"Te Waka a Maui" is Maui's Canoe - the South Island of New Zealand.
We started our 2008 trip to the South Island in Golden Bay and Nelson. It's a popular area in the summer, flooded with people from Christchurch during the school holidays that last all through January. Lots of sunshine - the best climate in New Zealand - pretty beaches and forests, many vineyards, good food - who could ask for more? I don't know why more people don't live there, but fortunately they don't. Of course, to get much further north than Nelson you have to wend your way over the winding roads of the impressive Takaka Hill, but the road is fine. We could be persuaded (easily) to return here for a longer vacation, preferably in February just after the pressure on campgrounds abates as the kids go back to school.
We came by ferry to Picton, down the long arm of the Queen Charlotte Sound, and took the winding coast road as far as Pelorus Bridge on a beautiful summer day. We camped with a sense of relief - finally we actually were in the South Island. First time in the South Island for Rose, and only the second time for me. Forty five years after my first visit. I must go more often.
We went on to the remarkable Museum of Wearable Art and companion Motor Museum in Nelson, then over the big Takaka Hill with its strange limestone rocks and caves, and on north as far as Farewell Spit (the last sight of New Zealand for ships sailing west). We spent a magical evening and following day at Wharariki Beach, and another grand day going to Totaranui Beach in Abel Tasman National Park - and to an absolutely huge fresh water spring at Te Waikoropupu.
Click on a photo for a larger image and a slide show.