Summer South Island Trip 2020 - Day 1

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Boxing Day - pack the bags (in advance) and waking at some stupid hour to hit the road again on our somewhat annual trip down south! Living in a Covid world, we weren't too sure how this roadie was going to go... Will the boat ride be unhospitable? Will there be many tourists at the usual spots? Will there be extra rigmarole to go through? The answer so far (as I am running late in blogging) is "No." Nothing seems to have changed in the Covid world of travelling NZ, except for one handy thing for us photographers: there are fewer people at some key spots.


Photos weren't a priority on this side of the strait, we were just on a mission to board the boat in time so sorry about the somewhat boring first half of the day!


Not much to report on the trip to Welly. Early mornings and me don't mix well anymore (thanks thyroid...) so I was hanging out for coffee for most of the morning. Finally got some in Levin at the BP which was sadly far too hot to drink straight away so sleep Lana had to wait for the first caffeine fix of the day.


The ferry was a tad choppier than I'd like but once we moved into the cafe at the front it was much smoother sailing and a second coffee went down well. It was quite a chilly start to our trip but we were hopeful that summer would find us in the South Island.


I'm always a bit nostalgic when in the Marlborough region, having lived there for several years, but time was scheduled for catch-ups later in the trip so memories will have to wait for now... We bee-lined straight for the West Coast, having set an advantageous driving target of reaching Westport on the first day!


Of course, we cannot go the whole day without stopping for images, and any excuse for a pit stop. Being the middle of the day, somewhat more or a scoping visit but still have to check out the must-see spots along the way: Lake Rotoiti, Lake Rotoroa and Maruia Falls.



You know you're on the West Coast when you see start seeing weka. Our first weka sighting was somewhere through the Buller Gorge. By the end of the night, we were up to 7 birds spotted, the last of which was a friendly little fella who came to check us out as we checked in to our accommodation.


We stayed at a cute little place called Sunset Accommodation. Each room was its own little chalet, the host was super friendly and welcoming and the bed was THE most comfortable bed I think I've ever slept in! Felt like it may have been memory foam??? Note to self: time to go mattress shopping... The only downside was that the window coverings were only Venetian blinds so did not block much light out at all but I was so tired it did not keep me from sleeping that night.


After checking in, we went and checked out the scenery. We found a small spot called Carter's Beach which wasn't much for sunset but killed some time then headed into town to find some dinner. Being Boxing Day, many places we had googled were closed but we found a busy little place called Smileys and grabbed some fish n chips, drove around a bit and found a beachy spot to eat at then drove around some more.



Not wanting to miss the first sunset of the trip, we ambled around the coast and decided to check out Cape Foulwind. We were hopeful to see penguins, an ongoing mission for the trip. Sadly, though, no such luck. We did see seals basking on the rocks at Tauranga Bay but could only view from up above so not really a photogenic wildlife spot.


The view, however, was beautiful and we had killed enough time to see the sunset down behind the island off the coast. Google tells me the island is called Black Reef (what would we do without it huh?).




After that was done and dusted we walked back to the car, always on the hopeful lookout to spot a penguin but sadly the penguin count stayed at 0. Back to the motel and the oh-so-comfy bed!


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