Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Centre of New Zealand and Nude Camping

After a chilly first night in Nelson, we decided to make a landmark morning of it and head for the center of New Zealand, just up a hill at the edge of town.  I'm not always up for an uphill walk first thing in the morning - but, as I'm learning, most NZ hikes involve a big uphill stretch.  Damn volcanic nation!  [Note from Chad: 1) it's not THAT much uphill, 2) the center of New Zealand is really the reference point for geographical surveys in the Nelson region]

The center of it all.

Happy to head back down the path...

Awesome views of Nelson from the top!

Looking back to the Maitai Valley, where we spent the night before.

Next up, a meander through the Japanese Gardens.  Much nicer than the ones behind the Park and Tilford Mall in North Vancouver - we'll see in April how they stack up to those actually in Japan.


We were looking for the Founders Organic Brewery, and we found it - right inside a Heritage Park that charged a bunch of money for entrance.  The Heritage Park looked nice, but we decided to spend our pennies elsewhere and moved on.

No Founders beer for this McFrothy.

Driving over to Richmond, a little community west of Nelson, we popped into the Sprig and Fern Brewery hoping for a taste and a tour.  Another fail - they would fill your bottles, but no tastings.  Sprig and Fern is a big chain of pubs in the area, but they want you to hit the pubs, not tour the (small) brewery.


Before heading over to McCashin's Brewery, which was our real destination in Richmond anyway, we stopped at a park to eat our lunch.  Chad got swarmed by these ducks the second he stepped out of Hal!  I decided to eat my lunch inside, safe from the crumbseekers.

Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated - by mallards!

And then there was McCashin's, where we did a tour and a really extensive tasting of their whole line of beers, ciders, and non-alcoholic beverages.  A great little place, and cool to smell some NZ hops!


Where the experimenting is done.

People nurseries are not usually located next to Hazchem storage... I hope!

And with that, it was time to move on again.  Instead of staying at a hideous Top 10 Holiday Park (Top 10 is a major brand in New Zealand, but generally pretty sterile and overly family friendly for our liking - the McDonald's of holiday parks) in Richmond, we headed just up the coast to the pretty little town of Mapua.  There we found the Mapua Leisure Park, which seemed perfect for the night.  On check in, I saw a sign at reception "No Nudity in January and February".  I thought this was a joke, but apparently it was not...


Oh thank heavens it was mid-January!

[Note from Chad: good thing my buddy Ryan wasn't here, or we might have led a protest against the facist no-nudity-in-peak-summer policy...]

The Mapua Leisure Park sits out on a point, so we got some nice views.



An additional bonus for stopping in Mapua was a visit to Golden Bear Brewing, recommended by VanBrewer Matt in Christchurch among others.  It was a great stop for the evening - we got there about seven pm and found a big crowd and a band playing.

Wort kits for the homebrewer!  Awesome.




Not pictured are a couple that we met when they sat down at our table because the place was so crowded - Jennifer and Tony.  Jen is an American who married Tony, a Kiwi, and they moved to Christchurch with their kids about six years ago.  Their house was condemned after the earthquakes, and they relocated to Motueka, just north of Mapua.  We got to chatting, and chatting, and chatting, which resulted in a kind invitation to join them for dinner the next night and park Hal at their place overnight.  So kind of them!  Excellent!

We actually ended up shutting the place down - a true rarity (for me at least!)  Since it was only 9 pm, we had lots of energy to get up the next day and take a drive to check out the oldest pub in New Zealand - the Moutere Inn.  [Note from Chad: there's a bit of dispute between this place and one in Wellington over who is older.]



The Moutere Inn looked great, but sadly it was shut when we arrived and we didn't want to sit in their parking lot for an hour, so we headed back to Mapua for Chad to try some fish from The Smokehouse.  Along the way, more lovely back country views:


Note from Chad: Nelson Sauvin and Motueka are both varieties of hops.  Need I say more?

In Mapua, cloudly skies and fishing boats:



And then fish from the Smokehouse!  I will let Chad's face tell you whether he approved or not...



[Note from Chad: not just a good fish special, but also picked up some hot smoked southern kingfish for later.  Good stuff.]

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