Sunday 15th October: Nelson to Westport - ULTRAVOX "Vienna"
A not to early start for what we planned to be a relaxing day. The weather started off very nicely again, with warm sun beating down as soon as we woke up. Ahead of us, we had planned to start with a mooch around Nelson City before a chilled out drive to Westport.
We left the holiday park at about 9am and drove into town. Parking up in Buxton Square, we took a short walk over to Montgomery Square where the Lonely Planet guide had told us there would be an interesting flea market. Interesting it was not. Unless you consider a plethora of second hand stuffed toys a market.
The next stop on our whistle-stop City tour was the i-Site. It was quite an impressive modern glass and rock construction, but didn't sustain our interest for long. Similarly, the attached souvenir shops offered little to keep us entertained for long. We decided to collect our thoughts over morning tea. Our chosen cafe was the Caffe L'Affare on Trafalgar Street. We decided, after great deliberation, that we'd walk past the Cathedral to an old street with a number of historic buildings.
Nelson Cathedral has had an interesting life, taking 50 years to build through several contrasting redesigns and even when it was finished it took a further 7 years for it to be consecrated. That they managed to get the design so horribly wrong is testament to the Town planners and architects of the 1950s and 1960 who thought that everything looks better in concrete. It doesn't. Consequently, the Cathedral looks like it should be a multi-storey car park.
|Nelson Cathedral from the top of Trafalgar Street. The view from a distance is significantly better than that from close up. The surrounding palm trees nicely obscure some of the concrete!|
Moving on from the Cathedral, we walked to the narrow cul-de-sac of South Street to see a row of original workers cottages from the 19th Century. The sad thing was, they weren't too dissimilar from our own little house in Petone, or thousands of other houses of much later date throughout the length and breadth of the country.
|The historic street in Nelson. Apparently featuring some of the oldest buildings in the South Island.|
After this, and a final walk around the shops, we drove up the road to the supermarket and The Warehouse to purchase some more provisions, some CDs for the camper van and a Velcro tennis ball catch game for us to play with at campsites, beaches etc. A quick spot of lunch in the campervan whilst still parked in the supermarket car park later, and we were back on the road.
After a little indecision as to whether to visit Rabbit Island or the Nelson Lakes National Park whilst enroute to Westport, we opted for Rabbit Island. We were glad we did. Despite the weather clouding over and the confusing one-way system on the island, the empty expanse of golden sands and the half hour of use of our new Velcro tennis ball catch game made the visit more than worthwhile. The air was full of faint smells of barbeques as locals from Richmond and Nelson devoured various combinations of meat products with their families. We stayed for about an hour before the weather and the time finally started to turn against us.
|A view North from the beach at Rabbit Island. Unfortunately, the afternoon became rather overcast and the rain was soon to set in, lending this a dark aspect.|
|A view South from the same beach. Although it looks deserted, a number of people were parked up just off the beach having barbeques.|
We hit State Highway 6 westbound soon after and ploughed an uneventful furrow for the next couple of hours through to Westport, stopping only for petrol at Murchison and at Buller Adventure Tours along the way. We stopped at Buller Adventure Tours to confirm our planned white water rafting for the next morning. With the arrival of sudden downpours (about half an hour after leaving Rabbit Island) our rafting was in jeopardy. No problem for us, however, as they promised to call us first thing the next day to confirm the trip.
Not long after, we arrived in Westport and found our camper site. The place happened to have its own mini-golf course. Jen managed to play the most amusing game, the highlight of which was missing a pipe to take the ball under a bridge, somehow managing to get the ball to run over the bridge instead and even land back on the course! That was certainly the comic highlight in a very funny round.
|The scene of pure comedy gold in mini-golf terms as Jenny provided no end of amusement. She made a storming comeback though to end the holiday tied 3-3 in mini-golf games|
|A building in Westport, a fairly run down town, but with a large number of attractions round and about. If you visit NZ, make sure to go to Westport and help contribute some money to doing it up!|
Following the mini golf, it was time for dinner at the local Denniston Dog pub. The food was fantastic. I thought the steak I had was easily the best steak I'd ever sampled. Give it a go if you ever find yourselves in Westport. Of course, a pint of the local beer helped things along a little!
By this stage, the rain which had eased off for the mini-golf had set back in for the night, which meant that we both got soaked on the way back to the van. Laying our clothes out to dry, we settled down for the night with the sound of rain on the metal roof either soothing or distracting depending on how heavy the rain was.