Days 13-14: Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park
Our plan here was similar to our first hike in Abel Tasman, though with a bit of luxury twist. We left our car in Picton, took a water taxi up the Sound to the furthest possible landing spot, Ships Cove. From there we hiked back south along the Queen Charlotte coastal trail to the Furneaux Lodge, and then took the water taxi the rest of the way to Picton the next day.
It rained during our water taxi ride and parts of the hike from Ships Cove, so we got to see a different mood of the coastline than our sunny experience in Abel Tasman. But we still got to see the same spectacular views of blue water and beaches along the way, and we got to shower off the mud upon arrival at the lodge. Furneaux was the luxury twist on our hiking experience. Converted from a family resort to a small resort for tourists (and weddings), it was just a perfect spot to relax with a glass (or half-glass, for some) of wine. We played Scrabble (with dire results for the Iva/Bean team), walked around and after dark we went back out to the hiking trail to see glowworms (they look just like lightening bugs in the dark).
The next morning we rented out a double kayak and spent an hour or two on the water. We crossed the bay onto a small beach where we ate a picnic lunch. Apparently, we shared it with a weka because we saw one gingerly walking around, and then our carrot cake suddenly disappeared.
We headed back to Picton on the afternoon water taxi (actually, the local mail boat that delivers mail to residences strewn along the sound). We had dinner in Picton and then drove south to Blenheim where we stayed at a B&B. Blenheim is the center of the Marlborough wine region, but we didn’t have time to visit any wineries, and the town itself was blah. We spent much of the evening unpacking the car and repacking everything for air travel.
Day 15: Blenheim to Christchurch
Our last day (sniff-sniff) we drove south along the east coast, completing our circle around the South Island. We made a couple of nice rest stops, but otherwise went straight through to Christchurch. The one last thing we had time for was the Antarctica Exploration Center. Christchurch has been the starting place of many Antarctica explorations, and has a functioning support base near the airport. Connected to it is an exhibit for tourists where they have some penguins and a room with artificial snow storms. It could have been really interesting but somehow it was more of a tourist trap than we expected.
Then we returned our car, took a shuttle to the airport and went home to a lonely kitty.
Oh yes, and Bean’s good. We think she liked the trip.