We reached the charming city of Nelson just a couple of days ago after getting the most wonderful welcome by the dolphin and penguins. The arrival of these ambassadors of peace told me this was going to be a very special place and indeed, it is truly special! What a treat it is to have an opportunity to explore this city of 60,000 people. It’s lovely place and we’re delighted to be here.
As we approach the entrance to the channel that leads to the Nelson Marina we see the world’s largest natural boulder bank (breakwater) off to our port side. The Te Pokohiwi Boulder Bank is 13 km long and depending upon the tide it can be 55-250 meters wide. Near the entrance to the channel there is a white lighthouse standing tall upon the bank. The Boulder Bank Lighthouse stands 18.3 meters high and is made of cast iron that was imported from Bath, England. It has been standing on this bank since 4 August 1862. Now that’s some seriously solid construction there! It was decommissioned in 1982 but still stands as a beacon of hope and light for all who come to Nelson.
The entrance to the channel is a bit churned up with strong currents and upwellings everywhere. We’re coming in with the tide so it’s not so bad but Dan is staying well focused on getting us in safely.
Off to our starboard side there are some small sailboats racing. We aren’t quite close enough to see them but they look to be like lasers or maybe even snipes. Ahead of us in the channel we begin to see the large, commercial ships lined up along the docks. We pass by very close and their immense size is almost overwhelming. I sure hope we never have to be rescued by one of these buggers. I think I’d have a heart attack being pulled up the side of one in rough seas.
Entering Port Nelson
On the inside of the boulder bank and across from the commercial docks there are a few dozen boats anchored in the shallows beside Boulder Bank. Along the shore there are a handful of bachs. Bachs are a sort of rustic beach house here in New Zealand. Many bachs function completely off the grid and some, like these, have no power or running water. They are just simple shacks on the bank where Kiwis come to camp. Click below for an interesting article on these particular bachs.
The channel into the marina is narrow and everywhere you look you see fishing boats, commercial ships and sailboats. Along the banks there are families out fishing for the afternoon, even in this rainy weather. It’s certainly a bustling port.
The Nelson Marina itself is very well protected behind the commercial port. As we round the corner and head down the fairway toward our dock the water is completely flat. We find our berth and after five days it’s time for the oh so cherished anchor down beers!
It’s late in the afternoon and we’re pretty well beat so rather than cook on board we decide to head into town for dinner. We know from our friends who just left here that it’s not a long walk but today we decide we’ve earned a taxi ride.
We Need Masks?
The taxi driver finds us along the road outside of the marina and immediately asks where our masks are which is a bit startling to us. Apparently while we were at sea New Zealand went into level 2 lockdown because there are a few new cases in Auckland. Auckland actually went into level 3. Not knowing this and never having been asked to wear a mask in this country we were sort of blindsided.
We explained to Collin, the driver, that we’d been at sea and had no idea. He was very cool about it and decided to take us to the restaurant anyway. We promised to pick up some masks when we went into town the following day. Apparently in level two you must wear a mask on public transport. Not sure a taxi really qualifies for that but oh well. We won’t be needing one again which is good because I’m not a believer in the whole mask thing. But, that’s a conversation for a different time and place.
We had an absolutely amazing dinner at the Lone Star restaurant in town. Their filet is simply out of this world. Of course it’s New Zealand beef so that alone says everything you need to know. After dinner it was back to the boat where we both fell asleep trying to watch a movie. Oh how I love to sleep after a passage!!!
The following day we walked into the city centre to get started on some provisioning. The walk takes about 20-25 minutes and is absolutely smashing. There’s a lovely park that runs along the Maitai River. Along the way there are sculptures, a skate park and signs that celebrate people of influence as well as talk about the area.
There’s one tree sculpture that is particularly fascinating. It’s the Phil Price sculpture called the Divinity Tree. It’s a kinetic sculpture that moves with the wind. I swear I could have stood there and watched it all day but of course the good Captain insisted we keep moving.
In town you can find just about anything your heart desires. There are two large grocery stores….A Countdown and another locally owned one. There are a few pharmacies, clothing stores galore and it seems there is a restaurant or pub on every corner. This is the the perfect small town. It’s quaint yet has all of the essentials and even a few of the more luxury items of life.
The city centre reminds me a bit of a European village with the high mountains surrounding it and the potted flowers hanging from the building overhangs along every street. There are several outdoor park areas and almost every restaurant has an outdoor seating area. It’s really quite lovely. I honestly think I could live in this place.
We managed to get all of our provisioning done in one day. The only thing left is to get fuel and that can’t happen for two more days. We ended up eating dinner again at the Lone Star. Gardy and Meike who work there are phenomenal and we decided we just wanted to go someplace we knew would have excellent food and a fabulous atmosphere. One again we were delighted!
The following day I did my least favorite thing….laundry, while Dan walked into town for a haircut and to pick up a couple of missed items. It was a rainy day so I was pleased that I wasn’t needed on the walk into town.
Time To Depart
Before leaving this adorable place we needed to get some fuel. Here they have a fuel tanker come to one of the docks. We had ordered the fuel from Mini Tankers on the day after we arrived. On the way over to the dock we saw our first harbor seal swimming around the boats. He was adorable….just a meter or so long, black with jet black eyes. Just looking at him as he twisted and turned in his playful manner made me smile. Unfortunately I was on deck without my camera as this is a little bit tricky to get into this dock and I was on deck duty…not photo duty.
The fueling up was, as the Kiwis say, easy peasy. After fueling up we made our way out of the channel past all of the huge commercial ships and into the Tasman Sea once again. Next stop….a little place called Squally Cove at Oyster Bay. Can’t wait to spend time in the sounds.
Until Next Time,