Stewart Island

Stewart Island is a complete bird paradise, perfect for the established bird nut and those with a new interest in it (like me!). I spent 2 days/3 nights on the island and loved it with all of its’ walks, bird life and super friendly people.

I took the 5pm ferry from Bluff to Stewart. On the way over I spotted my first bird, the fine feathered, Royal Albatross with its huge wingspan flying after the boat. I met some other backpackers on the boat and headed over to my accommodation at Bunkers Backpackers for the first of 3 nights where we were warmly welcomed for a hot dog and to watch the first rugby match of the season at the local (hello $6 pints and $10 jugs!). At around 10.30pm I left to go kiwi hunting (slightly tipsily) with a new friend up the fuchsia track and around the rugby field (only use red lights as the white scare of the kiwi… Feel free to share this with people on the field with their super bright white lights!). Unfortunately we had no luck.

 

The approach to Stewart Island

 

The next morning looked a little grey, so I took a walk to Wohlers memorial via the Golden Bay track. I saw so many birds on this walk: wood pigeons, fan tails, tuis, albatross, wood pigeons… Maybe a few others! There were also views and stops along plenty of the golden sand beaches (Deep Bay,  Ringaringa beach and Golden Bay) and some of the surrounding islands.

 

 

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The well-marked Golden Bay track

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View from just beyond Wohler’s Memorial

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Near Wohler’s Memorial

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Fantail

In the afternoon I took a walk to Ryan’s Creek. This wasn’t particularly my favourite walk as it was all in the woods with minimal views, but plenty of ferns!

 

 

That evening I went to the famous fish and chip shop, after having someone else’s chips, I wasn’t so hungry for a full meal, so had a delicious (and huge) burger which was more than enough. After,  I went back to the pub with a group from the Backpackers where there was some rugby on in the background.

The next morning I woke up bright and early to try for some more kiwi hunting at the crack of dawn along the same route… Again we had no luck. We then took the 9 am ferry to Ulva Island and I was given a leafy boarding pass. The trip to Ulva was recommended by everyone I had spoken to about Stewart Island. Ulva is free from pests (rats, stoats and weasels) due to some pretty huge eradication measures in the past. This means it’s the perfect place to turn into a bird haven. As you arrive into Post Office Bay you are welcomed by a golden beach. I’d recommend buying a self guided leaflet for $2 which tells you all about the island at selected markers and the local wildlife. Here we saw Robyn’s, Saddlebacks, Wekas, parakeets… It’s easy to spend 3-4 hours here, longer if the sun is out. 

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Post Office Bay

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Mr. Robin

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Wrapped up on a beach

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Being attacked by a Robin

In the afternoon I took a walk out to Ackers Point which offers a walk past some pretty bays, crystal blue water and through the bush. Again here I saw Petrols and loads of Albatrosses!

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Hugggee Albatross

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Pretty bay

That evening we went to the pub quiz where I switched on my Donald Trump impression to try and gain some extra point for for my team. We won the pub quiz (without help from my impression) and a $50 bar tab which we decided to drink! After we went for another drunken kiwi hunt, and again had no luck but found a rare Morepork owl!

Stewart is also a great place to take the time to look up at the stars and spot the Milky Way!

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Bye Stewart Island

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Great Taste Trail

The Great Taste Trail is a cycle route which runs from Nelson the Kaiteriteri and loops back through to Nelson. I spent 2 days cycling from Richmond (I was lazy and got the bus there from Nelson as I knew it wasn’t the most attractive part of the trip) up to Kaiteriteri. Day 1 I cycled from Richmond to Motueka… I didn’t get off to a too good start, the tide was very high which flooded the subway I had to cycle through, I underestimated it’s depth, even after been warned by another cyclist and my feet were wet in the first few minutes… luckily I also had a pair of flip flops with me…so cycled the rest of the day (40kms) in these. I should’ve expected the bruises on my feet the next day…

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Soaked in the first 5 minutes

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Making my way to Rabbit Island

I cycled through to Rabbit Island, which I had visited before and stayed here for a hour on the beach with my book before taking the ferry. The ferry glided across the fast flowing estuary with ease and took us over to the buzzing Maupua. I treated myself to a “real fruit” ice cream (Ice cream blended with some berries) before heading on through the small town.

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Rabbit Island

 

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Mapua Ferry

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Converted storehouses in Mapua

Along the way there were some varied views.

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A more boggy area

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“Weather stone”… unfortunately the stone had gone missing

And some climbs… one which I decided to hop off and cheat by walking.

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Trying to grin at the top of an uphill cycle!

I then stopped off at the quirky Jester House which had a billion things to do for the kids from dress up, to play stuff  and even to feed the eels… their coffee was pretty good too.

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Jester House- These eels were more friendly looking than the real thing

After this I met another friendly American cyclist and finished the journey (even a few climbs) for the evening to Motueka. That evening my joints were achey so tried to soothe them in the jacuzzi at the hostel… unfortunately the bubbles didn’t work so it felt like a communal bath. We then went to dinner at the local Sprig and Fern and had a few to many and stayed until closing. Then walked back via the beach.

The next morning, feeling a little bit worse for wear we headed on to Kaiteriteri. This was my favourite part of the cycle which took you through a mountain bike park…as a complete novice, the park was well designed, taking you slowly uphill without killing you then spits you out on the golden beaches of Kaiteriteri.

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Day 2

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Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Trail

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Kaiteriteri beach

 

Christchurch to Picton

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.

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Just outside Hanmer Springs

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.

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View from the river

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From the hill

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Pine Forest

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.

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On the drive to Murchison

Before I reached Murchison, I stopped off at Maruia falls… 5 minute walk from the road.

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Maruia Falls

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.

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Lake Rotoroa

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.

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View from Cullen Point

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The small beach I stumbled across outside Picton

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.

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Picton

Oamaru, Otematata and around

Over Christmas and New Year I visited a friend and his family in Oamaru and had a visit to Dunedin. I flew from Nelson to Christchurch on a lovely evening so was treated to views of the mountains.

From Nelson to Christchurch 

After a night in Christchurch, I took a bus to Oamaru. Once I arrived in Oamaru, I was shown around the Historic precinct and taken out for lunch at Scott’s bar (the beer is home brewed and pretty good!). The historic precinct is full of buildings built and used when the town had a large and busy port, these are now full of quirky art galleries, steam punk inspired shops (think quirky sci-fi stuff). I got to pretend to ride a penny farthing and also wandered around a play park cleverly inspired by the steam punk genre.

Riding a Penny Farthing

 

After this we headed to Otematata, a small lakeside town, around an hour from Oamaru. The area is littered with large lakes and dams which draw the residents of Oamaru away from the town over the summer. There were plenty of activities going on from people being flung around on blow up biscuits on the back of boats, kayaking, swimming, jumping off of floating pontoons, meat raffles, bike rides… All of this, whilst being surrounded by fantastic scenery, people and sun, made a brilliant first southern hemisphere Christmas.

On christmas day,  we went for a walk and had a brilliant view of Mt Cook, the highest point in  NZ. It was also a good way to start burning off the impeding calories.

There was also plenty of time for swimming…

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Floating down a river

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Perfecting a dive

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Jump jump jump!

When we returned to Oamaru, I spent a day wandering around the town. And was taken to a couple of local sights including the Moeraki Boulders and Elephant Rocks. Both seemed completely out of place in their landscapes. The Moraki Boulders look like large eggs, (maybe Moa eggs!)some cracking after being worn down by the sea.

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Moeraki Boulders

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Moeraki Boulders

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Moeraki Boulders

The Elephant Rocks, as their name suggests towered above you and in some you could make out an elephant’s face. With the strong wind and grey sky around us you could easily guess how they were made.

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Elephant Rocks

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Elephant rocks

 

When I arrived back from Dunedin, we went camping in what appeared a super remote area, despite only being 20 mins from town. Situated in the middle of nowhere, next to a river with a large cliff behind the camping area. We celebrated the new year with a bonfire, few drinks and of course the worst hangover of the year so far.

Moving on up (to the North Island), Moving on out (of Nelson)!

It’s time to break free and nothing can stop me! After 2 months in Nelson, my traveler side has got the better of me, and I’m starting to get itchy feet…it’s time to move on! My job contract ends next Friday and I’m ready to book a flight over to Windy Welly to try and find a job over there.

Whilst Nelson is beautiful and there is plenty of outdoorsy stuff to do, I have found it to be pretty quiet and hard to meet people, despite going to meet-ups. I’m hoping since Wellington is the capital of NZ there will be a few more opportunities to meet friends… I’m going to start with staying in a backpackers and looking for a job, and see where that takes me!

There has been plenty of things to do around Nelson:walks, Abel Tasman National Park and I have been able to find a temp job. The work place shut down over Xmas which allowed me to travel even more (Blog to come soon!). I still want to see Golden Bay and I’m cycling the Great Taste Trail this weekend, so plenty to see still!

Whilst in Wellington I’m hoping to do the Tongariro Crossing and to see New Plymouth… all whilst saving some money! Should be exciting!

Abel-Tasman

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend with a friend hiking part of one of the great walks through Abel-Tasman National Park. I didn’t manage to do this on my original lap of New Zealand, but so glad I managed to get around to visiting. We hiked for 2 days and spent one night camping.

We took an early bus from Nelson to catch the ferry from Kaiteriteri which is a beautiful spot in itself. Then we took a ferry over to Onetahuti with running commentry from a tour guide which included seeing the Split Apple Rock which”closes up at night” and D’Urbiville island which was littered with fur seals. 

Ready to set off!

Split apple rock


Boat ride in


We set off from Onetahuti, however the ferry guide told us we were dropped off in Tonga Quarry, so we spent an hour going off track to find a beach which we were already on… Thank God the preloaded Google maps helped point us back on the right track! Once we were headed back off in the right direction, we had to leap back over a mini estuary which had started to fill up as the tide was coming in. I was lazy and didnt want to take my boots off, so tried to swing my backpack over the estuary before jumping over… But at the last minute I could feel I was about to let go at the wrong moment, so clung on… The bag took me with it and I fell flat on my face, some how dry on the other side of the mini estuary but given a bruise and a few scrapes to remember the comical moment!

Onetahuti beach

From there, we quickly found the real Tonga Quarry and continued our walk along the beautiful golden and iron stained beaches next to the clear blue and green ocean. 

Bark Bay swing bridge

On day 1 we walked from Onetahuti to Anchorage. The path was well marked and easily hiked in any type of foot wear. We then took the low tide track across the bay from Torrents Bay to Anchorage. 

Torrent Bay low tide track


Anchorage was my favouite part of the walk with the bay surrounded by green hills and the perfect beach. My other favourite stop was Bark Bay with its clear blue waters.

Medlands beach

The camp sites were well equipped, with huts also available. At the Anchorage campsite there was clean water, sheltered space for fires and to cook, wi-fi to check out the Abel-Tasman app and just as we were about to leave I found there were usb charging points and a cold shower!!

Our campsite for the night

Anchorage Bay

The next day we walked from Anchorage to Apple Tree Bay with a stop at the pretty Cleopatra Pools. The pools meant we had to go back on ourselves, but we had plenty of time. These were made up of large boulders, FREEZING cold water and a natural rock slide which, of course I had to go on. There was even an eel which decided to join us and the many other hikers for lunch.

Cleopatra Pools rock slide

Cleopatra Pools

Ater this we headed on down to Apple Tree Bay. Whilst we didn’t get many views out of the forest on the second day, it did mean we were protected from the drizzle. 

View on day 2 of D’Urbiville island

To get the best views of the park, the Onetahuti-Anchorage walk was definately the best part and is easily walked in a day.

Dunedin

Over Christmas I travelled south from Nelson and ended up in Dunedin. once I arrived I asked the hostel workers what there is to do, they said the best thing to do in Dunedin is to see it’s beaches… Unfortunately I didn’t have a car, but discovering the city itself over a couple of days was worth the visit. 

On my first afternoon I visited the Otago Settlers museum, full of information from British settlers in Dunedin through to old artefacts… I find that because NZ was colonised by the Brits, a lot of things in the museums here are also back home, so I didn’t visit every room. But it’s well worth a visit… The even better thing is that it’s free!

2 minutes from the museum is the Train Station, apparently the “most photographed building in New Zealand” which is a pretty gothic building which survived being torn down unlike a lot of other older buildings in NZ. 

Dunedin train station

Dunedin train station

The next morning as I was only in the city for a couple of days I thought I’d get the most from a tour. Whilst I prefer walking tours as you absorb more of the area around you, I opted for a bus tour to head out the city a bit further! I chose the Good Coach Company after checking out reviews on Trip Advisor. The tourguide, Chris, was incredibly knowledgeable takings around the city, including places out wouldn’t necessarily visit as a tourist. He took us around the older iconic buildings built during the gold rush to the beaches, the steepest Street in the world, Olveston House and some great lookout points over the city.

View over Dunedin and the estuary

View over Dunedin

Olveston House

The world’s steepest street is up to 1:2.86 rising a metre almost 3 metreseauserd horizontally. They have to make the road out of concrete as bitumen would just flow down in the summer, and they have a yearly Jaffa Cake rolling contest down it!

Worlds steepest street, Baldwin Street

The weather was beautiful in the afternoon, so I took a bus out to St Clair beach, where I spent the afternoon reading my book on the beach… I also ended up with burnt ankles from wearing leggings! 

St Clair beach

St Clair beach

Sign near St Clair beach

After dinner I had an evening stroll and walked through the university area, down the river and around the lower part of the botanical gardens… Definately worth a visit, especially to see all the different types of roses and birds that are there!

On my final morning I headed to what the tour guide referred to as the historic area. It was pretty much an unused area which is being slowly turned into an area for apartments, full of interesting buildings and art work. I also visited the small Saturday morning farmer’s market.

Historic area

Historic area

Historic area