Road Tripping Through the South Island Part 1 of 2

Tom modeling his skirt

Tom modeling his skirt

Week 13 Day 84

Milford Sound, NZ 44.6750° S, 167.9294° E

I wrapped up last week’s post the night before we went kayaking through Abel Tasman.

Looking sharp!

Looking sharp!

Friday morning we woke up early, grabbed some sandwiches and coffee from a local coffee shop and headed to Marahau to check in for Freedom Kayak School.

Before you’re allowed to run amuck with your kayak you have to sit through an hour class where they teach you how to paddle, how to wear your kayak skirt, and how to not get bit by seals.

20131108_103411Jacked up on free instant coffee provided by Marahau Sea Kayaks we listen like little kids on Christmas morning.

When we were finally released into the park, Tom and I set out on an adventure!


Arriving at Fisherman’s Island. Our first stop.

Our goal was to make it around Fisherman’s and Adele island all the way north to Archorage and back!

30 min in when we were still halfway to Fisherman’s Island, hands starting to blister we readjusted our goal.


We decided we didn’t need to make it that far north and started kayaking a little more leisurely.

Fisherman’s Island was probably the coolest  part of the trip, but that also may have been because we got there while it was still low-tide.

20131108_120836We kayaked in and out of several bays before heading onto Adele Island.

Along the way we could have sworn we saw a penguin darting in and out of the water….but then again it may have been one of those black swimmer birds.  Hard to tell because they are both about the same size.  (After now for sure seeing Penguins I still think it was one!)

The little cove where we ate lunch.

The little cove where we ate lunch.

Adele island didn’t offer much more than we had already seen.  The wind was beginning to pick up making it harder to paddle, but we finally made it around the island!

Allowing the wind to float us into the last sandy beach, (high tide was on it’s way!) we found a spot to slam food into our starving faces eat lunch.


Our friend Mr. Bird balancing on one leg.

Our friend Mr. Bird balancing on one leg.

We spent the rest of the afternoon leisurely paddling in / letting the wind float us back to shore.

Drifting in and out of the coastal bays we saw all kind of crazy birds, plants, and a natural tunnel (stay tuned, Tom will feature it in one of his future videos!)

20131108_145641With tired arms we pulled our canoe out of the water and started the drive out of Abel Tasman.

20131108_154210Before we got completely out of the park we had one more stop to make.

We pulled off just south of Marahau to check out Split Apple Rock.

Scientists say the rock was formed by volcanic melting of feldspar, quartz, and mica, causing the split when the rock reached the water and cooled, but we all know the rock was really split by the sword of Zeus while battling with Neptune over the hand of Dione.   Zeus actually won that battle and the hand of Dione.

After our short trek to Split Apple Rock we headed back to Nelson.

Heading straight to the Freehouse, we refueled with a delicious brew and some spicy Indian food from across the street!

Despite being exhausted we managed to rally a little longer and met up with our friends Claudia and Simon from Waitomo!  They were in town just back from the Heaphy Track before exploring Abel Tasman themselves.

When we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer, we said goodbye to Claudia and Simon and headed to Guppy Park, where we both slept amazingly well.


Sunrise from Guppy Park

20131109_104110Saturday we headed to McCashins to do some work.

This little gem definitely tops Tom’s and my favorite coffee shops list!  It may even be the best Coffee shop we’ve ever been too!

McCashins has comfy big chairs, unlimited free WiFi, bold hot brew from their coffee shop Sublime, and tasty cold brew from their Brewery Stoke!

Started with Coffee, ended with Beers!

Started with Coffee, ended with Beers!

All that’s missing is a furry Orange Cat named Colby Jack and we could have stayed there forever!

Finishing up our work for the day we headed back to Nelson to hit up a couple more of their Breweries.


Our table at Abbey Ales

The next stop was Abbey Ales, a hop garden literally growing hops!

Abbey is a restaurant set up inside a green house.  The floor is dirt and gravel and in between tables there are trees and hops growing out of the ground!

We had our first Ginger beer of the trip and then walked over to Founder’s.


I-spy challenge: Each picture has part of another picture within it. Can you find all 6?

We had tried to find Founder’s Monday night as we drove into town and didn’t have any luck.

Saturday we figured out why.  Founder’s Brewery is actually located in the back of Founder’s Park, a little gated village staged to look just like the first Nelson Settlement.

Walking through the historic “town” Tom felt like he was an extra in M. Night Shamananana???’s movie the village.  Luckily we weren’t and arrived at the brewery safe and sound to share a sampler to end our day.

Sunday we began what will be a week of road tripping through the South Island.

20131110_102938Our first stop along the way was Lake Rotoiti to see the fresh water eels!

Driving into Rotoiti we stumbled upon a hydroplane race!  The Lake was randomly having a festival that we just happened to catch.

We watched the hydroplanes do a couple circles, stared some eels in the eye with our GOPRO and then hopped in the car heading down the road into wine country.



After passing through the beautiful vineyards, we made it to Blenheim.

We were pleasantly surprised to catch their Sunday Market in the Clock Tower square which turned out to be quite lucky because other than an awesome Sunday Market the town didn’t have much to offer.

We had trouble even locating a decent coffee shop.  We finally found a takeway coffee in a little diner and hit the road, heading South on the East Coast Highway.

20131110_144153The next stop along the way was a little spring that baby seals supposedly hop up to get to the waterfall, but unfortunately we were a little late in the season to catch them. 🙁

We still got to stretch our legs, walk through a really cool mossy rock path, and see a pretty cool waterfall.

Shortly after we stopped at the seal colony we reached Kaikoura, our destination for the night.

The South Island East Coastline

The South Island East Coastline

Kaikoura is probably one of the more underrated towns of NZ.  It may be small; but the town is very friendly, the coastline is beautiful, and they have an awesome craft beer bar called the Groper with unlimited WIFI!


After scoping out the town, we headed to the peninsula to get a better view of the coast.

Tom exploring the remnants of an old chimney.

Tom exploring the remnants of an old chimney.

The rocks lining the coast are pretty unreal.

20131110_165906If you drive about 5k go all the way around the peninsula you’ll reach another seal colony.

20131110_171519 It’s funny how quickly I’m becoming spoiled by NZ’s wildlife.  I didn’t even take a picture of the seals either in Kaikoura or at the the waterfall.

Tom and I made a yummy meal out of the back of the car and then settled in for the night watching LOTR The Two Towers before falling asleep.

Before this week is over we will have raced down the superbowl at Hanmer Springs, explored the remnants of Christchurch, visited Monteith Brewery and the Pancake rocks of Punakaiki, met back up with Claudia and Simon TWICE, got stuck over night in the off the grid town of Haast, had our car break down at Roaring Billy Goat Falls, visited Wanaka, drove with sheep, stopped in Queenstown, and floated through the epic Milford Sound.

End of Part 1 log on in a couple days for part 2….



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