After getting married in September 2010 we decided to do the opposite of settling down; so we packed up our life, stuffed it in our parent's attic and hit the road for what is essentially an extended honeymoon! We started our trip on 29th December 2010 spending 4 months travelling overland through Europe, Russia and Mongolia to China. After many a train and bus journey we caved-in and flew from Western China to Malaysia, and worked our way north to Thailand and Cambodia. The time came for us to replenish our bank accounts, so we headed to Western Australia for work in July 2011 and lived in Fremantle until February 2012. After a couple of months back home seeing our families and friends, we headed back down-under. This time we headed for New Zealand and we are currently living in Wellington. Our blog started as part of an elaborate wedding present from two of our very good friends. The idea was that on our trip we should blog from every country we visit, detailing the sights, sounds and smells and most importantly, the beer. We have certainly had fun writing it - but moreso, living it!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

North of the South Island - March 2013

At the end of March we headed away for a couple of fantastic weeks in the South Island. We started the trip with a three day hike along the Queen Charlotte track near Picton, hiking from Ship Cove to near Endeavour Inlet on day one, onto Portage Bay on day two, and finishing in Anakiwa on the third and final day. The walk is 71 kilometres of well marked paths through woodland and bushland, dropping down to picturesque bays and climbing over ridges with fantastic views over both the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Kenepuru Sound. For the most part the weather was fine, clear and with enough of a breeze to keep us cool.

 The accommodation we had picked out turned out to all be of a really great standard, particularly  Noeline's Homestay, run by 80 odd year old Noeline, who has travelled to over 60 countries since her husband died when she was in her mid sixties. What an inspiration! It was fascinating to see how challenging life on the Sounds could be, as when we were there she arrived back from driving to Blenheim to do 7 weeks weeks worth of shopping for her and her little dog.

After three days of hiking and having rested up in Anakiwa, we got up early the next morning and grabbed the hostel's kayak for a quick paddle around the bay. The sun was just peeping over the hills and the water was steaming and ethereal. After quickly packing up, we caught a lift with the postman back into Picton (the post service is an entrepreneurial sort of business around here!), and picked up our hire car.

We headed off to Nelson, via Pelorus Bridge where we stopped for a brief wander in the woods and ate our sandwiches in the dried up riverbed. Nelson seemed like quite an attractive place, and we enjoyed a wander round the lively market and checked out the informative displays at Nelson Provincial Museum. Beer wise, we headed to the Sprig and Fern and the amazing Freehouse, housed in a fabulous old church and we supped ale and listened to a barbershop trio (they were a man down) having an impromptu rehearsal a few tables away.
The Freehouse

Stoke Brewery
Our journey continued along the Coastal Highway and we bobbed in Stoke Brewery for a swift half, in a rather quirky bar with an assortment of old bits and bats for decor. Unfortunately we had just missed a tour of the brewery but vowed to return on our way back. To make up for this disappointment, it felt rude not to take a short detour out to Golden Bear Brewing in Mapua, where we had a sample of a couple of beers.

Next stop was the Abel Tasman National Park. We started off by catching the boat out to Bark Bay, then slowly walked back to Marahau along the beautiful Abel Tasman track, trying not to be tempted by every single white sand, turquoise watered bay that we came across. It truly is a stunning national park and we're not surprised that it is very, very popular in high season! Who needs Barbados?

The very beautiful Abel Tasman National Park

Our final destination of the trip was Golden Bay. We spent our last few nights of the trip at Shambhala, a gorgeous eco retreat, with regular yoga session, views over the ocean and beautiful gardens featuring an amazing tea house.

Time for tea?

View from the gardens over the ocean

Amazing food at
the Mussel Inn

We spent the evenings walking to the nearby Mussel Inn, along the glow worm strewn track, and even spotted a possum one night (our first of the trip!). The Mussel Inn is a completely brilliant brew pub, serving awesome ales and fab food in an amazing setting. Our favourite pub in New Zealand. And, possibly, the world. High praise indeed!

One of the many cute cafes
in Golden Bay
We spent the days exploring the local area, enjoying the hippy vibe, organics shops and fabulous coffee in the town of Golden Bay. We checked out the Te Waikoropupū Springs, discharging 14,000 litres of water per second, are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere, and contain some of the clearest water ever measured. We headed out to Farewell Spit for a long (ok, maybe we got a tad lost) beach walk. Last but not least, we headed out to Wharariki Beach, where the distance from the car park puts most families off and means you have a beach with amazing rock formations, beautiful clean white sand and wee seal pups in shallow pools almost to yourself. The seal pups are left there during the day as their mums go off to hunt, and they are most gorgeous, bold, playful wee things you have ever seen!

A pet seal pup now very much on our Bucket List

On our final day we ended up being turned away at what felt like every place we tried to visit, as it was Good Friday and everything was shut! So we finished our trip on a beautiful clear evening's sailing back to Wellington, accompanied by fish and chips and a bottle of Sav. An awesome end to an awesome holiday!

Enjoying the last of the sunshine on the boat home

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