Queen Charlotte

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Day 20 Picton     

First full day in the South Island and I’ve booked a Day tour. Getting up nice and early I head back into to Picton water front, where my tour will start from. I went and checked into the Wilderness guides centre. I was a little early so they set me up with a bike, and I took another short tour of the town. Coming back to the shop we were briefed on what was installed for us today. I had chosen to do the Kayak and Cycle tour. There was 8 of us doing the morning kayak, two jump out just before the end to do a hike, I pick up a bike at the end of the kayak and the others head back to Picton.

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Starting off in our tour van, towing the kayaks for the day and my bike, we set off along Queen Charlotte Drive, very scenic route, out past Shakespeare bay to Ngakuta Bay. Stunning little bay and the weather is perfect, no wind and clear blue skies. This is where we start our kayak from. After unloading all the Kayaks and another short briefing we gear up and set sail, well paddle.

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After only a few minutes we were to see our first bit of wildlife for the day, a whole lot of good sized stingrays up in the shallows. They didn’t seem to be to bothered with us been up close as we paddled by. Next, we headed around to Governors bay, staying in close to shore to spot any more stingrays or fish. On the way were paddled past some rocks and as we got close the guide notices something on top of one, some seals. Slowly we paddled over, trying not to scare them, they didn’t move as we got up close. Was such a cool experience, been up that close.

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Leaving the Seals alone the guide gets up to paddle through a small hole in the rock and into Governors bay, such a great little hidden bay and beach. Next, we paddle across to the other side of Grove Arm, in the Queen Charlotte sounds. One of the guides heads back to the van to take it to the finish of the kayak. Once there we encounter a billion jelly fish, the sea was just covered in these small blobs of jelly. Apart from these little creatures the place is an unbelievable place, clear water, native bush with a lot of wildlife. We drop of two of the group for their hike in Davies Bay, before we carry on, trying to keep well clear of the back-firing Shag’s perched up on the rocks. Around the jetty, we enter into Anakiwa, the end of our kayak.

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After a quick thank you I was given my mountain bike and sent of my way. I am going to cycle the first 12.5km of the Queen Charlotte Track, from Anakiwa to Mistletoe bay. The track wasn’t too hard, getting up to an elevation of 200m, with my fitness levels not been too high at the moment it meant for lots of photo stops, at some great views. After dodging a few hikers and feeding a few Weka (NZ bird) it was all downhill to the finish at Mistletoe Bay. After making good time I had over an hour to fill in until the water taxi comes to pick me up, that meant a cooling down swim off the jetty and then a few minutes to sunbath and dry off. Taxi was right on time and we head back into Picton. By this time, I was pretty tired and head straight back to camp and another day comes to an end.

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Day 21  Picton to Nelson

Today was kind of a rest day, with a bit of a sleep in, did a few chores and travelled through to Nelson, 2 hours away. After leaving the camp ground a bit late and getting some dirty looks from the owners, I head back over Queen Charlotte drive and across to Havelock. They claim to be the Green lip mussel capital of New Zealand, so if like mussels this is the place to be, you can take tours out to the mussel farms or just give them the taste test in one of the local restaurants. I got there just after lunch and the little town was full, hardly a car park to be found until I spotted a couple at the marina. After some lunch and a quick walk around the marina, I carried on down and around to Nelson, stopping quite a few times to take a look at the views and scenery. In Nelson I just went to the information centre and then found a freedom camping spot for the night. Spent the rest of the night planning the next few days, listening to some other campers play bad music, and a bit of sleep ready for a day in Nelson tomorrow.

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