Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Nelson and environs

From Momorangi we headed out on the remaining half of the winding and beautiful Queen Charlotte road to Havelock in lovely sunshine.

The jetty at Momorangi early in the morning that we left

The hills behind Momorangi from the jetty.

We think the village across the arm in the distance is Anakiwa, but we weren't sure, even when we drove the road. The kids on the jetty were on a school camp, run in the DOC building. These kids were on the fishing rotation. Others were on bush walks and kayaking.

We were aiming for Nelson but first we had to empty the waste water tank and the toilet cassette - we have a spare cassette but of course it is stored deep within the garage at the rear of the motorhome, so it is awkward to extract. (Note to self: must reposition spare cassette.) The dump station in Havelock is in the Mobil Service Station, and it seemed callous to just use the facilities without buying anything, so I filled up with diesel (only $6 worth as I had filled up in Blenheim a few days before) and bought some chocolate - well, you never know when the soothing power of chocolate will be required, now do you?

As is the way with boaters, so it is with motorhomers and caravanners: there was a couple there at the two sided dumpstation, and chat ensued over the smelly waste. They were just returning to Picton and the North Island, and we were making our way south and west - but ever so slowly ...

The road between Havelock and Nelson is not particularly long but it is high and winding and pretty spectacular. Much of it is covered in beautiful native bush, but there are disturbing amounts of pinus radiata for felling, and some areas that have already been clear-felled of pine and look very ugly.

At the top of the Hope Saddle we took a little side road up to the DOC viewing area - ranges and bush as far as the eye could see. (It is called the bush here in NZ, not woods as in the UK which always seem to me to be quite open and light filled on the ground, as there is little or low undergrowth in UK woods, whereas here the trees grow close together and the bush floor is filled with suple jack and dense ferns.)  The road up there was a bit spooky though. In the recent storms, I think its surface has been scoured. But worse is that it slopes downwards to the side of the road that falls away into the bush ... A bit scary sitting high up in a high vehicle - but that is probably my inexperience talking.
You can see the scouring of the parking area surface - note that I still park as prescribed by DOC: reversed in for easy egress in a hurry.

We were over 600 metres above sea level, and the mountains in the distance were even higher.

We had arranged to stop for the night in the parking area of a pub in Richmond called The Honest Lawyer. It seemed pretty reasonable a price - no fee but spend $20 in the bar/restaurant. So we thought we'd have lunch there. If we'd stopped at the ciabatta and dips, I would have said it was a good place, but the chicken burger was their undoing. Suffice it to say it went to the seagulls who were not averse to eating their under-cooked and soggy-crusted cousin.

A couple of phone calls later, we had made social arrangements that were several decades overdue. So the gas was turned off and off we went to visit Barry and Lorraine in Atawhai. David and Barry were fellow inmates of Weir House when 1st and 2nd year students at Victoria University in Wellington back in the late 60s. They had not seen each other since university days. Neither of us had met Lorraine. She is the consummate hostess - dinner was whipped up with us contributing the fresh chicken for spatchcocking and roasting, and Lorraine made a curried pasta salad (have recipe, will make) and an apricot shortcake for dessert (have recipe, will make).

Barry and Lorraine at breakfast. They were B&B hosts for about 17 years and loved it.
We stayed the night parked up on their street - the food and the surroundings were better than The Honest Lawyer by a factor of n where n is a very very large number.

Then we were due to visit Chris and Ann for lunch in Stoke. We lost touch with them some years ago but decided that a re-connection was due. So we also called Salvi. (Chris, Salvi, Syd, Graeme and David had flatted together in Wellington during David's student days. The first four were known as 'the boys' when David and I were first together, and we spent a lot of weekends with them visiting us in Wanganui and then in Johnsonville when they had mostly moved back to Nelson. Syd is now in Sydney and Graeme is in Wanganui - they will both be tracked down ...)
Salvi, Chris and David - none of them have changed much, just greyer and some slight loss of hair. There was much hilarity as old memories were raked up, some not fit for public consumption, a few because they would be a bad example to younger viewers and some because they were too funny to tell...

Ann and Chris, with the travellers. David is in charge of my selfie stick as I cannot operate it ...

We had intended to head to Murchison that afternoon, but lunch morphed into afternoon tea and then into nibbles and wine in the evening, and we spent the night parked in their street - freedom camping in suburbia is wonderful! But even better is catching up with old friends and renewing the friendship.

We have tried to encourage Chris to come to Waikanae for a weekend/mid-week visit with Ann before we head to the UK, but he is holding out for some reason.

So Murchison waited another day for us. It was as we were driving there that we realised how isolated Nelson is by road - a range of mountains to the east towards Blenheim and the ridge of mountains to the southwest. Thankfully they have a very busy airport and they can always swim out if necessary ...


Jenny said...

Great to see you are having such a wonderful time. Catching up with old friends is always great, and then you can just slowly amble along as the mood takes you. Or not - and stay a little longer, that's the beauty of a holiday on wheels.

Marilyn McDonald said...

It is lovely, Jenny, to have good friends to catch up with as we travel around. And travelling slowly is such a boon!