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oct 17, 2000
Hokitika, Punakaiti, beaches, pancakes, horses, and caves ... (more)

oct 15, 2000
Wanaka and rainy days at Franz Josef Glacier... (more)

oct 14, 2000
Natalie arrives! Te Anau & a night on Milford Sound ... (more)

oct 12, 2000
Invercargill, Athol flat tires, and snow on the long route to Queenstown ... (more)

oct 11, 2000
Multimedia schools, museums, and the streets of Wellington ... (more)

oct 08, 2000
Museums and windy beaches in Palmerston North ... (more)

oct 06, 2000
Graphic Arts at Whanganui Polytech ... (more)
october 19, 2000
After our Wednesday morning cave adventure, we spent the afternoon on nz ocation map a long but pretty drive to the north edge of the South Island to visit the area on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park.

photo here We had booked a night's stay in the quaint Marahua Lodge located almost within spitting distance of the entrance to the park. The place only has a handful of units, but they are bright and built with careful attention to the environment and being energy efficient. Our door yielded a view in the evening to a star crammed sky and the morning to a Kodochrome blue sky. Just a short walk away was a funky cafe that served up "heaps" of fresh seafood, daring salads, and some of the best homemade muffins we had encountered yet.

photo here In the morning we headed off for a walk on the Coastal Track, one of the famous New Zealand "tramps"... with more time we could have joined the other backpackers we saw who were off for multi-day trips. Like other places in the country, the trail was immaculately maintained, well designed and marked, and it was all free. The track meanders gently up and down through the dense brush gently hugging the contours of the coast.

After a nice hour and a half of walking we got to Appletree Beach, a gently curving arc of white sand with gently lapping blue waves. photo here Under a warm sun, it was an inviting slide of paradise! Natalie and I laid back in the sand to relax and in a manner of minutes we had both fallen asleep, hypnotized by the serenity. We were out for more than an hour, one of the best naps we had. It was a magical escape!

today's photos
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o o Abel Tasman and Nelson

From there we headed back on the track, as we had afternoon plans to get to Nelson, after a lunch at "Hot Mama's" cafe in Motepeku. The drive to Nelson slowly revealed that we were working our way back to larger towns, as we passed more and more densely developed areas (all relative- it was still pretty sparse by Phoenix standards.)

photo here We made a stop to visit a winery, of which there were at least 10 along our route that we could choose from. The Nelson region is famous for their award winning wines. The place we visited is called the "Grape Escape" and features among its products the wines of Richmond Plains which intrigued us with their line of "organic" wines. We were tempted to buy some bottles for gifts to friends at home who we know appreciate good wine, but were a bit challenged by the problem of transporting the goods.

So we made a strategic decision to buy ourselves a bottle of the 2000 Sauvignon Blanc that we would consume ourselves that night for dinner! The nice lady who sold us the wine suggested a sea front restaurant in Nelson that had good food and allowed us to bring our own wine... she even called so we could get a reservation. Another typical helpful Kiwi experience.

photo here We found our way to our Nelson area Bed and Breakfast, the "Aloha Lodge", which was listed in my New Zealand Rough Guide as having a decent place hidden behind a "tacky Japanese gate". The guide was right! The gate was tacky but the room decent.

We ventured into Nelson in search of shops featuring local works of arts and crafts like we found further south... and this area is known for the concentration of working artists. However, we found mainly big city type chain stores and after some questioning learned that most of the good stuff is outside of town, on the roads in that we had already driven past! We did find some neat metalwork jewelry at a street corner stand, from where I picked up a nice necklace for myself. And then, we ran out of time as the shops were closing!

In the evening, we went to our dinner at the Harbour Lights restaurant, which is in an old building that was once some sort of mercantile store. photo here We relished our bottle of Richmond Plains wine as the sun dropped over the edge of the water. The food was exquisite, and we were in taste bud heaven.

This was a fitting evening to end our last full day on the South Island...

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