Well that 2 hour drive across Mount Tasman is something I will not forget in a hurry.
I was given express instructions from my brother Chris to ensure the weather was good when I came across. So after looking at a few houses, I looked up at the sky it was sunny and calm with no wind and all I could imagine was a gorgeous golden beach at the end of the trip, well it is called Golden Bay.
At the start of the trip it said 25km of winding road, and they were not exaggerating. It was a long slow zig zag to the top, there were a lot of ice grit signs, and then out of nowhere there seemed to be drifting rain, but wait, that looks like snow! And it was! Suddenly there were drifts of snow in the gutters and then it became thicker and in the trees, and then the snow really started to come down more and more thickly.
When you have grown up in Auckland there was no occasion to learn when to do when driving in the snow. Did I need chains? Should I pull over? But in the end I decided I just wanted to get out of it, and so drove gently and weathered the storm. It was nerve wracking as the storm didn’t start to get better until we reached the bottom of the mountain.
Takaka is set away from the waterfront and as it was now not snowing but bucketing down with rain, I did not stop to find a beach. Instead we forged on to Collingwood, about half way up the sickle shaped bay. The camp site backs on to the beach so the dogs were delighted when the sun came out and they got to romp along the beach. It looks pretty here and I look forward to a good sunny day so we can explore.
But where is the golden beach? The sand is decidedly brown/grey!
The adventure begins again.
After a lovely visit with my brother and sister in law we headed back to the Tasman area to continue the adventure to find the primo property and area for my hospitality business.
So I am back in Tasman and starting again at Kina Beach which I fell in love with the last time I passed through this region.
What was going to be a one night stay as turned into two as the dogs just love it here, and I need to view an open home on Sunday.
I had also seen another bay I had missed on the last trip, Stephens Bay, and it is I do believe dog friendly. The houses looked decidedly 1960’s which is never a bad thing as they tended to use rimu for floors, and had good bones to work with.
A trip into Motueka – all of 10km away to gas up and get groceries would not be complete without visiting the Royale Patisserie, for a mighty fine coffee and a mille feuille.
So, more beach walks are in order, and we always seem to find some treat on our walks, and today it was this fabulous outdoor open fire heated bath next to the Kina beach camp site.
Daisy, Monty and I walked up to the old Spring creek mine, we came across one working mine, one old defunct mine and a tunnel. In times of old apparently there was a school and an entire village up there for the miners, but a huge slip in the 1990’s took out the bath house and a lot of the mines buildings.
Murchison Riverside holiday park has a gorgeous riverside walk beside the Buller river and golf course. It was pretty soggy and underwater in parts, but a lovely way for us to get out and enjoy the views.
From Murchison we drove to Reefton, a small town about 85km on. It was time to walk the dogs, and we found it is full of historic information and has a wonderful bakery, they bake all their breads and cakes on the premise, and I had the best doughnut I have ever had.
We drove then to blackball, the home of the Labour party. But thankfully also the home of the Blackball Salami company. I selected chorizo, venison salami and some wonderful smokey bacon.
Mid afternoon we made it to Runanga and back onto my brother’s driveway in Dunollie.
After deciding to freedom camp in the city at the Railway station, at 6pm I found I was the only camper there. Being Saturday night there was a number of people walking past on their way to the town centre over the road, and back again at 4am after the clubs shut!
The storm that was promised also appeared with spectacular results, bucketing rain and gale force winds which buffeted the camper so much that I thought it prudent to take the satellite dish down at about 1am, so then adding in a couple of passing trains and there was not a lot of sleep to be had!
Here is Flash Harry in the background with the train approaching the station where we parked overnight.
I did chuckle at this Blenheim town character who was driving a chilli bin which was powered by a solar panel!
And here is Monty being an anarchist.
We took a walk into town and realised there is nothing open for coffee on a Sunday morning. So after a quick pack up we went to the farmers market, it was a tad disappointing but given the storm factor I imagine a lot of stall holders stayed away today. I did find some gorgeous manuka smoked salmon.
There were some game meats like hare and deer, not the things we see in the north too often. I’ll have to get some good game recipes and try some hare. Incidentally I passed two hare on the road that were being picked over by hawks, so clearly they are in abundance here.
We have stopped in Murchison on a riverside campsite next to the Buller river, it is swollen and running with spectacular fashion. Time to batten down the hatches and settle in for a quiet night.
After a good suggestion from my brother to take the trip up past Rarangi beach to Robin Hood Bay and up to Waikawa in Picton. This would ensure we had covered every square inch of the North East of the South Island. We had liked the look of Rarangi yesterday and so off we set mid-morning, past the Rarangi golf course and although the Navman said the journey would incorporate some unsealed roads, it had said the same thing yesterday and there were none!
Alas today the Navman was not lying, and we went about 12km on a road which resembled large corrugated iron sheets, so poor Flash Harry was severely tested, and I believe we did not get out of 2nd gear or faster than 25kmh, as the road was also incredibly windy.
Shortly before I took off on this leg of the journey I had a text from my friend Jo, she asked if I get scared in the freedom camping sites, I had of course replied no, as there are always other campers. But when I got to Robin hood bay, there were no cars, no campers, and I had only passed one car on the journey, and there were certainly no merry men. The weather forecast was also for rain and gale force winds on the East coast, and that was exactly where I was, on the coast in a remote part of the country and Jo’s text came to mind, and I thought better of being there alone. So looking at the map I could continue 35km on more of the same slippery dangerous road or go back the way I came. Much as I felt defeated, I do think on this occasion being cautious was the wise thing to do.
I gave the dogs a run on the beach and was rewarded by finding a baby paua shell which had been buffed by the sea to show all its glorious colours.
Back in Blenheim I decided not to carry on anywhere as it was already mid-afternoon, so I will stay to see the farmers market on Sunday morning, which I believe is a good one.
Walking along the river in Blenheim proved to be a delight for Monty, as there were more ducks. I love it here and it is a good option, but any property would have to incorporate a bit of river or a pond so that Monty could be kept amused by the ducks.
The beaver bronzes were a bit of amusement and bewilderment for the dogs.
The dogs water bowl was left outside over night and was frozen this morning! Undeterred the ducks were happy to nibble at dog biscuits!
I viewed two properties today, neither of which suited my dreams.
One was self-contained as I have wanted, but it was so in need of an overhaul it would have costed me so much it would not be viable. It was called Chardonnay Lodge, but was ever so tired and although it had a tennis court and a pool, it just didn’t do it for me, I want to make something a real experience for tourists with memories to be made.
And the 2nd house was spectacular, a huge property and house which was all double glazed, views over the neighbouring vineyards and quite stunning in its finish. And yet still not what I want it was in home guests, for $1.6mill I don’t want to share my house.
We drove out to Rarangi where there was another property I wanted to view from the outside, it was lovely on a fantastic beach but on about 7 acres, and far too big for me.
Along the walk on the beach I met Janet, a local who is married to a commercial fisherman, they are building their dream house. She told me the house I was looking at was the local doctors. She also filled me in on the weather, the beach and all about the area. It is lovely and also would be a good option. I gave her a lift home in the camper and she was grinning like a Cheshire cat at the reaction of her husband and neighbour when we drove into her back yard! Her neighbour has just bought a camper van and takes ownership next week, so he was very keen to take a look at flash Harry. I looked at their property right on the waterfront and was very envious of the position, it would suit me perfectly! I left having made new friends and will visit again to see the progress of their house.
After the immense disappointment that was Picton we drove 30 minutes to Blenheim, the place I vowed was not me as I wanted to be beside the seaside.
Well let me tell you, this is a lesson on ‘never say never’!
This town is booming, there is a vibrant feel to the place, there is a variety of areas within the town, gosh I almost feel disrespectful saying town, as this place has many suburbs and areas. And a bucket load of money spent on wine!
And to make matters worse I have found a property I want to see, an it’s called chardonnay lodge. Having said that it is nothing like I would deem a lodge and nothing like I would want my B&B, however it does have a tennis court and a pool and 2 self-contained places, but alas it needs a lot and I mean a lot of money spent on it.
So have an appointment with the Bayleys agent to view a few properties, oh wow here we go!
What a drive from Havelock to Picton, it winds terribly, but it is a picture postcard on every corner, and I fell in love, if only I could find a north facing property looking over the sounds but connected by road I would be a happy chappy. I saw a few for sale so must look more into it.
After 2 days in Picton, and having lined up 7 properties I wanted to view in Queen Charlotte drive and Waikawa and Port Underwood drive I then took a look around town when going for the coffee walk in the morning with the dogs. And I counted 8 closed stores in the town and let me tell you the town is one street! So that is a complete turn off, alas Picton and the charming Waikawa is off the list.
The irony when I talked to a real-estate lady in Blenheim she said that Picton is having a revival is more prosperous now that in has ever been!
I’m starting to think I should re name this blog Monty & Daisy’s spectacular adventure.
They are having such a lovely time exploring all the fabulous walks and trying all the butchers and bakeries to ensure their sausages are up to scratch.
Today we attempted to find a property I had seen online; it took 2 attempts. One in the morning, when I was not sure of the road to take as I had no map, so I took the detour on a dog off the lead walk via a very interesting cemetery (remember this was a gold mining town), and out towards a bird sanctuary, yes here we go again, more birds who one can only assume have forgotten how to fly to another sanctuary.
Little Mr Monty is rather partial to a bird, so he ran out over the estuary, over the mud flats, to a little raised area where a few ducks had been sitting, and then once they had taken flight, (if you take a very close look at this photo you will see his silhouette on the mound) undeterred he saw bigger prey – swans, and decided a full on launch into the water was required to moved them on, alas he forgot that required swimming, and as I was busy getting my phone out to take a photo, I saw a small dog go beneath the water and then try valiantly to get back onto the muddy mound.
And just as I got a very muddy wet little dog back and onto the lead, 5 metres later I saw this sign!
Needless to say once we got back from the first walk at lunch time it was muddy swamp dog bathing time.