South Island meanderings…November 2015 … Picton-Blenheim

Up bright and early on the morning of 25th Nov so we could dump water and fill the fresh water tank before heading around the bays the to go and queue up at the Bluebridge Ferry departure point. Set sail on time at 0800 on the “Strait Feronia” the latest addition to the Bluebridge’s fleet. Quite a different layout and very roomy in the passenger lounges. Met up with some old friends who were also heading south in their motorhome so it was good to catch up with them and while away some time. A lovely smooth crossing too which is always a bonus.

S01 Strait Feronia berthed in Picton
Strait Feronia berthed in Picton

Drove off at Picton with identical thoughts of “thank goodness we have finally arrived in the South Island”. It has taken far too long to get here for sure!

Stopped for lunch and discussed our plan of attack. With no real plan in mind, we headed north out of Picton to stay a night at the DOC camp at Whatamango Bay. We ended up staying there for two nights before continuing around Port Underwood Road to another DOC camp at Whites Bay. The road was pretty winding and narrow in places but we had no problems and the gravel section was not too corrugated either. We have driven this road before in our campervan so knew what to expect.

S02 View from Port Underwood Road
View from Port Underwood Road

Whites Bay camp is a well laid out with great facilities in three separate areas. Not many people there currently but could imagine not being able to move, during the summer holidays. The beach is just about ‘perfect’ for swimming and a group in hire kayaks were enjoying themselves paddling around the flat sea the next morning, investigating the ‘holey’ rock.

S03 Whites Bay - hole in the rock
Whites Bay – hole in the rock

S04 Historic Telegraph StationThis bay is where the first telegraph link between the North and South Islands came ashore in 1866 and has a bit of interesting history about it. The old Station House is well restored and was worth a look. An operator-linesman operated here until 1895.

Next hop was to Rarangi DOC camp at the end of Port Underwood Road.

S05 Rarangi DOC camp & settlement
Rarangi DOC camp & settlement
S06 Parked up at Rarangi DOC camp
Parked up at Rarangi DOC camp

Nice little walk there up some stone steps and around the corner into Monkey Bay. At low tide you can walk through a sea cave and maybe(?) the fishing is good off the rocks…there were plenty of people with lines in trying their luck anyway.

S07 Monkey Bay
Monkey Bay
S08 Sea cave at Monkey Bay
Sea cave at Monkey Bay
S09 Cooling his heels - Monkey Bay
Cooling his heels – Monkey Bay

There are other longer walks here too but as they all involved walking up and down the adjacent cliffside so we decided to give it a miss. We are both recovering from pretty nasty colds and still feeling a bit ‘seedy’ (that’s our excuse anyway).

We then moved onto Blenheim for a few nights and parked up at the Racecourse – a good spot to catch up on our laundry and reasonably close to the town shopping centre. Cost is now $10/night but still pretty good value as you can dispose of grey water and fill up with fresh water too.

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