Landing on South Island
The ferry from Wellington (North Island) to Picton on South Island was late and renting our car took more time than we planned. The drive from Picton to Nelson took Despite driving in darkness we found our cottage on Ruby Bay and unloaded our luggage while listening to the waves crashing on the beach.
While Cindy (my wife) and Kayley (24 year old daughter) began making dinner I went looking for the house where I was to hire a bike for the following day. I met with Steve of HeliBike Nelson who welcomed me into his home, made a few suggestions for rides, and provided the bike.
After a late dinner I hit the sack and arose early to spy a calm Tasman Sea while eating breakfast.
Google Maps guided me from Ruby Bay to the trailhead on Brooks Street in Nelson.
The girls planned to spend the day combing the beach and walking to the local market while I was set to explore the Coppermine Loop, my first ride on South Island.
Leaving Ruby Bay proved difficult the next morning. We wished we had planned more than one day in Nelson but had already reserved an Air B&B place (The Lazy Seal Cottages) down the west coast for the next night.
The West Coast
We reached the Lazy Seal around midday which allowed us to check out an incredible beach and seal sanctuary.
The next day we stopped at Punakaiki to see the famous Pancake Rocks.
From Pancake Rocks we headed to the town of Hokitika to see a real, live Kiwi … New Zealand’s national symbol. They look just like a round, feather duster with a straw attached to their head.
Seeing the Kiwis was difficult as we had to be in a very dark room since the Kiwi’s are nocturnal. We had more fun feeding the eels and trying to catch crawdads. Did you know eels live to be over a hundred years old? They are not ready to mate until they are eighty!
After the the We ate lunch and then drove on to Hans Josef Glacier, a small town named for the massive glacier visible from the parking lot of our hotel.
From Franz Joseph Glacier we drove down the coast a ways further then cut through the coastal mountain range to stay in Arrowtown, a small town formed after gold was discovered in the Arrow River in 1862. Arrowtown still boasts 70 structures which remain from the 1800’s.
A sign told me the only river to produce more gold in the entire world was the Yukon (near Alaska). I will tell more about this when I get to my post for my Arrowrtown to Macetown Ride.
All three of us decided to take the hike along Bush Creek, which turned out to be over ten miles! We barely make it back to our Air B&B place before dark. And I got to do the same hike at daybreak the next morning as I had dropped my sweat pants on the trail with the keys to the B&B in the pocket!
After dropping Kayley at the Queenstown Airport (shad to fly back to go to work) Cindy and I rented a hotel room right on the end of the main drag in Queenstown.
The city of Queenstown offers every type of thrill seeking activity possible. For a fee you can jet boat, jet ski, bungee jump, hang glide, parachute, and take various types of boat, helicopter, four wheel drive, motorcycle, bike, and bus tours. Of course, mountain biking is big in Queenstown … for mountain biking in Queenstown was my main motivation for visiting New Zealand.
After consulting some of the fellows at the local bike shops I decided to make my first Queensland ride in Seven Mile Park.
Heaps more to come … check back later!