LIVING IN A SHOE, CANYONING, & EELS: NELSON PICTURES
My Nelson Music Playlist
I had high expectations for Nelson, the artistic hub of South Island. It was what some called a strange storybook location. Have you ever heard the tale that starts, “There was an old lady who lived in a Shoe”. Well, someone had a "shoe", and we were about to live in it, but I digress. Just keep reading.
Located just outside the town of Nelson, the Boot was on the grounds of a place called “The Jester House Café”. I say grounds because it was not your ordinary coffee shop. We drove through a stream surrounded by wooded area to get to the entrance. After walking through garden arches, foliage tunnels, and metal sculptures we found a patio/lawn area with hand carved tables. I’ve never seen so much detail and time put into a place, it was really astonishing.
The check in was interesting, I’ve never started with, “Were here for the Shoe”? To my knowledge, this was the only private Shoe house in the world. I'm confident that the Shoe House industry isn't very big these days. Our "Boot" as they called it wasn't ready yet so we sat down for some high tea. "Oh almost forgot", said the waiter giving me a cup full nasty looking cat food."In case you want to go feed the eels" he added.(.......eels?) Heading down to the stream located a few dozen meters ahead we found this.
Feeding these things was not your typical pet farm activity. Watching them pop out of the water and move in on you was a bit startling. I didn't think the little bastards could come out of the water so I didn't give the food up right away, I was mistaken. They will come and get it, and they have a stronger bite than you would think. After driving through a stream, walking through vine tunnels, seeing strange sculptures, and feeding wild eels I felt like I fell into the Alice and Wonderland movie. What the heck was goin on around here?
Our "boot" was finally ready. The owners were both artists and it was evident. They were also oddly tall, both of them well over 6 2’ and all legs. Great, I thought, now they have giant people here too. Regardless, they were nice and lead us to the one of a kind residence. It was complete with a private driveway, indoor and outdoor fireplace, balcony, private pond, and of course shoelaces!.
The town of Nelson had a lot to offer and there were small shops and internet cafés abound. We stopped by a backpackers hostel, got some wifi, and then when to a couple of NZ shops to get clothes and other ends. Bars littered the streets and this was one of the few places in the country that looked like it had a night crowd. There was a great beach at the edge of town which we took a walk along. It was peaceful and refreshing at low tide with the sun on my back and the ocean at my side. Always get to a beach if you can, you can never go wrong.
By 10am the next morning we found ourselves in a water taxi jetting across the ocean yet again. This time we were headed a bit farther north to the Abel Tasman National Park.This is one of the most popular and widely known parks in South Island, NZ. We were set for a full day of canyoning with the Abel Tasman Canyoning Co. The owner was a younger guy with a co-guide. They were professional and knowledgeable. Both the views and foliage were nothing short of stunning. We moved from established trails to rougher unmarked trails, to something sort of resembled a trail.
It was quite a bit of hiking and steep incline/declines. I truly enjoyed heading off trail and getting into the forest. The canyon was not easy to reach and was truly untouched. As we entered down a steep incline we could see some wild deer drinking from the rushing water. They quickly darted off. You can never say its 100% safe but I drank a bunch of the water and had absolutely no problems. It was awesome to stick a cup into rushing water and drink it with your lunch in a rainforest. I hadn’t realized that much of New Zealand does comprise of a tropical climate.
Before we knew it we were inching our way deeper and deeper into some frigid water. We all had full wetsuits so we acclimated but it definitely woke you up. The crayoning piece was around 3.5hrs and consisted of slides, abseiling, free jumps, and minimal swimming. Scaling the rock wall alongside the canyon was an exceptional and unique opportunity along with abseiling through some waterfalls. Finally you can forget the zip lining.
The canyoning piece was around 3.5hrs and consisted of slides, abseiling, free jumps, and minimal swimming. Scaling the rock wall alongside the canyon was exceptional and unique. There was also abseiling and falling over waterfalls. And don't forget the zip lining.
My wife was a champ and surprisingly completed not one but both of the free fall jumps during the trek. They weren’t small either; (24ft) and (36ft). Those jumps even made me a bit nervous, but like I said in my travel philosophy, If you won’t die from it you should try it, at least once.
All in all it was a full day, around 8hrs from pickup to drop off. We were exhausted but it was a spectacular time and well worth it. There’s nothing like walking through a rainforest to a rushing canyon and then jumping into it. Another once in a lifetime experience in New Zealand.
Of course we weren’t gunna leave Nelson without getting a taste of the art scene so we ended up down at a local exhibition. The work was very unique and I even found a bowl which had a bunch of AUS/NZ coins welded together. I now have that bowl in good old NC to commemorate my discovery.