Road Trip : Darfield to Nelson

A couple of weeks ago at least now, Chris decided to buy a new rally car.. in Nelson. So naturally my first thought hands down, was roaaddd trip!

And that’s what we did. The trip was unlike any trip I’ve taken yet. I can’t think of a better way of seeing NZ than to just hop in a car and drive.

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We started our trip for the sunshine city early on a Friday morning. Made a stop at Chris’ parents in Rangiora and took off from there. Seven and a halfish hours later (made some stops on the way) we were at the top of the south island. Kind of blew my mind considering at home in Canada, 7 hours just gets us into one province over with a very bland drive of fields, fields and more fields.

Our drive up to Nelson was beautiful and so diverse. One minute were on rolling hills. They were completely brown mind you, not the green lushousness all us Canadians think there is but funnily enough NZ made plants on the verge of death look good. It wasn’t too long though until we hit the amazing forests going through Lewis Pass with Victoria Forest Park on one side and Nelson Lakes National Park on the other.

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We went through a really cute town on the way called Murchison. Not a huge town but because it’s on the only path up to Nelson, it sees lots of traffic and was pretty busy when we went through. Lots of history and attractions close. With Mount Owen not far away there are lots of great walks, and many rivers nearby. It’s considered the white water capital of New Zealand and attracts many fly fisherman!

I feel like I could spend a day or two in every town. There is always something to do! When you’re on a time frame cause you can’t just take all the time you want off work… how dare they right… its sort of a get in, get out.

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Less than an hour to Nelson, the rest of the drive was filled with typical New Zealand countryside, sheep, cows, homesteads and wineries.

Once we got to Richmond, just before the city of Nelson the sea came into site. Obviously my favourite scenery! The drive from Richmond to Nelson is very pretty as it follows the coast line.

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We were going to go to Havelock (an hour east of Nelson) the next morning to pick up the car so we spent our Friday night in Nelson. We spent the evening exploring the town, stopping in for a bite to eat at a local pub, which FYI, don’t be like Lauren and not bring your passport if you don’t have a NZ license yet.. you wont get served that beer you’ve been craving all day. Come on NZ you’ll let me drive on a CAD license and potentially hurt someone (I’m an excellent driver btw, just making a point) but you wont serve me a beer! Oh I wasn’t happy. I did get over it though.

We did a little mini golfing at the Holiday park and caught a late night movie. Brought out tenting gear to camp but with both of us a bit tired from the drive we just couldn’t be bothered setting anything up. Took the easy way out, spent a little bit more and opted in for the unit rental at the Tahuna Kiwi Beach Holiday Park.

Good night sleep and we were on our way bright and early to Havelock to pick up the car in the morning. Passing through yet another Lord of the rings filming set the drive was lovely to say the least. Twisty, but lovely. We made time for a short walk along the Pelorous river and dipped our toes in the water. The weather was gorgeous. 25 degrees out, we were so tempted just to jump in!

18Suspension bridge, Pelorous

Pelorous River

I will warn you, like pretty much anywhere you go in NZ, it is not for the highly sensitive motion type. So many twists and turns in the road! I’m usually pretty good but I was definitely practicing some deep breathing that day.

Once we dropped the car and the trailer off at Chris’s cousins farm, we were off to the Abel Tasman. I had one mission on this trip. Well one main mission.. Sea kayaking!

Instead of stopping off at Kaiteriteri like everyone else in the Tasman area.. well we stopped quickly but it was so busy, so we went just a little further to a smaller less busy town, Marahau.

Insert deep breathing HERE.

Holy shit we did not drive on a straight piece of road for at least 20 minutes.

Had a little break stopping off to see Split Apple Rock, which if you see it from the side its a pretty circular rock split right in half, you can see where they got the name.. We found camp at Marahau Beach camp and were out on the ocean by 10 the next morning.

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I sound really cheesy saying this but going out on the ocean just made the trip for me. Oh it was so amazing! I hoped to see some marine life, penguins, seals, sting rays, which is also a mission I have being in NZ. We did see a few seals playing and sun bathing and that was about it. I think if we wanted to see more we had to make it around Watering Cove and apparently it can get a bit rough. For my first time kayaking I opted to play it safe. No regrets.


We kayaked to where the pink stars are, took us about 4 hours

There were lots of little beaches along the coast. We had plans of kayaking, parking on a beach and walking back through the Abel Tasman Park. Unfortunately, that’s against the rules unless the conditions were actually too bad to keep going. The conditions were in fact perfect. The sea gods were on my side I guess. It was clear, sunny, no wind. Just beautiful.

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Huge thanks to Marahau Sea Kayaks! Such an amazing day!

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We took off from Marahau late afternoon, picked up the car trailer and headed for St Arnaud for a night. A sweet yet small town sitting on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. We wanted to break up the trip a little bit for our drive home on Monday. Beautiful lake with tons of walks around it. The fishing apparently is great as well, full of brown trout. We wanted to go cast off shore but we the lake was too shallow on the edges. Instead, we sat on the dock and fed the eels leftover ham, and bread to the hungry ducks!

By the time we got there anyways it was a tad too late to start walking anywhere and it really would’ve been death by sandflies. Those damn sandflies. I thought I got away from anything mosie leaving Canada but nope. NZ has these tiny yet annoying little bugs that
bite and leave you scratching. Note to self, bring lots of bug spray next time!

IMG_7736Lake Rotoiti

Looking back now, we probably would’ve sucked up another 3 hours and drove to Hamner Springs. This alpine town was just a little too small for us at the time. We didn’t have a boat to launch and not enough time to do some hiking…. which if it was up to me.. I would’ve found time! The range walk is considered the 8th wonder of NZ with amazing views on the track and at the top. The weather was a bit cloudy though so I justify not going up by thinking the views would be clouded?

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The rest of the trip home was basically the same way we came up. We did make time for
a short nature walk (pictured above) and stopped off to check out Mauria falls.

1Mauria Falls

We packed a lot of driving in 4 days without feeling rushed. That’s the beauty of NZ. There is so much to see in such short distances. You literally don’t have to drive more than half hour anywhere to see something cool.

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What an amazing trip! Nelson is my new favourite place! I have so much more to tell you about it and the cool coastal towns! We’re hitting the road again mid April to see Marlborough sounds and the west coast! I’m so excited!

Are you a fan of road trips? Would you rather fly to one spot at a time?

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