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2021 - Nelson & Tasman, NZ (Part 1 - Picton & French Pass)

To the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

View 2021 Nelson + Abel Tasman on nzhamsta's travel map.

Thursday 18 March

An early flight to Wellington that was on time. We got to the Bluebridge terminal and discovered that the ferry was delayed by about an hour (not sure of the reason). So we went for a walk around the Wellington shops and got some decent coffee (as you do in Wellington).

The ferry crossing was a bit bumpy, especially leaving Wellington Harbour but it settled down as we crossed Cook Strait. The scenery cruising through Tory Channel and coming into Picton was superb.

Leaving Wellington.

The entrance to Tory Channel.

The entrance to Tory Channel.

Inside Tory Channel.

Tory Channel.

Crazy hair on the ferry.

Coming into Picton.

The hotel we stayed at was great and next to a very good bakery. We went for a walk and found ourselves at Oxley's Hotel and restaurant, and a decent dinner and glass of wine was enjoyed.

Friday 19 March

We had a relaxing morning wandering around the small town that is Picton. It is know for its ferry port and its use of mail boats to get the post and other goods delivered to the remote farms and settlements scattered around the sounds.

The Picton waterfront.

Afternoon tea.

Picton harbour.

We booked the afternoon mail cruise but we had to to turn back almost immediately as a woman was blown over by a strong gust of wind as she was entering the cabin and she badly cut her leg on the door frame. Another passenger was a nurse and looked after her whilst we waited for the ambulance arrived. Some of the passengers transferred to another cruise but we just relaxed and waited for things to sort themselves out.

Once the woman was safely away in the ambulance we left port and cruised back along Tory Channel stopping at several places.

Leaving Picton on the mail run.

The Waikawa.

Dry countryside in the Marlborough Sounds.

The old whaling station in Tory Channel.

A farm in the Marlborough Sounds.

Dinner was at the Thirsty Pig, basic but okay.

Saturday 20 March to Monday 22 March

We checked out, collected the rental and stopped at the supermarket. The Queen Charlotte Drive is a very scenic drive up and over the hill from Picton, through small settlements on the coast and finally into Havelock.


We then turned off at the Rai Valley and headed up towards French Pass. The big sign at the start of the road say that the distance is 60km and the driving time would be 1 hour and 40 minutes.

It was not wrong. It started flat and smooth but quickly turned into a very windy road through forest, past small beaches and eventually onto a farm (where the tarmac ran out). The last 15km was gravel, but it was wide and well maintained with superb views from the top.

Sheep and fence posts.

The view from the road over the southern tip of D'Urville Island and Golden Bay.

The locals.

French Pass is a tiny settlement consisting of about 10 houses, a Department of Conservation campsite, a small shop, a village hall and a wharf. That's it. There is not a lot to do there, just relaxing, walking along the beach and a short bush trail.

The accommodation was very nice with an excellent view over the waterfront.

Half of French Pass.

French Pass.

Our accommodation in French Pass.


French Pass.

The wharf at French Pass.

French Pass and D'Urville Island.

Most of French Pass.

Morning at French Pass.

Sunrise over French Pass.

Posted by nzhamsta 00:00 Archived in New Zealand

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