Welcome to our blog. Here you’ll find stories, pictures and hopefully a little helpful information about traveling around on a small sailboat.
To some, our blog may seem chronologically challenged, but it’s really not. You see, our resident Capricorn, Cyndi, posts everything in the exact order in which it occurred. Rich, with his short attention span, posts stuff the moment it occurs to him. While we’re now in Australia, Cyndi just finished her posts about the New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds. Rich has already lost interest in last Monday. To sum it up:
Cyndi is writing about our time in NELSON (NEW ZEALAND) in 2016.
Rich is writing about the here and now, in AUSTRALIA.
When we first came to Nelson in April, I worried about finding a weather window to the tropics by the time our visa expired near the end of May. A few neighbors, well-experienced cruisers, assured me not to worry, a window would surely come. It goes to show that there are just years when you can’t count on “dependable” weather patterns. In the end, we needed to extend our New Zealand visa and opted to do so by flying out of, then back into, the country. (Melbourne, Australia, was the cheapest option we found for this trip.)
Returning a few days later, we now had the time we needed, but we couldn’t ignore the changing season. It was disconcerting to watch the colorful leaves now falling, to wake up to snow on the mountains and colder temperatures, and to see local places lighting their fire pits at night.
We still hoped to get that weather window that would take us up the west side of the North Island and on to the tropics, but we had to start considering another option: hopping up the east coast of the north island and leaving from Tauranga or Opua. Other cruisers were starting to do just that, but we didn’t want to give up yet. We decided instead to do a small road trip, a final place to see before we left (and something to keep us from obsessing about weather). Again it was a tough choice, but in the end we decided to head to Marlborough’s wine country in Blenheim (which will be the next posts).
For the moment I want to mention one more interesting area in Nelson: the South Street Cottages, a small neighborhood of cottages dating back to the 1860s. These charming little houses have been saved from demolition, lovingly restored, and are now of a protected historical site. –Cyndi
Our final destination for the day was a place called Labyrinth Rocks Park. It wasn’t in my guidebook nor in the local brochure guide I had; so I must have stumbled across this on the internet. I certainly know what caught my attention: it’s a karst geology extravaganza!
We picked up one of the little maps at the entrance gate and it instantly became apparent that seeing the entire place could take a couple of hours. We just made our best guesses as to what might be most interesting and set out into the park.
The park is truly a labyrinth with paths that wind through fantastical rocks, most of them with intriguing side paths that we couldn’t resist exploring. It’s also a very lush green place with lots of moss, ferns, vines and trees. Like the Grove Scenic Reserve, it’s quite beautiful yet surprisingly doesn’t seem to get many visitors–we were the only people there.
Below, some photos of our walk though Labyrinth Rocks Park. (click to enlarge/scroll through gallery).
There is one very unique feature here: the figurines. Whoever’s in charge of this place has scattered little toys (about 1 to 2 inches in size) amongst the rocks with the idea that they would surprise and delight small visiting children. I’m not sure at what point in the weathering process a toy goes from being cute to being scary, but a few of the toys had passed that mark. While I appreciate the intention, I don’t think these items are an asset to the park. Still, the place is beautiful enough that the strange toys don’t really detract from it. This was definitely a cool place to visit.–Cyndi
Below, a few photos of the park’s toys. Enlarge and scroll at our own risk; we will not be responsible for any nightmares that may result. –Cyndi
While we don’t really keep up with the news (mostly too depressing), we are interested in current affairs – that is the affairs of the ocean currents that always seem to be against us! We were making great time and it was looking like we’d be in Sydney early this morning. That changed last night and we’ve spent the last 12 hours or more with more than two knots of current against us.
The Eastern coast of Australia has a pretty constant, strong, southbound current. We avoided it mostly by staying close to shore. That strategy let us down last night. We even signed up for a service called TideTech to see what the Bass Strait and coastal currents would be doing during our trip. That didn’t help much for two reasons. One: we’re so slow that there was nothing we could do about the twice-daily changes in currents in the Bass Strait. Two: the information wasn’t very accurate (or maybe just not detailed enough inshore) to help us on this last, painful, slow leg.
Oh well. We’ll get there eventually. I think we have enough fuel?! -Rich
We’re still at it… heading up the coast of Australia towards Sydney. It’s been mostly a motorboat ride with very light winds. That’s nothing we’d ever complain about. So far, we’be been at this for about three days. One more night at sea will hopefully get us there. -Rich
We left yesterday morning from Stanley, Tasmania, bound for somewhere on that big island called Australia to our north. Plan A is Eden, but we’ll see where we end up. So far, it’s not bad. We motored all day yesterday. Now the wind is heading us a bit and it’s not ideal. Oh well.
Hey, we heard something great yesterday as we were leaving Stanley. It seems that the fishermen have a name for us sailors: WAFIs. Wind Assisted F*&kin’ Idiots! I love it. I don’t know why I’m not insulted. Maybe it’s an “if the shoe fits” kind of thing. -Rich
Te Waikoropupu Springs boasts some of the clearest water in the world, second only to Blue Lake (in Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand) and the sub-glacial waters of Antarctica.
I’m not sure whether to describe these springs as being a very large pool or a very small lake, but I can describe it as a beautiful body of water surrounded by bushy forest. Its white sand floor lets the beautiful colors (ranging from blue-violet to pretty greens) of this pure water show through unimpeded.
This place is spiritually significant to the native Maori people and considered sacred. While I don’t really know the legends, I can say it does seem to be one of those places that seem to naturally compel quiet and respect.
In all, a visit to these springs starts with a good informational display at the entrance followed by a combination trail and elevated boardwalk through the scenic reserve, including some viewing platforms over the springs. You can stop at the springs, but it’s really worthwhile to take the trail all the way through for beautiful river and forest views (about 45 minutes but it’s an easy walk).
Below, a gallery of photos from Te Waikoropupu Springs and circuit loop walk (click to enlarge and scroll).–Cyndi
Our lunch stop took us to Takaka, Golden Bay’s biggest town, which isn’t saying much. Downtown Takaka sits along the main road and is only a few blocks long, consisting mostly of small businesses, shops, and eateries.
There are lots of small towns like this in New Zealand, some nondescript, and some with character. Takaka is definitely a town with character. Small historic buildings house some of the businesses, and the place is filled with the bohemian-style artsy touches that give this place its charm.
Takaka is also known for having some good eateries, but the easy choice was the Wholemeal Cafe, a colorful place that represents the spirit of the town perfectly. The food was terrific, creative and delicious. Takaka turned out to be quite a charming little town.
Below, a few photos that sum up the feeling of Takaka and the beautiful Wholemeal Cafe (click to enlarge/scroll).–Cyndi
Our first stop in Golden Bay was the Grove Scenic Reserve. The small, overgrown parking area was a sign that not many people come here.
As we set off on the 30-minute Grove Loop walk, it instantly became apparent that we were in a karst topography wonderland. Huge mossy boulders in fantastic shapes lined much of the path through the lush forest. It was like walking through the ruins of an ancient temple, only this “temple” was created entirely by nature. It looked like an Indiana Jones movie set, or a place where trolls and fairies might dwell. In all our travels we’ve never seen anything quite like this.
The crown jewel of a visit here is to walk though the gap between two massive rock monoliths, maybe three stories high. Stairs lead down to the ground between them, and the walk is about 40 feet long (more or less). Steps then lead up to a lookout platform that hangs off sheer cliff walls on the other side, overlooking the grassy basin below. There’s enough vegetation on the rock walls to house the many fantail birds that flitted around us as we admired the view.
After the lookout we continued on the path back to the car. This is truly a magical place–I can’t believe that it doesn’t get more visitors! If anyone reading this is going to Golden Bay, I’d urge you to consider taking the time to visit the Grove Scenic Reserve.
Below, photos from our walk at the Grove Scenic Reserve (click to enlarge/scroll). –Cyndi