14 March 2018: Wednesday.

On this day, we kicked off from Picton and made towards Marlborough Sounds.

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We were planning to hike up to Onahau Lookout but on the way, an accidental wrong turn ended up leading us to this quaint B&B that also had a cosy coffee shop with it. It sat right by the bay and had a lovely deck set up where we could sit, sip on our drink, have cake if we liked, and gaze out at the waters while fluffy balls of finches dance around us.

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We opted for a drink while the sun beat down upon us as we marvelled at the view. Thereafter, we drove back on track towards the parking area where we could start our trek.

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It was about an hour’s hike up but the awesome weather kept us just cool enough to enjoy the journey. Mid way up, we were treated to spectacular views that made us even more excited to reach the top.

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And that we did! We happily indulged into snapping photos of the bay while soaking up the sun.

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And super happy me because the last I hiked was too long ago to count. I was a little apprehensive about my fitness level and didn’t want to be a drag huffing and puffing halfway up but turns out, I underestimated myself!

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Not to say it was an easy walk. It was quite steep some places but it wasn’t particularly tough-going. And the rewarding view once we’d reached the lookout was definitely the cherry on top!

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After sweating it out, we cooled off and quickly made our way down as the sun began to hang lower in the sky and we could feel the warmth of the afternoon slowly dissipate. We decided to head to Rai Valley for the night which was just off the motorway but hidden such that we didn’t get too much noise from the roads.

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We were parked right by the clear streams that had these awesome trees slanted in 45 degree angles.

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15 March 2018: Thursday.

On this day, I posted up a scheduled post in celebration of my brother’s birthday! And on this same day,  we started with a stopover at Nelson where we had coffee at a cute cafe, groceries shopping, then a drive further down to Stepneyville which is just by the seaside.

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We had lunch at The Styx because our first choice, The Boatshed, was closed for maintenance work. Boo!

Anyway, Flo and I shared a Smoked Fish Platter consisting of Smoked Blue Warehou, Smoked Salmon, Smoked Mussels, Taramasalata, Cornichons, Side Salad and Sourdough Bread, and a Ceviche. The blue warehou is apparently a fish native to the waters around NZ and we both found ourselves really enjoying the eating of it.

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There were a lot of little finches hopping around from table to table hoping for some crumbs. Lucky for them they’re very cute so some of them managed to get some bread crumbs off of me.

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Since Flo and I were really happy with the smoked fish from lunch, we popped over to Guyton’s next door which is a shop specialising in fresh fish and smoked fish. We bought a fillet of Smoked Mackerel and a fillet of Smoked Monkfish since the warehou came in too big a piece and they preferred not to cut the fish into smaller portions.

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From Stepneyville, we drove to Kaiteriteri where we walked up to Kaka-Pah Point.

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This lookout was just a 10min walk up from the beach below. We went up in flip flops so no need to any special shoes here. In fact, you can even drive up to the carpark if you don’t fancy walking.

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NZ has lookouts everywhere and it’s difficult to not want to stop at every single one because every lookout is a visual treat.

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Of course, if we actually did that we’d still be in NZ right now combing through every nook and cranny. Even then, I’m not sure if a lifetime spent there would be enough!

The next top we made was one I was really quite excited about – Split Apple Rock.

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It was only a 15min walk down to the beach from the parking area. We found rocks full of mussels growing on them but alas, they were still too small to harvest. Apparently, small penguins live on that beach too but we had no luck seeing them that day.

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But the rock was there. It was a little further out in the water than I thought it would be. Still, it was split right down the middle as promised. Like a perfectly halved apple. The work of nature is indeed quite amazing!

We reached Marahau later than we planned so the first campsite we visited was already full. They very nicely directed us to the next one further further further down the road which is how we found ourselves parked at Old MacDonald’s Farm where we dined and slept amongst free-roaming chickens.

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There was a mama chicken with two chicks, and a naughty chicken that snagged a slice of Flo’s bread that he wanted to mop of the rest of the pasta sauce at dinner. That led to a major chicken run when the rest of the chickens began chasing after said chicken for bread. And let me tell you, chickens run funny! So funny that Flo and I were in stitches just watching them.

16 March 2018: Friday.

7.30am – Far too early and too chilly to be awake.
8.30am – Far too early to be out of our camper van and waiting for people to join us for our freedom kayaking briefing.
10.00am – Far too early to be pretending to turn over a capsized kayak during said briefing.
10.30am – Far too early to be out kayaking for real.

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We went under Independent Guides Tasman Bay Kayaks just next to Old MacDonald’s Farm since they had the most reasonable prices. They were highly professional and the 45min briefing was much appreciated because I’m a big proponent for safety first when doing anything. The kayaks were in great shape and very sturdy, and the time frame given was ample – we just had to be back by 4pm latest.

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We began kayaking from Sandy Bay and after about an hour half, we stopped at one of the small bays that was void of people. From the map, it looks like it could have been Appletree Bay or the unnamed one next to it.

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There, we brought out the picnic blanket and our packed sandwiches to lunch. The sun was out most of the time but the second the clouds came to the fore, the temperature dropped.

We had a good layabout with only the seagulls for company before we hopped back into them kayaks and made our way towards Adele Island where the fur seals were said to huddle.

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The waters were a bit more choppy around this area but the kayak proved stable and buoyant. Can you spot the little seal pup below?

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Ok this one below’s more obvious. Credit to Flo because he always manages to capture the best pictures!

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There were quite a few uber cute seal pups along the rocks but we were told to keep a minimum of 20m from them so our pictures aren’t very clear. We circled the island before paddling past Fisherman Island and back towards our starting point.

Let me tell you! From Fisherman Island it looked like we’d be back on shore in no time but the sea lies! When you are so used to measuring distance on land, what looks close at sea is usually a lot further away. So while we paddled, and paddled, and paddled, it looked like little progress was being made so much so that at one point, Flo went “Are we even moving?!”. I was already tired so really, Flo was the one doing most of the work. But we eventually made it back to Sandy Bay at about 3.40pm, along with the other pairs that had left with us.

The kayak company van picked us up soon after and we were treated to a hot shower back at Old MacDonald’s before Flo and I went back into our camper van for an evening drive to Westport.

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Along the way, we saw the sun set. This picture does little justice to it but note that all my  NZ pictures are unedited because there are simply too many and I’m too lazy. But it also shows that the colours of New Zealand’s landscapes need no special filters to look as beautiful as they naturally are!

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