I spent two days at the end of my xmas/new year break making my way back to Picton before getting a bus to Nelson. The weather was pretty miserable, but the sun did come out on the 3rd day. I drove on day 1 to Murchison… which is as many places are in New Zealand, in the middle of nowhere.
On the way, about 1 hr 30 outside of Christchurch is Hanmer Springs a small town surrounded by hills and full of geothermally heated pools. My visit was over a public holiday, so the small town was full of people and all of their cars.Before you reach Hanmer Springs from Christchurch, you see this beautiful braided river with mountains in the background which was well worth a stop.
The town itself was made for tourists, with its geothermally heated springs, cute little shops and the mountain bike and walking tracks. I went for a wander down by the river and went to Conical Hill through the pine woods. There were some great views of the hills and there is nothing like being surrounded in a forest to remind you how small you are, but at the top of the hill, the clouds were so low that there was no view on the top, but it was a great, refreshing hike up.
I then drove through the hills along a river valley to Murchison and spent the evening here. I found there isn’t much to do on a drizzly evening.
Before I reached Murchison, I stopped off at Maruia falls… 5 minute walk from the road.
The next morning St Arnaud was my first stop, which lies on the edge of Rotoroa Lake. A large lake with high hills and a couple of jettys with some eels right next to them(which I didn’t see)… It’s also well known for its sandflies, but didn’t seem to be around when I was there. I took another walk around part of the bank before heading onto Blenheim…Let’s just say it’s not worth visiting unless you want to see an aviation museum or some wine tasting in the Marborough area.
Next stop was Havelock which I was told was very pretty… unfortunately It didn’t seem too pretty to me, but had some good “real fruit” ice cream!I took the Queen Charlotte Road up to Picton after this, with a stop for the Cullen Point walk around the headland which had some lovely glimpse views over the Sounds, and another stop where the walk lead down to a beach which looked across the sounds.
Once I arrived, I went to the Hostel’s spa pool and spent the evening chilling there. The next day the weather was beautiful, so I woke up early to soak it all in (and drop off my car), got a walk in up the headland and down to Bob’s Bay before getting my bus back to Nelson.