Woke to discover that our Picton booking was not available after all – their website not updated! so we rushed to the iSite (NZ’s excellent booking/information service) to try to get sorted as we had been advised that there was a wine and food festival in Blenheim that had resulted in everywhere being fully booked. After a bit of a struggle we managed to get a B&B near Havelock for the Friday and another in Picton for Sat/Sun – admittedly ay the ‘luxury’ end of the market.
We then visited Kean’s Point in Kaikoura to see what the earthquake did to the seal colony. It is still there but it seemed changed to us. It even looked as if the sea bed had lifted and what was previously under water was now above tide level. We will look at some old photos to see. We did however spot couple of fur seals so it is clearly a chosen habitat.
Kaikoura itself did not seem too bad. Several buildings had been demolished and cleared, several others are surrounded by security railings. Talking to people it was obviously a pretty bad experience. A new lake has been formed in the back-hills for instance, so quite a few changes to the landscape – and the road especially around the coastline is obviously significantly changed.
We then drove to Havelock via Blenheim. Lots of roadworks slowed our journey (as expected) but we got to Blenheim without incident and then drove past all the winery’s – Brancott, Villa Maria, Wither Hills etc -and – we did not stop once.
On to Havelock and then to our B&B which was gloriously positioned overlooking Queen Charlotte Sound (named after George III’s wife), one of many sounds in the area, which is of course full of them! Lovely house and garden. Hostess was Swiss so some touches of Switzerland thrown in. We went to Havelock and ate at The Slip Inn down at the marina.
Lots of houses hereabouts are accessible only by boat and we watched one family load there belongings onto a yacht and set sail. It looked as if the two children had been at school all week and were now heading home for the weekend. Nice lifestyle.
These sounds apparently add up to 20% of New Zealand’s coastline. Lots to explore, but really it needs to be done by boat.
Next day was cooler with some rain showers. We did a bit of exploring on the Kenepuro Sound and found a lovely quiet resort hotel with coffee shop and a nice view over the sound. Resort is a bit of a misnomer as nothing really happens. It is just peace and quiet. Nothing else apart from a few houses dotted around.
Then on to Picton and our next stay. Picton is built around its port and marina.
It is clear that quite a few people live on their boats and overall it is a lovely small town in a very picturesque setting and quite busy with the North-South Island Ferry and cruise ships visiting.
Stayed in one of the early Picton houses and we had some nice meals on the waterfront – but Sunday was actually VERY wet with some really heavy downpours which curtailed us somewhat.
In the morning we visited the Edwin Fox, primarliiy a cargo ship built in the 1860s and now reduced to a hulk which although decaying badly in the past has now been stabilised and makes an extremely good display. The boat is important because it is the last remaining shinto have carried convicts to Australia (although mainly a cargo ship it was fitted out from time to time for human transport – both convicts to Australia and passengers emigrating to New Zealand.) It is now in dry dock having languished in a nearby bay for several decades.
The waterfront in Picton is impressive – newly fitted out and the marina area has a number of boats of substantial proportions as well as many of a more normal size. It got pretty wet while we were eating. Fortunately it cleared quite quickly.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to the South Island and catch the ferry across to Wellington and the North Island.