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Xmas Travels 2012

Entry 1483, on 2013-01-07 at 21:32:47 (Rating 1, Travel)

Before I get back on to my regular blogging topics such as politics, technology, religion, etc I will report on my holiday activities over the last 3 weeks. I just got back from a break in Nelson. If you are from another country you might not know that Nelson is a popular New Zealand holiday destination with some of the country's best weather, beaches, etc.

Because we had some extra time this year we decided to make this a more leisurely trip instead of trying to do the almost 800 kilometer (500 mile) journey to Nelson in one day (I reported on this in a blog entry "Christmas Update" posted Christmas day 2012).

So we stopped overnight in the small Central Canterbury town of Geraldine on the way up, then spent 2 nights at Hanmer Springs before arriving in Nelson on the 24th. After a few days in Nelson we travelled over to Golden Bay for 3 days then back to Nelson and finally home via Hanmer Springs again.

The day in Hanmer and the first two days in Nelson were really hot - about 30 degrees - but then we had a bizarre mix of weather which is quite typical of New Zealand. It never got really cold but there was some rain and wind and cooler temperatures. The rain was only heavy once over night but on the West Coast - just a couple of hundred kilometers way - there was enough to cause major problems.

In fact, on the way home we had to take a detour because the main road from Nelson to Christchurch was washed out at Shenandoah Hill. But that was OK because we took a road I had never used before through the Buller Gorge and Reefton instead.

By this time the weather was really hot again and stayed that way to Hanmer, Canterbury and even back home to Dunedin where we were told it had reached 35.

So that describes the trials and tribulations of New Zealand weather, what did we do during our time away? Just the usual typical things really: sitting in the thermal pools at Hanmer, a few rounds of mini golf, some bush walks, exploring the local scenery, riding a giant flying fox, and a bit of "fishing".

The main attraction of Hanmer Springs are the natural hot water springs and you can relax in pools ranging in temperature from about 34 to 43 degrees. During the winter when there's snow on the ground the hottest pools are particularly appreciated, but in summer the cooler ones are usually preferred. There's also a range of adventure tourism options available but these can be quite expensive.

Happy Valley Adventures near Cable Bay near Nelson operate a flying fox system where you fly 3 kilometers over a valley at a height of up to 150 meters and a speed up to 100 kilometers per hour. The view is great and it can be quite scary for some people. We hoped to ride quad bikes up to the top of the hill but there weren't enough free so we took a mini bus up instead. There was also an informative talk about the native tress in the area.

If you are in a hurry and don't have the patience for the traditional form of fishing you can go "fishing" at the Anatoki Salmon Farm where you really can't help but catch a fish. We stopped at three fish which the staff there clean and smoke for you. It's not real fishing, of course, but at least you get some results - unlike my 10 unsuccessful years of "real" fishing, trying to catch something in the Te Anau area many years ago!

When I get the time I will put photos and a full description of this trip in my web site. But first I need to get back to some more controversial blog entries so stand by for those!

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