top of page
  • clivenmel

February 12th 2011 - Motueka

February 11th 2011 – We left the campsite in Waikawa Bay after breakfast and headed for Picton and the road to Nelson.  We had decided to take the scenic route – well why wouldn’t you!  We hadn’t been travelling more than a few minutes when I spotted something and asked Clive to stop so I could go and take a photograph.  During all our travels through North Island we have seen many big trucks carrying logs, most of them were towing a trailer as well.  Well what I had spotted was a log yard – I’ve never seen so many logs in my life!


What a lotta logs!


We resumed our journey and it certainly was a very picturesque route indeed.  We passed through one or two tiny little hamlets then arrived in a place called Havelock, which is evidently the Green Lipped Mussel centre of the world!  They actually have a Green Lipped Mussel festival!  I have to admit, I’m not fond of the usual black mussels we get at home but the Green Lips are absolutely delicious and I reckon they deserve a festival! 


We continued on this road, one minute climbing a steep gradient, muttering “I think I can, I think I can”!  Then hurtling downwards hoping the breaks were going to stop us, twisting and turning all the way, an awesome route!  Finally we arrived in Nelson, thankfully in one piece!  The campervan is amazing, considering its 20 years old, it just keeps going and going!  So far the temperature gauge has barely moved no matter how hard the engine is working, it’s a little gem really and we are so grateful to have her.


We had decided not to stay in Nelson but we drove around the town a couple of times and took some photos just to say we had been and I also nipped into a shop for some fresh veggies and milk.  Nelson was quite pleasant and once again the main street had been tarted up a bit with hanging baskets etc so it looked quite nice. 


Nelson town centre

We carried on to Motueka where we had decided to stay for a couple of days and finally arrived there late afternoon.  It was a very pleasant campsite and had a swimming pool and a private spa in which, because we are members of the Top Ten campsite chain, we got a complementary half hour!  We decided to take advantage of that straight away, so as soon as we had got the van plugged in we changed into our togs and headed for the spa pool.  It was gorgeous, just to relax in the hot bubbling water, lovely!  When our half hour was up we went for a swim in the pool, that was good too.   After our swim we went into the office to book ourselves on an excursion to the Abel Tasman National Park the following day. The trip entailed a bus ride, a boat ride and a bush walk.


After dinner we decided to go for a walk into town.  We had spotted a pub on the way into Motueka called Motty Malone’s Irish Pub!  Well it was Friday night and we reckoned any Irish pub worth its salt would have some sort of music on.  We were right, there was a poster outside stating that The Gypsy Pickers would be performing from 8.00pm – it was ten to!  We got drinks and found a table just in front of the stage area and sure enough at 8.00pm a very skinny guy, with a long ponytail and a hat on walked onto the stage with an old battered Ovation guitar!  He didn’t look much I have to say, in fact as soon as he opened his mouth to speak and I heard his American accent I thought he must hail from Kentucky, he had tombstones for teeth and looked very much the hillbilly! However, he wasn’t, he originally hailed from Flagstaff, Arizona but has lived in New Zealand since 1989!  He also explained that the other half of the The Gypsy Pickers duo, was his wife and she had sprained both her wrists mowing the lawn when the mower hit a rock!  She couldn’t play the banjo nor the mandolin so he was on his own!  I needn’t have worried though, looks can be deceiving!  He was the most awesome performer, a brilliant guitarist and a great singer!  He did everything from Simon and Garfunkel, through Bob Dylan to Lynyrd Skynyrd and even The Beatles!  He played from 8.00pm through to 11.00pm with only one short break and he was about to go on again but we couldn’t stay any longer!  We had had a tremendous evening and were very sorry to have to leave but we had to be up at the crack of dawn to go on our excursion!


Ron Valente (iPhone pic)


February 12th 2011 – we were up bright and early the following morning and decided to leave the bed made up as we were going to be out all day.  As soon as I was dressed I nipped over to the kitchen, hard boiled a couple of eggs and made some sandwiches to take with us for lunch. Once back at the van I just had time to pack my camera and grab my hat and we were off to catch the bus outside the camp office.


The bus took us through acres and acres of fruit crops, mainly apples.  The driver gave a bit of a commentary and explained how the fruit is ripened and then harvested.  He also explained that this part of New Zealand was once a big producer of tobacco! This has all but gone now apart from a few intrepid farmers who still grow a bit of it but only on a very small scale.  It wasn’t a long trip on the bus and we soon arrived at Kaiteriteri where we were to meet the boat.  We all piled off the bus and crossed the road to the beach and waited.  Eventually we spotted a catamaran approaching the beach. I was beginning to wonder how on Earth we were supposed to board it as there was no jetty!  I needn’t have worried, the family who run this trip actually purpose build their own boats and had an ingenious way of getting the passengers on board.  As the boat approaches the beach it tosses an anchor out at the back,  it slows up and a gangway folds down, it has a roller on the very front which as it touches down on the beach just rolls up the sand until the boat stops!  The passengers all get on, the gangway is retracted and then a windlass pulls the anchor chain back up, which gently tows the boat back off the beach – genius!

Crusader with the ganway down on the beach


Once free of the beach the boat revved up and we were off.  It was a little bit overcast and I thought we would be better inside for the trip as it is nearly always chilly up on the deck of boats!  The other thing was that we had to travel light, Clive had his bag with him, which had the binoculars in it, I had my bag, which contained my camera and long lens, we also had a cloth carrier bag containing the packed lunch and a drink – no room for jumpers or waterproofs – we had dressed in shorts and tee shirts and had our fingers crossed!  We cruised up the coast occasionally pulling in close to the shore to look at places of interest.  The first of these stops was to see The Split Apple Rocks. 


Split Apple Rocks


The split in this huge boulder is assumed to have been caused by ice!  Small cracks fill with water which freeze and increase the cracks, eventually the pressure is just too much and the rock splits in half.   In fact all the way up the coast there were the most amazing rocks and boulders, worn by wind and sea into incredible shapes. The next of these that we stopped to look at were The Arch Rocks.


Arch Rocks


The Skipper of the boat informed us that when the tide is in people in kayaks actually attempt to get through the archway to the other side!  We continued up the coast and soon approach Tonga Island and once again the boat slowed right down so that we could all have a good look at this rocky island, the reason for this was that New Zealand Fur Seals frequent this island and come here to have their pups.  There were several young pups basking on the rocks, totally oblivious to our presence!


Fur Seal Pup


There were different variations on the trip we were on, we had gone for the full whack which was to take us all the way up to Totaranui, right at the top of the Abel Tasman National Park, however some people were getting off sooner and walking back to previous beach to be picked up, so we pulled in to a couple of beaches on the way up to drop these passengers off.  We carried on up to Totaranui then turned around and headed back down the coast. We eventually pulled in to Bark Bay and this is where we were to disembark for our bush walk.  We all piled off onto the beach and Crusader reversed off and disappeared round the headland – we were on our own!  The first job before setting off on the long trek through the bush was to have a pee!  They are very sensible in New Zealand and provide loos in the most out of the way places but they are a very welcome sight!  I had to take a photo because we just don’t have anything like this in the UK at all, more's the pity!  These are known as Dunny’s or Long Drop’s!  There are no chemicals involved, under the seat is just a long drop, literally! 


The Dunny!


Once that was over and done with we set off on our 6km trek to our pick-up point in Torrent Bay.  It was a great walk through the bush but we were a bit disappointed at the lack of birdlife, we were expecting the bush to be ringing to the sound of Tui's at least, in fact there weren’t even many Cicadas singing either, surprisingly it was very quiet indeed!  We took a detour off the path to a scenic view point at South Head.  It was a bit of a trek and the path was very worn but when we finally arrived the view was fantastic!



As you can see from the photo the clouds were dissipating and it was becoming quite warm! We were now very glad that we hadn’t put warmer clothes on!  We trekked on, sometimes the path got quite steep and I struggled up, giving myself a cardiac workout on the way!  Then of course it would descend and my knees complained bitterly all the way down – I can’t win!  I keep trying to convince myself that I am going to be really fit at the end of this trip – providing of course that I don’t have a heart attack!!  I nearly had the latter when we came to the next obstacle – a swing bridge!!  Eeek!  Well I had no choice, there was no going back!  Clive suggested that I go first and he would take a photo of me in the middle, then he would join me and I would take the camera, continue across the bridge then turn around and take a photo of him, all well and good but I have to confess I had to close my eyes in order to turn around!!




Once that was behind me I felt a lot better.  We continued on for a little while longer then found a nice boulder to sit on and have our packed lunch.  Its amazing how delicious a hard boiled egg and a ham sandwich tastes when you’re outdoors! After our repast we continued on our way and a short time later we got another spectacular view of the coastline through the trees.  We could see the most beautiful secluded beach in an inlet from the sea, it was absolutely stunning!


Inlet beach - can you spot the beached yacht!


We had now been walking for almost three hours and we were just beginning to wonder how much further it was, when we rounded a bend in the path and there ahead was Torrent Bay, our pick-up point!  We made our way down the path and finally reached the beach.  It was a lovely beach and the sea looked very welcoming, I really wished I had my togs with me!  However, it didn’t stop me going for a paddle!  We were back in good time and there was about an hour before Crusader was due to return to pick us up, Clive decided to wait in the shade but I headed for the beach!  I had a lovely paddle, I made my way up the beach, wading through the surf up to my knees, it was gorgeous!  On the way back I did a bit of beachcombing and came up with a beautiful shell and a little piece of yellow granite!




Finally Crusader appeared around the headland and we were soon on board and heading back to Kaiteriteri to meet the bus which would take us back to the campsite in Motueka.  All in all it had been a really lovely trip. When we got back to camp Clive went for a shower but I went for a swim in the pool, it was lovely! 


The question of dinner cropped up, as we had been out all day we decided to have a meal out.  Clive had only one thing on his mind: Kentucky Fried Chicken!  KFC is his favourite fast food and we had been spotting Colonel Sanders’ picture all over New Zealand, there just happened to be one in Motueka too!  We set off walking, passed Motty Malones and carried on walking and walking and walking – it was right at the other end of the town!  We finally arrived and ordered our meal, fortunately it did have eat-in facilities!  I have to confess it was delicious, we both really enjoyed it, then we walked off all the calories on the way back to the campsite and bed!


Next instalment soon!!



0 views0 comments
bottom of page