After the Prada Cup we had planned a road trip to the South Island. I used Google Maps to plan our destinations making each day a manageable drive and bookings.com to find our lodging. Our goal was to get to Queenstown to spend a few days and see as many notable sights along the way. Fortunately the COVID Tier level in Auckland was moved to 2 and the rest of the country moved to 1. BMW, a sponsor of American Magic, kindly loaned us a car for our two week trek. This wasn’t just any car but a 745E, electric/gas hybrid with every bell and whistle you can imagine. Phil was the only driver on the loan so I was the passenger. The roads in NZ are challenging at many times and combined with the seemingly endless road works going on it made for an interesting ride. Have to say I never closed my eyes partially due to the incredible scenery but also the nerve wracking windy hills, one-way bridges, narrow roadways and roadworks. Phil was a star driver and enjoyed driving a car that handles the road so well. I will break up this post in to several to make it more manageable for the reader.
Auckland to the South Island
After getting our car debrief we loaded up and headed out of town for the first time by car. Our destination was Waikanae on the West Coast a close distance to Wellington. It was an over 7 hour drive through all types of landscape. There were very few motorways on our whole journey. We ended up staying in a lovely beach community at a private studio attached to a couple’s home. We had a nice beach walk to stretch our legs after the long drive. We went into the town and had dinner. That evening we plugged our car into the socket at our hosts’ home by running an extension cord out their kitchen window. They had a small electric BMW so were helpful with instructions. The charge only gives you about 40km but better than none. We discovered later on that the car will generate some charge going down long stretches of hills. Not enough to give you much mileage but interesting. We headed out in the morning to catch our ferry in Wellington to Picton in the South Island.
We arrived in Picton about 4:30pm and then drove to Port Nelson about a 2 hour drive to stay for the night. We were skeptical when we saw the area, very industrial on the edge of a large port but it ended up being a quiet place on a little marina. We had delicious green lipped mussels with our dinner at a restaurant next door. I chose this location instead of closer to the city of Nelson because I wanted to check out Boulder Bank, a unique internationally significant natural feature the next morning. Over 13km long, the bank is formed of large granodiorite boulders from Mackay Bluff, moved southwest during northerly storms to form a precise line many years ago. It looked like a manmade seawall, quite remarkable. After that we headed to Punakaiki for some more nature and short walks. The weather as we headed southwest got progressively more rainy and windy. Apparently very typical for that area. We saw some magnificent landscape. We walked the Truman Track which winds through a mature forest to a coastal strip of flax and down to a small sandy cove. Dramatic views of sea caves and the rocky shore despite the rain. We then explored Pancake Rocks which are spectacular unusual rock formations. The windy, rainy weather added to the attraction. We had dinner at a local pub and stayed in a cute cottage overlooking the Tasman Sea.
I should mention at this time that I found a book “A Walk a Day, 365 Short Walks in New Zealand” in the bookstore when we first arrived in Auckland. It was a good purchase along with two detailed cruising guides for the boat. The book features many wonderful hikes. We have enjoyed very well maintained and marked trails everywhere in NZ. This book was just a starting point.
Hope you were able to watch the videos. To be continued soon…..