The last Sunday my sister-in-law was here, three weeks ago already, we took her to Kaikoura for church. After church, we took her out to the Peninsula, of course. It was a cold, windy day, but beautiful all the same. I stayed in the van with little ones who didn’t need to get cold, but most of the family climbed the Peninsula.

I have never seen so many seals at the Peninsula! They must have been wanting to stay out of the cold water.


While I waited, I watched this film crew. I have no idea what the man was talking about, but they were obviously filming him discussing something! They had a reflector to bounce light onto him, and a shade they held over him at times to get the light right—until it blew away into the water and they had to scramble down to get it.


We drove around to South Bay, on the other side of the Peninsula, and while there I noticed this incredible cloud formation. It was obviously snowing in the mountains!


I enjoyed seeing these cows on such a steep hill. One had just raced downhill.


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Farewell to Picton/Saltworks

We drove out to an overlook for one last view of the Sounds. It was gorgeous!IMG_1584IMG_1585

We saw the Bluebridge come in again. This picture is very washed out; it was actually a brilliant morning, but the sun was wrong for a picture.


We also saw the Interislander come in again.


We finally left Picton around 1:00 and headed toward home. When we got to Dominion Saltworks, a ways south of Blenheim, we drove around to see what we could see from the road. They let saltwater into huge shallow ponds here and let it evaporate, then clean the salt up somehow.IMG_1603IMG_1606IMG_1610IMG_1612IMG_1613IMG_1616

And here is a pretty church I saw beside the highway somewhere between Blenheim and Kaikoura.IMG_1619

We made it home by 6:00 that night—so good to sleep in our own beds again after a full week away from home!

This brings my travelogue to an end—now I can go back to normal posts! It has taken nearly a month to get all these posts up!

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Aquarium and Edwin Fox

After we watched the ferries for an hour or two from the overlook above Picton, we went down into the town. We had seen, beside the aquarium we visited a few years ago when we were in Picton, a museum. The museum held the Edwin Fox, a wooden merchant ship. First, we watched a DVD of the ship’s history, which was quite fascinating. This sign tells the highlights of the ship’s career.DSCF0281

She was built in India in 1853, of teak and saul wood. The timbers were steamed over a charcoal fire and then hammered into place quickly to take the right shape. After hauling immigrants to New Zealand, she was converted into a freezer to freeze down sheep for shipment to England. When the new freezer works was built on land, the Edwin Fox became a coal storage; a big hole was cut in her side to let trucks go on. After some years of that, she was towed to a bay near Picton and abandoned. In 1999 she was towed (still able to float, despite being underwater for years!) to a drydock on the Picton waterfront. You are allowed to walk inside the boat and touch it—that was special! It’s quite an experience to know that you are touching timbers that were formed into a boat over 160 years ago.

How do you like this pirate? One end of the ship has been rebuilt so you can get a feel for what it was like.DSCF0250

Mr. Intellectual inside the hold.


An immigrant family (six people) would have one top and one bottom bunk. Each bunk was the size of a single bed or smaller, and three people would have to sleep in it. When they arrived in New Zealand they would dismantle their bunks and use the timber to build a house.


We also toured the aquarium. Because they are side by side, we were able to go back and forth between the two places. At 11:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon, they feed the animals and give a tour. We took in the 2:00 tour and, since we spent the night in Picton, went back for the next morning’s tour—they let us back into both the museum and aquarium without paying again.

We got to touch a tuatara.SANY0286

This stingray was asleep the whole time we were there.


The aquarium rescues little blue penguins.


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Marlborough Sounds and Ferries

After we left Smith’s Farm Holiday Park, we were soon enjoying the beautiful views of the Marlborough Sounds from the Queen Charlotte Drive. IMG_1537IMG_1540IMG_1548IMG_1551IMG_1555

Just before we reached Picton, we stopped for a little while to watch logs being moved around in a giant logyard for shipment overseas. This machine could lift all the logs off a truck at once! The boys were excited to finally find out how the second trailer of a log truck is loaded on top of the first. We have seen these for years; when the trucks are empty they stack the trailers to go back to the logging site, presumably to save wear and tear on the second trailer. They have a framework that they drive under, which lifts up the second trailer, and then they back the first trailer underneath and drop the second one down onto it!


After watching the log trucks for awhile, we went around the corner to an overlook above the ferry docks. The Bluebridge was in, and soon the Interislander showed up. It was very cold and windy, so I mostly sat in the van with Little Miss. She enjoyed being outside for a little while, though.


Picton, from the overlook above the ferries.


Gayle badly wanted to see the train cars being loaded and unloaded, but the noon Interislander didn’t have any train cars. We learned that the 6:00 boat had them, so after we checked into our motel room that evening he took most of the family back to the overlook to watch that process. Esther and I stayed to cook a meal and get ready for the night, but someone got this picture of the ferry docks at night.SANY0296

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Pelorus Bridge and Smith’s Farm

We spent two nights with our friends near Nelson, and left Monday morning. After visiting some mutual friends for awhile, we finally got underway again around 1:00 and headed toward Picton. It was raining as we went through Nelson and over the hills; we couldn’t see much of anything. We stopped for a little while at the Pelorus River. There is a one-lane bridge over the river, with a footpath along the side. I crossed it, then went back to the van to wait while the others walked a trail to a swing bridge just downstream. I had hoped to get to see it this time (the other time we were there, I had a 3-week-old baby and wasn’t doing much hiking). With the rain, though, I decided it was best if I just went to the van and fed the baby. The boys, Esther, and their aunt seemed to enjoy the walk, though!

This is Mr. Sweetie on the footpath of the bridge.DSCF0176

The boys teased their aunt by swinging the bridge as she crossed.


Mr. Inventor is pretty good at skipping stones.


The bridge from down by the river.


Mr. Sweetie


The river, from the bridge.


We decided to stop for the night at Smith’s Farm Holiday Park, between Havelock and Picton. It is a small motel/campground on a farm. Because it is winter, they gave us a good deal on two cabins under one roof, sharing a covered veranda, with a ramp down to the kitchen/toilets/showers/laundry. The rooms were warm and cozy—it couldn’t have been much better!IMG_1534

As we were talking to the owners about accommodations, I noticed a sign on the wall about their glowworms. When we asked, they told us that we could walk out to the hills to see the worms, which were on open banks in the forest along a creek and waterfall. It was only a 20-minute walk, so we all headed out as soon as we had the camper unloaded. The walk out there wasn’t too bad; it was still daylight and we could see where to walk to avoid getting muddy. As soon as we crossed the creek and entered the trees, however, it was suddenly quite dark and we were glad for our headlamps! We soon saw glowing specks of light on exposed banks, and when we looked closely, we could see a little worm, with strands like spider webs dangling in front of it. Apparently, the light is to attract insects which get caught in the webs. One of the boys carried Little Miss out there, but about as soon as we found the worms, she decided she wanted to eat. I didn’t want to sit in the dripping, muddy woods to feed her, so took her and headed back. Gayle started back with Mr. Imagination about the same time, and the other children and their aunt stayed to explore a little more. The trip back was rather more difficult than the trip out! It was now pitch dark, and raining some. The trail went diagonally across a paddock, over a bridge, across another paddock to a stile, along a fence to a gate, across another paddock to another gate…. I remembered most of the paddocks and gates, but there was one place where I was lost for a couple of minutes! I finally found the right gate into the last paddock before getting back to the cabin. And all this time, I had a screaming baby, and kept slipping in the mud. (Thankfully, crocs are washable!) Gayle had a hard time, carrying Mr. Imagination, too. He couldn’t find the last bridge, and had to jump across the creek, and Mr. Imagination’s croc fell off, into the water. It got caught in a branch 20 meters downstream. All in all, it was quite an adventure—we really enjoyed finally getting to see glowworms!

Going up the trail through the woods.IMG_0617

A glowworm


Mr. Inventor showed Little Miss the pet sheep in the morning.


Several pukekos visited in the morning.


We walked across these paddocks to the base of the hills and up into the bush a little way, to see the glowworms.


The park’s letter box!


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Kaiteriteri and Split Apple Rock

On Sunday we went to church with our friends, and then after a quick lunch went out to Split Apple Rock. We had been there with them a year ago, but wanted to show it to my sister-in-law. We didn’t see any penguins this time, but the rock was just as spectacular as the other time! The golden sand in Kaiteriteri is always impressive as well. The boys played on the flying fox (zipline in America) for awhile.

Little Miss was pretty tired by this point of our trip.


Mr. Diligence riding the flying fox at Kaiteriteri.


Mr. Inventor returning the flying fox for the next person to have a ride.


Giving Mr. Imagination a ride


Mr. Sweetie


The beach at Kaiteriteri


Mr. Diligence in a cave at Split Apple Rock, holding a handful of metalic sand.


Some of the boys walked out to the rock itself; the tide was fairly low when we got there.


They harvested more mussels! They cooked them that evening, and Mr. Intellectual found a pearl in one he ate!


The trail down to Split Apple Rock.


Shags on the rock.


Mr. Imagination and Mr. Sweetie looking at the water.


Split Apple Rock.


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Because of the trouble we had with the van, our plans for Saturday were changed. We packed up and left the campground in Collingwood as early as we could get around, and went over Takaka Hill back to Motueka, hoping to be able to get a used alternator. The used car parts place was closed, however; the information we had been given in Takaka that it would be open on Saturday morning was obviously wrong. We ended up buying a new alternator in Motueka, then going back to a garage in Riwaka that was open seven days a week. Then, we had to decide what to do during the two hours plus that it would take to change alternators. Gayle offered to take us to a beach, but it would have taken a good twenty minutes to get there, then twenty minutes back, and after the job was done he would have to go back out to get us. We opted to just start walking and see what was to be seen around Riwaka. We first went toward Takaka Hill; Mr. Intellectual wanted to find a fruit stand we had seen. After going about half a kilometer, however, I saw that we were nowhere near the fruit stand, so we turned around. As we went back past the garage, Gayle came out and joined us, which was great! Not only was his company welcome, but Mr. Imagination had woke up that morning not able to walk. His foot seemed slightly swollen and maybe bruised, but we have no idea what happened. He simply couldn’t put any weight on it. A three-year-old gets awfully heavy in a hurry when you’re carrying him while walking. We did a lot of trading off! Little Miss seemed quite light, compared to him.

We enjoyed a close-up look at the orchards along the way, and the lemon, orange and grapefruit trees in every other backyard. The first stretch we walked along, at the edge of a busy highway, we were on a narrow shoulder of grass with a deep ditch beside it. We were thankful when we reached a bicycle trail we could walk on, instead! When we reached the outskirts of Riwaka, we stopped to rest for awhile at a tiny playground. After feeding the baby and reading a few chapters of our book (I was glad that I had left my Kindle in my purse!), we went on into Riwaka. Gayle and Mr. Inventor went back soon, to see if the van was done, and the rest of us continued on. We stopped at a few fruit/vege stands. We bought a bag of apples at the first, and had a welcome snack, and then bought some kumara (sweet potatoes) at the next. At the last one, we bought several kilos of golden kiwifruit. We ended up each carrying a load, with two little children and all that fruit! We kept going, though, and were soon out of Riwaka and onto the bridge over the Motueka River. When we got to the other end, I sat down to feed Little Miss again while everyone rested and ate some kiwifruit, and then I stayed there with a few of the boys while Esther, her aunt, and another couple boys went on. We were able to flag Gayle down when he showed up with the van, and then we found the others. We calculated the next day that some of us walked 5.5 kilometers, and the rest about 7! They got a few blocks into Motueka.

This is a typical apple orchard in the Motueka area. They are all dwarf apples, rigourously trained up. Not all are completely enclosed in netting the way this one is, but it’s not uncommon.IMG_0507

Mr. Imagination who couldn’t walk all day. He crawled from the picnic table to this swing!


By this time, it was around 2:00 in the afternoon, and we were famished. We headed out to the waterfront and found a park at which we could eat our sandwiches. There were picnic tables beside an old quay with a wrecked ship beside it, and a flock of screaming seagulls circling overhead, begging for food. One seagull was especially funny. He would open his mouth wide and push his head way forward, and tell the other seagulls off. Apparently, he was the big boss! After lunch we walked around and enjoyed the green grass and beautiful bushes, and walked out the quay. The boys found a trail of stepping stones across the mud flat to the wrecked ship and looked inside it. DSCF0066DSCF0069DSCF0072DSCF0074DSCF0084DSCF0086DSCF0089IMG_1511

We had had a big enough day already, with that long walk, that after doing some necessary grocery shopping in Motueka we went on to the home of the friends we were planning to spend the weekend with. There was enough time before dark to set up a tent and get the camper ready for the night.

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Pohara Beach

When the van battery went flat and our day was rearranged, we set out looking for a place for most of us to spend the afternoon while Gayle got the problem looked into. I wanted a beach with a picnic table and a toilet. We just took off from Takaka on a road going out to the sea, and when we got to the far side of Pohara we found just what we wanted! The beach was on one side of the road, and on the other, beside a tennis court, was a small parking area, a grassy spot with a picnic table, and the cutest toilet block I’ve seen in a long time!IMG_1506

After eating a quick lunch, Gayle and Mr. Handyman headed back to Takaka and the rest of us set off to explore the beach. Mr. Diligence, in the second picture down, had a set of “clam farms”. The boys had found some clams, and that gave him the idea. He found a set of streams of clear water coming out from under the cliffs, bubbling up from the sand, and worked to dam them up and direct the water to his farms. When he tasted the water, he was surprised to find it salty!IMG_0456DSCF9968

Mr. Inventor badly wanted to climb into that hole in the cliff.


Mr. Imagination with a scallop shell.


The boys found a cave, and climbed through a crack in the back of it up to this area. This is Mr. Intellectual.


Little Miss got to touch cold salt water for the first time! She was delighted, and badly wanted to get into it more. It was too cold, though!


The cold didn’t stop the boys from playing in the water! This is Mr. Diligence wading.


I was glad I had a spare set of pants for Mr. Imagination.


One of the boys found this spiny starfish.




Mr. Sweetie


Mr. Sweetie building dams for the clam farms.


Mr. Diligence and Mr. Sweetie


We also spent a little time getting some 6-month pictures of Little Miss. She loved crawling in the grass!DSCF0047DSCF0058

Mr. Inventor collected mussels and oysters to take back to our house to cook that night.IMG_0495

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Pupu Springs and Labyrinth Rocks

The second day we had in Golden Bay, we planned to go to Pupu Springs (short for Te Waikoropupu Springs), and then find Labyrinth Rocks before deciding what to do with the rest of the day. Well, the first part of the day went according to plan! We arrived at Pupu Springs and walked around admiring the beautiful forest and water.IMG_0450

Mr. Inventor, Mr. Sweetie, and Mr. Diligence waiting for the rest of us to get ready to go.


The water is so clear, with almost a greenish quality. The river flowing out of the springs is as beautiful as the springs themselves!


The trail through the springs area goes through a lot of native bush. It was cold; we saw frost right beside the trail; but so beautiful!


This is the biggest spring. You can see the water coming up under the surface.


This was off to the side of the main spring. We saw small springs welling up out of the bottom, with sand dancing on top of the stream of water.


The rock walls along the trail in some places are left over from gold mining in the late 1800s. This is Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence.


After taking our time walking around the springs area, we all got into the van and Gayle turned the key. Nothing. He tried again. Nothing. The battery was totally flat. We had bought a new battery five days before, because we were having problems with the battery. Apparently, our problem was worse than an old battery! We quickly asked some other tourists, who Gayle had been talking to, to give us a jump, and instead of going to another attraction we went to Takaka to find a garage. The mechanics were out for lunch, so we went on to find a beach where most of us could spend the afternoon while Gayle got the van looked at. I’ll describe the afternoon in another post.

It turned out that the alternator was doing nothing—we were given a bad one. When Gayle came to pick us up, after finding the problem and getting the battery charged, we finally made it to the second place we had talked about going that day—Labyrinth Rocks. This is a five-acre area of rock canyons and native bush. DSCF0060


This was called the Alligator.


As it got darker, and we hurried through the maze, we were very glad to have a map! This was truly a labyrinth.SANY0188

We all agreed that we’d like to go back sometime when we could spend some time there. Because of the van trouble we only had 15 or 20 minutes before it got too dark.

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Wharariki Beach

The same day we walked on Farewell Spit and visited Cape Farewell, we also went to Wharariki (pronounced Farariki) Beach. Yes, it was about too much for one day, but as it turned out that was our only day to do all those things. Last time we were at Golden Bay, we wanted to visit this beach, but didn’t have time. This time, we made time, and it was sure worth visiting! The walk from the carpark to the beach was a lot more strenuous than I expected. I stayed in the van to feed the baby while the rest of the family went to the beach, and then I followed when she was done. It turned out that the “20 minute walk” was a fairly rugged kilometer or so, up and down hills, through a patch of trees, over several stiles, through an area of sand dunes, and finally across a long stretch of sand dunes to the sandy beach with rocky outcroppings in places!SANY0157DSCF9845

Mr. Imagination and his daddy crossing a stile. By the time we got back, Mr. Imagination was too tired to climb over the last stile by himself—he was sitting on it waiting for me to catch up, saying his feet hurt.


IMG_1481IMG_1482IMG_1483IMG_1485Mr. Sweetie



Gayle holding Little Miss, and Mr. Imagination, in the cave you can see in the picture above. The baby seal below was on top of a rock way up under the roof of the cave.



Sunset over the Tasman Sea


Mr. Inventor


We saw a few seals in a rock pool.


The full moon had just risen when we were walking back to the van.


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