The ferry across to the South Island took roughly 4 hours. The girls and I found a little corner cubby hole and tried to catch some sleep – not the easiest thing to do with all the swaying! We ended up watching one of the passengers do the most awkward singing show I have ever seen – at least it passed the time a little! We also popped up to the top deck and admired the fjords as we came into the South Island.
When we arrived off the ferry our new bus and driver, Guy, was waiting for us. It was a whole new bus of people so lots of new faces to get to know. Guy asked us if any of us fancied a stop off at one of the vineyards in the Marlborough region to do a spot of wine tasting. Obviously the answer was a big yes!
We stopped at Whitehaven Vineyard where we tried four different wines (a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Gris, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir).
Most of the group I was with didn’t like fourth wine, the Pinot Noir, so my glass was constantly topped up – all I can say is I did pretty well out of the wine excursion. It was so much fun and the perfect introduction to the South Island. I must admit I snoozed for pretty much the rest of the journey…
After the vineyard tour we had quite a long drive in the bus on the way down to Kaiteriteri where we would be staying for one night. Kaiteriteri literally translates in Maori as (‘food’ ‘quick ‘quick’). Legend has it that a Maori tribe was running away from another tribe when they decided to take a very quick break at the beach in Kaiteriteri to have some food before dashing off again up the hills. Kaiteriteri is a really small seaside town with the most beautiful golden sandy beach at its forefront. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great when we arrived and it was getting dark so we couldn’t really appreciate where we were until the next morning.
The main beach in Kaiteriteri is called Golden Bay on account of the bright gold sand that lines the shore. Historically however the bay was known as ‘Murderers Bay’ on account of an unfortunate encounter between Dutch explorer Abel Tasman and the native Maori settlers. Abel Tasman and his crew arrived in the cove of Kaiteriteri when they were spotted by a local tribe. Curious, the tribe boarded their wakka (canoe) and paddled out to get a closer look at the new arrivals. As is Maori etiquette, the tribesmen blew their conch shell to determine whether or not Abel Tasman and his crew came in peace or war. For the Maori’s any reply to this call is a sign that you come in war – any peace coming visitor must remain in plain silence. Unfortunately for Abel Tasman, he was not aware of this custom and instead thought the natives were being friendly – he therefore picked up his trumpet and replied with a large blow. Error. The Tribesmen instantly thought that he was there in war and proceeded to kill a number of his crew. Abel Tasman managed to escape the tribe and reported back to the western world about the so called ‘Murderers Bay’. His warnings obviously held some water as no explorer set foot in Kaiteriteri until Captain James Cook 127 years later. Nowadays the name Murderers Bay has been kept just in the history books – I’m not sure it would do the tourism in the area much good!
Rose had already spent a couple of nights in Kaiteriteri so it was so nice to be reunited with her at our hostel, the Kaiteri Lodge. We had dinner that evening and headed to The Beached Whale for a couple of drinks and watched the rugby. That night we were in a big dorm room with lots of the other people from the bus. With the amount of snoring in the room there was no way any of would be getting very much sleep…!
The next morning, bright and early, the girls and I headed to the beach where we were picked up by our water taxi and taken across to the Abel Tasman National Park via a little stop off at the Split Apple Rock.
Over in the National Park we undertook a two hour hike over the hills and across the beaches. We’ve all caught a cold in our room (I guess it’s the travellers equivalent to Freshers Flu!) so we all really struggled with the uphill climbs! We were exhausted.
After a couple of hours admiring the beautiful scenery we hopped back on the water taxi and back to the mainland. We met up with the rest of the group and climbed back on the bus and got back on the road.
Our first stop off of the day was at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson National Park. This lake is absolutely stunning with its crystal clear waters and snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Some of our group braved the cold and jumped of the jetty – I’m not sure I would have wanted to share the waters with the 100 year old Eels which were lurking in the shallows.
Dried off we hit the road again and made our way across to our next destination; Westport.