Sunday, January 18, 2009


Carolyn slept until 7:30 or so. I got up around 6:30 and made coffee in the French Press pot provided in the room. A paper was at the door so I enjoyed a cup of coffee and the paper.

Our plan was to get an early start to Able Tasman and catch one of the water taxis for a three hour tour of the beaches and wild life spots. But we seem to be having technical problems on this trip, today we have a problem with our power converter and so head, instead, downtown to the electronics store recommended by the lady of the couple who own the motel. At this point, I have my first experience with "Kiwi English"! I asked for a recommendation as to where to find what I needed and she asked her husband and came back and told me my best bet was "Dittsmuth" down town. I asked her to repeat the name and she did and showed me on a map where to find the store. I asked one more time and spelled what I had heard: D-I-T-T-S-M-U-T-H. Right? No, she says, "With a K. Dicksmuth! Oh, Ok. And off we went. Now, downtown, in the location marked on the map, we found...........are you ready?............"DICK SMITH ELECTRONICS". And they say Texans have an accent!!

Now, you have to believe me as this is the honest truth. We carried our little international electrical converter and all of its adapter plugs into the store. The whole think fits in half of a coffee can. We bought it in 1984. I showed it to two of the young men and asked if they had a replacement. They examined it carefully and announced that, "You won’t find anything like that in New Zealand. In fact, I don’t see how something that small can do what it says it does. All we have is this." And, he pointed to a brick sized black box that weighed no less than three pounds. It had a heavy black cord and plug on one end that would fit a New Zealand receptacle. That ran to a clunky, black box, the size of a large man’s fist, in the face of which was one USA style, three prong plug receptacle. For this, they wanted $80NZ or $50US. You can buy a complete international current converter and all the adapter plugs from Magellan’s catalog for $25US! We solved our problem by realizing that all of our camera battery chargers and the computer have built in converters. All we really need are the receptacle adapters and we have those so we are good to go.

Anyway, since we are in town, we explore downtown Nelson. It is a fair sized town but still has a very quaint feel. Colorful flower baskets hang from every lamppost. The streets are cobbles or brick with cross walks marked by different colored cobbles or bricks. The city has a very large cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, sitting in a large hilly area called Church Hill, as a focal point. West of Church Hill is the historic precinct and South Street. This is area of old worker’s homes dating from the 1860's that have been restored and turned into B&Bs and artist shops. A glass blowing artist’s work caught our eye. Now there is a box of treasures on the way to the US. After spending the morning in downtown Nelson, we continue to get the feeling that we are in a time warp. New Zealand seems to be stuck in the 1950's.

Leaving Nelson, we once again head out toward Abel Tasman National Park. This time we drive through the Upper Moutere area. With the little side trip into Nelson, we are too late for the water taxi tour. So we continue on through Motueka and then come to Takata Hill. Hill, my you-know-what! This thing is between us and where we want to go and it is 15km up and 10km down of the steepest, most crooked road I have driven in a long while. Driving in 2nd gear up and 1st gear down, we make the 25km in one piece and head for the town of Takata where we cut off the road and drive out for a view of Golden Bay and a picnic lunch while watching the swimmers and boaters play in the beautiful water.
We then continue on around Golden Bay to Collingwood. You have never seen such clean, clear water in both the rivers and streams and in the harbors and bays. There is no litter and no junk. I bet you can drink out of the streams!

We are actually in time to take an Eco Tour out to the end of Farewell "Spit" but it is a four plus hour tour and neither of us are in the mood to be driving back over the "HILL" after dark! The lady with Eco Tour is kind enough to give us directions to Cape Farewell and the entrance to the Spit. So we do drive over to the most northerly point on the South island of New Zealand, Cape Farewell. The wind is blowing a gale but the Tasman Sea Is relatively calm and the natural arch is impressive. We then
go to the head of the Spit which looks like giant sand dunes curving out into Golden Bay. It is a protected area so the group tour is the only way to actually go out onto the spit.

We start back toward Nelson about 4:00 and arrive,135km later at 7:00 after another trip up and over the "HILL", a grocery stop and a stop to pick up a bucket of KFC for dinner! Back at the room, we do two loads of laundry, have supper and call it a day.
Tomorrow we move on to the West Coast and Fox Glacier.

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