It wasn’t even two full days on our South Island road trip before Carlos and I found ourselves on a mountain bike adventure. As I climbed up the first steep hill I thought, “at what point did I decide it was perfectly ok to set off on a 50k mountain bike ride while on vacation. Or ever for that matter?” Rather than hike the Marlborough Sounds where we could only see bits of the awe-inspiring region, we decided that riding the Queen Charlotte Track would be a more efficient way to sightsee. Indeed it was.
True to experience, as fantastic as the Sounds were, the best part of the day was drinking the beer once we made it back to the car park. I guess that’s why it’s ok to do these epic rides: because the beer tastes better and furthermore calories don’t count once you’ve passed the four hour excursion mark.
We made our way to the quaint town of Nelson from there, stopping for the World’s Best Green Shell Mussel (best I’ve ever had, that’s for sure) and before we could treat ourselves to a nice Valentine’s Day dinner we remembered the previous nights debacle and decided best get our accommodation sorted. About two kilometers past the town center of Nelson there was a holiday park on the water. We pulled in, scoped out the sweet beach and thought, “done.” Back in town we splurged on a steak and lamb dinner with two desserts: chocolate mud cake and sticky toffee pudding (winner) with some local Nelson wines. It was a worthwhile occasion to go out because Nelson has a beachy, laid back charm, its own microbrewery (Macs) and some really nice wines that we were able to take advantage of. Once stuffed and tired we went back to our beachside camp spot only to discover that in fact it was no such thing. The beach car park was closed and the real camp site was another gross village of motorhomes typical of urban camping. Back on the road! This time around it was late and we were knackered (translate, tired) without any cheap prospects for miles. But since we splurged on dinner, we really didn’t want to blow our travel budget with another overpriced “holiday park” so we drove along the dark coast until we found a campsite at Kina Beach (and winery) and pulled in. We’ll learn, I promise.