We had arrived in Nelson after 5pm and unfortunately too late to head to the office. Christmas will have to wait until tomorrow!
I have always known Nelson to be the centre of NZ. Geographically, I believe that is true. Well known for being the origin of the World of Wearable Arts awards, it has quite a colourful and ‘artsy’ feel to the city.
What I didn’t know about Nelson was that is was the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest settled city in NZ. It was established in 1841.
Once we had the boat tied up satisfactorily, we ventured into town for dinner. I used a combination of Yelp and Trip Advisor to find the number one eating spot in Nelson.
Urban Oyster Bar & Eatery sounded perfect. One reviewer started his review with “I realised pretty soon this was a little bit of Ponsonby hipster in Nelson” and described it as “All up, imagine Depot, without the steam and airy hustle”. Kind of made me giggle but The Depot is one of our favs.
It lived up to its review and we couldn’t have asked for a better spot. Seated outside, we ordered a bottle of the local Greenhough 2008 Pinot Blanc and a variety of tapas. Each and every one of them danced in your mouth. We had found a little foodie paradise here in the centre of NZ. The team were awesome too and before we left we had made friends with Nicole one of the waitresses.
They had the Te Mataku oysters from Waiheke that have become a favourite of mine, behind Bluff of course! But… you can get them all year round. I ordered half natural and half in tempura batter.
The next tapa was my absolute favourite. Fish Tacos. Made with kingfish ceviche and served with a coconut foam and chilli salt.
Then it was the Shaking Beef with the Son-in-law’s Egg which has a bit of a story behind it. In Thailand, this is a meal that a ‘mother-in-law to be’ serves when having her soon to be son-in-law around for dinner. It’s a bunch of lettuce leaves that you pick up and fill with the beef filling and fresh herbs. There is a soft-boiled egg to share and include in your parcel. In serving it, the mother slices it violently with a knife to show the son-in-law what trouble he would be in if he didn’t look after her daughter. Hilarious.
Then came the Kung Poo Popcorn chicken.
A very successful evening. Our only issue was that it was so good that we were not keen to try other places in case they weren’t as good!
Each time we walked into town from the marina, we followed a path beside the river. The park is where they have their Wednesday Farmer’s Market and has a skateboard park and lovely bench seats with sculptures to sit by the river. It was about a 1.5km stroll back to the boat.
As we got to our pier, there was a guy standing at the window of his boat. We introduced ourselves and learnt that he was Des, a live-a-board at the marina. We had also met Linsday earlier in the day who has his yacht, Cool Change, two boats over. Des works at the meatworks locally in Nelson which is why we hadn’t seen him during the day. We invited him over for a drink after work the next day. Here’s a picture of Des’s Boat the following morning.
We were right down the end of L Pier.
It was breakfast time so we headed up to The Anchor Restaurant & Bar. A much more casual place than those in town but a very large establishment and only 50 metres away. It was already 19 degrees and set to hit a scorching high of 29 today. We opted to sit outside and as it turns out, along with all the seagulls in the marina. They don’t need to clear the plates at this place – the seagulls do a fine job of it at the end of your meal.
We had a lovely view from our boat and behind us was the road to the marina office.
It was time to go and collect our parcels. B put the dinghy in the water and put my motor, Orville, on the back and we were off. The trip only took about 5 minutes and we tied up the dinghy and went in to meet the peeps. Bruce was on duty and was pleased to finally meet whom all these parcels belonged to.
It really was like Christmas and I couldn’t wait to get the parcels back to the boat to open them.
Although I received my low-carb tortillas, pork crackles, cashews, popcorn, Blue Dude shirt dress, Lulu Lemon shorts and Coola sunscreen, there was one serious and a very special piece of mail. Captain B received his official ticket as a Commercial Skipper. Congratulations dude! Very proud of you!
Later in the day, the office called again to say another parcel had arrived for us. Well, this was exciting. Back in the dinghy and back to the office.
It was from Kirsten and Pete. Such a lovely surprise. It really was feeling like Christmas now!
Thank you so much guys! It was very unnecessary but appreciated all the same. We LOVE the goodies. And for you to find chilli infused gherkins, what a treat!
Around 4pm, Lindsay and Alan turned up for drinks. Alan owns the yacht Irish Mist and although he doesn’t live-a-board, he does spend a bit of time down at the marina and goes out racing on Wednesday nights. Lindsay was dressed up as a pirate – what a hoot!
Then once Des was home from work, he popped along too. I put out some homemade pate and crackers out to snack on.
Then, just like the pied piper run, other live-a-boards came out of their boats, walked along the piers and joined us for drinks. There was T who was staying on Amuri, a beautifully renovated bridge decker style boat.
It was a stunning evening for a drink session at the marina and we couldn’t complain about the view.
As it happens when you meet a new group of people like this, that all know each other, the banter is hilarious and you slowly learn a lot about each of the characters. And if anyone is looking for a cheaper option in terms of housing, the live-a-boards at the Nelson Marina only pay around $105 per week and this includes water and electricity! You do have to pay $2 a pop for a shower or a load of washing if you don’t have these facilities on board. Oh yeah, and you need a boat!
We still had two cod in the top of our freezer and knew we were going to eat out most nights (if not all), so we offered it to the guys. Lindsay was stoked and said he’d take it. We put them in a plastic bag and he was off. He turned back up about 5 minutes later with a pack of his venison he had caught. Fair trade!
We hadn’t eaten and Alan suggested we go to Nahm which is around on the waterfront. It was about a 30-minute walk and although it was around 8:30pm, it was still unbelievably hot. We arrived at 9pm to be told that the kitchen was closed. I said we’d walked half an hour to visit them as we were just told by a local how good they were. I negotiated that if we put our order in immediately, could they perhaps let us stay. They caved! We had been talking about how much we love Asian food and Alan said that Nahm was Thai with a twist. It did have a twist, but I’m not sure I could explain it. It wasn’t the best Thai food but we were very grateful to be eating! The restaurant is upstairs and adjacent to the Yacht Club. We were sitting outside on the deck and could watch the sailors put away the boats after a night out sailing.
There were some lovely sights on our walk to and from the restaurant.
Here is the Marine Rescue Centre including the Coastguard and Surf Life Saving units.
The next morning we walked back to Hardy Street (which is where Urban is) and found the famous Morri Street Cafe. We had been here before and thankfully it hadn’t changed. The meals were fabulous. B ordered the traditional Eggs Benedict to rate the quality of the cafe (just like you do with a Pad Thai dish at a new Thai restaurant) and I ordered two poached eggs, avocado and salmon. I have noticed that the salmon around Nelson is delicious. We must be closer to the source!
There were some cool murals on the way:
But I wasn’t sure what to make of this notice hanging in the window of the Nelson City Council building:
Not a great HR advertisement that’s for sure.
And not quite sure why this guy chose the upper part of the bridge to walk over? Maybe he works at the council?
Another thing making the centre of Nelson pretty are the beautiful flower pots hanging in the streets. These are watered daily with an irrigation system which you need to avoid walking under at the time of watering! I noticed that the pots above Urban’s outside tables don’t get watered at dining times!
Today was ‘let’s focus on the anchor again day’. We had agreed that we were not going to head south to Fiordland with our anchor playing up the way it was. Fiordland is incredibly deep and although we may only anchor in 30 metres of water (there aren’t actually too many places this shallow), we would want to put out about 70 to 90 metres of chain. This time the focus was on the anchor winch hydraulic motor. I’ll leave B to blog on the engineering details of the anchor debacle, but today the guys removed the motor to take back to their workshop. Removing it and transporting it to their vehicle was no easy feat.
About an hour or two after the anchor winch had left the boat, Owen from Fluid Power Solutions (FPS) called to say that we better come in for a chat. Now, this didn’t sound good. Their workshop was only 10 minutes away so we got walking. We signed in and got some cute little fluoro vests to wear. Owen came to meet us and took us out the back to see our baby.
The original plan was for Owen and his team to refurbish the winch. Having looked inside the casing, this was no longer possible. The casing they were going to weld turns out to be aluminium, the motor they had wasn’t the right size and spec and the cost to refurbish vs. getting a new one was becoming less and less attractive. So we made the decision to get a new one and get this anchor system right once and for all. The parts would need to come from Tasmania and they would work on this while B and I were in Auckland for our next lot of meetings.
A guy Gary had left his card on our boat and he was kind of like a ‘Hire a Hubby’ for a boat (or a boat handyman). We liked the initiative he’d shown by spotting a new boat in the marina and making an effort to come visit. B had some odd jobs that needed doing so gave him a call. What a lovely guy. His team focused on replacing the split salt water hose at the back of the boat, valeting the outside of the boat and organising us to be able to refuel the boat.
Another issue that seemed like it wouldn’t go away, was the problematic 12-volt battery. We had lost our main VHF at one point on the trip to Nelson and this didn’t make sense now that our house batteries had been replaced. And just when you think nothing else could go wrong, the 12-volt battery was also dead.
I had been talking with my sister earlier in the week and they were off to Cooks Beach this weekend for the annual Whitianga Concert. This year Alanis Morrisette (who I love) was playing, along with Coin Hay from Men at Work and Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Three of my siblings were going with a number of their friends, as well as my dad’s cousins. I had been the year before and absolutely loved it. I so wanted to go. It was now clear that we weren’t going anywhere fast in the boat while all this work was underway. That was it, I was off to Cooks Beach to surprise my family! Now I was really excited. B had no interest in going and was keen to be on the boat to help coordinate what was going on. My sister Tanya was the only one who knew I was coming – I did have to make sure I had a bed to sleep in!
With all the excitement – for B with the anchor and me for my trip to Auckland, it was only fitting to head back to Urban. Not that we really needed an excuse.
The view of the marina from the walkway was stunning.
Tonight’s choice of wine was the Californian Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay. This is one of B’s mom’s favourite wines and always reminds us of her when we drink it. The weather today was a low of 20 degrees with a high of 30 degrees! It was sweltering. We even used an ice bucket for the chardonnay, which isn’t usually required.
We tried a new dish – Escabeche, which was B’s favourite – crispy sushi rice with tuna and a special sauce.
But… having such a fun night, we decided to treat ourselves to some dessert. It was unbelievable yummy. It was called Pop n Fresh – popcorn ice cream, lemon thyme meringue, berries and kettle corn!
When we walked back to the boat, just before the riverside path, we pass the Nelson Movie Theatre. It had been so long since we’d been to the movies that I suggested we go. It was quite late so we agreed that if there was a movie that we wanted to see about to start, we’d go for it. We have a naughty tradition of popcorn, ice cream and wine with our movies. Tonight was no exception. We watched The Greatest Showman and loved it.
Some friends had written to us saying they were missing our faces. I sent them this:
With the decision to order a new anchor winch system from Australia, Owen decided to put the existing system back on the boat so we could still head out to the Abel Tasman before our next trip to Auckland.
Another top restaurant in Nelson, that has been there for years, is Hopgood’s. It was time to give it a try. We got a lovely table outside and got ordering.
The food was good. Instead of ordering entrees and mains, we chose a number of starters and entree size meals to share. We started with the Duck Liver Parfait with Pickled Cherries, Toasted Brioche & Late Harvest Riesling jelly.
This was followed by the Beef Tartare with Potato Skins, Fried Quail egg, Pickled Mushroom & Black Garlic, Twice Baked Goat’s Cheese Soufflé, Apple, Celery, Beets & Candied Walnuts,
and the Cured Ora King Salmon, Beets, Piccalilli Salad, Avocado, Lemon & Dill Yoghurt.
These were accompanied with sides of green beans with feta and pomegranate and some crumbed broccoli.
All were as good as they sounded.
Halfway through the meal, I spotted two cyclists riding in between the row of restaurants. They caught my eye and when I had a second look, I realised that I recognised them. Joyce yelled out my name and over they came. It was so lovely to bump into these guys. Joyce is an old squash teammate. She and Nicky have been coming to Nelson and holidaying in the Abel Tasman and Golden Bay area for the last 14 years. Funnily enough, I had bumped into Joyce on one of my recent Auckland trips so her obvious question to me us was “Are you guys ever on your boat?”! Cheeky!
Another fabulous evening in sunny Nelson.
Today was an exciting day. I was off to Auckland and then on to Cooks Beach. Bags packed and ready to go, I took a taxi to the airport. Nelson airport had an Air NZ Koru Lounge upstairs but I had to leave after about 15 minutes as the air conditioning was too cold – go figure! I wasn’t used to being out of the warmth. The flight was pleasant and I got to see a view things out of the window.
This one is of the marina where the boat was sitting.
And a nice shot of the Marlborough Sounds.
I landed in Auckland, Ubered to my storage unit to get my car. The only risk in my plan was that my car didn’t start. But that wasn’t to be, so I was rearing to go. I had some chores to do in Newmarket and Ponsonby. It hasn’t been that long, but I had forgotten about traffic in Auckland – manic! And that humidity – far out! Chores done, it was a quick supermarket shop for food and wine and I was on the road south. Tanya had written saying that our cousins were coming over for a drink at 4:30pm. I wasn’t likely to make it until 5pm at the earliest so she promised to keep them there until I arrived. As I drove through Tirau, one of my cousins had messaged me a photo of her drinking a big glass of Rose and saying that she wished I were there.
I wasn’t sure if the secret was out or they were just trying to tease me. It was the latter! I arrived about half an hour later to the surprise of everyone except Tanya. My brother Shane simply shook his head. He had said at Christmas time that he’s seen me more since I’ve been ‘away’ than he did when we lived in the same city. It was so good to be there and I had an absolute blast of a weekend.
The morning of the concert I was also able to meet up with my friend Gerry who was staying at her bach in Whitianga. So lovely to see you Gerry and thanks for the hat Ashleigh!
I got some messages from B to say that he was doing well and being naughty without me!
The morning after the concert, I got up at 4:30am to drive back to Auckland. With limited time, the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in long weekend traffic back to Auckland for 4 hours. Instead, I was back in Auckland by 6:45am! Even too early for most of the cafes. Bambina in Ponsonby opens at 7am, so I headed there with my laptop and had some breakfast and did some emails and wrote some blogs.
I managed to get hold of Katie and Jenny for a catchup at Kohi Cafe. It was so lovely to see them and have a good natter. And thanks for the mail delivery too!
It was time to put my car back into its little storage unit and Uber back to Ponsonby.
The next big excitement for today was heading to lunch with my girlfriends, Hannah and Carolyne. And Prego it was!
The girls arrived in style:
They have a new Oyster Bay garden bar that we had all to ourselves. It felt like our own little Prego!
I Ubered back to the airport and flew back to Nelson. I made sure I’d be back in time for a meal with B. He had booked a table at Harbour Light restaurant down on the waterfront. Again we walked the 30 minutes there in the heat of the night. Until the trip back to Auckland, I hadn’t quite appreciated just how humid it was there! It was still 28 degrees in Nelson at 8pm, but it was a dry heat.
The restaurant was pretty average but we did have a lovely view over the water.
You could also look down on the famous Boatshed Cafe that we said we must go to soon.
Now that my adventure up north was over, I was now keen to get out into the Abel Tasman. It is one of the areas I was most looking forward to spending time on the boat. B mentioned a storm on its way at which I, quite uncharacteristically, responded: “It can’t be that bad can it?”. B laughed and showed me the weather report that he had reported.
Ok, that is a rather large storm heading our way. Best we sit tight in Nelson until it passes. And what a fabulous part of the country to be ‘stuck’ in!
Not related, but potentially influencing the impact of the storm, are the tides. With a new moon arriving, these were king tides which are higher and lower than normal tides. You usually walk down to a pier, steeply in a low tide and slightly on a high tide. The high tide was so high that we had to walk up the ramp from the shore to get onto the pier. And the boat ramp and the carpark were flooding on high tide.
Here’s the ramp at low tide.
And here at full tide.
Down the boat ramp on this marina is an area where boats can go to do anti-fouling and other maintenance required below the waterline. At high tide, you park your boat alongside the poles and tie it up securely. On low tide, the water drains out and allows you about 3 hours to get your work done. Lindsay from the boat Cool Change used this to clean the bottom of his yacht.
B and I agreed that we couldn’t see ourselves doing that with Resolution – we’d be way too scared!
We spent the day walking around the boat service companies and sorting out what was still required to be done, who we needed to pay and looking for a few parts. One thing B was keen to get was another personal AIS (Automated Identification System) for my life jacket. A worldwide system that allows boats and gadgets to send out your location. B had one on his already and we figured it would be good to know where both of us are if we end up in the water!
There was an upholstery place right next to the marina. We went and enquired as to whether or not they could make some round insect screens for the Dorades (air vents for the cabins). They let fresh air into the boat and of course, in Fiordland, that also means sandflies. The ones we had made in Auckland were really thick and didn’t let the air in either! We have full covers for all of the windows to allow us to open them up for air without getting the sandflies. There has been so much yap about sandflies in Fiordland that made me think ‘it couldn’t be that bad could it?’. I’ll have to wait and see.
It was Farmer’s Market day the following morning in the park beside the river. I wandered in to shop for fresh herbs and veggies.
I found a number of lovely vegetables, some stinky cheese and some sausages and bacon. I had to call B to come and meet me to help carry it all back to the boat.
It was sailing day and Lindsay had come by to see if we wanted to go racing on Alan’s boat. Such a nice offer, but we still had much to get done.
While B was working on boat stuff, I decided to start getting ready for the rest of our trip. After the Abel Tasman, we will be heading south to Fiordland and there would be less opportunity to get access to things like fresh herbs. One herb I like to cook with is coriander and I hadn’t managed to keep that plant thriving. I picked up a huge bunch of fresh coriander at the market and processed it up with olive oil and put it in an ice cube tray to freeze it. Once it’s frozen, you can take them out of the tray and put them back in the freezer in a snapback bag.
I also picked up a huge bag of peeled garlic to freeze as well. You freeze them individually laid across a tray and then put them into a snaplock bag. This way they don’t stick together when you first freeze them.
It was Rose’o’clock so we had a lovely glass of Rose accompanied by some of the stinky cheese we had got from the market. It was divine and one of the best cheeses I think I’ve ever eaten. But boy does it smell. The unfortunate thing with this is that every time we opened up the fridge with the cheese in it, the smell was horrendous. I’d have to find some good containers for it before we head away.
It was time for the racing so we got to wave at everyone leaving the marina. The wind had already started picking up ahead of the storm so it would be interesting sailing for sure.
With the weather getting worse, we decided to simply walk to the end of the pier to The Anchor Restaurant for dinner. It became B’s favourite while I was away as they served him pancakes for breakfast and ice cream sundae for dessert! He assured me he didn’t order such things but they knew he was on his own and wanted to look after him. Hmmm… He ordered a chicken roll with risotto, which looked like it could feed about 4 people, and I went for 3 small dishes of mussels, prawns and scallops. The food was average from my perspective but it was nice to have a meal looking out over the marina, albeit inside this time!
The storm had well and truly arrived. And poor Nelson was getting battered big time.
Here were the winds in the Cook Strait:
It was quite weird that there was a sunny, calm hole in the weather pattern, which was the eye of the storm. Here are two photos taken from each side of our boat at the same time.
Before the really bad weather was to arrive we decided to get some exercise and walk to the office. Another parcel had arrived. I had left my swimming togs at my sister’s bach in Cooks Beach. Fabulous service to have them couriered to the marina office in just 3 days – thanks Tanya!
We were also planning to leave the marina in a couple of days, so we paid up our dues, thanked them very much for looking after us and let them know that we’d be back on the 14th February. I had some meetings in Auckland to attend over two days. B had meetings early the following week, so I decided to stay up over the weekend and B would join me on Sunday.
With the very high and low tides, some of the berth rings had got stuck up on the poles.
Nelson took the brunt of the storm majorly and it was weird watching the news and weather on TV in the marina and realising that the footage of flooded streets, ruined restaurants and buildings were just around the corner. The Boatshed Cafe got damaged and would be closed for the foreseeable future – damn, we wanted to try that one.
The next day was busy busy busy. We had lots of people coming and going working on the boat and some visitors. Our last visitor was Pauline who used to work at Airways where B is on the Board. She and her partner were looking at a yacht a few piers over and planned to buy it and sail around the world in it. Pauline had a large corporate role at Airways so was another person making a huge life change to follow her dreams.
It was another one of those days where we didn’t eat breakfast thinking we would walk into town or a brunch. With work still being done on the boat and people visiting, we didn’t get away until around 2:30pm. I was so hungry it was ridiculous (totally my fault of course as I have a boat full of food) and I demanded we get a taxi into the Morri Street Cafe rather than waiting another half hour to walk and then eat. Chatting away to the taxi driver and saying goodbye, I just about left without paying – so used to Uber! I paid the fare and jumped out of the car to see my phone go flying and land face down on the concrete. Youch! I have dropped it before, but not quite as harshly. I picked it up and sure enough, the screen was cracked in a few places. I rubbed my finger on it to see if it still worked and if it was the cover or in fact the screen. It worked but I managed to get a splinter of glass in my finger – duh!
Now I’m not just hangry, I’m upset. Beside myself in fact. Not wanting to cry over such a thing, I stormed into the cafe and found a seat. I couldn’t believe I had done something so stupid and especially the night before we were heading away. My phone is my camera and this was going to be annoying. B was adamant I should get it fixed. I called PB Technologies where we had bought the phones to see what my options were. I won’t go into the detail of the conversations as they didn’t go well for the most part.
In parallel to my discussions, B called a local phone shop to see how much it would cost to get a new screen. $800! Jeez, that wasn’t going to happen.
Cut a very long story short, the lovely Vicky at PB Tech said if I was to courier the phone to them in Auckland, they would arrange for Apple to replace the screen for only $344. Jeez, still not happy with that, but running out of choices. This is definitely one of those moments that things become a lot harder not having a permanent address or at least staying in the same city for a period of time.
Our original plan was to head to Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay, past the Abel Tasman, and launch from there for Fiordland. Everyone in Nelson was asking why we would do that and why would we not come back to Nelson (it’s only a couple of hours), refuel here, stock up at the supermarket and launch from here. This made a lot more sense, especially as we still had the anchor job to get done and also crew were flying down to join us and flying into Nelson would be a lot easier.
At least I knew we would be heading back to Nelson so there was a good chance that my phone would be returned by then. Vicki said about 10 to 14 days so it would be tight. It was now 5pm on Friday afternoon and the Post Office was well and truly closed. Now what? I called the after hours number and they informed me that the CourierPost Depot would be open in the morning at 8am and I could courier my phone from there.
While the phone transactions were taking place it was time to go supermarket shopping for the big trip south. I decided that today we would get all the dry stock items and ensure we had enough for the next 2 months. This meant bulk purchasing of toilet paper, handee towels, cleaning supplies, tonic water, mayonnaise, olives etc. I had a list on my broken iPhone! I could still see the screen but just had to watch out for getting another glass splinter. B was there and I asked him to go and sort all the bulk stuff out while I gathered up everything else on the list. The butchery had black pudding and organic chicken livers, so I was stoked. We were coming back to Nelson but only wanted to stock up on our fresh goods if possible. This was the big shop. Three trolleys, a taxi back to the marina and a few trips up and down the pier; we had the goods on board ready for packing.
We had never packed this much stuff on the boat before so it was going to be interesting. B found some great storage under berths and before we knew it, it as all stowed away. I made sure I updated my master checklist (a spreadsheet of course) so I knew where everything was. We were ready to rock.
The guys were still working on the anchor but it was going to be ready for our departure the next day.
7:45am the next morning, I was off to the CourierPost Depot. Letting go of my phone felt like I was cutting my right arm off. B had lent me his old iPhone that has a battery life of about 5 minutes. Gee, thanks B! So I was still beside myself not knowing when I’d see my phone again and now heading to one of my favourite places without a camera. These are still very much first world problems and a good opportunity for me to learn to deal with them!
And although we were keen to get away, I had not had a chance to go to the main Saturday morning Nelson Markets. B had gone the weekend before while I was at Cooks and thought that I should go. It was on the way back to the boat so I headed directly to the market and picked up a few treats – stinky cheese which we bought at the Wednesday market but had eaten already! It is one of the nicest have ever eaten, so I bought four!
I bought some pate, terrine and the seafood shop I had found earlier in the week was right there. I bought some beautiful salmon, snapper and squid.
I was only gone about an hour but I rushed back to the boat all the same.
It was finally time to leave the big city and head out to the Abel Tasman.