Saturday, 9 April 2016

On Thursday, March 24, 2016 Reed, Elder and Sister Wilkins and I flew to Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand for an Easter Break.  The Area Office closed down for four days so we decided to do a trip to the South Island before the Wilkins go home in April.  As we arrived at the airport Elder Wilkins received a text that the road between Nelson and Tata Beach (which is where we are staying) had been closed because of  severe rains the day before.  It had caused flooding and some parts of the road had mudslides.  We checked the weather and it was clear now so we decided to take our chances and hope the road would be cleared by the time we arrived.

We flew on Jet Star into the Nelson Airport.  We rented a car and began our two hour drive to Golden Bay. It was clear skies and very warm.  The road had been cleared so we were glad we did not cancel.
As we drove out of Nelson we had to drive over a big mountain range on a very windy road.  There were beautiful orchards all along the main road.  There were a lot of apple orchards, also kiwi fruit, grape vineyards and hops.
This is the view of Golden Bay from the holiday house we have rented.  Beautiful!  You can see why they call it Golden Bay when the sun shines on the beach and mountains.

This is the deck and kitchen area of the holiday house.
 This is the view from our bedroom.
Friday morning sunrise.  Reed and I got up and went for a walk on the beach. 
This is the view of the house from the beach.  It was about a two minute walk from the house to the beach.
As we walked along the beach there were these interesting birds.  They are Spotted Shags.  Their eyes were an interesting color and they have a little tuft on their heads.
 Every morning as we walked they were gathered in this same spot.  Then they would fly off four or five at a time and would skim the water.
 The sun coming up in the bay.
Reed on Tata Beach.  The sailboat you can see in the distance in front of the big rock or small island was anchored there the whole five days we were there.  The air was a little brisk but nice for walking.

Later in the morning we got in the car and headed to Te Waikoropupu Springs.  It is a lake created by natural springs.  They used to let scuba divers dive here but not any more.  There are signs that say do not touch, drink or get in the water.  It is supposed to be one of the cleanest springs in the world.  You could see way down into the water.  The water was so clear and such a pretty, clean color.

From the picture above and the water behind Nada you can see how clear and clean the water is and the colors were so vibrant.  It was a nice walk.

The city of Totara was right by the springs.  Reed loved all these different shapes and colored mailboxes.

We then headed to Wharariki Beach to climb on the sand dunes and walk the beach.
As we climbed up and down the sand dunes we commented about how much fun it would be to have our children and grandchildren here.  It would be fun to slide, jump and just play in the sand.  We saw some families doing that.
The clouds were beautiful above the Tasman Sea.
As Reed walked around some of the rock outcroppings there were these really neat caves.  I did not go because the waves kept coming in and out and I did not want to get all wet.

Another cave which was a little drier.  Reed went into the caves and took the pictures looking out.
This picture is from the water looking back at the rocks with the cave.

Reed with a beautiful rock formation out in the Tasman Sea.  There were two very visible arches and then around the side on the other rock is another arch but it was hard to capture.  It was beautiful here.  We could have spent all day just exploring.  The weather was so nice.

We went on another little hike to Cape Farewell.  We just love these hills and mountains.  The terracing on these mountains is from the sheep grazing.
Nada hiking on the hills above Cape Farewell.
Cape Farewell.  The cliffs here are white and the hole in the rock was interesting.  Beautiful land. 

Farewell Spit.  This is the most northern part of the south island.  You have to take tours to go out any farther and they told us they were not running this weekend because of the high tides.
A lot of time when you hike to different lookouts and peaks you have to walk through flocks of sheep.  They just move out of your way.
This is looking at Golden Bay from the Abel Tasman Monument.  He was the ships captain that first discovered this bay.
The tide changes 4 to 5 metres here.  Twice every day as we drove past this part of the bay if the tide was out it was way out and you could walk for a very long way.  When the tide was in it was almost to the road.  Very interesting.

This is the pool at our holiday house.  Reed wanted to take a swim when we got back.  He said it was a little brisk but nice.  We had a great day and saw some beautiful country.  We enjoyed a quiet evening watching the sunset and visiting.

Saturday, March 26, 2016 we walked on the beach and then headed to Canaan Downs to Harwoods Hole.  We had to hike through this fabulous forest.  The pictures just do not do it justice.  It had such a great feeling and was one of the best forests we have ever been in.  They filmed some of The Lord of the Rings movies here.

There was this very cool lake here.  Great reflections.  It was just so interesting to be here.
Reed climbed to the very top to the lookout point and this was the view.  He could not see into the cave from here just lots of granite rocks.
This was looking down into Harwoods Hole.  It was a little scary.  There were no rails, or safety features of any kind.  Just a sign to watch your footing and children.  There was nothing between the granite rocks and the hole.  I was a little nervous and did not go right up to the edge.  Reed did, of course.
The lichen, ferns, moss and colors were just so fabulous in here.  We had to drive on a very narrow, gravel road for quite a ways to get into this place and out.  Another glorious day.

Sunday, March 27, 2016 Easter Sunday.  What a beautiful sunrise.  We drove two hours to Nelson to attend church.

This is the church building in Nelson.  It is still a branch.  We enjoyed Sacrament, Sunday School and Relief Society and Priesthood meetings.  We met a lot of very nice people and they were very friendly. It is nice to know no matter where you are you can always find a church and meet with wonderful Saints. 

We drove the 2 hours back to Tata Beach and had a very quiet, relaxing, enjoyable Easter Sabbath Day.  We are so grateful for the Atonement and the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

On Monday, March 28, 2016 we got up and drove over to Abel Tasman Park to catch a water taxi at Totaranui Beach.

 We decided we wanted to be out on the water and be able to see the beaches, mountains and islands from the water instead of from the land.  We definitely saw places we could not see without hiking for days during this trip.  It took us 45 minutes by water taxi to get to Marahau City and took us much longer than that by car.  He just went flat out to get us there.
The boat skipper did take us by a couple of different islands that we could not see by car.  There were a lot of people kayaking today.
He stopped and let us see the seals on this island.  Some of them were swimming and some sunning.  We saw quite a few of them by the different islands as we passed them.
We had lunch in Marahau at the only café.  Quite a few people park their cars here and then take the water taxis to the remote islands and get dropped off to camp and hike.  We just walked along the waterfront and enjoyed some beautiful weather and good food until it was time to catch the water taxi back.
They use these tractors to pull the boat trailers.  They just drive the boats up onto the trailer from the water and then they drive you to the building where they unload and then reload the boats and take you back to the water.   Pretty interesting. 
When we were here on Saturday, exploring, these boats were sitting on dry ground when the tide was out.  Today the tide is in so there is plenty of water.  This is the bay at Marahau City.
On the trip back to Totaranui Beach the skipper gave us more of a tour.  First top was Split Apple Rock. 

Tonga Arches.  We did not see these going over but coming back he took us into this little bay and we saw them.  Beautiful.  He had to make a couple of stops to drop hikers off at different islands on the ride back to our car.

We went farther out into the ocean and guess what we saw?  Orca Whales.  Oh my they were magnificent.  You can see how close they were to this sail boat. 
This whale went right under our little boat.  It was a thrill.  We saw eight of them and watched them for about half an hour.
This was truly the highlight of our day.  They just swam around us and then we chased them a bit.  We had some young German hikers on the boat and they were so excited.  Another wonderful day in Golden Bay.  We went back to the house and I walked the beach while Reed did a little snorkelling.  He saw more here in the water than he has seen at any other place that he has snorkelled in New Zealand.  We fixed dinner, enjoyed the sunset and cleaned up things because we have to leave in the morning.  This has been a wonderful Easter Weekend!


We left our wonderful holiday house at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday the 29th and headed back to Nelson.  I will not miss the windy road but the scenery has been beautiful and it has been a great holiday.  We had to drive through this tunnel every time we went to and from the house.  It was such a beautiful area. 
This is the entire Nelson Airport.  We had so much fun.  We have really enjoyed being able to travel with Elder and Sister Wilkins.  This will be our last adventure together.  They go home in April  We will really miss them.  They have been the couple we have gotten closest to and every trip we have taken has been with them.
We flew back to Auckland, went to work for a few hours and then spent the evening getting unpacked and laundry done.
We feel so bleseds that we were able to see this beautiful part of New Zealand.  We are amazed that everywhere we go it is just so beautiful

We feel blessed that we were able to enjoy this time that the office was closed in such a fun way.  We love our mission and being able to serve.  We work hard and have learned so much.  We have also learned to take advantage of the days we have free to explore and learn as much about this country as we can.  We love the Gospel.  We are grateful at this time of year for our Savior and all he has done for us so we can live again.  We love him and we love all of you.  We are looking forward to General Conference next weekend.

Until next time, love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)



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