more Nelson & on the road to Punakaiki

We also peaked in an antique store that was full to the brim with old chotchkies.

There was a gallery right around the corner form our hostel, Mansfield Gallery, that showcased one series of paintings and sculptors from an artists in Auckland.

It was a really powerful series of guns, Jesus, targets, and Buddah with different colors and lots encased in what looked like rainbow sprinkles. Odd. Very modern.  We also visited another jewelers called the Jewel Beetle that had lots of pretty jewelry I wanted! Lots of things with sunflowers, roses, and spirals. So beautiful.

The last gallery we visited was definitely the best. It was a small space with several pieces from a handful of local New Zealand artists.  There was some great photographs and paintings.

I loved this series of houses, I want to live there!

The other artist I really enjoyed ended up being the woman in the gallery! She talked to us for a long time, she was so friendly and fun. She had even been to Vermont for Christmas this year! She told us how much she loved being able to ski right outside the door and how nice the people were, even though it was 14 below. She also told us about the one time she went to New York City, and she found a great restaurant to have her first Ruben sandwich. There was even a jazz band playing there! They stayed so long that the service dwindled, and she went right up to the waitress and told her that this was a dream come true for her, and they better do their job or else New Zealand will get a very bad review of their restaurant. Good for her. The paintings that she made were a series of scenes from the Wizard of Oz in such a fun, youthful way!

She was very humble, describing it as primary or naive, but I just thought it was joyful and lovely!

After our gallery tour, we went to a cafe/gallery for lunch. Luck us, the art there was children’s art!

We got delicious french toast on whole wheat bread with strawberry and rhubarb chutney.

It was heavenly. We also got a couscous dish with chickpeas, almonds, apricots, and a bunch of other great stuff that was dressed with curry, cumin, and cilantro.

Hello, awesome!

We couldn’t find free wifi anywhere in Nelson, which was a huge bother to us since its quite a well-established city. Also, there was no parking so we had to keep going back every three hours to refill (there was a three-hour limit in the lot by our hostel).

After lunch, we took the car to the botanical reserve to climb the hill that supposedly marks the center of New Zealand.

Really, it is the center of the Nelson district, which is the center district of all of New Zealand, but it was pretty cool all the same.

It made me feel like I had a long way to travel still! There were also great views of the ocean and the hills at the top.

Some of the trees are even turning colors for fall! My favorite time of year.

Then, we drove to a beach, Tahunanui, that Hannah wanted to check out.

It was really great!

The tide was sooooo low, it was really neat!

We spent a while just exploring.

On the way home, we pulled over to take a peak at the Lighthouse, Boulder Bank.

After resting and having a fancy dinner of pasta, chunky tomato sauce (with canned peas added in) at the hostel, we set out for the “Free House” bar, which came highly recommended by both the GOOT guide and TLP.

As usual, it didn’t disappoint! Free House is a church-turned-tavern and guess where the bar is?  Yep, right on the alter. All of their beers, wines, and ciders are New Zealand-made and their repertoire of brews is often changing.

Another cool thing is they have a list of nearby take-out places that they endorse! You can order a delivery pizza from down the road, or bring over take-out from the Indian place across the street. For an early Thursday night, the place was full of locals!

The bartender asked us if why we hadn’t ever been there before, he answered himself by saying, “cause this is your first night here?” He was really nice and let us try a bunch of different beers on tap. Three different beers form a great brewery, then I asked to try the darkest one (I’m a Guinness Girl!) and I fell in love. The Oyster Stout form a brewery in Christchurch was smooth with malty licorice and chocolate flavors. At 6.2% he assured me it would last me all night! I ordered a half pint.

Then Hannah tried a Blackcurrant Cider, which was also out of this world delicious! She got a half pint of that, too. Then the bartender told us that they made a great combination mixed together (of course he gave us a taste), and we both knew that 1) a second drink was in order, and 2) we were absolutely ordering that.

Since the place was so full, we started drinking in the little garden outside, with a ceiling of blue christmas lights above us!

When we saw a group leave, we headed back inside and talked and talked and talked like we usually do. We agreed that if we got the second drink, we wouldn’t go out again until Queenstown. We were even happier when the bartender gave it to us for the price of the cider (a few bucks cheaper than the beer).

We had such a good time, and were in bed by 10:00.

Best spring break ever.

Our wake up time was 7am to get ready to hit the road again. We were annoyed to discover that the three showers (apparently the only three in the place) were occupied, so we had to wait around. It was especially irksome because, to be honest, our showers are few and far between on this vacay. Since hostel showers can be a bit sketch and we aren’t doing anything fancy, we let ourselves go a few days lol. But these showers were really nice, so we wanted to get one in before we got further into the countryside! Eventually, it was our turn and we quickly got ready, ate breakfast, hit up Subway for a nz$4 picnic lunch, filled up the tank with petrol, and got back on Highway 6 heading south.

The drive down Highway 6 first took us through Buller’s Gorge, which was sort of creepy!  It was really cloudy and deserted, almost haunted.

But there were also some pretty spectacular views.

Another memorable picnic spot!

We passed through the town Westport to refresh ourselves at another recommended cafe from both GOOT and TLP.

It was really cute inside, though I would classify it as service WITHOUT a smile, lol. I think the (American-ha!) lady who owned the place was stressed since it was Good Friday and she let her staff have the day off. Some people just can’t handle life.

She’d better be happy because not only did I get a latte, but I got a lemon shortbread, too–AND paid nz$2 for 30 minutes of her wifi. And a Good Friday to you, too!

Pretty soon it was back on the road and more amazing views.

We stopped in Punakaiki to see the famous “pancake rocks” and “blowholes.”

They were such an amazing sight!

The blowholes are created when really rough surf surges around the holey rock formations.

The sea was relatively calm so all we got to see was a bit of mist shooting out.

There was so much flax growing everywhere! They reminded me of cornfields in America. They should make a flax maze!

We also got to see a native bird called a Weka. They make a deep throaty sound.

After we marveled at the rocks, we checked into our hostel. Each one is better than the next!

And for just nz$24! It’s like a treehouse!

We are going to spend the night relaxing here.

A few yards down from our hostel is that start of the Truman Track, a 15 minute hike through the jungle…

…to this.

It’s not even about the way these natural wonders look, its how they make you feel. So grateful to be part of something so magical.

(read what happened next!)


1 Comment

Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand

One response to “more Nelson & on the road to Punakaiki

  1. Pingback: Kaikora and Nelson | Namaste Everyday

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