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Sunny, Sunny, Nelson ☺!!!!

Up, Up and Awaaaayyyyyyyy

Nelson rocks!!! We fell in love with this small gem of a city in the Northwest corner of the South Island. This was our last stop on the South Island and it did not disappoint. Nelson has the best weather in all of New Zealand. Some figure like 97% of the days in a year in Nelson are bright and sunny – obviously the cause of the friendly nature of local Nelsonians. During the day, folks are outside doing things like hiking, biking, jumping off of things and flying – it’s the hangliding capital of NZ due to all the sunshine, temperate winds and cool geography. Come evening, folks are still outside…drinking, eating, laughing, and chilling to the latest hot beats (Nikki has been trying to work “hot beats” into one of our blog entries for awhile now).

Here's Nikki taking in theDSC_3984.jpg flavor:

We sampled some of the local fare at an awesome brewery called Free House. It is a converted old chapel with a plethora of fresh New Zealand beers on tap. After downing a few brewskies, we headed across the street for some of the tastiest Indian food we have ever eaten. The lamb curry literally falls apart in your mouth (seems like all those roadside sheep are being put to good use…hehe…forgive us, vegetarian readers) and the garlic cheese naan was outstanding!

We woke up the next morning at one of our favorite accommodations thus far on our journey. This hostel, Accents on the Park, was clean, spacious, and felt like a hotel. An alarm clock – no way! Whoa, bedside tables! Two of them! We were glad to get a good night’s sleep as Marin had a big day ahead of her…

The preparation and practice runs:


The take-off:


The flight:

The victory after landing:

It was incredible. So much so that I am loathe to try to put things into words here. Just so amazing and so peaceful to see everything from above. One surprise was that we didn’t just jump off the hill and float down, as I expected us to. We actually rode a thermal and circled quite a bit higher than our launch spot – so much so that I looked down and suddenly Nikki was a little blue dot on the hillside. LOVED IT.

The following day we set out to explore Abel Tasman, New Zealand’s smallest but most highly frequented national park. We drove about an hour West of Nelson to a small beach town called Kaiteriteri This is where we left our car and boarded the infamous “Aqua Taxi.” http://aquataxi.co.nz/

Abel Tasman is comprised of the richest, softest, golden sand beaches (the color is due to the limestone and various minerals in the mountains and green hills surrounding the beaches). The Tasman Sea itself is a turquoise green color that we can honestly say we have never seen before. One of the locals told us that they are a bit disappointed because due to a comparatively cold winter last year, the water temperature has dropped a few degrees, which has affected the clarity of the water (one of the park’s claim to fame). In his words, “The Tasman is a bit cloudier than we are used to.” Take a look at a picture of this “cloudy” water:


As you can see this water is crystal clear!

In order to get to the most pristine portions of Abel Tasman, you must arrive by boat, hence the Aqua Taxi, a boat that transports you to various locations along the shoreline of the park. We opted to ride an hour out to Tonga Beach, home of an amazing seal reserve. Take a look at these seal pups:


Sooooo cute!!!

After gooing and gaaing over the seals, we hiked along the coastline for 2 hours, stopping to explore tiny bays and enclaves. We wound up at a gorgeous, golden sand beach called Bunk Bay.


Although this beach was glowing in the beautiful 5’o clock sun and there were virtually no other humans around (which we loved), we were joined by a few other beings, such as mosquitoes, horse flies, and sand lice. Scroll back to the conversation between Nikki and Marin approximately 4 hours earlier in the general store before boarding the water taxi.

Nikki: “Should we buy the bug spray?”
Marin: “I’m not sure, it costs $15.00!!”
Nikki” “Yeah, we probably won’t need it anyway.”

Boy, did we regret that decision…5 days later we are still scratching ourselves to sleep at night! Although we shared Bunk Bay with a few of our eight-legged friends, the scenery on the beach and our hike leading up to it was amazing!

Take a look:

Nikki keeping warm on the trail


Seriously, between the golden sand beaches, the turquoise water, and the emerald hills, the palette of colors at Abel Tasman left us speechless! This was a perfect end to our time on New Zealand’s awesome South Island.

Thanks for being patient as we take some time to catch up. Although in blog-time we’re still on the South Island of NZ, in real-time we’ve already been through the North Island and arrived in Tasmania, Australia this morning!

Next up: Our ferry ride from South to North (in dangerous waters), the tremendous hike that was Nikki’s favorite experience of the trip so far (and left us sore for days), and the unbelievable glowworm caves…stay tuned! The trip (and trip planning!) continues:


xoxo Nikki & Marin

Posted by Marbert18 22:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged abel_tasman nelson hangliding

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I'm loving following your journey you two! Marin, I'm so happy that you tried hang gliding and Nikki that you captured the pre-flight so well. If it's possible to do in the winter time I'd love to give it a try. Abel Tasman looks outstanding. Thank you for transporting me out of muddy Boston. The Irish send their love (yes, happy st. patrick's day). xoxo.

by Amy

Way to go Marin on your hang gliding ride! Wow...you were really up up and away! I am loving reading about your and Nikki's travels. xo Jane Rupley

by Jane Rupley

GREAT pics! The one of pre-takeoff for hang-gliding with Marin giving the thumbs up is my favorite. I really can't thank you enough for letting me live vicariously through this amazing trip. I feel all warm and relaxed every time I read. Aaaaaaaah. And since right now I'm mainly running errands and tending to my wild toddler pet, an imaginary trip to a pub and some hang-gliding does a girl good. :)

by Evelyn

Hey, Nelson looks really beautiful, And Marin there you are again hangliding,such a pro, you even have the lingo down (riding the Thermal), Mama Sharon must be thrilled about this. The beaches look amazing. It sounds like a really fun place to live. Does anyone work there? It sounds like they only have fun. What a concept!! Bunk Bay looks amazing, sorry about the bugs, Nikki, didn't you hear your father channeling you to "get the BUG Spray!!"
Love you two,

by linda (Mom)l

Finally!got some computer time of my own at Debs house,Marion sleeps with hers. I'm so enjoying your journey. It is truly a trip of a lifetime and you guys are awesome (can't wait for the book)keep following your dreams.love& miss you both much,Gram

by Grandy /Barbara

I remember when Nikki told me she was too old to be going on adventures like she did when studying abroad. Pretty sure hang gliding counts. Might as well be swimming with sharks.

by Jane

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