awful and actually gave me the creeps.
After filling in enough time I went to the bus stop to wait for the bus, unfortunately I was waiting at the wrong stop and 10 minutes before the bus was due to depart I wondered why it hadn’t even turned up and why am I the only one waiting for a bus. So I went in to the info centre next to the bus stop and asked if I was in the right place – I wasn’t!!! A quick two minute dash to the correct stop and luckily the bus hadn’t left. But the bus was overbooked and they needed two buses so there was some confusion and a 20 minute hold up. The bus trip was great and I’d definitely do that again. Beautiful scenery, loads of famous vineyards.
Then at long last I’d made it to Nelson and Dad and Paula were there to meet me at the bus station. Short ride to my Aunt’s home and a beer!
Day four – Sunday 23 December – Nelson
This morning my cousins Janine and Stephanie turned up for a coffee and a quick reunion catch up. Then my Aunty and Ken took me on a little pilgrimage around Nelson to revisit the three houses I’d stayed in when we came to visit at Xmas time back in the 70s 80s & 81. It was hard to photograph the houses from the car so here’s an old pic I took back in 1980 of the house we stayed in that Xmas.
After lunch at the McDonald’s cousin Stephanie worked at for her first job, we went to the Nelson Cathedral to see the Xmas Tree display.
After dinner the old photo albums came out so Paula could see what I looked like as a Page Boy at my Aunt’s wedding back in the 60s.
Me as a page boy.
It was a great evening filled with stories and so many memories.
Day five – Monday 24 December – Te Waikoropupu Springs
I remembered as a kid the whole family went for a really long drive to see the Pupu Springs and it was the most beautiful crystal clear water I had ever seen – but that was all I remember of that trip, so Dad and Paula took me on the long drive out to Takaka where the springs are. The drive up the mountains was spectacular and the long journey was well worth it, when we walked round a corner in the bush track and saw the stunning water bubbling up from the ground.
Click the last pic to watch the video.
On the way out to the springs we stopped in Motueka for lunch and I was amused by the name of the shop across the road.
Day six – Tuesday 25 December – Christmas Day
Lovely Xmas day. Presents and breakfast then getting ready for the cousins who turned up for the big xmas dinner at lunch time. We had a secret Santa before food and it was one of the few times I’ve seen a Secret Santa activity go well (something usually goes wrong) – everyone seemed happy with their gifts and everyone got one!
The following two pics are not from Xmas Day , but most days there were fantastic sunsets seen from my Aunt’s balcony.
Day seven – Wednesday 26 December – Mapua and Kaiteretere Beach
Today Dad, Paula and I drove out to Mapua a little wharf town with a maritime museum full of interesting facts about the area. The best thing I learnt was how Cable Bay got its name and that it only took 12 days to lay the cable between Australia and New Zealand back in the 1800s.
From there we drove on to Kaiteretere a very popular beach with golden sand.
Day eight – Thursday 27 December – Last Day in Nelson
This morning we had a visit from my Uncle Ray who I hadn’t seen since I was 21, great catch up and many more memories. After that Dad, Paula and Tarnie went in to town to check out the shops and have lunch. After lunch we had a drive out to the Maitai Valley River spot where we spent many days swimming back in 1980. I didn’t take any photos coz there was nowhere practical to stop, and the river bed was all brown and not as stunning as I remembered it. But at least we found it. So here’s an old pic of my Uncle Ray and Dad standing by our favourite Maitai river spot in 1980.
Our very last stop before heading home was at the very beautiful Queen’s Gardens (to use the loo).