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Nelson via Picton - more than a gateway to the South Island!

After a crossing of the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton A50EFC782219AC681728774EA4E6A1D6.jpg the Intercity buses connect to the ferry from right outide the ferry building at Picton. I had planned, as most people do, to get off the ferry, onto the bus, and head off to my hostel for the next two nights in Nelson. I had a half day to spare so I googled 'things to do in Picton' and found some really good reviews of 'naturetours.co.nz' which offers various options to explore the Marlborough Sounds. Even 'though you get magnificent views in Queen Charlotte Sound as the ferry sails through it, I decided to do a half day cruise which was offered as 'Motoura Island Bird Sanctuary & Dolphin Cruise' and to get a later bus south. I am so pleased that I did because Picton is a lovely town that deserves much more than being a 'drive-through' and I had a chance to explore a little of it whilst I waited for the cruise to start. A50FEB802219AC681795A0315B418282.jpgA510D1372219AC68178B193D1E9E1EAC.jpg If I had realised how nice it is I would probably have booked my first night on the South Island there.
Paul and his crew from Nature Tours were excellent, their knowledge of the environment and wildlife is extensive and they were good fun. We actually had three dolphin encounters during the afternoon, two with small pods of bottlenose dolphins and one with Hector dolphins, which are on the endangered species list. We also managed to get close to basking fur seals and saw plenty of birdlife including several King Shags which are also on the endangered list. The walk up to the lookout point on Motuara Island was easy going and the views of the sounds were brilliant. A512ADDD2219AC6817346C2504E3C41F.jpg Many of the islands in the sounds are under preservation orders and cannot be landed on. Motorua is a sanctuary where several endangered species have been re-introduced and although it is open to visitors it is strictly reguated to prevent any kind of animal life being introduced. It was a fantastic afternoon and I would highly recommend it.
The 6.30pm bus took me to Nelson and when I arrived I was really disconcerted to find that the entire town had gone to bed. Okay it was Sunday evening but I hadn't expected this. The YHA hostel at Nelson is probably one of the nicer ones I have stayed at and at least there was life after 9pm inside. I disovered the next day that my first apprehensive impressions of Nelson were totally unfounded. I had planned to go the Abel Tasman Park for a day of hiking but in the end I had a late and very relaxing start to the day, did my laundry and took a leisurely walk around the town. This is a town I could live in I think. It sees many tourists but feels like a working community town with good shopping, eating and drinking and a laid back feel. On my way to look at the really unusual church A5162E402219AC6817E4CE56551F2975.jpgA51767F42219AC6817B6D2097B9881B8.jpg I managed to come across a very pretty old building A51A86A32219AC68171C83BE4FA5B5CD.jpgwhich is home to a business dealing in second hand ladies clothes and accessories. Needless to say I coud not pass up the opportunity and confess to a little bit of retail therapy that my already bulging suitcase will not be happy to accommodate. Nelson is named for Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson and there is an interesting stone commemorating this connection A5152FD02219AC68172F8A5A77530BA1.jpg There are some good 'new age' shops, some examples of what seen to be typical wall murals A5191DB42219AC68178A38A36373C48A.jpg and the most amazing bead 'emporium' that my friend Liz would die to spend time in. A51BB8BE2219AC68172424861C0BFFAF.jpgA51D0A942219AC6817301F3FBEA7084B.jpg I'm not sure what this particular restaurant was selling A51DFA912219AC68174DD7116C20E369.jpg and I wasn't hungry enough to find out ?.
It seems like 'pit stops' all the way but I am actually getting a flavour of this country, and I'm meeting some wonderful people, more about whom later. My next port of call is Franz-Josef, which exists purely as a tourist resort, from which people can explore one of the New Zealand's two famous glaciers. I'll report back on this once I've done the hike.

Posted by busyboots 23:08

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