At 10am on Wednesday 15th April we leave Ngongotaha after a lovely breakfast, say or goodbyes to Lyndsay and Graham for a wonderful stay – it was” home from home”. Lyndsay had given us smoked trout to take with us so this was going to be our evening meal on reaching Wellington. It is another lovely hot morning with mists having already risen from Lake Rotorua, the surrounding hills and mountains. At 11am we arrive at Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) which is NZ’s most colourful and diverse volcanic area and here we walked round the stunning geothermal activity and unforgettable vistas. On our exit by car we go to see the mud baths bubbling away. By 12.15pm we are on our way again bound for Lake Taupo and it is our intention to stop at Turangi for a quick shop at New World supermarket and then have a picnic. Picnic sites are seen all over NZ as you make your way along the state highways. We stop and have our picnic by the Tongariro River (our second visit) and very much enjoy this in the hot sunshine. We are soon on our way again continuing on the SH1 all the way back to Wellington; a journey of some 455kms. We find ourselves on the SH3 – “shit how did this happen?” We had a laugh corrected the position and put it down to wanting to add to our listing of state highways by driving on the SH3, SH46 and SH47!!
We had estimated our arrival time in Wellington at around 7pm and this was the time Leisha opened the door to welcome us back. Our ordinary salad was titivated by her with lots of ingredients and with the smoked trout this is just a lovely meal. We update Leisha as to our exploits over a few glasses of red wine. By 10.30pm we are away to bed as next day is a busy and early morning for us. Leisha insists that she is also up to make breakfast. We need to refuel the car, deliver this back to Mike at Nationwide Car Rental, be driven to the ferry terminal and book in; all before 8am as the Interislander ferry leaves for the South Island at 8.30am. We save money by not taking the car on the ferry. Mike has booked us on the ferry and has arranged a new car for us on our arrival at Picton some three hours later. Mike thanks ever so much for your help here.
At 11.30am we arrive in Picton pick up our new car and we are on our way to Nelson where we are to stay for two nights. We stop for lunch in Havelock, the green lipped mussel capital of the world. It is a seaport, tucked away in a sheltered cove at the head of the Pelorus Sound. It was once a thriving gold-mining town but now thrives on riches from the sea. We have lunch at The Clansman as it is flying the Scottish flag and the taste of the mussels is superb. We stop for a quick walk at Cullen Point and admire the beautiful scenery. By 3pm we are in Nelson and our stay is at Palms Motel where we get a warm greeting and information from Rosemary. Our apartment with two bedrooms, bathroom and a lounge/kitchen is very comfortable. We go for a walk into the town and discover The Sprig & Fern Tavern and Hopgood’s Restaurant & Bar, said to be the best in town and we enjoy a lovely dinner. Hopgood's is so good and the service from Kate is excellent, that we book again for the following night. Tomorrow Friday 17th April we are bound for the Abel Tasman National Park.