How we make our way over to the South Island, where we discover a mini crag which entertains us for days in a row and how chocolate cake, frietjes with peanut sauce and a new van tyre make for a great birthday party!

We arrived at the ferry terminal to find out our ferry was delayed for at least 2 hours. Fortunately, as it turns out, delays aren’t half bad when you’ve got your home with you, so we made some coffee, did some work, read a book, made some tea and before we knew it, it was time to board 🙂 We made the most of the WiFi on the boat to catch up on stuff and find out more about the places we wanted to go to in the South Island.

Heading for the South Island

Around 2pm we arrived in Picton, where we walked around town and did some shopping. We still hadn’t quite decided where we would actually go, but eventually we drove towards Rarangi, just above Blenheim. It sounded like there would be some climbing there and we were keen to check it out. Having been to a few other small, hardly visited crags, we didn’t expect too much but it was actually really pleasant climbing! Once we’d climbed all the routes (yep, it was that small), we drove to the Wairau River freecamp spot. We had a great view across the river towards a snowcapped Tapuae-o-Uneuku as well as an awesome sunset while we had our dinner on a blanket in front of the van.

Perfect spot to chill out for a bit after an afternoon of climbing

The next day I had picked a hike I wanted to do. We drove over to Whites Bay and started on the loop track towards the summit of Mt Robertson. Since we had already passed the track on our way but the parking was all the way down in the bay at sea level, we knew this would be a pretty steep climb and it sure was. With a few rests along the way, we finally reached the summit. Unfortunately, the bush had grown a bit since the track description was written so after having climbed 1,197m, we emerged at the top with a beautiful view of… bush. Yep, too overgrown to see the promised North Island, snowy mountains and Queen Charlotte Sound. Oh well, it was a nice walk, and the swim afterwards felt that much more refreshing.

Beautiful views, don’t you think? I’m so glad we hiked all the way up!

After another night at Wairau River, we decided to go climbing again at Rarangi as Thomas likes to climb every other day and there was not really anywhere else to climb in the area. After climbing all the routes again, we drove over to Blenheim to do some shopping before continuing on to a freecamp a bit south of Blenheim. After lunch, I cycled back into town to do some work in the library while Thomas stayed at the camp to read and relax.

The next morning was Thomas his birthday! We had to get up early to make our way to the mechanic in Blenheim, where we were booked in to have a new back tyre fitted. Looking at the old tyre, it was a miracle we made it this far on it without it blowing out! In the meantime, we went for a walk through town, did some more shopping including a massive chocolate banana cake, and decided on a whim to drive back up to Rarangi. Yep, I think we liked it there! We had a nice and relaxed afternoon on the campsite with a swim in the sea, some sunning and reading in the pine forest and making frietjes with peanut sauce for dinner, yum!

The not so good climbing at Monkey Bay and the really good climbing at Rarangi

And while we were in the neighbourhood, Thomas decided he wanted to have one last go at climbing at Rarangi. This time, we made our way over to Monkey Bay, where there are a few more sport routes on the sea cliffs. Not quite the same as the mini crag at Rarangi, was Thomas’ opinion when he encountered several very loose rocks on his way up :S. We dashed back to Blenheim to visit the Saturday Farmers Market before hitting the road towards Nelson. After a quick swim at Tahunanui Beach, we visited our friends Wouter & Kristel and their two lovely kids and ended up staying for dinner and sleeping in the van on the drive. A great first week on the South Island!

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