Simon Benson & Alison Edwards
New Zealand - Part 2



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(Simon writes)

We went to Blenheim and rented a car after finishing the Queen Charlotte Track - a quite nice walk, but really a bit too tame and civilised for our liking - and with mountain bikers on the track, which I found quite annoying. I don't mind them riding somewhere, but they have little opportunity to look at the scenery; they need to put their attention into not coming off.

By now, it was Easter. A long long weekend, with shops closing and accommodation getting tight. We had booked a cabin in Blenheim till Easter Saturday, and then drove off. We headed for Nelson Lakes, 80km inland; here we found driving rain (windscreen wipers on double speed) and orienteering championships being held. So not only was the weather not conducive to camping, there was nowhere to camp - even the free overflow spots were full.

So we changed our plans and headed back to the coast, towards Nelson again. We saw a "backpackers" sign beside the road,and drove in - along a road becoming less and less made, but ending up at a large house with a magnificent view down the valley towards Nelson, 45km away. There was no-one home, but a sign on the door said come in.

We did so; we were a bit uncertain about the situation, but eventually some other people turned up and we ended up having a very sociable evening with people from many places. It was a very serendipitous find.

Then - Easter Sunday - we found a cabin to stay in at Marahau, at the entrance to Abel Tasman National Park; and the next day used water taxis again to do a long day walk in the National Park. A nice place, but... very commercialised, with boats and kayaking tours all over the place. It was hard not to make comparisons with Wilson's Promontory in Victoria, and the prom has lots of advantages over Abel Tasman - much less commercial, and it has animals. We find it strange walking through bush where there are birds but the only evidence of animals is the traps and baits put out for stoats and possums.

Now we're on our way back home, and tomorrow morning we'll be back at work and normal life will resume.