After stepping off the ferry in Picton, my partner and I navigated our way to where we needed to collect our hire car (easy) and then navigated our way down windy roads, in the dark, to a town called Nelson (not quite as easy). Granted we didn’t get lost, but after 90 minutes of driving there was certainly a sense of relief once we made it to our Air Bnb.
Dinner that night was at East St. Eats which served some tasty vegetarian meals and was home to a cosy vibe. There was some confusion from our waiter when we wouldn’t accept free dessert, to apologise for how long we had to wait for our main meals. Full, happy and tired, we were more concerned with going to bed and told him not to worry.
The next morning, we went to Ngarua Caves and arrived just in time for a guided tour. Our guide was knowledgeable and engaging and the caves were breathtaking! They were the underground, limestone type that contained stalagmites and stalactites as far as the eye could see (when the lights were on!) Given our rushed arrival, we didn’t have time to grab our phones to take photos. Though, I can confirm that these caves are worth a visit.
Next on our list was Wainui Falls Track, a 40 minute walk through ferns, trees and palms that takes you to a powerful, cascading waterfall. By the time we started this walk the sun had finally come out, and we could hear the native birds chirping away.
Along the way we crossed a suspension bridge which gave a little sway and the opportunity for some photos. After some more gentle walking we reached the waterfall and took in the sounds of the loud, crashing water.
Walking this track was a refreshing way to break up the driving, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re after a short, easy walk.
Driving back to Nelson took just over 2 hours and we were back just in time to make ourselves some stir fry and settle in for a movie.
While this part of New Zealand is most famous for the Abel Tasman National Park, there are certainly other things to do besides hiking the coastal track the park has to offer. A visit to some caves and a waterfall made for a fine day out and I’m sure I’ll be back to do multi-day hike. Regardless of where you drive in this region, the scenery is breathtaking at every turn so you can’t really go wrong.