Road discoveries

We are starting to get a little burned out and agree with everyone who warned us that two weeks is really not enough time to appreciate the incredible South Island. It’s no problem covering the short distances, but we don’t have time to spend in each place to explore, to hike or kayak or visit museums, etc. Given the cold weather, we’re ok with not kayaking and we do hike every day but some areas are by necessity being left unexplored. This is one of those areas. 

We left our little beach cottage early on the day of the International March for Science. The closest sister march was in Christchurch, many miles and days away, so we had our own private march and posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter to show our solidarity with everyone who showed up in cities all over the world to support science and the people and agencies who work to advance our understanding of the world around us. 

The road along the coast into Abel Tasman National Park ran through this rock formation that I had trouble squeezing into the frame. All the scenery in New Zealand is BIG and mostly beyond my ability to photograph it. 

For the first time we were near a marina and the magnetic pull of the boats revealed a placard promising coffee. Unfortunately that didn’t pan out, but we did talk to a young man crewing on a big squarerigger who invited us to have a look onboard. Jack took the trip down the rat lines while I waited on the dock in the sunshine. The ship is mostly a construction site but the young man insisted they are days away from sailing to Fiji. We have our doubts. 

 We were still undercaffeinated when Jack spotted a handlettered sign on the unsealed road toward Abel Tasman: Totos Café and Gallery. The sign pointed straight up. We followed the steep and narrow switch-backed road, barely able to pass a cyclist chugging along at such a good tempo that I leaned out the window and gave him a thumbs up and an attaboy. We had no idea what to expect but we reached the top to find an absolutely stunning view and a charming cafe with a woodfired pizza oven. Totos has moved into our top five of favorite cafés. 

A few minutes later the cyclist summited, and a few minutes after that his wife arrived by car and they joined us for a mid-morning coffee and pastry. What a find this place is! 

We wish we could come back later for pizza and beer but we need to keep moving. Back down the narrow driveway, back along the unsealed road and we were once again on our way through the stunning landscape toward Nelson. 

We found a cozy lunch spot with amazing vegetarian food and topped off the day with the best gelato we’ve had since Waiheke Island last year in the North Island. Is it a Kiwi thing? Not sure, because the man who made these complex flavors — blackcurrent-wine and boysenberry-Glühwein were our favorites — is Israeli, not Kiwi, but nevertheless, we’ve had our best ever in this country. Reason enough to come back some day. 

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