We toured the whole South Island in three and a half week and managed to explore all the highlights thoroughly, which meant spending long hours in the car in between – Something every traveller to New Zealand had predicted. Since this country was the first destination we had not prepared a great deal, this had to be done while in the car or reading at night before or after writing our entries for the website.
This way, our days became even busier than they had been in Latin America. They still included the usual routine: finding a room, food shopping, doing the laundry, getting things fixed, cooking – all in all things we truly enjoy to do, but on the other hand, we felt a bit drained. So we decided to take a short break from the road. We also both have been carrying kilos of books around we have wanted to read, fiction but also guides to prepare our trip to southern China, Laos & Cambodia, but were unable to even open them!
Nelson, a quaint little town in the north of the southern island, was the place we chose. Of course we could not quickly fall into a routine of just doing nothing, so we walked the Maitai River to the city limit and gasped at the sight of the beautiful houses on its banks. Heidi also strolled through beautiful Queens Garden and neighbouring galleries, something she had missed: we have not been in a town to speak of in more than two months except the 36 hours in Christchurch.
We selected “Accent on the Park”, one of the highest ranked hostels by BBH and also by the Lonely Planet. Well, the place is certainly overrated! It is brand new but its old fashioned décor makes it already look faded. Their ad brags about their quality linen, but the kitchen is tiny considering the size of that hostel. Every evening, you have a crowd mulling around 15+ square meters with big knives, pots full of hot water and pans sizzling with cooking oil. Probably the owner had hoped that most people will eat at the adjacent bar-restaurant. This also explains the posters warning everybody that it is strictly forbidden to consume alcohol not purchased at the bar. Now paying 69 NZ Dollars for a tiny room without bathroom and having to sneak in a glass of Shiraz to go with our dinner, we find really irritating!
Nelson hosts a museum of a very different kind, the World of WearableArt or WOW. A young artist from Nelson had the idea to create pieces of art that could be worn and modelled. This was back in 1987 and has been a success story ever since. Now this show has become an international event held in Wellington every year under a different theme. There, artists present their design in a show featuring lighting, music, choreography and special effects. We could not get take her eyes off these intriguing costumes and since we will not be able to make it for the next show in September, she watched the entire DVD giving an overview of the last few years. “Art has to be taken off the wall (…)” Suzi Moncrieff, the woman behind this idea, once said. How true!