New Zealand – Tasman, Nelson & Marlborough (St Arnaud, Lake Rotoiti, Abel Tasman, Nelson, French Pass, Picton)

We saved the northern section of the south island for last because we were scheduled to meet the ferry in Picton for the short ride across the Cook Strait to Wellington. This section of New Zealand did not disappoint with some spectacular sights for our last 2 weeks. First up was pretty Nelson Lakes National Park, where we visited the excellent DOC visitor center in St Arnaud and got the scoop on the hike up Mt Robert with fine views over Lake Rotoiti. Then it was a drive up to petite Kaiteriteri where we had a few excursions into Abel Tasman National Park (kayaking Kaiteriteri, Ngaio Island and Split Apple Rock, cruising to Adele Island and Anchorage for a hike out to Cleopatra’s Pool, checking out Tonga Island Marine Reserve, and hiking Tonga Quarry Beach to Bark Bay inlet). We also took some time to venture out to Takaka. Highlights near Takaka included the Te Waikoropupu Springs, the Pupu Hydro Walkway, the Grove scenic reserve (awesome, do not miss amazing limestone canyon walk), and Rawhiti Cave (worth the huff and puff to the top of the mountain…trust us!). From Abel Tasman, we drove towards Nelson where we checked out the Heritage Founders Park which was quite enjoyable. However, the real star of this area is undoubtedly the drive out to the French Pass. There are not enough superlatives to explain just how jaw droppingly gorgeous this drive was…two huge thumbs up!!! The remainder of our time was in Picton where we caught a tour of the Edwin Fox museum which is well worth a visit. Then it was onto the Interislander Ferry linking Picton to Wellington via the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Goodbye beautiful South Island…thanks for the amazing memories!

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