Dan and I arrived in Nelson after a journey across the ocean between the two islands. Our ferry left Wellington around 1:30 in the afternoon, although that was a long process of sitting in the car, driving forward, sitting in the car, driving to the correct ferry, sitting in the car…
The ferry took longer than we anticipated. However, we watched a movie and had some burgers and stood outside to watch the (slow) approach to the South Island.
Once in Picton, we drove a couple of hours west towards Nelson where we were greeted by the nicest airbnb hosts ever.
Steve and Rachel were not Kiwis, but they had fallen in love with Nelson and now live there, with their child, Louis. We stayed in this separate cottage/shed/one car garage type room that was equipped with everything we needed. The bed was a Tempur-Pedic and covered in the softest pillows. We were told there were hammocks available for our use, as well as the grill that was surrounded by cushy outdoor couches looking out towards the ocean and dangly, white lights strung above. It was very nice.
One of the coolest things I have ever experienced, the WOW Museum, we found on our first day exploring the city. The World of Wearable Art exhibit is like nothing we had ever seen. At first, we weren’t sure we were going to like it. We thought, “Meh. Fashion shmashion!”
However, when we stepped through the entrance, our jaws dropped. We excitedly walked from piece to piece pointing out our favorites. Dan would hurry back to my side in anticipation of pointing out something crazy he saw while I stood and admired the work and gawk in amazement after reading what materials they used. “This whole thing is made out of china! That would be heavy.”
The room then turned a corner into a night club; lights were flashing and art pieces were spinning, music was pumping and videos were playing of the fashion in show.1 Dan and I wandered around some more before turning another corner and entering a black lit room with fashion art pieces painted in UV light. It looked incredible!
(Click around the slideshow to see some of my favorites!)
After walking through the wearable art, we were led into the area with an enormous collection of classic cars.
This area was pretty cool; Dan would get excited over some of the cars he would pass and I would laugh about how ridiculous it would be to drive it nowadays.
All in all, the WOW Museum was a huge hit. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were really excited to be in Nelson.
This place is pretty cool.
Dan and I also enjoyed walking around the Queens Gardens and the Miyazu Garden. The first, a Victorian style garden and the latter, a Japanese garden. Both were very pretty and we liked seeing the different styles.
Not only does Nelson have incredible scenery and access to a beach with mountains jetting up in the distance, it also has its fair share of outdoor activities.
Nearby is the Abel Tasman National Park that is filled with multiple day hikes, kayaking, swimming, day hikes, and boat rides. There is much to explore!
It turned out that I had a friend from Boulder in the area who was traveling around New Zealand with his family. Our timing was impeccable! He and his family just happened to be staying nearby for a few days, so we organized a day adventure in the Tasman region.
We decided to do a full-day tour that included a 2-hour guided kayak tour out to Split Apple Rock from Kaiteriteri followed by a boat ride to Anchorage Beach where we were free to hike around for a few hours.
Dan and I woke up early, had some toast and a banana and headed out to pick up Mike and his sister, Amanda.
We got to their home and were amazed! The house was sitting on a winery and looking out over the ocean. “You’re living like a king!”
“I know! I can’t believe it either!” Mike says as we enter the house to see some women putting together an enormous breakfast. The smell of coffee filled the kitchen and large bowls were filled with fresh bread, fruit and yogurt.
We walked into the dining room to meet his parents; his mother, who was so adorable, exclaims she plans on going back to bed after filling up! She had a plate of a homemade breakfast in front of her that she had ordered from the women, and was cheerfully sitting there in pure joy over how well she was being treated.
The four of us “kids” piled into our box car and chug-a-lugged our way to Kaiteriteri.
About 40 minutes later, we were checking in for our day tour and excitedly talking about our adventures before arriving in Nelson. Not much time passed before we were geared up and floating in the water.
Kayaking was so much fun! I had never done it in the ocean and luckily the water was extremely calm. It was the perfect condition. It wasn’t too sunny and there was just enough cloud cover to keep us from getting burned.
Our guides pointed out native birds and told us of funny stories as we paddled between rocks and towards Split Apple Rock.
Once here, our guides told us of a cool little cave in the wall we could kayak through. They warned that it was very tight and to use your hands to make your way through.
One by one, we made our way through the little cave. Our kayak would hit the wall on the left and then hit the wall on the right as Dan and I put our hands on the wall and inched our way through. “This is so cool!”
Once through, we were to move all the way forward in a cove and then slightly turn and inch ourselves backwards out of the other side. When we got out, we smiled and were so happy to have experienced that.
After taking pictures of the rock, our group made its way back to Kaiteriteri where we could break for 45 minutes before catching our boat to Anchorage.
We arrived on Anchorage Beach and immediately headed for Cleopatra’s Pool, which is a waterfall with a natural rock slide. The hike up took maybe 45 minutes and wasn’t so difficult.
(Click the images for an enlarged view!)
When you arrive, you walk across some rocks and end up standing in front of a beautiful, small waterfall.
Mike and Amanda immediately began stripping down and running in the water. “You coming?”
“I’ll watch you go first..”
The water was freezing, but after watching Mike and his sister slide down and cheer, Dan and I were right behind them.
We took small steps and tried our best to stay balanced on the slick rocks, but I, of course, lost my balance and sat down in the water. I guess I’m ready for the shocking cold now…
I climbed up the big boulders and stuck my feet in the pool of rushing water and looked over at my crew as if awaiting instruction. They all cheered me on.
I stepped in and was moved towards the edge. I put my hands up on the rocks beside me and looked up, worried. “Just let go!” They all cheered more.
I sat there for a moment, contemplating my next move. The water had such force and was begging to push me down. I finally let go.
“WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!” I yelled towards the end as the freezing cold water surrounded me. It’s so cold, your body’s reaction is to let out a shriek. Once you stand up though, it’s not so bad.
I stood up and had the biggest smile on my face. “Awesome, right!?” Mike asked.
We climbed around and took some pictures and slid down once more before attempting to dry off and head back to the beach.
We waited on the beach for a bit and admired the beauty of just a sliver of this amazing National Park.
The following day was an easy day for Dan and I. We slept in and did some walking around. We walked up to the Centre of New Zealand for a lookout over Nelson, checked out the Boulder Bank and then went to The Free House for a cold beer in the bright sun before heading out to the waterfront for a nice dinner at The Boat Shed.
The Boat Shed was delicious! We enjoyed a beautiful view of the sunset while eating fresh fish and lobster and sipped on locally made red wine.
It was the perfect end to our stay in Nelson. And we have to say, Nelson… We love you!
Until next time,
1 There’s a show every year that presents the new art pieces in a theater performance that uses no words nor narration. It looks pretty awesome.