Nelson is the best place in New Zealand to find sun, sun and more sun.
For the first time in weeks Annemiek and I are arguing about the next part of the journey. We arrived only the night before in Picton and I like this little harbor town. It’s small, but has a nice atmosphere and at the same time – because the ferry from the Northern Island arrives here – there is a lot to do. Besides that: I’m tired after driving all day the day before and after the uncomfortable night; sleeping in the trunk of the car. My body wants a hot shower and a few more hours of sleep. On top of that: Picton is a good getaway to the Marlborough Sounds: a nature reserve full of fjords and little islands and a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, divers and sailors.
Move on to Nelson
Annemiek however wants to move on to Nelson. She wants sun and this 42.000 inhabitants big city, in 1842 established for English immigrants, has most sun hours of New Zealand. After all the rain in the last few days Mickey wants a day on the beach. In the sun.
Sun is the argument that wins me over. So after a quick stop at the bakery for two croissants and two pains du chocolate and a stop at the gas station – where we pay half of the price we pay in the Netherlands for petrol – we’re on the road again. The sandwiches do wonders, because I feel fresh enough to take a detour through the Queen Charlotte Sound en the Mahau Sound. A detour with more than three hundred curves passing by fjords and spectacular views that makes us fantasies that Norway has to look like this. Maybe we will visit that country one day. But only if it stops hunting on whales.
As soon as we hit Nelson we know we’ve made the right decision. The little town – named after admiral Lord Horatio Nelson – looks cozy. Something we haven’t seen before in the villages and cities we’ve visited so far. Most of them consists of long, straight streets every now and then decorated with extinguished Christmas lightening, whereas Santa Claus has left two months ago.
Nelson has a nice, warm atmosphere. Cozy streets, nice city parks, good restaurants an little bars with little terraces. Maybe because of the artistic level on this most Northern city of the South Island. A lot of artists have an atelier in Nelson and sell their home made artifacts in kiosks and on the Saturday morning market. Maybe it’s because Nelson is an important city for fruit cultivation, forestry and fishery. The last thing is probably the reason why every restaurant has fish on the menu.
We don’t have an eye for all of this nor for the quiet, but beautiful Tahunanui Beach nor for the sun the first day we’re in Nelson. As soon as we’ve checked in in the Beach Hostel – which feels like a home away from home – we hit the bed and fall in a deep sleep. Probably because this is the first bed I (almost) fit in totally, without any door knobs or bed edges sticking in my head. The big disadvantage of being 1.90 meter.
You’ll find the rest of my New Zealand stories on my travel / countries page.
I wrote this story in 2008; now I'm finally taking the time to translate it into English.