20 October 2010

Nelson trip part 1

Well, I’ve been promising a bit of a writeup of our recent holiday in Nelson. I had some work down there last week and this time I took the family with me. We stayed at the Kingsland Court Motel, where I usually stay when I’m in Nelson – it’s within spitting distance of Tahunanui Beach and quite near the airport and where I usually work.

We took our car over on the interisland ferry last Tuesday – it was a gorgeous sailing, if a little cold and windy at times and there was heaps to look at as we went out through the Heads out of Wellington. Hubby thought it was quite rough but he doesn’t like boats all that much (much to my disappointment!). Small daughter found the boat really interesting, especially as we got into Tory Channel and could see the South Island sliding by. Hubby got some great photos of the light effects and of the channel – hopefully I’ll be able to post some here.

We enjoyed the drive through to Nelson – one that neither of us had done before – although small daughter didn’t enjoy the “bendy bit” at the end and we had one abrupt stop... ‘nuff said. It was very beautiful threading down around the bottom of the Sounds, and coming into Nelson from the north was amazing. Gorgeous light on the mountains across the estuary, picking up the snow that had fallen the day before (snow in October! It’s meant to be spring!).

We checked into our motel and then I took them all into Nelson for a walk. Small daughter wanted to visit the Cathedral, and loved the beautiful stonework and stained glass. The late afternoon sun was streaming through the windows, splashing the columns with shimmering light. Daughter and I walked the labyrinth (she did it four or five times, she liked it so much!) while hubby took some photos and explored the chapels and windows. We finished with dinner at Smugglers, one of my favourite eateries in Nelson.

Our first full day was Wednesday: Höglund Art Glass and Eyebright Gallery in the morning, and Seifried Estate winery and a walk on the beach at Rabbit Island in the afternoon. Höglund was amazing. The colours, the depth of the glass, was mind-blowing – it’s all hand-made and incredibly beautiful. They have a great display section about the various chemicals that are used to get the colours, and a video to show the process – unfortunately they weren’t blowing so we couldn’t actually see it but it was the next best thing. Small daughter found the process really interesting, and liked watching how they blow the penguins, one of their specialities. Eyebright wasn’t as good as I’d expected – in fact, it was the only place that I wouldn’t want to return to.

Wine-tasting at Seifried was good: some interesting tastes, especially among the aromatics that they are known for. We tasted the late harvest that won the world aromatics medal (mmm), and got one of their Sweet Agnes’ dessert wines – we wanted something that we couldn’t just get in the shops here. We finished with a wander along the huge beach at Rabbit Island – miles of flat golden sand, very sheltered, and the water was warm enough for splashing in (although not swimming quite yet). Daughter had a wonderful time chasing and being chased by the waves – so cute!

Thursday we ventured a bit further afield: quite a lot, in fact. We went over the famous Takaka Hill (composed, so I am told, of marble and vomit – it has quite a reputation!), stopping several times for walks and fresh air, and visiting the various lookouts. They call it a hill but it’s pretty huge (721m) and it’s karst country: limestone, sinkholes, marble, and NZ’s biggest cave, Harwood’s Hole. I declined to go visit – it’s a 183m drop straight down and I wasn’t game! The view from the top was spectacular, over the estuary and the fields. Wonderful.

More to come!

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